A gentleman thief, a blockbuster action film, an adaptation of a feel-good Broadway musical, a mercurial trickster, and so much more. Do you want to know where you’ll find the best bang for your buck among the streaming services? This week, the competition is incredibly fierce, and honestly, you might end up with a lot of queue carryovers in the weeks to come. Fortunately, we are here to help you decide what’s best to watch now and watch later, and the good news is that there’s a super enjoyable action film starring Mark Wahlberg on Paramount+. In other words, it is microwave popcorn time.
However, three other streaming services put up huge fights in the battle for the best, and HBO Max comes out on top for simultaneously streaming a theater release that we really need to see during our current times, along with the return of the coolest skater ladies. The runner up this week would be Netflix, which brings us the debut of Loki and an ASMR series that’s a tribute to Disney’s legacy. Then Netflix busts into the game with Lupin‘s heist-loving comeback, a truly mouthwatering food-travel show, and extra options as well. Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, and Hulu also weigh in with fresh selections, and don’t forget about that post-punk-lady-band Peacock show that arrived last week. Here’s everything that you should consider putting in your queues this weekend.
In The Heights (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — John M. Chu adapts the Broadway musical (that starred Lin Manuel-Miranda) into a feature film that, as our own Mike Ryan writes, may have landed by fate at precisely the right time. The feel-good production is playing simultaneously in theaters and WarnerMedia’s streaming service, so pick your venue accordingly, and then settle in and enjoy Anthony Ramos in the Miranda role while witnessing the kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and dreams unfold. The message of this film — that communities find their stick-together strength within their individual members — couldn’t be more needed than during our current global situation.
Betty: Season 2 premiere (HBO series on HBO Max) — Like a breath of the most refreshing, free-wheeling air possible, HBO’s Betty will soon glide back into our lives. It’s what we really need to heal our pandemic-addled minds, and somehow, director Crystal Moselle managed to gather the Skate Kitchen crew back up for a second season and film on the streets of New York City. The main players are all back — Rachelle Vinberg as Camille, Ajani Russell as Indigo, Dede Lovelace as Janay, Moonbear as Honeybear, and Nina Moran as Kirt — and they’re still making the act of soaring through the streets look like the coolest thing on Earth. In their defense, Betty really is the coolest show on TV these days, and we could all stand to live vicariously these days.
Starstruck: Season 1 Premiere (HBO Max series) — Comedian Rose Matafeo stars in this comedy show about a young London woman who’s juggling two dead-end jobs and accidentally sleeping with a famous movie star, portrayed by Nikesh Patel. What could have been an amusing anecdote ends up being much more than that, and the cast also includes Sindhu Vee, Emma Sidi, and Minnie Driver.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — The Devil’s simultaneously coming to a living room or theater near you for this third The Conjuring movie, as the second-highest-grossing franchise (James Wan can’t stop) roars back. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as paranormal dream-team Lorraine and Ed Warren, and this time, the story’s ripped from the headlines. As the film’s title indicates, this case revolves around a 1980s murder case, in which a defendant claimed that the Devil, you know, made him kill and other unspeakable things.
Full Bloom: Season 2 Premiere (HBO Max series) — The botannical-battle series returns with a whole new crop of up-and-coming florists from around the U.S. They’ll leap into individual and team challenges to highlight their vibrant creative visions and compete for a $100,000 nest egg to jumpstart their own business.
Loki: Season 1 Premiere (Disney+ series+) — Tom Hiddleston has an absolute blast playing the mercurial trickster of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we shall reap the benefits while he helps (and hinders) the Time Variance Authority during the process of cleaning up the timeline. Likewise, Owen Wilson is entertaining as hell (even while saddled with a lot of exposition) as the MCU’s smoothest time cop. This is definitely not the Loki you’re used to (he died in Avengers: Infinity War), but he’s still a delightful scamp, and the show is all about setting up the multiverse. We’re lucky to have this pair to guide us into the future.
Zenimation: Season 2 (Disney+ series+) — If you’re into the whole ASMR thing, you’ll wanna check out this show that’s chock full of animated soundscape that are, in effect, molded from the aural experiences of iconic Disney scenes. Enjoy crashing waves and frigid forests and more while this tribute to the best of the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ legacy of sights and sounds.
Cruella (Disney movie on Disney+) — Yes, Cruella de Vil is finally getting her origin story. Even if you don’t agree that she needed one, no one can argue that Emma Stone is the actress who could deliver a damn good time in this role. Granted, the film starts out slow (the runtime’s over two hours) with a protracted childhood era that doesn’t illustrate much about why she villained out and murdered puppies. Yet it does speed up, with lots of mayhem and a cackling Emma hanging off a truck in a billowing dress. Fashion can be evil! Also, the soundtrack feels like a character in its own right.
Lupin: Part 2 (Netflix series) — This (the fancy French heist show starring Omar Sy) turned out to be a smash hit for Netflix in January. The overwhelming reaction even led the streamer to hustle fast to release Part 2, so that everyone could see how the beloved gentleman burglar would take revenge (against Hubert Pelligrini) for the abduction of his son, and by the way, we could probably use a lot more heisting as well? Give it to us. Of course, after that train station switcheroo in last season’s finale, we can expect police to redouble their efforts. So, Assane reenters as the most wanted man in France, and he’ll tempt fate while attending black tie events, high-speed car chases, speeding motorboats, thrown punches, and a trip to the catacombs.
Fresh, Fried & Crispy: Season 1 (Netflix series) — You might gain 10 pounds while watching this show, which would fit right in with Guy Fieri’s adventures. The so-called Grandfather of Food Reviews on YouTube, Daym Drops, takes a cross-country trip across the United States to find the most decadent fried foods possible. There’s deep-fried Oreos (in San Diego), extra-crispy pork chops (in Birmingham), and more on the menu, and not only does he pop into actual restaurants, but home kitchens and food trucks are also part of the hunt. Get your appetites ready.
Awake (Netflix film) — This post-apocalyptic yarn follows a mysterious global event that leaves mankind without sleep and without all electronics. A troubled ex-soldier might be able to fix things through a “cure” that happens to be her daughter, although she might lose her mind before she can piece everything together. Yikes.
Wish Dragon (Netflix film) — This Sony Pictures Animation movie revolves around a working-class college student and a cynical but powerful dragon who can grant her wishes and help realize dreams. Yet the film gets super existential while mulling over what’s really worth wishing for in life.
Sweet Tooth: Season 1 (Netflix series) — Team Downey (Robert Jr. and Susan) brings us this awe-inspiring story based upon a comic-book by creator Jeff Lemire, who whipped up a post-apocalyptic fairytale about what happens when a great sickness (which is poorly dealt with by humans) ends with a miracle. In this case, this would be the appearance of “hybrids,” babies who are born half-human and half-animal, and we’ll meet a young deer-boy, Gus, (Christian Convery), who teams up with a reluctant protector, Tommy Jepperd (Nonso Anozie), for a cross-country quest. The comic has been described as “Mad Max Meets Bambi,” and Will Forte also plays a pivotal role. You’re in for a real (sweet) treat if you surrender to this adventure.
Infinite (Paramount+ film) — As hard as it might seem to believe, Mark Wahlberg stabs an airplane in this summer blockbuster movie, directed by Antoine Fuqua, that’s coming straight to your living room tonight. Wahlberg is going up against reincarnated warriors known as “Infinites,” and he might be having flashbacks from multiple lives as well. He’s self-medicating, too, and driving a motorcycle off a cliff, so yeah, get your microwave popcorn ready for this gloriously dumb action film.
Flack: Season 2 (Amazon Prime series) — This series began on Pop TV, and Amazon picked it up for a second season for good reason. This is some damn fine guilty-pleasure escapism, even if it feels like an amalgamation of many shows and movies (includingThe Devil Wears Prada, Scandal, Sex and the City) that you’ve seen before. Anna Paquin, who portrays Robyn, who’s part of a PR agency that’s ridiculously good at hiding the most outrageous celebrity scandals imaginable. The show’s dark but breezy, and this season will see more collisions between work and home life, and as always, there will be love affairs and shady dealings and drug-induced benders and, yes, almost much everyone on this show is a terrible person, but oh, the comeuppance is a blast to watch.
Dom: Season 1 (Amazon Prime series) — This crime drama hails from Brazil with subtitles, but there’s a lot of Ozark and Sons of Anarchy vibes on display to make a non-dubbed effort worth the watch. Dom revolves around a middle-class Rio de Janeiro boy, Pedro, who falls into the lucrative realm of cocaine and eventually rises toward the top (or sinks toward the bottom, depending on one’s perspective) of the criminal underworld. It’s all based on a true story of the gang-related exploits that dominated the country’s aughts tabloids, given the juicy reality of Pedro’s father working for police intelligence, and yes, one should expect the lines of morality to go grey here. Dom‘s also a high-adrenaline adventure, so don’t watch this one while hoping to relax.
Home Before Dark: Season 2 (Apple TV+ series) — Young investigative journalist Hilde returns following her small-town move (from Brooklyn), which led to her discovery of a cold case that her father (and everyone else in town) had previously attempted to bury. This season promises to be (literally) explosive, and Hilde will take on a corporation while trying to expose the truth, which could risk her own life and that of her family.
Lisey’s Story (Apple TV+ limited series) — There seemingly cannot be enough Stephen King TV adaptations out there, and this project presents the story of a widow, once married to a legendary novelist, and who is rediscovering repressed memories while cleaning out his desk. Because she needs even more nightmarish curveballs thrown her way, Lisey must also fend off a stalker fan of her husband, and there are (naturally) going to be some otherworldly shenanigans afoot.
Love Victor: Season 2 (Hulu series) — Simon’s happy ending in the first round shall be followed up by adventures for Victor, the new guy in town, who’s wrestling with his own identity and attempting to fit in while realizing that everyone (whether they admit it or not) is having the same issues. Betsy Brandt is now onboard as Felix’s mother, and expect plenty of melodrama as new relationships cause riffs and jealousy concerning older ones and those that you’d think are firmly in the past. Love is rarely ever easy, but this cast of characters might renew your faith in the concept if you thought you were over romance.
The New York Times Presents: Who Gets To Be an Influencer? (FX documentary film series on Hulu) — Hot on the heels of the controversial Britney Spears installment, the New York Times continues bringing essential stories to the forefront. This week, the publication chronicles a pioneering mainstream Black “creator mansion,” Collab Crib, which seeks to reach social media stardom. All the while, they’re working against the grain, and they tackle their plight in a profound manner.
We Are Lady Parts: Season 1 (Peacock series) — A Muslim female post-punk band called Lady Parts looks for a lead guitarist in this subversive series, which follows the ups and downs of the group as they seek a real gig. A geeky, hard-sciences Ph.D. recruit named Amina Hussain ends up being the unlikely lucky lady to pick up the ax, and she’s soon swept up into the group’s anarchic energy. Naturally, Amina’s caught between two worlds, that of her conservative friends and the irresistible lure of the band’s joyful spirit. Together, they’re fearless, rowdy, and sexual and every ultra-religious family’s nightmare. As a show, it’s silly and irreverent and inspiring; for sure, you’ve never seen women like quite this on your TV screen.