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The two leads of Daisies hold hands while walking down a red staircase. One wears black, while the other wears white with a floral headband. Image: The Criterion Collection

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8 great movies to watch at home shorter than an episode of Stranger Things 4

All less than 85 minutes!

We’ve all been there before: looking for a movie to watch, with limited time and/or energy, only to find all the options you’re interested in are longer than you have the space for. Occasionally, this also happens with television, as we’ve seen with Stranger Things 4 Volume 2, whose two episodes run 85 minutes and a whopping 150 minutes, respectively.

That’s what we’re here for! The Polygon curation team has pulled together the following list of excellent short movies you can watch at home. To give us a yardstick (and in light of the unbelievable length of those Stranger Things episodes), we’ve picked movies that are 84 minutes or less, i.e., shorter than either episode of Stranger Things 4 Volume 2. Frankly, it would have been far too easy to pick movies shorter than the two-and-a-half-hour finale.

These movies range across a variety of genres, eras, countries, and moods. Enjoy!


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Dr. Caligari stumbles forward with a book in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Image: Kino Lorber

Length: 74 minutes

Where to watch: Available to stream on Shudder, on Kanopy or Hoopla with a library card, for free with ads on Tubi or Plex, or for digital rental or purchase on Apple or Google Play

Robert Wiene’s 1920 masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema tells the story of a young man whose love life is thrown into turmoil amid a rash of heinous murders perpetrated by a somnambulist at the behest of a twisted hypnotist calling himself Dr. Caligari. With impressive set designs, a labyrinthine plot, and a shocking twist ending, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is an absolutely fantastic short feature. —Toussaint Egan

Before Sunset

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunset. Image: Warner Independent Pictures

Length: 80 minutes

Where to watch: Available to digital rental or purchase on Apple, Google Play, and other VOD vendors

Richard Linklater’s 2004 follow-up to his romantic drama Before Sunrise sees Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) reunite nine years after their fateful meeting in Vienna. Similar to the first film, Before Sunset takes place over the course of one hour as the pair roam the streets of Paris, sharing how their lives have changed before ultimately baring their hearts and confessing how much their love meant to one another. It’s one of the greatest romantic films ever made, and at 80 minutes, it’s an easy one to make time for. —TE

Daisies

The two stars of Daisies lounge in swimwear, one with her finger in her nose and the other playing a brass instrument. Image: The Criterion Collection

Length: 76 minutes

Where to watch: Available to stream on HBO Max and the Criterion Channel, or for digital rental or purchase on Apple

“This film is dedicated to those who get upset only over a stomped-upon bed of lettuce.”

Masterful Czech director Věra Chytilová is best known for this anti-authoritarian feminist comedy that was banned from major cinemas in then-Czechoslovakia shortly after its release. A surreal movie that satirizes decadence, Daisies is pure brilliance in form and execution, and the experience of watching it is pure bliss. —Pete Volk

The Fits

Royalty Hightower looks through her fingers in front of a boxing ring in The Fits. Image: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Length: 72 minutes

Where to watch: Available to stream on Showtime and FuboTV, for free with a library card on Kanopy, or for digital rental or purchase on Apple, Amazon, and Google Play

Anna Rose Holmer’s powerful 2015 feature debut follows a young girl in Cincinnati who joins a dance troupe. Holmer worked with the Cincinnati-based Q-Kidz Dance Team, who feature in the cast, to create the movie’s exceptional choreography. A magical and occasionally anxious portrait of youth and finding yourself, The Fits features a towering lead performance by Royal Hightower (just 9 years old at the start of filming). —PV

Infinite Football

The subject of Infinite Football explains his proposed rules to the director. Image: Grasshopper Films

Length: 70 minutes

Where to watch: Available to stream with a library card on Kanopy, or for digital rental or purchase on Apple

This irreverent documentary follows a Romanian man with a mission: to perfect his unconventional version of association football. A warmhearted character study of a man alone in his obsession, Corneliu Porumboiu’s delightful film feels much like an extended conversation at a bar with an eccentric stranger you’ll never forget. —PV

The Mission

Intricate blocking of people with guns in Johnnie To’s The Mission. Image: Milkyway Image

Length: 84 minutes

Where to watch: Available to stream with a library card on Kanopy, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon

Hong Kong director Johnnie To is one of the modern greats, creating masterpieces in romantic comedies (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart), superhero movies (The Heroic Trio), and gangster movies (literally too many to name). The Mission falls in that final category, and it is one of his many excellent Triad films. When a Triad boss survives an assassination attempt, his brother hires five bodyguards to protect his life. A slick action movie with tense action sequences and a charismatic ensemble cast, The Mission is a rollicking fun time. —PV

Sherlock Jr.

Buster Keaton reads a book called “How to be a Detective” in Sherlock, Jr. Image: Metro-Goldwyn Pictures

Length: 45 minutes

Where to watch: Available to stream with a library card on Kanopy or Hoopla, for free with ads on Plex, or for digital rental or purchase on Apple, Google Play, and other VOD vendors

Buster Keaton is one of the most masterful practitioners of silent physical comedy to ever grace the silver screen, of which Sherlock Jr. is a perfect example. The film follows a man (Keaton) who, while working as a lowly film projectionist, studies and dreams of becoming a detective. Aside from a plot line involving a missing pocket watch, the real draw of the film is a dream sequence in which Keaton’s character is pulled into a movie where he stumbles through a series of shenanigans caused by the film’s editing. A hilariously meta comedy decades before the term gained popularity, Sherlock Jr. is fantastic. —TE

World of Tomorrow

emily prime and emily stand and watch a sunset in world of tomorrow Image: Bitter Films

Length: 74 minutes (17 minutes for episode 1; 23 minutes for episode 2; 34 minutes for episode 3)

Where to watch: Available for digital rental or purchase on Vimeo

Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow shorts easily rank as some of the most thought-provoking and entertaining science fiction movies of the past decade. Centered on the story of a little girl named Emily who is visited by several future versions of herself, the three films depict a millennia-spanning saga of clones, time travel, sentient robots, and post-human transcendence shot through with themes of love, identity, and existential ennui. All three are worth your time, but the first film is an essential watch for any and every sci-fi film enthusiast. —TE

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