Are you looking for a Saturday night movie? A show that will consume your entire weekend? Regardless of what streaming service you subscribe to, we’re here to help. We’ve gone through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus to find the best movies and TV shows on each service.
Doug Jones, left, and Ivana Baquero in “Pan’s Labyrinth.”Teresa Isasi/Picturehouse
Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 Oscar winner is many things: a lush period drama, a dark fairy tale, a special-effects showcase, a valentine to fantasy cinema, a harrowing fable of fascism. Yet del Toro’s filmmaking is so confident that the picture’s tone never wavers; he’s such a thrilling storyteller that we follow his protagonist (the marvelous Ivana Baquero) through every dark passageway and down every mysterious rabbit hole on her mystical journey through Franco-era Spain — and out of the clutches of her evil stepfather. It’s both scary and enchanting, terrifying and dazzling. “If this is magic realism,” writes A.O. Scott, “it is also the work of a real magician.”
Want a more immersive experience? Here is one of the best TV shows on Netflix.
From left, Joaquín Cosio, J.J. Soria and Carlos Santos in a scene from the bilingual dramedy “Gentefied.”Kevin Estrada/Netflix
Set in the rapidly gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, this lively dramedy follows the dreams and disagreements of three very different cousins, all of whom have their own ideas about how to keep their grandfather’s taco restaurant afloat. Savvy and often funny, “Gentefied” offers a snapshot of a Mexican-American culture in transition, in which deeply rooted traditions are threatened by economic and social change. Our critic wrote: “The show’s likability carries it through its rougher patches. This series puts a lot on its plate, and somehow, it all comes together.”
Have a Hulu subscription? It’s a lot to wade through. We can help!
Zack Mulligan, left, and Keire Johnson in the documentary “Minding the Gap.”Hulu
‘Minding the Gap’
Bing Liu was nominated for a best documentary Oscar for this, his debut feature, a candid and sometimes agonizingly intimate portrait of his loose crew of skateboarding pals. He began making videos to capture that activity, recording the skateboarders’ tricks, spills and pranks; they got comfortable around the camera, forgetting it was even there. But it was, observing and chronicling their lives for years on end — and as they got older, Liu used their comfort to eavesdrop on difficult conversations and extraordinary confessions, weaving what A.O. Scott called “a rich, devastating essay on race, class and manhood in 21st-century America.”
Amazon Prime Video doesn’t make it easy to find stuff. Luckily, we have done the work for you.
Kim Tae-ri, left, and Kim Min-hee in “The Handmaiden.”Amazon Studios — Magnolia Pictures
The South Korean master Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy”) takes the stylistic trappings of a period romance and gooses them with scorching eroticism and one of the most ingenious con-artist plots this side of “The Sting.” Working from the Sarah Waters novel “Fingersmith,” Park begins with the story of a young woman who, as part of a seemingly straightforward swindle, goes to work as a Japanese heiress’s handmaiden, occasionally pausing the plot to slyly reveal new information, reframing what we’ve seen and where we think he might go next. Manohla Dargis dubbed it an “amusingly slippery entertainment.”
Disney Plus is full of the obvious classics. But there are also other films, like this one.
Fairuza Balk in “Return to Oz.”Buena Vista, via Everett Collection
‘Return to Oz’
Disney would come to regret making a sequel to perhaps the greatest children’s film ever made, but Walter Murch’s “Return to Oz” has picked up a deserved cult following over the years for its half-wondrous, half-nightmarish reading of L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels. This time, Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) goes back to a far less enchanting place, with the Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City in ruins, her old friends turned to stone and the land patrolled by people with wheels instead of hands and feet. Our critic warned that “children are sure to be startled by [its] bleakness.”