HULU – the American streaming service started back in 2008. While its main focus was on TV content having been owned by NBC Universal and The Walt Disney Company, the service has recently delved into churning out Original movie content. While Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are still known as the actual beasts for Movie Originals, HULU original Films are slowly crawling up to form in line. While the streaming service has mostly taken a look towards non-fictional storytelling, the list will only consist of the major films they have produced. If you are searching for the Best movies to watch on Hulu, this will be a safe place. Please note that this is an ever-updating list so there will be changes made to it on a regular basis.
Here are some of the Best HULU Original Films ranked from Worst to Best:
15. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)
Based on the book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” by Johann Hari, Lee Daniels’ “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” is a look at the life of the legendary American singer Billie Holiday. It charts down the last few years of her life and focuses on how her song ‘Strange Fruit’ – a track about the anti-lynching of black people, caused havoc within a major stratum of the US government.
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In spite of good intentions and a surprisingly great debut performance by Andra Day, the film is uninspiring, poorly written and so confused with itself that it never really wakes up. The writing by Daniels is inept with sequences randomly arranging themselves in a kaleidoscope of thought. Making the film feel surface level, superficial and needy.
Watch/Stream The United States vs. Billie Holiday Online Here
14. Boss Level (2021)
Ideally, “Boss Level” is the kind of action film that should work wonders. It has a pulpy premise that uses the time-loop concept to make the narrative seem fast-tracked to success. Roy Pulver, a retired Delta Force soldier in Atlanta, wakes up to death walking up to him. A queue of hungry assassins are on his tail and he has no other way to go than take them as they come. Only thing is, he knows that he will be waking up again when someone or the other gets to him.
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Joe Carnahan (known widely for The A-Team) makes this ordeal as funny as it can be. He uses gaming cheats to make this premise seem siller than it actually is, but it can’t do away with the fact that the repetitiveness of the plot really goes on and on. The characters also seem to walk onto the screen just because they go a big-fat check in their pockets. Overall, Boss Level fails to capitalize on its juice, rigged set-up and becomes a chore soon after.
Watch/Stream Boss Level Online Here
13. Vacation Friends (2021)
Clay Trevor’s “Vacation Friends” is a film all of us have seen before. This is the kind of Summer movie that has become a recurring thing each year. The weird couple ravaging into the lives of a rather straightforward and uptight one is a cinematic trope that oozes with humor potential. The only flipside is that filmmakers have churned the premise to its last drop and the only way to pass through it is with some incredibly witty writing.
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Sadly, the film lacks that. With a total of 4 credited writers, Vacation Friends just feels like it is doing a ‘classic circle sweep maneuver‘ with little to no focus on its ultimate aim. The cast is of course capable of evoking laughs out of you but sans a few silly gags, the film ultimately just becomes one of those weekend watches that is simply forgettable.
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12. Happiest Season (2020)
Toted as the first major lesbian Christmas romantic-comedy, Clea DuVall (The Intervention) takes a semi-autobiographical approach to this holiday film. Focusing on a lesbian couple of Abby (Kirsten Stewart) & Harper (Mackenzie Davis), Happiest Season does the same old guy-meeting-the better-halve’s-conservative-parents-arc with a delightful update to the proceedings.
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Hailed as the first mainstream lesbian holiday rom-com and the most popular Hulu movies of 2020, the film features an ensemble cast including Alison Brie, Dan Levy & Aubrey Plaza among others. Using the coming-out-to-the-parents troupe as the grounds of a bittersweet romance that shades away in secret while a facade is put on, the film serves as an interesting calling card for young people unable to come to terms with their sexuality just because they don’t want to hurt sentiments.
Cinematically speaking, Happiest Season doesn’t add much to the already stoked holiday season romances and just paddles along with a conventional narrative without doing much to overtake the notions. Some fine performances aside, the film really doesn’t hold a candle when better Holiday movies and better coming-out movies are just around the corner.
Watch/Stream Happiest Season Online Here
11. False Positive (2021)
Co-written and starring Ilana Glazer as Lucy – an ambitious PR agency employee who is finding it difficult to get pregnant, the film follows her pregnancy journey post consulting and getting treatment from fertility expert Dr. Hindle (a super-creepy Pierce Brosnan). The occasional mother-to-be anxiety aside, Lucy soon starts believing that there’s a conspiracy going on against her; and both her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux) and Dr. Hindle have been doing something shady under the guise of helping her out.
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Also co-written by director John Lee, False Positive sets itself up for success with an initial setting that is both riveting and engaging. However, as it progresses, the film tries to dabble into a few too many territories, only to get crushed under the weight of the classic horror film it wants to riff. The satire that Glazer wants to indulge in feels like a superficial and annoying commodity instead of a scathing dig on archetypes and falsifying support.
Watch/Stream False Positive Online Here
10. Bad Hair (2020)
Justin Simien’s sophomore film is as campy as it can get. If you are not aware or don’t think the premise is bonkers, let me spell it out for you. Bad Hair is a film about Anna (Elle Lorraine) – a meek, yet determined production assistant to a progressive (for the ’80s) TV network named ‘Culture.’ When she is suggested to change her style (particularly her hair) in order to really stand out within the network’s overwhelming team, Anna goes ahead and gets herself an expensive weave in spite of being rationally penniless. What follows is quite unimaginable. Her new hair seems to take up a life of its own.
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Simien’s film is rooted in a strong commentary about how women (specifically black women) are treated on the work front. While the comic narrative somehow paddles along, the horror in the film doesn’t understand the head or tail of the satire it is coming out of. There are sparks here and there but the film mostly fails to deliver thrill or commentary in the right dose. It is still recommended for Elle Lorraine’s dedicated performance as Anna.
Watch/Stream Bad Hair Online Here
9. Wounds (2019)
Persian filmmaker Babak Anvari rose to international acclaim with his superb horror film Under the Shadow in 2016. With his 2019 feature, Wounds; director Anvari dives right into the core of American indie films with an astute cast of underrated actors like Dakota Johnson and Armie Hammer to come up with a solid horror film that doesn’t necessarily land all the punches.
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Based on The Visible Filth, a novella by Nathan Ballingrud, Wounds follows A New Orleans-based bartender who gets into a dark physiologically twisted hell hole when an incident takes place at his bar. Mixing elements of the unhinged nature of masculinity with the occult and a not-so-well-developed satire on technology, Wounds has some creepy-ass imagery to offer, but it all doesn’t land in the way it should have.
Watch/Stream Wounds Online Here
8. No Exit (2022)
Damien Power’s No Exit stars Havana Rose Liu as Darby a drug addict who is forced to flee a correctional facility because her mother is seriously ill in some other town. On her way there, she gets stuck in a blizzard and takes shelter with a random group of people. Things seem alright before she discovers that one of the people inside this mountain rest stop has kidnapped a girl and has been tied up in the back of a van parked outside.
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Now, this is such an interesting premise that it can entice any viewer to sit for 90 odd minutes of breeding tension. Sadly, Power is unable to capitalize on that. The reason here is his inability to hold out his cards for a longer period of time. There is no lack of future twists in this tale, but since the most essential one arrives a little too soon, the tension in the air sort of fizzes out before retorting to gory antiques.
Watch/Stream No Exit Online Here
7. Plan B (2021)
Natalie Morales’ film is about a smart, geeky high school student and her ever-vaping slacker best friend. The two inseparable girls share a crackling, loving relationship with one another. This is until the geeky one – Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) ends up having a sexual encounter that she did not intend. Throwing the two girls into a road-trip mess as they try to get the morning after pill to avoid her getting pregnant. Their friendship is also tested as they meet weird, oddball characters on their journey to self-realization.
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On paper and for the initial setup, Plan B works. It manages to play along with the key characters and the incredible chemistry they have with one another. However, as the film progresses, it becomes so tonally inconsistent that one is unable to settle in. Morales’ film sort of becomes a weird slash between 80s teen comedies with a single idea and surface-level execution, instead of becoming a coming-of-age film that means something.
Watch/Stream Plan B Online Here
6. Run (2020)
Partially inspired by the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case Aneesh Chaganty returns after the brilliant screen-thriller ‘Searching‘ with anxiety-inducing results. Unlike his debut, this one is an out and out genre film that amps up its thrill when it’s limited space becomes a threat to the two characters involved.
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Run is about an isolated, homeschooled teenager named Chloe (Kiera Allen) who due to premature birth is unable to function without a certain devised set of rules and meds. Her mother Diane (an overbearing Sarah Paulson) has dedicated her entire life to her care and is unable to come to terms with her having to leave home for college. However, there are more things that she is hiding under the rug than just Chole’s admission details. The film takes a turn southwards once Chole starts suspecting her mother’s intentions and more sinister and darker secrets run amok.
Chaganty is a master of restricted space thrills. Pretty much like his debut feature, Run has an intriguing idea that hinges too heavy on its performances. While both Polson and Allen are great, the third act stretches out and as the cloud fades away from the central conflict, the film also starts slipping away from the director’s hand. However, it’s an interesting film that one should definitely not run away from.
Watch/Stream Run Online Here
5. Big Time Adolescence (2020)
Miles better than the other Pete Davidson comedy released in 2020, Big Time Adolescence is a constantly funny coming-of-age film that uses it’s two central characters to investigate the idea of boyhood and manhood simultaneously.
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Following the life of 16-year-old Mo (played by Griffin Gluck) who can’t seem to make friends because he both ideologies and enjoys the company of his sister’s ex-boyfriend and much older babysitter Zeke Presanti (Davidson), the film is about Mo trying to forge through the difficult terrains of high-school as he poses as the drug peddler for secrete parties.
It is a slippery slope that director Jason Orley plays along. However, due to some finely tuned performances and relatable & philosophical ramblings on how to exist in contemporary society without becoming a loser, Big Time Adolescence manages to become a tender investigation of forcing oneself to wake up and grow up. The chemistry between Gluck and Davidson in particular really holds this film together and makes it a charming outing.
Watch/Stream Big Time Adolescence Online Here
4. Fresh (2022)
The opening credits of this extremely perverse debut feature film come somewhere around the 30 minutes mark. Up until that point, it feels like a swoony, romantic comedy that looks closely at a lonesome, struggling-to-online-date young woman named Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones). Then, in what feels like a total 360-degree lateral shift, turns into a film about a psychopath who is out for not just blood, but the bodies around it.
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Mimi Cave’s “Fresh” is a fucked up film. From its opening moments to its bloody finale, there’s a constant unsettling feeling of dread that one can feel as we follow Noa around. This isn’t just because she is alone in this world, but her life is constantly shifting from one repressive man-figure to another. This tale might be seen as a fair warning that men with red flags are not just out there objectifying women on the web, but also roaming around in-person flirting awkwardly in superstore aisles. And while the horror antiques here feel dated, they work within the context of this film, thanks to a brilliant psychotic turn by Sebastian Stan and writer Lauryn Kahn’s dry wit. Fresh feels like a horror film that is both urgent and entertaining.
Watch/Stream Palm Springs Online Here
3. Palm Springs (2020)
Max Barbakow’s Palm Springs is one of those laid-back, chilled-out hangout movies that use its sci-fi premise to create an uproaring self-reflective image of not doing anything extremely loud with itself. In fact, there’s a point in the film where Nyles (played by Andy Samberg) casually tells Sarah (Cristin Milioti) that they are now a victim of ‘one of those time-loop things.’
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Basing itself on the groundhog day premise where the same days repeat itself, once the two characters die or end up sleeping, Palm Springs is a funny comedy that also serves as an allegory for marriage. While Barbakow doesn’t pint point to that, there are quaint hints all along.
The fact that the film takes place at a wedding and the entire arc where the two characters fight with each other endlessly until they realize that they have to spend the rest of their time with each other is as perfect as a metaphor for marriage as there could be. Boosted by an incredible back and forth between Samberg and Milioti who are both constantly charming and endearing, this is one of those films that you can rewatch anytime and never get bored off.
Watch/Stream Palm Springs Online Here
2. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (2022)
This film is essentially a two-handler chamber piece. Most of it takes place in a hotel room where Nancy (Emma Thompson) – a 60-year-old widowed teacher is looking to have a good time with the charismatic Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack), a sexy and young sex worker who she has booked for the first time.
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While it all feels like a recipe for disaster that could, at any point in the narrative, turn into a cringe-fest, director Sophie Hyde and writer Katy Brand imbibe it with such genuine charm, warmth, humor, and moments of catharsis, that it almost becomes irresistible. Props go out to Dame Emma Thompson and McCormack, who are absolutely electrifying in a film that puts ‘pleasure’ first.
Watch/Stream Good Luck to You, Leo Grande Online Here
1. Minding the Gap (2018)
Bing Liu – Who serves as a part of this self-questioning documentary about a trio of young skaters in Rockford, Illinois has held his camera up close for more than a decade. This is why all the shots that feature these skaters swirling along mid-fences feel like a hypnotic montage. But it’s not just that, Liu’s Minding the Gap recollects almost a decade old footage to astonishingly questions the life of American youth.
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On the surface, the film feels like your usual Skateboard Documentary that would recollect memories of how these young people made it big in the skating scene. But Liu – Who shot this film himself wishes to rig through the very center that plagues the lives of young people who run away from their homes. This is an incredibly personal look at fractured American lives that need internal catharsis.
In one of the most brilliant scenes I have seen all year, Bing Liu sits in front of his mother questioning the physical abuse that was forced upon him by his stepfather when he was a teenager. In another, a teary-eyed Kiere Johnson is unable to find his father’s grave. The film is about skaters who have undergone domestic trauma, woefully accepted schematic racism, and have also been a victim of economic dislocation due to a deranged teenage life. It’s an incredibly poignant and heartfelt documentary that knows that a person grows up at every bend of their lives and that coming-of-age doesn’t always add up for everyone.