The movies are back. That’s the rumor, anyway. One which is circulating through Hollywood and the movie industry at large as audiences slowly acclimate to returning to movie theaters. But cinemas are not the only option for movie lovers this June. In fact, if you’re still a bit wary about going near a big screen—or just want to watch some old favorites on the nights you stay in—Netflix has you covered for a few evenings.
Hence below are the better movies coming to the streaming service this month.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Look, it might just be like our opinion, man, but The Big Lebowski is still one of the best Coen Brothers movie. As the film which firmly cemented Jeff Bridges’ status as the Dude—also known as His Dudeness, the Duder, and El Duderino—The Big Lebowski has been a cult classic for so long that it should probably drop the word “cult.” It’s the laconic story of a group of lifelong underachievers getting wrapped up in sordid blackmail and extortion schemes they can barely comprehend. But this isn’t a movie about plot, it’s about vibes. And whether it’s the Dude’s dreamy hallucination of bowling heaven, John Goodman demonstrating what happens when “you f**k a stranger in the ass,” or Sam Elliot’s hilariously obligatory narration, this is nothing but good vibrations. Dude.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
As the second movie for which Clint Eastwood won Best Picture and Best Director, Million Dollar Baby was perhaps a little overrated during its release. Even so, it still holds up as a sparse and devastating drama about regrets, the roads not taken, and the hard choices we must live with. The screenplay by Paul Haggis has the future Crash writer-director’s usual heavy-handedness, but its three central performances by Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and especially Hilary Swank never hit a false note. Rather they come together to recount how a retired boxing trainer (Eastwood) is coaxed back into the ring one more time to guide the talented and desperate Maggie Fitzgerald, a gifted pugilist who is reaching for her last chance to escape the grimness of her family. If you don’t know the ending, we’re not going to spoil it for you.
Stand by Me (1986)
Back in the mid-1980s, screen adaptations of Stephen King stories boiled down to a handful of classics (Carrie, The Shining, The Dead Zone), okay middle-of-the-road attempts (‘Salem’s Lot, Christine), and utter dreck (Firestarter, Children of the Corn). But even an acknowledged masterpiece like Kubrick’s The Shining was still relegated largely to the horror genre bins. Rob Reiner came along in 1986 and changed all that with Stand by Me.
The director’s third film, adapted from King’s novella The Body, told the story of four boys who set out on a journey through the local woods to find the body of another boy hit and killed by a train. A coming-of-age tale with no horror elements in it, Stand by Me was a genuinely funny, poignant look at boyhood, memory, and loss of innocence. It was also a mainstream success that still holds up today, and proved King’s stories were about more than just the boogeyman.
What Women Want
Though the premise – a man is suddenly given the power to hear women’s thoughts – is handled rather naively, this rom-com starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt comes with a warm nostalgic pleasure. It’s 21 years old and fits into the subgenre of comedies where a flawed protagonist learns the error of his ways via a curse, or a gift. In this instance, Gibson is the sleazy, sexist ad exec who uses his new found power of mind reading to nick his workmate’s (Hunt) killer idea, before repenting and confessing. Gibson isn’t exactly romantic hero material these days, but if you can forget about his transgressions he makes a charismatic lead, and the Nike running shoe pitch is still gold. A fuzzy and unchallenging watch.
Vampire Academy, the 2014 adaptation of the popular YA book series, gets a lot of flack for taking tonal liberties from its book source material, but if you treat this film as its own thing, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. The always great Zoey Deutch plays Rose Hathaway, a half-human, half-vampire guardian responsible for protecting her royal vampire best friend, Lissa (Lucy Fry), from bad vampires known as the Strigoi. Mostly set at a St. Vladimir’s Academy, the supernatural mystery that drives the plot is the least interesting aspect of this film from Mean Girls director Mark Waters, but there’s a lot to like about this world, in particular the unabashed way the story centers on powerful teen girls.
With Peacock set to make a hopefully more faithful series adaptation of the Vampire Academy books from The Vampire Diaries showrunner Julie Plec, maybe we can stop judging the Vampire Academy movie for what it’s not and start enjoying it for what it is: a good time.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
The movie that won Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar, Silver Linings Playbook remains one of the most charming and resonant romantic comedies (or dramedies) of the last decade. Coming out on the tail-end of the Great Recession, its story about the disaffected and those living with mental illness hit a chord nine years ago that still rings true today. Its central protagonist Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a mental health facility after brutally attacking the man who was sleeping with his wife. Unemployed and now homeless, he’s forced to move back in with his parents (a shrewdly restrained pair of performances from Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver) and start his life over—perhaps even with Tiffany (Lawrence), the little sister of a friend who herself is going through a rough patch after her husband’s death.
The pair’s unlikely courtship—one which begins by comparing notes about which antidepressants have the worst side effects—is a study in slow-boiling warmth. With also a knowing screenplay by David O. Russell about the eccentricities of middle class community—and the mind-altering effects of sports fandom—the film is a stealthy ensemble piece that culminates in the best intentionally bad dance sequence in recent memory.
Killing Them Softly (2012)
Writer-director Andrew Dominik might be one of the most underrated filmmakers working right now. As the helmer of the brutally intense Australian thriller Chopper and the exquisitely mournful The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Dominik reteamed here with his Jesse James star, Brad Pitt, for a more modern tale of outlaws. In Killing Them Softly, Pitt plays a hitman who’s brought in to restore order after three low level schmucks robbed the wrong card game, and upended the mafia’s underworld economy with their theft. As much a moody character study as a crime drama, the piece features terrific performances from Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Ganolfini, and more.