Streaming services might not be able to keep us warm, but they sure as heck (for those who are fortunate enough to have an electrical grid intact, of course) will keep us less focused on the fact that snow and ice is blanketing a great deal of the country this weekend. With that said, we’re back to pick the best of what those platforms have to offer while weighing quantity and quality to pick a winner.
Once again, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO Max are all bringing a solid game (with Peacock holding onto a strong library with beloved series like The Office and Modern Family) for fresh original offerings. We’ve got a different winner here this weekend, though, than the usual. Much of the time HBO Max and Netflix walk away with the top honors for best offerings in one weekend, but this week, we’re gonna call it for Hulu (which has Frances McDormand in Oscar mode with Nomadland), although Amazon Prime has a very bingeable thriller series that will please The Undoing and Gone Girl fans. Netflix is still bringing in a solid amount of spunk (especially a dark comedy starring Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage), and HBO Max has a docuseries on a very notorious scandal.
In short, there’s a lot to be happy with here. We’ll discuss all of these top streaming services below, and then we hope you stream to your heart’s delight
Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures film on Hulu) — Frances McDormand stars this tribute to the American West as a widow (Fern) who loses her house and travels (nomadically, naturally) in her van. Freedom and danger abound, and one of the goals here is to figure out what Fern’s looking for, and whether she can possibly find it, or whether wandering is an escape or a solution, or whether the virtue is in the journey itself.
Into the Dark: Tentacles (Hulu series) — The monthly horror-movie series returns with a psychosexual horror-thriller about love, or love gone wrong at least, when a young Los Angeles couple falls deeply in love, only to find that their intimacy takes an enormously dark turn. Happy holiday of love, y’all.
The New York Times Presents: “Framing Britney Spears” (FX on Hulu) — If you haven’t caught this one yet, please do. The seemingly unending saga of mega pop star Britney Spears’ controversial conservatorship is only one focus of this docuseries that aims to do a deep-dive on how Spears’ life and career has also been shaped by public perception and the press. It’s been a long twelve years for Britney under her father’s financial thumb, and that followed a few years of public chaos, which I’m sure you will never forget. Her fans rally in this series for her “freedom,” given that Britney has vowed not to work again until she can make her own decisions again
I Care A Lot (Netflix film) — Rosamund Pike’s got the Gone Girl hair again, which sends out some palpable vibes to be certain. She portrays a court-appointed guardian for elderly wards, and she’s siphoning their assets in an elaborate racket. However, she meets her match in a gangster played by Peter Dinklage, who’s got his own game while representing a mark (Dianne Wiest), who has no living heirs or family but has ruthless designs of her own. Dinklage has got a stare that can bore straight into your soul, and Pike can be as cold as they come, so this movie should be a deliciously dark treat for all.
Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie (Netflix interactive special) –Bear Grylls digs these interactive specials, in which he allows viewers to choose his fate in a Bandersnatch sort of way. How, exactly, did he end up in the above scenario, and is it real? I can’t even begin to guess the answer to either of those questions, but I imagine that he’ll be drinking his own pee at some point. In addition, expect Bear to help track down missing animals (including a hungry lion and a mischievous baboon) from a wildlife sanctuary. Chose well (or poorly) for him because, you know, he’s doing this to himself.
Amend: The Fight for America (Netflix docuseries) — This six-part docuseries will dive deep into the Fourteenth Amendment that’s promised liberty and equal protection for all since 1868. Along the way, expected to hear form luminaries including Mahershala Ali, Diane Lane, Samuel L. Jackson, Pedro Pascal, Yara Shahidi, and more. They’ll read speeches and writings from Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Andrew Johnson; and the series welcomes hosts Will Smith and Larry Wilmore for a powerful journey through U.S. history.
Behind Her Eyes (Netflix series) — This series follows a single mother who has an affair with her boss, who happens to be a psychiatrist, and then his wife ends up in her circle of friends. Naturally, this leads to a web of secrets and lies and so much drama, all from the producers of The Crown.
The Crew (Netflix series) — Kevin James has his own Netflix show, y’all. He plays a NASCAR crew chief who must step up when the owner steps down. James must resist all efforts to “modernize” his team, and there are members of The King Of Queens and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 production teams behind this show, so all those Kevin James followers out there will know the drill.
Tell Me Your Secrets: Season 1 (Amazon Prime series) — Viewers of The Undoing are gonna dig this series for a few reasons, including the presence of Lily Rabe (who portrayed Grace’s best friend, Sylvia) as Emma, who’s a very Gillian Flynn-esque woman with a mysterious and troubling past. Two other mysterious and troubling characters — John (Hamish Linklater), a former serial predator and Mary (Amy Brenneman) is a grieving mother of a missing daughter — make up one neck of a mysterious and troubling triangle. The motives of all involved grow murkier as the season wears on, and this show is bingeable as heck.
The Boarding School: Las Cumbres: Season 1 (Amazon Prime series) — A mysterious man apparently kidnaps a student while wearing a crow mask, which leads his boarding school pals to vow to never get up. Apparently, there’s an old cult (the Crow’s Nest) that might be responsible, and what the students learn shake all of their faith in their educational institution.
The Muppet Show: Seasons 1-5 (series on Disney+) — Every episode of this classic show are available for the taking, and thank goodness for Kermit the Frog as host (and showrunner!) of Jim Henson’s most famous creation. This will be the first time that the final two seasons of this series will be available to stream, so settle in and enjoy the adventures of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, the Swedish Chef, hecklers Statler and Waldorf, and the rest. Don’t forget Animal! And Miss Piggy rules.
Wandavision: Episode 7 (Disney+ series) — Halloween arrived in Westview last week, and there’s some suggestive Devil-related revelations that might change this whole show’s angle. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out, but last week, Marvel fans were thrilled to tip their hats to Kevin Feige for what’s easily the best episode of the series so far. Watch out for that brutal Easter egg, though.
Allen V. Farrow (HBO documentary series, HBO Max on Sunday) — This four part documentary series begins this weekend to dig into a notorious and still-raging scandal of what, exactly, happened with Woody Allen and his family. That includes daughter Dylan Farrow’s allegations of sexual abuse against her father along with Allen’s relationship with Farrow’s daughter, Soon-Yi, and the custody trial that grew especially ugly. In the aftermath, a sprawling family fractured, and that divide continues to this day with continuing disputes that revolve around the allegations.
Last Week Tonight: Season 8 Premiere (HBO Series, Sunday On HBO Max) — Everyone’s favorite sarcastic and satiric late-night host finally returned last week (after blowing up 2020 and getting weird with poor, sweet Adam Driver), and not a moment too soon. John Oliver will break down exactly what’s wrong with our society in a way that only he can do, and let’s hope that he brings back that award-winning hoodie, so we can all get fancy with him.
Judas and the Black Messiah (HBO Max movie) — This selection’s from last week, but this Awards-tipped movie can’t stop with the talent. Starring Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, and Jesse Plemons, this film could be an awards contender. The story revolves around William O’Neal, who infiltrates the Black Panther Party in Illinois after being offered an FBI plea deal. His mission? To gather intelligence upon the head honcho, Chairman Fred Hampton.