The Best Movies on Peacock (July 2020)

NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, was released nationally on July 15. While NBCUniversal’s service has made it clear that it sees itself as a new take on cable, with an impressive lineup of new and classic television series from the NBCU archives, their content library goes well beyond just TV.
Peacock will offer more than 600 films in its first year after launch, drawing from the extensive libraries of Universal, DreamWorks, and Illumination. With a number of theme park-inspiring classics in the mix, as well as action-packed franchises and some original movies, Peacock has a lot to choose from. But who has time to sift through everything? Don’t worry, we’ve found the best movies currently available on Peacock for you.

Steven Spielberg’s classic film about an alien who accidentally finds himself on Earth was nominated for nine Oscars, winning four. This sci-fi adventure is a remarkable portrait of childhood, drawing a line in the sand between the mysteries of being young and the intense, paranoid world of grown-ups. Elliott (Henry Thomas) lives with his single mother (Dee Wallace), his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), and his younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore). One day, while exploring in the backyard, he senses something watching him in the woods. Sure enough, an alien botanist has been mistakenly left behind after a scientific mission in Elliott’s backyard. As Elliott attempts to help him get home, he discovers that they can communicate telepathically. The two form a friendship and Elliott becomes determined to save the alien before government scientists get ahold of him.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%Rating: PGGenre: Kids & Family, Science Fiction & FantasyDirected By: Steven SpielbergWritten By: Melissa MathisonStarring: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Drew BarrymoreRuntime: 114 minutes

Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men is a dystopian movie for a post-9/11 world. Children of Men imagines a not-so-distant future in which the world is on the brink of extinction due to a global infertility crisis. Children have stopped being born and people have been driven mad by fear and xenophobia, exacerbating economic and social divisions as people cast blame in every direction while offering little in the way of solutions. In this harrowing backdrop, Clive Owen plays a former activist who agrees to help a miraculously pregnant woman get out of Britain and find sanctuary at sea before she’s discovered by the mobs. Cuarón brings beautiful sequences and extensive single-shot set pieces to life in an extremely grim universe.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%Rating: RGenre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & FantasyDirected By: Alfonso CuarónWritten By: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk OstbyStarring: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel EjioforRuntime: 109 minutes

The film that put Quentin Tarantino on the map is also arguably his best film. Reservoir Dogs examines what happens before and after a botched jewelry store robbery, but not during. It’s obvious that something has gone wrong and that the crew has a rat among them. While one of their numbers bleeds out at the rendezvous point after the robbery and everyone else scrambles to shake the cops, Reservoir Dogs jumps between before and after events, painting a slow, deliberate picture of just what the heck happened here. The film is also rife with classic Tarantino riffs, like a discussion on the importance of tipping, how to act like a criminal, and what to do when you enter a men’s room full of cops carrying a briefcase of contraband.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%Rating: RGenre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & SuspenseDirected By: Quentin TarantinoWritten By: Quentin TarantinoStarring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve BuscemiRuntime: 98 minutes

One of the most beloved and influential sci-fi films of all time, Back to the Future is a great watch for the entire family. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is an ordinary 1980s high schooler who likes to skateboard and hang out with his friends. At school, he’s harassed by his uptight principal, and at home, he has to endure the acrimonious relationship between his nerdy father and his lovely mother. Meanwhile, Marty’s dad has to endure the bullying of his jerk supervisor, Biff. Marty’s one great outlet is his friendship with the eccentric scientist, Doc, who is now working on a time machine. But when Marty is accidentally zapped back to the 1950s in that time machine, he’ll find himself suddenly in the middle of his parents’ relationship. Now, it’s up to him to ensure they get together lest he ceases to exist.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Rating: PGGenre: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction & FantasyDirected By: Robert ZemeckisWritten By: Bob Gale, Robert ZemeckisStarring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Crispin GloverRuntime: 116 minutes

Winner of five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Michael Cimino, The Deer Hunter also features two legendary actors in their primes: Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. The Deer Hunter is one of the most far-reaching, deepest movies about the Vietnam War, moving from the steel mills of Pittsburgh to the mountains of Pennsylvania to Vietnamese jungles, all while exploring the experiences of Russian Americans. It’s an outstanding addition to the gritty New Hollywood era of filmmaking popularized by directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Brian De Palma, using film as a lens to psychoanalyze society and history. Despite The Deer Hunter‘s success, however, Michael Cimino never reached quite the same heights as those directors.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Rating: RGenre: DramaDirected By: Michael CiminoWritten By: Deric Washburn, Louis Garfinkle, Quinn K. RedekerStarring: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl StreepRuntime: 183 minutes

The cream of Judd Apatow’s prolific comedy crop in the 2000s, Knocked Up holds its own as a comedy, a romance, and a drama about unexpected happenings and parenthood. Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is a 24-year-old entertainment journalist who is on the fast track to the big time. Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is a responsibility-shirking slacker who is on the fast track to the fridge. When an alcohol-infused one-night stand turns what should have been a one-time mistake into an unexpected pregnancy, the reluctant odd couple decides to try to make it work for the baby. Although they couldn’t be more different or come from more different worlds, they want to bring the baby into a functional co-parenting environment. That’s easier said than done.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%Rating: RGenre: Comedy, RomanceDirected By: Judd ApatowWritten By: Judd ApatowStarring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul RuddRuntime: 129 minutes

Another Spielberg classic, Jurassic Park won three Oscars, was a box-office juggernaut, spawned a massive franchise, and is considered a groundbreaking film for special effects. Not too shabby, huh? The film follows two paleontologists, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), who are invited by eccentric millionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to preview his new amusement park on an island off of Costa Rica. The conceit? Hammond has cloned DNA harvested from pre-historic insects to create living dinosaurs. Accompanied by a cynical scientist and Hammond’s grandchildren, the doctors tour the park, only to discover that it’s woefully unprepared for the weather. When a tropical storm hits, chaos reigns.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%Rating: PG-13Genre: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & FantasyDirected By: Steven SpielbergWritten By: John Michael Crichton, Michael Crichton, David Koepp, Malia Scotch MarmoStarring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Jeff GoldblumRuntime: 126 minutes

When 11-year-old Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell), a miner’s son in Northern England, stumbles upon a ballet class on his way to boxing lessons, his life is changed. He joins the class and hides it from his traditional, widowed father and his overbearing brother, only to find that he has an extraordinary amount of raw talent. When his instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters), encourages him to try out for the Royal Ballet, his father and brother find out and forbid him to continue. Billy is caught between his responsibility toward and love for his family and his undeniable gift.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%Rating: RGenre: Comedy, Drama, Musical & Performing ArtsDirected By: Stephen DaldryWritten By: Lee HallStarring: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary LewisRuntime: 110 minutes

Widely dismissed upon release, Vertigo is now considered one of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films, while the director himself considered it one of his most personal ones. The adaptation of French novel D’entre les morts weaves an intricate web of obsession and deceit. Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) discovers he has vertigo when a police officer is killed trying to rescue him from falling off a building. Scarred by the experience, Scottie retires from his position as a private investigator, only to be lured back to another case by an old friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore). Reluctantly, Scottie agrees to follow Elster’s wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), who has been possessed by a spirit. But after saving her from suicide, Scottie develops feelings for Madeleine, while the film begins to undress itself, twisting and turning to challenge the audience’s preconceptions about the characters and events that have already occurred. Vertigo is an eerie, complicated movie that feels well before its time.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%Rating: PGGenre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, RomanceDirected By: Alfred HitchcockWritten By: Samuel W. Taylor, Samuel Taylor, Alec CoppelStarring: James Stewart, Kim NovakRuntime: 120 minutes

One of the most innovative films of its time, The Blair Witch Project brought the “found footage” film to the mainstream. Presented as a straightforward documentary, the film explains that in 1994, three students went into the Maryland backwoods to research a film project on the Blair Witch incidents. The kids, however, were never seen again. This film is the footage from their recovered equipment. This creative setup has been seen many times in horror movies since, but The Blair Witch Project disarmed audiences with its intensely creepy premise, turning a routine trip into the woods into a horrifying encounter with the supernatural and unexplainable. As the students begin to lose their minds under the psychological torment they experience in the woods, you feel their fear, which helped to make this film a huge hit in 1999.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Rating: RGenre: HorrorDirected By: Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel MyrickWritten By: Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel MyrickStarring: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua LeonardRuntime: 84 minutes

Christian Bale leads a star-studded cast in this adaptation of the controversial novel about the dark side of yuppie culture in the 1980s. Patrick Bateman (Bale) is a Wall Street yuppie, obsessed with success, status, style, and power. On the surface he seems to have it all: Good looks, money, charm, and a stunning fiancée (Reese Witherspoon). However, he’s also a murderous sociopath who rapes and kills both strangers and acquaintances at will. American Psycho is terrifying and gruesome, yet maintains a strange sense of humor, borne out through Bateman’s obsessive personality and delusions of grandeur.
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%Rating: RGenre: Comedy, Drama, Horror, Mystery & SuspenseDirected By: Mary HarronWritten By: Guinevere Turner, Mary HarronStarring: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared LetoRuntime: 97 minutes

“If you build it, he will come.” That’s the message Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears that makes him construct a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield. At first, “he” appears to be the ghost of disgraced player Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta), who materializes in the field. As time goes on, however, Ray keeps hearing messages from a disembodied voice. Soon, he discovers that his field is meant to give a second chance to people who have sacrificed parts of their lives. From writer Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) to general practitioner Doc Graham (Burt Lancaster), Ray finds that his magical field has the power to restore something special to those who need it. The field resides in Dyersville, Iowa, and still attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%Rating: RGenre: Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Sports & FitnessDirected By: Phil Alden RobinsonWritten By: Phil Alden RobinsonStarring: Kevin Costner, James Earl JonesRuntime: 106 minutes

One of the most beloved franchises in Hollywood history, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel set a new standard for popcorn blockbusters. Amity Island (based on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusettes) is a peaceful resort island that depends on tourist dollars in the summer. However, when mangled bodies start turning up on the beach, Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) suspects there is a killer shark on the prowl. Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), however, can’t abide the beaches being closed on the July Fourth holiday and refuses to put the island on a business-killing shark alert. As the shark continues to kill, Brody takes matters into his own hands, setting out with help from a visiting ichthyologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) to kill the shark themselves.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%Rating: PGGenre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & SuspenseDirected By: Steven SpielbergWritten By: Howard Sackler, Carl Gottlieb, Peter BenchleyStarring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard DreyfussRuntime: 124 minutes

Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom follows two 12-year-olds as the fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away into the wilderness together. As authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing, pushing the peaceful community to the absolute limits of its sanity. The authorities are led by a star-studded group of adults including Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton, all acting in Wes Anderson’s traditionally quippy style.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Rating: PG-13Genre: ComedyDirected By: Wes AndersonWritten By: Wes Anderson, Roman CoppolaStarring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormandRuntime: 94 minutes

Sissy Spacek won a Best Actor Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn, one of the first female superstars in country music and most defining voices in the genre. With a hard-country voice and bold lyrics about wives who wouldn’t be pushed around by their husbands, Lynn introduced a feminist mindset to Nashville after the women’s liberation movement. Coal Miner’s Daughter tells Lynn’s story growing up as one of eight children in a coal-mining family in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, getting married at just 13 years old, and becoming a mother of four by age 20. Against all those odds, her and her husband Mooney (Tommy Lee Jones) stuck their noses to the grindstone and propelled Lynn to superstardom.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%Rating: PGGenre: Drama, Musical & Performing ArtsDirected By: Michael AptedWritten By: Tom RickmanStarring: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D’AngeloRuntime: 125 minutes

The Godfather is one of the most widely imitated, quoted, and celebrated films of all time. The multi-generational crime saga follows the Corleone family at a crossroads. In the late 1940s in New York, Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), don of New York’s most powerful Italian Mafia family, hosts the wedding of his daughter. Unexpectedly, his son Michael, a free thinker who defied his father by rejecting the family business and joining the Marines to fight in World War II, shows up at the wedding with his non-Italian girlfriend. Later, after his father survives an assassination attempt, Michael takes strides to rejoin the family, convincing his eldest brother and family advisors that he should be the one to exact revenge on the men responsible. The ensuing war has far-reaching, unforeseen consequences for the entire family. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including wins for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, The Godfather is essential viewing for any aspiring film buff. Plus, if you’ve got some extra time, both sequels are also on Peacock.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%Rating: RGenre: DramaDirected By: Francis Ford CoppolaWritten By: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario PuzoStarring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert DuvallRuntime: 175 minutes

DreamWorks’ beloved fairy tale parody evolved into a trilogy and even inspired a Tony-winning Broadway musical. In the original film, the evil Lord Farquaad decides he’d like to expand his empire, banishing all fairy tale creatures from his domain. He doesn’t bargain, however, that the fairy tale creatures would all take refuge on the land of an ornery, solitary ogre named Shrek. Desperate to keep his land and get all these dang creatures off of it, Shrek cuts a deal with Farquaad to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona and deliver her to Farquaad so that he may become king. Shrek sets off on a quest with his loyal, talking donkey friend to rescue the princess from a fire-breathing dragon. But the princess, it turns out, has a secret of her own.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%Rating: PGGenre: Animation, Comedy, Kids & FamilyDirected By: Vicky Jenson, Andrew AdamsonWritten By: Joe Stillman, Roger S.H. Schulman, Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott, Conrad Vernon, Cody CameronStarring: Mike Myers, Eddie MurphyRuntime: 93 minutes

You’ve probably heard of Despicable Me for one reason: The Minions. Despicable Me was the film that introduced the world to the strange, gibberish-speaking little yellow blobs on legs. Kids love ’em, parents don’t get ’em, but the Despicable Me franchise is working on a fifth film so they’re clearly doing something right. When a mysterious criminal mastermind steals one of the pyramids in Egypt, evil genius Gru (Steve Carell) is deeply jealous. He hasn’t made the headlines since he and his Minions stole the Times Square JumboTron way back when. His real ambition, however, is to steal the moon. When he steals the shrink-ray that is central to his plans, however, the cunning super-nerd Vector (Jason Segel) steals it back! To defeat Vector, Gru enlists the help of three cookie-selling orphans. But, as he prepares to pull off his greatest heist yet, he makes the unfortunate discovery that these orphans have come to care about him, a feeling he’s never encountered.
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%Rating: PGGenre: Animation, Comedy, Kids & FamilyDirected By: Pierre Coffin, Chris RenaudWritten By: Ken Daurio Cinco PaulStarring: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell BrandRuntime: 95 minutes

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