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.
On the list this week: The Leftovers, a beautiful independent film, and more.
The Leftovers seasons 1-3
HBO’s spiritual drama The Leftovers recently concluded to widespread acclaim, and for those who have never watched it, now would be a perfect time to take the plunge. The show takes place after an event called the Sudden Departure, in which two percent of the world’s population vanished without a trace. Those left behind must ponder the nature of the event, and their place in a universe that seems more incomprehensible than ever before. The show focuses on the Garvey family, particularly police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), a man struggling to hold on to his loved ones and his sanity in the wake of the upheaval. Although the first season can be rough at times, The Leftovers is an ambitious, captivating drama, with a focus on how characters react to unexplained events, rather than the events themselves.
Daughters of the Dust
This independent film from director Julie Dash tells the story of the Peazant family, a group of Gullah islanders living off the coast of Georgia. The descendants of slaves, the Peazants live in isolation, preserving the culture they have developed, until outside pressures lead them to contemplate a move to the mainland. The film plays out in a series of nonlinear moments, as the stories of the many islanders slowly unfold. The film bears several touches of magical realism — the narrator is one character’s unborn child — and Dash reflects this with graceful, understated scene compositions. The actors speak in Gullah dialect, giving the film a powerful authenticity. Daughters of the Dust is a mesmerizing film, telling a story not often seen on film.
Oh, Hello on Broadway
Those who have watched sketch comedy shows The Kroll Show or Comedy Bang! Bang! may remember a pair of elderly — and very odd — characters named Gil Faizon (Nick Kroll) and George St. Geegland (John Mulaney), a couple of men from the Upper West Side of New York City with huge egos and an unhealthy love of canned tuna. The two were part of a recurring sketch called Oh, Hello (their catchphrase), which has now reached Broadway in this live performance. Kroll and Mulaney sink fully into their characters, employing all sorts of strange mannerisms on top of some truly gross makeup. Although the bourgeois subjects they are parodying may be esoteric, their performances and improvisational ability make Oh, Hello plenty of fun even for viewers who have never set foot in New York.
The Conjuring 2
James Wan’s The Conjuring was a surprise hit, so it’s no surprise that it has spawned its own franchise. Thankfully, the film’s first direct sequel retains much of what made the original so fun. Set a few years after the first film, The Conjuring 2 reintroduces viewers to Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), a married couple who work as paranormal investigators. They travel to London to aid a family plagued by strange, unexplained phenomena, finding themselves at odds with a poltergeist … and maybe something worse. Wan brings a deft touch to the production, using framing and camera movements to maximize tension before the scares. Although The Conjuring 2 doesn’t do much new, it’s a delightfully scary movie.
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On the Waterfront
This classic film features one of Marlon Brando’s most iconic performances. While some may find the film’s politics questionable, it is nevertheless a compelling story of one man standing up against a corrupt establishment, regardless of the danger. The man in question is Terry Malloy (Brando), who was an up-and-coming boxer until his brother, Charley (Rod Steiger) asked him to throw a fight on behalf of union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). When Friendly’s goons kill a friend of Terry’s, he questions whether he should testify against the corrupt union, which could cost him his life. On the Waterfront is a superb crime drama, with complex characters and powerful, naturalistic performances.