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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.
Have a new favorite movie or show you think we should know about? Let us know in the comments, or email me at [email protected]. Looking for even more great streaming options? Check out previous editions of our must-see list here.
Tom Hanks and Apple TV+ are back together again, with Hanks playing the last human on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Hanks’ character, an inventor, is slowly dying, so he creates a robotic dog to take care of his real-life canine and keep both of them company until he passes. Hanks is such a consistently great actor that you can forget sometimes how difficult his job really is. Giving a convincing performance opposite a robot and a dog is no easy feat, and Hanks pulls it off with aplomb.
How to watch: “Finch” is streaming on AppleTV+.
The Williams sisters get the biopic treatment — or more specifically, their dad does. Will Smith plays Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis legends Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton). Smith gives a top-notch performance in a better-than-average film, though Venus and Serena’s involvement in the film as executive producers leaves open the question of how objective the film is in its portrayal.
How to watch: “King Richard” is streaming on HBO Max.
Actress Rebecca Hall (“The Town”) produced an impressive directorial and screenwriting debut with “Passing.” The drama follows two Black women who grew up together. After losing touch, they reconnect by chance in a shop, where Irene (Tessa Thompson, “Creed”) discovers that Clare (Ruth Negga, “Loving”) is living as a white woman. Both leads give Oscar-worthy performances, resisting easy characterization as the audience learns more about their divergent life decisions.
How to watch: “Passing” is streaming on Netflix.
Fans of Nicolas Cage who watched the trailer for “Pig” may expect a “John Wick” clone mixed with one of the Oscar winner’s characteristic bug-eyed, manic, over-the-top performances. The plot — a reclusive chef vows revenge after someone kidnaps his best friend, a truffle-hunting pig — certainly suggests madcap action will ensue. Instead, viewers are treated to one of Cage’s most understated, nuanced performances in years, a portrait of a man wracked by grief that uses high cuisine as a means to emotional catharsis. Previously only available to rent on demand, “Pig” arrives on Hulu this Friday.
How to watch: “Pig” is streaming on Hulu.
With “tick, tick… BOOM!,” “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has found a story that he can easily tell on screen: The tale of a struggling creative who is unwittingly on the precipice of writing a great musical. That musical, “Rent,” was written by Jonathan Larson, who in real life passed away before his work became a Broadway smash. Here, the late playwright is played by Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”), who imbues Larson with the quiet desperation of a man who has a great work in him and is desperate to get it out, even if he doesn’t know his world is about to end.
How to watch: “tick, tick… BOOM!” is streaming on Netflix.
Credit the geniuses at Disney+ who decided to release Peter Jackson’s three-part docuseries on The Fab Four over Thanksgiving, as families gather together for some treasured TV time. The series doesn’t exactly alter the widely-held notions about the legendary band. Instead, Jackson and Co. offer greater context and nuance to the lives of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr via an intimate, unparalleled look at the group’s dynamics.
How to watch: “The Beatles: Get Back” is streaming on Disney+.
Fans of the award-winning Showtime drama “Dexter” will enjoy this revival, a limited series filmed in Massachusetts earlier this year which brings Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) to the chilly climes of upstate New York. The vigilante serial killer has attempted to turn over a new leaf, but his dark passenger remains an ever-present threat to shattering his idyllic existence.
How to watch: “Dexter: New Blood” is streaming on Amazon Prime with a Showtime add-on.
If you’re looking to give your brain a rest this holiday season, “Hawkeye” has amusing Marvel action to spare. Jeremy Renner is lovably grouchy as sharpshooting superhero Clint Barton, but it’s protege Hailee Steinfeld as Hawkeye-in-waiting Kate Bishop who steals the show.
How to watch: “Hawkeye” is streaming on Disney+.
Cambridge native Mindy Kaling has already showcased her ability to write convincing comedies for the teenage set with Netflix’s hit “Never Have I Ever.” This time, Kaling heads to campus with “The Sex Lives Of College Girls,” which despite its titillating title, is more love than lust, chronicling the friendships between four freshmen roommates at the fictional Essex College.
How to watch: “The Sex Lives of College Girls” is streaming on HBO Max.
Showtime’s new thriller “Yellowjackets” offers an intriguing twist on a classic premise: What would happen to the kids from “Lord of the Flies” after they get back from the island? That’s the gist of the show, which jumps between 1996 and present day, following a group of women who once played on a youth soccer team together and braved life on a deserted island for 19 months after their plane crashed. Add in a mysterious supernatural element that begins to slowly reveal itself, and “Yellowjackets” is a genre-bending good time.
How to watch: “Yellowjackets” is streaming on Amazon Prime with a Showtime add-on.
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