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.
1. The Suicide Squad (HBO Max)
It is time, once again, for a take on the Suicide Squad, the crew of DC villains who band together to cause chaos and/or save the day. This one is directed by Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn and features everyone from Margot Robbie (as Harley Quinn, of course) to Idris Elba and Joel Kinnaman to Sylvester Stallone (as a giant talking CGI shark). It all looks weird and fun and kind of exactly what you need in a summer weekend movie. And then when you’re done you can click over and binge the Harley Quinn animated series on the same streaming service. Big weekend for you. Watch it on HBO Max.
In Beckett, John David Washington plays the title character, just a guy who is on vacation in Greece with his girlfriend (Alicia Vikander). After an automobile accident, during which Beckett sees someone he’s not supposed to see, he’s thrust into a game of espionage, intrigue, and geopolitical maneuvering that he never asked for. Director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino was heavily influenced by William Friedkin’s movies of the 1970s and he tries to recapture that here in a movie where, like the title character, we don’t really know what’s going on and there’s always a culpable sense of dread. Watch it on Netflix.
3. Jungle Cruise (Disney )
Though the plot gets a bit convoluted in the second half of the movie, the dazzling, movie star-esque performances here by The Rock, Emily Blunt, and Jesse Plemons make this an entertaining movie well worth watching. Set in 1916, this movie about a race to be the first to get to a tree with magical healing powers has a distinct Indiana Jones/Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe to it. In fact, a couple of the scenes play like homages to those earlier films. And Jesse Plemons appears to be having the time of his life portraying the villain in this film, and who on God’s green Earth doesn’t love Jesse Plemons?! Watch it on Disney .
4. CODA (Apple TV )
The story of a young woman who is the only hearing person in her family, living with her deaf parents and deaf brother, became the it movie of this year’s Sundance. It’s fair to wonder if this actually does hurt a film, expectations-wise. But it didn’t hurt last year’s then-record holder Palm Springs. And the producers of CODA surely didn’t care while they count their money. What’s surprising about all of this is CODA isn’t a deeply profound film. It’s just a really funny, feel-good movie about nice people doing nice things. And maybe that’s kind of rare these days. Give it a shot to put you in a good mood. Watch it on Apple TV .
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff finally gets a proper send-off in this actioner that aims to go back-to-basics but succeeds more on a personal level. The film fills in plenty of blanks following the events of Captain America: Civil War, but more importantly, we receive butt-kicking ladies in well-choreographed fight scenes and an emotionally resonant story that introduces us to the inner Natasha, as witnessed by Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova. She’s perhaps the only person in the world who’s allowed to tease Natasha, and their dynamic (and the chemistry between Scarlett and Florence) rules. The film also allows David Harbour to perform grunt-filled face work with a wild accent while the ladies swirl around him in hand-to-hand combat. It’s a winner. Watch it on Disney Premium.
6. Pig (VOD)
It’s Nicolas Cage hunting down his enemies after the disappearance of his beloved truffle-sniffing pig. And it’s allegedly good. Like, really, honestly good, not Fun/Bad Good. You really can’t ask for much more out of a film. Or anything else, really. Track it down on your VOD service of choice.
7. Zola (VOD)
If you were on Twitter in 2015, you likely remember the first time you heard The Story of Zola. It was the Homer’s Odyssey of stripper trips, distilled into viral thread form, and it captivated an entire generation of drama-obsessed culture vultures. Its film adaptation channels the same chaos that made it so gripping to follow on our timelines, adding a seediness that can make some parts difficult to sit through. But what makes Zola so undeniably enjoyable is its unexpected take on female empowerment led by its two stars, Taylor Paige and Riley Keough who wield stripper heels and cutting shade to translate a pretty stark warning: Be careful who your friends are. Watch it on your VOD outlet of choice.
8. Vivo (Netflix)
What we have here appears to be an extremely cute cartoon musical featuring a loaded cast (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zoe Saldana, Brian Tyree Henry, Gloria Freakin Estefan) and a sweet premise. Per the studio: “A music-loving kinkajou embarks on the journey of a lifetime to fulfill his destiny and deliver a love song for an old friend.” Round up the kiddos if you need an excuse and see if the happy tears flow. Watch it on Netflix.
9. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Hulu)
Questlove’s loving documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), includes performances from Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mavis Staples, and B.B. King. To quote *another concert* from the 1960s, play it f*cking loud. Watch it on Hulu.
10. Val (Amazon)
The short version goes something like this: Val Kilmer has been pointing a camera at himself for 40 years or so and now all that footage — and more — has been edited and compiled and massaged into an eye-opening documentary that touches on the very nature of fame. Val Kilmer is a fascinating guy. Not everyone can turn four decades of home movies into an interesting watch. Most of us can’t, actually. It’s all pretty impressive. Watch it on Amazon Prime.