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: Mudbound, Landline, and more.
Based on a novel by Hillary Jordan, Mudbound is a grim drama following two families — one white, one black — toiling in the mud of the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s. The story begins with Laura McCallan (Carey Mulligan) and her husband, Henry (Jason Clarke), moving from Memphis, Tennessee, to Mississippi, where Henry has bought a tract of land. The farm is a dismal swamp, also home to Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence Jackson (Mary J. Blige), whose family works as sharecroppers. The forces of economic and racial dynamics breed tension, and the situation becomes more volatile when World War II ends, and Jamie McCallan (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) return to their families, changed by their experiences in the war. Beautifully filmed and attuned to the complexities of American society, Mudbound is a compelling drama.
‘Marvel’s The Punisher’ season 1
Netflix’s Marvel universe has enjoyed critical success, and one of the serious breakout characters is Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, a former-Marine-turned-vigilante who has no qualms about killing criminals — lots of criminals. More of a techno-thriller than a superhero story, this latest adaptation stands out from the rest of Netflix’s Marvel catalog. The Punisher begins with Castle in a short-lived retirement, which ends when a rogue analyst called Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) recruits him to investigate a government conspiracy, one connected to the deaths of Castle’s family. Castle’s mission puts him at odds with Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah), and other forces within the government. Occasionally plagued by pacing issues, The Punisher is a violent, frantic thriller that fans of the comics series will love.
‘Baskets’ season 2
Zach Galifianakis’ Baskets was one of the oddest shows on TV when it debuted, a dark comedy following an aspiring clown whose life is a series of missteps and awkward exchanges. The second season avoids a sophomore slump, offering a string of episodes that are as beautiful as they are sad. The show follows Chip Baskets (Galifianakis), living as a hobo after his gig as a rodeo clown falls through. Chip’s journey has more valleys than peaks, but the show manages to find humor in his consistent failure. Season 2 also emphasizes the character of Chip’s mother, Christine (Louie Anderson), a performance that won Anderson a much-deserved Emmy.
Gillian Robespierre followed up her acclaimed romantic-comedy Obvious Child with this compelling film, which explores the tensions of monogamy through the lens of an unhappy family. The central characters are Dana (Jenny Slate) and her younger sister, Ali (Abby Quinn). Dana is engaged to a man named Ben (Jay Duplass), but she has mixed feeling about the impending marriage, while Ali is a teenager rebelling against the coming of adulthood by getting wasted and partying. When the sisters discover evidence that their father, Alan (John Turturro), may be cheating on their mother, Pat (Edie Falco), they decide to investigate. Although Landline’s premise isn’t as unique as that of Obvious Child, it shows the same focus on people and relationships, and benefits from great performances all around.
‘Night of Too Many Stars’
For well over a decade, the nonprofit organization New York Collaborates for Autism, teaming up with Jon Stewart, has put on the Night of Too Many Stars, which brings together a cavalcade of comedians and other celebrities to raise money for autism programs. Aside from Stewart, this year’s cast includes Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Robert De Niro, Sarah Silverman, and more. If you enjoy comedy — and supporting good causes — there are far worse ways to spend a Saturday night.