In 2017, Hulu made television history by becoming the first streaming network to win the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy, thanks to the phenomenon that is The Handmaid’s Tale. While that painfully prescient adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel remains one of the best TV shows to watch on Hulu, it also set a bar for quality entertainment that the network has continued to match—and sometimes exceed—with original series like The Bear, The Great, and Only Murders in the Building.
While Netflix has largely cornered the streaming market on original movies, and even managed to convince A-listers like Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and Martin Scorsese to come aboard, Hulu is starting to find its footing in features too. Below are some of our top picks for the best movies (original and otherwise) streaming on Hulu right now.
Still looking for more great titles to add to your queue? Check out WIRED’s guides to the best movies on Netflix, the best movies on Disney+, and the best movies on Amazon Prime. Don’t like our picks, or want to offer suggestions of your own? Head to the comments below.
David Siev paints a deeply personal portrait of the American Dream disrupted as he traces the journey of his family from the Killing Fields of Cambodia to the tiny—and overwhelmingly white—town of Bad Axe, Michigan. Shot in real time, this moving documentary shows the challenges facing Siev’s family, and the restaurant they own, amid political tension and anti-Asian sentiment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hal Porterfield (Christopher Abbott) has just been handed the keys to the castle following the death of his hotel magnate father. Rebecca Marin (Margaret Qualley) is a dominatrix who believes she deserves some of the credit—and half the cash—that comes with Hal’s new CEO position. Sexual politics have rarely played out as twisted, or darkly funny, as they do in this mesmerizing, and often claustrophobic, thriller from Zachary Wigon.
Vicky Krieps delivers yet another top-notch performance as Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who—following her 40th birthday—longs to recapture the freedom of her youth. Marie Kreutzer writes and directs this fictional biopic (Empress Elisabeth is real, though the story told within takes plenty of creative liberties), which sees the royal rebelling against her lack of power to affect any real change, despite her title. Even more so, it’s about a woman who is desperate to hold on to the power that youth and beauty entitle her to—regardless of the consequences.
What’s in the box? If you don’t know, you’re about to find out. If you do know, it’s still worth rewatching. Gwyneth Paltrow was simply known as Brad Pitt’s girlfriend when this clever thriller was released in 1995, and Kevin Spacey was a hot commodity fresh off his Oscar win for The Usual Suspects. How times have changed! But this David Fincher classic, about a serial killer whose North Star is the seven deadly sins, remains a gritty masterpiece that has lost none of its potency in the more than quarter-century that has passed.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Two years before Step Brothers changed the game for quotable comedies, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly were shaking and baking as best friends/Nascar teammates who cannot be stopped … until success gets to their heads. You probably know the basic direction in which the story is headed: The best buds have a falling out, there’s a shared nemesis (Sacha Baron Cohen), and they eventually make their way back to each other to defeat said villain. But with Ferrell and Reilly going head-to-head, it doesn’t matter if the plotline is predictable. You’ll laugh all the same. Help me, Tom Cruise!
How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Environmentalism meets heist movie in director Daniel Goldhaber’s thriller about a group of young people who try to—as the title implies—expose the fragility of the oil industry. It’s not often that a movie examining the fight against the climate crisis is also an edge-of-your-seat adventure, but here those elements come together beautifully. (You can give cinematographer Tehillah de Castro a bit of credit for that.) Smart, prescient, and nearly unprecedented, How to Blow Up a Pipeline is more than worth the stream.
The Jewel Thief
Like Frank Abagnale (the subject of Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can) before him, Gerald Blanchard is a criminal mastermind whose sheer audacity is worthy of a Hollywood retelling. Yet the real-life Blanchard is so endlessly captivating and unafraid to share the most intimate details of his capers that it’s best to let him do the talking—which is exactly what he does in this fascinating documentary, in which even the people he duped and the authorities who pursued him seem a bit in awe of his bravado. What else would you expect from a man who allegedly parachuted onto the roof of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace in order to break in and make off with the Star of Empress Sisi, a priceless jewel that once belonged to Empress Elisabeth of Austria?
While the words “postapocalyptic drama” often draw groans from viewers who have tired of the trope, this one is different (yes, we know, you’ve heard that before, too). Vesper (Raffiella Chapman) is a 13-year-old with some pretty serious biohacking skills, which is particularly handy given that she and her father (Richard Brake) are attempting to survive in a world where Earth’s ecosystem is now nonexistent. Making it more of a challenge is that it’s impossible to know who to trust when even Vesper’s uncle (the always-captivating Eddie Marsan) is only looking out for himself. In addition to stellar acting, it’s a visually impressive sci-fi fairytale that plays a bit like a mash-up between Children of Men and Pan’s Labyrinth.
Alien was originally released in 1979, but has lost none of its potency in the intervening years—which isn’t something most 44-year-olds could say. By now you probably know the story: The crew aboard the spacecraft Nostromo, including warrant officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), put a presumably slight pause on their trip back to Earth in order to respond to a distress call from a nearby planetoid. But what they discover is a bizarre alien life form that seems to delight in knocking off crew members in new—and frequently terrifying—ways. Can you say Facehugger? Or Chestburster? Alien is also noteworthy for being the film that kicked off a bona fide, and legendary, sci-fi/horror franchise—and introduced the world to Ridley Scott, who changed the genre game yet again with his next feature, Blade Runner.
Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Who cares—it’s pure action-movie perfection. NYPD detective John McClane heads to Los Angeles to spend the holidays with his estranged wife and kids, but instead finds himself in the middle of an office party turned hostage situation. Hey, it happens. With one “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!”, Bruce Willis was instantly transformed from comedic TV star to ’80s action hero. If one Die Hard isn’t enough, Hulu has also got 1995’s Die Hard With a Vengeance and 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard. If you want to watch Die Hard 2 (which is really the best of the sequels), you’ll need to get the Starz add-on.
Also available on Disney+, Flamin’ Hot tells the story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), the Frito-Lay janitor who brought Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to the masses. Directed by Eva Longoria, the movie might come off as a little cheesy at times, but its comedy and heart transform it into something more than just a story about a beloved snack.
Raine Allen-Miller made a splash at Sundance with her directorial debut, which offers a playful twist on the typical rom-com. Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (David Jonsson) are two twentysomethings both reeling from recent break-ups. After a chance—and rather awkward—first meeting, the pair spend a day wandering around South London, bonding over their shared experience, finding cheeky ways to get over the mourning of their previous relationships, and maybe discovering that romance is not dead after all.
From Rosemary’s Baby to Hereditary, motherhood has long served as the catalyst for some of the horror genre’s scariest flicks. In the case of Clock, it’s the lack of desire to procreate that gets the terror treatment. Ella (Dianna Agron) is a happily married interior designer who is perfectly content with her life, and has no desire to add a child to it. But that doesn’t sit well with her friends and family, who keep pressuring her to procreate. So she signs up to take part in a clinical trial for women like herself—whose so-called biological clocks are either broken or nonexistent. Which is where things really get scary. Fair warning: Clock does get pretty dark and weird, and is definitely firmly cemented in the horror genre. But to some, it also plays like a satire of the American Dream and its obsession with family.
Stars at Noon
Claire Denis, masterful as always, channels the hot, sweaty vibe of Body Heat for this tale of Trish (Margaret Qualley), a young journalist who finds herself stranded in Nicaragua. When she meets a handsome if slightly mysterious Brit (Joe Alwyn) at a bar, she thinks he may be able to help her—but only after things get steamy between them. Eventually, however, she realizes that nothing is what it seems, and Daniel may not be who he seems.
Triangle of Sadness
Think of it like Gilligan’s Island, but with more class commentary and vomit. When a bunch of rich people head out to sea on a luxury yacht, their plans are thwarted when a terrible storm leaves many of them stranded on a beach where none of their money or power can help them survive. That already gives away too much, but suffice to say, if you like Menu-esque critiques of the excesses of wealth with just as many dark-comedy twists, then this Oscar-nominated film is right for you.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
OK, so this might be the movie that turned the idea of “lesbian period drama” into a trope, but it’s also one of the best modern queer romance films around, alongside Moonlight and Carol. Set on an isolated French coast in the late-1700s, writer-director Céline Sciamma’s film centers on a young aristocrat woman, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), who is betrothed to a wealthy Milanese man. When Héloïse’s mother hires Mariane (Noémie Merlant) to paint a portrait of her daughter, the two women fall in love and have the kind of heartbreaking affair that have made lesbian period dramas so undeniable in the first place. You’ll be transfixed.
Look, there are probably already far too many Princess Diana movies and TV shows, but this one, directed by Pablo Larraín and starring Kristen Stewart as the Princess of Wales, focuses on one specific Christmas at Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham Estate in a way that narrows down just how complex each day Diana’s life with the royal family must have been. Yes, the backdrop are the rumors of divorce surrounding Diana and Prince Charles (Jack Farthing), but the story is about her relationships within the family and the life she left behind to join them.
This film from director Chloé Zhao, about one woman’s post–Great Depression quest through the American West, won a ton of Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress for lead Frances McDormand, and Best Director and Best Editing wins for Zhao. Zhao also won for Best Adapted Screenplay for her adaptation of WIRED contributor Jessica Bruder’s book, also called Nomadland. It’s a bracing look at the modern American dream.
If you’re the kind of viewer who just can’t get enough of murder shows and has been looking for a murder movie, might we suggest Boston Strangler? Based on the real-life serial killer of the same monicker, writer-director Matt Ruskin’s “reimagining” of the 1968 movie focuses on the two reporters—Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon)—who uncovered the news about the Strangler’s string of killings in the 1960s and broke the story. If nothing else, it’s worth watching just to see what happens when a Bostonian director forbids his predominantly non-Bostonian cast from trying to imitate the city’s notorious accent.
Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a single woman on the lookout for a partner, but who is tired of the online dating scene. So when she meets Steve (Sebastian Stan), a quirky, handsome stranger, she takes a chance on giving him her number. The two hit it off on the first date and eventually find themselves making plans to spend a weekend away—which is when Noa realizes that Steve has been hiding a few disturbing details about himself. Ultimately, Fresh stands as a lesson in the horrors of dating in the digital age (both real and imagined).
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Two years after the death of her husband, retired religion teacher Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) decides it’s time to do something about the fact that she has never had an orgasm. So she hires Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack), a young male sex worker, and invites him to a hotel room so that she can cross a few items off her sexual bucket list. But what begins as a transactional relationship quickly, and genuinely, evolves into much more.
Given the existence of Harold Ramis’ near-perfect Groundhog Day, it takes a whole lot of chutzpah for a filmmaker to add another picture to the infinite-time-loop rom-com canon. But writer-director Max Barbakow went ahead and did it anyway with Palm Springs, and audiences are thankful he did. Building upon the rules originally established in Groundhog Day, Palm Springs offers its own unique twist on the story. Instead of one person (Billy Murray’s Phil Conners) slowly being pushed to the brink of insanity because he’s the only one who seems to be experiencing the phenomenon, Palm Springs sees three wedding guests—Nyles (Andy Samberg), Sarah (Cristin Milioti), and Roy (J. K. Simmons)—living the same day again and again, and working together to find a way out of it.