The 24 best movies new to Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu: September 2022 – Polygon

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Barry Jenkins’ 2018 romantic drama is among the many great movies coming to Netflix this month
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September is upon us, and with it comes a brand-new selection of movies to enjoy on streaming. This month is particularly good one, boasting a crop of 24(!) great films to stream from home including If Beale Street Could Talk, 1942’s Cat People, Road House, Beau Travail, Varda by Agnès, and more. Not to mention a staggering number of modern horror classics, like Videodrome, The Thing, and Prince of Darkness available to stream on Peacock — Halloween came early for Peacock subscribers this year.
Here are 24 of the best movies new to streaming platforms in September 2022.
Oscar-nominated screenwriter W.D. Richter (1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Big Trouble in Little China) has only directed two feature films. The first, the eccentric sci-fi movie Buckaroo Banzai, was self-produced and performed so poorly that Richter’s newly formed production company folded as a result.
That’s a real shame, because Buckaroo Banzai is a delightfully odd movie that only gets better with time, especially as the American movie industry leans more and more heavily into franchise filmmaking. You see, Buckaroo Banzai operates as if it’s in the middle of a long-running series, but it is the one and only entry (other than a follow-up book from writer Earl Mac Rauch, published in 2021). That means it thrusts you right into the middle of a long-running and (slightly confusing) saga, but it all works because of the unconventional characters and story beats and the movie’s delightful sense of humor.
The movie follows Dr. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller), a true Renaissance man: He’s a world-famous rock star, physicist, neurosurgeon, and pilot whose gravitational charisma pulls in a posse that joins him in his adventures (including a young Jeff Goldblum as “New Jersey,” a doctor who wears cowboy get-up). When he accidentally finds himself embroiled in an alien conflict, Buckaroo and his pals must band together to save the day against the evil John Whorfin (John Lithgow, hamming it up to a delightful degree). —Pete Volk
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is available to stream on Prime Video.
The third movie in Sam Raimi’s excellent Evil Dead series, this one leans hardest into the “comedy” part of horror-comedy. Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams has traveled back in time to the Middle Ages, and must use his chainsaw arm (and his wiles) to find his way back to the present day. —PV
Army of Darkness is available to stream on Peacock.
A loose adaptation of Herman Melville’s 1888 novella Billy Budd, Claire Denis’ 1999 drama stars Denis Lavant (Holy Motors) as Galoup, a French Foreign Legion officer serving in Djibouti. Galoup is disturbed by a rival for his commander’s attention (and affections): a promising, charismatic young recruit named Gilles Sentain (Grégoire Colin).
Told from the perspective of a now-discharged and disgraced Galoup, Beau Travail is a beautiful and aching film that tells a story of tortured masculinity brimming with potent, barely repressed sensuality. The trio of magnetic lead performances coupled with visually striking and serene cinematography culminates in a final scene with an unbridled display of pure emotional catharsis that will leave you in awe. You’ll never hear “The Rhythm of the Night” quite the same way again. —Toussaint Egan
Beau Travail is available to stream on HBO Max and Criterion Channel.
Jacques Tourneur’s classic 1942 horror movie is a dark and sexy tale of a woman (Simone Simon) who believes that if she is ever stimulated sexually, she will turn into a murderous panther. When she falls in love with a marine engineer (Kent Smith), she struggles to balance her desires with her beliefs.
There’s a tense sequence in this movie where one character stalks another. Tourneur lets the tension build to an unbearable level before surprising the audience with the sudden appearance of a bus. The sequence led to a technique coined the “Lewton Bus” after producer Val Lewton, and it is often considered the originator of the modern jump scare. —PV
Cat People is available to stream on HBO Max.
The 2012 found-footage sci-fi film Chronicle stars Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Alex Russell (Unbroken), and Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) as three high school friends who gain superpowers after stumbling across an extraterrestrial artifact buried underground. As their powers develop, one of the boys descends into a spiral of sociopathic rage, forcing his friends to band together to stop him. Heavily inspired by Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 anime Akira, Chronicle is arguably the best live-action take on Otomo’s opus one could ask for, and a terrific sci-fi action movie in its own right. —TE
Chronicle is available to stream on Hulu.
The recent Idris Elba-led creature feature Beast got us thinking about two things: first, what a nice change of pace it is to have sharp, economical thrillers. Second, the sprawling, star-studded historical adventure The Ghost and the Darkness rules.
All this character work would feel dry and literary without the movie’s pulp-thriller energy, which lays a visceral, urgent feel atop the Bridge on the River Kwai-style literary ambitions. Director Stephen Hopkins uses real lions whenever possible, and apart from a few gimmicky shots using dummies, their physical interactions with fragile human bodies look realistic and graphic. They’re genuinely intimidating, even if Hopkins and Goldman do fall into the familiar man-versus-nature movie trap (also seen, frankly, in Jaws) of giving their animals human-level cunning and malice, to the point where the railroad workers’ belief that the lions are actually demons starts to make some sense.
The Ghost and the Darkness is available to stream on Prime Video.
One of the weirder entries in the Halloween franchise, this one does not feature Michael Myers at all, instead moving the series into more of an anthology series direction that was swiftly abandoned. Season of the Witch is a disturbing and fascinating meditation on the way goods are marketed to children, with a haunting score by John Carpenter.
As Toussaint put it in our 2021 Halloween movies countdown:
Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, a longtime collaborator and friend of John Carpenter who is also the film’s sole credited screenwriter, Halloween III has it all: Stonehenge, laser beams that explode people’s faces, robots, masks that melt human flesh and conjure insects, hackneyed line readings, beer, a history lesson on the origins of Halloween, you name it. Everything except for a dude in a William Shatner mask stalking and murdering teenagers with a knife. It’s a profoundly weird horror film that, to paraphrase Knives Out’s Benoit Blanc, truly makes no damn sense… but compels you, though. Watching Halloween III: Season of the Witch is like watching a filmmaker experiment with how far they can suspend and stretch the expectations of their audience before they break.
TV… It rots your brain! –PV
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is available to stream on Peacock.
If you’re looking for a brutal serial killer revenge film, I Saw the Devil is that and then some. Lee Byung-hun (Squid Game, Joint Security Area) stars as Kim Soo-hyun, an officer in the National Intelligence Service who embarks on a one-man mission of vengeance to torture Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik), the serial killer responsible for murdering his pregnant wife. A vicious cat-and-mouse game that will have audiences begrudgingly sympathizing with an unrepentant killer, I Saw the Devil is a bracing reminder that those who commit to battle monsters risk becoming monsters themselves. —TE
I Saw the Devil is available to stream on Prime Video.
Barry Jenkins’ 2018 adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk is an achingly tender and beautiful story of love, hope, and freedom deferred by the institutional racism and the malicious indifference of the carceral state. KiKi Layne stars as Clementine “Tish” Rivers, a young woman who falls in love with her childhood friend Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James) and becomes pregnant with his child.
Dreaming of their life together, the couple’s hopes for the future are dashed when Fonny is falsely accused of rape and sent to jail. Boasting an impressive cast of supporting performances, led by Regina King and Colman Domingo as Tish’s parents, If Beale Street Could Talk is a tremendous work of cinematic excellence. —TE
If Beale Street Could Talk is available to stream on Netflix.
A standout entry in George Romero’s consistently excellent Night of the Living Dead franchise, Land of the Dead takes on class conflict head-on. Set in a postapocalyptic Pittsburgh ruled with an iron fist by Dennis Hopper in a high-rise apartment, the movie follows an organized zombie assault on the city and the efforts to defend it. —PV
Land of the Dead is available to stream on Peacock.
One of the great modern vampire movies, this Swedish adaptation of a 2004 novel was later remade as a Hollywood movie in 2010. The original is the one you should watch.
A coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old boy who becomes best friends with a girl who he discovers is a vampire, Let the Right One In is a gorgeous modern classic. —PV
Let the Right One In is available to stream on Prime Video.
Amazon is making a new UFC-focused Road House with Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor. That… is what it is, but what it doesn’t change is how great the original is.
Patrick Swayze is James Dalton, a sensitive and pretty zen bouncer who is excellent at his job, and also a student of philosophy. The owner of a seedy club pays Dalton quite a bit of money to help stabilize his establishment, but a local businessman (Ben Gazzara) has other plans. With incredible bar brawls and terrific leading performances from Swayze, Gazzara, and Sam Elliott, Road House is a quintessential late-’80s action movie. —PV
Road House is available to stream on Netflix.
Yes, this list has two movies from the Halloween franchise on it, but they could not possibly be more different. While Season of the Witch shies away from Michael Myers, Zombie’s second Halloween movie digs all the way in, telling a harrowing story of trauma and survival that is one of my very favorite movies of the 21st century. If you can, seek out the director’s cut, which is the superior version of the film. —PV
Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is available to stream on Peacock.
The award-winning Dardenne brothers are among the most highly acclaimed European filmmakers of their generation, and their Palme d’Or-winning film Rosetta may be their finest work.
Rosetta is a tender story about a young girl (Émilie Dequenne, who won Best Actress at Cannes for her work on the film) living in poverty with her mother, and her attempts to secure a job and achieve some semblance of personal freedom. A deeply immersive movie, Rosetta eschews a score in favor of a hyperrealist approach, and Dequenne’s moving performance will stay with you long after the end credits. —PV
Rosetta is available to stream on HBO Max.
It’s hard to pick favorite John Carpenter movies. With few exceptions, they all rule, and this is one of two of his movies on the list (They Live, which also rules but is not on this list, is also on Peacock).
A classic “science meets religion” clash, Prince of Darkness is the second entry in Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy,” coming out in between The Thing (more on that in a bit) and In the Mouth of Madness. It’s about a Catholic priest (Donald Pleasance, reuniting with Carpenter after Halloween) who discovers a mysterious vat of goo in a monastery, and the group of quantum physics students asked to help him discover what it actually is. Nightmares are unleashed.
I saw Prince of Darkness for the first time during 2021’s Halloween season, and there has not been a week that has gone by since that I have not thought about it. —PV
Prince of Darkness is available to stream on Peacock.
Is there a better modern horror filmmaker than Kiyoshi Kurosawa? Pulse suggests not.
A master class in unsettling imagery with a general air of unease, Pulse is a standout entry in the genre of internet horror. It’s one of the most frightening movies of the century, and is a must-watch for any horror aficionado. If you liked this one, be sure to check out Kurosawa’s Cure and Creepy. —PV
Pulse is available to stream on Prime Video.
Brian De Palma’s loose remake of the 1932 gangster drama Scarface transports the story from 1920s gangland Chicago to the sun-kissed beaches of Miami, Florida, circa 1980. It follows the story of a brash and violent young Cuban immigrant (Al Pacino) determined to make his mark on the American drug trade and claw his way to the precipitous heights of wealth and infamy. Pacino offers up one of the most powerful roles of his early career as Tony Montana, while Michelle Pfeiffer delivers a smoldering performance as Tony’s mistress and later wife, Elvira. Violent, operatic, and inarguably iconic, 1983’s Scarface rests comfortably in the upper echelons of the best crime dramas America has ever produced. —TE
Scarface is available to stream on Netflix.
Jonathan Demme’s 1991 horror thriller The Silence of the Lambs stars Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, an intelligent yet inexperienced FBI cadet who finds herself face to face with Evil Incarnate in the form of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a cannibalistic psychologist with a taste for the finer things in life. As she corresponds with Lecter in hopes of tracking down Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), an elusive serial killer known for skinning his young female victims, we witness Clarice being drawn ever deeper into a heart of darkness that threatens to consume her whole. The only horror film to ever win Best Picture, The Silence of the Lambs is the genre at its finest. —TE
The Silence of the Lambs is available to stream on Prime Video.
This month is just filled with some of the best movies of the 21st century, huh?
Arguably David Fincher’s (and Aaron Sorkin’s) masterpiece, The Social Network is a painstakingly elaborate tale of Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to power and fame with the founding of Facebook.
As Clayton Ashley put it in our roundtable discussion of the best movies of the 2010s:
The Social Network, by chance or by design, has become one of the most immensely relevant movies of this decade. Full of snappy Sorkin conversations, gorgeous Fincher direction, and the decade’s first immensely catchy Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross soundtrack, it’s still as engaging as ever. But after nearly a decade of watching Facebook “move fast and break things,” including news websites, social video, politics, etc., the movie’s tangible sense of tension can easily be reinterpreted as foreboding for what comes after you make a billion friends.
God, The Thing rules. A master class in character formation, tension-building, and the unmatchable value of excellent practical effects, it’s a superb entry in the long-running tradition of “a group of people get stuck in a place with a bad creature” movies. While poorly received at the time, it has since grown a massive cult following and is rightly considered one of the greatest American horror movies ever made. —PV
The Thing is available to stream on Peacock.
The incomparable master Agnès Varda’s final film is a reflection on the journey that brought her here. A heartfelt and funny farewell from one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live, Varda’s warmness leaps off the screen. Maybe it’ll encourage you to watch some of her other great films — I particularly recommend Faces Places (available on Tubi and Kanopy), Uncle Yanco (the Criterion Channel), and her documentary Black Panthers (HBO Max and the Criterion Channel). —PV
Varda by Agnès is available to stream on HBO Max.
Often imitated, but never matched, Alfred Hitchcock’s paranoid thriller is often up there with Citizen Kane in discussions of the greatest movies ever made, and for good reason. A disorienting story of a former detective (Jimmy Stewart) hired to follow a woman (Kim Novak), Vertigo was groundbreaking in its use of techniques, like dolly zooms, and has inspired movies such as Mulholland Drive. PV
Vertigo is available to stream on Peacock.
With 1983’s Videodrome, David Cronenberg secured his legacy as the preeminent practitioner of body horror cinema. James Woods stars as Max Renn, a sleazy television programmer known for his affinity for smut and gore who is tipped off to “Videodrome,” a mysterious pirate broadcast infamous for airing theatrically staged snuff films. As Renn attempts to learn more about the broadcast for his own ends, he is quickly ensnared in a deadly conspiracy that threatens to blur the lines between reality and humanity’s most terrifying fantasies. As much indebted to the writings of communication theorist Marshall McLuhan as it is to the splatterpunk violence of Cronenberg’s own Scanners, Videodrome is a nightmare worth experiencing. Long live the new flesh. —TE
Videodrome is available to stream on Peacock.
One of the best movies of 2022 makes its long-awaited streaming debut on HBO Max. The creepypasta-influenced debut feature of writer-director Jane Schoenbrun follows an internet-obsessed teenager (Anna Cobb, also in her feature debut) who comes across a horror-themed online challenge. The participants of the challenge make odd, unsettling videos (Schoenbrun collaborated with real YouTube creators), creating new selves through the unique opportunities and spaces of the internet. —PV
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is streaming on HBO Max.
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