We hope you love the shows and movies we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of revenue or other compensation from the links on this page. Oh and FYI: Platform, prices, and other availability details are accurate as of time of posting. 1. *About a Boy (2002)
This witty and heartfelt movie manages to be both funny and tender without descending into schmaltz. Hugh Grant stars as Will, a rich and childless playboy who lies about having a son to attend single parent meetings and meet women. At one of these meetings, he meets Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), a socially awkward 12-year-old boy who has problems at school. The two form an unlikely friendship that leads to Will becoming a more mature adult as he bonds with Marcus and helps the boy to gain confidence. Featuring excellent performances from Grant, Hoult, Toni Collette, and Rachel Weisz,
About a Boy is a star-studded, charming coming-of-age story full of laughs, sweetness, and flawed but lovable characters — making it a much more mature offering from the filmmakers behind . American Pie
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Peacock for free. Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection 2. Anthony (2020)
When Black teenager Anthony Walker was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack by two white men in 2005, the world was sickened and mourned the loss of a life that had only just begun. In the wake of the 18-year-old's brutal murder, his mother Gee Walker approached her friend, screenwriter and producer Jimmy McGovern, and asked him to write about this horrifying loss. The result is a powerful look at what might have been, highlighting the positive impact Anthony made in his 18 years and imagining what his life might have looked like had it not been tragically cut short. Toheeb Jimoh and Rakie Ayola give tremendous performances as Anthony and his mother, respectively, and the film's structure makes even the happiest scenes heartbreaking and evocative. This Peacock original is simply a must-watch.
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Peacock for free. Peacock 3. Apollo 13 (1995)
Based on the true events of the Apollo 13 lunar mission, this film tells the harrowing story of three astronauts who have to call off their scheduled moon landing after an oxygen tank explodes, leaving their entire crew’s safe return to Earth in peril as they work to overcome numerous technical problems and fight for survival. Director Ron Howard sends viewers straight into outer space and puts us right in the middle of the claustrophobic danger, while the ensemble cast — led by the magnificent Tom Hanks — bring an emotional authenticity that’ll have you on the edge of your seat even if you already know how the tale ends.
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Peacock for free. Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection 4. Away From Her (2007)
Sarah Polley’s directorial debut is a moving look into the effects of Alzheimer’s, complemented by Julie Christie’s incredible performance as Fiona, a woman suffering from the disease. When Fiona checks into a nursing home due to her worsening condition, fractures begin to appear in her longtime marriage to Grant (Gordon Pinsent), as her memories fade and she develops a close relationship with another nursing home resident (Michael Murphy). Polley and Christie’s thoughtful work earned them both a long list of accolades from across the industry, including Oscar noms for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress, and a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama. Fans of Sarah Polley's direction can also look forward to her forthcoming film
Women Talking, starring brilliant Frances McDormand! Nomadland's
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Peacock for free. Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection 5. Being John Malkovich (1999)
This brilliantly strange film from Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze offers a mind- and genre-bending exploration of identity, celebrity, love, and art. When Craig (John Cusack), an unsuccessful puppeteer, starts a temp job as a filing clerk, he stumbles upon a portal into the mind of acclaimed actor John Malkovich — a discovery that turns his entire life, and the lives of those around him, completely upside down. An inventive screenplay, masterful direction, and fantastic acting from Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, and, of course, Malkovich himself ensures that this film's bizarre premise is fully realized, balancing humor, darkness, surrealism, and existentialism while keeping viewers on their toes, wondering what could possibly happen next in this twisted journey that continues to draw you in deeper and deeper until there's no turning back.
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Peacock for free. USA Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 6. The Best Man (1999)
This character-driven romantic comedy-drama features standout performances from its ensemble cast — featuring Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau, Sanaa Lathan, and Terrence Howard — as well as sharp writing and direction from Malcolm D. Lee making it a thoughtful and frequently hilarious film that continues to be beloved by audiences and critics. When successful writer Harper (Diggs) goes to New York to be the best man at his friend Lance's (Chestnut) wedding, he arrives a little early to hang out with his friends — including Lance and his soon-to-be-bride Jordan (Long), who has a secret past with Harper. Things get complicated when it's revealed that Jordan, who works in media, has gotten ahold of an advance copy of Harper's autobiographical new book that chronicles their under-the-radar fling among other scandalous details about their friend group.
What could go wrong?
Fans of this movie will be glad to see that Peacock also has its excellent sequel,
(2013) and, as of February 2021, has ordered a 10-episode limited series, The Best Man Holiday The Best Man: The Final Chapters, created by Lee and former Insecure executive producer Dayna Lynne North that's set to reunite the cast and finish the story all these years later. A release date has yet to be revealed, but based on the two movies that preceded it, we have a feeling it'll be worth the wait.
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Peacock for free. Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection 7. The Big Lebowski (1998)
This highly quotable comedy is a Coen brothers cult classic, stuffed to the brim with their characteristically witty dialogue, absurd plot twists, colorful characters, and trippy visuals. Jeff Bridges is magnetic as “The Dude,” a lovable stoner whose carefree lifestyle of bowling and vibing out to some Creedence is interrupted by a case of mistaken identity that leads to him getting caught up in a truly bizarre conspiracy full of millionaires, nihilists, porn directors, and other kooky characters around LA. John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, and countless others take this brilliantly zany film to the next level, and — fair warning — you’ll probably wanna go bowling after you finish watching it.
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Peacock for free. Gramercy Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection 8. Black Boys (2020)
This documentary celebrates Black youth and explores Black male identity in America through sports, education, and criminal justice. Director Sonia Lowman, who has a background in activism and whose first film,
Teach Us All (2017), looked at segregation and racial inequities in American schools, came to this project with two main approaches. One was to explore how Black men are viewed by society, including acknowledging and grappling with her own limited understanding and prejudices that often go unexamined as a white woman who considers herself to be liberal and progressive. But the main focus was telling the stories of Black men and women in America across multiple generations and presenting as full of a picture of the Black male experience as possible, avoiding the two-dimensional version often shown in media. Highlighting the persistent racism and dehumanization Black males face, Black Boys provides an urgent conversation about opportunity, equity, and ultimately humanity.
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Peacock for free. Never Whisper Justice / Peacock 9. Boy Erased (2018)
Following his work in Oscar-nominated pictures like
and Lady Bird , Lucas Hedges plays Jared Eamons, the son of a small-town Baptist pastor (Russell Crowe), who is pressured to attend a conversion therapy program after being outed as gay to his parents. Hedges is remarkable in the role, offering a subtle but mesmerizing window into the heart and mind of a conflicted teen grappling with his sexuality, faith, and the approval of his family. His strong chemistry with his onscreen mother, played by the excellent Nicole Kidman, brings the story to life, as does Kidman and Crowe's moving portrayal of parents caught between their religious values and their love for their son. Critics questioned the praise for a well-acted, but somewhat muted film on this subject matter from a heterosexual writer-director, especially in the same year that Manchester by the Sea — an arguably better film about conversion therapy, written and directed by Desiree Akhavan, who identifies as a bisexual woman — was released with less fanfare. But while the themes are nothing new to the majority of viewers, the way The Miseducation of Cameron Post Boy Erased humanizes Jared's parents while offering a look into the horrors of conversion therapy just might be the dose of reality that less-progressive viewers need to understand the cruelty of these programs.
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Peacock with a Premium membership. Focus Features /AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo 10. *Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Fans and critics consider this movie to be one of the greatest sequels of all time — even better than the original
Frankenstein. Its stark cinematography and dramatic use of light and shadow set it apart from other films of its era. And by creating a partner for the monster, the characters reach a new level of emotional depth that make this surreal film strangely touching. Elsa Lanchester is excellent as both Mary Shelley and the titular character, and the film also features Colin Clive reprising his role as Henry Frankenstein as well as Ernest Thesiger portraying Doctor Septimus Pretorius.
Peacock starting September 15. Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection 11. Bridesmaids (2011)
If you could use a good laugh (and couldn't we all right about now?),
Bridesmaids is the perfect cinematic world to sink into. When Annie (Kristen Wiig) is asked to serve as her lifelong best friend's (Maya Rudolph) maid of honor, she is forced to confront her own struggles as she and the other bridesmaids suffer through a series of hilariously unfortunate events along the bumpy road to the wedding. The brilliant cast, featuring standout performances from Wiig, Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson, Chris O'Dowd, Franklyn Ajaye, and Jill Clayburgh, bring an abundance of comedy chops, charm, and heart to the film, while the smart screenplay (by Wiig and Annie Mumolo — who recently reunited on the film ) deftly balances laugh-out-loud gags and touching moments that keep it feeling fresh throughout. Whether you're tuning in for the first time or coming back for another round, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar Bridesmaids is the wedding gift that keeps on giving.
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Peacock for free. Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection 12. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
This meta-comedy horror movie is a smorgasbord of winking slasher flick clichés, witty laughs, and unflinching gore, with filmmakers Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon conceiving of the film as both an homage to and critique of their favorite bloody genres. Critics praised its cleverly dense layers of references and ability to move from genuinely frightening to hilarious with ease, as well as the cast — including Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford — for delivering standout performances despite the film's well-trodden concept of college friends being picked off by zombies in a remote cabin. The addition of scientists (Jenkins and Whitford) manipulating the supernatural forces brings an extra sense of mystery to the plot that veers between by-the-numbers tropes and unexpected turns.
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Peacock for free. Diyah Pera/©Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection 13. * E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
From the moment the words "E.T. phone home" first rang out across theaters, audiences all over the world were smitten with one of Steven Spielberg's most lovable characters — a gentle alien stranded on Earth and befriended by a young boy and his siblings. This film was so much of an instant hit that it snatched the crown of highest grossing film of all time from
and held onto it for 11 years...before the title was claimed by yet another Spielberg classic, Star Wars It also brought home four Academy Awards and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," solidifying what moviegoers already knew — that this iconic movie was one of the best of its kind. Still equally beloved by both kids and adults, Jurassic Park. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is full of warmth, humor, thrills, wonder, and more that keep audiences from all demographics coming back to get in touch with their inner child.
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Peacock for free. Universal Pictures/ Courtesy Everett Collection 14. Far From Heaven (2002)
This excellent 2002 film explores race, gender, sexuality, and class through the lens of America in the '50s, centered around a privileged suburban family coming apart at the seams. Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) struggles with his attraction to men, while his wife Cathy (Julianne Moore) falls for a Black man named Raymond (Dennis Haysbert), making their family the focus of the community's gossip and threatening to unravel their strained relationship. The film has subsequently been considered writer-director Todd Haynes' masterpiece, and is praised for its thematic content and excellent cast, as well as the painstaking color choices, cinematography, and sound design that were crafted as an homage to the style of '50s-era melodramas, earning it Academy Award noms for Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress (Moore), along with Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Score, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Quaid), and Best Actress — Drama (Moore). While Haynes is mostly known these days for his idiosyncratic Bob Dylan biopic,
, and the romantic drama period film I'm Not There , Carol Far From Heaven is a movie that deserves to be remembered and rewatched by generations to come.
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Peacock for free. Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 15. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Despite being a box office flop maligned by critics as aimless, bizarre, and incoherent, this film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 novel of the same name remains a cult favorite that introduced countless viewers to Thompson's trailblazing style of Gonzo journalism. Johnny Depp plays Raoul Duke (a fictionalized version of Thompson) who drives a convertible across the Mojave Desert with his attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) and a suitcase jam-packed with mind-altering substances, which the two consume at an alarming rate on their trek to Vegas. This leads to a variety of drug-addled adventures and predicaments involving the trashing of a hotel room, a run in with a police officer (Gary Busey), and, naturally, hallucinations of giant lizards. Some audiences saw the film as a tale of nostalgia for the hope and promise of the '60s combined with a critique of run-of-the-mill journalism and a skewering of the American dream through the lens of Sin City's capitalistic excesses — but you'll just have to stream it for yourself to decide if those audiences were onto something.
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Peacock for free. Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection 16. Hollywoodland (2006)
This intriguing neo-noir film follows a fictional detective (Adrien Brody) investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of real-life actor George Reeves (portrayed here by Ben Affleck), who played Superman in the '50s. While the events are mainly fictional, the excellent cast and strong writing, direction, and production values give this parable on the perils of fame legs, patiently fleshing out the characters while moving at a slow but deliberate pace. Affleck was nominated for a Golden Globe for his deft portrayal of the late movie star, and the film garnered positive reviews from critics while debuting at number two at the box office. And despite its tendency to leave viewers with more questions than answers about Reeve's strange death, it's well worth the ride for anyone interested in a glimpse into the life of a troubled icon.
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Peacock for free. Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection 17. I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (2015)
If you've ever wondered who was behind the iconic Muppet characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, this heartwarming doc is here to delight you with the story of Caroll Spinney, who proves himself throughout to be as lovable as the characters he created and embodied. This magical film takes us behind the scenes with the one-of-a-kind pioneer, revealing the lives he continues to touch well into his eighties. Though the sentimental soundtrack can sometimes cause it to drift into saccharine territory, it does nothing to sour this affectionate portrait that's sure to leave you with a smile on your face when you need it the most.
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Peacock for free. Tribeca Film 18. Izzy Gets the F Across Town (2018)
This film is an exhilarating journey that hinges on Mackenzie Davis's (
, Happiest Season , Tully ) pitch-perfect performance as Riot grrrl rocker Izzy, who wakes up to find out that her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend are having their engagement party that night. Izzy becomes fixated on crashing the party, despite having no money, no mode of transportation, and barely enough time to make it from Santa Monica to where the party is in Los Feliz. That won't stop her from trying though, and we tag along through her terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day as she frantically attempts to change the course of her life that didn't turn out the way she thought it would. Bolstered by a punk-filled soundtrack and a cast including Davis, Alia Shawkat, Haley Joel Osment, and Carrie Coon, this film will leave you both entertained and possibly a little exhausted. Black Mirror
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Peacock for free. Shout! Factory 19. John Wick (2014–19)
All three installments of the
John Wick franchise ( 1, 2, and 3) are now available to stream on Peacock as fans excitedly await 2022's promised John Wick: Chapter 4. Somehow avoiding the dreaded sequel slump, each of these films have been acclaimed by both critics and audience members, and star Keanu Reeves has since become an internet favorite, with fans gushing over his every wholesome move — at odds with his titular character in the films who kills at a frenetic pace throughout his hunt for vengeance after losing his wife and dog. Directed by one-time prolific stunt double Chad Stahelski, these sleek, stylish action flicks are chock-full of impressively choreographed fights with enough humor, fun, and visual prowess to keep audiences coming back for more — not to mention the excellent cast, featuring appearances from Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, and many others who skillfully turn parts big and small into three-dimensional characters worth watching. If you're counting down the days until Chapter 4's release on May 27, 2022, maybe it's time for a rewatch of the first three!
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Peacock for free. Summit Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection 20. Lord of War (2005)
This American crime drama from writer-director Andrew Niccol (
, The Truman Show ) stars Nicolas Cage as Yuri Orlov, an illegal arms dealer in the 1980s who, on top of trying to shake off the pursuit of a federal agent (Ethan Hawke), becomes conflicted about the morality of his line of work after witnessing war crimes and other atrocities — although his brother (Jared Leto), who is also his business partner, is more ethically challenged. When Yuri falls in love with his childhood crush (Bridget Moynahan, The Host Blue Bloods) — who has no idea what he does for a living — romance adds yet another layer of complication for this globetrotting character, whose story is inspired by the lives of several real-life arms dealers and smugglers. This smart, stylish, and thrilling action film is full of strong performances from its star-studded cast, while managing to be unexpectedly funny despite the serious subject matter and palpable sense of outrage throughout. It's also a fascinating look into war profiteering toward the end of the Cold War and the emergence of worldwide terrorism, which led to an official endorsement by the human rights group Amnesty International for shedding light on arms trafficking by the international arms industry.
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Peacock for free. Lions Gate / Courtesy Everett Collection 21. *Let Me In (2010)
An 11-year-old outcast boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) makes friends with a young female vampire (Chloë Grace Moretz) who lives next door in this romantic horror film. Don't expect
-level campiness, though! This remake of the acclaimed 2008 Swedish film Twilight is as dark and haunting as it is touching and beautiful, deftly depicting the frighteningly fine line between good and evil and featuring spectacular acting from both its child and adult stars. And as far as remakes go, director Matt Reeves does a pretty excellent job of walking the line between remaining faithful to the original and creating something new, making this a worthwhile watch regardless of whether or not you've seen the Swedish version that told the story first. Let the Right One In
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Peacock with a Premium membership. Overture Films/Courtesy Everett Collection 22. Love & Mercy (2014)
This excellent film about the genius behind the Beach Boys bounces back and forth between two time periods. One portion focuses on a young Brian Wilson (played with almost frightening accuracy by Paul Dano) as he works on the seminal album
Pet Sounds, through his struggle to finish his would-be masterpiece Smile, with the grips of mental illness tightening around him. The other follows Wilson years later (achingly portrayed by John Cusack), during the dark period where he was heavily medicated and controlled by his sinister therapist and legal guardian, Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), but finds hope in love interest Melinda Ledbetter (portrayed thoughtfully by Elizabeth Banks). The fly-on-the-wall scenes in the recording studio are simply a revelation, giving viewers a glimpse of what it looked like to make one of the greatest albums of all time. They were shot documentary style in the same studios that Pet Sounds was recorded in in the '60s, with Dano instructing actual session musicians based on his painstaking studies of outtakes from the legendary album and in-depth musical preparation for the role — which earned him a Golden Globe nom for Best Supporting Actor. And Cusack's portrayal of the years in which Wilson receded from the limelight brings focus to an important part of the story overlooked by many casual fans. While many biopics of musicians can be spotty — and this one certainly has its flaws — Love & Mercy does an admirable job at depicting the troubles and triumphs of a musical icon.
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Peacock for free. Roadside Attractions / Roadside Attractions / Courtesy Everett Collection 23. Mamma Mia! (2008)
While a great deal of ink was spilled by reviewers who despised it, this celebratory movie's steadily growing cult fanbase was too busy having fun to care what the critics were saying. Rousing and joyous performances from the ensemble cast — which includes Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth, and Christine Baranski — and the timeless songs of ABBA are what carry this musical comedy to its most jubilant heights. There's singing; there's dancing; there's romance — there's *Meryl Streep*. If you're looking for a feel-good distraction from this strange and painful world, look no further.
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Peacock for free. Universal / courtesy Everett Collection 24. *Men in Black (1997)
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are the Men in Black — members of a unofficial government agency that supervises and regulates aliens on Earth while hiding their existence from other humans — and their job gets a whole lot harder when they uncover a deadly assassination plot that could throw the intergalactic world into chaos. Charismatic performances, a sharp script, and special effects that remain striking even years later combine forces to create a playful and wildly entertaining flick beloved by both children and adults. For true fans, Peacock is also offering the less acclaimed second installment in the
Men in Black franchise starting on September 15, but it's the original that packs the cleverest gags and biggest laughs into an endearingly zany flick that remains an outta-this-world cultural touchstone to this day.
Watch on Peacock starting September 15.
© Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection 25. Milk (2008)
Sean Penn's thoughtful, charismatic portrayal of Harvey Milk — the first openly gay man elected to a notable public office — was a remarkable achievement in a career full of distinguished performances. But while Penn is certainly the star of the show here, the supporting cast, including Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, and Diego Luna, also give strong performances under the excellent direction of Gus Van Sant. Critics praised Dustin Lance Black's screenplay for its attention to detail, born from his own extensive research, and lauded the film's vibrant visuals, atmosphere, and sense of hope and battle.
Milk's success, solidified by Oscar wins for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Penn) and Best Writing, Original Screenplay, along with noms for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Brolin), Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Costume Design, and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score, make it an excellent vehicle to ensure that Harvey's voice and legacy will live on for generations to come — and that alone makes it a film everyone should see.
Peacock for free. Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection 26. Moneyball (2011)
You don't have to be a baseball fan (or even a sports fan at all) to enjoy this star-studded film from director Bennett Miller (
Foxcatcher, ) and writers Steven Zaillian ( Capote Schindler's List, ) and Aaron Sorkin The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ( The Social Network, ). Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, and Chris Pratt, Steve Jobs Moneyball follows the Oakland A's general manager, Billy Beane (Pitt), who attempts to overcome his team's limited budget and outsmart richer baseball clubs by recruiting undervalued players using statistical analysis with the help of Ivy League graduate Peter Brand (Hill). Based on true events chronicled in the book of the same name by Michael Lewis, this compelling underdog story is as much about baseball and data crunching as it is about people and how humans perceive each other. Despite some criticism regarding its accuracy, the movie was not only lauded by both critics and audiences, but it also earned six Oscar noms for Best Picture, Best Actor (Pitt), Best Supporting Actor (Hill), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing, as well as four Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama (Pitt), Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture (Hill) and Best Screenplay. Bolstered by strong direction, smart writing, and powerful acting, it deftly sidesteps the sports flick formula, rewarding viewers with a fascinating, thrilling, and even moving look at the business behind one of America's favorite pastimes.
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Peacock for free. Melinda Sue Gordon/©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection 27. A Most Beautiful Thing (2020)
An inspiring documentary about the Manley High rowing team,
A Most Beautiful Thing tells the tale of a group of young Black men from the West Side of Chicago who, despite many being from rival gangs, came together to row the same boat, altering their trajectories forever. Thoughtfully directed by filmmaker, attorney, and Olympic rower Mary Mazzio and narrated by Common, this doc keeps its focus on its subjects, who tell their own stories that glisten with joy and optimism even in the face of heartbreaking trauma. At its core, A Most Beautiful Thing shows the healing potential of sports and offers a powerful message that is incredibly necessary in the times we live in.
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Peacock for free. 50 Eggs Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 28. *The Mustang (2019)
This poetic film from Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre finds beauty in grim places, telling the story of a convict (Matthias Schoenaerts) who learns to confront his violent past while training wild mustangs in a rehabilitation program that proves to be more meaningful than he initially thought. Fantastic direction from Clermont-Tonnerre and superb acting from Schoenaerts, Jason Mitchell, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, and Bruce Dern turn a familiar redemption tale into a stunningly shot and powerfully acted character study that rises above cliches and is full of nuanced looks at humanity, violence, masculinity, and more. This quietly compelling film is based on a real rehabilitation program in Carson City, Nevada and offers a sincere depiction of its value with an eye for authenticity and a important message that lingers long after the credits roll.
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Peacock with a Premium membership. Tara Violet Niami/ © Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection 29. *Notting Hill (1999)
This 1999 rom-com about an unlikely romance between an American celebrity (Julia Roberts) and a London bookseller (Hugh Grant) earned positive reviews from reviewers and audiences alike — breaking records at the box office and nabbing Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, Best Motion Picture Actor – Comedy/Musical (Grant), and Best Motion Picture Actress – Comedy/Musical (Roberts). Critics praised the well-told love story for being clever and funny, and the likable leads for their strong performances and undeniable chemistry, as their characters struggle to reconcile their vastly different lifestyles despite falling deeper in love. Is the movie somewhat flawed and unrealistic? Absolutely! But whether you view it as a comment on the nature of celebrity or simply as a heartwarming love story, its charms are powerful enough to make every rewatch well worth it. However, if this is your first time, maybe wait until
after watching to read about Hugh Grant's idea for a sequel that some fans have found...depressing.
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Peacock for free. Universal / courtesy Everett Collection 30. October Sky (1999)
This inspirational coming-of-age story treads familiar thematic territory, but does so with such depth and sincerity that even the more predictable moments are effective and compelling. Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, and Laura Dern deliver moving performances, while director Joe Johnston pulls the right strings at just the right time in this expertly crafted, perfectly paced family film about following your dreams. Based on the true story of Homer "Sonny" Hickam (as recounted in his 1998 memoir,
Rocket Boys), October Sky follows high school-aged Hickam (Gyllenhaal) as he works to achieve his goal of one day becoming a rocket scientist — against the wishes of his father (Cooper), who expects all of his sons to follow in his footsteps working in the coal mine. That doesn't stop Homer or his friends from constructing and launching small rockets with the help of their sympathetic science teacher (Dern), who oversees their trials and errors with much-needed support and encouragement. If you're in the mood for a heartfelt movie that offers a portrait of the sometimes tough family dynamics of the post-war era, or are someone whose interest in rocket fuel was rekindled by the recent SpaceX launch, October Sky should be on your list!
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Peacock for free. MCA / Courtesy Everett Collection 31. Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (2016)
The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin were set against the background of White Nationalism in Germany, with Hitler and the Nazi Party's rise to power causing the US to be conflicted about sending American Jewish and Black athletes to compete. This effective doc focuses on the 18 Black athletes from the United States who participated, poring through historical footage, interviews, and news coverage, as well as conversations with surviving family members to paint a compelling picture of the experiences of some of the nation's greatest athletes during a time when their lives were affected by inequality both at home and overseas. The tale of track and field star Jesse Owens' four gold medal wins dismantling Hitler's Aryan supremacy delusion has long been mythologized, but
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice delves deeper into the other 17 Black competitors' stories, highlighting their remarkable achievements despite racism from the American coaching staff, and following them through their return to the US, where they were greeted with scant job opportunities and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's reported refusal to shake their hands in fear of alienating Southern voters. As Black athletes continue to face astonishing inequality and racism in the current age, with reactions to political protests, anti-marijuana laws rooted in systemic racism, and the banning of swim caps designed for Black hair making up just a few of the ways Black people in sports are unfairly targeted, this documentary remains a vital look into the underbelly of racism that persists in the American and the global sporting world today.
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Peacock for free. Gravitas Ventures / courtesy Everett Collection 32. Parenthood (1989)
This feel-good 1989 family comedy-drama is one of the best of its kind, showcasing the trials and tribulations of parenthood through four related families. The delightful cast features outstanding performances from Steve Martin, Joaquin Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest, Tom Hulce (
, Amadeus ), Rick Moranis ( National Lampoon's Animal House , Ghostbusters ), Martha Plimpton ( Honey, I Shrunk the Kids , The Goonies ), and Jason Robards ( Raising Hope ), who have incredible chemistry, making the familial bonds feel all the more genuine and moving. The story follows a perfectionist father named Gil (Martin), who interprets his children's struggles as reflections of poor parenting on his part, his sister (Wiest), who is dealing with her daughter's (Plimpton) teenage pregnancy, their other sister (Kozak), who is trying to convince her husband (Moranis) to have more children, and their brother (Hulce), who is having a hard time handling his young son. Thoughtful direction from Ron Howard balances expertly timed moments of humor with touching looks at the ups and downs of being a parent. And while many movies with this broad of a scope have trouble adequately developing the ambitious number of featured parts, this film pulls it off with ease! Despite its age, there's something truly universal in this perceptive slice of life that makes it just as engaging to watch now as it was when it first hit theaters. Oh, and FWIW, NBC's television series All the President's Men — also Parenthood available to stream on Peacock — is loosely based on this Howard classic.
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Peacock for free. Universal / courtesy Everett Collection 33. Philadelphia (1993)
Philadelphia landed in theaters in 1993, AIDS had already ravaged the nation, leaving widespread panic in its wake. And while the theater community had already begun depicting the public health catastrophe with groundbreaking plays, Hollywood had barely acknowledged it — making Philadelphia an important vehicle to bring the crisis to mainstream audiences in a time when misconceptions about the disease further fueled already rampant homophobia. The film focuses on lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), a gay man hiding his sexuality and HIV diagnosis from the powerful Philadelphia law firm where he works. After Beckett's secret is exposed, leading to him being fired, he teams up with Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) — the only lawyer willing to represent him — to sue for discrimination. Flashes of excellent acting, innovative direction, and artful camerawork give this deeply human movie an intimate and emotional quality capable of opening the hearts of the uninformed among us. Viewed today (and by a few forward-thinking critics back in the early '90s), Philadelphia definitely comes across as a safe and somewhat predictable Hollywood venture, dipping its toes in the water to see how mainstream audiences might react to the subject matter. But it's also filled with moving, poignant moments and is sometimes forcefully passionate in its attempts to dispel prejudice around a horrifying epidemic that had been ignored and even treated as a joke by those in power, despite the steadily growing body count. Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen won Oscars for Best Actor and Best Original Song ( Streets of Philadelphia), respectively, and the film was also nominated Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup, and Best Original Song (Neil Young's Philadelphia).
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Peacock for free. AA Film Archive / Alamy Stock Photo 34. Prince: Sign o' the Times (1987)
This collection of highlights from Prince's 1987 European concert tour is thankfully here to hold you over if you've been desperately missing live concerts this year. Written and directed by Prince himself,
Sign o' the Times transports us to The Purple One's commercial peak, jam-packed with bombastic hits (including the title track, "Little Red Corvette," "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," and "U Got the Look"), colorful visuals, and electrifying performances that'll make you wanna crank up the TV and get lost in some of the greatest music ever made.
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Peacock for free. Cineplex-Odeon Films/Courtesy Everett Collection 35. Shaolin (2011)
When a ruthless general (Andy Lau) is betrayed by his sworn brother (Nicholas Tse), he seeks salvation at a Shaolin temple, where he decides to become a monk to atone for his past misdeeds — but his dangerous past isn't as far behind him as he might think. This ambitious, epic Hong Kong drama is more about introspection than hand-to-hand combat, although there is enough of both — plus a comedic supporting performance from Jackie Chan — to keep viewers engaged. The action set pieces are impressive and elaborate, while the anti-violence sentiment and compassionate Buddhist philosophy set it apart from other action period pieces, offering a path to enlightenment for even the most brutal warlords.
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Peacock for free. VARIANCE FILMS/WELL GO USA / Album / Alamy Stock Photo 36. Short Term 12 (2013)
Writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton based this moving film on his own experience as a staffer at a facility for at-risk teenagers. Brie Larson is among one of his stand-ins, superb in her portrayal of a woman facing her own demons (prompted by a deepening connection with a new resident, played by the excellent Kaitlyn Dever). The raw emotion is balanced deftly with warmth and humor. And the heavy subject matter never descends into melodrama but instead soars high on the incredible performances of its young actors, as well as the thoughtful writing and direction. Its cast now looks like a launchpad for actors whose stars would continue to shine brightly, featuring Larson, Dever (newly minted Oscar nominee), LaKeith Stanfield, Rami Malek, Stephanie Beatriz, and John Gallagher Jr. But even before stratospheric fame, critics recognized the brilliance on display — and rightfully so.
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Peacock for free. Cinedigm / Courtesy Everett Collection 37. The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show (2020)
This doc unearths a largely forgotten, but monumental 1968 week in late-night television, when Johnny Carson stepped aside to let legendary entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte temporarily take over
The Tonight Show to address the social and political tumult the country was experiencing. His guest list included Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, actor and activist Paul Newman, Native American folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie, folk singer Leon Bibb, singer Petula Clark, and many of the top Black stars of the time, including Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, Dionne Warwick, Freda Payne, Diahann Carroll, and Nipsey Russell. While much of the footage has sadly been lost, what remains is full of hope and inspiration as well as frustration toward how many of the issues of the time have yet to be resolved. Belafonte, now 93, is interviewed throughout, as are Warwick, Sainte-Marie, Clark, Whoopi Goldberg, Tamron Hall, Questlove, and New York Times critics Bill Carter and Wesley Morris, who add context and give modern-day reflections on an important week of television that remains just as relevant today.
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When the phrase "I see dead people" first rang out across theaters in 1999, many audiences weren't all that familiar with writer-director M. Night Shyamalan or his twisty bag of tricks. That soon changed as
The Sixth Sense became the second-highest-grossing horror movie of all time — a title it still holds — catapulting the filmmaker, child actor Haley Joel Osment, and the then-relatively unknown Toni Collette to international recognition, with the three earning four of the movie's six Oscar noms for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. The film was also nominated for Best Film Editing and Best Picture — which it lost to . Osment and Collette received well-deserved acclaim for their quietly powerful performances as a young boy who sees ghosts and his concerned but loyal mother, while Bruce Willis's mournful portrayal of child psychologist Malcolm Crowe was also singled out with praise. The biggest attention, however, went to the film's shocking twist, which, if you somehow haven't already seen it or had it spoiled for you, packs a punch that'll stick with you long after the credits roll. American Beauty
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Peacock for free. Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection 39. The Social Network (2006)
The Social Network was first released, many critics viewed it as overly inaccurate and unfair to Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg — who was portrayed as an impulsive and cruel misogynist more concerned with revenge than the potential wide-ranging effects of the empire he was rapidly creating. Nowadays, the film almost appears to let Zuck and Facebook as a whole off easy, but of course the movie was made years before the social media site became a cesspool of uncontrolled MAGA radicalism and COVID misinformation. What all of this context leaves us with is a somewhat fictionalized, somewhat factual look at how giving people power over other people's privacy has consequences — although we had no idea just how dire the consequences would be. Despite its flaws, this captivating film from writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher is a thrilling and witty biopic with a razor-sharp script, striking imagery, standout cast (featuring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Rashida Jones, Brenda Song, and Rooney Mara), and an excellent soundtrack that helped kickstart the now iconic film music duo of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Above all, The Social Network is a riveting ride that shows us what we now already know — that Zuckerberg, like many others of his kind, has always been more interested in the growth of his product than in the damage it could cause.
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Peacock for free. Merrick Morton/©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection 40. Soul Food (1997)
When Josephine "Big Mama" Joseph falls into a coma, her family struggles to deal with the absence of their matriarch, bringing up old rivalries and memories that threaten to tear them apart as they attempt to continue their longstanding tradition of Sunday family dinners that just might hold them together. This comedy-drama from writer-director George Tillman Jr. combines warmth, humor, bittersweet melodrama, fully fleshed-out characters, and mouth-watering food photography to tell a funny and moving story based on his own family, adding an element of authenticity to a film that many viewers will see themselves in. Brought to life by an excellent ensemble cast featuring Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Michael Beach, Mekhi Phifer, Jeffrey D. Sams, Irma P. Hall, Gina Ravera and Brandon Hammond,
Soul Food will do a lot more than make you hungry... but it'll do that too.
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Peacock for free. © 20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection 41. Train to Busan (2016)
This South Korean action horror film has been called one of the best zombie movies of all time, and with good reason. Writer-director Yeon Sang-ho pulls no punches, offering up a smattering of well-developed characters, expertly staged action, and a healthy dose of social and political commentary in this thrilling movie about a man (Gong Yoo), his estranged daughter (Kim Su-an), and other passengers trapped on a speeding train during a zombie apocalypse. Critics lauded the film's unique take on the genre, which makes excellent use of the train's cramped quarters, wringing out brilliantly choreographed action and heartfelt emotion at every turn. And while it certainly reuses the same tropes that have plagued the crowded zombie genre for some time now, it does so with so much energy and style that it makes every element feel fresh, terrifying, and unexpectedly moving.
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Peacock for free. Well Go USA Entertainment /Courtesy Everett Collection 42. The Wiz (1978)
This 1978 adaption of
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz features a star-studded, all-Black cast and reframes the classic story of Dorothy's adventure around the Black experience. This spectacular production, set in a New York–like Oz, still holds up all these years later, in part due to excellent performances from Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Theresa Merritt, Thelma Carpenter, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor, as well as rousing musical numbers and a palpable sense of joy. While reviews were mixed at the time, there is a lot to love about this splashy, revolutionary take on a Broadway classic that is still a rite of passage for countless viewers young and old.
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Peacock for free. Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection 43. *The World’s End (2013)
What starts as a pub crawl intended to recapture 40-year-old Gary King's (Simon Pegg) youth and reunite him with his estranged high school friends (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan) turns into a battle for the survival of mankind in this zany comedy from Pegg and Edgar Wright — the third and final installment in their
Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, following (2004) and Shaun of the Dead (2007). This hilarious flick is full of all the delightful silliness and snappy dialogue you want from a great night out (and all the epic violence and chaos you want from the fight against alien invaders), but also contains enough humanity and and heart to make it the most mature entry in the trilogy. If you're in need of a good belly laugh as well as some food for thought, Hot Fuzz The World’s End's not a bad place to start.
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Peacock with a Premium membership. Allstar Picture Library Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo * Denotes title has been newly added to Peacock in September. There are so many things you can watch on Peacock for free, but if you want even more content, you can sign up for Peacock Premium for $4.99 a month or Peacock Premium Plus for $9.99 a month after a seven-day free trial.