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 wacky Marvel movie, a wild Nic Cage performance, and a great movie about making a bad movie.
One of the smarter moves Disney has made with the recent Marvel films is handing them off to auteur directors who can provide a unique touch. The best example is Thor: Ragnarok, helmed by comedic director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows), who brought a sunny blast of humor to Marvel’s saga of Norse gods feuding. The film picks up where the previous one left off, with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) having exiled his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and assumed his identity as ruler of Asgard. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to topple Loki, but the warring brothers have a bigger problem: Their elder sister and the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett), has broken free of her cosmic prison, and quickly assumes control of Asgard. Exiled to a wasteland planet, Thor is captured and sold as a slave to The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), an indulgent aristocrat who forces Thor to fight in his gladiatorial games. Thor: Ragnarok is a bright, spectacular action movie a la ’70s and early ’80s sci-fi like Flash Gordon, but it’s also a delightful buddy comedy, as Thor and some notable friends team up to escape The Grandmaster and return to Asgard, cracking jokes all the way.
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Director Werner Herzog has made many a film about men driven to the brink of insanity. As such, the world was blessed when, in 2009, he teamed up with Nicolas Cage, one of cinema’s greatest portrayers of lunacy, for Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. The film follows Terence McDonagh (Cage), a cop in New Orleans who injures his back rescuing a prisoner from a flooded jail cell. McDonagh gets a promotion to lieutenant, but his chronic back pain leads him to develop a painkiller addiction, and soon he’s shaking people down for drugs and money. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleansis a surreal follow up to Abel Ferrara’s gritty film starring Harvey Keitel, exploring McDonagh’s mental state as he descends into debauchery and evil, and while the plot may leave viewers scratching their heads, Cage’s unhinged performance is captivating.
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Netflix’s Queer Eye revival proved to be popular, charming modern audiences with its upbeat nature and optimistic message, and so it comes as little surprise that it quickly got a second season. As before, the show follows five men with different specialties — Jonathan Van Ness (grooming), Bobby Berk (design), Tan France (fashion), Karamo Brown (culture), and Antoni Porowski (food) — who travel around, helping people remake their image through better grooming and fashion and, in the process, remake their lives. Season 2 features aneven more diverse collection of folks in needand plenty of heartwarming moments to soothe viewers’ souls.
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Beowulf — directed by Robert Zemeckis, with a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary — is a 3D-animated reinterpretation of the epic Old English poem, built around the idea that Beowulf’s story wasn’t quite as heroic as originally told. The film begins with the Geatish warrior Beowulf (Ray Winstone) and his comrades sailing to Denmark, where King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) has a problem he needs solved: A monster called Grendel has attacked Hrothgar’s mead hall, Heorot, slaying his soldiers. Beowulf, confident in his skills, believes himself to be just the man for the job. Zemeckis filmed Beowulf using motion-capture to emulate the actors and actresses, giving the characters what was, for 2007, a very realistic look. Although the animation doesn’t look so great by today’s standards, the film holds up as a cynical reimagining of a heroic myth.
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Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has become a cult classic since its release in 2003 because of (rather than despite) the fact that it’s really, really, astoundingly bad. With the low production quality, stilted performances, and insanely meandering script, The Room became an object of gleeful scorn and, strangely, appreciation as fans spread word of this strange creature, showing it to others in dorm rooms and arthouse theaters across America. The film’s success (such as it is) led actor Greg Sestero to write a memoir, The Disaster Artist, about his time working on the film and his friendship with Wiseau. Director/star James Franco’s film adaptation of the book follows Sestero (Dave Franco) and Wiseau (James Franco) from their first meeting at an acting class through their attempts to make it big in Hollywood and the disastrous production of The Room. The Disaster Artist is a hilarious film, particularly thanks to James Franco’s surreal performance as Wiseau. It’s also a weirdly poignant one, as is this story of two friends struggling to chase their dreams.
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