Movies · Streaming Guides

11 Good Movies to Watch on Hulu in January 2016

By  · Published on January 5th, 2016

Warner Bros.

When someone mentions streaming movies odds are you think immediately of Netflix, iTunes, or even Amazon Prime, but you most likely don’t even give a first thought to Hulu. You’re not alone either. Most people, even those who use Hulu on a regular basis, really only think of the service when it comes to watching TV shows.

I’m here to tell you though that there’s a cinematic streaming goldmine available for Hulu subscribers that includes recent hits, older classics, domestic releases, and foreign imports. It’s even home to hundreds of Criterion titles. Sure there’s plenty of filler and seemingly thousands of titles I’ve never heard of before, but I’m not here to talk about possible gems like Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong… I’m here to recommend some good movies to watch this month on Hulu.

Pick of the Month: Mad Max 2 (1982)

It’s the apocalypse, Australian-style, and one man wanders the wasteland in his souped-up car scavenging for water, fuel, food, and a reason to keep going. His name is Max (Mel Gibson), and when a small group of civilized survivors makes a desperate bid for escape from the outlaw-ravaged land he offers them a deal they can’t refuse. 2015 saw the release of George Miller’s fourth Mad Max film, and not only is it one of the year’s best films but it lives up to the quality, energy, and excitement he delivered 33 years earlier with the second entry, more commonly referred to as The Road Warrior. It’s a widely appreciated classic, deservedly so, but if you haven’t seen it yet for whatever reason – or just find yourself in the mood for some old-fashioned vehicular mayhem – it’s always a good time to go a little mad.

The Wages of Fear (1953)

Two pairs of men volunteer for a simple, high-paying job that also happens to be incredibly dangerous. All they have to do is drive two trucks loaded with extremely sensitive nitroglycerin through a South American jungle along a bumpy, unstable road. What could possibly go wrong? Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic suspense tale is over sixty years old but still manages to whiten the knuckles of anyone who watches. It finds immense thrills and intensity in a premise that can really only go one of two ways each time the trucks reach an obstacle, and Clouzot milks the sequences of every last ounce of suspense. William Friedkin remade it in the ’70s, and Ben Wheatley recently announced he’ll be taking a stab at it soon too, but the original is likely to remain an unsurpassed masterpiece for many more years to come. (subtitled)

Four of the Apocalypse (1975)

Four strangers – a con-artist, a pregnant whore, a deranged ex-slave, a local drunk – spending time in a frontier town’s jail cell are witness to a slaughter as the townspeople are gunned down by masked bandits. The surviving law cuts them loose into the desert with directions to the next nearest town, but their journey is interrupted by all manner of misfortune. Director Lucio Fulci is best known for his gory horror films, but his filmography also includes more straightforward crime dramas and westerns. This mid-’70s flick is a western, but it’s far from straightforward. Cannibalism, revenge, and a town filled with rough and tumble men who grow positively giddy at the arrival of a newborn child in their midst all have a place here, as does a score (by Fabio Frizzi) that moves between the expected sounds and the occasional anachronistic folk song. There are harsh and exciting action beats here, but the film in general is an intentionally paced piece populated with some of the Old West’s oddest characters. (dubbed)

Thief (1981)

Frank (James Caan) is a skilled safe-cracker with plans for a life that doesn’t involve crime or jail-time, but to accomplish his dream he’ll need to commit a crime and avoid jail-time. A big score comes his way – one last job, you could say – but he realizes too late that he’s in far over his head. Michael Mann’s feature debut displays many of the traits that would go on to become his calling cards including morally conflicted anti-heroes, a specific visual style involving the details of the night, an appreciation and ear for score. Caan delivers an understated but emotionally valid performance, and he’s supported by great turns from Jim Belushi, Tuesday Weld, and others.

Dreamscape (1984)

Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) is a young man with a gift – he can enter people’s dreams and shape the events in their subconscious. In the future it will be called “incepting,” but in the ’80s it was known simply as “dreamscaping.” Like landscaping or manscaping, presumably. When villains task another such talent (David Patrick Kelly) with entering dreams in order to kill the subjects without a trace, Alex is forced into a confrontation to stop the murderous nocturnal visitor. Some elements of the film have grown cheesy with time, but it remains overall a fun, sci-fi adventure mixing technology and psychic phenomena. Director Joseph Ruben (The Stepfather, Sleeping With the Enemy) handles the material well delivering scenes of suspense and terror to counterbalance Quaid’s endearingly goofy grin.

Miami Blues (1990)

Freddy Frenger (Alec Baldwin) is a bad man with a fun personality, and it’s not long after he gets out of prison that he begins a whole new life of crime and inappropriate behavior. He meets and falls in love with a sweet, young prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and takes care of her with profits acquired through various crimes. One of his infractions sees him stealing the gun and badge of a grumpy cop (Fred Ward), and it turns out to be the biggest mistake of his violent, ill-conceived career. Acts of violence, love, and black comedy intermingle in George Armitage’s (Grosse Pointe Blank) little-seen Florida romp, and while the tone grows more serious than expected at times it remains an entertaining and fun movie.

The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

Expansion in late 19th century Africa runs into trouble when efforts to build a bridge are stymied with a shrinking work force. They’re not walking off the job as much as they are being carried off by two wily man-eating lions. An engineer (Val Kilmer) and a legendary hunter (Michael Douglas) are tasked with ending the threat, but as the body count rises into the double-digits the bridge begins looking less and less likely. There are certainly elements to knock here, and director Stephen Hopkins is certainly no untouchable artist, but the cast, atmosphere, and visuals work together to deliver an engaging adventure. Hollywood rarely tackles animal-attack films, but the added cache of being a true story and a period piece probably made them give it a pass.

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001)

A middle-aged salaryman (Kôji Yakusho) loses his job and finds himself unable to face unemployment. After an old friend tells him about a valuable item he left in a small village by the sea decades ago, the man heads there looking for treasure only to find something far more valuable. He meets a woman with her own issues including a peculiar ailment that sees her body build up excess fluids best released through – how should I put this – messy, far-reaching orgasms. You wouldn’t expect a film featuring epic, life-giving squirting scenes to be so tremendously sweet and romantic, but director Shôhei Imamura’s (The Ballad of Narayama) final feature is just that. Surreal ideas and magical realism abound in this kind-hearted look at life, love, and the value of experiencing both. (subtitled)

Sex Is Zero (2002)

University students have a lot of important things to occupy their time – classes, tests, future careers – but some of them aren’t about to let any of that get in the way of having a good time with members of the opposite sex. Eun-shik is a few years older than his classmates, and while he’s still looking to score he’s also looking for love. Imagine a Korean mash-up of American Pie and The Last American Virgin, and you’ll have an idea what to expect from this raunchy sex-comedy. It’s a uniquely Korean tonal balance as the film moves between sexy antics, gross-out gags, and seriously, depressingly downbeat plot turns. (subtitled)

A Town Called Panic (2009)

Cowboy, Indian, and Horse are flatmates, and while their lives are far simpler than you’d expect that doesn’t mean they’re trouble-free. Horse’s birthday sneaks up on the other two, and in a panic they accidentally order millions of bricks to build him a simple barbecue pit. It won’t be the last screw-up they’re involved in over the next few days as their village comes under attack by sneaky aquamen, snowball-throwing scientists, and more. This stop-motion animated film from Belgium is an oddity as it presents a world with few rules and characters who repeatedly find themselves caught up in surreal adventures. A main plot runs through it, but it feels at times like a random series of interactions – and that’s okay because the laughs come just as unexpectedly. (subtitled)

Next: 10 Good Movies to Watch on Amazon Prime in January

Perfect Sense (2011)

Michael (Ewan McGregor) is a chef, Susan (Eva Green) is a scientist, and just as they meet and begin falling in love an increasingly brutal virus starts overtaking the world. It doesn’t kill, but instead, quite cruelly, it eradicates our senses one at a time. First to go is a sense of smell, followed by taste, but where their loss is a major annoyance what comes next is heart-breaking. A post-apocalyptic romance seems like something that shouldn’t exist, but while the film charts humanity’s decline it does so without the typical mass deaths or zombie attacks. It’s intensely romantic even as it devastates emotionally, and director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) couches the love and pain in scenes of immense beauty. Watch it with someone you’d like to face the end of the world with, and hope that you never have to.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.