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Fans of this franchise are in luck, with four offerings from the series as well as the 2010 remake coming to Peacock this month.
1984's Wes Craven–directed original is here in all its slasher glory, standing the test of time thanks to an innovative premise carried out brilliantly and scares that still hold up. Its introduction of Freddy Krueger, a bogeyman who kills sexually promiscuous teens by invading their dreams, led to the film being considered one of the best horror movies of all time. And while the following sequels garnered more mixed reviews, they have found cult status over the years. subverted genre trappings by replacing final girl Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) with a male lead named Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) and filling the much campier movie with homoerotic moments that led to it being considered " A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge the gayest horror film ever made." Fans and critics continue to debate whether the following sequels (and the 2010 remake of the original) are worthy additions to the Elm Street canon, but they all have something to offer to audiences. Some praise the stellar special effects and imaginative storylines, while others decry the films' predictability and diminishing returns on an intriguing premise — but all in all, this is a franchise whose effect on popular culture cannot be dismissed.
* (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street * (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge * (1987), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors * A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), * A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), and * (2010) on Peacock for free. A Nightmare on Elm Street Peacock 2. Akeelah and the Bee (2006) Akeelah and the Bee tells the story of a talented 11-year-old girl named Akeelah (Keke Palmer) who, with the support of an encouraging teacher (Laurence Fishburne) and her community, follows her dream of making it to the National Spelling Bee, despite her mother's (Angela Bassett) disapproval. Emotionally rich acting from Palmer, Fishburne, and Bassett allow this film to rise above formulaic sports movie clichés, turning it into something much more thoughtful and engaging, with Palmer being singled out for her pitch-perfect performance that earned her a Black Movie Award, a Black Reel Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a Young Artist Award. Though not without its problems, viewers found it to be an inspirational tale for both children and adults, and, in a time when Hollywood still struggles with representation, there is still a lot to be gained from a viewing even 15 years after its theatrical release.
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Peacock for free. Lions Gate / Courtesy Everett Collection 3. An American Tail (1986)
This sweetly animated coming-to-America story from Steven Spielberg and Don Bluth takes an unexpectedly unflinching look at immigration, the American Dream, and antisemitism — heavy topics for a children's movie, but important and relevant ones that might make you want to give it another watch as an adult to catch all the details you missed as a kid. And despite the sometimes intense subject matter, this movie's full of enough entertaining dialogue, catchy musical numbers, and fast-paced action scenes to keep little ones engaged. The story follows a young mouse named Fievel (Phillip Glasser) as he and his Russian Jewish family embark on a journey to the US after their home is destroyed by anti-Jewish cats. But when Fievel is separated from his family, he is befriended by a kindly cat and mouse in New York (Pat Musick and Dom DeLuise, both of whom also voiced characters in 1994's
) who are willing to help him on his search for his lost loved ones. While this 1986 film tends to rely on racial stereotypes to make its points using animal characters, its strong message and refusal to overly romanticize the sometimes harsh truths of the world we live in give it staying power in an era that continually proves that this is a story worth retelling. A Troll in Central Park
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Peacock for free. Universal Pictures / Peacock 4. 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 Original 5. *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 / Peacock 6. 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. Lionsgate Films / Peacock 7. 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 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 / Peacock 10. 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 11. *Brokeback Mountain (2006)
Based on a 1997 short story by Annie Proulx,
Brokeback Mountain was released in 2006 to strong reactions. Conservative pundits spent a lot of airtime complaining that it pushed a "gay agenda," and there was unfortunately no shortage of homophobic jokes circulating, but serious viewers recognized it as a gorgeously composed, impeccably acted love story that was sure to be the darling of awards season — which it was, bringing home Oscars for Best Director (Ang Lee's first Best Director win, making him the first non-white director to receive the award and the only nominee of Asian descent throughout the decade), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score, as well as nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Heath Ledger), Best Supporting Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal), Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams), and Best Cinematography. Powerful performances from Ledger, Gyllenhaal, Williams, and Anne Hathaway, combined with masterful direction from Lee, results in a quietly moving film whose devastating ending lingers long after the credits roll. Its success drove major film studios to eagerly back queer-themed projects, and it's been credited with influencing countless movies and TV shows, leaving a lasting legacy that solidifies it as a film worth revisiting for years to come.
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Peacock for free. Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 12. Bruce Almighty (2003)
Jim Carrey fans have reason to rejoice with the addition of
Bruce Almighty to Peacock's roster, a perfect vehicle for Carrey and his beloved bag of zany comedic tricks (which ultimately save this flawed script from becoming overly saccharine). When Bruce Nolan's (Carrey) stalled career receives another blow, he turns his wrath to God, asking why the omnipotent being would treat him so badly. Turns out that God (played by Morgan Freeman, with his characteristic warmth) takes offense to this claim, and offers Bruce all of his powers for a week to see if he can do a better job, which Bruce takes him up on — unaware of how his newfound abilities will affect his relationship with his girlfriend, Grace (the excellent Jennifer Aniston), his career, and the rest of the world that depends on him. This 2003 movie is also notable for Steve Carell's supporting role as Evan Baxter before he found wider fame via , The Office , Anchorman , and the The 40-Year-Old Virgin Bruce Almighty spinoff, , in the years following. If you're looking for a feel-good comedy that taps the talents of its cast of familiar faces, this laugh-filled option is worth your time. Evan Almighty
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Peacock for free. Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection 13. 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.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Peacock 14. Do the Right Thing (1989)
While this iconic film is in many ways a time capsule of Brooklyn in the '80s, its themes of racial tension and police brutality are just as relevant today as they were then. Writer-director Spike Lee earned a Best Director Oscar nom for the movie, which takes place over the course of one extremely hot Sunday in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant district, introducing a host of characters from the neighborhood while centering on a dispute between pizzeria owner Sal Fragione (portrayed by Danny Aiello, who also received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor) and a local named Buggin' Out who questions why Sal's restaurant doesn't feature any Black actors on its wall of fame. Tensions — and the sweltering heat — continue to rise throughout this compelling film, which has been lauded through the years for its focus on social issues as well as its combination of humor, vibrancy, frustration, and tragedy, not to mention the excellent ensemble cast, featuring Lee, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Martin Lawrence, Rosie Perez, Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Nunn, and Robin Harris. This celebrated film's staying power speaks for itself and remains vital viewing to this day.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Peacock 15. Elizabeth (1998)
Early in her reign over a dangerously divided 1558 England, Elizabeth I finds her power constantly threatened by the state, church, and men around her — but she is far too intelligent and wise to be defeated. Two words: Cate Blanchett. Her Oscar-nominated turn as a young Elizabeth in this celebrated historical drama catapulted her to international acclaim, and deservedly so. Blanchett gives a complex performance devoid of caricature, and director Shekhar Kapur ensures that the film remains highly entertaining and exciting throughout, avoiding the overly stuffy, clichéd pitfalls of other period pieces. The costumes, makeup, and sets are all phenomenal, and the excellent supporting cast — including Geoffrey Rush (
and The King's Speech ), Christopher Eccleston ( Shakespeare in Love and King Lear ), Joseph Fiennes ( 28 Days Later ), and Lord Richard Attenborough — contributes to the sense of paranoia that grows throughout this dark and imaginative portrait that earned Oscar noms for Best Picture, Actress, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, and Dramatic Score, as well as a win for Best Makeup. Shakespeare in Love
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Peacock for free. Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection 16. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Julia Roberts is unforgettable in her Oscar-winning portrayal of Erin Brockovich, a legal clerk and activist who fought to hold energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric responsible for their role in the Hinkley groundwater contamination incident. While there's debate around how some of the plot lines up with the real-life facts, screenwriter Susannah Grant and director Steven Soderbergh do an excellent job balancing the legal drama with Brockovich's own emotional story arc. They mix in enough humor and inspiration to make this powerful film a consistently engaging watch. Both earned Oscar noms for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, and the film also nabbed a nomination for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Albert Finney, who played Brockovich's attorney Ed Masry. (Most recently, Soderbergh was tapped for the Herculean task of producing the pandemic Oscars.)
Watch it on
Peacock (available to Premium members only). Peacock 17. 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 18. 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.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Peacock 19. The Godfather I, II, and III (1972, 1974, and 1990)
If you've been on the fence about getting a Premium Subscription, Peacock is about to make you ~an offer you can't refuse~. All three of
The Godfather movies are now available on the streaming service, so you can rewatch some of the most famous fictional mafiosos' rise to power in what are widely considered to be some of the greatest movies of all time. Between the three films, the series earned a whopping 28 Oscar noms, winning 9 in total, and Francis Ford Coppola's excellent direction remains massively influential, as does the incredible acting from the star-studded cast, which includes Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, and countless others who further elevate this nuanced, fascinating, and moving tale of organized crime. While the first two films are considered the real winners, all three offerings are worth watching for fans new and old who want to experience some of the most celebrated movies in history.
, The Godfather I , and II on Peacock with a Premium membership. III Peacock 20. The Harry Potter series (2001–2011) Harry Potter fans can rejoice, because all seven films in the franchise are available here. And if you haven't seen them yet, what are you waiting for? The opportunity to rewatch everyone's favorite Hogwarts attendees grow from uncertain students of magic to full-on heroes is too good to miss, and you'll fall in love with the star-studded cast all over again. Seriously. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Richard Harris, Helena Bonham Carter, and many, many more make this set of films feel like hanging out with old friends. And you might even see some famous faces you completely forgot were part of the wizarding world, like Emma Thompson, Robert Pattinson, Domhnall Gleeson, and Gary Oldman! From the early days of The Sorcerer's Stone to the Alfonso Cuarón–directed Prisoner of Azkaban, all the way through the two-part Deathly Hallows, this highly binge-able series of films makes for a cozy and comforting rewatch that we could all use right about now.
Watch it on
Peacock (the first three are free to stream, but the rest are available to Premium members only). Peacock 21. 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.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection 22. 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 / Peacock 23. I Am Bolt (2016)
If you ever wondered what it's like to be the fastest human being in recorded history, this doc will get you one step closer with its sweeping portrait of legendary Jamaican sprinter, eight-time Olympic gold medalist, and World Record holder Usain Bolt. Viewers get a glimpse into the celebrated athlete's life, starting with his beginnings as a high school track star through his thrilling Olympic wins that brought him to international prominence, documenting everything from intense training sessions to encounters with starstruck fans. Unsurprisingly, it's Bolt who carries the film, not only with his borderline superhuman athletic prowess, but also with his natural charm and supreme likability. For anyone who wants to learn more about the quickest (and quite possibly the nicest) runner out there,
I Am Bolt is a must-see.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Peacock 24. 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
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Shout Studios / Peacock 25. *John Wick (2014–19)
All three installments of the
John Wick franchise 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!
Available on Peacock on August 9, 2021.
Summit Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection 26. 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.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Lions Gate / Courtesy Everett Collection 27. 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.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Roadside Attractions / Roadside Attractions / Courtesy Everett Collection 28. 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.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Peacock 29. 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 30. 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.
Watch it on
Peacock for free. Peacock 31. 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 / Peacock 32. *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. Peacock 33. 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 34. 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. Peacock 35. Peter Pan (2003)
This faithful adaptation of the classic tale rides high on powerful acting from its young stars, bolstered by the winning chemistry between Rachel Hurd-Wood, who received acclaim for her turn as Wendy Darling, and Jeremy Sumpter, who embodied the titular Pan. Critics lauded the film's expertly crafted visuals, stirring soundtrack, and uplifting storyline, which leans heavily into the fantasy elements present in both the script and production. And while it's both a suitable and entertaining film for children, it deftly handles its more adult themes, making it a rewarding and emotional watch for viewers of all ages. Debates will rage on through the decades over which film and onstage trip to Neverland is considered the *definitive* version, but there's no doubt that 2003's
Peter Pan is a worthy contender.
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Peacock for free. Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection 36. *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. Peacock 37. 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 / Peacock 38. *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. Peacock 39. 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 40. 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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Peacock for free. Peacock Original 41. *The Sixth Sense (1999)
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 42. *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. Peacock 43. 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 * Denotes title has been newly added to Peacock in August. 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. View comments