Watching: The Best Things to Stream

On Netflix, Amazon and Disney+

By The Watching Team

The weekend is here. It’s here! (Also, spring. Spring!) Regardless of what streaming service you subscribe to, we want to help you find something great to watch. 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

Denzel Washington, right, as the rogue police officer Alonzo in the 2001 movie “Training Day.” Washington won a best actor Oscar for the role.Robert Zuckerman/Warner Bros.

‘Training Day’

Denzel Washington won his second Oscar (his first for a leading role) by stepping way outside his usual wheelhouse of courageous heroes and men of virtue to play a dirty Los Angeles narcotics detective. The jolt of seeing good-guy Denzel play bad — planting evidence, staging murders and gleefully robbing his suspects — is downright electrifying, and Ethan Hawke (who got an Oscar nod of his own for his work here) is an effective audience surrogate, registering increasing dismay at the corruption of his superior over a long, hot 24 hours. The director, Antoine Fuqua, orchestrates their interactions adroitly, modulating the tension and discomfort, shrewdly treating his star like a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. Our critic called it a performance of “powerhouse virtuosity.”


Here is one of the best TV shows on Netflix

Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor in a scene from “Bridgerton.”Liam Daniel/Netflix


The accomplished TV producer Shonda Rhimes and her longtime “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” writer Chris Van Dusen bring their formidable facility for melodramatic storytelling to this soapy historical romance — the television equivalent of a page-turner. Based on Julia Quinn’s series of Jane Austen-inspired novels, the show is set in Regency Era London and is concerned with various high-stakes lovers’ games among the aristocracy. With its multiracial cast and its steamy bedroom scenes, “Bridgerton” satisfies as both a provocative social commentary and a sensationalistic potboiler. Our critic called it “a reliable story in fancy modern packaging.”


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

Kirsten Dunst and Alexander Skarsgard in “Melancholia.” Christian Geisnaes/Magnolia Pictures


The first half of this “excursion from the sad to the sublime by way of the preposterous,” as A.O. Scott put it, is a virtuoso portrait of social awkwardness and inappropriateness, as a bride (a spectacular Kirsten Dunst) struggles and fails to overcome her overwhelming depression at her wedding reception. Her family and friends are an assemblage of human triggers far more distressing to her than the crisis of the film’s second half, in which a rogue planet is on a collision course with Earth — and our protagonist discovers that when you’ve spent your life feeling like the world is ending, the event itself can produce a strange calm. The writer and director Lars von Trier (“Breaking the Waves”) tells his dark story with bleak humor and operatic flourishes, as well as a deep empathy for the women at its center.


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

Henry Thomas, center, and E.T. in “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”Universal Studios

‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial’

After “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg conquered the zeitgeist yet again with this “enchanted fantasy” of an alien visitor from another world. But considering its premise and its blockbuster commercial reception, “E.T.” is a surprisingly muted and gentle piece of work, less about special effects and monster makeup than about the heartwarming connection between little Elliott (Henry Thomas) and the extraterrestrial he discovers in the shed behind his suburban home. The film has the expected magical powers and evil government types, but ultimately this is a story of emotional longing and fulfillment, in which an outsider comes into a broken home and makes it whole again.

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

Jamie Foxx voices the character Joe Gardner, right, in “Soul.”Disney/Pixar


Death isn’t usually negotiable, but when Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a middle-school music teacher, falls down a manhole shortly after booking his first big gig as a jazz pianist, he is willing to defy the laws of heaven to realize his dream. Although this touching and whimsical Pixar movie gets into the bureaucratic intricacies of the afterlife, “Soul” is most affecting as a tribute to the small, myriad pleasures of New York City. A.O. Scott called it “a new chapter in Pixar’s expansion of realism.”

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