GOOD Morning Wilton‘s movie reviewer, Sebastian Hunt, is a junior at Wilton High School who loves film and television and hopes to become a filmmaker himself one day. He’s already gotten a jump start on that, producing his own screenplays and planning on submitting his work to film festivals. You can learn more about Sebastian on GMW‘s “Our Team” page.
My previous streaming roundup focused on universal, family-friendly films. Now, I have put together a varied and hopefully enticing list of films appropriate for older audiences. Some of these features are only suitable for adults (Apocalypse Now), while others are also good for mature teens (Lady Bird).
The Edge of Seventeen (2016) – Available on Netflix
Similar films have attempted to depict Gen-Z adolescence, though perhaps no effort is as authentic or entertaining as The Edge of Seventeen. Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner, and Haley Lu Richardson form a highly enjoyable dynamic.
Her (2013) – Available on Netflix
Joaquin Phoenix, one of cinema’s great living actors, boasts an impeccable catalog of hypnotic performances, of which Her contains perhaps the most brilliant. In addition to Phoenix’s outstanding starring turn, Spike Jonze’s script is wonderfully creative as well as unmistakably personal.
Marriage Story (2019) – Available on Netflix
Marriage Story is a highly-praised and popular film–its numerous accolades (including a Best Picture nomination) speak for themselves. Yet, I cannot help but recommend it again here. Noah Baumbach’s eleventh feature accumulates all of the director’s greatest themes and obsessions; leads Scarlett Johannson and Adam Driver are absolutely mesmerizing.
Moonlight (2016) – Available on Netflix
Perhaps the most deserving of all 21st-century Best Picture winners, Moonlight is a startlingly intimate coming-of-age drama a bit reminiscent of Boyhood (but much better). Each performance–including Mahersha Ali’s Oscar-winning turn and the trio of performers who make up the lead–is spellbinding. Barry Jenkins, now an accomplished director, made an early effort that stands out as one of the millennium’s best films.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – Available on Netflix
Sergio Leone’s sprawling, sweeping Western epic employs legendary performers and atmospheric music to create a transportive experience. To viewers, this film will not only serve as an individually compelling piece of cinema, but an introduction to Leone’s glorious extended filmography.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Available on Netflix
Guillermo del Toro’s crowning achievement beautifully realizes fairy-tale fantasies while embracing the darkness burrowed in such fables. It’s beautifully shot, acted and aesthetically-drawn–what more could one want?
Raging Bull (1980) – Available on Netflix
Raging Bull is an all-time favorite of mine, a cinematic tour de force by perhaps the world’s greatest living filmmaker. Robert De Niro’s Jake LaMotta is one of cinema’s defining performances, elevated by Martin Scorsese’s classical direction. With its grueling, emotionally taxing tone, Raging Bull isn’t a relaxing watch, but certainly worth it.
Snowpiercer (2013) – Available on Netflix
To those first introduced to Bong Joon-ho via his breakout feature Parasite, Snowpiercer is the perfect next step to become better acquainted with the South Korean master. Daring and entertaining, Snowpierer is an ideal fantasy/drama film.
12 Angry Men (1957) – Available on Prime Video
Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men stands as one of the best American films ever made, a reputation owed to its uniformly stellar cast and challenging ideas surrounding courtroom justice. Perhaps it’s cliché to state, but 12 Angry Men will certainly make you… not angry.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) – Available on Prime Video
Werner Herzog, one of cinema’s greatest and most ambitious filmmakers, makes films which portray man’s harrowing struggle against nature. Aguirre, the Wrath of God is no exception, and as a result the entire film plays like a more immersive version of Apocalypse Now. It’s arguably Herzog’s best feature, and certainly his most defining.
The Conversation (1974) – Available on Prime Video
Overshadowed by The Godfather: Part II’s concurrent release, The Conversation remains a terrific and underrated gem within Francis Ford Coppola’s career. If nothing else, Gene Hackman is great as the film’s paranoid, mustache-sporting protagonist.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) – Available on Prime Video
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie shatters American genre conventions and infuses comedic circumstances with delightful European surrealism. The sensibilities of Luis Buñuel–the film’s main creative architect–should come as a subversive treat to audiences.
Lady Bird (2017) – Available on Prime Video
Fans of 2019’s Little Women will be pleased to learn that its director, Greta Gerwig, has produced another, arguably superior film: Lady Bird. Like Moonlight and Edge of Seventeen, Lady Bird tells an essential tale of growing up, backed by a superb set of performances (especially Saoirse Ronan).
Some Like It Hot (1959) – Available on Prime Video
Though in black-and-white, Some Like It Hot is enduringly ageless and modern. Billy Wilder, cinema’s best-ever producer of romantic comedies, crafts a story overflowing with quotable lines, hilarious gags, and eyebrow-raising innuendos.
Stagecoach (1939) – Available on Prime Video
It can be easy to forget that classic films, regardless of age, can be tons of fun. John Ford’s Stagecoach proves just that, providing riveting action and top-notch direction.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) – Available on Hulu
The buzz surrounding Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite distracted audiences from 2019’s other, also excellent breakout foreign film: Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Meticulous in its build-up, strikingly gorgeous cinematography and outstanding performances render Lady on Fire hugely satisfying and intense viewing.
Tangerine (2015) – Available on Hulu
Tangerine was shot fully on an iPhone, a piece of trivia that’s come to define its lasting legacy. But it’s so much more than a gimmick film: Tangerine is a clever and witty piece of filmmaking, evoking a classic aura.
Apocalypse Now (1979) – Available on HBO GO
Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now ventures into the dark recesses of the human soul, creating a haunting cinematic trip. Certain scenes–notably Coppola’s fiery, extensively parodied helicopter sequences–will engrave themselves into your memory.
Hoop Dreams (1994) – Available on HBO GO
How good is Hoop Dreams, Steve James’ landmark sports documentary? Well, good enough to completely engross and compel me, someone who doesn’t care whatsoever about basketball. I can name only a few documentaries as thoroughly engaging or emotionally involving.