Though the song is nearly 30 years old, Bruce Springsteen’s “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” encapsulates the struggle viewers face today. With hundreds of cable channels, dozens of streaming services, and countless on-demand titles, trying to decide what to watch can feel like an endless ordeal.
That’s where we come in. Each month, Boston.com recommends 10 must-watch movies and TV shows available on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max, and more.
Many recommendations are for new shows, while others are for under-the-radar releases you might have missed, or classics that are about to depart a streaming service at the end of the month.
Alejandro Iñárritu has produced nearly as many Hollywood films as he has independent titles, delivering Oscar-nominated fare like “Babel,” “21 Grams,” “Birdman,” and “The Revenant” over a two-decade career. The Mexican director’s rise to stardom began with his very first feature film, “Amores Perros,” which won a Grand Prize at Cannes back in 2000. Told in a triptych, “Perros” follows three storylines that are all connected by a grisly car accident. Thanks to its raw, unvarnished storytelling and standout performances from the likes of Gael García Bernal and Goya Toledo, “Amores Perros” is worth watching before it leaves Amazon Prime at the end of the month.
How to watch: “Amores Perros” is streaming on Amazon Prime until Feb. 27.
“Attack on Titan”
Despite the runaway success of kid-friendly cartoons like “Pokemon” and the unmatched beauty of films by Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke”), anime has never gained a mainstream foothold among adult audiences in America, with only niche audiences appreciating the genre the way it’s embraced in Japan and elsewhere. If you’d like to broaden your horizons, “Attack on Titan,” one of the most successful anime series of the last decade, is in the midst of its fourth and final season. In season one, the story begins with a group of pre-teens who must defend their city from Titans, giant bloodthirsty human-like monsters who crash through the city’s walls. As the series progresses, “Attack on Titan” focuses less on the elegantly drawn aerial battles and begins asking bigger questions about humanity, isolationism, and the inevitability of conflict.
How to watch: “Attack on Titan” is streaming on Hulu, with episodes available in English or in Japanese with subtitles.
In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Meryl Streep described “Don’t Look Up,” which recently wrapped filming in Massachusetts, as director Adam McKay’s attempt at a modern-day “Dr. Strangelove” satire. As it turns out, Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War-era masterpiece is leaving Amazon Prime at the end of February, so now is the perfect time to revisit the classic tale of a rogue general who attempts to start World War III and the bureaucratic bungling that follows. Even though it’s been close to 60 years, “Strangelove” remains both eerily prescient and laugh-out-loud funny, with standout performances from George C. Scott as jingoistic General Buck Turgidson and Peter Sellers in a trio of roles, including the titular German doctor.
How to watch: “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” is streaming on Amazon Prime until the end of the month.
“For All Mankind”
With all the excitement surrounding NASA’s Perseverance Rover landing on Mars (even Google built a custom celebration to mark the event), now is the perfect time to tune in for the second season of “For All Mankind,” which debuts Friday on Apple TV+. The show imagines a world in which Russia beat America to landing on the moon, setting off a subsequent frenzy in the space race. Led by fictionalized astronaut Edward Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman, “Easy Money”) and featuring archival footage of astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the show is an entertaining drama whose “alternate reality” of a renewed space race as a means of asserting dominance isn’t so far-fetched.
How to watch: “For All Mankind” is streaming on Apple TV+.
“Framing Britney Spears”
Produced by the New York Times, “Framing Britney Spears” examines the life of the pop megastar, including her rise to the top of the music world, her suffering at the hands of a tabloid-hungry public and unscrupulous media, and her current life living under the conservatorship of her father. Though filmmaker Samantha Stark can only capture part of Spears’s life story in a slim 74 minutes, the film, which aired as an episode of the FX show “The New York Times Presents,” raises questions about the singer’s life and forces audiences to reckon with the misogynistic way she was framed in the public eye.
How to watch: “The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears” is streaming on Hulu.
In January, HBO announced that comedy “High Maintenance” would not return following its fourth season, with creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld choosing to pursue other projects. It’s disappointing news for viewers who could have followed the vignette-style stories of New Yorkers who are all connected by a weed dealer known simply as The Guy (Sinclair) for another five seasons or so. But in an era where reboots and revivals are rampant and at a moment when HBO is feverishly producing new content to fill the library of its new streaming service HBO Max, there’s something admirable about creators who choose to leave viewers wanting more.
How to watch: “High Maintenance” is streaming on HBO Max and for HBO subscribers.
“I Care a Lot”
Following positive reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival, Netflix purchased the rights to “I Care a Lot,” a dark comedy filmed in Massachusetts in 2019 that arrives Friday on the streaming platform. Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) plays Marla Grayson, who cons her way into legal guardianship of senior citizens and drains them of their savings. After assuming guardianship of another elderly woman, Marla finds out that the woman she’s trying to swindle has someone in her life (Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”) who is as ruthless and unscrupulous as she is. Pike is as entertaining a villain as she was opposite Ben Affleck in “Gone Girl,” and Dinklage holds his own. You may also enjoy spotting local landmarks, as the movie was filmed in Boston, Braintree, Dedham, Medfield, Millis, Natick, Rockport, Watertown, Wayland, and Wellesley.
How to watch: “I Care a Lot” is streaming on Netflix.
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
Following their breakout roles in “Get Out,” “Judas and the Black Messiah” reunites two of the best young actors working right now in Daniel Kaluuya (“Black Panther”) and Lakeith Stanfield (“Sorry to Bother You”). After getting busted trying to steal a car, Bill (Stanfield) is forced into becoming an FBI informant and embedding with the Illinois Black Panthers. There, he grows close to the organization’s leader, Fred Hampton (Kaluuya), and must decide whether to follow orders and bring him down. Based on a true story, “Judas” is currently playing in theaters and will be streaming on HBO Max until the end of the movie’s scheduled theatrical run on March 14.
How to watch: “Judas and the Black Messiah” is streaming on HBO Max and in theaters.
Director Chloe Zhao helmed one of the best and most under-seen movies of 2018 with “The Rider,” so it’s no surprise that her newest film “Nomadland” is another neo-Western masterpiece. The film follows Fern (Frances McDormand, “Fargo”), a down-on-her-luck woman who travels the country in search of work after her town ceases to exist when the gypsum mine that employed nearly all its residents closes. Fern drives from state to state, taking seasonal jobs with Amazon and other odd gigs as she adapts to a nomadic lifestyle. The movie is set to be a major player in awards season, and arrives Friday on Hulu.
How to watch: “Nomadland” is streaming on Hulu and playing in theaters.
After holding off on including the Disney+ series following its puzzling premiere, “Wandavision” has picked up considerable steam. In classic sitcom style, the series follows the picture-perfect life of Avengers Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), who have seemingly settled into a laugh-track-filled suburban existence, complete with nosy neighbors and overbearing bosses. Not all is as it seems, however, and though the show doesn’t truly tip its hand until episode 4, small clues indicate early on that not all is well in idyllic Westview.
How to watch: “Wandavision” is streaming on Disney+. New episodes premiere every Friday.
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