Watching: Stream Only the Best

On Netflix, Amazon, 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

Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello in “The Social Network.”Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures

‘The Social Network’

The rise (and rise and rise) of the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is loosely dramatized in this “fleet, weirdly funny, exhilarating, alarming and fictionalized” drama from the director David Fincher and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Jettisoning the conventions of bio-drama and tech exposé, Fincher and Sorkin construct something akin to a 21st-century “Citizen Kane”: the haunting story of a media mogul who finds that all his riches and all his power cannot fill the hole in his soul. The film leaves Netflix at the end of September.


Here is one of the best TV shows on Netflix

Regina King in “Seven Seconds.”JoJo Whilden/Netflix

‘Seven Seconds’

The writer and producer Veena Sud — best known for the crime drama “The Killing” — adapted a Russian film into “Seven Seconds,” a mini-series about the accidental killing of a Black teen by a white cop in New Jersey. While the movie was about police corruption in Russia, for the TV series Sud uses that premise as the starting point for a finely textured study of institutional racism. In a mixed review, our critic wrote, “There’s a purity of dark vision driving the series, if you’re willing to take it without sweetener.”


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

Morgan Freeman, left, and Tim Robbins in “The Shawshank Redemption.”Michael Weinstein/Castle Rock Entertainment

‘The Shawshank Redemption’

Two “lifers,” locked up together indefinitely in Shawshank prison, form a bond that transcends decades of their lives and, ultimately, their own incarcerations in this heart-wrenching adaptation of an atypically nongenre novella by Stephen King. Tim Robbins is in fine form as Andy Dufresne, convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and dedicated to proving it. As Red, the guy who can get anything for anybody, Morgan Freeman (who also narrates) crafts the quintessential Morgan Freeman performance: folksy and friendly, but with a layer of steel underneath. Our critic called it “a slow, gentle story of camaraderie and growth.”


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

Annette Bening and Adam Driver in “The Report.”Atsushi Nishijima/Amazon Studios

‘The Report’

Across six years in the mid-2000s, an analyst named Daniel J. Jones (portrayed by an excellent Adam Driver) pored through 6.3 million pages of C.I.A. documents to write the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program. This taut, angry film from Scott Z. Burns dramatizes that investigative process and what Jones discovered — and the steady growth of his righteous indignation. Burns, in what our critic deemed a “smart, layered screenplay,” deftly translates the story’s intellectual urgency into emotional agency, making the political into something decidedly personal.

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

A scene from the Saturday morning educational series “Schoolhouse Rock!”via ABC

‘Schoolhouse Rock’

Saturday morning cartoons were always short on educational opportunities for children, but ABC decided to do a public good by producing “Schoolhouse Rock!,” a series of three-minute animated interstitials that proved to be surprisingly sticky mnemonic devices. Disney+ doesn’t have the complete run of episodes — it has 51 of the 64, the vast majority made in the mid-1970s — but it has all the classics, including the call-and-response of “Conjunction Junction,” the heartrending multiplication song “Figure Eight” and “I’m Just a Bill,” a civics lessons that was parodied on the “Simpsons” episode “The Day the Violence Died,” which is also available on the service.

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