Each week our staff of film and TV experts surveys the entertainment landscape to select the ten best new/newish movies available for you to stream at home. We put a lot of thought into our selections, and our debates on what to include and what not to include can sometimes get a little heated and feelings may get hurt, but so be it, this is an important service for you, our readers. With that said, here are our selections for this week.
10. (tie) West Side Story (Disney Plus)
Steven Spielberg brings the classic musical to the big and/or small screen, to the delight of both older fans and newer ones who get to experience it all for the first time. Get in there. Really let the experience wash over you. Sing along. Dance around your living room. Get in a knife fight with your sworn enemy. Okay, maybe not that last one. But the other ones, definitely. Watch it on Disney Plus.
10. Tony Hawk: Until The Wheels Fall Off (HBO Max)
It is wild to think about how long Tony Hawk has been a figure in American pop culture. It is also wild to watch a full-length documentary about it, which is good and notable here because HBO made one. The whole thing is fascinating, the way the guy whose name is synonymous with skateboarding at this point is still doing it and does not plan to stop, and the way he’s built a career and lifestyle out of the thing he loved doing as a kid. It’s cool. And a good watch. Crank up “Superman” by Goldfinger and give it a run. Watch it on HBO Max.
9. Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s) (Showtime)
No matter what one thinks about the monarchy, it’s still remarkable that Queen Elizabeth II is about to celebrate 70 years on the throne. Yes, it’s Platinum Jubilee time in the U.K., and after Elizabeth rather quietly endured several seasons of Netflix’s The Crown (which could bring further whispers of embarrassment), this Showtime documentary promises to take an overall more flattering approach to the Royal Family while digging into Elizabeth’s “mischievous personal life.” Give us the corgis. Watch it on Showtime.
8. Jackass 4.5 (Netflix)
What we have on our hands with this is a collection of new stunts and some behind-the-scenes of old stunts all featuring the sweet and chaotic boys from Jackass. You love that stuff. Don’t you dare overthink it. Turn your brain off and let the madness wash over you. Watch it on Netflix.
7. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (Disney Plus)
There are two things happening here. The first is that, yes, we have another streaming-based reboot/reimagining nostalgia-bait film on our hands, this time for the Rescue Rangers. Which is… fine. But it brings us to the second thing: the talent involved in this sucker is wild. Voice work by Andy Samberg and John Mulaney and Seth Rogen, who really need to work together on a live-action project at some point. Direction by Akiva Shaffer, who also did MacGruber. it’s kind of nuts, really, which we promise is not a chipmunk pun. The point is that if you’re going to do one of these things you can at least try to do it right. The effort here is appreciated. Watch it on Disney Plus.
6. On the Count of Three (VOD)
Jerrod Carmichael is having a moment, garnering all the praise for his revealing and powerful HBO special (Rothaniel, watch it again!), a great turn as SNL host, and now, for the release of his festival fave narrative directorial debut, On The Count Of Three. But, of course, you knew Carmichael was a force from his previous specials and The Carmichael Show. You’re just happy to see everyone else catch up and, with this film, get the chance to see Carmichael flex his dramatic muscles opposite Christopher Abbott as two friends trying to get the most out of the last moments before they execute each other as a part of a suicide pact. Track it down on your VOD service of choice.
5. The Batman (HBO Max)
What if Seven but with way more leather and punching? In a lot of ways, that could serve as a very simple synopsis of what Matt Reeves has done with the crown jewel of DC Comics lore, placing his take beside The Joker on the highest shelf (both in terms of artistry, societal commentary, and other adult themes) in the DCEU film library. Does it work? In some ways, absolutely, providing a grim but intriguing vision of the Batman as a detective with the mother of all chips on his shoulder as he wrestles with his thirst for vengeance and a vicious villain in Paul Dano’s Riddler, who is always seemingly one step ahead of him and Jeffrey Wright’s Jim Gordon (a buddy cop pairing that is as awkward as it is rewarding). Throw in Zoe Kravitz’s tremendous turn as Selina Kyle/Catwoman (who also connects so well with Robert Pattinson’s Batman that you wish Reeves would have allowed for even more of their on-screen back and forth) and Gotham City’s usual mix of criminal underworld string-pulling and civic corruption and you’ve got a very full meal. Overfull? Too mature? Let’s just say The Batman can seem so grown up and dense at times that you may forget that it’s a superhero movie, for better or worse. Watch it on HBO Max.
4. The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks (Amazon Prime)
The weird and wonderful new season of Kids In The Hall can be appreciated on its own merit, but to learn the story of how the legendary Canadian sketch group came to be in the mid ‘80s, came to push every boundary in the early ‘90s, came undone, and then came back together adds a layer to the whole thing. Those in search of a full accounting of their improbable run can check out Paul Myers’ “One Dumb Guy” book, but Amazon’s all-new doc, Comedy Punks, covers the highlights quite well, adding in a host of new interviews from the guys.
3. Norm MacDonald: Nothing Special (Netflix)
Look elsewhere for a meditative self-exploration of a comic inching toward the end of his life. Norm Macdonald just wants to tell jokes, delivering a very Norm set in a very non-Norm setting (recorded at home with no audience due to COVID) with urgency. David Letterman puts it perfectly in the loose conversation that follows with him, Conan O’Brien, Dave Chappelle, Adam Sandler, Molly Shannon, and David Spade, saying it’s not stand up, but something different. But it’s still something worth seeing for Norm’s swan song and also the aforementioned conversation, which brings a level of closure to fans who get to hear a few great Norm stories and some thoughts on what made him so unique. Watch it on Netflix.
Ambulance has everything you could want in an action movie: frenetic pacing, adrenaline-soaked chase scenes, Michael Bay doing everything at once, hot explosive nonsense, Jake Gyllenhaal as a villainous psychopath with crazy eyes, an ambulance, etc. It’s basically perfect, if this is the type of thing you’re looking for, which you probably are on a Friday or Saturday night. Make some popcorn or order a pizza and get in there. Watch it on Peacock.
1. Fire Island (Hulu)
Bowen Yang may be the best talent to emerge from Saturday Night Live in years – a fact underscored by the recent departure of comedy greats like Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant – but he’s not the only reason this sweet and silly gay romcom works. A BIG reason, sure, but not the only one. There’s also Margaret Cho playing a loopy lesbian house mom, a setting that allows a group of Queer misfits to find a sense of belonging amidst MDMA hazes and pulse-pounding raves, and a central love story that borrows from the period romance wellspring of one Jane Austen. It’s a booze-infused Pride & Prejudice in short swim trunks for the gays and the theys, but the fact that it works so damn well is also proof that the romcom genre should be welcoming more Queer and minority romantic leads into its ranks. Watch it on Hulu.