Online streaming 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: Anne Hathaway is a monster (figuratively), The Americans returns, and more.
In this singular comedy, unemployed alcoholic writer Gloria (Anne Hathaway) moves back to her hometown where she reunites with her old friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Spurred on by Oscar’s job as a bar owner, Gloria spends many a night getting drunk and passing out in a nearby playground. Coincidentally, whenever Gloria naps there, a giant monster appears in Seoul, South Korea. Noticing that the monster mimics her movements, it becomes apparent to Gloria that she controls it somehow. Colossal is a sharp comedy, and a poignant allegory that examines alcoholism and the tensions between male and female friends. Hathaway is in excellent form as Gloria, as is Sudeikis, and the volatile relationship between their characters is the heart of the film.
‘I Love You, Man’
In a unique twist on the romantic comedy formula, I Love You, Man follows a man not pursuing love (which he already has), but friendship. The man in question is real estate agent Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), who’s happily engaged to his girlfriend, Zooey (Rashida Jones). As they plan the wedding, it becomes apparent that Peter doesn’t have any male friend to serve as the best man. Determined to find a male best friend, Peter meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), an investor and fellow lover of the prog rock band Rush with a wild side. I Love You, Man is a sweet but raunchy comedy, with a refreshing focus on platonic friendship.
In this insightful documentary, Kyoko Miyake delves into the strange world of “idols,” female pop stars in Japan whose largely manufactured images emerge from a number of complicated cultural currents. The focus is on idol Rio Hiiragi (aka RioRio), an idol who, at the age of 19, is already in the twilight of her career. Staring down the barrel of irrelevance, Rio suits up for every performance and meet-and-greet, knowing she needs to have her escape plan ready. Miyake’s documentary is concerned with the ways in which idol culture is crafted to suit the desires of men — many idol fans are middle-aged men, eyes sparkling at the chance to meet an idol — and the constricting effect it has on both the idols themselves and Japanese women in general.
‘The Station Agent’
The Station Agent is an intimate drama about three people forming an unlikely bond. Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage), an asocial bachelor, inherits an abandoned train station from a friend. Fin moves into the building, hungry for solitude, but instead finds new friendships with Joe (Bobby Cannavale), an outgoing food cart proprietor, and Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), an artist mourning the death of her son and breakdown of her marriage. It’s a lovely film, never melodramatic and always humane.
‘The Americans’ season 5
Raising a family presents a number of challenges. You have to make sure the kids get up on time, make sure they do their homework, pay the bills, and cover your tracks after assassinating a defector so your FBI neighbor doesn’t get suspicious. That last one only really applies if you are an undercover Soviet spy, which Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) are. The Americans follows the relationship between these two agents, operating in America during the Reagan era, who are so deep undercover that even their kids don’t know the truth. It’s a smart, intense spy thriller that feels surprisingly relevant. But it’s also a remarkable story about the difficulties of marriage, following a husband and wife who can only trust one another.