8 best short films to watch at home

We’ve all been there before: searching for a movie to watch, with limited time and/or energy, only to find all the options you’re interested in is taking longer than you have the space to. Sometimes this happens with television as well, as we have seen with Stranger Things 4 Episode 2there are two episodes that are 85 minutes long and a whopping 150 minutes respectively.

That’s what we’re here to do! The Polygon curation team has put together the following list of excellent short films that you can watch at home. To give us a measure (and based on the incredible lengths of those Strange things episodes), we selected movies with a length of 84 minutes or less, which is shorter than either episode Stranger Things 4 Episode 2. Honestly, it would be too easy to pick movies shorter than the last two and a half hours.

These films are of various genres, eras, countries and moods. Interesting!

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Dr. Caligari stumbles with a book in Dr. Caligari's Cabinet.

Image: Kino Lorber

Longs: 74 minutes

See where: Available to stream on Shudder, on Kanopy or Hoopla with a library pass, free with ads on Tubi or Plex, or digitally rented or purchased on Apple or Google Play

Robert Wiene’s 1920s masterpiece of Expressionist German cinema tells the story of a young man whose love life is thrown into turmoil amid a series of grisly murders by an enthusiast. caused by mercenaries on the orders of a twisted hypnotherapist claiming to be Dr. Caligari. With an impressive setting, a maze-like plot and a shocking ending, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is an absolutely amazing short feature. —Toussaint Egan

Before sunset

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunset.

Image: Warner Independent Pictures

Longs: 80 minutes

See where: Available for rent or digital purchase on Apple, Google Play and other VOD providers

Richard Linklater’s 2004 follow-up to his romantic drama Before sunrise sees Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) reunited 9 years after their fateful meeting in Vienna. Similar to the first movie, Before sunset takes place over the course of an hour as the couple wanders the streets of Paris, sharing how their lives have changed before finally opening their hearts and confessing what their love means. together. It’s one of the best romance movies ever made, and at 80 minutes, it’s easy to make time. —TE


Two of Daisy's stars are sprawled out in swimsuits, one with a finger to her nose and the other playing a brass instrument.

Image: Criterion Collection

Longs: 76 minutes

See where: Available to stream on HBO Max and the Criterion Channel, or rent or buy digitally on Apple

“This movie is dedicated to people who are just annoyed by a bed of crushed lettuce.”

The brilliant Czech director Věra Chytilová is best known for this authoritarian anti-feminist comedy which was banned from major cinemas in Czechoslovakia not long after its release. A surreal film satirizing decadence, Chrysanthemum is pure brilliance in form and execution, and experienced in viewing it as pure bliss. –Pete Volk


Royal Hightower looks through her fingers in front of a boxing ring in The Fits.

Image: Oscilloscope Lab

Longs: 72 minutes

See where: Available to stream on Showtime and FuboTV, free with a library card on Kanopy, or digitally rented or purchased on Apple, Amazon and Google Play

Anna Rose Holmer made her 2015 powerful feature film debut following a young Cincinnati girl who joins a dance troupe. Holmer worked with Cincinnati-based Q-Kidz Dance Team, who are part of the cast, to create the film’s distinctive choreography. A wondrous and sometimes anxious portrait of youth and finding oneself, Fit has the towering performance of Royal Hightower (just 9 years old when filming started). –PV

Infinite football

The subject of Infinite Football explains its proposed rules to the director.

Image: Grasshopper Films

Longs: 70 minutes

See where: Available to stream with a library card on Kanopy, or rent or buy digitally on Apple

This irreverent documentary follows a Romanian man with a mission: to perfect his unique version of association football. A heartwarming character study of a lone man in his obsession, Corneliu’s delightful film Porumboiu is like a lengthy bar conversation with an eccentric stranger you wouldn’t expect. never forget. –PV


The complicated containment of gunmen in Johnnie To's The Mission.

Image: Milkyway Image

Longs: 84 minutes

See where: Available to stream with a library card on Kanopy or rent or buy digitally on Amazon

Hong Kong director Johnnie To is one of the greats of modern times, having created masterpieces in romantic comedy (Don’t break my heart), superhero movie (Hero trio), and gangster movies (too many to name, really). Mission shortlisted for the final category, and this is one of his many excellent Trilogy films. When a Triad boss survives an assassination attempt, his brother hires five bodyguards to protect his life. A gripping action movie with intense action sequences and an engaging cast, Mission was a fun time. –PV

Sherlock Jr.

Buster Keaton reads a book called

Image: Metro-Goldwyn Pictures

Longs: 45 mins

See where: Available to stream with a library card on Kanopy or Hoopla, free with ads on Plex, or digitally rented or purchased on Apple, Google Play, and other VOD providers

Buster Keaton is one of the finest artists of the silent comedy genre to ever grace the silver screen, in which Sherlock Jr. is a perfect example. The film follows a man (Keaton) who, while working as a screener, does his research and dreams of becoming a detective. Aside from the plot involving a missing pocket watch, the film’s real draw is a dream sequence in which Keaton’s character is cast into a movie, where he happens to be experiencing it. a series of accidents caused by film editing. A hilarious comedy meta decades before the term became popular, Sherlock Jr. how wonderful. —TE

Tomorrow’s World

emily the prime minister and emily stand and watch the sunset in tomorrow's world

Image: Bitter movie

Longs: 74 minutes (17 minutes for episode 1; 23 minutes for episode 2; 34 minutes for episode 3)

See where: Available to rent or buy digitally on Vimeo

Don Hertzfeldt’s short World of Tomorrow easily ranks as one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking sci-fi films of the past decade. Focusing on the story of a little girl named Emily who is visited by some future version of herself, the three films depict a millennial tale of clones, time travel, robots with Post-human perception and transcendence are filmed with themes of love, identity, and existential ennui. All three are worth your time, but the first is a must-have for any and every sci-fi enthusiast. —TE

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