Viewers are turning to streaming entertainment more than ever thanks to people staying home during the global pandemic—the plethora of services can serve as a much-needed escape. At the start of each month, most services do a little shuffle, adding new movies and taking some away, and io9 is here to help with your decision making.
Welcome to The Nerd’s Watch, our monthly column where we curate the most interesting sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies coming to the biggest streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Disney+ are all ready for September, so let’s get to it.
Anaconda - Jennifer Lopez. Ice Cube. A giant freaking snake. I feel like I’ve written about Anaconda coming to streaming a million times but I’ll do it a million times more. It’s a quintessential “so bad it’s good” movie. Don’t forget Sony is trying to make a new one...
Back to the Future trilogy - These were on Netflix, then weren’t, but are now back. And really, if you are just looking for an amazing night watching some of the best sci-fi films ever made? Boom. Back to the Future trilogy. Done.
Coneheads - I haven’t seen this big-screen adaptation of the Saturday Night Live skit in years so I can’t even begin to guess if it holds up. But, just for the wave of nostalgia the film can bring tying to multiple decades, surely it’s worth a watch.
The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted - The 2011 Muppets film is a revelation. It even won an Oscar it’s so good. And while the 2014 sequel is nowhere near that level, the songs are catchy and there are plenty of laughs to be had. In terms of double features for the whole family, you really can’t do better than these two.
Puss in Boots - Two good things came out of the Shrek movies: Smash Mouth’s cover of “I’m a Believer” and Antonio Banderas as the swashbuckling cat, Puss in Boots, who got his own (pretty good, actually) spin-off. I’ll be taking no further questions at this time.
Red Dragon - Hannibal Lecter movies are tough. The Silence of the Lambs is obviously the gold standard. And while all the others, including this star-studded 2002 prequel directed by Brett Ratner, pale in comparison, the production value and ambition are so high, you’ll rarely be unhappy you watched them. This one stars Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The Smurfs - The 2011 CGI Smurf movie was a massive hit despite generally bad reviews. But really, do reviews matter for a Smurf movie? It’s a Smurf movie! If you like Smurfs, or just typing “Smurf” over and over again, you’ll like this Smurf movie. Oh, and the Smurf sequel, The Smurfs 2, is also coming to Netflix, two weeks later on September 15...Smurf.
Zathura - Before Iron Man, before The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau took audiences on an excellent space adventure called Zathura. Set in the world of Jumanji, the film is similarly about a board game come to life but didn’t enjoy the success of those movies. Which is a shame. This movie is great.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things - AHHHHH! New Charlie Kaufman movie! This is cause for celebration! The latest from the mind behind Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Anomalisa, Synecdoche New York, and more! What’s it about? Who’s in it? Who cares? Charlie Kaufman!
Midnight Special - This underrated sci-fi flick by writer-director Jeff Nichols follows a father and son on the run from the government because the son has special powers. It’s a poignant, excellent, understated film that you should definitely check out.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Is How to Train Your Dragon 2 the best film in the series? Maybe! For me, personally, it’s right up there with part one in terms of wonder and excitement. Having it on the service without the other movies is weird, but all the short-form shows are there, so that’s something.
The Devil All The Time - Based on an award-winning novel by Donald Ray Pollock, The Devil All the Time is a Netflix original telling a decades-long, gothic tale of small-town America. Or, for the masses, it’s Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in a war with Batman (Robert Pattinson) and Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous - It’s a Jurassic Park cartoon. What else needs to be said?
Enola Holmes - We haven’t seen this one yet but, it’s Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown playing Sherlock Holmes’ teen sister and Henry Cavill is in it. Were we not going to mention it? Exactly.
Real Steel - I’m on record professing my love for this big dumb movie and I don’t care who knows it. It’s about a robot boxing league, stars Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly, and combines everything you love about sports movies as well as sci-fi movies. It’s a treat.
The Good Place: Season 4 - If you watch network sitcoms on Netflix, or you just want to see the final season of this amazing show again, September is the time.
Casino Royale - We’ve covered this before, haven’t we? The first Daniel Craig James Bond movie. It’s awesome.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Though Close Encounters is one of Steven Spielberg’s undeniable classics, do you ever get the sense it doesn’t get the accolades of E.T., Jaws, or Jurassic Park? I feel like it should. Now that it’s on Amazon, time for a rewatch to find out.
The Boys: Season 2 - It’s very, very good.
Gemini Man - Despite anticipating and writing about this movie a lot, I and others didn’t end up caring for the big-budget, technically ambitious team-up of director Ang Lee and Will Smith. But, on streaming from the comfort of your own home? If you haven’t seen it and go in with low expectations? Sure, why not? (Also on Hulu)
The Addams Family - I had to double-check that I didn’t make this movie up. No, this isn’t the live-action film from the ‘90s. It’s an animated version from last year with one of the best voice casts you’ll ever hear: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Martin Short, Catherina O’Hara, the list goes on and on. And yet, it came and went so fast, I forgot it existed. Maybe you did too. (Also on Hulu)
Aeon Flux - Though Charlize Theron had been in a few action films before this, 2005's Aeon Flux saw the start of Theron as a lead action hero. And what a ride it has been since. This movie isn’t particularly memorable beyond that, but even for historical purposes, it’s worth noting.
The Day the Earth Stood Still - It’s the Keanussaince, after all, so why not pop on this sci-fi remake where Keanu Reeves plays a blank vessel, removing all of what makes him great as a leading man? No, the movie isn’t very good but almost any big-budget sci-fi movie has some entertainment value.
Demolition Man - The best. Truly. Just the best. Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes play cop-and-crook rivals who are frozen and then reanimated in a future they don’t understand to face off again. Talk about a perfect early ‘90s blend of action and humor. Grab some Taco Bell and be well.
Evil Dead II - The first Evil Dead might be the scariest and Army of Darkness is certainly the wackiest. Then, right in the middle, is Evil Dead II. That excellent balance of scares and laughs make it one of the best horror movies of all time. A must-see or a must-watch-again.
Outbreak - And now for the scariest sci-fi movie ever. A movie about a deadly virus that comes from a foreign country that the U.S. could have stopped but didn’t, and as a result thousands of people are dying. Damn. Such scary science fiction.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure - Tim Burton’s wacky, wonderful take on Pee-wee Herman is not just a modern classic, it’s a film that gets better with age. The longer it’s around, the more incredible it becomes that it exists.
Practical Magic - Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock star as magical sisters who may not be able to find lasting love due to a family curse. While not a big hit at the time, it’s one of those films that benefited from home video and eventually accumulated a nice little fan base, many of whom will be excited to *witch* it again. Get it? I’ll see myself out.
Stargate - Stargate is another film that finds itself going on and off streaming a lot. So I find myself writing blurbs like this a lot. I think what strikes me about it now is how when I saw it at the time of release, it felt like such a wasted opportunity. But then, years later, all the TV versions made it into so much more, and that’s such an underrated Cinderella story for a film franchise.
The Terminator - Yes, okay, this is the original 1984 James Cameron version, and it’s obviously incredible, but do you really deserve to watch it if you haven’t seen Terminator: Dark Fate yet? It’s so good! Ahhh. Not on Hulu, but, you know, any chance I can to champion the underdog.
Trolls World Tour - One of 2020's biggest hits was also one of the first movies to decide it was going from theaters straight into your homes due to the pandemic. Now, it’s gone through all those motions and it’s going to be available on Hulu. We’ve heard good things.
The Twilight Saga - Yes, all five parts of the Twilight Saga are coming to Hulu. And no, none of them are what you would say are “good” movies, but their level of self-awareness, especially in the final chapters, make the saga very, very entertaining and watchable. Plus the cast, for the most part, is very, very good. Not in these movies but other ones.
Wanted - During the year of Iron Man and The Dark Knight, this adaptation of a Mark Millar-J.G. Jones comic certainly managed to surprise and delight. James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie star in the slick, superhero assassin movie that feels a little underrated these days.
Southbound - Movies like this are why I write this column. So I can turn you on to cool stuff to watch on streaming that you maybe hadn’t heard of before. Southbound is a down and dirty horror anthology film all centered on people driving a long stretch of desert highway. It’s scary and cool and well worth your time.
Strange Magic - What’s Strange Magic? Doesn’t ring a bell? Maybe you’ve heard of the person who came up with the story. A little known filmmaker named George Lucas. Yes. In 2015, the same year Disney’s new Star Wars was released, Lucas helped create this animated film about mythical creatures that got horrible reviews and bombed at the box office. Now you can stream it.
The Wolverine - The Fox X-Men movies continue their move to their new home. Here’s James Mangold’s first foray into the universe, which took an intricate, personal look at everyone’s favorite mutant. It set the table for the even better Logan.
Mulan - And here it is. Arguably the biggest movie to skip theaters (for the most part) and go to streaming. It’ll cost you an extra $30 to watch it on top of what you already pay for Disney+, but is well worth it. I was lucky enough to see it before quarantine and it’s a rousing, epic adventure.
Christopher Robin - Ewan McGregor plays the grown-up version of Winnie the Pooh’s best friend in this somber, but watchable, new spin on the classic franchise. Not great, but good enough to stream for sure.
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