But in this time of economic uncertainty and social distancing, $19.99 might seem like a lot for a movie you could end up watching by yourself. Here are six great streaming recommendations that are a bit more affordable. Several are free (those are marked below), and all are less obvious than, say, “Mission: Impossible — Fallout.” (Though that one, available on Hulu, is actually pretty good, too.)
After Hours (R, 97 minutes)
Couldn’t make it through the first half-hour of Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” on Netflix, and yet you tried three times? Check out this 1985 comedy by the director. Set over the course of one very strange and hilarious night in Lower Manhattan, it features wonderful, twisted performances by Rosanna Arquette, Teri Garr and Catherine O’Hara.
Various paid platforms.
Contagion (PG-13, 106 minutes)
It may seem perverse to include Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 thriller about a pandemic, but there’s a reason that rentals of this terrifyingly prescient film have spiked recently — aside from, you know, the obvious. The story, which centers on health professionals working to stem the spread of disease — and a nut-ball anti-science blogger, played by Jude Law — is a mesmerizing combination of entertainingly speculative fiction and chilling fact.
Various paid platforms.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (R, 120 minutes)
It’s a crime that this 2019 film about two friends (Jimmy Fails and Jonathan Majors) who squat in an empty house in the Fillmore district got no love at the Oscars, but maybe that’s because the movie (co-written by Fails and his childhood friend, first-time director Joe Talbot) is uncategorizable: It has been called a story about gentrification, but it’s also about male friendship, the need to create art, and the way we mythologize our own stories — and so much more.
Various paid platforms. Free on Kanopy.
Life in a Day (PG-13, 95 minutes)
Credited to more than 30 directors, and spearheaded by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (“One Day in September”), this crowdsourced 2011 documentary was actually shot by more than 80,000 people — all on a single day: July 24, 2010. Winnowed from more than 4,500 hours of footage, it’s not a collage of cat videos and clips of dancing in front of a mirror, but a breathtakingly profound and beautiful portrait of how we are all connected. That’s needed now, more than ever.
Free on YouTube.
Mr. Nobody (R, 155 minutes)
It took four years for this trippy, surreal and slightly sci-fi-flavored gem — which won three awards at the 2009 Venice Film Festival — to make it to commercial theaters, but it was worth the wait. Jared Leto stars in the title role: a 118-year-old man looking back on his never-less-than-engrossing life, which involves splitting into multiple versions of himself.
Various paid platforms. Free on Tubi.
Nebraska (R, 115 minutes)
Bruce Dern delivers a funny, touching performance in an Oscar-nominated performance as a man who believes he has won a marketing-by-mail sweepstakes, and who enlists his grudging son (Will Forte) to drive him to Lincoln, Neb., to collect his prize. Alexander Payne’s sweet dramedy — rendered in gorgeous black-and white — was named one of 2013’s best films by the American Film Institute.