Saturday, January 30, 2021

Best Movies and TV Series Available Streaming

Here is a highly personal, quirky list of some great streaming entertainment that has raised our spirits during the pandemic. This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive!

Feature Films (Scroll Down for TV Series, Documentaries, and Short Films):


Afire: Another terrific movie written and directed by Christian Petzold. Is this a love triangle or quadrilateral? Paula Beer turns in a performance as charismatic and sexy as Jeanne Moreau in Jules and Jim. Interesting and well-woven subplot involving climate chaos. Amazon Prime.

After Love: An emotionally gripping story about a widow who discovers her late husband has lived a double life, and then meets his other family. Outstanding acting, especially Joanna Scanlon in the lead. Amazon Prime.

All Is Bright: If any unsung, offbeat movie should be a cult classic, this is it. Fine performances by Paul Giamatti as an ex-con trying to go straight in a crooked world, by selling Xmas trees, and Sally Hawkins as a…well, I don’t want to spoil it. Amazon Prime.

All Together (Et si on vivait tous ensemble?): 2011 French film that features Jane Fonda and Geraldine Chaplin with an all-star cast of French actors, about a group of aging friends who decide to live communally. Vudu.


Ammonite: English drama set in 1840s in Lyme Regis of French Lieutenant’s Woman and Jane Austen Persuasion fame. Based on true story of working-class woman who made major scientific discoveries, unearthing dinosaurs and other fossils. Great performances by Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. Amazon Prime.

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite

And Breathe Normally: When was the last time you saw an Icelandic movie? Well, it’s time! A heartbreaking but uplifting drama about those on the margins and refugees in a prosperous country. Moving story, well scripted and acted. Netflix.


Another Round: A Danish movie that won the 2020 Oscar for best International Feature Film. The film is about four male teachers trying to break out of a midlife lag by staying a little drunk every day, especially at work. Great performances, thoughtful screenplay. Kanopy and other streaming services.

Attila Marcel: This movie is at times weird, bizarre, cartoonish—and deeply beautiful and touching. A surreal look at the life a 30-something man who has lived with his maiden aunts since his parents died in his infancy. Great music and dancing, though this is not a musical. Amazon Prime.

A Bag of Marbles: Based on the true story of a French Jewish family trying to flee the Nazis and their collaborators during WWII. Surprisingly uplifting, beautiful performances, complex characters. Kanopy.

The Banshees of Inisherin: Fantastic performances by the whole cast, brilliant screenplay. Life on a small island off the coast of Ireland. Amazon Prime.

Barbara: Engrossing story of a woman doctor in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. She has been exiled for her political dissent to a small town in the provinces, where she has to make sense of her life again. Strong cast, directed by Christian Petzold. Kanopy.

Being the Ricardos: Worth seeing for Nicole Kidman’s fantastic one-liners as Lucille Ball. You don’t have to love Lucy to enjoy this. Amazon Prime.

Belfast: Who knew Kenneth Branagh was such a gifted writer and director? This film proves he is, beyond a doubt. And such great supportive performances by Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench. Amazon Prime.

Bergman Island: A movie within a movie, all set on the island where the great Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman lived and shot many of his classic flicks. Well written and acted, thought-provoking. Amazon Prime and Hulu.

A Better Life: Beautiful and understated performance by Demián Bichir as a single dad trying to navigate the world of Los Angeles as an undocumented immigrant. José Julián is also very fine as the son. Amazon Prime.

Bicycling with Molière (Alceste à bicyclette): The most intelligent buddy movie I’ve ever seen, about two aging French actors vying for the best part in a Molière play. Worth seeing just to hear Fabrice Luchini’s astonishing diction as he acts The Misanthrope. Amazon Prime.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Sacha Baron Cohen is so hilarious, and his crashing of Republican events and leaders is brave and astounding. Amazon Prime.


Bridesmaids: Hilarious and heartfelt Kristin Wiig comedy also featuring Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolf. The type of side-splitting humor we need now! YouTube, Amazon Prime, Hulu. 

Broker: An unexpected collection of quirky characters come together in this Korean drama about thieves who steal babies from boxes where teen mothers leave children they cannot raise. Well acted, directed, and filmed. Still in theaters. Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hulu.


The Cakemaker: Moving love story of a gay German baker who insinuates himself into the lives of an Israeli family. Netflix.

Captain Fantastic: Viggo Mortensen gives an outstanding performance as a back-to-the-land radical dad raising six children on what they hunt and gather in the wilderness. Gripping complications arise when the family collides with a world that doesn’t share their lifestyle. Kanopy.

Catherine Called Birdy: Don’t be discouraged by this film being based on a young adult novel. It is sophisticated, funny, wise, and beautifully acted and directed. Kudos to Lena Dunham, who directed and adapted the screenplay. Amazon Prime.

The Chorus (Les Choristes): Irresistible French film about a teacher in a Dickensian boarding school and his efforts to win over his delinquent students. Gérard Jugnot is fantastic in the lead role. Vudu.

Close: Two pre-teen boys are the best of friends, and then their emotional closeness starts to turn physical, and their classmates don’t know how to accept their close connection. Profoundly moving. Hulu, Amazon Prime.

Coda: Coming-of-age story about a teenage girl who loves to sing, but whose parents and brother are deaf. Terrific performances, a bit predictable, but you’ll definitely need some tissues for this heartwarming tale. Apple TV+.


Conviction (Une intime conviction): French courtroom drama based on a true story, with stellar performances by Olivier Gourmet as defense attorney and Marina Foïs as a casual acquaintance of the defendant who gets enmeshed in the case.


Crossed Tracks (Roman de gare): French film about a bestselling mystery writer accused of murdering her ghostwriter. Many twists and turns in the plot. Directed by Claude Lelouch. Great cast features Fanny Ardant. Kanopy.

Decision to Leave: Korean film noir about a detective investigating a death that might or might not be accidental. He becomes much too involved with the wife of the deceased, who is a suspect in her husband’s fatal fall. Beautifully done in every respect. Amazon Prime.


The Dig: Beautifully set in an arts and crafts English country house, this drama with Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan, and a great supporting cast is a surprisingly dramatic true story of an archaeological dig in the days right before World War II. Netflix.

Drive My Car: A terrific adaptation of a Haruki Murakami story set in present-day Hiroshima about the struggle to continue in the midst of loss and tragedy. Everything about this movie is original and well done. Oscar-worthy supporting performance by Park Yoo-Rim. Amazon Prime.

The Fairy: Another delightful romp with Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel. Not as polished as Lost in Paris (see below), but this film has some hilarious and classic comic bits, including the two unforgettable dance sequences and the routines in the hotel and café. Kanopy.

The Father: Deservedly praised portrayal by Anthony Hopkins. This movie puts you right inside the mind of someone losing his memory. Amazon Prime.


First Cow: A different take on the Wild West than you’ve ever seen, this indie movie about a friendship is moving, understated, and well-plotted. Skillfully directed by Kelly Reichert. Amazon Prime and Hulu.

First Cow

45 Years: A quiet movie that sneaks up and grabs your heart. Two incredible performances by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a older couple who face a potential reckoning/crisis as they near a party to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Kanopy. 

Free Men (Les Hommes libres): A surprising and true story about the role that Muslims played in the French resistance and the efforts to save Jews during the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II. Well acted, compelling, great music. Kanopy, Tubi.

French Exit: Michelle Pfeiffer has never been better as the eccentric New York socialite who loses everything and goes to camp out in a friend’s apartment in Paris. Bravos to Valerie Mahaffey for creating the strange and fun role of Madame Reynaud. Amazon Prime.

Girlfriends: Claudia Weill’s 1978 low-budget classic rings true today portraying a young woman trying to make it as an artist in New York, and the ups and downs of relationships. Fine performances by 25-year-old Melanie Mayron and supporting roles by Eli Wallach and Christopher Guest. Criterion Collection.

The Good Liar: There’s more than meets the eye in this classic tale of con artists where Ian McKellan and Helen Mirren elegantly spar. YouTube.

The Good Doctor: This is actually a play by Neil Simon based on the stories and life of Anton Chekhov. Great cast, especially Marsha Mason and Richard Chamberlain (yes, that Richard Chamberlain!). YouTube streaming:

The Good Nurse: Outstanding acting by Jessica Chastain Eddie Redmayne highlight this complex and gripping story of a nurse who quietly takes out his deep-seated angers on helpless patients. Unexpected developments, and a strong message about corporate responsibility. Amazon Prime.

The Guard: Brendan Gleason and Don Cheadle play an unlikely law enforcement team trying to break up a drug-smuggling ring on the west coast of Ireland. Funny, moving, well-written. Great supporting performance by Fionnula Flanagan as the police sergeant’s mother. Amazon Prime.

Haute Cuisine (Les Saveurs du palais): Catherine Frot is excellent in this emotional film based on a true story about a woman who breaks the glass ceiling for chefs in two very different locations: the residence of the French president, and a scientific outpost in Antarctica. Amazon Prime.

Half Sister, Full Love (Et ta soeur): This is a switch! A French remake of an American movie. This film is a tight drama with three interconnected people in a beautiful house on the remote island of Ushant, the western-most point in France. Amazon Prime.


The Heist of the Century (El robo del siglo): Engaging Argentine bank robbery caper with eccentric characters and great photography. Amazon Prime.

A Hero: An Iranian flick about a man in debtors’ prison (sounds like out of Dickens, but apparently it exists today) and has 48 hours to raise the funds to get released. Well acted, complex situations. Amazon Prime.


Here We Are: Beautifully directed Israeli movie about a father and a grown autistic son who is too old to live at home but too scared to leave. Exceptional performances. Look for film festival screenings.

The Holdovers: Just when you think the plot of this movie is going in a predictable direction, the range of characters shifts and narrows, intensifying the drama. Excellent performances by Paul Giamatti and Da’vine Joy Randolph. Amazon Prime.


The Incredible Jessica James: Funny and moving romantic comedy about a young black woman trying to make it as a playwright in New York. Dazzling performance by Jessica Williams. Netflix.

I Am Love: Tilda Swinton as a Russian immigrant, and in Italy? Yes, and yes, and what an engaging performance! Such a stylish movie, with music by John Adams, great cinematography by Yorick Le Saux. Set in Milan and San Remo, just a beautiful flick to watch. Mubi.

Image of Victory: A kibbutz is caught in the crosshairs of the Egyptian army at the time of Israeli independence. The story is told from both sides of the barbed wire. Moving performance by Meshi Kleinstein as an Argentine immigrant torn between duty to her sister and her lover. Netflix.

In for a Murder: If you’re in the mood for a funny and clever whodunnit, check out this Polish flick about a reluctant housewife who is a wannabe detective. Fine acting and plot twists. Not high art, but a lot of fun. Netflix.

Kimi: Steven Soderbergh’s film is a tip of the hat to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, set in the digital age. This is a suspense flick, but one with a point of view about the disappearance of privacy, and its upside in connecting humans through technology. Max.

King Richard: Sensational performance by Will Smith as the dad of Venus and Serena Williams. Snappy one-liners, and depth to match the humor. Gripping story. Amazon Prime.


Lady J: A French 18th century costume drama loosely based on a Diderot story. The plot involves a rake and an aristocratic widow sparring in the ring of love. Netflix.

The Last Laugh: A road movie with Richard Dreyfuss as a stand-up comedian who gave up his career early in life to become a stable family man is is talked into trying to resurrect his act by Chevy Chase, playing his former agent. Funny, moving, and a great vehicle for Dreyfuss to steal the show. Netflix.


Let Them All Talk: Steven Soderbergh mixed together Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, Candice Bergen, Lucas Hedges, and Gemma Chan and let them improvise scenes on a voyage of the Queen Mary 2, and voila! the results are entrancing. Max.


The Life Ahead (La vita davanti a sé): Sophia Loren is still terrific at 86. But her performance is at least equaled by the fabulous young actor Ibrahima Guèye, who plays an undocumented pre-teen, orphaned in Italy. Moving, funny. Netflix.


Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed: Quirky and beautiful movie about an English teacher in Franco Spain who decides he has to meet John Lennon. The teacher picks up two teenage runaways en route and the trio’s adventures keep surprising. Amazon Prime.

The Lost Daughter: A powerful drama splendidly acted by Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley about a woman struggling with the competing pulls of family and career. Well directed and scripted by Maggie Gyllenhall based on a short story by Elena Ferrante. Netflix.


Lost in Paris: Great comedy with sophisticated slapstick humor about a small-town Canadian librarian who is hilariously sidetracked while seeking her senile aunt in Paris. or Amazon Prime.


Love Crime (Crime d’amour): French thriller beautifully acted by Kristen Scott-Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier about office politics taken to the ultimate extreme. Great plot twists. Apple TV+ and Google Play.


The Lunchbox: From India, comes a charming and deeply moving film about the remarkable system of delivering homemade lunches to workplaces in Mumbai, and two people whose lives accidentally intersect. Netflix.

Matilda the Musical: A fun musical for children of all ages about a child prodigy with gruesome parents and a Mussolini-like headmistress, played by Emma Thompson. Great cast, headed by Lashana Lynch and Alisha Weir. Netflix.

Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School: In a strange Twilight Zone between fantasy and reality, this film somehow manages to hit home with both its humor and its pathos. Great cast featuring Mary Steenburgen in a hilarious and moving performance in the title role, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, and cameos from Danny DeVito, Sonia Braga, and Kate Mulligan. Kanopy.


Master Cheng: Finnish movie about a Chinese chef who finds himself in a small town in rural Finland with his young son. Different and fun. Google Play.

Minari: This story of an immigrant family struggling to survive in a trailer in Arkansas grabbed my heart. What an amazing depiction of the grandmother by Youn Yuh-jung, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Amazon Prime.


My Dog Stupid (Mon chien stupide): Recent French movie based on a short story by U.S. author John Fante. Great performances by screenplay writer Yvan Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who are also a couple in real life. Amazon Prime.


A Most Wanted Man: A spy thriller starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles. The intricate plot is based on a John Le Carré novel. Complex, well-scripted and acted. Amazon Prime.

My Donkey, My Lover, and I (Antoinette dans les Cévennes): Laure Calamy from Call My Agent is charming as a teacher obsessively in love with the dad of one of her students. She follows his family on a hiking trip to central France. Great scenery, surprising plot twists. Amazon Prime.


My Piece of the Pie: French movie about factory worker who loses her job and becomes the maid and confidant of a Paris hedge-fund financier. Amazon Prime.

My Policeman: An intriguing love triangle involving a gay man, a straight woman, and the guy they both love, played by pop star Harry Styles. Styles holds his own as part of a strong cast. Amazon Prime.

The Nile Hilton Incident: A film noir set in Cairo, Egypt, during Arab Spring in 2011. Intriguing setting, interesting plot twists, good acting, and a very femme femme fatale. Mubi.

Nomadland: Director Chloé Zhao took a risk by casting many nonprofessional actors to play themselves in this emotional story of senior citizens living in vans and RVs. Thanks to her skilled hands, the risk more than pays off. Hulu.

Number One Fan (Elle l’adore): French mystery about a woman who adores a rock star, and the singer shows up at her door one night. Surprising script by Jeanne Herry, and fine acting by Sandrine Kiberlain and Laurent Lafitte. Not be confused with the U.S. film from 1995 of the same name. Kanopy.

Passing: Rebecca Hall’s stylish and thought-provoking adaptation of Nella Larsen’s rediscovered novel about racial identity in the era of the Harlem Renaissance. Great cast, elegant use of black and white photography. Netflix.


Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu): French costume drama with a steamy lesbian romance, set on the coast of Brittany in the late 18th century. Amazon Prime.

The Quiet Girl: Moving story about a child from a large family Ireland sent to live with a relative because her parents cannot afford to keep her. Based on the Claire Keegan novella. Apple TV and Amazon Prime.

One Night in Miami…: Stellar performances by a cast led by Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X and the multi-talented Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke (he played Aaron Burr in the original cast of Hamilton). Compelling story, great direction by Regina King. Amazon Prime.

The Painted Veil: Based on a story by W. Somerset Maugham, this stylish and thoughtful English film takes place in the 1920s. The main character is a woman who marries a bacteriologist to escape her family, only to end up in a cholera epidemic in China. Amazon Prime.

Phoenix: Another exceptional collaboration between actor Nina Hoss and director Christian Petzhold. Hoss plays an Auschwitz survivor who returns to Berlin after the war, hoping to find out who betrayed her hiding place to the Nazis. Dark, moving. Kanopy, Amazon Prime.

The Power of the Dog: If you don’t believe that actor Benedict Cumberbatch can do anything, this film will change your mind. The English actor plays a frighteningly aggressive cowboy who torments the newest members of the family. Great acting and plot twists. Netflix.


The Professor and the Madman: The remarkably dramatic and true story of how a U.S. Army captain in a U.K. insane asylum played a key role in the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Strong performances by Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. Kanopy.

Rams: An Icelandic saga in miniature about two rival sheep farmers whose pastures border each other. Although this film has a very tight focus, it ends up being about a relationship of biblical proportions. Beautifully acted and paced. This is the Icelandic original, not the English-language remake. Mubi.


Roman Holiday: Audrey Hepburn at her most charming paired with Gregory Peck in this classic romantic tale set in Italy. YouTube, Amazon Prime.

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday

Romantics Anonymous (Les Émotifs anonymes): A French rom-com about two painfully shy people who work in the same chocolate factory and are terrified to take the next steps to get closer. Funny, well-acted and written, sweet (pun intended). Tubi.

The Rose Maker (La Fine fleur): A family business creating rose hybrids is about to go under so they hire recently incarcerated workers. Stunning performances by Catherine Frot and Manel Foulgoc. Amazon Prime.

Saving Mr. Banks: A surprisingly sophisticated and well-acted movie about P.L. Travers, Walt Disney, and the making of the movie Mary Poppins. Sympathetic performances by Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. Netflix.


School of Life (École buissonnière): French movie about an orphan who is taken in by a servant couple at a manor house and learns about life from an eccentric free spirit who lives off the land. A bit of a fairytale, but an engaging one. Amazon Prime.

The Sign Painter (also called City on the River): A saga about Latvia in the 1940s, caught between the rock of Nazism and the hard place of Stalinism. A complex treatment of history that avoids simple judgments. Amazon Prime.

Sol: The premise of this film is unbelievable, the plot predictable, and the whole idea of a French flick related to Argentine tango doesn’t hold much water, but…this is a beautiful movie. Exquisitely directed by Jézabel Marques, with deeply moving performances by Chantal Lauby and Camille Chamoux. Amazon Prime.


Someone, Somewhere (Deux Moi): In this social satire, two young Parisians face lifelong personal issues in parallel. Written and directed by Cédric Klapisch of L’Auberge Espagnol fame. Amazon Prime.

Somewhere in Queens: Ray Romano’s moving account of a blue-collar family in the outer boroughs of New York and a teen son struggling to find his path. Beautifully acted, written, and directed. Amazon Prime.


Sound of Metal: A drummer in a heavy metal band loses his hearing and has to remake his entire world. Fantastic performance by Riz Ahmed, and strong supporting actors. You don’t have to like heavy metal. Amazon Prime.


The Student and Mr. Henri: Bittersweet French comedy/drama based on a play, with tight plotting, complex characters, and great performances. Kanopy.

Summer of Soul: Danceable documentary on the Harlem music festival in 1969 that almost got forgotten until the film footage was rescued. Great performances by David Ruffin (of The Temptations), Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Mavis Staples, and so many others. Hulu.

Supernova: Strong acting by Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci in this intimate drama of an older couple on vacation dealing with wrenching and complex life decisions. Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Vudu, FandangoNow.


The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire): Classic French comedy, parody on spy thrillers, cool 70s fashions. Laugh-out-loud humor. Kanopy.

Tár: Cate Blanchett nails this role as a brilliant orchestra conductor whose self-assurance spills over into arrogance, and comes back to haunt her. Sophisticated and intelligent screenplay. Amazon Prime.

tick, tick…BOOM! Musical with the pre-Rent songs of composer Jonathan Larson that has much to say about Larson’s struggles and the glories and torments of the creative life. Brilliantly brought to the screen by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Netflix.


Tigertail: Moving story of two generations of a Taiwanese-American family focused on the differences between an immigrant father and his U.S.-born daughter. Secrets emerge. Netflix.

Together: Beautifully written by Dennis Kelly, directed by Stephen Daldry, and acted by Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy, this film is about a couple struggling during the Covid-19 lockdown and pandemic. Trigger warning: some really rough language between the couple, but also great humor. Hulu.


The Trial of the Chicago Seven: Excellent performances from Sacha Baron-Cohen, Mark Rylance, Frank Langella, Eddie Redmayne and the rest of the cast in this thought-provoking recreation of one of the key moments in the 1960s in the U.S. Netflix.


The Trip to Italy: British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play fictionalized versions of themselves traveling in the footsteps of Byron and Shelley along the Italian coast. They eat photogenic food, perform hilarious impersonations, and have wacky escapades. Amazon Prime.


The Truth (La Vérité): Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche in a brilliant mother-daughter drama about a celebrated actress who is publishing her autobiography, bringing up all of the family’s conflicts and connections. YouTube.


Uncle Frank: A fine ensemble piece about family divisions. The film takes place mostly in the 1970s, but resonates deeply with the current divide between the educated urban class and conservative rural areas. Funny at the same time it’s tearfully moving. Amazon Prime.

The Unknown Saint: A Moroccan movie about a thief who gets out of prison and looks for his buried loot only to find it has now become the shrine of an unknown saint. Funny, quirky, thought-inspiring. Netflix.

Where the Crawdads Sing: Several people have told me they didn’t like the book this is based on, but the movie is worth seeing. This is a dark, surprising, and sympathetic look at an abandoned female child making her way in a brutal but scenic world. Netflix.


The Whistlers: Elegant heist movie set in Canary Islands and Bucharest about police inspector entangled with ruthless thieves, sexy woman accomplice, and demanding police supervisor. Unexpected plot twists and a mysterious whistling language of the Canary Islands. Amazon Prime, YouTube.

The Worst Person in the World: For some reason this movie is being marketed as a romantic comedy, but it is a thought-provoking and haunting tale that is originally written, acted, and photographed. Outstanding performance by Anders Danielsen Lie. Kanopy.




Honeyland: Just in case you are in the mood for a good Macedonian documentary, this is the one you should see. A deeply moving story about the last woman in Europe who collects and lives on honey harvested in the wild and her encounters with the changing world. Kanopy.


The Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story. Terrific flick about the long and storied history of Jewish athletes who have played the great American pastime. YouTube.


My Octopus Teacher: Gorgeously filmed documentary that takes place in Cape Province, South Africa, about a filmmaker who develops an amazing friendship with an octopus. Netflix.


The Painter and the Thief: Surprising Norwegian documentary with intriguing characters about a promising young Czech artist whose two masterpieces are stolen by a thief. Their lives become linked in unforeseen ways. Amazon Prime.


TV Series:

Abbott Elementary: Sensational series about teachers in an inner-city Philadelphia primary school. Strong characters, excellent acting. This show has a great team of writers and a wonderful cast! Max.

A Nearly Normal Family: An engaging and thought-provoking Swedish murder mystery with outstanding direction by Per Hanefjord and script by Hans Jörnlind and Anna Platt. Well cast, with solid acting in every single role, including the smallest parts. Netflix.

As We See It: Three adults in their twenties on the autism spectrum share an apartment and learn the hard way how to navigate the world. Funny, moving, beautifully performed by actors who are themselves neuro-atypical. Amazon Prime.

Bad Sisters: Set in present-day Ireland, this whodunnit series has terrific actors, including breakout performances by Sharon Horgan and Eve Hewson. Funny, moving, unpredictable. AppleTV+.

Collateral: Four-part detective series set in London and scripted by acclaimed film and theater writer David Hare. Features a pregnant detective, an engaging story line, and refugee issues. Netflix.

The Crown: I had zero interest in the UK royal family before I started watching this series, but it has grabbed me. Somehow the writers, director, and marvelous cast have found the moments that are most universal in the lives of the royals. You will also learn some surprising history. Netflix.

Fleishman Is in Trouble: A group of friends experience a cascading midlife crisis that goes from one to the other, told with compassion, intellect, and humor. Fine acting. HBOMax, Hulu.

Friday Night Lights: You don’t have to love football to love this series about a town in Texas that lives for its high school team. Complex characters, great casting, timely issues. Netflix.

Genius: Aretha: An eight-part series about the life and music of Aretha Franklin, with a strong lead performance by Cynthia Erivo and an excellent team of writers led by Suzan-Lori Parks. It goes on a couple of episode too long, but very worthwhile. Hulu and National Geographic.


The Hour: BBC series about a 1956 news program that breaks all the rules to present daring journalism. Fantastic cast that features Romola Garai, Juliet Stevenson, Dominic West, Ben Whishaw, Oona Chaplin, and more. Amazon Prime.


Lupin: French series based on classic French novels about a gentleman burgler, re-set in contemporary Paris. Beautiful performance by Omar Sy. Fast-paced, exciting, fun. Netflix.

Modern Love: Recommending certain episodes: Episode 1: “When the Doorman is Your Mainman;” Episode 7: “Hers Was a World of One.” Amazon Prime.


My Brilliant Friend (L'amica geniale): Series based on the Neapolitan Novels of Elena Ferrante. Excellent cast, strong adaptation, great views of Ischia and Pisa. Max.


Our Planet: Stylishly narrated by David Attenborough. Eight episodes on nature with amazing photography that brings you right into the wolves’ den and the humpback whale pod. Netflix.

The Plot against America: Strong adaptation of the Philip Roth novel about a highly resonant alternate reality where a fascist sympathizer becomes U.S. president. Super performances by Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, and the whole cast. Max.

Pretend It’s a City: Fran Lebowitz is incredibly funny and brilliant as she holds forth on topics from mass transit to cell phones. Netflix.

Schmigadoon: Fun parody of the golden era of Hollywood musicals with great songs and dancing, and a contemporary update in themes. If you like musicals, you will love this! AppleTV+.

Slow Horses: Excellent UK series about a branch of MI5 for failed spies. Memorable performance by Gary Oldman as the head of this misfit crew. Strong characters and writing. AppleTV+.

Standing Up (Drôle): A French series about stand-up comedians that shows the new, diverse Paris. Excellent script, and terrific performances by Younes Boucif, Mariama Guèye, Elsa Guedj, and Jean Siuen. Netflix.


A Suitable Boy: Excellent six-part adaptation of Vikram Seth’s epic novel of India shortly after independence. Superb cast, exquisite settings and costumes, smart screenplay. Acorn TV, one-week free subscription available through Amazon Prime.

Ted Lasso: Hilarious and moving series about a U.S. football coach who is brought to the U.K. to turn around a failing soccer team. Fast-paced, great script. Apple TV+.

The Trial (Il processo): Italian detective series about a woman prosecutor/police detective trying to uncover the murderer of a teenage girl. A plot with many layers, great setting in Mantua, good cast. Netflix.


Unorthodox: Four-part series about a young Hasidic woman who flees her claustrophobic life and marriage and seeks her future in Berlin. Brush up on your Yiddish. There are subtitles! Netflix.

White Lotus: A series about a fancy resort in Hawai’i that shows the class and color lines between the staff and the guests in insightful ways. Absorbing characters. You will want to know what happens next, and the show will keep you guessing.Max.

Short Films:

Affairs of the Art: A terrific and hilarious adult animated movie about an eccentric family and where their obsessions take them. Gotta see it! Joanna Quinn is the creator. Available to subscribers to The New Yorker.

The Haulout: This remarkable short documentary follows a marine biologist in a remote coastal area of Siberia, waiting for a migration to appear. I don’t want to give too much away. On YouTube at

The Last Repair Shop: Deeply moving, Oscar-nominated documentary about the ordinary yet extraordinary people who repair instruments used in Los Angeles public schools and the young musicians who enjoy them. YouTube.

The Phone Call: Sally Hawkins is as usual, amazing in this moving live-action short about a suicide prevention hotline. Kanopy.