Watching: The Best Things to Stream

On Netflix and other services

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 titles on each service.

Here’s one of the 50 best movies on Netflix

Dick Johnson in his daughter Kirsten Johnson’s film “Dick Johnson Is Dead.”Netflix

‘Dick Johnson Is Dead’

“I’ve always wanted to be in the movies,” Dick Johnson tells his daughter Kirsten, and he’s in luck — she makes them, documentaries mostly, dealing with the biggest questions of life and death. So they turn his struggle with Alzheimer’s and looming mortality into a movie, a “resonant and, in moments, profound” one (per Manohla Dargis), combining staged fake deaths and heavenly reunions with difficult familial interactions. He’s an affable fellow, warm and constantly chuckling, and a good sport, cheerfully playing along with these intricate, macabre (and darkly funny) scenarios. But it’s really a film about a father and daughter, and their lifelong closeness gives the picture an intimacy and openness uncommon even in the best documentaries. It’s joyful, and melancholy and moving, all at once.


Here is one of the best TV shows on Netflix

Dave Chappelle lampooning Prince in “Chappelle’s Show.”Comedy Central, via Netflix

‘Chappelle’s Show’

Dave Chappelle went from being a popular stand-up comic to a cultural phenomenon with the sketch comedy series “Chappelle’s Show,” which he created with the comedian Neal Brennan. With its hip-hop soundtrack and its frank, funny jokes about race in America, the show was more up-to-date about the silliness of modern life — and about the insidiousness of racism — than just about any other TV comedy of its time. Though it ended in 2006 after only 28 episodes, it has remained an influence on shows that followed like “Key & Peele” and “Inside Amy Schumer.” Our critic hailed Chappelle’s “laid-back indignation, a refusal to believe that ignoring racial differences will make anyone’s life better.”


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

Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s «William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet.»Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox

‘Romeo + Juliet’

The director Baz Luhrmann made his American breakthrough — and helped solidify Leonardo DiCaprio’s status as a teen heartthrob — with this wild, hyperkinetic update and reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic. The star-crossed lovers are here brought to life by DiCaprio and Claire Danes, who poignantly capture the pangs of longing and desire that bring this pair together, consequences be damned; Harold Perrineau, Pete Postlethwaite, and John Leguizamo add fire and passion to the colorful supporting cast. Our critic deemed it “a witty and sometimes successful experiment.”


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

Teyonah Parris in “Chi-Raq.”Parrish Lewis/Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions


Spike Lee adapts and updates Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to the streets of contemporary Chicago in this wildly funny, vividly theatrical mash-up of gangland drama, musical comedy and surrealist fantasy. Teyonah Parris shines as the determined young woman who leads a sex strike to stop the city’s violence, while Samuel L. Jackson struts and rhymes as “Dolmedes,” the picture’s one-man Greek chorus. His Dolemite-style interludes push the premise to its bawdy extremes, but Lee isn’t just playing for laughs. He’s swinging for the fences, and the result, according to Manohla Dargis, “entertains, engages and, at times, enrages.”

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

A scene from the TV adaptation of “The Right Stuff.”Gene Page/National Geographic

‘The Right Stuff’

It should be said upfront that this adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s seminal book about the American space program has none of the irreverence and style of the 1983 film, which sought to channel the “new journalism” zip associated with Wolfe’s work. This series is more like a family-friendly “Mad Men” in space, using the sprawl of television to chart the domestic lives and professional rivalries of the Mercury 7 astronauts as they embark on this dangerous, enormously consequential mission for their country. It takes the time to detail the technical and political problems NASA was facing in its relative infancy while also looking earnestly to the stars.

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