By Will Nicol


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Streaming entertainment is bigger than ever, and with so many streaming services adding new shows and movies every week, it can be nearly impossible to sort through the good and the bad. If you need something to watch and don’t want to wade through the digital muck that washes up on the internet’s shores, follow our picks below for the best new shows and movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon, and other services.

On the list this week: A mind-bending sci-fi film, a touching tale of growing up, and more.

‘Annihilation’

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Based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation is a trippy science-fiction story laced with dread that follows a small group of characters faced with a situation beyond their comprehension. Set in a future not much different from our present, Annihilation begins after a meteor crashes in southern Florida. Around the site of the landing, a wall of light called the Shimmer appears and slowly spreads outwards, as the region within the wall, dubbed “Area X,” transforms. The U.S. government has sent multiple teams into Area X to investigate, but only one man, Kane (Oscar Isaac), ever returns, and he comes back different, wrong. Wanting to understand what happened to him, Kane’s wife, a biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman), joins the latest expedition into Area X, along with psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and three other specialists. As they explore Area X, the women discover that the region is warping not only the creatures within, but maybe reality itself. Annihilation is a tightly scripted sci-fi story, one that balances the psychological evolution of its characters with the bizarre, often horrific discoveries they make.

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‘Sex Education’ season 1

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For a teenager, a parent taking an interest in your sex life is a nightmarishly awkward idea, doubly so if said parent is a sex therapist. That’s the case for Otis (Asa Butterfield), whose mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson), is an acclaimed sex therapist and author on the subject. Otis could use a little therapy, as he’s terrified of anything sexual, but he instead finds himself dispensing advice rather than getting it, once his classmate, Maeve (Emma Mackey), realizes they can peddle advice to the sexually dysfunctional kids at school. Sex Education is raunchy, with plenty of jokes about bodily fluids, but it’s also a comedy with heart, one about young people figuring out who they are.

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‘Eighth Grade’

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Eighth Grade, the acclaimed directorial debut from Bo Burnham, captures the peculiar drama of middle school, a time in life when every moment seems important, yet so few of them are. The film follows Kayla (Elsie Fisher), a teenager in her last week of eighth grade. Kayla is a nondescript kid — she’s voted the “Most Quiet” student by her classmates — with few friends but a lot of ambition. Like a true Gen-Z hustler, she publishes videos to her YouTube channel, dispensing advice to an audience that hasn’t discovered her yet. Over the course of the film, Kayla struggles to overcome her anxieties and find a sense of belonging she has only dreamt of. Eighth Grade is a film without conceit, just an honest portrayal of growing up in the age of social media.

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‘The X-Files’ season 11

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Reboots and revivals are all the rage these days, and although The X-Files didn’t end its original run on the best of terms, it was nice to have it back when it returned for a 10th and now 11th season; absence really does make the heart grow fonder, at least when it comes to a long-running series about aliens, conspiracies, and the plucky FBI agents investigating them. The show follows, for the most part, two FBI agents, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who are assigned to investigate the “X-Files,” cases that the FBI deems unsolvable (usually because they have paranormal causes). Mulder is a believer in things like aliens, chupacabras, and vampires while Scully takes a skeptical approach; it’s a dichotomy that shines throughout the show, as the two take on all manner of strange cases, as the show jumps with ease from sci-fi to horror. Season 11 picks up where season 10 ended, with Mulder and Scully searching for their missing son, who may be involved in a conspiracy to destroy humanity. Like the later seasons of the show, season 11 is uneven, but the highs (any episode written by Glen or Darin Morgan, for example) are worth it.

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‘True Detective’ season 3 premiere

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Has any show experience a critical backlash so swift and so fierce as True Detective did? In its first season, critics heaped praise upon the show for its excellent performances and ominous tone, but sometime after the finale, opinions started to sour, and when season 2 turned out to be a bit of a mess, the knives came out. Season 3 promises to be a return to form after a few years off the air, with writer Nic Pizzolatto revisiting some of the distinctive features of season 1 with a new cast and story. The central detective this time is Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali), whose investigation into a murder case stretches over decades. The season leaps back and forth between three distinct times: 1980, when Hays is a fresh face in the department; 1990, when he’s a little older and struggling with his career; and 2015, when he’s an old man grappling with Alzheimer’s, but still trying to solve the case that has haunted him for years.

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