As many different services vie for your attention, Hulu has really upped the ante in terms of its streaming catalog. While Netflix may have the upper-hand when it comes to original series, Hulu still boasts an impressive lineup of TV shows that you can’t find anywhere else, including some of their more recent in-house productions. So here are the 30 best shows on Hulu right now, ranked.
Related: The Best Romantic Comedies On Hulu Right Now
The announcement that the relatively unknown producer Noah Hawley would be turning the classic film Fargo into an anthology series, it was met with a hehy dose of skepticism. However, by the end of the first episode, fans were hooked. Instead of a rote retelling of the classic crime tale, viewers were treated to a top-notch cast, shocking violence, incredible character names, and stunning visuals. While honoring the legacy of the original film in the details, Fargo managed to become a unique and essential addition to the current television landscape.
It’s not enough to praise Atlanta for being the most inventive show on TV - though plenty of critics have. To understand the genius of Donald Glover’s sometimes-comedy series, you simply have to watch it. The show follows Glover’s Earn, a young black man living in the titular city who’s down on his luck. He’s basically homeless when we meet him in the first episode, selling credit cards, making no money and trying to manage the rap career of his cousin, Paper Boi Brian Tyree Henry. Over the course of the first and second season, Earn wrestles with issues of race, classism, and his own sense of self-worth. It’s a show that will probably feel familiar to some and strangely alien to others, but it should be required viewing for everyone.
There simply isn’t a better show to binge watch when you need a pick me up than Parks and Recreation. Hilarious, smart, and relentlessly sunny, Parks and Recreation is a balm to weary viewers. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope has joined the ranks of television icons, but the supporting cast is no less wonderful. If you’re looking for a show about good people trying to do good things while making good jokes, Parks and Recreation will be your new favorite show. While the first season feels a bit too much like a riff on The Office, it finds its feet in season two and never lets up. While so much of today’s comedy is mired in cynicism, Parks and Recreation will make you want to do better. It also gets better with each rewatch, so pour yourself some Snake Juice and enjoy.
Few shows have as many jokes per minute as 30 Rock. The brainchild of Tina Fey, 30 Rock shows the daily madness of an SNL-like variety show, which Fey’s Liz Lemon at the helm. As she tries sometimes failing to wrangle her writers and her actors Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski, Lemon also attempts the ever elusive dream of “having it all.” Her quest will feel very, very familiar to viewers, particularly women, as they try and balance, work, life, love, and even a small bit of success. With Alec Baldwin turning in his best performance to date come at me, Glengarry Glen Ross fans as Jack Donaghy, Lemon’s boss, mentor, and eventual friend, 30 Rock has the perfect blend of weirdness, sharp writing, and genuine laughs that will make it a favorite for years to come.
Although Margaret Atwood’s novel was published back in 1985, the series premiere in 2017 still felt relevant as hell and earned it a spot among our best TV shows of 2017 list. America as we know it is no more, taken over by a Christian fundamentalist organization and newly christened Gilead. However, things are not as idyllic as the name would suggest, as women are no longer allowed to have jobs, rights, hold property, or have any sort of agency. Instead they are either handmaids, a select few still-fertile women who are essentially used as broodmares for powerful men, and Marthas, who work in the rich households. Elisabeth Moss turns in a strong performance as Ofglen, the titular handmaid who is trying to survive and escape to her fugitive family, but Alexis Bledel steals the show in a devastating supporting turn. The Handmaid’s Tale grabs viewers by the face and demands that they keep watching from the get-go, but prepare to get a little angry as the series progresses.
For a show about nothing, Seinfeld has left a cultural imprint that few shows can boast of achieving. Back before shows about neurotic people were the latest trend, Jerry Seinfeld blended his own neuroses with his stand up act, creating a New York landscape that many could relate to. With stories based on the minutiae of relationships and every day living, Seinfeld embedded itself in the cultural zeitgeist like few shows have done. Even if you’ve never seen an episode, you still know about the Soup Nazi and Newman. Plus, Veep fans will enjoy seeing a pre-presidential Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the hilariously frazzled Elaine Benes. If you’ve been meaning to watch the show that has made people laugh for decades, Hulu has you covered.
Joss Whedon has gone on to giant blockbusters since his days on The WB, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer will forever be his magnum opus. Buffy offered the perfect blend of horror, comedy, and feels, with episodes and characters that have stuck with viewers for years. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s titular slayer perfectly balanced the ordinary pains of growing up against the extraordinary and supernatural circumstances that come with living on a Hellmouth. The clothing and catchphrases might be deeply rooted in the ’90s, but the themes are timeless. Even if you don’t know your standard demon curse from an ancient rune, Buffy is essential. It’ll rip your heart out, but you’ll like it anyway.
Has there ever been a sitcom as downright clever as Community? Aside from the gas leak year, Community was quicker than nearly every other comedy out there, with jokes flying fast but also taking seasons to reach a punchline. After getting caught with a phony degree, former lawyer Jeff Winger Joel McHale heads to Greendale Community College to get a legitimate degree. There he gets into increasingly hilarious hijinks with his Spanish study group. Between paintball wars, zombie outbreaks, and the increasingly ridiculous presence of Senor Chang Ken Jeong, Community is never, ever boring. Quit living in the darkest timeline and get to watching.
The past few years have seen a rigorous expansion of stand-up comedy after years of neglect. Hence why there are hundreds of titles in Netflix's stand-up category. Even for budding comedy fans, there's a lot of must-see specials to choose from.
So here are the 25 best stand-up specials on Netflix right now. While they may be ranked, they're all really good and deserving of your time and laughs.
Related: The Best Comedies On Netflix Right Now
1. Hannah Gadsby, Nanette
Run Time: 69 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
You'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard about Australian comic Hannah Gadsby and her must-watch stand-up special. The woman from Down Under is all anyone can talk about right now and for good reason. Her hour-long set is changing the way we think about comedy, chucking the ironic detachment in the trash and instead, offering up a bit of humor interlaced with moving reflections on life. Most of Gadsby's routine chronicles the joys and hardships of being a queer woman — her childhood in Tasmania, her praise for Monica Lewinsky, her commentary on why sexuality and comedy go hand-in-hand — but she also claps back against the idols of her early life, men like Louis C.K. who've now become the problem. In other words, Gadsby's not holding any punches with this one.
2. Dave Chappelle, The Age of Spin
Run Time: 67 min | IMDb: 8/10
It's difficult to miss Dave Chappelle while skimming through Netflix's comedy offerings. After all, in less than a year, the Chappelle's Show star and co-creator debuted four — yes, four — stand-up specials on the streaming platform. Depending on who you ask, the latter two specials — Equanimity and The Bird Revelation — are either additional examples of his brilliance or signs of a celebrity rushing to maintain his cultural relevance. The first two, however — Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin — fare much better. This is especially true of Spin, which is regarded by critics and audiences alike as one of Chappelle's better comedy offerings in recent memory. Of course, this is Chappelle we're talking about, so none of these routines are without their share of controversy.
3. Hasan Minhaj, Homecoming King
Run Time: 73 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
The Daily Show's Hasan Minhaj uses his Netflix stand-up special, Homecoming King, to weave an intricate and hilarious account of his life as a son of Indian-American immigrants. Sure that means there are plenty of funny cultural learning curves. Minhaj describes how his dad took him to Home Depot instead of Toys-R-Us for his birthday and how he struggled to fit in with a “bunch of Ryan Lochte's” in high school, but what really makes this special stand out is how Minhaj manages to be bluntly honest about the difficulties of being brown in America without ranting about Muslim bans, Trump's presidency, and other obvious issues that have been touched on before.
4. Jim Jefferies, Bare
Run Time: 77 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Australian comedian Jim Jefferies isn't new to stand-up, either in the United States or elsewhere, but his name was passed around frequently after the San Bernardino shooting. This is largely due to Bare, which premiered on Netflix in 2014. Jeffries, who released a new special, Freedumb in July, spends a large chunk of the routine discussing guns and gun control in the United States, and how his home country responded differently to an infamous mass shooting in 1996. Jefferies' approach is polemic at times, but it more often that not focuses on the comedy to be surprisingly gained by poking fun at the perilous moral and political conundrum the U.S. still finds itself in today. Then again, Jefferies' comedy isn't just about politics — everything from fatherhood to granting an old friend a lifelong wish is included, and it's all wonderful.
5. Bo Burnham, Make Happy
Run Time: 60 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
Comedic prodigy Bo Burnham returns with a comedy special that feels decidedly more grown up. In Make Happy, Burnham takes an unflinching look at the entertainment industry, doling out jabs to rap artists, country bros, Lip Sync Battle, and even his own work. His rapid-fire one-liners and ability to cut to the bone on more serious issues only beefs up this special, which manages to take on a darker tone while still making us laugh.
6. John Mulaney, Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
Run Time: 65 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
John Mulaney doubles-down in his self-effacing humor in his latest comedy special. The guy's still a tall, lanky, baby-faced bro who likes to rib on himself and point out the blatantly baffling norms of society, but he's doing it on a bigger stage, one that feels in tune with his old Hollywood vibe. In this special, Mulaney eviscerates pretty much everything school assemblies, aging, manners, church with his patented good-humored charm. He even manages to wade into the tricky political arena with horse comparisons and the refusal to name a certain orange-haired president. In other words, Mulaney's at his best here, and the Emmys thought so too.
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7. Richard Pryor, Live in Concert
Run Time: 78 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Aside from new, original and other licensed specials, no comedy aficionado with a Netflix subscription can ignore Richard Pryor's seminal 1979 film, Live in Concert. Spearheaded by the influential concert film director Jeff Margolis, Live in Concert was the first feature-length film to entirely focus on a stand-up comedy routine. Previous films or television specials had included stand-up performances in their various mixes, but Live in Concert was the first to do nothing but. Hailed by Pryor devotee Eddie Murphy as “the single greatest stand-up performance ever captured on film,” Live in Concert went on to garner Pryor a Best Actor nomination from the National Society of Film Critics, and set the blueprint for all comedy specials to follow.
8. Chelsea Peretti, One of the Greats
Run Time: 74 min | IMDb: 7/10
Most viewers will recognize Chelsea Peretti from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in which she plays the precinct's cynical civilian administrator Gina Linetti. The actress is also known for her work as a writer for numerous programs, including Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. Hence her 2014 Netflix special, One of the Greats, which is a purposefully overwritten hour rife with almost as much comedy about comedy as straight stand-up. Self-reflective character work usually isn't always for everyone as comedian Ralphie May proved during a Twitter rant a year after the special was released, but Peretti pulls it off without breaking a sweat. It's great fun to watch on its own, but Peretti's One of the Greats works especially well when viewed immediately after a typical stand-up special. Much like watching Robin Hood: Men in Tights after Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
9. Mike Birbiglia, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
Run Time: 76 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Like most of the comedians on this list, Mike Birbiglia is by no means a one-trick pony. From acting in feature films like Trainwreck to writing and directing his own full-length projects, the stand-up has seemingly done it all. When it comes to his onstage performances, however, Birbiglia is definitely one of the most fantastic comics working today. This sentiment is best reflected and proven by his 2013 special My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, a deeply personal reflection that trades moments of complete sincerity for crazy, across-the-stage antics reminiscent of Sam Kinison. Except with way less drug use. Like, none whatsoever. Add to that the Massachusetts native's uncanny ability to weave together multiple trains of thought into an otherwise steady story — replete with digressions that still make sense by the end — and viewers will find themselves at the wheel of a wild ride.
10. Jen Kirkman, I'm Gonna Die Alone And I Feel Fine
Run Time: 78 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
When it comes to observational comedy, dating, relationships, weddings, divorce and the single life often take center stage. Many comics celebrated and otherwise have broached these topics over the years, but Jen Kirkman's 2015 Netflix special, I'm Gonna Die Alone And I Feel Fine brilliantly spins all five into a beautiful bit of storytelling that's rife with one-liners and devoid of mere complaints. The Chelsea Lately and Drunk History alum has been doing stand-up since the '90s, though her career took off with several television appearances, acting gigs and writing stints during the early 2000s. She also has two other fantastic stand-up albums: Self Help and Hail to the Freaks.
11. Demetri Martin, The Overthinker
Run Time: 56 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Demetri Martin doesn't get the respect he deserves. With his bowl cut and affinity for drawing diagrams during sets, he's often labeled a “hipster” comedian and pushed to the background of the comic scene. The dud is still drawing in his latest special and using his Netflix platform to textually call his own bluff there are subtitles, lots of subtitles, but he's also pushing his form, experimenting with his material, and proving why he deserves to be in the conversation. Oh, and he's calling some needlessly aggressive letters of the alphabet out on their B.S.
12. Trevor Noah, Afraid of the Dark
Run Time: 67 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Trevor Noah has been doing a fantastic job manning The Daily Show after Jon Stewart's exit. He's been able to pair his wide-eyed foreigner status with some shrewd commentary on American culture and politics. He does the same in this Netflix special, his first, which sees him recounting his Coming to America story and throwing in an array of accents to address the growing nationalism trend that's affecting the entire world at this point. Serious stuff, but Noah finds a way to make us laugh in spite of everything
13. Anthony Jeselnik, Thoughts and Prayers
Run Time: 59 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
If Mitch Hedberg were still alive and outrageously offensive, he might resemble Anthony Jeselnik. Best known for his dark one-liners, the comic's Netflix stand-up special, Thoughts and Prayers premiered last October after his first stint as the host of NBC's Last Comic Standing and the cancellation of his Comedy Central show, The Jeselnik Offensive. His comedy his gleefully acerbic, and whether he's on tour or tweeting, and it's earned its share of detractors who find it distasteful. Jeselnik loves this about his work, however, and his most ardent fans do, as well. Hence, if you're feeling the need to laugh and feel slightly terrible about yourself, then Thoughts and Prayers is the comedy special for you.
14. Iliza Shlesinger, Elder Millennial
Run Time: 72 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Iliza Shlesinger returns with her signature brand of comedy, which means this is a set that basically educates men on everything they should know about women. That might seem a bit off-putting for those with a Y chromosome, but Shlesinger manages to get her digs in at everyone this go 'round, cracking jokes about society's insistence on women finding husbands, having babies, and concealing their inner-she-dragons. It's a nice bit of feminist humor that's surprisingly accessible and has something worthwhile to say.
15. Jim Gaffigan, Cinco
Run Time: 73 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Jim Gaffigan is like comfort food for comedy. He's got a schtick and he's good at it. In his latest stand-up special, Gaffigan sticks to what he knows: Parenting kids, his proud couch potato status, his affinity for junk food, etc. What's always surprising about Gaffigan's set is how he's able to reinvent the wheel, mining new bits of humor from age-old situations, like our obsession with binge-watching and his love-love relationship with food.
16. Donald Glover, Weirdo
Run Time: 65 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
By now, it's no secret that Donald Glover is good at everything, but when his stand-up special Weirdo was released, at the of his Community fame, it served as an intro into the mind of one of the most brilliant comedians on TV. Glover uses his time on stage to talk about sex and race and poop ... lots of poop jokes. He also gets serious about trying to fit in as a kid and the lack of black superheroes on film. It's a good routine to watch, especially with the benefit of hindsight, and it'll only make you like the guy more.
17. Patton Oswalt, Talking for Clapping
Run Time: 65 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Patton Oswalt's special Talking for Clapping is a gem. Much like 2009's My Weakness is Strong, the comic, actor and writer excels while doing his thing on stage — be it rants about joke-stealing or fraternity chants. Yet with this particular comedic offering, the incredibly nerdy, opinionated and genuinely wonderful performer doesn't hold back on the more relevant, pressing topics plaguing modern society today. Things like Donald Trump's ridiculous run for the White House, the wonders of Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC, and the joyful perils of fatherhood.
18. The Honeymoon Standup Special
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher are both stand-up comedians, so it makes sense that they'd celebrate their newlywed status by doing a comedy tour. This special, filmed on a stopover in Austin, Texas, sees the pair completing thirty minutes of solo material before joining together to roast real-life couples in the audience. They do that by poking fun at their own marital experiences so really, the joke's on them.
19. Sarah Silverman, A Speck of Dust
Run Time: 71 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Sarah Silverman's made a career out of shock-and-awe. She's known for her explicit sense of humor — her ability to joke about everything from the Holocaust to sexual assault and AIDS. But with A Speck of Dust, Silverman seems to have matured a bit in her routine, relaxing into a more conversational tone, leaving behind the sharp one-liners and playing the long-game with running jokes that touch on intimate life moments. This stand-up special might not be as headline-making as her previous ones, but it's a good look at the kind of comedian Silverman has become.
20. Hannibal Buress, Comedy Camisado
Run Time: 83 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Hannibal Buress is more than just the comedian who told that joke about that guy. The 33-year-old comic — a fact he laments at length in his recent Netflix stand-up special, Comedy Camisado — has albums, writing credits, and television and film appearances to his name that span a decade. And before that? The Chicagoan started doing stand-up back in 2002 while studying communications in college. When his special premiered last year, Buress told Uproxx about keeping his head above water amidst a busy schedule — which includes frequent appearances on Broad City, The Eric Andre Show and several film roles — and what it was like doing stand-up for the first time in Japan.
21. Chris Rock, Tamborine
Run Time: 64 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
We haven't heard from Chris Rock in a long time. Sure, the 53-year-old comedian was one of a handful of significant names who threw their hats into the Netflix ring in 2016, but Amy Schumer, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle have already debuted their stand up specials. Rock, whose previous comedy special hit HBO ahead of Barack Obama's first election win in 2008, has not. Or at least that was the case until Valentine's Day, when Netflix finally revealed that the secretive Tamborine project was Rock's first special with them. Not only is it one of his best stand-up hours to date, it's also already on track to become 2018's best special yet.
22. Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, Oh, Hello on Broadway
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney stretched out their popular skit from Comedy Central's Kroll Show into a nearly two-hour act for live audiences to enjoy with this special. The guys reprise their roles as Gil Faizon Kroll and George St. Geegland Mulaney, two elderly New Yorkers in turtlenecks with strange world views and the tendency to say “hello” in unison. The men are caricatures of a universally-shared misery — elderly relatives with misinformed opinions and they don't mind making a racist joke or two. Boomers are an easy mark in the world of comedy but Kroll and Mulaney elevate their show to something more than just mocking old people by refusing to adhere to a traditional format and letting things play out like an overly-long SNL sketch instead.
23. Christina Pazsitzky, Mother Inferior
Run Time: 59 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
Speaking of motherhood, Canadian-American comic Christina Pazsitzky's first Netflix special tackles the subject with a similarly disgusting-yet-distinct approach to Wong's in Baby Cobra. Titled Mother Inferior, Pazsitzky adopts what the New York Times describes as “a nasal note in her voice evokes Roseanne Barr, whose 'domestic goddess' material touched on motherhood” in its own right. Like Wong, Barr and others boasting similar material, however, Pazsitzky isn't simply going for shock value here. Sure, the Your Mom's House podcaster isn't above digging into crass jokes about bodily functions, but she accomplishes these feats and others with an insane attention to detail. Even if you're not a mother, or a parent, Mother Inferior will definitely get some awkward belly laughs out of you.
24. Chris D'Elia, Man On Fire
Run Time: 65 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
Chris D'Elia gets real about all the things he hates with his latest Netflix special. The stand-up comic leaves nothing off the table, marriage, his lack of interest in one day having children, his distaste for people who work out and want to brag about how much they work out. Basically, it's all the things us regular Joes also despise but D'Elia is able to make it funny. D'Elia isn't afraid to include himself on the list either. The comedian regularly takes jabs at his physical appearance and his questionable choice in friends in this hour-long set.
25. Maria Bamford, Old Baby
Run Time: 64 min | IMDb: 5.9/10
Many people first experienced Maria Bamford through her fantastic Netflix series Lady Dynamite. It earned high marks from critics and audiences alike, earning the show a second season order from the streaming giant. Season two premiered to rave reviews in early November, thereby solidifying Bamford's place in the annals of surreal comedy programming. But what about her stand-up? Many will recognize the her signature, seemingly stream-of-consciousness style from Lady Dynamite, but Old Baby owes its existence less to that more to previous specials like The Special Special Special! Released in 2012, the latter offers viewers an interesting counterpoint to Old Baby, as it consists of a private performance for her parents. Five years later, Old Baby travels between six different venues — including a hot-dog stand, a bowling alley and a book store — and throws a few sketches in for good measure
Judging by the shows available on Netflix, ’90s kids had it good.
The streaming platform has a handful of hidden gems - TV series that managed to capture the essence of the decade - from the era. From political dramas and Emmy-winning mysteries to stoner comedies, fantasy series, and a kids’ show about a magic school bus, there’s something for everyone who’s feeling a bit nostalgic for the good ol’ days of grunge, Tamagotchis, and dial-up.
Here are all of the best ’90s shows on Netflix that will transport you back to the best decade ever.
Related: The Best 90s Movies On Netflix Right Now
2 seasons, 30 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
If small-town murder mysteries full of camp and supernatural phenomenon are your thing, well then why wouldn’t you watch or re-watch Twin Peaks? The series, crafted all the way back in the ’90s by David Lynch, is a cult-favorite and for good reason. With Kyle MacLachlan playing Special Agent Dale Cooper, a poor schmoe who’s called in to investigate the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer, he’s met with more than he bargained for. Conspiracy theories and otherworldly beings, time travel, and dwarves in red business suits soon follow. The original series may have ended with cliffhangers and unexplained plot-holes, but with the recent Showtime revival, now’s as good a time as any to catch up on all the strange events that seem to plague this sleepy town.
The West Wing
7 seasons, 156 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
Television’s all-time best political drama, The West Wing, is Aaron Sorkin at his absolute best, working with one of the finest ensemble casts in television history. The show wavers after the fourth season when Sorkin left, but it picks back up in its final season with Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda. It’s celebration of the greatest fictional president of all time to get you warmed up for it.
10 seasons, 236 episodes | IMDb: 8.9/10
There are some who argue that Friends was an overrated sitcom, with protagonists as unrealistic as they were lily-white. But like a big bowl of mac and cheese, Friends is TV comfort food: not exactly great for you, but sometimes exactly what’s needed. From classic episodes like “The One With the Embryos” and “The One Where Everybody Finds Out” to its sprawling cast of eccentric supporting characters, the enduringly funny series will be there for you when you need to kick back and forget about the real world for a while.
8 seasons, 179 episodes | IMDb: 7.1/10
Charmed is the OG fantasy series, a show about a trio of magical sisters who fight the forces of evil from their model Victorian home in modern-day San Francisco. Prue Shannon Doherty, Piper Holly Marie Combs, Phoebe Alyssa Milano, and later Paige Rose McGowan, are The Charmed Ones, the most powerful of good witches who protect innocent humans from warlocks, demons, and other nasty creatures that go bump in the night. Each sister has her own magical ability – telekinesis, teleportation, premonitions, and so on – but they’re strongest when they fight their enemies together, even though doing so puts them at risk of discovery by non-magical humans.
That ’70s Show
8 seasons, 200 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Before Laura Prepon was causing trouble on Orange Is the New Black, before Mila Kunis was starring in spy comedies with Kate McKinnon, and before Ashton Kutcher was her husband, the gang was hamming it up on this stoner comedy series. The show centered around Erik Forman Topher Grace and his group of slacker friends, who spent most of their time getting high in his parents’ basement and avoiding their responsibilities. Plenty of mishaps, love triangles, and ridiculousness ensued, but the show excelled when it focused on relationships between the main cast, giving us a somewhat realistic view of what it was like to grow up there in the decade of hippies, flower power, and free love.
The Magic School Bus
4 seasons, 52 episodes | IMDb: 7.9/10
Sure, technically The Magic School Bus is a children’s educational program, but don’t act like you haven’t revisited this work of art as an adult. Lily Tomlin voices the heroine, Ms. Frizzle, an eccentric grade school teacher who treats her students to all kinds of inventive, informational field trips through her shape-shifting, logic-defying school bus. Whether it’s a tour of the human immune system from inside the body of a student or a wild ride through the skies during a thunderstorm, Ms. Frizzle manages to make learning fun in the most unbelievable of ways. If you haven’t checked this show out in a while, do yourself a favor and bask in the nostalgic fun it provides.
Star Trek: Voyager
7 seasons, 170 episodes | IMDb: 7.7/10
Voyager is rarely the first Star Trek installment on people’s must-watch list, but there’s still plenty to love about this iteration, even without Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart present. Kate Mulgrew helms this ship, leading a crew of capable heroes trying to return to the Federation after being stranded on the edge of the cosmos. Like other Star Trek storylines, this one relies heavily on character development, tackling big themes with some thrilling action sequences thrown in. Plus, Mulgrew in anything is worth your time.
11 seasons, 263 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Frasier is one of those difficult to pin down shows, the ones that are brilliantly written with some memorable performance, but that often divide fans. You may cackle with glee at the dry wit of a series that focuses on the squabble between to intellectual siblings, brothers played by Kelsey Grammar and David Hyde Pierce. Grammar plays the titular Frasier, a radio host and therapist who moves back home to manage his aging father and try to get along with his pretentious brother, Niles. Grammar and Pierce have an electric sort of chemistry that totally sells this Two Grumpy Old Men act, so at the very least, you’ll have a good laugh tuning into their arguments.
Sony Pictures Entertainment
5 seasons, 74 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
Another kids series that still feels just as watchable into adulthood, Goosebumps is a show that existed solely to give ’90s kids nightmares. Watching it now, some of those show’s more bizarre storylines seem even more f*cked up, and therefore, more thrilling than when they did when we watched it as kids. The show is an anthology series - a collection of stories from famed horror author R.L. Stine - but unlike recent film adaptations, the series manages to hold onto a bit of the original fright and delight Stine imagined for younger minds.
11 seasons, 275 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
Mike Schur, the creator of Parks and Recreation, is an avowed disciple of Cheers, citing the NBC sitcom as his favorite show and driving influence. It’s not hard to see why: Cheers is a classic for a reason, a sitcom populated with colorful characters Norm!, complicated relationships Sam and Diane, and reliably hilarious hijinks that legendary Thanksgiving food fight that easily sustain its 11 seasons. Schur has often said that he modeled the protagonists of Parks on the characters of Cheers, people who genuinely liked each other in spite of their differences. Sure, Cheers frequently features caustic one-liners particularly those delivered by Carla and grating personalities why anyone hung out with Cliff is a bit of a head-scratcher. But despite the occasional unpleasantness, Cheers isn’t just a place where everybody knows your name – it’s where everybody’s family, misfit barflies and all.
EXCLUSIVE: “When we start thinking about our shows, it’s how do we do better than we did the last time,” declares Marvel Television's chief Jeph Loeb as the small screen arm of the comic cyclopean heads into a new hydra no pun totally intended of offerings. “We will never be a factory. We don't know how to be a factory. There is no Marvel prototype.”
Certainly, as the last year has seen the end of Daredevil, Iron Fist, Punisher, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones on Netflix, the series finale of Legion tonight and the conclusion of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the next year or so, as Deadline exclusively reported last month, Marvel TV is looking for new worlds to conquer — or more like galaxies according to the EVP and multi-Eisner Awards winner.
With a live action Ghost Rider, an animated Howard The Duck and a more adult-intended series and genres coming to the now Disney-controlled Hulu, plus the launch of the Disney+ streaming service this fall, Marvel TV has, to paraphrase Loeb, risen like a phoenix from what some were assuming to be ashes. Then there's hushed talk of a “brand new” Marvel series on broadcast too, as we heard at the TCA last week
Coming off a Comic-Con last month that saw S.H.L.E.L.D. make its Hall H debut for a long goodbye, Loeb sat down with me to talk all things Marvel TV, clear up some misconceptions, lay down some expectations and reveal how this installment of the masterplan really works.
DEADLINE: So, S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming to an end after Season 7, several new shows are coming on Hulu, crossovers, Legion ending on FX and more. So, where is Marvel TV now and going forward?
LOEB: Well, the most exciting thing right now is finding the new corners. When we start talking about Marvel Television, we like to look at the different families.
DEADLINE: What are those clans?
LOEB: So the Marvel heroes are the ones that are most closely associated with the movies, so that would be S.H.I.E.L.D., and that would be Agent Carter. They came from the movies, our two leads were actually in the movies.
Then the next group is the Marvel Street-Level Heroes, or the Marvel Knights, as we sometimes call them here. So, if the Marvel heroes are here to save the universe, the Marvel Street-Level Heroes, the Marvel Knights, often they are just to save themselves, to save the neighborhood.
Some of those appeared on Netflix, but there are others that live in that category, which are still to come.
Then we took a look at the Marvel Universe that was upcoming and we knew that Tom Holland was going to be playing the role of Peter Parker in Spider-man, so the idea of YA, the idea of young heroes was something that got us very excited because it works really well on television.
DEADLINE: If has become one of the major streams for you in a very short time with Cloak & Dagger on Freeform and Runaways on Hulu, both now Disney controlled units ...
LOEB: … and great casts and really completely different shows in terms of tone, and yet, you can see how those kids would mix well together
DEADLINE: The much-rumored Cloak & Dagger and Runaways crossover has become official, is this going to be just a one-off even though the two outlets have shared corporate parenthood?
LOEB: This is something we’ve wanted to do since Season 1on both shows. We hope it’s the first of many. It’s one of the many benefits of having all our shows on Disney-based platforms. It is a shared universe. #itsallconnected!
DEADLINE: In that vein, ABC’s Karey Burke revealed at TCA that you guys are in active talks on a new project for them that will be a female focus character. What can you tell us about that project and is it intended to air while S.H.I.E.L.D is still on ABC or afterwards?
LOEB: That’s classified. Sorry!
DEADLINE: What's open information is that Legion wraps up its three-season run on FX tonight. The Noah Hawley helmed series was a very different type of show for Marvel in some people’s mind and very much indicative of your scope at the same time. I know you’ve talked about this a bit before, but looking back over the three seasons of Legion , what is your perspective on the series, Noah and maybe even more Legion down the line?
LOEB: It’s a remarkable show created and visualized by an extraordinary filmmaker. Noah carried this from the start - told us how he wanted the show to begin and how he wanted it to end - and we’ve respected that. Having FX as our partner made it very exciting as well from both a creative and marketing stand point.
As to the future, that world and those characters will always be there. It’s our hope that Noah will want to return to them is any capacity he thinks is worth telling. FX remains a huge priority for us because we can tell those unexpected stories there and John Landgraf is something of a visionary himself. They “get” us and we “get” them. We like all of that.
DEADLINE: On the flip-side, under the same corporate umbrella, there’s going to be all these Disney+ shows, Scarlet Witch and Vision, Winter Soldier and Falcon, there’s a number of them, do you feel that there is a potential of too much Marvel?
LOEB: Well, first of all, I have to make something very clear, which is those are shows that are created and run and the responsibility of the motion picture studio. Secondly, Marvel Television will be doing shows with Disney+, we just haven't announced what we're going to do there.
DEADLINE: And when do you think we're going to hear what Marvel TV's Disney+ offerings are?
LOEB: When we're ready.
DEADLINE: OK, but let's shift a bit to the Fox assets and some of the Marvel properties that they had licenses to – does that raise new opportunities in terms of what you guys are looking at what you want to go forward with?
LOEB: Too soon to tell.
DEADLINE: C'mon, really?
LOEB: Honestly, it’s just too soon
DEADLINE: What you do know now that you like with a new affection is animation, which of course was Marvel TV's primary pillar before S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted in the fall of 2013. What turned the spotlight back on the 'toons, so to speak for you?
LOEB: I’m a huge Archer fan, and Dan Buckley, who's the president of all things other than the studio here at Marvel, and I started talking about how we have this mutual love of animation and also pushing that wall. The idea of doing something that was more adult, some of which was started with the idea of doing Deadpool animated. What we really liked was the notion of putting together a group of titles that could then be a group, as we had done with Defenders.
DEADLINE: How did you construct your band of misfits?
LOEB: We just started looking through things that made us laugh, and you know Patton Oswalt playing M.O.D.O.K., Will and Josh, who had this take on Hit-Monkey, the idea of a monkey assassin just made us smile. When Chelsea Handler and Erica Rivinoja came in, and we started talking about how do we do what we sort of refer to as Laverne and Shirley in the Marvel Universe...
DEADLINE: It’s a very good way of putting it, by the way …
LOEB: When you put Tigra and Dazzler together and you know that Chelsea's going to voice Tigra, you just know that's going to be just fun, and then it was just inevitable that we were going to do Howard the Duck, and we just knew that the kind o f Howard the Duck we wanted to do was not going to be a live action guy in a suit or a CG creature, or whatever, we just wanted to do it as a straight ahead, smart, funny, political...
DEADLINE: Is he going to run for president like in the comics?
LOEB: LAUGHS We'll see what happens.
DEADLINE: Still the best issue of that whole series ...
LOEB: One of them for sure, it is absolutely wonderful. But when you have voices like Kevin Smith and Dave Willis, you just know how smart that show's going to be.
Then we're going to put them all together in this thing called the Offenders, which makes me smile. You know in the original pitch it was, the team that nobody asked for. It was just such the perfect marriage of tone and network with Hulu
DEADLINE: You like that relationship, clearly...
LOEB: Oh Yes! And I have to give real credit to the people at Hulu for that.
DEADLINE: That's just good corporate politics ...
LOEB: Yes, but a lot of times the reason why Marvel lands on a platform is because of the people. When they get it, when they want us. I’ve been on the other side of that, I’ve been the writer producer, who's tried to work with the network, and there’s a whole agenda that's going on that you don't know anything about, you’re just making your show. We try to tell people that when a network invites Marvel in, they’re getting Marvel.
DEADLINE: What does that mean to you?
LOEB: That they’re getting this brand that's known throughout the world. It’s just a different kind of strategizing, which is what's the best way that we can tell the world that Marvel adult animation is on Hulu, for example.
We were talking to them, and they started scratching because when you look at the success that they've had with Castle Rock and the world of terror. Something that really interested us and interested them, and we always knew that we were going to do something with Ghost Rider, we were just waiting for the right place to put it.
Then we started having the same conversation, which was there is in the comic book world the Spirit of Vengeance, and they are this sort of unusual group of characters, which involve Ghost Rider, which involve Helstrom, which involve Helstrom's sister, Anna. We suddenly saw that there were three or four shows that we could put together that we now refer to as Adventure into Fear.
DEADLINE: Is that Marvel Horror under another name?
LOEB: No, it's terror, because when you say horror, it means so many different things. There’s everything from Saw, which is the last thing that we want to do, gore-fest kind of thing to there’s a monster running around. What we love is the notion of how we can present a Marvel hero who was truly feared and truly believed that they were a monster, but that, as the stories go on, they realize, oh, I’m the hero of the story, I’m not the villain of the story. That's not something we've ever done before. So we started with Ghost Rider, we went out and managed to get Gabriel Luna to come back and reproduce the role he played on S.H.I.E.L.D. Then we're going to do Helstrom, and then there’s a couple more that we haven't yet revealed to the world.
DEADLINE: It's a new twist after the Netflix situation, which started on such a high and end almost as a case of death by a thousand streaming cuts, didn't it?
LOEB: The hardest part was while the situation at Netflix of which I really can't go into other than to say that we were blindsided and the things that were to come weren't finished yet. We weren't ready to announce that, so there was this space in between it, so it did look like maybe we were going to go out Then suddenly, we were arising again like the Phoenix.
DEADLINE: Which is a good narrative in hindsight, no?
LOEB: Yes but not while you're in it. The truth of the matter is, we were on this thing where we said, oh wait, the bumper fell off the car, but the car's still going, but we couldn’t discuss any of that. So, in the end, however history's going to remember the story, all that's important to us is that we had an opportunity to change television by putting together four heroes, who then joined together in a group, and people have talked about it like this is unprecedented.
Now, we're going to do it again with the animated series, and then we're going to do it again with the fear-based series. It’s now become, for us, our model. We would rather try to find ways of putting together a group of characters so that when a platform meets with us to talk about what we want to do, we're trying to create a family on that platform.
DEADLINE: On the topic of platforms, there were rumors for at least a year of a Ghost Rider series on ABC?
LOEB: LAUGHS I know, you bugged us about it. But no, we never intended for it to be on ABC because we wanted to do a show that was more mature. Look, it has the weight in the best way that there had been a Daredevil movie, so that when there was a Daredevil television show, people knew the name. There was a lot of weight that came with the Daredevil movie that we had to shake off and prove ourselves that we could make a television show that became what it was. The good news is people love Gabe, people love the way that character works, the feature film levels special effects — and the part that's really exciting is we'll push it further. It will have a little fun that folks will really dig.
DEADLINE: So, what is it that you dig?
LOEB: When we start thinking about our shows, it’s how do we do better than we did the last time. That's partially why I could not be prouder of the people who work here because they all have that same ethic. We will never be a factory. We don't know how to be a factory. There is no Marvel prototype.
LOEB: No. Trust me, we don't know how to do that and tell the stories that we're telling.
That's why going back to the beginning, that's why we can do a Legion, a Daredevil, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a Ghost Rider. I don't know any kind of corporation that makes a product that could do that kind of thing unless it’s at its core a storytelling machine. We have all different kinds of voices and genders and people who want to tell stories through the Marvel library, and when that happens, you get Marvel.
We believe that anyone can be a hero and that that enables you to tell stories about every single person on this planet, that's our real secret.
Disney delivers its first attack in the encroaching streaming wars. Those looking to sign up for Disney+ when it launches in November now have a new, possibly very appealing option on that front that will directly compete with Netflix. The company has announced a bundle that will be available when its new streaming service launches later this year, which will also include Hulu and ESPN+. The best part? All of this, when bundled together, will cost roughly the same amount as Netflix, which should give the Mouse House a huge leg up in the streaming game.
According to a new report, during Disney's investor call, the streaming service bundle was announced with a price point of $12.99 per month. Following the recent price increase by Netflix, that puts it on the same level as their most popular plan, which also costs $12.99 per month. It's also a bargain, as the ad-supported version of Hulu on its own is $5.99 per month, while Disney+ has been set at $6.99 per month. So, if one wants to look at it this way, it's like getting ESPN+ for free.
It should also be noted that Disney+ will be available as a standalone service for an annual price of $69.99, should consumers choose to go that route. As we recently reported, Disney was already planning to create some synergy by allowing for Disney+ to be an add-on service through Hulu. Following the merger with Fox, Disney gained a controlling stake in the service. Then, via a different deal with Comcast, they assumed full control, and they're clearly using that to their advantage. Disney CEO Bob Iger had this to say in a statement.
"The positive response to our direct-to-consumer strategy has been gratifying, and the integration of the businesses we acquired from 21st Century Fox only increases our confidence in our ability to leverage decades of iconic storytelling and the powerful creative engines across the entire company to deliver an extraordinary value proposition to consumers."
This comes at a time when the streaming wars are about to heat up in a big way. Netflix, at present, is king of the hill with more than 150 million subscribers worldwide. However, the company recently suffered a massive hit with its stock price, thanks to lower than expected growth in the last quarter. Not to mention that, aside from Disney+, WarnerMedia has HBO Max set to launch early next year, and NBC also has an unnamed streaming service on the way. The competition is going to get very fierce, very fast.
Related: Disney Dumps Fox Development Slate After Dark Phoenix Leads to Huge 3Q Losses
As for Disney+, it will feature a host of premium content, such as new Marvel shows like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Loki and Hawkeye. It will also feature the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian, in addition to a live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp, amongst many other titles. Not to mention Disney's vast library of pre-existing content. Disney+ is set to launch on November 12. This news was previously reported by The Verge.
flix may get most of the attention, but it's hardly a one-stop shop for cinephiles who are looking to stream essential classic and contemporary films. Each of the prominent streaming platforms — and there are more of them all the time — caters to its own niche of film obsessives.
From chilling horror fare on Shudder, to the boundless wonders of the Criterion Channel, and esoteric but unmissable festival hits on Film Movement Plus and OVID.tv, IndieWire's monthly guide will highlight the best of what's coming to every major streaming site, with an eye towards exclusive titles that may help readers decide which of these services is right for them.
Here’s the best of the best for August 2019.
There are some big new movies coming to Amazon Prime this month “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” and of course “A Simple Favor,” the biggest movie of them all, but most of these recent Hollywood titles will also be available to stream on Hulu and/or Netflix. The list is a lot smaller if you just look at the platform’s new exclusives, which include Amazon theatrical releases like Ritesh Batra’s sweet but somnambulant “Photograph,” and little else. But Prime loyalists will be rewarded at the end of the month, as one of the best studio blockbusters of the 21st century stomps home just before Labor Day.
It's still hard to believe that — in the year of our lord 2014, and at the of the franchise era — Gareth Edwards actually got away with making a massive summer blockbuster that was shot with symphonic grace, that left so much to the imagination, and that unambiguously flattened its dull human characters into the background in order to illustrate how their species was beginning to lose its grip over the world. A majestic cinematic experience that couldn't have been more out of place in such a product-driven Hollywood environment, “Godzilla” was one of the decade's only studio tentpoles that felt like it was guided by a real artistic ethos. Needless to say, the movie underperformed, and its two sequels including “Skull Island” are both hot garbage. But we'll always have Edwards' chonky take on the King of Monsters to remember what might have been.
THE CRITERION CHANNEL
The Criterion Channel
Every month, the Criterion Channel’s lineup seems to grow more impressive, and the absurd embarrassment of riches the service is offering up this August continues that trend in dramatic fashion. Where do you even begin? You could start with the 11-film series about immigrant stories, which ranges from Elia Kazan’s “America America” to Aki Kaurismäki’s sublime “Le Havre.” No interest in cringing through Ulrich Seidl’s “Paradise Trilogy”? No problem, just click on over to three delights from golden age romanticist Frank Borzage “A Farewell to Arms,” “Man’s Castle,” “No Greater Glory”. Looking for something a little more scandalous? Sink in to any of the 12 movies that comprise the Pre-Code Barbara Stanwyck series, which is highlighted by “illicit” treasures like Frank Capra’s “Forbidden” and Archie Mayo’s, um, “Illicit.”
We’ve only just scratched the surface. The Criterion Channel is also serving up three by André Techiné you can’t miss “Rendez-vous”, five by Athina Rachel Tsangari “Attenberg”, a slew of British Hitchcock, a tribute to the late Jonas Mekas featuring a video homage by Jem Cohen, and — of course — the Jackie Chan masterpieces “Police Story” and “Police Story 2.” There’s plenty more, but August only has so many days.
“Aguirre, the Wrath of God” 1972
Oh, right, the Criterion Channel is also adding 16 Werner Herzog films this month, from “Even Dwarfs Started Small” to 1999’s “My Best Fiend.” And while highlighting a single title from this treasure trove is beyond futile, there's never a bad time to extoll the virtues of “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” which isn't only one of the most deliriously visceral movies ever made about madness and all of its attendant foibles, but also doubles as a perfect gateway drug to the fetid wonders of 1970s German cinema.
Hypnotic from its opening shots of Spanish conquistadors descending into a South American jungle, and fueled by the bug-eyed fever of Klaus Kinski's immortal lead performance, Herzog's masterpiece turns a search for El Dorado into a feverish portrait of power and insanity and the power of insanity. You truly haven't lived until you've watched Kinski stand on a sinking raft, clutch a small monkey in his hands, and deliver a deranged monologue about marrying his own daughter in order to take over the world.
Available to stream August 4.
FILM MOVEMENT PLUS
Film Movement Plus is the streaming complement to Film Movement, which began in 2002 as a mail-order DVD-of-the-month club with a special focus on arthouse and foreign cinema. The company's online venture is a natural outgrowth of that brand, offering subscribers access to more than 250 recent festival favorites and a scattering of older treasures for just $5.99 per month.
Perfect for cinephiles whose tastes are a bit off the beaten path, Film Movement Plus' August lineup is fronted by a strong grab bag of topical premieres that have absolutely nothing in common with each other. On August 13, the platform is marking Alfred Hitchcock’s birthday with “Jamaica Inn,” “The 39 Steps,” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” Later that week, Film Movement is honoring World Humanitarian Day with Rungano Nyoni’s BAFTA-winning “I Am Not a Witch.” But the brunt of the goods are bundled in a nine-film package timed to the start of the Venice Film Festival, as the service is streaming past Lido hits like Derek Jarman’s “Edward II” and Kitano Takeshi’s explosive “Hana-bi.”
“Full Moon in Paris” 1984
The fourth film in Éric Rohmer's “Comedy and Proverbs” cycle, “Full Moon in Paris” is based on a proverb that the filmmaker invented himself: “The one who has two wives loses his soul, the one who has two houses loses his mind.” It certainly sounds true enough. While perhaps not quite as profound a masterpiece as the movies that Rohmer made just before and after it “Pauline at the Beach” and “The Green Ray,” respectively, this sly and probing slice-of-life story follows a young design intern named Louise who can't decide if she's more herself with her boyfriend or on her own.
Played with troubled capriciousness by Pascale Ogier — who died at the age of 25, mere weeks after winning Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for her performance — Louise is a vintage Rohmer heroine, torn and vibrant and suffering under the weight of everything she's always wanted. Her funny, eminently human character provides the fluttering heartbeat of this funny, eminently human film.
Available to stream August 23.
Hulu ekes out another victory of Amazon this month, as the platform’s batch of new exclusives include a handful of 2019’s best films watch out for Olivier Assayas’ “Non-Fiction” and Harmony Korine’s “The Beach Bum”, festival commodities like “AWOL” and “Dogman,” and — the cherry on top — the immortal Johnny Depp vehicle “Mortdecai.” He’s got a funny mustache! But the most vital of all the new movies on Hulu is a subversive documentary that might just inspire you to pledge allegiance to the Dark Lord.
“Hail Satan?” 2019
Penny Lane's funny, damning, and provocative documentary about The Satanic Temple and its leader, Lucien Greaves explores how a group of atheistic rabble rousers banded together to challenge the role of organized religion in our ostensibly secular country. At a time when evangelical groups are effectively attempting to retcon America into a Christian nation — a time when they're eager to support godless men like Donald Trump so long as he pledges to advance their otherwise inflexible doctrine — there's an urgent need for a sociopolitical counter-myth, and “Hail Satan?” finds one taking shape in all sorts of cheeky and volatile ways.
Lane has an unmatched ability to strike the right balance between anger and absurdism. By following along as Greaves and his cohorts expose the hypocrisy of organized religion, her film keys in on the idea that blasphemy can be an invaluable expression of personal indepedence.
Available to stream August 22.
Kanopy hit a bit of a snag earlier this summer, as the too popular streaming service — which taps into America's library and university systems in order to provide totally free no fees, no commercials access to essential classic and contemporary cinema — was ditched by the massive New York Public Library system. You might not always be the one footing the bill, but nothing in this world is ever really free.
But while New Yorkers are out of luck, and the rest of the country might be streaming on borrowed time, Kanopy is continuing to offer an excellent service to those who have access to it. Its August lineup kicks off with “Monrovia, Indiana,” the latest documentary epic from Frederick Wiseman the most Kanopy-friendly of all filmmakers. Other notable additions include the controversial Sundance ’18 thriller “Holiday” — which comes with the most explicit of warnings for those triggered by sexual assault — and Michel Hazanavicius’ you-have-to-see-it-before-you-can-hate-it Godard biopic, “Godard Mon Amour.”
It's ironic that David Fincher's first digital feature was also his first period piece, the director stepping into the future while looking over his shoulder. On the other hand, he's always been quick to point out that the format change was motivated less by aesthetics than workflow, and “Zodiac” is nothing if not a movie about workflow — its ebbs and ties, its stagnant waters. An epic portrait of process and obsession, this is the kind of movie that could only be made by someone who likes to shoot 100 takes at a time, and made at a time when they actually could.
Life is what happens when you're looking for answers, and “Zodiac” makes a meal of that search, following Robert Graysmith's quest for the eponymous San Francisco serial killer and implicating us a bit more in the manhunt every step of the way. Of course, it helps that each of the unnervingly sedate murder sequences tap right into our deepest fears, and that the late Harris Savides shoots them like blood-spattered postcards, and that John Carroll Lynch delivers what might be — pound for pound — the most impactful supporting performance of the 21st century “I am not the Zodiac. And if I were, I certainly wouldn't tell you”.
Arresting, confounding, and endlessly re-watchable “okay but this is the time I'm gonna figure it out,” you say to no one in particular as the opening credits unspool on TBS, “Zodiac” is the quintessential film about trying to follow the plot in a world that's made up of loose ends.
Available to stream August 1.
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An elegant and well-stocked streaming service that offers subscribers unlimited access to movies from the Magnolia Pictures library for just $4.99/month, Magnolia Selects offers a library that’s already filled with genre hits like “13 Assassins” and “I Saw the Devil,” essential documentaries like “Man on Wire” and “No End in Sight,” and epochal dramas like “Force Majeure” and “The Double.”
The platform’s August slate is another strong reminder of just how many good movies Magnolia has released during its existence. New additions include Jeremy Saulnier’s hard-to-find “Murder Party,” Olivier Assayas’ ass-kicking “Boarding Gate,” and the surprisingly affecting comedy tour doc, “Conan O’Brien: Can’t Stop.”
It's hard not to think about the end of the world these days. Of course, the ever-morbid and fatalistic Lars von Trier hasn't been waiting around for the rest of us to catch up; his apocalyptic 2011 drama “Melancholia” — which IndieWire recently crowned as one of the best films of this decade — got the jump on oblivion, as the impish provocateur tried to make peace with it on his own terms.
The film stars Kirsten Dunst as a newlywed who welcomes the coming doom as a kind of catharsis, her despair growing so powerful and complete that it seems capable of pulling entire planets out of their orbits. “Melancholia” may not make you feel any better about things no one should turn to von Trier's work for comfort, but few movies have more powerfully grappled with the weight of depression, and the relief that comes from accepting that it's real.
Available to stream August 11.
The internet's most exciting and unpredictable indie and arthouse streamer is back with another strong month, as MUBI's August lineup runs the gamut from the Romanian New Wave to a couplet from Straub-Huillet and — why not — Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey.”
In celebration of this year’s Locarno Film Festival, MUBi is streaming four standouts from last year’s edition, including Andrea Bussman’s remarkable “Fausto” and Tarık Aktaş Best Emerging Director-winning “Dead Horse Nebula.” The platform’s ongoing exploration of auteurism continues with close-up looks at the careers of Corneliu Porumboiu “Police Adjective” and “When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism”, Phillippe Garrel “Frontier of Dawn” and “A Burning Hot Summer” and Peter Strickland, whose first two features offer a look inside the seams of his new killer dress comedy, “In Fabric.”
“The Duke of Burgundy” 2014
One of the only films in recent memory to include a “perfume by” credit in the opening titles, Peter Strickland's giallo-inflected delight remains the best and most sensual movie ever made about the sadomasochistic relationship between two lesbian entomologists. “The Duke of Burgundy” ranked high on our list of the 100 Best Movies of the 2010s, and here's what IndieWire's Jude Dry wrote to mark the occasion:
A sumptuous and visually evocative tribute to '70s European sexploitation films, Peter Strickland's erotic drama is as precise in its artistry as its dual heroines are in the humiliating ways they punish each other punishments, as Cythia Sidse Babbett Knudsen and Evelyn Chiara D'Anna exchange power in ways both lovingly tender and hardcore in their kinkiness. The lighting is supple, the camera charged, the chic and glamorous costuming titillating. Strickland understands the keys to eroticism are imagination and anticipation; most of the naughty business takes place offscreen, every touch adding to the Hitchcockian psychodrama that's taking place just beneath the layers upon layers of festishistic beauty.
Available to stream August 17.
Leaning into the dog days of summer, when everything is languid and everyone is just waiting for Labor Day, Netflix's August movie slate is light on excitement and heavy on familiar pleasures — the kind of stuff that you've probably seen a million times before, and can only watch while lying down across the entire couch.
Major new additions are few and far between, with the breakout Sundance documentary “American Factory” being the streaming giant's biggest exclusive release of the month. That essential new film is joined by a hodgepodge of cable standards that ranges from Nancy Meyers' most beloved rom-com to Quentin Tarantino's most human story; “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might borrow a few tricks from the likes of “Inglourious Basterds,” but its tender side harkens all the way back to the touching story of “Jackie Brown.”
“Jackie Brown” 1997
There are a number of reasons why “Jackie Brown” never seems to get the respect that it deserves not that QT's devoted acolytes don't enjoy the feeling of getting to keep one of his movies for themselves, but one of them is that — even in the wake of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” it's still the subtlest, most comfortably human thing he's ever made. There's also the fact that Elmore Leonard's hard-boiled source material that keeps this crime saga of bail bondsmen, surfer girls, and low-rent drug dealers from getting too high on its own supply. And that this achingly half-realized love story features the best performances that Pam Grier and Robert Forster have given in their long and illustrious careers.
And, of course, it all builds to the most touching ending that Tarantino has ever written, as the film's hard-luck heroine — an emotionally grounded flight attendant who gets caught between the cops and robbers — pays a bittersweet farewell to a lifetime of bullshit. If “Jackie Brown” is a blindspot in your Tarantino viewing, now is the perfect time to make things right.
Available to stream August 1.
OVID.tv bills itself as an “unprecedented collaborative effort of eight of the most noteworthy independent film distributors in the United States,” and that unique advantage has allowed it to burst out of the gate as a valuable and inexpensive way for dedicated cinephiles to track down exciting contemporary films that may have only played on the festival circuit. Five months in — and now boasting more than 500 films, the majority of which aren't available on any other streaming platform — this most esoteric of services is continuing to showcase the virtues of its unique approach.
OVID's characteristically diverse and obscure August lineup is one of its most robust slates to date. Documentaries are as well-represented as always, with the service adding vital non-fiction work from all over the world standouts include Petra Costa’s elegiac “Elena,” and Tatiana Huezo’s “The Tiniest Place,” which explores a small El Salvadorian mountain town as it tries to rebuild in the wake of a civil war. And with Ingmar Bergman enjoying a high tide of recognition thanks to “Midsommar,” a Criterion Collection box set, and Mia Hansen-Løve’s forthcoming “Bergman Island,” it’s a great tome to check out “Trespassing Bergman,” in which the likes of Lars von Trier and Martin Scorsese wax poetic about the late master’s legacy.
But the most exciting new titles on OVID might be on the fiction side of the fence, as “Special Treatment” — in which Isabelle Huppert plays a sex worker whose life parallels that of her psychiatrist — finally sees the light of day, and a semi-animated classic reminds us that photorealism has nothing on the grim power of the imagination.
Arguably the best screen adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” and certainly the creepiest, Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter notwithstanding, Jan Švankmajer's debut feature was intended to play like an impure dream, and boy does it ever. As dark as Tim Burton's version was garish, and as drunk on the dangerous beauty of stop-motion animation as Burton's was on the plastic weightlessness of CGI animation, this eerie dive into the human unconscious is beautiful and nightmare-inducing all at once. The staccato visuals are plenty deviant, but the scariest thing about Švankmajer's film might be Alice herself Kristýna Kohoutová, who doesn't necessarily learn all of the right lessons from her time with the White Rabbit.
Available to stream August 13.
The world's best and only premium streaming service exclusively for genre fare usually opts for quality over quantity, but its August lineup has the goods and plenty of them. The month kicks off with Brian De Palma’s singular John Lithgow vehicle “Raising Cain” and the entirety of the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” series. When you’re done with those, both “Slumber Party Massacre” films will be waiting to be watched, with Jim Wynorski’s beloved “Chopping Mall” arriving the next week. There’s even a new season of “NOS4A2,” which the internet insists is a real show.
“The Love Witch” 2016
A spellbinding homage to old pulp paperbacks and the Technicolor melodramas of the 1960s, Anna Biller's “The Love Witch” is a throwback that's told with a degree of perverse conviction and studied expertise that would make Quentin Tarantino blush. Shot in velvety 35mm and seen through the lens of a playfully violent female gaze, the film follows a beautiful, narcissistic young sorceress named Elaine Samantha Robinson, unforgettable in a demented breakthrough performance as she blows into a coastal Californian town in desperate search of a replacement for her recently murdered husband.
Sex, death, Satanic rituals, God-level costume design, and cinema's greatest tampon joke ensue, as Biller spins an archly funny — but also hyper-sincere — story about the true price of the patriarchy. There hasn't been anything quite like it in decades.