August 16, 2022

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

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

Editor’s note: This post was last updated on March 11th to include Patriot Games

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Nightmare Alley


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Image via Searchlight

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writers: Guillermo del Toro and Kim Morgan

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn

When Edmund Goulding‘s 1947 take on Nightmare Alley was released, the film dulled down some harder edges of William Lindsay Gresham‘s book that had been released the year before. That’s certainly not the case with Guillermo del Toro‘s adaptation, a dark, bleak, and often disturbing look at life in a traveling carnival. Cooper gives a commanding performance as Stan Carlisle, who moves from the circus to his own clairvoyant act, which leads to greed, deception, and lies that could be his downfall. Del Toro packs Nightmare Alley with an impeccable cast and a moody sheen full of foreboding. Del Toro is all about showing the monsters within everyday people, and with Nightmare Alley, these monsters are maybe more haunting than they’ve ever been before. — Ross Bonaime

Watch Nightmare Alley on Hulu

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Spencer


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Image via NEON

Director: Pablo Larrain

Writer: Steven Knight

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, Stella Gonet

Kristen Stewart leads on a standout performance as Princess Diana. In a sea of Princess Di adaptations, Spencer stands apart as both a gothic horror and also through Stewart’s emotional performance as a woman trapped in a loveless marriage and with cold in-laws. Drawing parallels between herself and the beheaded English queen Anne Boleyn, Diana becomes increasingly isolated at the foggy cold castle of Balmoral and the inhabitants become increasingly antagonistic. While Spencer plays it fast and loose with historical accuracy it wins with atmosphere and tension. Stewart doesn’t perfectly nail her Lady Di impression, but she gets damn close and her scenes with both Sally Hawkins and Sean Harris are enough to give this feature a shot. – Therese Lacson

Watch Spencer on Hulu

Spontaneous


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Image via Paramount Pictures

Writer/Director: Brian Duffield

Cast: Katherine Langford, Charlie Plummer, Hayley Law, Piper Perabo, Rob Huebel and Yvonne Orji

Growing up is hard, especially when you could spontaneously combust at any time. That’s the premise of Brian Duffield‘s brilliant coming-of-age movie Spontaneous. Mara (Katherine Langford) is a sardonic, cynical teenager whose fellow seniors inexplicably start “popping” into giant splatters of blood. But during this chaos, Mara finds love with her classmate Dylan (Charlie Plummer), and their romance seems to make the world go round for as long as they stay in one piece. The chemistry between Langford and Plummer is terrific with Langford giving a performance that would have landed her on the A-list if Spontaneous‘ release hadn’t been buried by the pandemic. Thankfully, now that it’s on Hulu, you can and should make time for this darkly comic and lovely film that will definitely help you if you’re going through an existential crisis. – Matt Goldberg

Watch Spontanous on Hulu

La La Land


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Image via Lionsgate

Writer/Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, Finn Wittrock, and J.K. Simmons

It may not have won Best Picture at the Oscars, but the memorable bungling of the announcement aside, Damien Chazelle’s musical about lovers in Los Angeles still holds up. The film follows aspiring jazz musician Seb Wilder (Ryan Gosling) and aspiring actress Mia Dolan (Emma Stone) through the seasons of their relationships, and through his gorgeous visuals and terrific music from Justin Hurwitz, La La Land sucks you into this brief, lovely affair that must inevitably come to a close because when you’re young and have career goals, you might have to choose between your aspirations and your love for another person. It’s not easy, but La La Land knows how to perfectly blend its bittersweet melancholy with toe-tapping numbers. – Matt Goldberg

Watch La La Land on Hulu

Pig


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Image via Neon

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Writers: Michael Sarnoski, Vanessa Block

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin, David Knell

One of the best works of 2021 that also proves Nicolas Cage is one of our greatest living actors, Pig is also a sublime reminder that some of the most remarkable films can come when you are least expecting them. It tells the story of Cage’s Rob, a former chef who has become a recluse with his truffle pig in the woods of Oregon following a profound loss. His only contact to the broader world he once knew is Alex Wolff‘s Amir who he sells truffles to, that is until his pig is stolen from him, and he will have to return to the life he used to live in Portland in order to find them. With Amir as his guide, the film becomes a journey through loss and forgiveness as Rob must make peace with the past he left behind. It is still stunning that it is Michael Sarnoski’s debut feature as it is a gorgeously shot meditation on grief that defies expectations to become one of the most moving pieces of art of recent memory. – Chase Hutchinson

Watch Pig on Hulu

Hustlers


Jennifer Lopez as Ramona Vega in Hustlers

Director: Lorene Scafaria

Writers: Lorene Scafaria, Jessica Pressler

Cast: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Mercedes Ruehl, Mette Towley

Hustlers is proof (if one needed it) that diversity behind-the-scenes can create more interesting and refreshing cinema. Based on the award-winning New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler, the film follows a group of strippers who decide to take back control by hustling—hence the title—their clients to make more money. What these women do is illegal, but they’re caught in a world and a system that doesn’t care about them, so why should they? Lorene Scafaria directs this film with sensitivity and tastefulness. On view is the cast’s athleticism and hard work to convincingly portray the pole-dancing scenes. Jennifer Lopez plays veteran dancer Ramona with incredible nuance and her chemistry with protégé Destiny (Constance Wu) sells the story of sisterhood. The supporting cast includes singers Cardi B and Lizzo who add body diversity to the film as well. This is thoroughly entertaining, but never loses sight of how hard it is for these women to navigate and succeed in the world. – Monita Mohan

Watch Hustlers on Hulu

Flee


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Image via Neon

Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen

Writer: Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Amin

Few films capture the devastation that is wrought on refugees as viscerally as they do in Flee. An animated work of non-fiction, documentarian Jonas Poher Rasmussen helps his childhood friend, Amin, tell the true story of his escape from Kabul, following him through his harrowing journey to Russia, a nightmarish attempt to get into Western Europe in a shipping container, before finally ending in Copenhagen. Flee is immensely personal and that is where it excels. The animation draws you into the past of Amin’s childhood, expertly evoking the immense highs and lows of his story. In many ways, it is not just a story about Amin’s struggles but also his triumphs. This Sundance award winner stayed with me long after I screened it at the festival and will irrevocably change your outlook and understanding of the struggle of refugees. – Therese Lacson

Watch Flee on Hulu

Whiplash


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Image via Sony Pictures Classics

Director/Writer: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist

For anyone who has spent any time in an orchestra band, you know the pressures of keeping first chair are immense. But what about when you have a demanding conductor, one that goes beyond borderline abusive? Whiplash tells the story of Andrew (Miles Teller), an ambitious jazz drummer, who is pushed to the very brink by his conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Whiplash pulls no punches and watching Andrew’s descent into obsession and suffer at the hands of Fletcher’s abuse and pressure is as stressful as it is worrying. If you’re looking for a tense and thrilling psychological film, this is the one. – Therese Lacson

Watch Whiplash on Hulu

I, Tonya


Director: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Steven Rogers

Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney

Craig Gillespie shows empathy to a villainized figure of the 90s. Anyone interested in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics was aware of the controversy and drama surrounding the figure skater Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. However, while most in the world turned Harding into the villain of Kerrigan’s story, Gillespie tells us to re-examine our biases and shines a spotlight on a girl who has never had it as easy as her peers. Margot Robbie delivers an electric performance as the tough-as-nails Tonya, while the supporting cast like Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney offer depth to their antagonistic characters that reveal so much more about Tonya’s difficult home life. – Therese Lacson

Watch I, Tonya on Hulu

Another Round


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Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Writers: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang

The winner of the 2021 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, Another Round is a movie that starts as a hilarious idea between four friends and quickly becomes a melancholy reflection on life. It begins with a mesmerizing Mads Mikkelsen as Martin who has an otherwise normal life as a teacher. However, Martin is unhappy and looking for something more. That is when he joins his other friends and fellow teachers in drinking all the time to maintain a constant buzz as a test to see how it will impact their lives. It is a sweet portrait of friendship that also becomes a somber experience as their lives begin to unravel as they push themselves too far. It is another outstanding film that unites Mikkelsen and writer-director Thomas Vinterberg, who previously collaborated on the haunting film The Hunt. However, this one also sees Mikkelsen do an impressive and cathartic dance sequence which makes it a must-see on its own. – Chase Hutchinson

Watch Another Round on Hulu

Moulin Rouge!


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Image via 20th Century Fox

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Writer: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh

Director Baz Luhrmann brings the vibrancy, melodrama and extravaganza of Indian cinema to Hollywood with this jukebox musical. Every scene in Moulin Rouge! is stunning! Luhrmann’s cinematography is an acquired taste but adds to the flamboyant and fantasy feel of the film. The medleys and original songs are so unforgettable, people are still listening to them over two decades later. Ewan McGregor stars as aspiring writer Christian who moves to Paris in the middle of the Bohemian revolution and falls in love with Moulin Rouge courtesan Satine, played by Nicole Kidman. The two actors bring the beauty of their characters’ doomed romance to life with their excellent chemistry. Yes, the film can be bawdy and regressive at times, but it’s easy to be swept up in the romance of it all. The film is hilarious, moving, and heart-breaking. You won’t want to skip this spectacular spectacular experience; it’s the Moulin Rouge!Monita Mohan

Watch Moulin Rouge! on Hulu

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar


Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo in Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Image via Lionsgate

Director: Josh Greenbaum

Writers: Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

Cast: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, and Jamie Dornan

One of the best films of 2021 and one of the funnier comedies you’ll see is one that kind of flew under the radar, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. The premise seems fairly simple—lifelong friends Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) decide to leave their small midwestern town for a vacation in Vista Del Mar. Oh, and there’s a supervillain (also Wiig) who wants to unleashed a deadly plague of mosquitos on the town as an act of revenge so she sends her henchman Edgar (Jamie Dornan), who is also in love with her even though she’s not really interested in him. So maybe it’s not that simple, but the chaotic, cheerful energy pulsating through Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar make it one of the more outlandish, silly, and delightful comedies in recent memory. – Matt Goldberg

Watch Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar on Hulu

Bill and Ted Face the Music


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Director: Dean Parisot

Writers: Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, Kid Cudi, and William Sadler

Bill & Ted 3 should not be as good as it is, and yet this long-awaited sequel is terrifically entertaining while also feeling like an evolution of the franchise. The film picks up in real time as Bill and Ted – Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter – have reached middle-age and have yet to write the song that will save the universe. They’re forced to self-reflect on overdrive when they’re given a ticking clock: they must write the song before time runs out. Their fix? Go forward in time to when they’ve written the song, and steal it from themselves! The film is wonderfully goofy and silly, but grounded in a true empathy for all of its characters. Bill and Ted Face the Music is a time-travel comedy with a huge, beating, softie heart. – Adam Chitwood

Watch Bill and Ted Face the Music on Hulu

Almost Famous


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Director/Writer: Cameron Crowe

Cast: Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Lee, and Zooey Deschanel

In 1973, 17-year-old William (Patrick Fugit) gets the opportunity of a lifetime from Rolling Stone Magazine to tour with the band Stillwater on its rise to fame. On tour, he befriends lead singer Russell (Billy Crudup) and falls madly in love with Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) a groupie/band-aid that tours with the band. Based on the real-life story of Cameron Crowe’s youth when he too was a writer for Rolling Stone during his teen years. As usual, Frances McDormand shines as William’s overprotective mother, but Hudson is the one who earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal as troubled Penny who always falls for the wrong guy. Cameron Crowe took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2000. – Jennifer McHugh

Watch Almost Famous on Hulu

Black Swan


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Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Writer: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John J. McLaughlin

Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder

Ballet. Horror. Ambition. Queer awakenings. Black Swan has it all. Natalie Portman’s powerhouse performance as Nina, a tormented but determined ballet dancer pushed to the edge by her overbearing tutor and mother, drives this film. The ballet scenes are so intimately shot, you’ll feel like you’re on stage with the dancers (ballet IRL may never feel enough after this). Then there’s Nina’s rivalry/ obsession with her understudy, Lily (Mila Kunis). Who is this woman, the audience is left wondering, as is Nina. Every shot matters in this film, which is why every time you watch it, you’ll find details you missed before. Not that you can tell what’s real or imagined in this film—that’s the whole point. The viewer is meant to be as lost as Nina. There are some truly horrifying moments in Black Swan that will make your skin crawl. But that’s the intent of this experience. We aren’t just watching Nina’s descent into madness, she’s dragging us down with her. Have fun sleeping tonight. – Monita Mohan

Watch Black Swan on Hulu

Titane


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Image via NEON

Director/Writer: Julia Ducournau

Cast: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, and Laïs Salameh

OK, yes, Titane is the movie where a woman has sex with a car, and yes, she does get pregnant from that sexual interaction. But the brilliance of Julia Ducournau‘s film is how the first half of this story is an insane, absurd, and shocking experience, which takes a sharp turn to become one of the most touching and beautiful films about family in recent years. The fact that Ducournau can pull off both with equal excellence shows her brilliance as a writer and director. Led by Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon, Titane is one of the wildest rides you’ll ever experience at the movies. — Ross Bonaime

Watch Titane on Hulu

(500) Days of Summer


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Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures

Director: Marc Webb

Writers: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Clark Gregg, and Chloë Grace Moretz

Ah, the sweet highs and lows of falling madly in love. This story is told through time jumps of the ecstasy and the agony of a failed relationship. Zooey Deschanel stars as the titular Summer who is the object of Tom’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) affection. The two have a whirlwind romance but when it has run its course, Summer is ready to let go and Tom just is not. The two share a dynamic chemistry and Deschanel makes it easy to see why someone would fall head over heels. Come for the romance, but stay for the choreographed dance sequence as it is well worth a watch. – Jennifer McHugh

Watch (500) Days of Summer on Hulu

Borat


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Image via Paramount Pictures

Director: Larry Charles

Writers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer, Todd Phillips

Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian

A feature-length comedic ploy that reveals both the ugliest and strangest aspects of America, Borat remains a hilarious and enduring cultural artifact due to the commitment of Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen is the titular Borat himself, a foreign TV reporter who comes to America with a documentary crew to capture all that the country has to offer. What ensues is a combination of a loosely scripted story that is woven into a series of pranks on real-life people that manages to all come together seamlessly. A scene where he talks with an older man at a rodeo, in particular, is the most shocking as Borat’s persona lures out the most hateful aspects that he shares openly. Oh, and it also features a lot of absurd nudity, meaning there is really something for everyone. – Chase Hutchinson

Watch Borat on Hulu

Nomadland


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Image via Searchlight Pictures

Writer/Director: Chloé Zhao

Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie

Don’t let its Oscar-season prestige scare you off. The 2020 Best Picture winner is a moving and elegiac reflection of a post-recession America that still manages to capture the beauty and humanity of a country where, for countless reasons, we’ve become so disconnected from each other. The story of Nomadland follows Fern (Frances McDormand), who lost her husband, her job, and her town in the aftermath of the Great Recession. She resolves to become a nomad, living her life out of a van and traveling across the American West. The trick of Zhao’s film is that it never romanticizes Fern’s circumstances while also not falling into the trap of equating anything outside the American Dream with failure. It’s a deft, thoughtful film held together by the intelligence of Zhao’s direction and the strength of McDormand’s performance. – Matt Goldberg

Watch Nomadland on Hulu

Prisoners


Jake Gyllenhaal in Prisoners
Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writer: Aaron Guzikowski

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Terrence Howard

A film that absolutely guts you with its bleak vision of the dark underside of polite society, Prisoners centers on Hugh Jackman’s Keller Dover, a man whose life has become completely upended when his daughter goes missing. Feeling like he is abandoned by Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki, Keller takes matters into his own hands and kidnaps the man (Paul Dano) he believes is behind the disappearance of his daughter. As things spiral out of control, he drags his wife Grace (Maria Bello) further into the muck along with their friends Nancy Birch (Viola Davis) and Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) as their daughter has also gone missing. Amidst all the horrors found within, there is a general sense of awe at how unflinching and nightmarish it all is. Just when you think it will let up, things only continue getting worse for the characters as they try to find some sense of salvation for themselves and their children. – Chase Hutchinson

Watch Prisoners on Hulu


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