Watching: The Best Things to Stream

On Netflix, Amazon and Disney+

By The Watching Team

The weekend is here. It’s here! Regardless of what streaming service you subscribe to, we want 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

Melvin Gregg and Zazie Beetz in “High Flying Bird,” which Steven Soderbergh shot on an iPhone.Peter Andrews/Netflix

‘High Flying Bird’

The director Steven Soderbergh reunites with Andre Holland, his co-star from “The Knick,” for this rarest of beasts: a sports movie without any sports. The screenplay by Tarell Alvin McCraney is instead about the business of professional athletics, set during an NBA lockout in which a high-powered agent (Holland) attempts to use the shutdown to turn the entire league — and all of the presumptions and hierarchies of organized sports — upside down. McCraney’s script is rich with historical references and inside-basketball shout-outs; Soderbergh’s direction is reflexively nimble, using on-the-fly photography and interviews with real NBA players to give the film a sense of documentary immediacy. A.O. Scott called it “an exhilarating and argumentative caper.”

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Here is one of the best TV shows on Netflix

Nicholas Cage hosts the docu-series “History of Swear Words.”Adam Rose/Netflix

‘History of Swear Words’

At once informative and playfully naughty, this six-part docu-series has serious scholars and smart-aleck comedians sharing what they know about some of the most taboo words in the English language. The actor Nicolas Cage — a prodigious on-screen cusser — serves as the host and the narrator for these short, snappy episodes, each of which combines genuine historical detail and academic inquiry with lighthearted jokes and commentary. Although the show’s tone is giggly, “History of Swear Words” presents some spirited conversation about why some kinds of speech have traditionally been labeled “adults only.”

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

Julianne Moore and Mark Wahlberg in Paul Thomas Anderson’s «Boogie Nights.»G. Lefkowitz/New Line Cinema

‘Boogie Nights’

When this crime-infused comedic drama roared onto the indie scene in the fall of 1997, it was widely (and favorably) compared to “Pulp Fiction.” It’s not hard to guess why: the setting amid the seedy underbelly of the Los Angeles suburbs; the screenplay filled with sly cinematic allusions; the hotshot young auteur, directing his second feature. But Paul Thomas Anderson was no Tarantino wannabe; “Boogie Nights,” his breakthrough film, is most memorable for the affection it shows its characters — a crew of pornographers and outcasts — and for its humanistic approach to their eccentricities.

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

From left, Marie Wawa and Mungau Dain in “Tanna.”Philippe Penel/Lightyear Entertainment

‘Tanna’

This Oscar nominee for best foreign film is, according to the opening credits, “based on a true story and performed by the people of Yakel” who inhabit the South Pacific island of the title. These nonactors are dramatizing a story of great importance to their people, so their unvarnished performances contribute to the film’s documentary-style intimacy, realism and attention to detail. “Tanna” captures the customs, rituals and routines of the daily lives of this population, which has chosen to continue living in the “old ways.” It is a film that is epic in its emotional and physical scope, brimming with colorful characters and humor, and filled with luminous photography that captures the heartache of the two young people at its center and the scenic island that surrounds them. “Every single shot is picturesque,” noted our critic, “and more than a few of them are genuinely beautiful.”

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

A scene from the animated shorts collection “Pixar Popcorn.”Disney/Pixar

‘Pixar Popcorn’

Pixar has spun off shorts from its animated features before, but nothing like these bite-size nuggets, which whittle charming vignettes out of only a minute or two of screen time. (All ten can be watched in less than 20 minutes, sans credits.) Highlights include the domestic magic of the Parr family in “The Incredibles,” who use their powers to do chores or battle over a midnight snack; Ducky (Keegan Michael-Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) from “Toy Story 4” in a riff over which of them is the cuddliest; and a morning montage of the New York City so lovingly rendered in “Soul.”

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