The best movies to watch on Hulu right now

Clockwise from top left: The Equalizer (Sony), Palm Springs (Hulu), Triangle Of Sadness (Neon), Parasite (Neon)
Clockwise from top left: The Equalizer (Sony), Palm Springs (Hulu), Triangle Of Sadness (Neon), Parasite (Neon)
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Hulu, like all streaming services, adds and loses titles every month. If you see something that you want to stream, don’t assume that it will still be there two weeks or two months later when you get around to it. That show or film may hop over to another streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime for a few months, or it may disappear from streaming altogether for an indeterminate amount of time. The lesson here? Stream ‘em while they’re hot.

That includes the new-to-streaming film All Of Us Strangers, which has been doing pretty well in the independent movie awards circuit. Hulu’s also the place for Denzel Washington to 86 hordes of bad guys using pistols, chains, knives, razor wire, and Lord knows what else in the first two kick-ass Equalizer films. Or catch the snack chip origin story Flamin’ Hot and the Oscar-nominated black comedy Triangle Of Sadness. But wait, there’s more! From Oscar-winning Best Pictures like Parasite to horror hits Memories Of Murder and the Palme d’Or winnerTitane there’s truly something for everyone. Read on for Hulu’s best movies, and The A.V. Club’s thoughts on each.

This list was updated on February 24, 2024.

All Of Us Strangers

Andrew Haigh is a master storyteller of love stories, both about budding connections (Weekend) and lifetime marriages falling apart (45 Years). He’s also one of the best contemporary chroniclers of gay lives (Weekend, HBO’s Looking). InAll Of Us Strangers, he combines these elements to arrive at a story even richer than what he has done before. This is a film about a new and exciting love tinged with sadness, and it’s also about how to reconcile unresolved feelings between parents and their adult children. It’s a film about first and last chances at love, redemption, and healing wounds. All Of Us Strangers tells how continuing relationships—those that last a lifetime—can bring so much joy because of the strong connections they engender, yet also bring so much sorrow because of the expectations they come with. [Murtada Elfadl]

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Apollo 11

Photo: Apollo 11 (Neon)
Photo: Apollo 11 (Neon)

Shutting down conspiracy theorists probably wasn’t high on director Todd Douglas Miller’s to-do list when he was making the documentary Apollo 11. So just consider it a bonus that his film about the first manned moon landing is so immersive that it feels like it’s happening in real-time on screen—and definitively un-faked. Apollo 11 doesn’t run through the usual grainy footage that has been recycled from doc to doc: those well-worn shots of a booster rocket falling to Earth, Neil Armstrong exiting the “Eagle” module, the American flag being planted, Buzz Aldrin hopping around on the lunar surface, and the big final splashdown. Instead, Miller and a team of editors, historians, and government archivists have dug deep into the NASA and broadcast news vaults, finding angles and audio that in some cases no one has seen or heard in 50 years, if at all. Everything looks strikingly fresh… and overwhelmingly so. [Noel Murray]

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The Assistant

Photo: The Assistant
Photo: The Assistant

As its title indicates, The Assistant looks at a powerful serial abuser—at the patterns of exploitation, at the network of enablers he builds around himself over several decades—through the at-once limited and privileged perspective of someone very low on the totem pole of his empire. Her name is Jane (Julia Garner, Emmy-winning costar of Ozark) and for 87 minutes, we’re immersed in her professional world, a mundane and exhausting and sometimes degrading series of routines through which the undeniable evidence of transgression emerges. Perhaps dramatization is the wrong word. The Assistant is more of a spartan procedural, its narrative a methodical accounting of one day—typical in incident, atypical in dawning realization—for an entry-level employee at the New York production house of a Weinstein-like figure. “First in, last out,” Jane is shown, in the wordless opening passage, climbing into a car in the dark early hours of the morning, making the long commute from Astoria to the cluttered Manhattan office building where she toils tirelessly seven days a week. We’ll see her turn on lights and electronics, open bottles of water, take phone calls, unclog printers, sign for packages, book flights and hotels, even babysit the children of women who come to meet with Him behind closed doors. [A.A. Dowd]

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Babyteeth

Babyteeth
Babyteeth

Eliza Scanlen, best known abroad for playing little-sister roles in HBO’s Sharp Objects miniseries and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, stars as Milla, a sheltered 15-year-old cancer patient who falls immediately and hard for Moses (Toby Wallace), the scuzzy 23-year-old drifter who literally runs into her on a train platform in the opening scene. It’s obvious from the start that Moses is trouble, and not just because he looks like a Soundcloud rapper. He’s also a one-man illegal pharmacy who’s caught stealing pills from Milla’s psychiatrist dad Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) more than once before Henry invites him to move in. You read that correctly; after several attempts to keep him and Milla apart, Henry and his wife Anna (Essie Davis) invite Moses to come live with the family, as a comfort for their daughter in the last weeks of her life. Sure, Moses is a drug dealer. But so’s Henry, in his way. Both Murphy and screenwriter Rita Kalnejais view the grey areas of this unconventional arrangement both cuttingly and compassionately; their film is less cynical than Cory Finely’s Thoroughbreds but in the same polished black-comedy wheelhouse. In playing along with Milla’s fantasy of a great romance in her dying days, Anna, Henry, and Moses create a convincing replica of a happy family that’s both comically demented— “He’s a drug dealer!” Anna cries after first meeting Moses; “Don’t pigeonhole him like that!” her daughter snaps back—and oddly sweet. [Katie Rife]

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Boston Strangler

Keira Knightley expertly loses her British accent to play an intrepid American reporter who must overcome the sexism of the 1960s to close in on notorious serial killer Albert DeSalvo in Boston Strangler. The Hulu Original, coproduced by Ridley Scott and directed by Matt Ruskin, also stars Carrie Coon, David Dastmalchian and Robert John Burke. [Robert DeSalvo]

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Collective

Collective
Collective

Early in the 21st century, a new wave of Romanian filmmakers like Cristian Mungiu, Cristi Puiu, and Corneliu Porumboiu began drawing international recognition for their gripping, docu-realistic dramas, addressing the power imbalances and the social dysfunction plaguing their country, post-Communism. The best way to describe Alexander Nanau’s documentary Collective is to say that it’s a non-fiction version of those new Romanian classics: like The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu or 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, but with real people. It’s a taut, intense procedural, with a resonant story that simultaneously follows a journalistic investigation and an attempt to fix a fatally dysfunctional medical bureaucracy—all while criminal organizations, corrupt politicians, and rabble-rousing television hosts work in concert to stymie any real reform. [Noel Murray]

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The Donut King

The Donut King
The Donut King

As an energetic montage at the beginning of The Donut King states, Los Angeles has a much higher percentage of donut shops than any other city in the U.S.—one for every 7,000 residents, as opposed to the national average of one per 30,000. And almost all of those donut shops are owned by Cambodian people, whose market dominance is so complete that even East Coast staple Dunkin’ Donuts struggled to break into Southern California in the ’90s. Remarkably—almost miraculously—this is all the work of one man: Ted Ngoy, who sponsored hundreds of refugees to come to the U.S. and gave them turnkey loans to run their own donut shops in the ’70s and ’80s. The first part of Gu’s documentary celebrates Ngoy, as well as the ingenuity and tireless work ethic of immigrants in general, with a vivid hybrid of biographical documentary and food porn set to colorful animation and a hip-hop beat. In fact, The Donut King plays much like an extended episode of Ugly Delicious, before diving into darker territory in its second half that actively dismantles the myths it spent the first hour building. And although this abrupt turn destabilizes the film’s structure in a way it never quite recovers from, it also makes The Donut King much more than simple food porn—not that there’s anything wrong with that, particularly when creative, mouthwatering treats like cronuts and emoji donuts are so lovingly showcased. [Katie Rife]

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The Equalizer

For more than a dozen years now, Antoine Fuqua has been dining out on the success of his most acclaimed movie: Each new project comes touted as “from the director of Training Day,” perhaps because nothing Fuqua’s made since—not the Bruce Willis vehicle Tears Of The Sun, not the failed franchise launcher King Arthur, certainly not last year’s lousy Olympus Has Fallen—counts as an enticing proof of talent. In the case of his latest, The Equalizer, the career callback is a little more applicable. After all, the film does reunite its maker with his Oscar-winning Training Day star, Denzel Washington. As in Training Day, Denzel plays a character whose motives and true nature are meant to be unclear at the onset, though even those who walk in completely blind should have no trouble seeing the lion hiding within the lamb. For a while, Robert (Washington) does nothing but sulk around Boston, burying his nose in classic books and exchanging pleasantries with a teenage prostitute (Chloë Grace Moretz) he meets at a quaint diner. This opening passage is pure wheel-spinning, a protracted prelude to the carnage: While Robert’s co-workers may wonder aloud what this soft-spoken, sagely bachelor did before he got hired by The Home Depot, savvy moviegoers will wait impatiently for the other shoe to drop. And drop it eventually does. Excellent actor that he is, Washington pumps a little poignancy into those early scenes, before shifting into stoic, unflappable avenger mode once the bodies start hitting the floor. So long, perfunctory quiet introspection. Welcome, belated sadistic retribution. [A.A. Dowd]

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The Equalizer 2

The Equalizer 2, which reunites Washington with Equalizer 1 director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter Richard Wenk, puts fewer disposable goons in Robert McCall’s crosshairs, trading the original’s rote killing-up-the-ranks revenge campaign for some half-assed approximation of a murder mystery. Having left his day job at the Home Depot that got shot to smithereens at the end of the last movie, McCall now drives for Lyft, scanning for trouble—for those in need of some street justice or protection—in his rearview mirror. Early into The Equalizer 2, he makes short, brutal work of some rapist business bros, but not before politely giving them the chance to turn themselves in. (That’s the thing about Mr. Equalizer: He’s tough but fair, and a perfect gentleman, right up until the point he’s snapping your fingers like twigs.) Washington, who’s been playing stoic men of action almost as long as he’s been honing his actual acting chops, does bring a casual authority and even a touch of gravitas to his role. He has a way of slowing scenes down, of savoring the better-think-twice monologues and loaded advice his character calmly delivers before Equalizing someone. [A.A. Dowd]

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Fire Island

Fire Island
Fire Island

It doesn’t take long for Fire Island, Joel Kim Booster’s instant-classic Jane Austen riff, to stake its claim in the romantic comedy canon—or rather, defiantly outside of it. Less than a minute into the opening sequence, Booster refers to Pride And Prejudice, his source material, as “hetero nonsense.” As this story’s Lizzie Bennet stand-in, gay Brooklynite Noah continues to narrate: he shudders at the “boyfriend energy” of the naked man in his bed whose name clearly eludes him, then calls his chosen family, the group of friends on their annual Fire Island vacation, the F-word (the one reserved for gays). “Don’t cancel me,” he tells us, tongue firmly in cheek. “I’m reclaiming it!”

Suffice it to say this isn’t your typical rom-com—but then again, how could it be? With all due respect to But I’m A Cheerleader and rather less respect to Love, Simon, queer audiences haven’t seen themselves reflected much in a genre that, at least in its heyday, defined Hollywood’s mainstream and reinforced heteronormative sociocultural standards. Booster and director Andrew Ahn use Austen’s tale of class tension, a romantic comedy urtext, to laugh in the face of such standards, and introduce some new ones. Queer and straight viewers alike may experience Fire Island on Hulu with a mix of delight and disorientation; they haven’t worked the muscles of watching a gay will-they-won’t-they story, let alone one populated by unabashedly out characters. [Jack Smart]

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Flamin’ Hot

Flamin’ Hot is about—you guessed it—the hugely popular Cheetos snacks that currently come a range of flavors. The film adaptation holds the viewer’s interest because of Jesse Garcia, who plays Richard, the unlikeliest of heroes. In the 1970s, before he becomes a custodian at Frito-Lay’s Rancho Cucamonga plant in Southern California, Richard peddles drugs and steals. Eventually he turns his life around and befriends the jaded Frito-Lay engineer, Clarence (Dennis Haysbert). Amid a series of layoffs and shift cuts, PepsiCo Chief Executive Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub) hosts a motivational video imploring plant employees to think like a CEO. Richard takes this message to heart, embarking on a quest to come up with the storied snack, then bypassing all the gatekeepers so he can pitch the idea to Enrico. Eva Longoria makes an assured big-screen directorial debut. Indeed, the finished product feels more like the effort of a film school wunderkind than some vanity project of an actress turned filmmaker. [Martin Tsai]

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Flee

The use of animation in documentaries used to be a novel stylistic flourish, until filmmakers started using those interludes so often to cover for missing footage that it started to feel less inspired and more gimmicky. So if nothing else, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s intense and moving Flee is a reminder of how animation in nonfiction movies can elevate the storytelling. By employing a variety of techniques—chalky abstraction, flat 2D illustrations, even some archival live-action news footage—Rasmussen and a team of artists and animators keep audiences alert and engaged, while taking them inside the somber first-person account of an Afghan refugee who has never fully processed his traumatic childhood. [Noel Murray]

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Good Luck To You, Leo Grande

From the moment we meet Nancy Stokes, anxiously pacing around a tastefully anonymous hotel room, knocking back a minibar vodka and posing in the mirror to no great personal satisfaction, we can tell she’s a nervous wreck. And why shouldn’t she be? Nancy is a 55-year-old widow awaiting the arrival of a sex worker who’ll hopefully give her the first orgasm of her entire life. The male escort assigned to this monumental task is the “aesthetically perfect” young Leo (Daryl McCormack) and, as he’ll learn over the course of their four meetings, giving Nancy a chance to premiere her O-face means breaking down her well-established defenses.

If that sounds like the premise for a comedy or even a tragedy, it’s actually neither. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is a tender and richly satisfying charmer whose themes of self-acceptance and body positivity are delivered with a light and carefully crafted touch. Emma Thompson is at her prickly, vulnerable, fiercely intelligent best as Nancy, a stand-in for every woman who’s suppressed her sexuality out of shame, feelings of inadequacy or a need to please others. Unfolding almost entirely in one room, the film is a two-character study of sexual awakening and a heartfelt, yearning dispatch from the farthest corner of the age divide. It’s a sexually frank and intimate story told in a pleasingly mainstream manner that avoids greeting card clichés and empty “girl power” posturing. [Mark Keizer]

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The Hunger Games

If Suzanne Collins’ novel The Hunger Games turns up on middle-school curricula 50 years from now—and as accessible dystopian science fiction with allusions to early-21st-century strife, that isn’t out of the question—the lazy students of the future can be assured that they can watch the movie version and still get better than a passing grade. But that’s a dubious triumph: A book is a book and a movie is a movie, and whenever the latter merely sets about illustrating the former, it’s a failure of adaptation, to say nothing of imagination. When the goal is simply to be as faithful as possible to the material—as if a movie were a marriage, and a rights contract the vow—the best result is a skillful abridgment, one that hits all the important marks without losing anything egregious. And as abridgments go, they don’t get much more skillful than this one. [Scott Tobias]

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I, Tonya

I, Tonya
I, Tonya

From the opening minutes of Craig Gillespie’s unreliably narrated, glibly entertaining biopic I, Tonya, it’s clear that Margot Robbie has disappeared into the role of disgraced figure skater and pop culture punching bag Tonya Harding. It’s not a precise imitation: However hard the wardrobe and makeup teams have worked to deglamorize this glamorous Hollywood star, she still doesn’t look much like the person she’s playing—a truth reinforced by the obligatory, closing-credits appearance by the real Harding, conquering the ice in archival footage. But as she wraps her mouth around a cigarette, a cornpone accent, and some well-delivered profanity, Robbie channels the antagonistic, take-no-shit attitude of her infamous “character,” while adding notes of disappointment and even dignity missing from every headline or Hard Copy treatment of The Tonya Harding Story. In the process, the actor wrestles a rare role worthy of her abilities from an industry that’d just as soon keep her in bubbles. [A.A. Dowd]

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Minding The Gap

Minding The Gap
Minding The Gap

From the house that fronted Hoop Dreams comes another absorbing, heartbreaking documentary about coming of age on the economic fringe of the American Midwest. It’s boards, not basketball, that the young subjects of Minding The Gap looked to as an escape hatch, back when they were teenagers delivering themselves, an afternoon at a time, from the shared trauma of their home lives. Bing Liu, the director, was one of them, a budding filmmaker shooting skating videos with his friends. Returning to his old stomping grounds of Rockford, Illinois, he catches up with these childhood companions, still haunted by the abuse they experienced as kids, which has shaped their adulthoods in ways both obvious and not. As usual, the Kartemquin long-term filming model pays enormous dramatic dividends. But Liu is just as interested in where these real lives have been as where they’re headed, because the two are intimately related—just one profound takeaway from his multifaceted portrait of boys growing into men, trying to outpace their demons along the way. [A.A. Dowd]

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MLK/FBI

Martin Luther King Jr. in MLK/FBI
Martin Luther King Jr. in MLK/FBI

Rather than a didactic Martin Luther King Jr. biographical endeavor, this project about the African American experience from veteran director Sam Pollard is an in-depth examination of the bureau’s history as it relates to their surveillance of the pastor-turned-galvanizing-orator. In place of talking heads, Pollard deploys only the audio from MLK’s interviews, filling the screen instead with archival footage and photographs. For context, Pollard talks to some of King’s closest contemporaries, like Andrew Young and Clarence Jones, as well as as notable academics like Donna Murch and David J. Garrow. Their observations, opinions, and first-hand accounts are the building blocks of a pragmatic history lesson. The tone of MLK/FBI can be excessively solemn at times, though maybe that’s a preemptive measure—a reflection of how those wronged in this country are expected to present their arguments in level-headed fashion or be deemed too emotional and hence not “objective.” Never forget that white America polices even the way in which those who are othered choose to talk about their trauma. [Carlos Aguilar]

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Nomadland

Frances McDormand in Nomadland
Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Unless the political landscape changes significantly over the next few years, the number of Americans facing an old age like the one profiled in Nomadland will only continue to grow. A longtime resident of Empire, Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) watched her town shrivel up and die after the gypsum mine that employed the majority of the community shut down in January 2011. A dandelion seed left to float on the fickle winds of capitalism, Fern now lives in a custom van she calls “Vanguard,” traveling in search of temporary employment and a safe place to park overnight. In the winter, she packs boxes at an Amazon warehouse; in the summer, she fries burgers and cleans toilets at tourist attractions. Her pleasures are simple, her struggles immense. Her hair is short, her shoes sensible. She keeps moving so she doesn’t dwell on the past for long. In different hands, Fern’s story might be tragic. But while Nomadland director (and writer and editor and co-producer) Chloé Zhao is interested in the material realities of a sixtysomething widow living an itinerant lifestyle, she also brings a dignity to the film that verges on sublime. [A.A. Dowd]

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Not Okay

As far as antiheroines go, Not Okay’s satirical main character Danni Sanders (an aptly caustic Zoey Deutch) has few redeeming qualities. Indeed, despite Deutch’s undeniable charisma and effortless allure, Danni just feels unlikable, mostly because she seems completely unbothered by how tone-deaf she is when it comes to, well, everything.

But in the carefully woven, zippily edited, and largely entertaining world that young, insightful writer-director Quinn Shephard builds for Danni—one that open-endedly reflects on social media, influencer fandom, internet fame, and the so-called “cancel culture” that holds wrongdoers accountable for their misdeeds, perhaps a little too severely at times—that tone-deafness is a branding exercise to Danni. “Lena Dunham does it,” is how she defends her frequent inability to read the room and unpublishable pitches to her online magazine’s editor, the latest of which is cringingly titled, “Why am I so sad?”... [Tomris Laffly]

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Palm Springs

Palm Springs
Palm Springs

Andy Samberg stars as Nyles, a slacker doofus stuck at a destination wedding in Southern California, which he’s attending as the date of a bridesmaid. Blithely wandering the reception in a loud and very informal short-sleeve shirt, Nyles clearly doesn’t have any fucks to give. But he also seems to have a suspiciously premonitory sense of how the night will play out. And before long, Palm Springs reveals the reason for both: He’s stuck in a time warp, waking up every morning to find himself still in Palm Springs on the morning of the wedding. The film employs its magical conceit as a multi-purpose metaphor for a long-term relationship. The flip side, of course, is that monogamy can leave you feeling as stuck as the characters, living the same day over and over again, with only your significant other for company. But Palm Springs wears all that baggage lightly. It’s a sadly rare thing: a sweet, madly inventive, totally mainstream romantic comedy, buoyed by inspired jolts of comic violence (some of them provided by J.K. Simmons as another wedding guest with a very big bone to pick with Nyles). [A.A. Dowd]

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Parasite

Parasite
Parasite

The last time Bong Joon Ho made a parable of class warfare, he set it aboard one hell of a moving metaphor: a train looping endlessly around a frozen Earth, its passengers divided into cars based on wealth and status, upward mobility achieved only through lateral revolution. Parasite, the South Korean director’s demented and ingenious movie, doesn’t boast quite as sensational a setting; it takes place mostly within a chicly modern suburban home, all high ceilings, stainless steel countertops, and windows instead of walls, advertising the elegant interior decoration within. But there’s a clear class hierarchy at play here, too; it runs top to bottom instead of front to back, vertically instead of horizontally. And though we’re watching a kind of warped upstairs-downstairs story, not a dystopian arcade brawler, Parasite races forward with the same locomotive speed as Snowpiercer, with plenty of its own twists and turns waiting behind each new door. [A.A. Dowd]

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Possessor

Andrea Riseborough in Possessor
Andrea Riseborough in Possessor

Possessor is a mindfuck without a safe word: a slick, nasty bit of science-fiction pulp that’s as interested in shredding nerves as buzzing the brain they’re attached to. The premise, a nightmare vision of bodies snatched and unwillfully weaponized, could have been extracted straight from the racing noggin of Philip K. Dick. But that author’s dystopian premonitions are just one aspect of its genre alchemy, a stylish mash-up of Ghost In The Shell, Inception, Under The Skin, and Olivier Assayas’ corporate-espionage thriller demonlover. And as it’s both written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of Canadian horror maestro David, it should probably come as no great shock that Possessor includes some truly gnarly mutilation of the flesh alongside the mental variety. [A.A. Dowd]

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Prey

A prequel to Predator, Prey is set in 1719, following Naru (Amber Midthunder), a young Comanche warrior who wants to break the gender traditions of her tribe and become a hunter. Already a skilled tracker and healer, Naru’s strength is put to the test when an unseen adversary endangers her tribe. Within this new setting, [Dan] Trachtenberg strips the Predator franchise back down to its core elements—the ruthlessness of this alien species and the ingenuity of humanity when confronted with nearly impossible odds. In concentrating on character and location, he backs off of the world-changing repercussions of the franchise’s immediate predecessors, creating an involving and tense character-driven experience whose strengths rely on narrative simplicity and a compelling lead in Midthunder. [Richard Newby]

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Save Yourselves!

Sunita Mani and John Reynolds in Save Yourselves!
Sunita Mani and John Reynolds in Save Yourselves!

Bait and switch may be a reprehensible sales technique, but it often works wonderfully in movies. The indie comedy Save Yourselves! kicks off with what seems like a solid sitcom-episode premise: Extremely online couple Su (Sunita Mani) and Jack (John Reynolds) decide to spend an entire week disconnected from the internet, focusing instead upon their in-person interpersonal dynamic. (The impetus for this experiment, typical of the movie’s droll sense of humor: Su, frustrated, knocks Jack’s phone out of his hand and across the apartment without warning, whereupon he turns to her and says with deep sincerity, “Thank you.”) To that end, the two Brooklynites borrow a friend’s isolated cabin upstate, bringing along their smartphones and laptops but vowing not to pick them up unless there’s a genuine emergency. It’s not too hard to guess what sort of jokes would emerge from this scenario, and severe tech withdrawal does briefly play a key role. The film’s true premise, however, involves the emergency that soon arises, since Su and Jack have cut the world off at the precise moment that it’s invaded by a hostile alien race. [Mike D’Angelo]

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She Dies Tomorrow

She Dies Tomorrow
She Dies Tomorrow

Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), the protagonist of She Dies Tomorrow, is not okay. When we first meet her, she seems fine enough—about as fine as any of us are in an era where anxiety and confusion are so prevalent that there’s a term for endlessly scrolling through bad news. She putters around her half-empty house still piled with moving boxes, occasionally stopping to lie on the floor or run her hands over the furniture. She pours herself some wine, picks out a sequin gown, puts it on, and sits down at her laptop to shop online for leather jackets (and, more curiously, cremation urns). It’s not until her friend Jane (Jane Adams) comes by and finds her blankly standing in her backyard holding a leaf blower that we realize how not okay Amy actually is, as she greets her friend with a barely audible, “I was thinking... I could be made into a leather jacket.” With its claustrophobic spaces and free-floating fear, She Dies Tomorrow is built around an eerily timely theme: existential dread as thought virus. Amy is gripped by the unshakable belief that she will die the next day, and everyone who encounters her becomes similarly convinced after only a few seconds of exposure. One character describes the feeling: “It’s like when you’re in New York City... in the summer, when you look up and there’s air conditioners everywhere, and you just know, ‘One of those is going to pop out and crash down on my head.’” The pandemic here is emotional, as first Jane, then everyone she meets, is visited by a psychedelic onslaught of color, sound, and pummeling flashing light. It’s sort of like being abducted by aliens while high on LSD, and it turns all who see and hear it into hollow shells of doom. [Katie Rife]

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Some Kind Of Heaven

Barbara Lochiatto in Some Kind Of Heaven
Barbara Lochiatto in Some Kind Of Heaven

Watching Some Kind Of Heaven, an entrancing new documentary about life in a massive Florida retirement community, the mind may drift to a whole library of movies about the plastic unreality of suburban life. Partially, that’s because the film’s director, 24-year-old Lance Oppenheim, plainly takes some cues, visual and tonal, from touchstones of the genre. But it’s also because his subject, the so-called “Disney World for retirees,” was essentially built from the same psychic blueprint as those films: the nostalgic dream image of an unblemished American yesterday, a boomer paradise more imagined than remembered. What Oppenheim has found, in his first feature film, is a real place every bit as art-directed as Blue Velvet or Edward Scissorhands or American Beauty. It’s like a movie set the size of Manhattan—a Hollywood facsimile of the midcentury high life you can actually move into. [A.A. Dowd]

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Supernova

Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci in Supernova
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci in Supernova

In Harry Macqueen’s quiet road trip drama Supernova, grief is not something that begins with death or even significant loss. For Tusker (Stanley Tucci), a writer living with an accelerated form of dementia, early signs of grief occur in the passenger’s seat of an old RV during a trip through rural England with his longtime partner, Sam (Colin Firth). At first glance, the scene isn’t especially revelatory—Tusker and Sam lightly debate the virtues of regular maps over satellite navigational systems and squabble over Sam’s slower-than-strictly-necessary driving, just like any settled couple would. But as we watch Tusker’s control slowly slip through his grasp, we realize that we’re watching a man mourn what he once was, a bright star collapsing too soon. “I’m becoming a passenger,” Tusker helplessly observes at a particularly pivotal moment of the story. “And I’m not a passenger.” By the end, Supernova isn’t necessarily a tale about a couple’s attempt to make the best of their last moments but about two people coming to grips with one’s mortality. Macqueen approaches the messy reality of letting go with measured sorrow, unrestrained tenderness, and even moments of joy. [Shannon Miller]

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Titane

Let’s just say that the surprise winner of [2021’s] Palme d’Or, a.k.a. the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is about bodies. Young bodies with skin pulled tight over rock-hard muscles, and aging bodies desperate to recapture the suppleness of youth. Traumatized bodies, uncontrollable bodies, bodies in the midst of transformation. There are a lot of wild twists and turns in this movie, but underneath there’s a constant: the agony of being trapped inside of a human body, and the itchy, restless desire to transcend it. [Julia] Ducournau’s work is sometimes compared to that of David Cronenberg, and that rings true in the sense that both are obsessed with the erotics of disgust and the possibilities of a “new flesh.” Yet the similarities between Titane and Cronenberg’s Crash have been overstated. After all, a sexual predilection for cars is only one aspect of our heroine, Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), and her fucked-up psyche... [Katie Rife]

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Triangle Of Sadness

It would be too lazy, even misguided to view Triangle Of Sadness—a beauty industry term that refers to one’s wrinkles between the eyebrows—as a straightforward “eat the rich” satire. Östlund’s genius lies in his stubborn refusal to be didactic, making sure that our sympathies continually shift throughout the narrative as its power structures evolve. Even so, one thing that stays constant is the feeling of antsy (yet oddly funny) discomfort, often amplified by incessant sounds like buzzing mosquitoes, crying babies, and screaming donkeys. It’s a stellar film that hits a rare sweet spot as both mainstream, accessible entertainment, and also an undeniably incisive piece of cultural commentary. And best of all, it will keep you on your toes until the sensational final moment of its breezy drift. [Tomris Laffly]

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Two Of Us

Photo: Magnolia Pictures
Photo: Magnolia Pictures

Two Of Us is a romantic drama that often plays more like a horror movie: A woman hides behind a shower curtain. A pan sizzles for an unnervingly long amount of time. A figure emerges from the shadows to smash up a car. Director Filippo Meneghetti establishes the unusual tone of his debut feature in a striking opening sequence that seamlessly blends memory and nightmare, as two girls play a surreal game of hide and seek until one of them disappears. The burden of love is the fear of loss, and that unease is compounded when it’s tied to the inability to live as your authentic self. Meneghetti understands that loving someone isn’t just a joyous experience. It’s an anxiety-inducing one, too. [Caroline Siede]

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Young Adult

Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron

Characters reminisce about the ’90s, wear Pixies T-shirts, and maintain collections of hand-painted action figures in Young Adult, all in line with what viewers might expect from a film that reunites Juno’s writer and director, Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman. What’s different this time around? They’re on the sidelines, gazing with bewilderment, dislike, and/or awe at their heroine, played by Charlize Theron as the type of girl who once upon a time walked all over them. Though her character’s high-school glory days are almost two decades behind her, she’s dredged them up with an unstable determination that attests to the years of disappointment that followed them. It’s an empathetic but bravely brittle portrait of an aging queen bee that showcases a nuanced performance from Theron as a woman too used to being admired to admit how lonely and desperate she’s become. [Alison Willmore]

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