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13 Great Movies Worth Renting. . .If You're in the Mood




I often feel like I've searched the depths of what's worth watching on the popular streaming services. Do you agree? I believe it's time we dig a little deeper, looking for some gems that may not be available to stream, but are worth your time and money to rent. Here are 13 great films (technically 12 films and 1 documentary).


I've broken my recommendations down a little differently than I have in the past (see my former recommendations). Today, I'm offering you suggestions based on what you might be in the mood for.


A happy movie?

A darker and yet human story?

A thriller?

A musical?

A black and white classic?


I think I've recommended something for just about anyone.


As usual, I've also offered you a glimpse at the critic score of each film. Here are the abbreviations I'll be using: Rotten Tomatoes' Score = RT / Metacritic = Meta.


Please note that not every film I've recommended is appropriate for children. I've tried to rely on Focus on the Family's Plugged In site to help you use wisdom and discernment as you select what to watch.


In an upcoming post, I'll be looking closer at how we as Christians can assess a movie or tv show in a balanced way. Here's a preview:




I'm curious how you choose and/or recommend films. My friend, Cap Stewart, has written about his movie rating system which is very clearly laid out. . .is also a three-tierd approach. . .and can be shortened as CAP, spelling his name. (Clever guy, indeed!) His CAP system (CONTENT, ARTISTRY, and PREFERENCE) has influenced my thinking, no doubt.


I hope you enjoy my recommendations, and I'd love to hear from you!



If you're in the mood for some great animated storytelling and were not a huge fan of Disney and Pixar's Soul. . .watch Dreamworks' best animated films.


How to Train Your Dragon (Trilogy)



What's it about? "A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed" (IMDB).

Streaming on:

How to Train Your Dragon (2010) -- Amazon Prime

How to Train Your Dragon (2014) -- Amazon Prime

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) -- Hulu

Available to Rent: Yes

Rated: All installments are PG

Critic Ratings:

#1 - RT: 99% / Meta: 98%

#2 - RT: 91% / Meta: 76%

#3 - RT: 90% / Meta: 71%

Family Friendly: Overall, yes, but also see Focus on the Family's review.

What I love about the films: Overall, strong affirmation of the family and strong character development...


If you're in the mood for drama, or you love Classical Hollywood or the stage, and you don't mind a darker tale...


All About Eve (1950)


What's it about? "A seemingly timid but secretly ruthless ingénue insinuates herself into the lives of an aging Broadway star and her circle of theater friends" (IMDB).

Streaming on: Need to rent

Available to Rent: Amazon Prime, etc

Rated: Not rated

Critic Ratings: RT: 98% / Meta: 98%

Family Friendly: Geared for adults

What I love about the film: The film has strong character development and dialogue and was especially riveting for someone involved in theatre.



Sunset Boulevard (1950)


What's it about? "A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return" (IMDB).

Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Available to Rent: Amazon Prime, etc.

Rated: Not rated

Critic Ratings: RT: 99% / Meta: NA

Family Friendly: Geared for adults

What I love about the film: It's suspenseful, has strong character development, and a story that feels very human.




If you're in the mood to smile and sing, and would prefer a happy ending...here are some musicals that will do the trick!


That Thing You Do (1996)



What's it about? "A local Pennsylvania band scores a one hit wonder in 1964 and rides the star-making machinery as long as they can, with lots of help from its manager" (IMDB).

Streaming on: You'll have to rent it...

Available to Rent: Amazon Prime, etc.

Rated: PG

Critic Ratings: RT: 93% / Meta: 71%

Family Friendly: Yes

What I love about the film: Where to start. . .The music! Tom Hanks. The 1960's setting. The hilarious dialogue. Strong character development. And also the reality that my family and I have watched this film at least 10 times.


Singing in the Rain (1952)


What's it all about? "A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound" (IMDB).

Streaming on: Hulu

Available to Rent: Amazon Prime, etc.

Rated: G

Critic Ratings: RT: 100% / Meta: 99

Family Friendly: Yes!

What I love about the movie...The dancing! The joy! The colors! The song, "Make 'em Laugh"! I showed this movie to my Philosophy of Film course (Seniors), and they loved it! If you enjoyed La La Land, it's time you pay respects to some of its source material.




If you're in the mood for a sports film or just love baseball or great dialogue or math or Brad Pitt, watch this engaging film based on a true story.


Moneyball (2011)


What's it all about? "Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players" (IMDB).

Streaming on: You'll have to rent it...

Available to Rent: Amazon Prime, etc.

Rated: PG-13

Critic Ratings: RT: 94% / Meta: 87

Family Friendly: Language. Read more details from Focus on the Family.

What I love about the film...Aaron Sorkin helped write this screenplay. He's a master at dialogue and characters. I'm not a baseball fan, but when I watch this film I am!




If you like Hallmark movies, but wish they were higher quality. . .then hunt these films down.


The Magic of Ordinary Days (2005)



What's it all about? "Pregnant out of wedlock, an educated young woman is pressured by her father into an arranged marriage with a lonely farmer in this drama set during WWII" (IMDB).

Streaming on: Hallmark Movies Now subscription

Available to Rent: You can purchase it from Amazon Prime for $7.99

Rated: PG

Critic Ratings: RT: 86% / Meta: NA

Family Friendly: Geared for adults. Due to the premise, there are some adult situations.

What I love about this film...Strong acting and romance built on commitment and integrity that's unusual in the romance genre.


The Love Letter (1998)


What's it all about? "20th century computer games designer Scott exchanges love letters with 19th century poet Elizabeth Whitcomb through an antique desk that can make letters travel through time" (IMDB).

Streaming on: Hallmark Movies Now subscription

Available to Rent: This film is hard to find, but you can buy it for around $10 on Amazon.

Rated: Not rated

Critic Ratings: RT: 77% / Meta: NA

Family Friendly: Geared for adults

Why I love this film...Clever use of a time-traveling desk...pretty strong acting...engaging love story.


Buy both films in a collectors edition...



If you like crime dramas or independent films...or twists and turns...you need to watch this movie. Rent it tonight.


The Spanish Prisoner (1997)



What's it all about? "An employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret process is tempted to betray it. But there's more to it than that" (IMDB).

Streaming on: You'll need to rent this one...

Available to Rent: Amazon Prime, etc.

Rated: PG

Critic Ratings: RT: 89% / Meta: 70

Family Friendly: Geared for adults

What I love about this film...Very clever little film! Though the pacing is a little slower than you might be used to, the writing and acting are very strong.




If you like Tom Hanks or you like suspenseful thrillers with heart...you won't be disappointed or able to leave your couch.


Captain Phillips (2013)


What's it all about? "The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the U.S.-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years" (IMDB).

Streaming on: Amazon Prime and IMDB video with ads (I recommend you spend the money and rent it...)

Available to Rent: Amazon Prime, etc.

Rated: PG-13

Critic Ratings: RT: 93% / Meta: 82

Family Friendly: Geared for adults. Violence and Language. See Focus on the Family's review.

What I love about this film...It's an inspiring true story about a man of great integrity. The acting is phenomenal (maybe Tom Hanks' best?) as well as the writing and direction. And wow...this movie is intense!





If you love Disney or are fascinated with the creative process or interested in business. . .this is an inspiring documentary.


The Imagineering Story (six episodes)



What's it all about? "The inside look into the Walt Disney Imagineering company" (IMDB).

Streaming on: Disney+ (It's worth $6.99 that you'd need to pay for a monthly subscription.)

Available to Rent: I believe it's only available on Disney+

Rated: TV-G

Critic Ratings: RT: 100%

Family Friendly: Yes, aimed to capture the adult's imagination. Some mild language.

What I love about this film...Walt Disney was brilliant, and he managed to draw and hire equally brilliant individuals. My wife and I were truly inspired by this six-part documentary series that begins with the founding of Disney Imagineering and goes to present day.



Have a movie or show that you'd like to recommend or would like me to review? Email me!



Dane Bundy is president of Stage & Story and principal of the secondary school at Providence Academy, a classical Christian school in Johnson City, TN.

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