Hulu's initial popularity came from its rebroadcast of network television shows--specifically, those airing on NBC and Fox. Back in the mid-aughts, Hulu was the best way to watch reruns of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Family Guy, 30 Rock, and The Office. There were movies on the service, but they were icing on the cake.
Eventually, as the streaming game got more competitive and fragmented, Hulu had to rely less on its television broadcast partners and more on generating exclusive content. But even so, its original movie offerings have lagged behind its original television offerings. Only in the past two-odd years has Hulu garnered critical acclaim for its films on par with The Handmaid's Tale or FX's Devs. And last year, Hulu acquired the exclusive streaming rights for Nomadland streaming debut. That film and its three Oscar wins for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress could be a harbinger of good things to come for the service.
Here are the 10 best Hulu original movies that you can watch right now.
Director: Max Barbakow
Genre: Science fiction comedy
Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons, Palm Springs is a romantic comedy about three people who meet at a wedding and get stuck in a time loop. Like Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day, which both embraced the same sci-fi premise, Palm Springs engages in a lot of what-ifs and takes the ideas to their logical, funny extremes.
Director: Frank Oz
Genre: Live performance
This is a one-man theatrical show starring Derek DelGaudio, a card hustler turned performance artist who performs magic in a narrative context. In & Of Itself has no sparkly robes or white tigers; this is intimate sleight of hand and mentalism that lets you into the uncomfortable parts of one man's psyche. The show had a universally acclaimed run in New York and Los Angeles; if you didn't get to see it live, the next best thing is to see it on Hulu.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Genre: Science fiction action
Most time loop movies go the comedy route. But Boss Level, starring Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts, Mel Gibson, and Michelle Yeoh, opts for a more thrill-packed approach. Grillo stars as a retired Delta Force soldier who is stuck in a time loop on the day of his death. Much like the title implies, he is making slow, uneven progress through the video game-esque "level" that composes his day, which includes multiple assassination attempts. Sword fights, gun fights, and explosions abound.
Director: Abe Forsythe
Genre: Horror comedy
A zombie movie with a rom-com twist, Little Monsters pits a washed-up musician, a kindergarten teacher and her class, and a children's show entertainer against a herd of the undead. The school bus full of children makes this movie a sweeter, more heartfelt film than you might expect.
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Genre: Suspense thriller
At the time of its release, Run was the most successful Hulu original film in the company's history. It's about a physically disabled girl who is homeschooled and cared for by her mother, until one day, she finds out that her circumstances are not what they seem. Aneesh Chaganty, the filmmaker behind the John Cho thriller Searching, wrote and directed this as well.
Director: Josh Greenbaum
For the seven episodes that it was on the air, The Dana Carvey Show had a murderer's row of comedic talent, including Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrel, and Robert Smigel. Louis C.K. was the head writer. This documentary tells the story of how it all came together and subsequently fell apart, from the point of view of its participants.
Director: Bing Liu
This documentary traces the lives of three skateboarding friends who all ran away from home as kids, and documents the process of them becoming adults. One of the friends, Bing Liu, is also the director of the documentary, which delves into Rust Belt depression, racial discrimination, and domestic abuse.
Director: Jason Orley
Genre: Coming-of-age comedy
Starring SNL breakout star Pete Davidson, Big Time Adolescence is a coming-of-age story about a young kid (Griffin Gluck) with a lot of older friends (including Davidson), who steer him down a self-destructive path. The moral lessons, of taking responsibility and realizing that image and presentation are different from reality, ring true.
Director: Justin Simien
From the mind of John Simien, the same guy who wrote and directed Dear White People, comes Bad Hair, a satirical horror film that wrestles with the politics of black women's hair. One thing is for certain: "killer witch weave" is a hell of an elevator pitch.
Director: John Lee
Genre: Thriller suspense
Clearly inspired by classic horror film Rosemary's Baby, False Positive is about a couple struggling to conceive a child. A fertility doctor offers help, but he may have creepy, ulterior motives. Pierce Brosnan plays Dr. Hindle in an against-type performance.
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