Though it may not garner the same level of attention as Netflix or HBO, Hulu is home to a wealth of options when it comes to its breadth of critically acclaimed new releases and classic movies. If you’ve popped open the streamer on your TV or computer, you’ve probably scrolled for a couple of minutes before asking yourself, How can I find the best movies to stream on Hulu? The answer is simple: right here.
From modern classics like Akira and Memories of Murder to contemporary favorites like Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Spencer, we’ve pulled together a list of the best movies currently streaming on Hulu. The selections run the gamut of genres, from horror movies and erotic thrillers to comedies, action movies, romances, and heartfelt dramas. Our hope is anybody visiting this list is going to find something they like.
We’ll continue updating this list as new releases come to the platform, so feel free to check back next month to see what new recommendations we have in store.
Let’s just cut to the chase here: Akira unambiguously slaps, full stop. Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 postapocalyptic sci-fi epic, adapted from his influential manga series of the same name, is a certified must-see film for any discerning anime fan. The story of biker gang ne’er-do-well Kaneda and his former best friend (and now psychic-powered nemesis), Tetsuo, has loomed unconquerably vast over the collective imagination of Japanese pop culture in the decades since the film’s release. Japan was even originally planning on organizing the 2020 Olympic Games around Akira’s iconic visuals (until COVID-19 happened). With a live-action Hollywood adaptation perpetually ensnared in production hell and a new Akira anime series currently in development, now’s as perfect a time as any to either revisit or experience for the first time one of the most indelible touchstones of anime cinema ever produced. —Toussaint Egan
Few filmmakers have made a name for themselves violently confronting the nigh-puritanical state of modern cinema the way Paul Verhoeven has. His signature style is all about doing the most when it comes to depictions of sex and violence, marrying gratuitous aesthetics with uncommon thoughtfulness. Benedetta, his first film since 2016’s acclaimed thriller Elle, is perhaps the most openly provocative movie of 2021, and maybe of Verhoeven’s filmography as well.
The story is set in 17th-century Italy, where the nun Benedetta (Virginie Efira) has felt the touch of the supernatural in her life since childhood. A belief that God speaks to her has been continually reaffirmed by small miracles that spared her and her family in childhood, leading her family to commit her life to God and send her to a convent. When she comes of age, her daily life in the convent is upended by the arrival of Bartolomea (Daphné Patakia), as they begin a secret love affair. At about the same time, her visions take an erotic turn, and her sexual awakening is entangled in a spiritual one.
Some may find Benedetta too exploitative to take seriously. That criticism has its merits: The movie’s lasciviousness can be read as being meant for the camera as much as it is for the characters. Its queerness can come across as something purely meant to titillate straight men. But in the context of the rigid confines of Catholicism at the peak of its powers, Verhoeven’s argument for Benedetta’s extremes is compelling. He presses the sacred against the profane, and brings the religious denial of the human experience into question. —Joshua Rivera
Set in an alternate 2010 where the outlying neighborhoods of Paris have been surrounded by fortified walls and abandoned to crime lords, the 2004 parkour action film District B13 follows Leïto (David Belle), an athletic ex-thug who must work with an undercover cop (Cyril Raffaelli) to infiltrate his old neighborhood to save his sister and recover a compromised neutron bomb from a deadly crime boss before it explodes. While written and produced by Luc Besson (Léon: The Professional, The Fifth Element), the plot and writing aren’t really anything to write home about. It’s the fast action, breathless chase scenes, and explosive gunfights that make District B13 an absolute must-watch, with professional stunt choreographer and parkour pioneer Belle deftly eluding pursuers while weaving through concrete compounds with the raw athleticism and on-the-fly creativity one would expect from Jackie Chan or Bugs Bunny. —TE
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The second adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s 2005 novel, David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is as heady, taut, and explosive as you would expect from the director of Seven and Zodiac. Daniel Craig (Skyfall) stars as Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced investigative journalist who is hired by a wealthy industrialist to solve the disappearance of his grand-niece over 40 years ago. During his investigation of his client’s family Blomkvist is aided by Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a taciturn hacker and the namesake of the film. Graphic, intense, frequently gorgeous, and thoroughly engrossing, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo easily ranks among Fincher’s finest, though a word of caution: The film features brief, albeit explicit, scenes of sexual violence and torture. —TE
Hell Hath No Fury
Jesse V. Johnson is one of the best filmmakers working in the direct-to-video action space today, and his latest film, Hell Hath No Fury, is one of the high points of his prolific career. Marie DuJardin (Nina Bergman), a French woman, has been marked as a traitor for her relationship with a Nazi officer (Daniel Bernhardt). As World War II comes to a close and Marie’s place in the future French society is uncertain, she is rescued by a group of American soldiers on one condition: She must reveal the location of a secret stash of Nazi gold and lead the group there.
What follows is a gripping, tense thriller almost entirely set in a cemetery, with a palpable air of uncertainty throwing everything you think you know into question. Bergman is excellent in a complicated, layered role, and Bernhardt brings an uncanny combination of menace and charm in one of the richest roles he’s had the opportunity to play. There are no heroes in this story, only survivors. —PV
Memories of Murder
Before Parasite, before Snowpiercer, even before The Host, Bong Joon-ho burst onto the scene with Memories of Murder. Loosely based on the true story of the first confirmed serial murders in Korea, Bong’s second feature film won dozens of Korean film awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor (for Song Kang-ho) at the 2003 Grand Bell Awards. Song plays Park Doo-man, the overmatched local detective in charge of solving a spree of violent crimes. His methods clash with Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung), a younger detective from Seoul who volunteers to help with the case. Memories of Murder is a haunting film that stands as one of the great serial-killer mysteries and detective thrillers of this century. —PV
Minding the Gap
This 2018 documentary about three young men in Rockford, Illinois, is a heartfelt, thoughtful meditation on masculinity in America. A confident debut by filmmaker Bing Liu, the movie follows Liu and his friends as they grow from a group of skateboarding-obsessed teens to troubled young adults. Filmed over the course of 12 years, it’s an impressive and powerful work filled with the moments of joy and anguish that make up life. Content warning: The movie deals explicitly with domestic violence. —PV
While frequently compared to 2014’s John Wick when it was first announced, Michael Sarnoski’s Pig is anything but a hyper-violent revenge thriller. Instead, the story of a former chef turned truffle hunter and his single-minded quest to recover his stolen pig is a highly affecting drama, replete in moments of stunning vulnerability and grace as quietly unassuming as they are powerfully devastating. Nicolas Cage delivers an all-time career-best performance as Rob, the aforementioned truffle farmer whose beleaguered appearance and world-weary tone belies a lifetime of regrets and loss. —TE
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
I wish I could watch this movie again for the first time, but I’ll settle for watching it over and over. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is absolutely exquisite, gorgeous, and cheeky — telling the tale of a woman hired to paint the portrait of another, for the sake of sending to a potential suitor. Of course, the two fall for each other — over the course of thorny portrait sessions, coastal walks, discussions of Eurydice and the nature of art and memory. The quiet longing! The marvel of seeing desire fulfilled! Finally, a period piece about queer women that is firmly rooted in the female gaze, and one that does not fixate on the tragedy of separation but in the joy of passion, intimacy, and companionship. The placement of that mirror! (If you know, you know.) The filmmaking is crisp, considered, and full of life — the slow burn made me consider both the nature of seeing and being seen, and what it means to make intentional choices about how that impression of love is preserved, even as memory erodes all. —Nicole Clark
Brandon Cronenberg takes a page out of his father’s playbook with the sci-fi psychological horror film Possessor. Andrea Riseborough (Birdman) plays Tasya Vos, an assassin who infiltrates the minds of her targets through a machine that inserts her consciousness into their own. When her latest target (Christopher Abbott) begins to resist Tasya’s conditioning, the two consciousness-battle with one another as she desperately attempts to fulfill her mission and return to her own body. As sleek as it is grotesque, cerebral as it is visceral, Possessor is a stylish and unnerving body-horror nightmare well worth experiencing. —TE
Set in 1719, Dan Trachtenberg’s prequel to the long-running Predator franchise centers on the story of Naru (Amber Midthunder), a young Comanche warrior eager to prove herself among the legendary hunters of her tribe and become one herself. While stalking a ferocious mountain lion as her rite of passage, she inadvertently discovers an even deadlier foe: a vicious creature from beyond the stars who has come to Earth in search of challenging new prey.
There’s so much to love about this film apart from the impressive new design of the Predator itself, like the breathtaking shots of the forests and plains of Calgary, the fastidious attention to the accuracy of the Comanche language and the French fur traders of that time, and the intense choreography of the action sequences. Prey is both a triumph and far and away the best Predator film the series has seen in ages. —TE
Riders of Justice
After the tragic death of his wife in a train accident, soldier Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) is surprised to meet mathematician Otto at his doorstop. Otto is working on an algorithm that he claims can predict the future, and he tells Markus his wife’s death was no accident. Welcoming the opportunity to make sense of tragedy, Markus joins Otto and his friends on a quest to get to the bottom of things. Riders of Justice subverts the traditional expectations of revenge thrillers in ways I will not spoil. With great performances by Mikkelsen and the crew of math nerds that accompany him (Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Lars Brygmann, and Nicolas Bro) and a deft balance between action and comedic beats, Riders of Justice is one of the finest movies of 2021. —PV
Duncan Jones’ 2011 sci-fi action thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens, a U.S. Army pilot who mysteriously awakes aboard a commuter train to Chicago in the body of another man. Eight minutes later, Colter is caught in an explosion on board before awakening in a strange cockpit-like capsule. He soon learns he is the subject of an experimental government program, one which repeatedly sends him into the past in order find the identity of a bomber and stop them before setting off the very attack he was just killed in.
A thorough mind-screw of a thriller that feels like a cross between Speed, Minority Report, and Déjà Vu, in my view, Source Code is Jones’ best film. —TE
Pablo Larraín’s (Jackie) latest film takes a different angle at a biopic of a woman in the public eye: Instead of attempting to tell the story of her life, it focuses in on one horrible weekend. Kristen Stewart’s incredible performance as the near-mythic Princess Diana grounds the now larger-than-life figure with an incredibly human and raw portrayal. Seamlessly blending in horror aesthetics to heighten the anxiety-provoking atmosphere of a weekend getaway with the royal family, Larraín and Stewart both manage to evoke the feelings of being surrounded, being perceived at all times, and of standing out while also being completely ignored. —PV