The 40 Best Movies on Hulu Right Now (January 2021)

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Hulu had some rough patches in its early days, but it’s quietly become a serious streaming player. While Netflix is still ahead of the pack, and Amazon loops you in because you’re already signed up for their Prime service, you’d be wise to give Hulu a look. The streaming service isn’t just amassing quality TV series like The Handmaid’s Tale and Castle Rock; it also has a surprisingly robust selection of movies.

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So if you feel like nothing on Netflix or Amazon is catching your fancy, or if you just want to get the most out of your subscription, take a look at some of the best movies currently available on Hulu.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

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Image via Paramount Pictures

Director: Brad Bird

Writers: Josh Applebaum and André Nemec

Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Anil Kapoor, and Michael Nyqvist

One of the things that makes the Mission: Impossible franchise great is how it allows each new director to bring a unique vision to the series. And if J.J. Abrams’ emotion-centric Mission: Impossible 3 laid the seeds for the franchise to head into a more team-based direction, Brad Bird’s joyous Ghost Protocol solidifies the benefits of making M:I an ensemble. The sequel marked Bird’s first live-action film after wowing critics and audiences with films like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, and he brings a jubilant quality to the action during which Tom Cruise and Co. are clearly having a blast. Ghost Protocol also boasts the best stunt sequence of the entire franchise so far, as Cruise literally hangs off the side of the tallest building in the world. Five stars. – Adam Chitwood

Palm Springs

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Image via Hulu

Director: Max Barbakow

Writer: Andy Siara

Cast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons

Palm Springs is one of the best movies of 2020, and the less you know about it going in, the better it will be. But if you need the faintest thread of a plot synopsis to give this brilliant romantic comedy a shot, then know it’s about two dirtbags (played by Samberg and Milioti) who can’t seem to escape their existence and are stuck with each other through outsized circumstances. However, being stuck in the same place allows them to realize that they may need each other more than they’d care to admit. It’s a story that sharp, sweet, funny, and thoughtful, and you’ll be grateful that you saw this one. – Matt Goldberg

The Nice Guys

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in The Nice Guys

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Shane Black

Writers: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi

Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, and Kim Basinger

Between Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and The Nice Guys, writer/director Shane Black has proven himself to the be the king of crackling neo-noir. In The Nice Guys, you have private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and fixer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) teaming up to investigate the disappearance of a young woman (Margaret Qualley), but it’s all about how Black plays with genre conventions and film tropes to constantly upend expectations. Gosling has never been funnier, and in an alternate, better universe, The Nice Guys would have been a massive hit and we’d have an amazing comic franchise. As it stands, we only have this movie, so at least we can treasure this outing of March and Healy. – Matt Goldberg

Gone Girl

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Image via 20th Century Fox

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Gillian Flynn

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, and Kim Dickens

David Fincher’s 2014 adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel is a nasty piece of work in all the best ways. The film starts with the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), the wife of college professor Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), which becomes a media circus as suspicions arise that he murdered her and hid her body. But those suspicions twist and turn into a warped portrait of a horrific marriage and the damage we do to people when we rely on pretentions of a relationship rather than honesty. Fincher is the perfect choice to helm this anti-romance that feels like a splash of cold water while still being a delightful ride thanks to the stellar performances from the whole cast. – Matt Goldberg

The Painter and the Thief

The Painter and the Thief

Image via NEON

Director: Benjamin Ree

Benjamin Ree’s documentary is a fascinating look at a co-dependent relationship and questions what it means to be artist and subject. Karl Bertil-Nordland stole two paintings from artist Barbora Kysilkova, and at his trial, she went to talk to him about why he stole the paintings. He confessed that he was high, and didn’t even remember stealing or what he did with the paintings. After his sentence, Karl and Barbora come together again and begin a unique friendship where they come to depend on each other while they’re also kind of using each other as well. The documentary raises the question of who’s really the artist and who’s really the subject, and you’ll be enraptured trying to untangle that question. – Matt Goldberg

The Truman Show

Image via Paramount Pictures

Director: Peter Weir

Writer: Andrew Niccol

Cast: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, and Holland Taylor

The Truman Show doesn’t get enough credit for being the phenomenal film that it truly is. Upon release, the film was seen as a chance for Jim Carrey to try his hand at being dramatic or an EdTV-esque opportunistic feature about the emerging “reality TV” genre. But in actuality, Peter Weir crafted a brilliant satire about humanity’s voyeuristic nature and consumerism. Carrey really does turn in an absolutely stellar performance as a man whose entire life has been part of an elaborate reality television show without his knowledge, shot inside a massive soundstage in Hollywood. As he begins to uncover the truth about his existence, the entire framework of the world around him begins to unravel, and he questions what—if anything—was real. It’s hilarious, sad, and ultimately touching, and absolutely one of the best films of the 1990s. – Adam Chitwood

Deadpool

Deadpool Ryan Reynolds

Image via 20th Century Fox

Director: Tim Miller

Writers: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, Brianna Hildebrand, Gina Carano, and T.J. Miller

When Deadpool first hit theaters in 2016, it was genuinely groundbreaking. 20th Century Fox was so pessimistic that an R-rated superhero movie would work that they capped the X-Men spinoff’s budget at a fraction of their other superhero films, and yet it ended up grossing nearly $800 million and opening the door to R-rated superhero storytelling. The comedy stars Ryan Reynolds as the titular “Merc with a mouth,” a mercenary who is transformed into a nearly un-killable force who seeks revenge against those who betrayed him. Running throughout is some very funny (and filthy) comedy wrapped up in a unique storytelling structure, making Deadpool not just funny but incredibly entertaining. – Adam Chitwood

The Prestige

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Image via Buena Vista

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Andy Serkis, and David Bowie

The Prestige is the most essential film to unlocking Christopher Nolan the filmmaker. It speaks to his overall philosophy when it comes to storytelling, and its themes are prevalent in nearly every single one of his films. It’s also one of his best movies to date. Set in the world of magicians towards the end of the 19th century, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are dueling magicians with very different approaches to their craft. When Bale’s character unveils a seemingly impossible trick, Jackman’s character is driven mad trying to figure out how it works. It’s a story of obsession, devotion, and priorities, and the film’s non-linear structure provides a wildly compelling watch. – Adam Chitwood

Superbad

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Image via Columbia Pictures

Director: Greg Mottola

Writers: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

Cast: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Seth Rogen, and Bill Hader

The 2007 comedy Superbad is not just one of the funniest films of the 21st century so far, it’s also one of the most iconic. It’s hard to make a comedy that stands the test of time, and while some jokes – by Seth Rogen’s admission – don’t hold up all that well, the core of this story is endearing and enduring. It’s gets to the heart of high school friendships and the anxiety of growing up and potentially losing your best friend. It was written by Rogen and his childhood friend Evan Goldberg, who channeled their own personal anxieties and fears into the screenplay. But what makes this thing soar is its incredible ensemble cast – it’s just one home run performance after another. — Adam Chitwood

The Firm

The Firm Tom Cruise

Image via Paramount Pictures

Director: Sydney Pollack

Writers: David Rabe, Robert Towney, and David Rayfiel

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Hal Holbrook, and David Strathairn

The Firm feels like a throwback in the best way. If you have a hankering for a 90s legal thriller, you absolutely can’t go wrong with this John Grisham adaptation. The 1993 film stars Tom Cruise as a hot-shot law school graduate who gets invited to join a prestigious firm, where he soon learns much of their work involves helping their wealthy clients hide their money in off-shore accounts. Many more twists and turns ensue, but Cruise is terrific as the young do-gooder and it’s an absolute joy to see him go toe-to-toe with Gene Hackman. – Adam Chitwood

Sorry to Bother You

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Image via Annapurna

Writer/Director: Boots Riley

Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yuen, and Armie Hammer

It’s best to go into Sorry to Bother You as cold as possible, but if you need to know the brief synopsis, it follows Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a young black man who discovers he’s a wiz at telemarketing when he puts on his “white voice”, but as he starts becoming more successful, he begins to compromise his values. But that’s just the basic premise of Boots Riley’s scathing satire on race, capitalism, art, masculinity, and commerce. It’s not a film that works 100% of the time, but its ambition is undeniable and the film is at turns hilarious, damning, and completely bonkers. – Matt Goldberg

Crawl

CRAWL

Image via Paramount Pictures

Crawl is a blast. Alexandre Aja’s gator movie runs less than 90 minutes, and it seems that the pitch was, “What if the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park, but it’s the entire movie?” And reader, that’s a genius pitch that pays off perfectly. The story follows college athlete swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario) to the house of her estranged father (Barry Pepper) to check on him during a Category 5 hurricane in Florida. She finds her dad unconscious and attempts to rescue him only to be trapped in the house’s crawlspace by gators. The rest of the movie is basically two characters trying to figure out how to survive and escape the hungry predators while the waters rise and threaten to drown them. It’s a tense, fun experience with masterful compositions and framing by Aja. – Matt Goldberg

Rocketman

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Image via Paramount Pictures

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Writer: Lee Hall

Cast: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Jamie Bell, and Bryce Dallas Howard

If you saw Bohemian Rhapsody, you owe it to yourself to see Rocketman, a far superior version of that kind of “music biopic” movie. Unlike the Queen biopic, Rocketman is a warts-and-all look at the early life and career of Elton John, cutting no corners when it comes to his issues with substance abuse and his family. It’s also a full-on musical that gets wonderfully inventive with how it presents John’s iconic discography, and Taron Egerton gives a truly Oscar-worthy performnace as a music legend. This one is genuinely great. – Adam Chitwood

Parasite

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Image via NEON CJ Entertainment

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Writers: Bong Joon-ho and Jin Won Han

Cast: Sang Kang Ho, Lee Sun Kyun, Cho Yeon Jeong, Park So Dam, Lee Jung Eun, and Chang Haye Jin

The latest movie from South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho is an absolutely masterpiece from start to finish. Parasite revolves around a family of squatters that discover a wealthy family they can con their way into by passing themselves off as knowledgeable employees. To say any more would ruin the many twists and turns the films take as Bong dances a high-wire act of tones and genres yet never once loses his balance. The film is a wonder to behold as it incisively looks at income inequality and class differences. Bong has never shied away from complex social issues before (his previous films include Snowpiercer and Okja), but he’s never been more incisive and cutting than with this delectable satire. The film picked up four Oscars including Best Picture, so you’ve run out of excuses for avoiding this one. – Matt Goldberg

Support the Girls

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Image via Magnolia

Director/Writer: Andrew Bujalski

Cast: Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, James LeGros, and AJ Michalka

Andrew Bujalski’s terrific 2018 movie follows a day-in-the-life of Lisa Conroy (Regina Hall), a hardworking manager of a Hooters-like sports bar trying to get her staff the support they deserve despite all the indignities they have to face just being women in the modern world. The film is deeply empathetic towards its characters and people in the service industry in general, but handles its themes with a light touch so that the subject matter never comes off as preachy. Instead, Bujalski expertly taps into the emotional wavelength of these characters, turning them from subjects in a story about working class women into flesh-and-blood people that you deeply care about. Support the Girls is a funny and movie indie you won’t soon forget. – Matt Goldberg

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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Image via Neon

Writer/Director: Céline Sciamma

Cast:  Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino

Were it not for the cultural powerhouse that is Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire would have certainly been the international film darling of 2019. And for good reason, Céline Sciamma’s entrancing love story is a spectacular and transfixing drama that sweeps you up in a subtle, seductive affair with quiet ferocity and leaves you consumed by subtle secret glances and whispered confessions. It is a lovely movie; poetically scripted and sumptuously shot, transporting you entirely to its brief, beautiful world apart on a wind-swept island where two women might find a moment of true love in an era that demands it be kept a secret, and thus, ever more delicious. — Haleigh Foutch

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

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Image via New Line Cinema

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens

Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Orlando Bloom, Jonathan Rhys-Davies, Sean Bean, Christopher Lee, and Andy Serkis.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy has lost none of its power in the almost two decades since The Fellowship of the Ring arrived in theaters. While we’re all familiar with the overarching quest of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) to deliver the One Ring to Mount Doom to rid the world of evil and defeat Sauron, these films feel epic in the best sense of the word. The blockbuster landscape has changed radically since these movies arrived, but rather than feeling dated, they have a timeless quality now that melds the best of visual effects with unabashed high fantasy storytelling. Take a day to pop on this trilogy and get lost in Middle-earth again. – Matt Goldberg

Fighting with My Family

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Photo by Robert Viglasky / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

Writer/Director: Stephen Merchant

Cast: Florence Pugh, Nick Frost, Lena Heady, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn, Jack Lowden, Olivia Bernstone

Florence Pugh had a hell of a year in 2019, culminating in an Oscar nomination for her scene-stealing work in Little Women. But before the awards tour, and before the horrors of Midsommar, Pugh kicked the year off strong with the absolutely delightful wrestling comedy Fighting with My Family. Written and directed by Extras and Life’s Too Short co-creator Stephen Merchant, the film is inspired by the life of real-world wrestling star Paige and chronicles how she was raised in a family of wrestling fanatics and went from smalltown gigs with the fam to dominating the ring on an international stage.

You don’t have to be into wrestling to dig the heck out of this movie (I’ve never seen a full match and I loved it — so did my mom and pretty much everyone else I’ve talked to for that matter), though you might find yourself inclined to watch some once its over, but Fighting with My Family is just a classic feel-good sports movie with a heck of a lot of charm and a knockout ensemble cast that includes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson himself and Vince Vaughn giving his most charismatic performance in ages. — Haleigh Foutch

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

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Image via Annapurna Pictures

Director/Writer: Angela Robinson

Cast: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote, Oliver Platt, and Connie Britton

This 2017 true-story drama about the real-life inspiration for the character of Wonder Woman was kind of buried, but make no mistake: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is fascinating, emotional, and downright sexy to boot. Luke Evans stars as William Moulton Marston, a professor and researcher who works alongside his wife (played by Rebecca Hall) at Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges in the 1920s and 30s. The two enter into a controversial polyamorous relationship with a student, played by Bella Heathcote, and the intense femininity of both women inspire Marston to create the character of Wonder Woman—which he would also then use to further ideas of DISC theory and feminism. This is a surprisingly complex story for a biographical drama, and one you definitely have not seen before. – Adam Chitwood

The Cabin in the Woods

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Image via Lionsgate

Director: Drew Goddard

Writers: Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford

The Cabin in the Woods is one of the most inventive and entertaining horror films ever made. The 2011 feature was basically Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s way of calling out the horror genre for being lazy, as they crafted a stereotypical story of a group of college kids who go to a remote cabin in the woods and are terrorized by supernatural forces. But there is much more than meets the eye here, as there also exists an underground bunker from which these terrors appear to be controlled. What do we consider entertainment and why? Why do horror tropes persist despite being tired and lazy? The Cabin in the Woods answers these questions full-on while also being incredibly entertaining, funny, and yes, genuinely scary. – Adam Chitwood

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