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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and to celebrate we’re honoring the incredible work of AAPI filmmakers. The recent Oscar dominance from AAPI filmmakers is long overdue, as auteurs like Bong Joon-ho and Chloe Zhao are among those finally being recognized for exquisite work.
Many of the best recent films from AAPI directors are streaming on platforms such as Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime. In fact, the last two Best Picture winners, “Parasite” and “Nomadland,” are both available on Hulu. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up for as little as $5.99 a month. Disney+ is $7.99 a month, or you can try a bundle deal with Hulu and ESPN+ for $13.99 a month. Amazon Prime also has a great library of classics and originals, and subscribing for $12.99 a month will also get you free two-day shipping on millions of items. HBO Max is an amazing choice for movie buffs. For $14.99 a month, you can stream tons of movies including every 2021 Warner Bros. release for the first month after it hits theaters.
Once you’ve set up your preferred service, dive into some of the best films by AAPI directors. Check out eight of our top picks to support.
You knew we had to start here. Chloe Zhao took a journalistic memoir and, through a mix of fact and fiction, turned it into something truly unique. The film about economic insecurity and the joy of being outside in America hit home during the pandemic, and Zhao became the first Asian woman to win the Oscar for Best Director. Fans of this should also shop our picks for best films from female directors. You can buy “Nomadland” on Blu-ray or stream it on Hulu.
Bong Joon-ho has been making genre-bending social commentary for decades, but “Parasite” exposed mainstream audiences to his brilliance. The less you learn about this film before you watch it, the better. All you need to know is that it will change your life. You can buy “Parasite” on Blu-ray, and it’s also available to stream on Hulu.
Lulu Wang’s story of a Chinese-American woman who returns home to say goodbye to her ailing grandmother raises some fascinating questions about roots and tradition. You can buy “The Farewell” on Blu-ray or stream it on Amazon Prime.
A feel-good comedy about Adolf Hitler is a tall order, but Taika Waititi was up for the task. The New Zealand hyphenate followed “Thor: Ragnarok” with this passion project that won him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Waititi stars as an imaginary version of the Nazi leader who spends time with a young German boy. The result is a wonderful film about how hate is something we learn, not something we’re born with. You can buy the film on Blu-ray or rent it on Amazon Prime.
Jon M. Chu makes Baz Luhrman look shy with this delightfully opulent romantic comedy. If you’re looking for frothy summer fun, you’ve found it. The diverse cast is full of some of the most attractive people you’ll ever see, and watching them all have the time of their lives on screen never gets old. Pick up “Crazy Rich Asians” on Blu-ray or stream it on HBO Max.
Justin Chon’s portrait of two Korean brothers in Los Angeles, and their friendship with a young Black girl during the 1992 Rodney King riots, offers a fascinating perspective on American race relations. It’s not always an easy watch (as the title suggests), but it remains essential viewing. You can buy “Gook” on Blu-ray or stream it on Amazon Prime.
Ang Lee’s groundbreaking survival movie about a boy lost at sea, and the incredible special effects, changed the game. They remain as breathtaking as ever, and helped Lee pick up his second Best Director Oscar. “Life of Pi” is available on Blu-ray, and streaming on HBO Max.
This is ostensibly a skateboarding documentary, but it’s really a story of race and class in America. Bing Liu draws on more than a decade of footage to tell the story of three friends bonding over skateboarding as a way of confronting the challenges in their lives. You can pick up the Criterion Blu-ray or stream “Minding the Gap” on Hulu.
Sorry, there was no way we could limit ourselves to just one of Joon-ho’s movies. “Snowpiercer,” is a thriller about an uprising on a train that houses the super rich in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s the kind of movie that only he could come up with. The film, which stars Chris Pine and Tilda Swinton, gave American audiences a hint of what was around the corner with “Parasite.” You can buy “Snowpiercer” on Blu-ray and it’s streaming on HBO Max.
Indian American filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan returned to form with this thriller after a string of misses. James McAvoy plays 23 characters in his masterful performance as a kidnapper with a split personality. It’s riveting popcorn fun, and spawned a spinoff in 2019’s “Glass.” You can buy “Split” on Blu-ray, and it’s available to rent on Amazon Prime.