Watching: Only the Best Things

On Netflix, Hulu and Disney+

By The Watching Team

The weekend is here. Maybe you’ll spend some time outside, maybe you’ll hole up and watch a movie or TV series. Regardless of what streaming service you subscribe to, we’re here to help. We’ve gone through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ to find the best movies and TV shows on each service.

Here’s one of the 50 best movies on Netflix

Justin Timberlake in “Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids.”Netflix

‘Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids’

Jonathan Demme’s final feature film was shot on the last two nights of Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience” world tour, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The pairing of director and subject is unexpected, but Demme is up to the job; as in his Talking Heads film “Stop Making Sense,” he deftly captures the energy, electricity and playfulness of a live concert performance, a directorial feat that is harder than it looks.


Here is one of the best TV shows on Netflix

Ty Dolla Sign in a scene from “Song Exploder.”Netflix

‘Song Exploder’

Like the podcast of the same name, the documentary series “Song Exploder” has musicians describing in detail what went into the recording of some of their best-known work. Each half-hour installment relies mainly on interviews with the writers and performers — including R.E.M., Alicia Keys, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ty Dolla Sign — who listen to isolated tracks from their mixes with the host, Hrishikesh Hirway, and then get into the nuts and bolts of the creative process. The Times recommended the podcast to anyone “in the mood to get granular about the craft of songwriting.” This TV adaptation lives up to its source.


Have a Hulu subscription? It’s a lot to wade through. We can help!

Adèle Haenel as Héloïse, left, and Noémie Merlant as Marianne in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” directed by Céline Sciamma.Neon

‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’

This “subtle and thrilling love story” from the French writer and director Céline Sciamma is an overwhelmingly quiet film — there is no musical score, and seldom a voice that speaks above a whisper. The delicacy of that approach mirrors the story Sciamma tells, of a young artist (Noémie Merlant) sent to paint a portrait of a reluctant would-be bride (Adèle Haenel); they initially regard each other tentatively, suspiciously even, and Sciamma builds their relationship so carefully and patiently that when they finally give in to their shared desire, it’s more thrilling than any action movie.


Amazon Prime Video doesn’t make it easy to find stuff. Luckily, we have done the work for you.

A scene from “Night of the Living Dead.”Image Ten

‘Night of the Living Dead’

An unexplained and unstoppable zombie uprising forces a group of strangers to join forces for a common goal in this 1968 horror classic from director George A. Romero. In the half-century since its release, it’s been justifiably praised for its pseudo-documentary, newsreel aesthetic, as well as the adjacent social commentary and political subtext (particularly with regards to its African-American lead, and the unexpected payoff of its grim final scene). But it also remains, after all these years, scary as hell.

Disney+ is full of older classics. But there are a lot of newer things to watch as well.

Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) and Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) in “Moana.”Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures


Disney has spent decades laboring over the creation of more strong-willed heroines, but few have embarked on a mission as consequential as Moana, who travels the seas to save her Polynesian village from environmental ruin. Her adventures are rendered in pleasingly lush ocean blues, and Dwayne Johnson has a fun role as the egotistic demigod Maui. But the true star of “Moana” is the songs, which range from the soaring (“How Far I’ll Go”) to the silly (“You’re Welcome”) to the Bowie-esque (“Shiny”). A.O. Scott wrote that they “anchor the film’s cheery globalism in a specific South Pacific milieu.”

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