In the time it takes you to read this sentence, five new streaming services will have emerged, while several others will have probably formed a content Chimera as networks and tech companies continue to shift in this turbulent era of TV and movies. The good news? You don’t need to keep spending a large chunk of your nest egg on subscriptions to every streamer under the sun, as only a handful are really nailing it.
Picking the best streaming services is an inexact science, but we chose to focus on the three with the most enjoyable original shows and the strongest selection of films. We’ve also listed a handful of projects that are leaving the streamers in July, so you can seize the moment and sink into your couch.
Noteworthy Original Series
The Bear: The second season of Hulu’s Chicago restaurant show features more slow broiled drama and high-anxiety kitchen calamities, while fleshing out the characters played by Abby Elliott and Lionel Boyce in particularly captivating episodes. Killer work from the trio of leads (Jeremy Allen White, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Ayo Edebiri) continues, and Season 2 features a murderer’s row of guest stars including Will Poulter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gillian Jacobs, and Mitra Jouhari.
The Act: At a time when there is more discussion about the ethics behind true crime, adapting the salacious story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard was a high-risk endeavor. But The Act manages to be both can’t-look-away entertainment and a refined story about disturbing family dynamics thanks to excellent work by Patricia Arquette and Joey King.
Searching for Soul Food: Much like soul food itself, Alisa Reynolds’ excellent new Hulu series was born out of struggle and perseverance. The celebrity chef nearly lost her prized Los Angeles restaurant, and used that adversity as a springboard for a sumptuous show that takes the charming Reynolds both across the United States and around the world. Like the best food and travel shows, Searching for Soul Food is profoundly informative without ever feeling like homework, a testament to Reynolds’ ease in front of the camera and the delectable, history-rich meals she centers.
The Quiet Girl: One of the best reviewed movies of 2023, Colm Bairéad’s The Quiet Girl is an inspired spin on the coming-of-age formula, thanks to a rich setting (rural Ireland in the early ‘80s) and a star-making turn from lead actor Catherine Clinch. Exploring grief, growth, and the power of family with tenderness and a deft touch, The Quiet Girl is one of those indie movies people will be raving about for years.
Infinity Pool: The “vacation from hell” is a horror movie trope that has been around for decades, but writer-director Brandon Cronenberg (yes, of those Cronenbergs) puts a bizarre and unforgettable spin on the concept with Infinity Pool. Headlined by terrific turns from Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth, the movie explores the troubling power dynamics that come from international tourism, creative malaise, and the tolls of hedonism in the context of a sexy, lurid thriller. It doesn’t match the schema-shattering highs of Cronenberg’s Possessor, but Infinity Pool is ambitious, original, and just so goddamn weird.