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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.
Milton native Jenny Slate dips into rom-com territory for her newest movie “I Want You Back,” a Valentine’s Day romp opposite “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Charlie Day. After Emma (Slate) and Peter (Day) meet in a stairwell after being dumped by their significant others (played by Gina Rodriguez and Scott Eastwood), the duo later hatches a plot to end each other’s exes burgeoning new relationships. The best romantic comedies are defined by the likability of their leads, and both Slate and Day show that they are more than capable of adding rom- to their traditional com-(edy) territory.
How to watch: “I Want You Back” is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Despite a critically acclaimed career that has spanned three decades and produced classics like “Traffic” and “Out of Sight,” Steven Soderbergh somehow still feels underappreciated. Soderbergh is a master of genre, as evidenced by his taut new thriller, “KIMI,” which feels like the first real COVID-19-era film. Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz, “Mad Max: Fury Road”) rarely leaves her apartment. She fights agoraphobia brought on by the pandemic and a traumatic incident in her past while working remotely for a fictional big tech company whose signature product is a smart speaker (a la Amazon’s Alexa) named KIMI. When Angela hears what sounds like a violent crime emitted from her KIMI, she is thrust into a world of paranoia and danger that feels remarkably on-brand as we finish Year Two of the pandemic.
How to watch: “Kimi” is streaming on HBO Max.
Based on the Elena Ferrante novel of the same name, “The Lost Daughter” is yet another masterful performance from Olivia Colman, who won a Best Actress Oscar in 2019 for “The Favourite” and could have easily won a Supporting Actress award last year for “The Father.” In this psychological drama from actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colman plays a prickly college professor on vacation in Greece who inserts herself in the lives of a young mother (Dakota Johnson) and her 3-year-old daughter. “The Lost Daughter” may have missed out on a Best Picture nomination, but it’s certainly among the year’s best.
How to watch: “The Lost Daughter” is streaming on Netflix.
Guillermo del Toro’s ode to old Hollywood was just the ticket for Academy voters, as his remake of the 1947 noir scored four nominations, including a Best Picture nod that wasn’t forecasted by many Academy Awards experts. The engrossing thriller stars Bradley Cooper as an opportunistic carnival worker with a dark past. After learning the tricks of the trade from a pair of mentalists (Toni Collette and David Strathairn), he aims to con a wealthy New York scion with the help of two women (Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett).
For whatever reason, we can’t get enough of scammers. Whether it’s the story of Billy McFarland and Fyre Festival, Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, or the more straightforward scam artistry of fake-socialite Anna Delvey (of the recent limited series “Inventing Anna”), we’re fascinated by schemers and hustlers working their magic. That’s the appeal at the heart of the documentary “Tinder Swindler,” a spiritual successor to “Catfish” about a man named Shimon Hayut who masquerades as a wealthy diamond heir on dating apps to scam multiple women out of tens of thousands of dollars. Watching Hayut’s destructive actions unfold will make you think twice about swiping right.
How to watch: “Tinder Swindler” is streaming on Netflix.
When Tom Cruise emerged from his couch-jumping, Scientologist-espousing period to reclaim his status as an A-lister, it was thanks in part to the revival of the “Mission: Impossible” series. But before that, it was Cruise’s surprisingly successful turn in 2012’s “Jack Reacher,” as an ex-Army Major turned surly private eye. For the Amazon original series “Reacher,” Cruise has handed the reigns over to Alan Ritchson, who plays the taciturn investigator with subtle humor and a not-so-subtle bulk that’s closer to the 6-foot-5 Reacher first envisioned by author Lee Child. For an actor who has spent most of his career playing background henchmen, Ritchson is a welcome presence in his leading-man debut.
How to watch: “Reacher” is streaming on Amazon Prime.
In a 2017 sketch, “Saturday Night Live” parodied the current state of TV comedies, imagining what it would be like if CBS — the king of broad, brightly-lit, sitcoms — pivoted to the uber-serious, barely-a-comedy shows that tended to win awards for FX and HBO. Though HBO has certainly dipped its toe into the auteur-driven dramedy genre, “The Righteous Gemstones,” from funnyman Danny McBride (“Eastbound and Down”) is a comedy with a capital C. Sure, there are some social messages to be found in a show about backstabbing evangelical Christians played by the likes of McBride, John Goodman (“The Big Lebowski”), Adam Devine (“Workaholics”), and Walton Goggins (“The Shield”), among others. But “Gemstones” is most concerned with being uproariously funny, which is much appreciated at this moment in time.
How to watch: “The Righteous Gemstones” is streaming on HBO Max.
With only three episodes to date, it might be too early to recommend this brain-twisting, genre-defying series on Apple TV+. But the mystery being teased by this dark allegory for work-life balance is too intriguing to resist. The series begins with Mark S. (Adam Scott, “Parks and Recreation”), a middle manager at a corporation. Or at least a part of Mark S. is a middle manager. In reality, the mind of Mark S. has been split in two, so that office Mark S. has no knowledge of what goes on during the 16 hours a day he’s not at work, while real-life Mark S. has no clue what he does for a job. There’s a lot more to be discussed, but you’ll have to tune in yourself to watch this sci-fi/comedy/mystery/thriller slowly reveal its true nature.
How to watch: “Severance” is streaming on Apple TV+.
Getting sober (and staying sober) is tough for anyone. It can be especially tough in your 20s, when many are at the height of their social butterfly stage. “Single Drunk Female” tells the story of Sam, a writer who is fired from her day job due to her struggles with alcohol. She ends up moving home to the Boston area, where she has to deal with running into old friends, former flings, and living with her overbearing mother (Ally Sheedy, “The Breakfast Club”). Based on series creator Simone Finch’s own experiences growing up (and then returning) to Melrose, “Single Drunk Female” is a funny, touching show that has room to grow.
During its six-season run, Michael Hirst’s Scandinavian historical drama never received its due. Perhaps it was because the show primarily aired on the History Channel instead of a network known for prestige drama like HBO. Regardless, Netflix clearly recognized the value of “Vikings,” as it greenlit a spinoff series, “Vikings: Valhalla,” shortly after the original ended its six-season run in 2021. The new edition, which debuted on Netflix on Friday, fast-forwards 100 years past the events of the original “Vikings,” focusing on Leif Erikson, the Norwegian explorer who first established a Western foothold in the Americas centuries before Columbus. If you need to catch up on the original series first, “Vikings” is streaming on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Peacock, and HBO Max.
How to watch: “Vikings: Valhalla” is streaming on Netflix.
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