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 worth a watch.
This week: A mind-bending show set in the X-Men universe, a college comedy from Richard Linklater, and more.
Legion season 1
Five episodes into its first season, FX’s Legion is part of the growing field of shows based on superhero properties, specifically the X-Men franchise — but it easily stands apart as one of the most intriguing stories of its genre. The show follows David Haller (Dan Stevens), a schizophrenic mutant with immense psychic powers. After years in psychiatric care, David’s world seems routine, until he meets a mysterious patient named Syd (Rachel Keller), who has a power of her own. After being discovered by the government, David tries to harness his powers, but must contend with his own flawed perceptions of reality. The creation of Noah Hawley (the mastermind behind FX’s brilliant Fargo), Legion is a brilliant, psychedelic thriller with well-developed characters and outstanding visuals.
Million Dollar Baby
Winner of an Academy Award for Best Picture, Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby tells the story of Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), an old and bitter boxing trainer who agrees to train a waitress named Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank). Under Frankie’s tutelage, Maggie slowly builds up her reputation as a boxer, until a tragic event alters both of their lives irrevocably. Eastwood has a reputation for his focused, classical style, and Million Dollar Baby shows him at his best. Simple but evocative scene compositions give the film a beautiful look, but never distract from the characters, whose dreams and actions are the most important thing.
Orphan Black season 4
Con artist Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) seemingly finds the perfect opportunity to escape her past when she sees a woman who looks exactly like her, Beth Childs (Maslany), commit suicide. Stealing her identity, Sarah soon discovers that Beth was not the only person with whom she shares a face; she is one of a series of clones, bred by a secret society with dark intentions. Sarah and her fellow clones must uncover the truth about the company that created them, while evading a cult that hunts down clones. Orphan Black is an exciting sci-fi thriller, anchored by multiple excellent performances from Maslany.
Everybody Wants Some!!
Created as a spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater excellent coming-of-age comedy set in the late ’70s, Everybody Wants Some!! is similar only in that it is a period piece about young people having fun and listening to great music. Whereas Dazed and Confused presented high school as a great tapestry of different social groups blending together, Everybody Wants Some!! narrows its focus to a group of jocks, members of a successful college baseball team called the South Texas Cherokees. The film’s protagonist is Jake (Blake Jenner), an amiable athlete with the soul of a poet, who begins the film moving into the house he shares with the rest of the team. With a few days left before classes start, the boys waste no time partying, dancing, and trying to pick up women. As with many of Linklater’s films, Everybody Wants Some!! has no patience for plot; the film is entirely about people, and the small, often humorous interactions that make up daily life. Although it lacks the gravity of Linklater’s best works (Before Midnight, Boyhood), Everybody Wants Some!! is still an excellent slice of life, and the soundtrack really is perfect.
Girls season 6
After years of inspiring essays and controversy, Lena Dunham’s Girls is drawing to a close. The show focuses on a group of four friends — struggling writer Hannah (Dunham), aspiring musician Marnie (Allison Williams), bohemian vagabond Jessa (Jemima Kirke), and neurotic young professional Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet). Cut off from her parents after being forced to support herself, Hannah struggles to pay her bills and build a meaningful career in contemporary New York City. While many have criticized the show for its self-centered characters and lack of diversity, Girls is a sharp experimental series, one of the few shows that captures the existential (and financial) woes of the millennial generation.