Though the song is nearly 30 years old, Bruce Springsteen’s “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” encapsulates the struggle viewers face today. With hundreds of cable channels, dozens of streaming services, and countless on-demand titles, trying to decide what to watch can feel like an endless ordeal.
That’s where we come in. Each month, Boston.com recommends 10 must-watch movies and TV shows available on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max, and more.
Many recommendations are for new shows, while others are for under-the-radar releases you might have missed, or classics that are about to depart a streaming service at the end of the month.
Have a new favorite movie or show you think we should know about? Let us know in the comments, or email me at [email protected]. Looking for even more great streaming options? Check out previous editions of our must-see list here.
“The French Dispatch”
As one of the most recognizable auteurs working today, Wes Anderson has built a cult following with his meticulously constructed, unapologetically twee films. “The French Dispatch,” a love letter to the New Yorker that unfolds as if the audience is reading various articles in the venerated magazine, is right in Anderson’s wheelhouse. But there’s something deeply moving at the heart of “The French Dispatch” that immediately places it in the upper echelon of the director’s work. Even as each story unfolds and veers into ludicrous territory, there is a powerful love that binds the protagonists together.
How to watch: “The French Dispatch” is streaming on Apple TV.
“The Green Knight”
With “The Green Knight,” director David Lowery has taken an experimental approach to Arthurian legend, sending the brash son of Arthur, Gawain (Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”), on a quest to confront the ominous Green Knight. Gawain’s journey takes on a dreamlike quality, with reality and fiction mixing together and nightmarish threats around seemingly every corner. It’s an acid trip adaptation of a 14th-century poem, and if you let it, “The Green Knight” will take you for a ride.
How to watch: “The Green Knight” is streaming on Apple TV.
“The Matrix Resurrections”
Lana Wachowski’s fourth iteration of the cyberpunk dystopian film series is a meta masterpiece — a wry critique of the sequel/reboot assembly line, a rebuke of men’s rights activists who misunderstood the original trilogy’s message, and a mind-bending joy that breathes life into a franchise 18 years later. Most of all, in a film industry that has deemphasized directors in favor of rigid fealty to IP architects, it’s a big-budget film that feels deeply personal. Critics and audiences have been divided, but don’t let that dissuade you from taking the red pill, blue pill, or perhaps even a third pill of undetermined color. After all, why do our choices have to be so binary?
How to watch: “The Matrix Resurrections” is streaming on HBO Max.
“The Power of the Dog”
Will 2021 end up being remembered as the year of the Western? The season four finale of “Yellowstone,” which airs on the little-known Paramount Network, was the most-watched telecast on cable since 2017. Meanwhile, over on Netflix, the overwhelming critical choice for the best movie of 2021 is “The Power of the Dog,” a dark and brooding Western from Oscar-winning writer-director Jane Campion (“The Piano”), in her first feature film since 2009’s “Bright Star.” Set in 1925 Montana, the film centers around two ranch-owning brothers, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch, “Dr. Strange”) and George (Jesse Plemons, “The Irishman”). When George marries innkeeper Rose (Kirsten Dunst, “Bring It On”), Phil makes life difficult for her and her son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Road”). Campion’s film is dark, foreboding, depressing, and utterly unmissable.
How to watch: “The Power of the Dog” is streaming on Netflix.
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
By nature, the works of Shakespeare are beloved for their elegant words, verses, and turns of phrase. In “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Joel Coen’s first directorial effort without his brother, Ethan, it’s the visuals that take center stage, even as The Bard’s syllable-perfect lines are largely kept intact. The stark black-and-white imagery of cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel matches the temperament of the conniving Lord and Lady Macbeth, played by some of the finest American actors working, Denzel Washington (“Glory”) and Frances McDormand (“Fargo”). Add it all together, and “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is a Shakespearean adaptation that will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
How to watch: “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is streaming on Apple TV.
“The Book of Boba Fett”
There’s nothing particularly novel about “The Book of Boba Fett,” the latest Star Wars series to hit Disney Plus. (More than a decade ago, a nerdy character on “Parks and Recreation” played by Patton Oswalt predicted the opening scene of the show shot for shot.) But who needs a show about the galaxy’s most infamous bounty hunter to be unpredictable? It’s pleasure enough watching the Mandalorian do battle, make allies, and maintain order amidst the unrivaled hive of scum and villainy.
How to watch: “The Book of Boba Fett” is streaming on Disney Plus.
Warner Bros. finally found its footing in the D.C. universe in 2021 with “The Suicide Squad,” a vastly improved take on the cadre of arch-villains than the 2016 version. Fresh on its heels comes “Peacemaker,” a spinoff series starring West Newbury native John Cena as a vigilante now working for the government. His name is an ironic one, as Peacemaker is tasked with performing extrajudicial killings no one else wants to be associated with. The show has a crude, skewed take on the superhero formula, and is carried by the incredibly personable Cena, who has slowly become one of the most prolific working actors over the last few years.
How to watch: “Peacemaker” is streaming on HBO Max.
If you haven’t already jumped on the “Ozark” train, the time is now. With the first half of its final season debuting on Netflix earlier this month, married couple Marty (Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development” and Wendy (Laura Linney, “The Big C”) have fully broken bad, morphing from suburban parents to mixing it up with every seedy element the area has to offer, from the Mexican cartel to the Kansas City mafia. If there’s money to be made, typically illegally, Marty and Wendy are mixed up it. The looming question is whether the couple will make it out of the series in one piece.
How to watch: “Ozark” is streaming on Netflix.
What would happen if a devastating, highly infectious disease wiped out most of humanity? Wait, don’t stop reading! Based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, “Station Eleven” introduces viewers to a post-apocalyptic America, where nomadic tribes of survivors have largely abandoned the pre-pandemic comforts of 20 years ago. As bleak as the premise may sound, “Station Eleven” is more about embracing the world that we have rather than pining for the world left behind, a mindset that’s more helpful than ever at the moment.
How to watch: “Station Eleven” is streaming on HBO Max.
Now that it has wrapped up its first season, it’s time to binge Showtime’s hot new thriller, which offers an intriguing twist on a classic premise: What would happen to the kids from “Lord of the Flies” after they get back from the island? That’s the gist of the show, which jumps between 1996 and the present day, following a group of women who once played on a youth soccer team together and braved life on a deserted island for 19 months after their plane crashed. Add in a mysterious supernatural element that begins to slowly reveal itself, and “Yellowjackets” is a genre-bending good time.
How to watch: “Yellowjackets” is streaming on Amazon Prime with a Showtime add-on.
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