The theatre is your living room; here’s what’s playing

Michael O’Sullivan

THE WASHINGTON POST – Wondering what to watch next, after you’ve exhausted the “popular” and “trending” lists on your favourite streaming service?

You can now watch such recent releases as The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma from the comfort of your home.

Universal and its subsidiary Focus Features have made their current theatrical catalogue available on demand early, due to the impact of the coronavirus on moviegoing.

But in this time of economic uncertainty and social distancing, USD19.99 might seem like a lot for a movie you could end up watching by yourself.

Here are six great streaming recommendations that are a bit more affordable.

Jonathan Majors and Jimmie Fails in ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco.’ PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST
Matt Damon leads Anna Jacoby-Heron through what could well be any supermarket during the COVID-19 crisis in this still from 2011’s prescient disease thriller ‘Contagion’. PHOTO: WARNER BROS

Several are free (those are marked below), and all are less obvious than, say, Mission: Impossible – Fallout. (Though that one, available on Hulu, is actually pretty good, too.)

After Hours

R, 97 minutes

Couldn’t make it through the first half-hour of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman on Netflix, and yet you tried three times?

Check out this 1985 comedy by the director. Set over the course of one very strange and hilarious night in Lower Manhattan, it features wonderful, twisted performances by Rosanna Arquette, Teri Garr and Catherine O’Hara.


PG-13, 106 minutes

It may seem perverse to include Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 thriller about a pandemic, but there’s a reason that rentals of this terrifyingly prescient film have spiked recently – aside from, you know, the obvious.

The story, which centres on health professionals working to stem the spread of disease – and a nut-ball anti-science blogger, played by Jude Law – is a mesmerising combination of entertainingly speculative fiction and chilling fact.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

R, 120 minutes

It’s a crime that this 2019 film about two friends (Jimmy Fails and Jonathan Majors) who squat in an empty house in the Fillmore district got no love at the Oscars, but maybe that’s because the movie (co-written by Fails and his childhood friend, first-time director Joe Talbot) is uncategorisable: It has been called a story about gentrification, but it’s also about male friendship, the need to create art, and the way we mythologise our own stories – and so much more.

Life in a Day

PG-13, 95 minutes

Credited to more than 30 directors, and spearheaded by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September), this crowdsourced 2011 documentary was actually shot by more than 80,000 people – all on a single day: July 24, 2010.

Winnowed from more than 4,500 hours of footage, it’s not a collage of cat videos and clips of dancing in front of a mirror, but a breathtakingly profound and beautiful portrait of how we are all connected. That’s needed now, more than ever.

Mr Nobody

R, 155 minutes

It took four years for this trippy, surreal and slightly sci-fi-flavored gem – which won three awards at the 2009 Venice Film Festival – to make it to commercial theaters, but it was worth the wait. Jared Leto stars in the title role: a 118-year-old man looking back on his never-less-than-engrossing life, which involves splitting into multiple versions of himself.


R, 115 minutes

Bruce Dern delivers a funny, touching performance in an Oscar-nominated performance as a man who believes he has won a marketing-by-mail sweepstakes, and who enlists his grudging son (Will Forte) to drive him to Lincoln, Nebraska, to collect his prize.

Alexander Payne’s sweet dramedy – rendered in gorgeous black-and white – was named one of 2013’s best films by the American Film Institute.