Multiple times per week, our TV and film experts will list the most important ten streaming selections for you to pop into your queues. We’re not strictly operating upon reviews or accrued streaming clicks (although yes, we’ve scoured the streaming site charts) but, instead, upon those selections that are really worth noticing amid the churning sea of content. There’s a lot out there, after all, and your time is valuable.
TIE: 10. Emancipation (Apple TV+ movie)
Sadly, that Oscars slap was bound to overshadow this movie on multiple fronts, although the movie itself may not have held up against the inevitable scrutiny even without Will Smith’s awards-show spectacle. Antoine Fuqua directs this film that was very clearly intended as awards-show fare, but critics pointed toward a messy final product. Still, this slavery epic is riding the streaming charts with some B-movie touches confusingly appearing alongside the project that strives to not be mere entertainment.
TIE: 10. His Dark Materials (HBO series on HBO Max)
The final season of this adaptation revolves around Phillip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass to bring Lyra’s story to a close. In doing so, HBO has delivered a much more worthy project than the 2007 movie starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, and this season, we’ve got extra doses of James McAvoy’s Lord Asriel. As well, Dafne Keen has kept up her strong performance while making plucky heroines everywhere proud and helping the audience explore the parallel world of Dæmons.
9. Black Adam (Warner Bros. movie streaming on Amazon Prime/VOD)
The Rock’s passion project finally arrived on big screens after seven years in the making. One successful VOD run later, the movie lands on HBO Max beginning on December 16. That will provide for plenty of holiday-bound screenings of Teth-Adam being mad as hell at the world, and you can’t blame him, since he was imprisoned for using his powers in ancient Kahndaq. A lot has changed 5,000 years later, but an understandable chip still sits on his shoulder. Also, get ready more of Black Adam vs. Superman while the DCEU/DCU’s transformation keeps taking shape.
8. The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special (Disney+ movie)
James Gunn is wrapping up his time at Marvel (before riding off to his DCEU/DCU future), but here’s a nice little shrink-wrapped gift for the masses before Guardians 3 arrives. We are Groot! Gunn is not sorry about that Bucky reference, and I’m sure gonna miss my man, Rocket Raccoon.
7. Warrior Nun (Netflix series)
The critical buzz for this show’s second season hasn’t been as plentiful this time around, but to be fair, the streaming floodgates have opened full force (with lots more competition) lately. Still, Alba Baptista’s Ava continues to lead the Sister-Warriors after receiving a too-slight taste of normal existence following being shackled by illness while growing up. As it turns out, she might be the only being who can save humanity from Adriel, who is neither angel nor demon but is a major, unholy pain in the ass.
6. Fleishman Is In Trouble (FX series on Hulu)
Claire Danes plays a truly loathsome character to Jesse Eisenberg’s more affable (although not too terribly relatable) divorcing spouse, who ends up juggling all of the balls and attempting to rebuild a personal life. The real attractions of this story, however, are Fleishman’s two best friends. That’s especially the case for Lizzy Caplan’s Libby, who’s narrating this story and also wrestling with what’s become of her life. Adam Brody plays the stereotypical finance bro who’s also an unwaveringly good friend. The show’s based upon Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel, and she adapted the project with some changes, which reveal themselves as the season unfurls as an anxiety-ridden slow burn on a weekly basis.
5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Netflix movie)
Emma Corrin (who portrayed The Crown‘s first Princess Diana) picks up the leading role in this film that’s much steamier (positively sizzling, in fact) than the recent My Policeman co-starring Corrin with Harry Styles. Here, Emma portrays an aristocratic wife whose husband falls prey to a war injury. Keeping in line with the classic D.H. Lawrence novel, she ends up getting randy with one of their gamekeepers. Expect sexy times, yes, but also plenty of drama because these things can never be clear cut.
4. Emily The Criminal (Roadside Flix movie on Netflix)
Aubrey Plaza is finally everywhere, as she deserves to be. Unlike her The White Lotus character, though, Emily is enduring a tough life. This show puts the student-loan hierarchy and the criminal-justice system on blast as Plaza’s protagonist resorts to joining the underworld to make enough cash to stay afloat. Before she knows it, she’s lured into dark and dangerous scheme that eventually transforms this film into an action-thriller. In some lights, Theo Rossi looks like a sinister version of B.J. Novak, so have fun with that visual, and watching Plaza break bad (with a nebulous past in the mix) promises to be a satisfying watch.
3. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix movie)
Fresh off his successful Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix, The Shape of Water and Crimson Peak director continues to revel on the small screen. Here, he delivers a stop-motion delight while reinventing the story of a wooden puppet who we all thought we knew best. It’s dark stuff and perhaps too frightening for the younger kiddos, but the story takes on layers of thematic relevance and more than justifies its own existence.
2. Wednesday (Netflix series)
Jenna Ortega picks up your favorite monotone heroine for Tim Burton, and this series continues to provide record-busting numbers for Netflix. Call this a case of Thanksgiving leftovers that do not spoil, although I have a feeling that The Addams Family daughter would enjoy that, too. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán are perhaps too good as Morticia and Gomez, and there’s plenty of room for zero blinking in Season 2.
1. The White Lotus (HBO series streaming on HBO Max)
By now, plenty of people know who lived and died on this Sicilian adventure, so go get caught up, and you can find out if Brian Grubb’s predictions came true. Multiple bodies were mentioned early on, but at least everyone knew from the beginning that Daphne lives, and Valentina and Rocco should be just fine, but from there, all lips were zipped. It’s been one hell of a passive-aggression fueled season, and that pent up energy was bound to lean into carnage. That’s The White Lotus way, and now, we’re left to wonder where the next season of malaise (in idyllic surroundings) shall take place.