With the theatrical experience put on hold and only a limited number of new releases available, film fans have had to dive deep into the libraries of streaming services in order to find things to watch. Streaming services are a great way to discover films that may have slipped through the cracks during their initial run, and many recent films have gotten a second life thanks to their availability on a popular service.
Now is a better time than ever to dive back into the catalogues of various services and watch some underrated favorites. While Hulu has become a reliable source of original content thanks to television programs like The Handmaid’s Tale, Castle Rock, 11.22.63, and Devs, the service also has a great number of films. Here are ten great recent movies on Hulu you may have missed.
10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Taika Waititi has grown to be one of the most popular filmmakers of the moment, having gained a larger platform with his Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok and critical acclaim for his Academy-Award winning satire Jojo Rabbit, so now is a better time than ever to check out some of his earlier work. The breezy, hilarious adventure film Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows Ricky (Julian Dennison), a troublesome teenage boy who is adopted by the loving Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her husband, the grizzled southern man Hector (Sam Neill).
Hector wants nothing to do with Ricky, but circumstances arise that force the two of them to go on the run together in the New Zealand wilderness as they are pursued by authorities and a revolving cast of quirky supporting characters. This untraditional adventure story is part buddy comedy, part paternal bonding, and Waititi is able to make the friendship between the two seem authentic. Both characters irritate each other, but their bickering never fails to translate into comedy gold on screen.
9. Detroit (2017)
Despite having directed two of the most acclaimed films of the 21st Century with The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film Detroit was a surprising box office bomb that failed to get any major awards consideration. Detroit is an abrasive, uncomfortable film to watch, as it depicts the true story of the aftermath of the 1967 12th Street Riot in which a group of police officers tormented a group of African-Americans over the course of a brutal night.
It’s an ensemble filled with remarkable young actors; in particular, Will Poulter gives a terrifying performance as the sadistic cop who leads the ordeal, and John Boyega gives a very emotional performance as a local security guard who is forced to bear witness to the crisis. Bigelow sets the stage by exploring the events that led up to the night, but once the main story revolving around the motel begins, it’s impossible to look away from the uncomfortable injustice happening on screen.
8. Ingrid Goes West (2017)
One of the best satires of the social media era, Ingrid Goes West is a savvy character piece about the relationship between truth, self-worth, and projection in a time where online identities can vary drastically from someone’s real persona. Both raucously funny and uncomfortably realistic in its depiction of the fixation on beauty and lifestyle, the film is anchored by a brilliant performance from Aubrey Plaza. Plaza stars as the titular Ingrid, a mentally ill woman who travels to Los Angeles to search for her idol, Instagram model Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen).
Ingrid is a character who is both funny and tragic, and while her obsession with Taylor’s world and seemingly perfect life can be both humorous and disturbing, the viewer is able to empathize with Ingrid when her hero lets her down. Plaza’s idiosyncratic performance is undeniably the standout, but Olson also does a great job at playing the materialistic, self-absorbed manipulator who is forced to face the consequences of her deception.
7. Captain Fantastic (2016)
This untraditional story of familial bonding is one of the most pleasant surprises of the past decade, and features one of the most endearing ensemble casts in recent memory. The story follows the Cash family and their patriarch Ben (Viggo Mortensen); the family lives in isolation in the woods and has little interaction with the outside world, but when Ben’s wife grows seriously ill, he must take his children and expose them to the greater world.
There’s a lot of humor to be found as this family reacts to the seemingly advanced world around them, and seeing the children bring their father’s philosophies to their everyday lives is quite interesting. The film definitely shows the advantages of living a life disconnected, but it also shows how Ben may be negligent, particularly when his eldest son Bo (George McKay) begins to plan a life apart from his family. Mortensen gives a masterful performance conveying a willful rebellious spirit that also embodies affection.
6. Pawn Sacrifice (2014)
One of the all-time great chess movies, Pawn Sacrifice follows the rivalry between American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and Soviet grandmaster Borris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) as the two face off against one another in the 1972 World Chess Championship. There are political factors that play into this relationship, but more than anything, these two tortured geniuses are unable to connect with people and prefer to do their communicating through intellectual domination.
Maguire is an actor who has always been known for his ability to play friendly, likeable characters, but his performance here is quite different than anything else he’s done; Fischer holds a deep resolve that keeps him quiet, with only bursts of seething anger, and as the stress of the match gets to him, he begins to show greater signs of paranoia and disenfranchisement. It’s a masterful performance from Maguire, who is able to breathe life into this gripping real life thriller.