Here's where to start with every film pundit's favorite streaming service.
If you've been wondering how to transform yourself into a full-blown movie snob, you're in luck.
The Criterion Channel, which first launched in April 2019, is a streaming service that's designed to cater to film lovers. With an expansive collection of oft-overlooked classics and international masterpieces, the Criterion Channel is a perfect solution for those who are tired of, say, empty original films from other streaming platforms.
But, where does an aspiring cinema pundit start? Below, we've ranked just nine of the best films the Criterion Channel has to offer right now, giving you a great place to start. Go ahead — impress your Letterboxd followers.
Cléo from 5 to 7
Written and directed by beloved French new wave filmmaker Agnès Varda, Cléo from 5 to 7 follows a young singer named Florence "Cléo" Victoire throughout a single evening, during which she anxiously awaits the results of her recent biopsy test. The film sees Cléo come to terms with her own mortality as she ponders what it means to live a purposeful life.
Paris Is Burning
An invaluable artifact in LGBTQ+ history, Paris Is Burning is a 1990 documentary filmed during the "golden age" of New York City's drag balls. The film, shot throughout the mid- to late 1980s, explores the crucial roles community and "chosen family" play in the LGBTQ+ community, particularly how it pertains to Black and Latinx people.
A Woman Under the Influence
A Woman Under the Influence follows the rickety marriage between Los Angeleans Mabel and Nick. As Mabel expresses increasingly unstable behavior on her quest for true happiness, Nick sends her to a mental institution for six months, inadvertently creating space for him to conduct some self-reflection of his own.
Trippy and polarizing, Japanese comedy-horror film House joins a young girl named Gorgeous as she travels to her aunt's ancestral home in an attempt to connect with her late mother. With six of her friends along for the ride, Gorgeous quickly realizes the house's nefarious supernatural powers.
A Brighter Summer Day
Taiwanese drama A Brighter Summer Day was based on events from director Edward Yang's own adolescence. The nearly four-hour epic follows a boy who gets caught up in gang activity and juvenile delinquency. A Brighter Summer Day has received a number of accolades and is one of the most highly-lauded films of all time.
British drama Fish Tank is about a reclusive teenage girl named Mia, whose mother brings home a new boyfriend. Fish Tank's star, Katie Jarvis, had no acting experience prior to shooting; she was cast after a casting assistant saw her arguing with her boyfriend in public. With a stellar soundtrack to boot, Fish Tank is an exemplary coming-of-age drama.
The Lady Vanishes
While it might not have reached the same level of cultural significance as Psycho or The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 film The Lady Vanishes is worth watching for fans of mystery thrillers. It follows a British tourist who, while traveling by train across Europe, suddenly realizes her elderly travel buddy has inexplicably disappeared.
35 Shots of Rum
French drama 35 Shots of Rum is about a widower, Lionel, who lives with his adult daughter. Their relationship is strained when their new neighbor takes a romantic interest in Lionel's daughter. The film was critically lauded for its depiction of love in multiple forms.
Bringing Up Baby
With a star-studded cast featuring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, Bringing Up Baby is an American comedy classic. Grant plays a distressed paleontologist whose financial goals are steered off course when a beautiful heiress (Hepburn) begins romantically pursuing him. Throw a leopard named Baby into the mix, and Bringing Up Baby is a chaotic hoot.