The world of streaming is getting more and more dense with more and more options for the average viewer among more and more outlets to choose from.

Indeed, the sheer volume of content is daunting. But this climate also offers a tremendous amount of quality choices. If one knows where to look.

Toward that end, at The 405 I will be sharing a snapshot every month of my entire streaming queue across Hulu, Amazon, Tubi TV, PlutoTV, Sony Crackle, Netflix, MUBI and Vudu – all of which have apps for one’s smart TV in addition to the usual mobile fare. We will be adding entries for other free services like IMDb Freedive, and other paid services like The Criterion Channel, as they expand their smart TV capability. I have taken into account truly great films in most every genre in making this list and will continue to do so.

Tubi TV, Sony Crackle, and PlutoTV are all free all time (with adds), Vudu has a tremendous amount of free content but also pay content (all entries on this list for Vudu are free with ads). Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix are of course pay options.

Towards that end, entries over the free services will be in this article and entries in the paid services will be coming a little later this month. This template will be repeated from month to month as the platforms rotate new titles in.

The options below are on their respective outlets as of March 11, 2019. As I am in the US, they may not be accessible to viewers who are not. I cannot guarantee that one way or the other.

This is also just a snapshot. To list my entire queue would make this article unbearably long. What I have included below are the choices in my queue that I consider to be the most essential, must-see, and the highest quality. Links to each film at the respective service are embedded in each bold title below, along with the film’s trailer after the description.

Stay tuned for “The 405 curated streaming queue #1B, March 2019 – paid edition” for the best of my queue on the paid services, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon.

I. Vudu

Still from Darren Aronofsky’s first film PI (1998). Source:Nerdist.

Tootsie

The classic starring Dustin Hoffman as a down-on-his-luck actor who cross dresses to gain a part on a TV show is always a fun watch and really essential if you have not seen it. Tootsie was directed by the one and only Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa) too.

The Last Witness

The Last Witness is a WWII murder mystery about a very real massacre of 22,000 Poles by Stalin and the Red Army. Catch my interview with director Piotr Szkopiak here.

A Scanner Darkly

Based on the Philip K. Dick novel, A Scanner Darkly is a dark, dystopian wonder with a lot to say on the human condition.

Pi

Pi is Darren Aronofsky’s first feature length film. It tells the story of a migraneur mathematician obsessed with the Bible Code and the people chasing him. In its monochrome, frenetic, and sublimely beautiful style, Pi is a cannot-miss.

Bully

From Kids director Larry Clark, Bully is a gritty look at teenagers and a murder plot involving their bully in 1990s California. It is a visceral gut punch of a movie that anyone who appreciates great cinema will love.

Irreversible

Gaspar Noé brings us a vicious, incredible, seemingly-random story of violence in Paris in a way only he can. Irreversible was the follow-up feature to his I Stand Alone, which was terrifyingly brutal in its own right. While both films are hard to watch, this is very intentional considering the subject matter and should not deter the viewer as Noé’s horrifying elegance is one-of-a-kind among directors.

Last Man Standing (NOT the Tim Allen TV show)

Bruce Willis is a mob hit man getting in gun fights in a Texas ghost town – which is a setting not often seen in mob movies. Last Man Standing is an action flick with a story the one and only Akira Kurosawa contributed to the story of – Last Man Standing (like Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars in 1964) is a retelling of Kurosawa’s 1961 classic Yojimbo which is itself based on “The Maltese Falcon” author Dashiell Hammett’s novel “Red Harvest”. The Coen Brothers”– and Frances McDormand’s – incredible 1984 film debut Blood Simple. also got its title from a quote in “Red Harvest”.

Amityville II: The Possession

One of the best in the Amityville franchise and starring the incomparable ‘80s sex symbol, actress Diane Franklin who started the teen heartthrob curly-haired revolution. My interview with Diane can be read here.

The Machinist

Christian Bale stars as an insomniac machinist with a very dark secret. Bale lost an incredible amount of weight to play the part – dropping around 60 pounds, he is damn near unrecognizable in it – and his acting does not disappoint. Come to think of it, neither does the writing or filmmaking of this black as night neo-noir. The Machinist is truly a must-see.

Delicatessen

Delicatessen is a darkly funny, brilliantly-surrealist, post-apocalyptic fantasy. This is one you have to see to believe.

II. PlutoTV – Note that PlutoTV does not have a search function that I could see. You have to scroll through the relevant section for a title. Therefore, I have noted which section I found each title in next to its listing. While the site’s features and navigation frankly suck something awful, PlutoTV does offer an exceedingly wide breadth of great films and overlooked gems.

Still from TEETH (2007). Source:Bloody Good Horror.

The Evil Dead (horror)

Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead tops more than a few “essential horror cinema” lists for good reason.

Night of the Living Dead (classic movies)

More essential horror, this time from the master George Romero. Night of the Living Dead is still scaring many an audience after nearly 51 years.

Hellraiser (horror)

A third entry for essential horror, this time from the great Clive Barker who both wrote the “Hellraiser” novels and directed the film.

Bronson (thriller)

Bronson is a loosely-true, biographical film of “the most violent prisoner in England”(an electric Tom Hardy) from The Neon Demon and Drive (look for Drive under the Sony Crackle section lower down this page) director Nicolas Winding Refn. NWR also runs a streaming site that is pretty incredible in its own right: bynwr.com specializes in restoring, then streaming, old cult classics and great movies that fly below the radar. Restorations are personally supervised by NWR and the site is always free to watch and read the treasure trove of information it shares on each film. The paid MUBI service streams these films on the larger mobile and smart TV ecosystem.

Children of the Corn (horror)

The feature length horror classic from Stephen King all about a couple whose car breaks down in a tiny Nebraska town with homicidal child religious zealots. Children of the Corn did a lot to define Stephen King’s horror on the big screen in the 1980s.

Bug (indies)

Bug is an overlooked gem of psychological horror starring Ashley Judd and directed by cinematic legend William Friedkin of The Exorcist, Wages of Fear, and The French Connection.

Donnie Darko (indies)

One of the most significant head-trips I’ve ever experienced at the movies – Jake Gyllenhaal is sublimely terrifying as the titular character who just so happens to have a homicidal rabbit named Frank as his hallucinatory friend. Donnie Darko messes with your sense of time and reality in incredible ways that no fan of serious, cerebral horror should miss.

Freakonomics: The Movie (documentaries)

An exceptional movie after an exceptional book (which I also highly recommend). Freakonomics will teach you to think counter-intuitively and reason like the rogue economist who wrote it.

Teeth (horror)

Teeth is a blood-chilling feminist horror film about a woman with literal vagina dentata (look it up) that became much more relevant in the #MeToo era. Read my interview with Teeth’s lead star Jess Weixler here.

The Merchant of Venice (drama)

Al Pacino stars in 1984 director Michael Radford’s 2004 take on Shakespeare’s play. Watch for the incredible realism here: for instance, the prostitutes are topless in the beginning scene not because Radford wanted a racier movie, but because it was the law in Venice, where authorities thought it would stomp out homosexuality. My interview with Radford can be read here.

Melancholia (indies)

Melancholia is Lars von Trier’s surreal story about two sisters (Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg) who find their already strained relationship at its breaking point as a mysterious planet is colliding with Earth. While far from von Trier’s best (that, in my opinion, goes to the profoundly nihilistic Antichrist), Melancholia is well worth a watch.

A Star is Born (classic movies)

The 1937 original with Frederic March and Janet Gaynor.

Suddenly (classic movies)

A thriller with Frank Sinatra as the baddie along with Sterling Hayden? Count me in.

His Girl Friday (classic movies)

Cary Grant is always a great watch with his one-of-a-kind humor and goofiness. The great Howard Hawks (the original 1932 Scarface, The Big Sleep, Bringing Up Baby) directs.

House on Haunted Hill (classic movies)

The original 1959 horror classic based on the book by Shirley Jackson and starring the immortal Vincent Price, this is essential modern gothic horror.

D.O.A. (classic movies)

Edmond O’Brien is California businessman Frank Bigelow who is poisoned when he heads to San Francisco. Can Bigelow find his own murderer before the poison acts? D.O.A. is a fantastic, frenetic film noir directed by prolific cinematographer Rudolph Maté who worked on classics from The Passion of Joan of Arc to Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent.

Algiers (classic movies)

Hedy Lamarr and Gaslight’s Charles Boyer star in this locational love story that did quite a lot to convince the studios of Casablanca’s merits four years after Algiers came out.

He Walked By Night (classic movies)

Richard Basehart is a cold blooded killer in this noir that acted as a forerunner to TV’s Dragnet.

Indiscreet (classic movies)

Indiscreet is one of screen legend Gloria Swanson’s first talkies. Wanna see what the experience behind her immortal portrayal of Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) looks like? Indiscreet is a definitive entry in the canon of a powerful actress that helped build that indelible foundation as Norma Desmond in Wilder’s movie.

Maniac (classic movies)

A fascinating example of early grindhouse cinema (from 1934) in its violent, disturbing style, Maniac (originally titled “Sex Maniac

They Made Me a Criminal (classic movies)

An essential early noir starring the great John Garfield (The original Postman Always Rings Twice).

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (classic movies)

More essential noir and Kirk Douglas’s film debut. Barbara Stanwyck also delivers knock-out performance.

Goya’s Ghosts (drama)

Goya’s Ghosts is an incredible look at a scandal involving the mistress (Natalie Portman) of legendary Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (Javier Bardem). Milos Forman (Amadeus) directed and co-wrote this fantastic, based-on-a-true-story historical piece.

III. Sony Crackle.

Ryan Gosling in DRIVE (2011). Source:Japan Times.

Sexy Beast

Sir Ben Kingsley earned an Oscar nomination for the role of brutal British gangster Don Logan in this Jonathan Glazer-directed crime thriller.

The Haunting

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Liam Neeson star in this more modern take on Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House.”

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is Guy Ritchie’s breakout London crime comedy that is always a treat to watch. Check out my interview with Rocketman director and actor Dexter Fletcher who plays Soap in Lock, by heading here.

Arlington Road

Jeff Bridges plays a college professor who suspects his new neighbor (Tim Robbins) may be an alt-right domestic terrorist. It is sad how timely a thriller Arlington Road still is (it is 20 this year) – but even if it wasn’t, Arlington Road is still a taut and very well-executed.

Drive

Nicolas Winding Refn directs this neo-noir with Ryan Gosling as a stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver with a conscience. The visual palette of Drive is absolutely incredible with its neon-drenched, realist, California scenes – made all the more incredible because Winding Refn is actually color blind in that he is physically unable to see midtones. If you like movies like Nightcrawler, you’ll really like Drive.

Lords of Dogtown

Heath Ledger, John Robinson, and Emile Hirsch star in this look at the skateboarding trends that developed in the 1970s in Venice, CA. Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Miss Bala) directs Lords of Dogtown.

IV. Tubi TV

Still from CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962). Source:The Criterion Collection.

Memento

Christopher Nolan’s epic 2000 neo-noir murder mystery told in reverse chronology. Starring Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss, Memento is undoubtedly one of the best and most influential neo-noirs of the early 2000s.

Mulholland Dr.

David Lynch’s surreal magnum opus is a movie I’ve written about extensively at The 405 – read my original analysis of it here. Mulholland Dr. is essential cinema for the modern world. Check out my interview with Oscar-nominee Robert Forster, who was in Mulholland Dr., here.

True Grit

The Coen Brothers version of the classic western from 1969, with Jeff Bridges in John Wayne’s part of Rooster Cogburn. True Grit was nominated for 10 Academy Awards.

Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s multi-Oscar winning love letter to classic cinema. Hugo (with its PG rating) also functions really well as a family film that has substance and can teach your kids a thing or two about the great Georges Méliès who directed one of the first great movies in the early 1900s: A Trip to the Moon.

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

The 1970 giallo classic from Dario Argento. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is a defining film for giallo as a style in its reluctant detective story about an American who witnesses a murder at an art gallery in Rome and tries to piece his recollections together for the carbineri.  .

The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made

An entertaining, self-explanatory documentary. Every cineaste should know about The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made.

Multiple Maniacs

Multiple Maniacs is the definitive John Waters classic. Read The 405 interview with him here.

Reefer Madness (In Color and Restored)

While it isn’t the monochrome original from 1936, Reefer Madness is an essential watch to understand the racist and hype-driven roots of America’s Drug War. It is definitive in that area and even birthed terms like “voodoo pharmacology.”

The Goode Family

Another brilliant satirical show from Beavis and Butt-Head creator Mike Judge. The Goode Family is a scathing sendup of modern leftism and was beloved by many regular leftists when it was on for one season in 2009 because it shows a regular family. Think King of the Hill with weird vegan hippies and not Texans and you’ll understand this half hour show. Alas, petulant, safe-space-hiding critics hated The Goode Family and crucified it till the plug was pulled. Still, the lower than average ratings also didn’t help the shows ultimate destiny. But don’t let that deceive you: this is quality – and very funny – satire. See the pilot below.

The Little Shop of Horrors

A fantastic little piece of comedic horror from 1960, Roger Corman directs The Little Shop of Horrors.

The Hitch-Hiker

The Hitch-Hiker was the first Hollywood film noir directed by a woman: the incomparable actress and filmmaker Ida Lupino. Edmond O’Brien stars.

Carnival of Souls

A remarkable low budget but high-concept, psychologically-driven horror flick made by Herk Harvey, a Kansas filmmaker who specialized in industrial films in 1962. The film’s entire budget was sourced over the course of one weekend in Lawrence, Kansas. Carnival of Souls is a must-see that bombed when it first came out but is now viewed as a standard-bearer of superb psychological horror.

Suspiria

The Dario Argento horror classic which was recently remade by Luca Guadagnino.

1984

Director Michael Radford’s superb take (the 1956 version, done almost 25 years before this one, was essentially panned by Orwell’s widow for neutering the more brutal lessons Orwell intended in the novel) on George Orwell’s powerful and timely novel of an authoritarian future. Read my interview with actress Suzanna Hamilton who played Julia in 1984, by going here.

Dial M For Murder

Dial M is the Alfred Hitchcock suspense classic starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly. Warner Brothers insisted the film be shot in 3D, which Hitchcock did not want. The craze was fading but Hitchcock gave in to their wishes. Still, like all his movies, Dial M is nerve-shredding.

The Naked Kiss

A 1964 crime drama about a prostitute working out her psychological demons. Prolific auteur Samuel Fuller (The Big Red One, Shock Corridor) is the mind behind The Naked Kiss.

Five Minutes to Live

Johnny Cash stars as hood Johnny Cabot in this 1961 crime flick directed by Bill Karn. Five Minutes to Live was the only feature length film the Man in Black acted in in the ‘60s, he would go on to do more in the intervening decades before his death in 2003.

Kansas City Confidential

Kansas City Confidential is a rather under-rated film noir with John Payne as an ex con trying to go straight who is framed for an armed car robbery and must go to Mexico to seek justice and the truth.

Gothic

Gothic is the great Ken Russell's take on the infamous story of what happened the night Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” with Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron and Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley. Russell’s work is always bold and boundary-pushing: if you like Gothic, you owe it to yourself to see his 1971 film The Devils too, although you’ve probably already seen The Who’s Tommy – probably Russell’s best known directorial effort.