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9 movies now streaming you should watch right now

Less searching, more watching

Vertical Entertainment

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New movies become available to stream almost every day on every platform, making the already daunting task of choosing something to watch even more difficult. To help parse through the lot, we’ve taken a look at all the most recent additions and chosen the five best movies currently available to you.

From grungy fantasy to biographical dramas to schlocky action romps, here’s what you should be streaming right now.

Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) holds a listening device to his ear during a congressional hearing Warner Bros. Pictures

The Aviator (2004)

With The Irishman now on Netflix, Martin Scorsese fever is in the air (and it’s sending some Marvel fans into a fit, but that’s another story). If you’re familiar with the heavy gangster films that led the director to his conclusive, three-and-a-half-hour epic, consider one of his slicker dramas. The Aviator stars Scorsese’s other longtime collaborator, Leonardo DiCaprio, as Howard Hughes, the show business maverick who become obsessed with breaking air speed records and launching H-4 Hercules “flying boat” into the sky. Scorsese winds through Hollywood history to find Hughes at his highs and the crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder than would bring him to his lows. With a star-studded cast, it’s the definition of well-polished character study.

Stream on Hulu

robert redford as david chappellet looks over his shoulder, the white snow behind him The Criterion Collection

Downhill Racer (1969)

This often-overlooked sports drama stars Robert Redford as David Chappellet, a laser-focused downhill skier who navigates moguls better than social hierarchies. His coach (Gene Hackman) wants him to play nice with his teammates, but David can’t shake his desire for accomplishment, even at the cost of love. Michael Ritchie, known for broader comedy work like Bad News Bears and Fletch, made his debut with the drama, which couples Redford’s deep performance with pristine ski footage.

Stream on Hulu

The Head Hunter

It’s the live-action Skyrim movie you didn’t know you needed. Scaling the fantasy genre down to the level of gnarled, psychological horror, The Head Hunter follows a warrior seeking revenge on the monster that killed his daughter. The build up of director Jordan Downey’s indie quest is severe and brutal, and the atmosphere bleeds through the frames. Here’s the one big thing you really need to know: “head hunter” is a literal job description. Our hero hunts heads.

Stream on Shudder

two men sit in the grass looking at a can A24

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

Jimmie Fails stars in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which is based in part on his life. The story revolves around the former Fails family home, which was purportedly built by Jimmie’s grandfather. Since his father lost the house, Jimmie has been obsessed with returning to it. Along with his playwright friend Montgomery (played by a terrific Jonathan Majors), Jimmie embarks upon a quest to get it back. Joe Talbot’s directorial debut is a stunningly beautiful elegy, from the glowing Bay Area cinematography to a triumphant score.

Stream on Amazon

malcolm x stands at the podium outside and gives a speech Warner Bros. Pictures

Malcolm X (1992)

Denzel Washington remains one of today’s great actors. Those who got wise to the legend’s talents later in life probably missed Spike Lee’s sweeping portrait of the civil rights activist, which excels with Washington’s concentrated, charismatic naturalism. Clocking in a little over three hours — just three episodes of a binge-watch! You can do it! — Malcolm X tracks the events that evolved transformed Malcolm Lee into “Malcolm X” into El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Throughout the odyssey, Lee uses color and lighting to conjure moods that straight-laced historical adaptation wouldn’t convey, complementing Washington’s determined performance.

Stream on Netflix

a woman and man lay on a bed with their child snuggled between them in Marriage Story Photo: Netflix

Marriage Story (2019)

Despite its title, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is about divorce. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson star as Charlie and Nicole, a couple in the midst of separating. They haven’t stopped loving each other, nor is there some single inciting incident, which is what makes the divorce so difficult. As lawyers are drawn in and boil their lives into too-simple terms for the sake of a settlement, they struggle to keep ahold of their professional and private lives, which were previously so intensely tied together. Baumbach resists the easy route of painting one as the villain and one as the hero, making the divorce all the more bittersweet — and rewarding — to watch.

Stream on Netflix

Sol Nazerman sits in pain, light broken up by a grate at the pawn shope Allied Artists Pictures

The Pawnbroker (1964)

Sidney Lumet built a career on confronting the truth. With his lights pointed at the system, the surface blistered in films like 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Serpico, and The Verdict. Considering it all, one of his early films, The Pawnbroker, is also one of his most provocative. Grappling with the aftermath of the Holocaust like few had done before, the drama centers on Sol Nazerman (Rod Steiger), a survivor who set up shop in East Harlem, but has never been able to shake the horrors of genocide, or the guilt of leaving the concentration camps intact. The world is a nightmare, and Sol, dealing with customers who need to sell of their possessions to get by another day, holds everything in. Until he doesn’t. The bar for “tour de force” was set by Lumet, who peels back the layers at just the right moments, and Steiger, who unleashes hell when called upon.

Stream on Amazon

phase IV: an ant crawls up on a bed and looks at a girl in close up Olive Films

Phase IV (1974)

Fans of Ant-Man and other Formicidae-themed films must seek out Phase IV, the only directorial effort from title sequence master Saul Bass. The setup is a trip: An intergalactic anomaly causes Earth’s ants to become hyper-intelligent and aggressively productive. They build ant hill monoliths in the desert, and when threatened by mankind, devise a plan for all out war. Bass goes for broke with weird visuals, delivering something between Them! and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Stream on Amazon and Hulu

Dalton stands in front of a crowd at the road house Image: MGM Home Entertainment

Road House (1989)

Come to Road House for the bar brawls, stay for the bare-knuckled fist fights. The simple pleasures of this Patrick Swayze vehicle have gained cult status over the years (how could an ’80s action movie directed by a guy named Rowdy Herrington not?), and there’s nothing we could say that could do justice to its oddities than Polygon contributor Sean T. Collins’ Road-House-essay-a-day project, so go read that when you’re done.

Stream on Hulu