February 14 is St. Valentine’s Day, when we give our true loves cards, candy, flowers, sundry heart-shaped things, and take them to dinner, and perhaps even a movie. The holiday can be rough if you’re single, or if you still haven’t yet recovered from the hunt for a suitable Christmas gift—and now it’s time for another? It could be that the best Valentine’s Day present is to simply cook a nice meal (or order some takeout) and stream a romantic movie or two from the comfort of home.
Following is a list of suggestions, ranging from masterful classics to slightly alternative choices—hopefully a little something for just about everyone. And, if you’re not in the mood for any love and romance, then Pixar’s Finding Dory, the second highest-grossing movie of 2016, is new on Netflix, and it’s as good an escape as any!
Sunrise (Rental on Vudu, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes)
It’s Oscar time again—the 89th Oscar time to be exact. The Oscars can be enormously frustrating (does anyone still think that Ordinary People deserved to beat Raging Bull for Best Picture?) and controversial. Last year brought up the “OscarsSoWhite” tirade, but this year there are several non-white faces nominated, as well as several profound documentaries about racism in America. And Mel Gibson appears to have been forgiven after some appalling, controversial behavior, receiving his first Best Director nomination since winning that trophy in 1996 for Braveheart.
The Oscars were created to celebrate movies, and the power of movies. Sure, it’s a sort of self-celebration, Hollywood using the power of show business to promote the power of show business, but it’s a fun spectacle, and there are some truly great movies being showcased this year. Stories of kindness, empathy, and understanding; or that carry a message about the sorry state of the world; or that celebrate heroism and courage. One in particular, an animated film, simply celebrates the power of a good storytelling. Following is our list of highly recommended Oscar nominees that are—or soon will be—available for streaming or digital rental.
Arrival (Rental coming to Vudu, Amazon Prime, etc.—Feb. 14)*
Continuing the custom of reassessing the year that was as we boldly head into a new one, we look at one of the best feature releases of 2016. Or was it one of last year’s best TV shows? Or was it both? We also look back at three other unsung gems of 2016, all worth celebrating, even if they aren’t getting much awards-season attention.
But that’s not all. In the interest of looking back, we also highlight some excellent content spanning the last several decades that’s now available on a streaming service near you. From Martin Scorsese’s 1970s documentary about The Band’s final concert, to the touching alien story Starman from the 1980s, to Boogie Nights, which made Mark Wahlberg a household name in the 1990s, to a couple must-see flicks from more recent history, these 12 movies are a testament to the enduring delight of great cinema.
From the Muppet Christmas Carol, to the one-and-only Christmas episode of the Twilight Zone, to some top-notch feature-length Christmas-season classics, this list of traditional holiday movies will give you and yours plenty to do between presents and feasting.
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Last spring a new streaming channel called FilmStruck was announced, and it’s finally here. It features many of the titles from the Criterion Collection, a distribution company that caters to cinephiles and collectors by releasing great films on deluxe DVDs and Blu-rays, and now via the internet. Movie lovers who’ve been disappointed with Netflix’s selection (as a recent New York Times article complained) should be thrilled with FilmStruck’s impressive library.
It’s bad news, however, for Hulu subscribers, as Hulu has housed the Criterion Collection for years, and, yes, those titles are now leaving. Hulu will have to step up with its own movie library—or at least original programming—to continue competing.
FilmStruck has a two-tiered pricing structure. Viewers can subscribe to just FilmStruck for $6.99 per month. This tier offers some great films, including some classic Criterion titles as well as some more recent arthouse flicks, but it’s still fairly limited. True movie buffs will want to pay for the Criterion tier, at $10.99 per month—or the slightly discounted $99 per year—for access to all the hundreds of titles, from Adaptation to Zatoichi, and including much of Criterion’s current DVD and Blu-ray library, accessed instantly.