Last Updated: November 17th
If we could impart one piece of wisdom with this binge-guide it’s this: don’t sleep on Hulu’s movie line-up. The streaming service may have started as just a way to watch cable TV without actually paying premium prices for the cord but over the years, it’s morphed into a platform with an impressive film catalog. We’re talking prestige originals, blockbusters, inventive comedies, and so much more. We don’t really need to do much more in the way of hyping it up, so we’ll just let you scroll through our picks for the best films on Hulu and leave you with this warning: your watchlist is going to get full real quick.
1. Parasite (2019)
Run Time: 132 min | IMDb: 8.6/10
It’s hard to quantify a film as stylishly inventive and socially aware as Bong Joon Ho’s comedic thriller. There’s a reason this film won so many Oscars. It flits between instilling empathy for a family struggling to crawl out of poverty by increasingly deceptive means and the clueless elite whose house they eventually infiltrate. Bolstered by some terrific performances and a gripping script, the less said about the story, it’s twists and unexpected turns, the better. Just do yourself a favor and watch it.
2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Peter Jackson gave fantasy fans a stunning adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic book series which deserves to be watched in chronological order, hence why we can’t pick just one film to shout out here. The main story follows Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), a young hobbit faced with an impossible burden – to destroy the ring of Sauron, a Dark Lord with plans to destroy Middle Earth. He’s joined on his journey by wizards and elves and dwarves along the way as each faction fights their own battle against Sauron’s massive army.
3. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
Run Time: 119 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Barry Jenkins follows up the success of Moonlight with this adaptation of a James Baldwin masterpiece. Told in a nonlinear style, the film recounts the romance of Tish and Fonny, two young Black lovers living in 1970s New York. When Fonny is accused of a heinous crime, Tish and her family fight to prove his innocence. The story is heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time, and Regina King puts in an Oscar-winning performance as Tish’s devoted mother.
4. Honeyland (2019)
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
This Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary tells the unbelievably inspiring story of Hatidze, a bee-hunter in North Macedonia who represents a dying breed of ecological custodians. Hatidze and her ailing mother live on a remote mountain range, where she peacefully coexists with the bees whose honey is her livelihood, but when new neighbors arrive to disrupt this fragile harmony, Hatidze must fight for her simple way of life. It’s a moving, intimate portrait of an inspiring woman, and a larger commentary on how our greed and ignorance can irreparably damage our surroundings.
5. I, Tonya (2017)
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
As flashy and over-the-top as the sequin-spandex numbers that graced the ice back in the ’80s, I, Tonya manages to straddle a thin line. It’s both a biopic of one of the most notorious female athletes in the history of figure skating and a raucous comedy intent on mocking everything troubling about American culture at the time. Margot Robbie is brilliant in her role-playing a woman tortured by talent and her inability to capitalize on it — and you can literally hear Allison Janney chewing every scene she’s in as Harding’s narcissistic, chain-smoking mother. Plus that parrot bite is as funny as you could hope.
6. The Bourne Identity (2002)
Run Time: 119 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Who was Matt Damon before he was Jason Bourne? We’re really not sure. The actor kicked off this espionage thriller franchise playing a psychogenic amnesiac still searching for clues about his true identity and his involvement in a secret assassin program. The Bourne series’ storyline isn’t revolutionary – Damon does a bunch of stunts but doesn’t feel any closer to figuring things out by the end of the film – but it’s his character’s daredevil antics and genetically-enhanced abilities to kick ass that are the real draw here.
7. Booksmart (2019)
Run Time: 102 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is this coming-of-age ode to friendship starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. Feldstein plays Molly, a politically ambitious high schooler, who resolves to have one night of teenage fun before graduation. She ropes her best friend Amy (Dever) into her plan, and the two navigate a host of wild mishaps to make it to the biggest party of the year. It’s fun and heartfelt and a surprisingly confident first take from Wilde.
8. Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019)
Run Time: 122 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
There are forbidden love affairs and then there’s this epic romance from French filmmaker Celine Sciamma. Filled with sexual tension and secret rendevous, this period piece centers on a young painter named Marianne who lives on the island of Brittany and is commissioned to complete a portrait of an aristocratic noblewoman named Heloise before she’s set to be wed. The two women form an intimate bond, one that tests their sense of self and their willingness to sacrifice for love.
9. Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Run Time: 111 min | IMDb: 7/10
Boots Riley’s directorial debut comes courtesy of this dark, absurdist comedy that manages to weave themes of class and capitalism into a bonkers tale about a telemarketer living in Oakland who figures out a way to use his “white voice” to make sales. As he moves up the ladder, selling while hiding his identity, he’s pulled into a conspiracy that forces him to choose between cashing in at humanity’s expense or joining his friends in a rebellion against the system. Lakeith Stanfield gives a riveting turn as Cassius Green, Cash, the kid at the center of this bizarre story, and Tessa Thompson gives a commendable performance as Cash’s radical feminist girlfriend, Detroit.
10. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Leonardo DiCaprio — at the height of his 90s heartthrob status — and Claire Danes lead this modernized interpretation of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy. Baz Lurhman directs a hip-hop-inspired ode to the doomed love story with DiCaprio playing the titular Montague and Danes, the love-struck Capulet. We all know how this one ends but the inventive take and Luhrman’s love for gorgeous cinematography make it a must-watch anyway.
11. Vice (2018)
Run Time: 132 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Adam McKay’s controversial biopic lands on Hulu with its impressive cast of Oscar-winners including Christian Bale, who undergoes a mind-blowing transformation to play former Vice President Dick Cheney. The film follows the build-up to Cheney’s White House appointment, as he gains power first as a Washington insider, then as the man pulling the strings of the Bush administrations. Amy Adams plays his supportive, just as morally compromised wife, Lynne, with Sam Rockwell turning in a hilarious performance as Bush himself.
12. Captain Fantastic (2016)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Viggo Mortensen and Kathryn Han star in this feel-good drama about an unconventional family’s attempts to stay together despite outside forces closing in on their way of life. Mortensen plays Ben, the father to six children all living in a remote, wooded area. The kids keep a strict schedule, learning on their own, surviving in the wild, eschewing traditional schooling and activities for Ben’s regimen, which pushes them to think for themselves and find their own purpose. When Ben and the kids are forced to leave their utopia and interact with estranged family members in the real world, his teachings and their way of life is challenged in surprising ways.
13. The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years (2016)
Run Time: 137 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Set during the touring years of The Beatles’ career, from 1962-1966, director Ron Howard crafts an intimate portrayal of the world’s most popular band with the help of both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. Featuring 4K restorations of some of the band’s most memorable concerts, this documentary is a must for any film lover, Beatles fan or otherwise.
14. Interview With The Vampire (1994)
Run Time: 123 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Sitting down to interview a vampire, even one as fangishly handsome as Brad Pitt, is a horrifying experience. At least, that’s what we took away from director Neil Jordan’s Anne Rice adaptation. Because this is a film about bloodsucking beings, there’s plenty of grisly murder, lurking in the shadows, and fanged-smiles to fuel your nightmares but the scariest part of this nosferatu epic is watching a baby Kirsten Dunst feast on living human beings and demand more blood.
15. Creed II (2018)
Run Time: 130 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson return for round two of this boxing drama reboot. Still training with Rocky Balboa, Adonis Creed (Jordan) tries to bounce back after a dangerous beatdown, resolving to face off against the son of Viktor Drago, the man who killed his father. The film’s tension is heightened, the hits more violent, and Jordan is as confident as ever in his leading man status.
16. The Assistant (2019)
Run Time: 87 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
Ozark breakout Julia Garner stars in this tense #MeToo thriller with Succession’s Matthew Macfayden. Garner plays Jane, a recent college grad who just scored an assistant job at a film production company. When she begins noticing her boss sexually harassing young women around the office, she tries to do something about it and runs into various roadblocks from the higher-ups. It’s a dark, seedy drama and Garner is brilliant in it.
17. The Nightingale (2018)
Run Time: 136 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Australian director Jennifer Kent follows up her surprise success, The Babadook, with another dark tale, this time one that follows a young woman on a path of revenge. Aisling Franciosi plays Claire, an Irish convict sent to Tasmania in 1825 who chases a British officer (Sam Claflin) through the wilderness intent on making him pay for the crimes he committed against her and her family. Along the way, she recruits help from an aboriginal tracker and the two navigate racial tensions and prejudice on their quest. Franciosi is magnetic as Claire, a woman who refuses to let the horrible abuses she’s suffered break her and Claflin seems to delight in playing the villain of this story.
18. Melancholia (2011)
Run Time: 137 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Merging high art and science fiction, director Lars Von Trier found inspiration for his story after suffering a depressive episode. Focused on two sisters with a strained relationship, they must now face the reality of a rogue planet set to collide with Earth. It premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where Kristen Dunst was given the Best Actress Award, and the following year the British Film Institute named it one of the greatest films of all time — a rare honor for any film made in the 21st century.
19. Little Woods (2018)
Run Time: 105 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
Tessa Thompson and Lily James deliver magnetic performances in this gritty crime drama from director Nia DaCosta. Thompson plays Ollie, a young woman living in an oil town in North Dakota who starts running drugs across the Canadian border when her mom gets sick. James plays her screw-up sister, Deb, who comes back into her life after their mom’s death with problems of her own. The sisters must find a way to save their childhood home, get Deb the help she needs, and get Ollie out of town before the police and some angry drug dealers catch her. It’s a relentless meat grinder of a film, but it’s also a hell of a watch.
20. Heathers (1988)
Run Time: 103 mins | IMDb: 7.3/10
Helping to close out a decade of memorable teen films on a dark note, Heathers is a savagely funny deconstruction of the frivolousness of popular cliques that helped set the tone of many dark comedies that would follow in its wake. The plot involves a popular group of girls known as The Heathers who invite Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) to join them, guaranteeing that she would gain popularity by association. Eventually, Veronica finds herself teaming up with a dangerous sociopath (Christian Slater) in an attempt to break the Heathers’ tyrannical hold on the school.
21. Akira (1988)
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Loosely based on the ground-breaking manga of the same name, Akira is considered a landmark in Japanese animation, as well as one of the best animated films ever produced. Set in a dystopian future in 2019, a teenager named Tetsuo gains tremendous telekinetic powers after a motorcycle crash, eventually going mad with power before bringing the military-industrial complex to its knees. A live action adaptation has been in the works in some form since 2002, but remains in development purgatory for the time being.
22. We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)
Run Time: 112 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton), who’s unwilling and unable to properly care for her troubled son Kevin, watches her life unravel as her husband (John C. Reilly) ignores their problems and Kevin grows more and more sociopathic and violent. The story jumps around in time, showing Swinton’s character as both a new mother who blames her son for ruining her life and as a woman who eventually blames herself for what becomes of her son. Swinton proves once again that she’s the actress that indie movies need for complex characters that live their lives in grey areas. At its core, We Need To Talk is about the importance of proper parenting, communication, and probably therapy. And it’s not for the faint of heart.
23. Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)
Run Time: 127 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Tom Cruise is joined by Superman himself, Henry Cavill in this latest installment in the action franchise. Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt who leads his IMF team but is joined by Cavill’s CIA Agent, August Walker, who’s tasked with monitoring the group after a mission gone wrong. Hunt is tracking some missing plutonium before a terrorist group called The Apostles can weaponize it against the world but he’s thwarted by a surprising enemy.
24. Fyre Fraud (2019)
Run Time: 96 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
The war of the Fyre docs kicked off earlier this year with Hulu releasing their surprise flick just days before Netflix’s planned exposé. Both films rehash the same basic plot: a young entrepreneur scams thousands of millennials and investors out of millions of dollars, but Hulu’s movie takes a closer look the aftermath and damage caused by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, in addition to interviews and close looks at the events of the Fyre Festival disaster with a critical eye.
25. Plus One (2019)
Run Time: 99 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Pen15‘s Maya Erskine and ‘ Jack Quaid star in this modern rom-com about a pair of friends, who agree to suffer a summer of wedding invites together. Alice and Ben have been pals since college, but when their mutuals start getting hitched, and they’re left without dates to the happy nuptials, they make a pact to be each others’ “plus one.” What begins as a chance to score free booze and food quickly spirals into a neverending series of interactions that remind them how lonely they both are and force them to confront their hidden attraction.
26. Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
A charming, unconventional story about what it means to be a family, Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows a juvenile delinquent named Ricky (Julian Dennison), who is adopted by a couple living on a farm in a remote region of New Zealand. After Ricky fakes his suicide and escapes into the bush, his (reluctantly) adopted father Hec (Sam Neill) goes looking for him, and after a series of mishaps, the two are forced to survive in the woods together for months. It was released during SXSW in 2016 (you can read our review here), and after rave reviews from critics the world over, it’s gone on to become the highest-grossing film in New Zealand history.
27. Love, Gilda (2018)
Run Time: 88 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Before the Tina Feys, Amy Poehlers, and Maya Rudolphs of the world made Saturday Night Live a female-led powerhouse, comedian Gilda Radner starred on the sketch comedy series. She’s an icon, an absolute legend in the world of stand-up, and she played her bigger-than-life characters on the show with a kind of quirky abandon that made you laugh at them and care for them all at once. This doc looks back at her career, her struggles in an industry that wasn’t always accepting of her gender, and her brushes with more serious issues, like illness and eating disorders. Despite those serious topics, it’s a breezy, feel-good watch for comedy lovers of every generation.
28. Coherence (2014)
Run Time: 89 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Coherence is one of those low-budget sci-fi stories that is extremely tough to explain without either giving too much away or requiring an extended entry. Essentially, a group of friends sifts through their own issues and insecurities during a mind-bending paradoxical experience. Taking place almost entirely in the same room on a single night, the characters struggle to find answers just as much as the viewer. It’s a challenging yet enthralling film, perfect for those who love to overthink things.
29. Palm Springs (2020)
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
This highly-anticipated comedy from SNL alumn and Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg feels like a spiritual successor to a Bill Murray classic, a millennial Groundhog’s Day except this story is set in the sunny world of Palm Springs. Samberg’s Nyles meets Sarah (Cristin Milioti) at a wedding, and the two are pulled through a weird portal that causes them to repeat the same day, over, and over again. Honestly, it’s the perfect quarantine watch.
30. Colossal (2017)
Run Time: 109 min | IMDb: 6.2/10
A decidedly unusual twist on the giant monster movie, Nacho Vigolando’s Colossal follows Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an unemployed writer who moves back to her hometown after her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) breaks up with her. After moving into her childhood home, Gloria’s heavy drinking starts to take a toll on her before she starts to realize that she may have a significant connection with a towering monster that spontaneously appears over Seoul, South Korea.
Recent Changes Through December 2020:
Removed: The Hurt Locker
Added: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy