16 best movies to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Prime before they leave (Jan 2022)
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The first month of 2022 is nearly over, and that means there’s a wealth of new movies being added to streaming when January finally rolls over. But before we settle in for February, there are plenty of fantastic classic and underseen films to catch before they disappear from the streaming platforms. From Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan to Paul McGuigan’s superhero thriller Push and Bill Duke’s undercover cop drama Deep Cover, these are the movies you absolutely need to make the time to watch before they leave streaming come next month.
Here are 12 of the best movies leaving major streaming platforms by February 1.
Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien is irrefutably one of the most influential works of science fiction horror ever produced. From the dark pipe-laden corridors of the commercial spaceship Nostromo, to Sigourney Weaver’s iconic turn as heroine Ellen Ripley, to the serpentine extraterrestrial night terror of H.R. Giger’s xenomorph, Alien is a film whose aesthetic and conceptual precedent is felt and known across nearly every corner of sci-fi media from film and television to books, comics, and videogames. In short, Alien is the Rosetta Stone of cinematic sci-fi horror; if you somehow haven’t seen it already, you absolutely must. —TE
Alien leaves Amazon Prime Video on Jan. 31.
Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers, an aspiring dancer driven by her dreams of becoming the new prima ballerina of her troupe. When Nina is pitted against newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis) in a competition for the lead role in “Swan Lake,” she finds herself more and more driven to the brink of madness and beyond in her relentless bid for “perfection.” With stunning dance choreography, unnerving cinematography, and a beautiful piercing score courtesy of Clint Mansell, Black Swan is as elegant and cerebral as it is sensuous and unsettling. —TE
Black Swan leaves Hulu on Jan. 31.
The Wachowski siblings courted controversy with this sprawling 2012 adaptation of David Mitchell’s time-jumping novel: in retrospect, in an era increasingly concerned with cultural appropriation, whitewashing, and other racial insensitivities, the segments that put white actors in yellowface wasn’t the best look. At least it wasn’t meant as cheap comedy — it’s part of an ambitious conceit that has the same group of actors (Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Keith David, Doona Bae, and many more) playing a range of interconnected characters across decades of time, in the process repeatedly crossing gender and ethnic lines. Like so many Wachowski projects, it’s messy and overly ambitious, and it was a box-office disaster. But for fans who are into the Wachowskis’ particular signature blend of humanism, heady philosophy, speculative fiction, and boundary-pushing experimentation, this has the benefit of being an utterly unique project with some really unforgettable characters and arcs. —Tasha Robinson
Cloud Atlas leaves Netflix on Feb. 1.
Dead Poet’s Society
Robin Williams stars in Peter Weir’s 1989 coming-of-age drama Dead Poets Society in one of his most beloved roles as John Keating, an ambitious and unorthodox English teacher working at an elite boarding school in Vermont. Encouraging his students to “make their lives extraordinary,” Keating imbues his students with a newfound sense of appreciation and wonder not only for the craft of poetry and writing, but for life itself. With terrific supporting performances courtesy of Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke, Weir’s film is a beautiful, tragic, and genuinely inspiring story of growing up. –TE
Dead Poet’s Society leaves Amazon Prime Video on Jan. 31.
Bill Duke’s smartly cynical action crime thriller Deep Cover stars Laurence Fishburne as Russell Stevens, an undercover cop posing as a drug dealer in the heart of the L.A. underworld. Entrenched in the echelons of drug ring run by a conniving kingpin and his politically connected uncle, Russell comes face to face with the corruption of the drug trade and morally ambiguous tactics of the police force charged with bringing it to “justice.” A superb gangster movie in the Blaxploitation tradition with memorable soundtrack, Deep Cover is a must watch. —TE
Deep Cover leaves HBO Max on Jan. 31.
Do The Right Thing
Taking place over the course of a swelteringly hot day in Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing follows a rotating cast of characters as it traces the fault lines of racial tension between the neighborhood’s African-American locals and the Italian-American owner of a local pizzeria. From the film’s iconic shadowboxing opening featuring Rosie Perez, the beautiful and intimate cinematography of frequent Lee collaborator Ernest Dickerson, to its explosive and heart-wrenching finale, Do The Right Thing is unquestionably not only one of the greatest films the director has ever produced, but one of the most essential entries in the canon of American cinema. —TE
The Fisher King
Another Robin Williams movie? Only because it’s good. Terry Gilliam’s comedy-drama The Fisher King stars Jeff Bridges as Jack Lucas, a narcissistic shock jock DJ whose callous attitude towards life and his listeners inadvertently prompts a horrific mass murder-suicide. Having lost his career and wracked with guilt, Jack resorts to drinking as he descends further into despondency. His life turns around when he crosses paths with Parry (Williams), an eccentric homeless man with Don Quixote-esque delusions of grandeur who believes himself to be an incarnation of the Arthurian Fisher king, a figure of myth charged with searching for the Holy Grail. As Jack attempts to aid Parry on his quest and eventually reconcile with his own past, the two grow closer as friends who find a mutually renewed faith in life and love. —TE
The Fisher King leaves HBO Max on January 31.
Based on Brian Selznick’s 2007 novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Martin Scorsese’s 2010 adventure drama Hugo isn’t quite the type of film one would expect from the director of Mean Streets, Casino, and Cape Fear … unless that is, you’re familiar with the pioneering work of French director Georges Méliès. Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) stars as the eponymous Hugo, a lonely orphan boy who maintains the clocks of the Gare Montparnasse railway station while tending to a broken automaton left behind by his late father. When Hugo’s path crosses with that of Méliès (Ben Kingsley) and his goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), he uncovers the history of the automaton’s creation and Méliès’ own long-forgotten history. A whimsical fairytale-like story of found family and the magic of cinema, Hugo is both a love letter to one of the medium’s most cherished forefathers and one of the most unique entries in Scorsese’s own oeuvre. —TE
Hugo leaves Hulu on January 31.
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story introduced audiences to the idea of hand gesture-assisted augmented reality and wall-scaling automobiles. Minority Report stars Tom Cruise as PreCrime Cpt. John Anderton, leader of a police organization dedicated to apprehending criminals before they’ve even committed a crime using a trio of psychics who invasively pore over the unconscious minds of every hapless American in the future. When Anderton himself is preemptively accused of committing a murder, he must flee from the very system he had dedicated his life to uphold and undercover the dark secret behind its origins. —TE
Minority Report leaves Netflix on January 31.
Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart star in David Fincher’s Panic Room as a recently divorced mother and her asthmatic teenage daughter who have recently moved into a brownstone home in New York City’s Upper West Side. When a trio of armed robbers invade their home during their first night after moving in, the pair retreat into the building’s built-in panic room, sparking a deadly contest of wills as the robbers attempt to make off with their ill-gotten gains … with no witnesses. Though nowhere near as complex or cerebral as Fincher’s prior thrillers such as The Game or Seven, Panic Room is nonetheless a terrific film elevated by the chemistry between Foster and Stewart and a fantastic score by Howard Shore. —TE
Panic Room leaves Hulu on January 31.
In between his stint as Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm in Tim Story’s Fantastic Four series and donning the vibranium shield of Captain America (aka “America’s Ass”), Chris Evans managed to add another Push performance to his resume in Paul McGuigan’s 2009 thriller Push. The film centers on Nick Gant (Evans), a telekinetically-gifted human on the run from a clandestine government agency known as the Division. Hiding out in Hong Kong, Nick is sought out by Cassie (Dakota Fanning), a fellow telepath whose mission to track down a mysterious woman named Kira and a missing briefcase will force him to finally face the Division and the man responsible for his father’s murder. With a rich mythology comprised of several factions each with their own signature abilities, dazzling fight sequences, and a byzantine plot filled with twists and turns, Push is one of the few original superhero movies of the late aughts that never got the sequel it so sorely deserved. —TE
Push leaves Amazon Prime Video on January 31.
Martin Scorsese’s ominous psychological thriller Shutter Island proved a colossal critical and commercial success when first released back in 2010, and the appreciation for the film’s nuanced visuals and pacing has only continued to endure in the decade since. Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn as Edward “Teddy” Daniels, a U.S. Marshal whose missing persons investigation at the film’s titular psychiatric facility quickly unravels into a descent into the darkness of his own psyche, ranks among one of the actor’s best, with the character’s final line transforming what was already an unnerving third act into one of the most chilling and memorable of Scorsese’s entire oeuvre. —TE
Shutter Island leaves Netflix on January 31.