We’re almost there, folks. October is right around the corner.
We celebrate horror year-round here at Polygon, but Halloween is a special time of year, and we’re excited to celebrate it with you. But first, some business: There are some great movies leaving streaming services at the end of September, and you should watch them before they’re gone.
You want a feel-good classic? Netflix has got you. What about a side-splitting comedy? Head on over to Prime. And Netflix, Max, and Hulu each have a modern classic for you... whether you’re looking for fast-paced medieval action or the unique voice of Wes Anderson.
Here are the best movies to watch before they leave streaming services at the end of September.
Genre: Sports drama
Run time: 2h
Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers
Leaving Netflix: Oct. 1
I hadn’t actually watched Rocky until recently. With the release of Creed III, I felt inspired to finally go back and experience the series’ origins.
After finally sitting down and watching it, I realized just how much of an unforced error my hesitation was. Rocky is one of the greatest sports movies I have ever seen, not for what it has to say about the sport of boxing itself, but for what it says about why the sport means anything to anyone at all. It’s a love letter to a downtrodden and disaffected working class of people who are too often overlooked and neglected by their own society.
Rocky is so much more than a “boxing movie.” It’s a story about how the American dream itself is inextricably the summation of every thwarted hope, missed opportunity, precarious mistake, and inevitable heartbreak that precedes it. It’s an unapologetically earnest story about the stubborn yet unassailable persistence of hope in the face of adversity, of choosing to believe in yourself when no one else will, save for those who stand closest to you in your darkest moments. It’s not just about boxing; it’s about the life-changing power of simply choosing to take your shot in this life. Question is: What shot are you gonna take? —Toussaint Egan
Watch on Netflix
Genre: Crime thriller
Run time: 2h 12m
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li
Leaving Netflix: Oct. 1
Michael Mann has made a number of certified cinematic bangers across his long and illustrious career, like his 1995 symphonic crime drama Heat — one of my all-time favorite movies. But no other film in his oeuvre is more quintessentially “Mann-core” than Miami Vice, the feature-length adaptation of the 1984 crime drama series Mann produced starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas.
The plot couldn’t be any further from the point. Here’s the real heart of Miami Vice’s enduring appeal: It simply doesn’t look or feel like any other crime drama of its era. Mann’s experiment with digital photography yields a level of uncanny realism through its landscape of crushed brown and black textures and bleached white beach vistas. It’s a crime drama that oozes a sense of cool entirely on its own terms, a grand experiment that has yielded a cult following and reappraisal as one of the director’s best. In short, Miami Vice is a vibe. —TE
Watch on Max
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Genre: Fantasy action-adventure
Run time: 2h 6m
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou
Leaving Max: Sept. 30
A visually distinct Arthurian adaptation, Legend of the Sword is unlike any other, for better and for worse. After an opening siege that could also be described as “Lord of the Rings: King Arthur,” giant war elephants and all, baby Arthur is left an orphan. Growing up on the streets, Arthur grows into your typical Guy Ritchie tough guy protagonist (medieval variant), but is haunted by nightmares of his parents’ deaths. When he pulls Excalibur from the stone... well, you know, it’s King Arthur.
With jarring, frantic editing, electrifying use of speed-ramping in the climactic action scenes, and a rip-roaring score, the film has a palpable identity, but that also means this adaptation is certainly not for everyone. The script is a mess, cobbled together from multiple previous unproduced attempts at an Arthur movie, but the film is truly remarkable in the ways it pushes digital filmmaking’s limits, including some of the best montage sequences in recent Hollywood memory. If you’re willing to have a silly time with an overwhelming visual feast, give Legend of the Sword a stab. —Pete Volk
Watch on Hulu
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Genre: Wes Anderson
Run time: 1h 39m
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan
Leaving Hulu: Sept. 29
One of Wes Anderson’s finest works, The Grand Budapest Hotel is equally a touching coming-of-age story, an uproarious ensemble comedy, and a confrontation between a director and his distinctive style.
The movie takes place at a luxury hotel in a fictional nation, and follows the trials and tribulations of the attentive concierge (Ralph Fiennes), his lobby boy (Tony Revolori), and the hotel’s many guests and employees. All the while, a fascist regime grows and spreads around them.
With a large cast highlighted by Anderson regulars giving some of their best performances (including Willem Dafoe as a sinister hitman and Harvey Keitel as the leader of a prison gang), it’s easy to enjoy The Grand Budapest Hotel as one of the best examples of the director’s particular approach to filmmaking. But there’s a deeper reflection here, for those willing to look for it: Anderson’s style often evokes a romanticization of the past, but the past was very much not romantic for everyone. Grand Budapest directly engages with that, bringing the horror of fascism directly into this nostalgic setting. —PV
Watch on Prime
Genre: Romantic dramedy
Run time: 2h 5m
Director: Billy Wilder
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
Leaving Prime: Sept. 30
The Apartment is often considered one of the greatest films ever made. That reputation is well earned.
Bud Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lets executives at his company use his apartment for their extramarital affairs. He thinks this will help him move up in the massive insurance firm where he works. While he does get some material gains at work, the real result is his superiors take more and more advantage of him, leaving Bud unable to sleep in his own bed or access his own home. Things change quickly when Bud falls for an elevator operator in the building (Shirley MacLaine) and wants to regain control of his life.
It’s a heartfelt and hilarious romantic comedy, and director Billy Wilder deftly balances the combination of corporate fatigue and newfound love with the outstanding comedic abilities of the cast. The Apartment is one of those movies everyone should see at least once. —PV