As Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. add more content, it can be difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. Every month, I compile a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
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A box office failure during its theatrical run back in 1994, The Shawshank Redemption subsequently enjoyed massive success in both the home video market and on cable TV. Written and directed by Frank Darabont, the film is arguably the best Stephen King adaptation — it’s based on his Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption novella — and stars Tim Robbins as an unjustly imprisoned man who uses his wits and skills to survive and even thrive in a brutal prison.
I feel the need, the need for speed… Directed with verve by Tony Scott and starring Tom Cruise in one of his most iconic roles, Top Gun is one of the great ’80s movies. Cruise plays Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a hotshot fighter pilot who finds his abilities pushed to the limit when he’s assigned to the Navy’s elite fighter pilot school. Top Gun is jam-packed with amazing aerial sequences which are made all the more thrilling by a stellar soundtrack, including the classic “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins.
Spike Jonze’s fantastical adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s best-selling children’s book follows the adventures of Max, a young boy who runs away and ends up on an island of monsters after an argument with his mom. Filled with Jonze’s imaginative visuals and remarkable special effects, Where the Wild Things Are truly looks like nothing else. The movie was a box office failure when it was released in 2009, and launched some debates concerning its appropriate-ness for children, but it appeared on numerous “best of” lists by the year’s end.
Originally appearing in a series of shorts made for the VH1 Fashion Awards in the late ’90s, supermodel Derek Zoolander finally got his big-screen break in 2001. Stiller, who wrote and directed the film, plays the dim-witted Zoolander, whose supermodel status is challenged by a young upstart. Even worse, he’s been drawn into a plot to assassinate Malaysia’s Prime Minister. Zoolander also stars Will Ferrell, Jerry Stiller, Christine Taylor, and Owen Wilson. Numerous figures from the fashion and modeling world, like Fabio, Tommy Hilfiger, Heidi Klum, and Donatella Versace have cameos, as well.
Back in 2021, Ryan Reynolds teamed up with director Shawn Levy for Free Guy, which turned out to be far more enjoyable than it had a right to be. The duo are back together again for Netflix’s The Adam Project, in which a fighter pilot (Reynolds) travels back in time to team up with his younger self to find their father. Which sounds kind of convoluted, but with Reynolds’ charisma, I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun. The movie also stars Jennifer Garner, Catherine Keener, and Zoe Saldaña.
Over the years, news of a Blade Runner sequel has always been met with trepidation and skepticism. However, Blade Runner 2049 was about as perfect a sequel as fans could’ve hoped for. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 may not reach the original’s mythic-ness, but it’s certainly of a piece thanks to its contemplative pacing, gorgeous effects and world-building, and a storyline that builds on the original’s themes.
Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in March 2022.
I have a soft spot for this movie about a quirky relationship between a Charlie Chaplin-obsessed man and a woman suffering from mental illness (presumably schizophrenia). I watched it countless times in high school with my friends, and it’s all kinds of cute and earnest — so folks prone to cynicism beware. It also popularized The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” which might honestly be a strike against it, depending on how you feel about the song.
Now here’s a slice of prime ’90s Hollywood “so bad it’s good” cinematic fluff. In The Demolition Man’s vision of the future, criminals are reprogrammed while in cryogenic stasis, leading to a utopian society. Until a psychopath breaks free, that is, and — of course — there’s only one man who can stop him. Come for the gratuitous violence and cheesy one-liners, stay for Wesley Snipes’ scene-chewing and Sylvester Stallone’s “man out of time” shtick.
With its absurd, humanist humor, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a beloved cult classic that resists easy adaptation. But director Garth Jennings certainly gave it his best shot. His adaptation doesn’t fully work, but it’s still an enjoyably silly romp, hitting the novel’s major highlights with clever special effects. It doesn’t hurt that the movie boasts an awesome cast, including Martin Freeman as the hapless Arthur Dent, Sam Rockwell as galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox, and best of all, Alan Rickman as voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android.
Adapted from James Ellroy’s novel and directed by Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential is a slick, stylish mystery thriller set in Hollywood during the ’50s. The movie follows three police officers who find themselves embroiled in the corruption lying just beneath Hollywood’s glitzy surface. L.A. Confidential boasts a star-studded cast including Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, Danny DeVito, Guy Pearce, and David Strathairn, and was nominated for numerous awards, including nine Oscars.
Arguably my favorite Wes Anderson film, The Royal Tenenbaums is a dark, drier-than-dry — and at times, quite poignant — comedy about a trio of genius siblings who must confront their deadbeat dad when he announces that he’s dying. The film stars the usual Anderson players, along with Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, and Gene Hackman as the conniving-yet-lovable father, Royal, who seeks to redeem himself after causing his family years of grief.
The legendary Jackie Chan stars as Chon Wang, a disgraced Imperial guard who travels to the American Old West to save a kidnapped princess and reclaim his honor. Along the way, he crosses paths Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson), a wannabe train robber. Needless to say, the blend of Chan’s martial arts skills and Wilson’s laidback persona means plenty of hilarious hijinks. While Shanghai Noon doesn’t quite measure up to Chan’s classic Hong Kong films (but really, what can?), it comes the closest of any of his Hollywood movies.
Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in March 2022.
Amazon Prime Video
In this found footage sci-fi film, three teens develop telekinetic abilities after discovering a mysterious substance. At first using them for pranks, the teens’ powers grow in strength — which has dramatic consequences for their friendship. While Chronicle is technically a superhero film, the film’s “found footage” aesthetic and low budget ($12 million) approach gives it a vibe all its own.
I still remember the first time I saw Spaceballs. I was in junior high at the time, and I had no idea what the movie was, but the moment I saw the “We brake for nobody” bumper sticker on Spaceball One, I knew my life would never be the same. One of the most quotable movies of all time — e.g., “I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.” — Spaceballs is a true comedy classic.
When I saw the promos for Upload’s first season, I was tempted to dismiss it as a Good Place rip-off (i.e., after a guy dies and arrives in the after-life, he finds that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be). But Upload quickly proved to be its own thing thanks to engaging performances and a clever storyline that mixed intriguing mysteries with satirical jabs at our social media-saturated, tech-obsessed society. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the first season, and are eagerly awaiting the second.
Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in March 2022.
Mei is your typical 13-year-old. She loves hanging out with her friends, is absolutely obsessed with the boy band 4-Town, and is starting to figure out her own way in life — much to her mom’s consternation. Oh yeah, and she turns into a giant red panda when she gets too excited. (Is that a possible metaphor for adolescence? You decide.) Pixar’s latest feature is coming straight to Disney+, and is directed by Domee Shi, who previously won an Oscar for her Pixar animated short Bao.
Steven Grant is a mild-mannered gift-shop employee with a sleep disorder and memories of another life. But his life comes crashing down when he discovers that he’s also Marc Spector, a deadly mercenary with mysterious links to an Egyptian god. Moon Knight is one of my most anticipated Marvel titles for 2022. For starters, Moon Knight is a pretty awesome character, but the series also stars Oscar Isaac — one of my favorite actors — in the lead role. What’s more, the moviemaking duo of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless) directed a couple of episodes.
Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in March 2022.
While it’s entirely possible to watch Starship Troopers as a parody of military fascism, you can also just enjoy it for the over-the-top violence as a bunch of clean-cut, attractive teenagers join the military in order to fight an alien insect race. Despite receiving quite the critical drubbing at the box office, it has since inspired four sequels and two TV series.
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car is a front-runner for this year’s “Best International Feature Film” Oscar, but its story of the relationship between an aging movie star and his younger chauffeur has also been nominated for “Best Picture,” “Best Director,” and “Best Adapted Screenplay.” Drive My Car was adapted from a short story by Haruki Murakami.
When I’m feeling a little blue, something that never fails to lift my spirits is watching clips of Whose Line Is It Anyway? I’ve been a fan of the improv comedy show ever since the Clive Anderson days, and the hijinks of Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady and a revolving cast of guests (including Greg Proops, Jeff Davis, Kathy Greenwood, and Keegan-Michael Key) are still as funny as ever. Come for “Scenes From a Hat,” stay for the “Hoedown.”
Inspired by the Twitter account and produced by Ava DuVernay, One Perfect Shot gives directors the opportunity to explore and explain how they created their favorite shots, as well as discuss the filmmakers who inspired them.
Here’s everything arriving on HBO Max in March 2022.