Yes, it’s that time again, the weekend, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online this week, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. And there are some stunning adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu has the huge hit of the week, with Nomadland, the acclaimed 2020 neo-realist drama. Frances McDormand stars as Fern, who after losing her job at a gypsum plant, in 2011, in Nevada, and her husband, goes on the road throughout the west to look for work. But on the way, she gets an invitation to a desert oasis, where other nomads in vans(or whatever) ae welcomed and supported. David Strathairn also stars as David, and several of the real-life nomads star here as well, including Swankie, Linda May and Bob Wells, and Chloé Zhao(The Rider) directs. This has been nominated for four Golden Globes, but has also already won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and Best Director at the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, just to name a few. And it gets an amazing 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.6/10 on IMDb. Alissa Wilkinson of Vox wrote it’s “achingly beautiful and sad, a profound work of empathy from Zhao. It’s a true elegy, a lament for the dead, a yearning for the lost.” And it’s sure to be nominated for some Oscars this spring, so be sure to watch before then. I know I will. But Hulu has also added The Shape of Water, the big award winner of 2017. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, this won thirteen nominations at the Oscars in 2017 , and went on to win Best Picture, Best Director, as well as two others. Sally Hawkins stars, here, as Elisa Esposito. who works as a cleaner in secret government laboratory in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1962. As a mute, she communicates by sign language and reads lips, which avails her well when a secret creature is brought into the lab by Colonel Richard Strickland(Michael Shannon), when she finds it a human amphibian, whom they intend to vivisect. She forms a bond with the creature and decides to liberate him. Octavia Spencer(!) stars as her friend Zelda, Richard Jenkins as her friend Giles, and Doug Jones as the “creature.” Michael Stuhlbarg, Nick Searcy, David Hewlett and Lauren Lee Smith also star, and Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor wrote the script. And it gets a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s a little lighter and happier than Nomadland. Mark Kermode of the Observer(UK) said “It sounds ridiculous, yet through some magical alchemy it works – magnificently so.” And it’s true, I’m watching again. Also new to Hulu is Lost Girls & Love Hotels, a 2020 drama. Here, Alexandra Daddario stars as Margaret, a troubled and self-destructive young woman who teaches flight attendants by day, and parties wildly at night, drinking and taking part in bondage driven sex with strangers at night in Tokyo. So when she meets Kazu, played by Takehiro Hira, and finds he is a Yakuza(by his tattoos), he fits right in to her downward spiral. Carice van Houten, Mariko Tsutsui, Andrew Rothney and Elisabeth Larena also star, with William Sten Olsson(An American Affair) directing. And it gets a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com calling it “too vapid to work as a psychological drama, too silly to work as a passionate romance, and too tepid to work as a sexy guilty pleasure.” I agree. And, finally, Hulu offers Logan Lucky, the 2017 drama. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver star as two unlucky brothers, Jimmy and Clyde Logan, who decide to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway after Jimmy is fired from his construction job under the Speedway. Sister Mellie(Riley Keough) helps out, and they break demolitions expert Joe Bang(Daniel Craig) out of jail for a day, to help with the job. Hilary Swank(!), Katie Holmes, Brian Gleeson(!), Jack Quaid and Katherine Waterston also star, and Steven Soderbergh(!) directed. And it gets an incredible 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7/10 on IMDb. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it “a terrific, twisty, funny-as-hell crime flick about so-called hicks who decide that making America great again starts right at home.” I’m tuning in.
Netflix, too, has some big adds this week like I Care A Lot, a 2021 dark comedy starring Rosamund Pike. Pike stars as Marla Grayson, a con woman and lawyer who preys on older people, living alone, getting them declared incompetent and put into assisted living, and then, being named their guardian, selling their assets and enjoying the profit. Unfortunately, she chooses the wrong victim in Jennifer Peterson(Dianne Weist!), a woman seemingly without family, who unexpectedly has valuable diamonds in her safety deposit box. It turns out, Jennifer‘s son is Roman Lunyov, a former Russian mob boss, who decides, after trying more legal avenues without success, to get retribution. Eiza González, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Alicia Witt also star, with J Blakeson(The Disappearance of Alice Creed) directing. This premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, and Pike was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role here. And it gets an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.3/10 on IMDb. Kevin Maher of the Times (UK) calls it “fabulously unpredictable movie that is noir to its bones while making all sorts of delicious adjustments to the surface,” and everyone’s raving about Pike‘s performance. I’m watching. But Netflix has also added Behind Her Eyes, a British thriller limited series. Based on a novel by Sarah Pinborough, this considers the story of Louise, played by Simona Brown, who unwisely begins an affair with her boss, David(Tom Bateman), only to become very close friends with her very strange wife, Adele(Eve Hewson), as well. And things devolve from there. Tyler Howitt, Robert Aramayo, Georgie Glen and Nichola Burley also star, and Erik Richter Strand(Valkyrien) directed all 6 episodes here. And though it only gets a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, it gets a stunning 7.3/10 on IMDb. Roxana Hadadi of RogerEbert.com says its “a fantastically entertaining magic trick of a TV show, so confident in its incongruous genre mashup that you won’t be able to look away.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also offers Amend: The Fight for America, a 2021 docuseries hosted by Wil Smith. This six-parter takes us though the history of the 14th Amendment that gives all US citizens “equal protection of the law,” and the history of how it came to be, and how it’s affected everything from women’s voting rights and abortion to gay marriage and immigration, as well. They interview giants of the civil rights field like Bryan Stevenson, but also have luminaries like Samuel L. Jackson and Mahershala Ali reading the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass, respectively. It also covers Reconstruction and the KKK, in earlier episodes, too. Laverne Cox, Graham Greene, Diane Lane, Sterling K. Brown and Courtney B. Vance(!) are also featured, and all 6 episodes were directed by Kenny Leon. And this series gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Robert Daniels of RogerEbert.com wrote, “a charismatic Will Smith, a few little known facts, and a particularly uplifting episode give this docuseries about the importance of the 14th Amendment a reason to exist.” I’m tuning in. Also new on Netflix is Tribes of Europa, a 2021 German post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. This takes place in 2074 Europe, after an unstated disaster that has left Europe in warring micro states, when three siblings find a seemingly magical cube after a ship crash lands nearby. Which puts them in danger, as others hunt for it. Henriette Confurius, Oliver Masucci, David Ali Rashed, Emilio Sakraya and Melika Foroutan star and this series is brought to us by the producers of Dark, a big hit on Netflix. And there ae 6 episodes now available, with the series getting a respectable 6.3/10 on IMDb. And Ready Steady Cut calls it “solid sci-fi that’s over too quickly.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has The Most Unknown, a 2018 science documentary film. Here, different scientists like geomicrobiologist Jennifer Macalady investigating early life forms in Frasassi Caves in Italy, meeting up with Davide D’Angelo, a physicist researching dark matter, and discuss how their fields overlap and meet in unexpected ways. Then Mr. D’Angelo meets Axel Cleeremans, a Belgian professor of cognitive psychology, and they interact as well. In all, there are 9 scientists featured in this way, like Anil Seth and Laurie Santos, with backgrounds like molecular biology and astrophysics represented. And director Ian Cheney(The Emoji Story) ties it all together so it both makes sense and intrigues us to learn more, at the same time. And it gets a solid 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ken Jaworowski of the New York Times said it an “inspiration to delve deeper into these disciplines, and as a celebration of science.” I’m definitely watching.
Amazon’s biggest add this week is Tell Me Your Secrets, a 2021 thriller series. This revolves around three characters; Emma Hall (Lily Rabe) a woman in a witness protection program, John Tyler(Hamish Linklater), the serial predator she once knew, who now looks for redemption and Mary Barlow(Amy Brenneman), a mother desperately seeking details on what happened to her long missing daughter. Enrique Murciano, Chiara Aurelia, Ashley Madekwe, Stella Baker and Richard Thomas(!) also star, and there are 10 episodes now available for viewing. But this is a very melodramatic mystery, full of soapy details it could do without. And it gets a lowly 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Kristen Lopez of IndieWire writing “both actresses are good – with Rabe being downright great – to give us something that we can invest in. The problem is the script treats this like a potboiler when it deserves more seriousness.” You decide. I’d rather watch The Boarding School: Las Cumbres, a 2021 Spanish suspense series. This takes place in a dark and secluded boarding school whose unhappy students look into the disappearance of one of their own, Manuel, who was last seen in the forest with a man in a crow mask. And the iconography of crows abound in the foreboding school, along with supernatural events. Asia Ortega, Carlos Alcaide, Daniela Rubio, Claudia Riera and Albert Salazar star as some of the students, while Natalia Dicenta stars as the ominous headmistress, Mara. There are 8 episodes available for binging now, and it gets an incredible 7.3/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Amazon has Season 1 of The White Princess, the Starz historical drama. Based on Philippa Gregory’s 2013 novel of the same name, this tells the story of Elizabeth of York, played by Jodie Comer(of Killing Eve!) and her marriage to Henry VII(Jacob Collins-Levy), which effectively ended the seemingly endless War of the Roses. Rebecca Benson, Kenneth Cranham, Essie Davis(!), Michelle Fairley and Rossy de Palma also star, and there are 8 episodes to view before March 1, when, of course, it magically disappears back to the premium network. And it gets a 7.6/10(!) on IMDb. Laura Hurley of the Oregonian wrote “I was on the edge of my seat while watching the first few episodes, and I could watch Essie Davis and Michelle Fairley attempt to outmaneuver each other all day long.” And I love Jodie Comer, too. I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!