15 Best Movies on Topic Right Now

The streaming service Topic from First Look Media, which was started by the founder of eBay Pierre Omidyar, is a young but quickly growing platform. Here, we count down the best movies currently streaming on Topic. 

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Starred Up (2013)
15.

Starred Up (2013)

Based off the real life experiences of the film's writer, Jack Asser, Starred Up is a gritty crime drama set within a violent offenses prison in the UK. The film's name references a youthful offender who, by virtue of his crimes, is sent to an adult facility. The film hums along like a taut bit of wire, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat as the enormity of the prison subculture is unfolded in front of them.  Unlike many other prison dramas, this film isn't afraid to break cliches and explore new ground, and is populated with disturbingly real character studies, slices of dark and broken humanity.

(Conor)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Anthony Welsh, Ashley Chin, Ben Mendelsohn, C.C. Smiff, David Ajala, Edna Caskey, Frederick Schmidt, Gershwyn Eustache Jnr, Gilly Gilchrist, Ian Beattie, Jack O'Connell, Jack O'Connell, James Doran, Peter Ferdinando, Raphael Sowole, Rupert Friend, Sam Spruell, Sian Breckin, Tommy McDonnell
Director: David Mackenzie
Rating: Not Rated
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Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (2020)
14.

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (2020)

This stirring peek into the final days of a shuttering Las Vegas dive might be one of the finest odes to American bar culture yet. It also serves as a powerful portrait of a particular moment deep into the disastrous Trump years, yet right before the pandemic struck.

Directors Bill and Turner Ross capture the good, bad, and ugly, allowing conversations to unfold naturally. The colorful hues of the bar create a cinematic canvas for the patrons, who awash with booze and nostalgia, uncertainty, fear, and love, spend their last day together. If there was ever a film for those who miss the rough and tumble nightlife of the pre-Covid world, this is it. 

(Igor Fishman)
Genre: Documentary, Drama
Director: Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross
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Right Now, Wrong Then (2016)
13.

Right Now, Wrong Then (2016)

In the West, South Korean film is largely defined by the ingenious (oft violent) bombast of directors like Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) and Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), but there is a quieter tradition championed by director Hong Sang-soo that is just as imaginative and worthy of your time. This fascinating film serves as a perfect entry point to a director whose filmography is full of similar riches.

A film director arrives in town to deliver a lecture, and having some time to kill, ends up sharing a day with a stranger. This simple set-up recalling Before Sunrise leads down a charming and quietly romantic route that would be delightful on its own, but Right Now, Wrong Then is about much more than just a chance encounter. It’s a film more concerned with how little moments here and there can change everything, and how much our lives are governed as much by chance and timing as the choices we make.

(Igor Fishman)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Go Ah-sung, Jae-yeong Jeong, Jung Jae-young, Ki Joo-bong, Kim Min-hee, Min-hee Kim, Youn Yuh-jung, Yu Jun-sang, Yuh-jung Youn
Director: Hong Sang-soo, Sang-soo Hong
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We Need to Talk About Kevin (2012)
12.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2012)

Adapted from the Lionel Shriver novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin is the story of a mother (Tilda Swinton) that never quite bonds with her child, but not by her choice. The son grows up to do a heinous act that begs the question: nature or nurture? This film is an uncompromising view on the development of an unloved child. Silent pain gets voice. Feelings are shown by actions not emotions in an authentic, comprehensible and aesthetic manner. Great work.

(Anne-Sophie & Josh)
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Actor: Alex Manette, Ashley Gerasimovich, Blake DeLong, Erin Darke, Ezra Miller, J. Mallory McCree, James Chen, Jasper Newell, Jennifer Kim, John C. Reilly, Joseph Melendez, Kenneth Franklin, Leslie Lyles, Maryann Urbano, Polly Adams, Rock Duer, Rocky Duer, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Suzette Gunn, Tilda Swinton, Ursula Parker
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Rating: R
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Columbus (2017)
11.

Columbus (2017)

What goes well with a love story? Creative architecture. Columbus the movie is such a great and genuine exploration of this idea, filmed in Columbus the city - a weird experimental hub for architecture that actually exists in real life! After his architect father goes into a coma, Jin (John Cho), a Korean-born man finds himself stuck in Columbus without a foreseeable end. In Korean tradition when a parent dies, the son should be in the same place physically otherwise they can't mourn. While waiting to see what will happen to his father he meets Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), an aspiring architect herself, who's also stuck in Columbus because of her mother. This is a beautiful movie with real-life issues and situations, to be especially appreciated by viewers who don't mind a slow narrative in exchange for a meticulously-crafted movie.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Caitlin Ewald, Erin Allegretti, Haley Lu Richardson, John Cho, Michelle Forbes, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin
Director: Kogonada
Rating: Not Rated
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Wendy and Lucy (2008)
10.

Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Wendy (Michelle Williams) is a drifter driving up to Alaska in hopes of finding work. When her car breaks down, she and her dog Lucy are stranded and forced to scrounge for food and repairs, hitting one roadblock after another on her path to an uncertain dream. This sympathetic and solemn look at poverty from director Kelly Reichardt serves as a reminder of how easy it is to fall through the fragile American safety net.   

Reichardt’s uncompromising approach paired with Williams’s restrained performance makes the experience authentic and intense, recalling the work of Ken Loach. This natural sharpness makes for an engrossing watch that builds in power until the emotional release of the film’s heartbreaking conclusion. 

(Igor Fishman)
Genre: Drama
Actor: David Koppell, Deirdre OConnell, Jeanine Jackson, John Robinson, Larry Fessenden, Marilyn Faith Hickey, Michelle Williams, Wally Dalton, Will Patton
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Rating: R
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35 Shots of Rum (2008)
9.

35 Shots of Rum (2008)

This bittersweet film about a father and a daughter marks one of the more tender spots in Claire Denis’ brilliant filmography. Frequent collaborator Alex Descas plays Lionel (the father), while Mati Diop, now a director in her own right, plays Josephine (the daughter.) The film captures the two at a crossroads, with their closely-knit relationship tested as Josephine grows closer to her boyfriend, and Lionel must face the possibility of finally letting her go.

A melancholy lingers in the air as we learn more about their lives and the small community of neighbors and coworkers in their orbit. Meanwhile, the film's climax holds a mesmerizing sequence set to the Commodores’ Nightshift, which has to rank as one of the best needle drops in cinema from a director who already has an all-timer under her belt. (see. Beau Travail)

(Igor Fishman)
Genre: Drama
Actor: Alex Descas, Grégoire Colin, Ingrid Caven, Jean-Christophe Folly, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogué
Director: Claire Denis
Rating: Unrated
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Embrace of the Serpent (2015)
8.

Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

This movie is gentle and utterly chaotic, intimate and massive, beautiful and ugly... it tries to be so many things and somehow pulls it off. It tells two stories parallel in time, based on the real-life diaries of two European scientists who traveled through the Amazon in the early and mid-twentieth century. Their stories are some of the only of accounts of Amazonian tribes in written history. The main character and guide in the movie is a shaman who met them both. At times delicate to the point of almost being able to feel the water, at times utterly apocalyptic and grand... to watch this movie is to take a journey through belief systems, through film... and to be brought along by cinematography that is at times unbelievably and absurdly beautiful. Meditative, violent, jarring, peaceful, luminous, ambitious, artful, heavy handed, graceful... it's really an incredible film.

(Luke Janela)
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Actor: Antonio Bolivar, Jan Bijvoet, Nilbio Torres
Director: Ciro Guerra
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
7.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

The original Swedish mystery thriller that was later remade by David Fincher. It's the same story of a wealthy man hiring a journalist and scrappy hacker to solver a murder, but told better. This version is slower, has more attention to detail and pace. In casting, authenticity triumphs over good looks. In staging, aesthetics are given as much importance as thrills. And in the story, intelligence wins over plot. This gives the main character of Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace) better space to deploy her full mysticism and enigmatic nature. Danish director Niels Arden Oplev masterfully brings everything together to make for a movie that will forever be remembered.

(agoodmovietowatch)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Actor: Annika Hallin, Bjorn Granath, Daniel Abreu, David Dencik, Emil Almén, Ewa Fröling, Fredrik Ohlsson, Georgi Staykov, Gösta Bredefeldt, Gunnel Lindblom, Ingvar Hirdwall, Jacob Ericksson, Jan Mybrand, Julia Sporre, Lena Endre, Marika Lagercrantz, Michael Nyqvist, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Noomi Rapace, Pale Olofsson, Peter Andersson, Peter Haber, Sofia Ledarp, Stefan Sauk, Sven-Bertil Taube, Tomas Köhler, Yasmine Garbi
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Rating: R
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A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
6.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)

Not only is this multi-award-winning drama seriously star-studded, Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Channing Tatum, and Shia LaBeouf also deliver superb performances. With two Sundance Awards and many other nominations in its pocket, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is based on the eponymous memoir by author, director, and musician, Dito Montiel, who recalls his violent childhood on the mean streets of Queens in the 1980s (LaBeouf plays the young Dito), as he visits his ailing father after 15 years away in Los Angeles (Downey Jr. plays present-day Dito). It is also real-life Dito's directorial debut, recalling the loose, improvisational style of 70s cinema a'la Scorcese. The powerful plot is told through flashbacks and fourth-wall bending monologues, while the eccentric directing style makes for a raw and immediate experience. The energy of this coming-of-age drama is off the charts!

(Amelia)
Genre: Crime, Drama
Actor: Adam Scarimbolo, Chance Kelly, Channing Tatum, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Eléonore Hendricks, Eric Roberts, Federico Castelluccio, Laila Liliana Garro, Martin Compston, Melonie Diaz, Olga Merediz, Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Scott Michael Campbell, Shia LaBeouf
Director: Dito Montiel
Rating: R
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