Watching: The Best Things to Watch

On Netflix, Amazon and Disney+

By The Watching Team

The holiday weekend is here. It is very possible that you will watch a little more than usual over the next several days. Between a new Pixar movie, a new Wonder Woman movie and a new Tom Hanks movie, there are more than enough new things to check out. But if you’re looking for something else, 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

A scene from “Bob Dylan: No Direction Home.”Spitfire Pictures

‘No Direction Home: Bob Dylan’

Martin Scorsese directs this exhilarating, informative and frequently funny chronicle of the early years of the folk singer, poet and provocateur born Robert Zimmerman but known to the world as Bob Dylan. Over its nearly four-hour running time, the film explores Dylan’s childhood, his immersion in the Greenwich Village folk scene, his groundbreaking “topical songs” and his still-controversial changeover to electrified rock music. But “No Direction Home” is more than your typical rock bio-doc (most of which are more like illustrated Wikipedia pages); thanks to Scorsese’s curiosity, Dylan’s candor, and David Tedeschi’s innovative editing, it becomes the story of an artist’s perpetual search for identity and truth.

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Here is one of the best TV shows on Netflix

From left, Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Ted Danson and D’Arcy Carden in “The Good Place.”Colleen Hayes/NBC

‘The Good Place’

It’s difficult to describe this fantastical metaphysical sitcom without spoiling its surprises. It’s ostensibly about a selfish young woman named Eleanor (Kristen Bell), who with a handful of other iffy humans lands in a cockeyed version of the afterlife, managed by the cheerful kook Michael (Ted Danson) and his humanoid supercomputer, Janet (D’Arcy Carden). But with his philosophical digressions and fantastical comic inventions, the creator, Michael Schur, keeps viewers guessing all the way to the clever and emotional series finale. And even without the crazy plot twists, the show provides food for thought. Our critic wrote, “Mr. Schur seems to have found a deeper idea behind the show’s premise: Is acting good the same as being good?”

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

A scene from “Chicken Run.”DreamWorks Pictures

‘Chicken Run’

Aardman Animations, the British stop-motion studio behind the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit shorts, made its feature debut with this delightful cross between barnyard farce and prison escape caper, in which a headstrong hen enlists a cocky circus rooster to help her and her friends flee their henhouse before the evil farmer turns them into pies. The animation is, per the company’s standard, breathtakingly meticulous. But parents will enjoy this one as much as their kids do, as the directors Nick Park and Peter Lord inject copious doses of droll British wit and winking nods to classic adventure movies. Our critic called it “immensely satisfying, a divinely relaxed and confident film.”

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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. Fox and Rob Rich in “Time,” a documentary by Garrett Bradley.Amazon Studios

‘Time’

Early in Garrett Bradley’s extraordinary documentary (a coproduction of The New York Times), someone asks Fox Rich about her husband, and she replies, “He’s, uh, out of town now.” Technically, it’s true; he’s in Angola prison, for a 1997 bank robbery, serving a 60-year sentence without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. Fox Rich has spent years fighting for her husband’s release — and against mass incarceration — and Bradley interweaves her crusade with years of grainy home video footage, moving back and forth from past to present, contrasting the possibilities of those early videos and the acceptance, even resignation, of today. But Fox Rich never gives up hope, and this “substantive and stunning” film suggests that even in the grimmest of circumstances, that never-say-die spirit can pay dividends.

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

Hugh Jackman and company in a scene from “The Greatest Showman.”Niko Tavernise/20th Century Fox

‘The Greatest Showman’

When it was first released in late 2017, this splashy tribute to P.T. Barnum opened to a middling box office and dismissive reviews, including one from Jason Zinoman, who called it “a montage sequence that occasionally turns into a movie musical.” But audiences turned it into a huge word-of-mouth hit, a reversal of fortune that is owed to its robust production, which recalls the historical pop of “Moulin Rouge,” and to a Benj Pasek and Justin Paul songbook that’s bursting with arena-ready numbers. Just don’t expect Hugh Jackman’s Barnum to bear more than a passing resemblance to the real guy.

MORE TO WATCH

In case you’re still looking for something

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Clay Enos/Warner Bros

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Review: It’s Not About What We Deserve

The sequel to the 2017 hit finds Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, pining for love and saddled with a movie unworthy of her.

By Manohla Dargis

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Disney/Pixar

Critic’s pick

‘Soul’ Review: Pixar’s New Feature Gets Musical, and Metaphysical

This inventive tale stars Jamie Foxx as a jazz musician caught in a world that human souls pass through on their way into and out of life.

By A.O. Scott

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Universal Pictures

‘News of the World’ Review: Tom Hanks Does the Strong, Silent Type

The star can’t help but bring decency to Paul Greengrass’s lean, efficient western set in 1870s Texas.

By A.O. Scott

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William Gray/HBO Max

Beyond the Algorithm

‘Charm City Kings,’ ‘Babyteeth’ and Other Hidden Streaming Gems

You may have missed these under-the-radar movies this year. Now’s your chance to catch up.

By Jason Bailey

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