Legendary director Stanley Kubrick is synonymous with cinematic history, so it’s never a bad idea to see which movies of his are streaming.
Few filmmakers can say they’ve tackled nearly every genre imaginable. Kubrick did just that in a most masterful way, unafraid of ambiguity and nuance — and made some of the boldest choices ever seen on the silver screen.
Read on for a closer look at the best of Kubrick’s movies streaming in May.
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AI: Artificial Intelligence (Amazon Prime Video)
The pickings are slim, as Kubrick didn’t make a tremendous amount of movies in his lifetime. A.I. was actually written and directed by Steven Spielberg, yet it originated with Kubrick.
Kubrick wanted to adapt the short story Supertoys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss for years. Unfortunately, after the project lagged in development, he wasn’t able to complete it before his death in 1999.
Released in 2001, A.I. starred Jude Law and Haley Joel Osment. Part of the reason Kubrick didn’t want to make it was his lack of faith a child actor could pull off Osment’s character, but the young thespian was certainly up to the task in Spielberg’s version.
It’s a moving, heartwarming but sad story — and may have been even darker had Kubrick been at the helm. Nevertheless, it’s a really fun place to start, since another directing giant picked up the baton and brought Kubrick’s long-gestating project to life.
Dr. Strangelove (Crackle)
Only Kubrick could pair such disparate concepts as slapstick/farcical humor and nuclear holocaust and pull it off. Dr. Strangelove deals with Cold War politics in a most unique way.
Much of this movie is carried by Peter Sellers. The comic genius portrays three extremely different characters. They are: Royal Air Force captain Lionel Mandrake, U.S. President Merkin Muffley and the titular German doctor.
Supporting Sellers are brilliant actors such as Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott, Slim Pickens and James Earl Jones. Hayden in particular shines as Jack D. Ripper, a national defense commander who catalyzes the movie’s central nuclear crisis.
It’s shot in black-and-white, but don’t let that discourage you. This is as good of a dark comedy as you’ll ever see — and it’s worth sitting through some Crackle ads for.
Eyes Wide Shut (Currently unavailable)
Best described as an erotic thriller, this marks Kubrick’s final film, the final cut of which he completed mere days before his death.
Eyes Wide Shut was a lengthy, 400-day production, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a married couple who are having issues. She reveals she’s contemplated having an affair, and he retaliates by infiltrating an underground sex cult of sorts.
It’s even stranger than it sounds. Many conspiracy theorists speculate Kubrick was attempting to expose the Illuminati or some other secret society, but investigate those threads at your own risk!
Fear and Desire (Amazon Prime Video)
This 1953 flick marked Kubrick’s directorial debut. Without the resources of the studio system, he produced it on his own, and served as cinematographer and editor as well.
It’s a low-budget, black-and-white war drama that’s only a little over an hour long. However, there’s a lot packed into this movie, and it signals the promise Kubrick has as a filmmaker.
Kubrick’s mature commentary on the horrors of war and gripping, momentous plot make Fear and Desire a fascinating first film. The score is also unsettling and haunting to add to the dark atmosphere.
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Full Metal Jacket (Currently Unavailable)
Vincent D’Onofrio gained 70 pounds to play Private Pyle. Lee Ermey’s relentlessly profane drill instructor character was instantly iconic. Those two characters alone make Full Metal Jacket amazing.
But that’s not all that made the auteur’s penultimate movie a classic. The thematic substance is an expansion upon what he explored in Fear and Desire, so seeing that can help viewers appreciate Full Metal Jacket more and show how Kubrick grew as a filmmaker over the years.
Lead actor Matthew Modine is the main protagonist and delivers a strong central performance in what’s widely considered among the best war movies of all-time.
The Killing (Currently Unavailable)
To close out this list of best Kubrick movies streaming, we arrive at another one of his earlier works, released in 1956.
Still a fledgling filmmaker at the time, Kubrick landed Sterling Hayden to star in this noir mystery. Hayden plays a criminal named Johnny Clay who’s trying to pull off a $2 million heist at a racetrack.
Adding to the fun is that Kubrick crafted a nonlinear story, which was certainly uncommon at the time. It helps The Killing hold up even today. At only 84 minutes, you can breeze right through this hidden gem in Kubrick’s early filmography.
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