The Best Movies on Paramount+ Right Now
Paramount+ hopped on board the streaming service phenomenon in 2021 and has never looked back. I mean, it was a bold move for the entertainment company, with the likes of Netflix dominating the industry and rivals Disney+ and Prime Video, amongst others, in hot pursuit. However, within a short period of time, Paramount+ has really developed itself as a leader in the streaming service space, with its impressive catalogue of movies—and every Star Trek title—entertaining viewers far and wide. From those silver screen classics to newer indie festival darlings, there are plenty of options.
Here’s our guide to the best movies you can stream on Paramount+ right now.
1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
It’s the movie that gave us Australian actress Margot Robbie, but The Wolf of Wall Street also showed off the full extent of Leonardo DiCaprio’s impressive mega acting talents as he took on the role of Jordan Belfort, who worked his way up from an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm in the late ’80s to become the founder of his own firm, Stratton Oakmont, while still in his twenties.
While his career highs were impressive on the surface, deep down, chaos was brewing. In the biographical black comedy crime film directed by the immensely talented Martin Scorsese, Jordan’s fall is also documented as he plots to defraud wealthy investors out of millions along with his trusted sidekick (played by Jonah Hill). As they get completely lost in the sauce, they don’t realize that the SEC and FBI are on their tails.
2. Paranormal Activity (2009)
Those watching Paranormal Activity for the first time these days will never truly understand the power that this horror movie had over society upon its release. Right when vlogging, influencers, and content creation were just about becoming a thing in the online realm, this movie cashed in on the found footage movie experience that worked wonders for the equally horrifying 1999 flick The Blair Witch Project.
Paranormal Activity follows Katie and Micah as they move into the suburban home of their dreams and soon find themselves disturbed by a villainous supernatural presence, all captured via video cameras set up in the house. They attempt to rid their home of the evil entity, which is out to destroy their lives forever. This small-budget movie gave the world chills and went on to become a massive mainstream success, spurring an entire franchise.
3. Licorice Pizza (2021)
We all know and love singer Alana Haim from the soft rock and pop band Haim, featuring her equally talented sisters Este and Danielle. But we didn’t realize what a fantastic actress she was until we saw her in Licorice Pizza. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the coming-of-age movie is set in 1973 and follows Alana Kane and Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman)’s relationship as they grow up and fall in love in California’s San Fernando Valley. This bittersweet story is essential viewing for the summer months.
4. Into the Wild (2007)
Emile Hirsch is absolutely incredible in Into the Wild, a biographical adventure drama that’s based on the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. Written, co-produced, and directed by actor Sean Penn, the film centers on Christopher McCandless, a young graduate who shuns his wealthy, privileged background as he sells all his possessions and decides to hitchhike across the remote American wilderness on his own. We also catch a glimpse of Kristen Stewart in the movie, which was released a year before Twilight.
5. The Ring (2002)
The horror movie of all horror movies! The Ring follows newspaper reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) as she investigates what seems to be an urban legend. However, when four innocent teenagers all die mysteriously within a week of watching a videotape filled with nightmarish images, curiosity gets the better of her.
A remake of the Japanese horror film Ringu, The Ring is seared in our memories forever and gave us endless nightmares for weeks upon its release over 20 years ago.
6. Up in the Air (2009)
Up in the Air bagged a whopping six nominations at the Oscars. Featuring a stacked cast that includes George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, and Jason Bateman, the flick follows the high-flying life of corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham, who travels up and down the country firing people. When a young, new coworker presents an impressive business idea, Ryan takes her under his wing. Directed by Jason Reitman (from a screenplay he co-wrote with Sheldon Turner), Up in the Air is a prescient corporate dramedy.
7. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Detroit is no Beverly Hills; that’s what police officer Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) finds out when he lands there from sunny California and quickly learns that his childhood best friend has been brutally murdered. Beverly Hills Cop follows Axel as he decides to take the investigation into his own hands and soon finds himself embroiled in a dark criminal underbelly that is very different from the glamorous world of Beverly Hills. This comedy classic cemented Murphy as a bonafide leading man.
8. The Virgin Suicides (2000)
Visionary filmmaker Sofia Coppola made her feature directorial debut with The Virgin Suicides, based on the best-selling novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. The dreamy 1999 drama centers on the elusive Lisbon sisters—Lux (Kirsten Dunst), Mary (A.J. Cook), Cecilia (Hanna R. Hall), Therese (Leslie Hayman), and Bonnie (Chelse Swain)—and is told from the perspective of the teenage boys who lived in their neighborhood. Set in ’70s Michigan and accompanied by a stellar soundtrack (and a beautiful score courtesy of Air), The Virgin Suicides is a poetic rumination on longing and loss.
9. Smile (2022)
Smile begins with Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) witnessing a bizarre and extremely violent incident involving a patient. Plagued by increasingly disturbing occurrences, Rose is forced to confront her own traumatic past and the possibility that she’s being stalked by a demon. Smile is a solid horror thriller with some effective scares and a truly bugnuts climax.
10. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
Everything Everywhere All at Once dominated the 2022 Oscars, bagging coveted awards for the likes of Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Directed by Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), this visually and emotionally stunning film centers on Evelyn Quan Wang (Yeoh), a Chinese-American immigrant who, while being audited by the IRS, realizes the fate of the world—every world—hangs in the balance. With her powers unlocked, Evelyn is thrust into a multiversal odyssey with a surprising antagonist.
11. Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Starring Amandla Stenberg, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Maria Bakalova, and Pete Davidson, the black comedy horror film Bodies Bodies Bodies follows a group of twenty-somethings stuck at a remote mansion (poor babies) during a hurricane. Already on edge, their precarious friendships are tested when a dead body turns up and everyone is a suspect. Based on a story by Kristen Roupenian of Cat Person fame, Bodies Bodies Bodies is the second feature from Dutch filmmaker Halina Reijn.
12. There Will Be Blood (2007)
“I have a competition in me,” explains oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis in an Oscar-winning performance), “I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.” For 158 patient minutes, Plainview’s journey from hardscrabble silver miner to oil tycoon operates on his self-admitted ruthless ambition during California’s early 20th century oil boom. Very loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, 2007’s There Will Be Blood is Paul Thomas Anderson’s brooding commentary on capitalism, greed, religion, and the spirit of the American businessman in one of the best films of its decade.
13. The Last Detail (1973)
Filmmaker Hal Ashby’s underseen 1973 gem is an outstanding downer, as so many films of its decade were. The Last Detail follows a pair of jaded sailors (“lifers,” in it for the long haul) tasked with escorting a baby-faced recruit to the Portsmouth Naval Prison. His crime? Stealing $40 from a charity box. But because that charity fund was run by the wife of the naval base commander, the 18-year-old Seaman Meadows (Randy Quaid, in his breakout role) is sentenced to a harsh eight years in the brig. Signalman First Class “Badass” Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and Gunner’s Mate First Class “Mule” Mulhall (Otis Young) have no say in the ridiculousness of said punishment—they have one week to deliver him to the prison. But in their gradual disgust with the detail, they conspire to give the young recruit one last hurrah before handing him over to serve out his sentence.
In the ’70s, Jack Nicholson cemented his stardom playing a series of complicated men who led revolts against cultural systems and institutions from the inside, from the alienating Bobby Dupea of Five Easy Pieces to the Oscar-winning rebellion of R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Buddusky likewise displays a barely-contained disgust towards the machine that would chew up and spit out a poor klepto kid on the verge of manhood; a machine whose orders he must nonetheless follow. That volatility comes out memorably in the film’s most quoted scene, in which a gun-brandishing Nicholson responds to the threat of summoning shore patrol with a shout: “I am the motherf—ing shore patrol!”
14. Console Wars (2020)
For folks of a certain generation, there was a time when you couldn’t get away from Sega ads or the gaming company’s cobalt blue breakout superstar, Sonic the Hedgehog. The Sega Genesis console had a stranglehold on the video gaming market, a realm previously dominated by Nintendo. That heated battle for gaming hardware supremacy during the 1990s makes up both Blake J. Harris’ book Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation and this 2020 documentary—directed by Harris and Jonah Tulis—that adapts and expands upon it. You don’t have to have played any of the Super Mario Bros. games or rage-quit Ecco the Dolphin to enjoy the movie, though the nostalgia will hit harder than a Bullet Bill for those who have. Invite the younger gamer you know to watch it with you and they’ll learn a thing or two about the origins of video game characters like Sonic and Mario, who have recently headlined movies of their own.
15. Babylon (2022)
The recommendation to watch Babylon might seem like a strange one; the latest from La La Land’s Damien Chazelle was a total box office bomb upon its Christmastime 2022 release, making a paltry $63.4 million against its $80 million budget. While its three-hour-plus runtime turned off moviegoers, Chazelle’s swing at a Once Upon a Time in Tinseltown epic is an ambitious one, boasting a stacked cast including Barbie star Margot Robbie and perennial leading man Brad Pitt. The period piece chronicles a cadre of rising silent film stars and entertainment luminaries caught up in the industry-rocking advent of “talkies” in Hollywood. If that sounds a bit like Singin’ in the Rain (which does get a direct shout-out in the film), you’re on the right track, but throw in the spice of libertine Old Hollywood life, debauched gangsters, and enough cocaine to supply a small country and you’ve got something closer to what the La La Land director was going for. A messy account filled with nuance, Babylon looks back on a gilded era of cinema while refusing to look away from the casualties of its progress.
16. Jackass Forever (2022)
The generation that grew up watching Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Dave England, Jason
“Wee Man” Acuña, “Danger” Ehren McGhehey, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Ryan Dunn, and Bam Margera perform ill-advised stunts on MTV are now old enough to require daily anti-inflammatory tea for their aching joints, but that doesn’t mean that the Jackass spirit has died. The 2022 installment Jackass Forever is the fourth feature run for the collective crew of misfit daredevils, reuniting director Jeff Tremaine with producer Spike Jonze and the whole gang for a new series of foul pranks and hilarious stunts. If you watched any of the show’s three seasons during its early-aughts run or its spinoff shows like Wildboyz, you know what’s in store: the fellas are put up for feats of bravery from full-body madness (Knoxville squares off with a bull) to their most sensitive body parts (Steve-O’s genitals host a beehive).
These guys aren’t getting any younger, and you can only withstand so many concussions over a lifetime. But the Jackass train never stops rolling, and a slew of fresh faces are brought in with all of the vigor of the original crew. Scorpions bite faces, cattle prods zap buttcheeks, and bodies are drenched in questionable fluids for 96 hilarious minutes. Yes, it’s immature, yes it’s masochistic, and yet you can’t stop laughing throughout this franchise revival-celebration that, like its stars, never loses its edge.
(featured image: Paramount Pictures)
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