It has been a good year for movies. Not a great year for movie theaters, though.
In 2019, the last year in which box office returns were unaffected by the pandemic, U.S. theaters banked $11.4 billion in ticket sales. Last year, that lofty total dropped to $2.2 billion (for context, Avengers: Endgame alone made more than $850 million domestically in 2018). While things look much better in 2021—ticket revenue is expected to approach $4.7 billion—that’s still obviously not great for businesses built on people plunking down $10 every weekend to catch a new release (and hopefully buy some overpriced popcorn while they’re at it).
There’s a lot to unpack here: What would it mean if a big chain like AMC went under? How are independent theaters being impacted? With even “event” movies and comic book sequels sometimes unable to motivate people to take the risk of sitting in a dark room with strangers for a few hours, will smaller stories simply fall by the wayside? And what will it mean for you, the movie-lover?
Well, at least for now, it means that movies are coming to streaming a hell of a lot quicker, and if you don’t mind sacrificing the theatrical experience, that might be a good thing. No more waiting six (or even three) months to catch the latest blockbuster; no more wishing you lived near a big city so you could see the film festival sensation all the critics are buzzing about. These days, pretty much everything is available at home before most people have even had a chance to check their local listings.
Consider the following 30 films, all acclaimed by reviewers and (mostly) loved by audiences, and all available to watch at home now, whether on a streaming service or via a digital rental. No, not every likely award-winner is out yet—some are still sticking exclusively to theaters (sorry, Wes Anderson fans and Lady Gaga stans); others (like Amazon Studios’ Being the Ricardos and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake) simply haven’t debuted yet. But there’s plenty to keep you busy until those, too, are only a few clicks away.