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Back in late March, which was at least a century ago in COVID time, the idea of staying home with Netflix and riding out this pandemic seemed quaint. Now, those of us who understand that hitting the bar could legit kill someone’s grandma are getting desperate for new at-home entertainment.
This is the Best of Omaha issue, so allow me to tell you about the best movies and TV you can stream in Omaha (or anywhere) that you probably haven’t gotten around to just yet. I’m going to divvy this up by streaming service, to make it easier on you to find stuff, because I anticipate your needs.
Oh, you’ll note I chose not to include Disney+. That’s because I assume every last one of you is already watching Muppets Now. The Swedish Chef’s Økėÿ Døkęÿ Køøkïñ is arguably the only thing bringing joy into this broken, stupid world. All of the other content they have is either The Mandalorian—which you’ve legally had to watch at least twice by now—or, you know, a Disney movie, which really doesn’t need hype.
What to Watch on Shudder
What’s Shudder? It’s more than just the reaction you have literally every time you turn on the news. It’s a horror-specific streaming service that is chock-a-block with shock-and-schlock! They have a 7-day free trial, which is worth it to at least watch the following:
At less than an hour, this pandemicky take on found footage horror follows a group of friends doing a séance via Zoom. Sounds lame, right? It is not. It is not lame. It is terrifying. It’s basically The Blair Witch Project with COVID.
One Cut of the Dead
This Japanese flick gets better the less you know about it. I will confirm there are zombies and that the idea of a “one-take” film is a central component of the plot. If you love weird, totally original flicks and are willing to read subtitles because you can fly twice as high as LeVar Burton’s butterflies, this will delight the shit out of you.
Tigers Are Not Afraid
One of the best films I saw last year, this is basically a Disney fairy tale about El Chapo told with the language of Gabriel García Márquez and Frida Kahlo’s visuals. Writer/director Issa López obliterates genre boundaries to tell a story about the globally ignored collateral damage of cartel violence: orphaned children. Escapism? No. Beautiful and important? Hell yes.
What to Watch on Netflix
What’s Netflix? I kid. You know what Netflix is. You’re 90% Netflix at this point. Every bathroom trip is now technically considered a “streaming exclusive” for the company.
Remember how Bong Joon-Ho won an Oscar for Parasite a few months ago (237 years in COVID time)? What if I told you he did a movie about how we should be nice to animals that features Jake Gyllenhaal playing a character that is basically Steve Irwin if he huffed paint thinner? Oh, and Tilda Swinton is heavily involved. Somehow, everybody missed this quintessential Joon-Ho jam. Remedy that.
See You Yesterday
I admit, the ending to this one doesn’t quite “spike the football in the end zone” or “solve the cold case with new forensics evidence” for you non-sports fans. Still, this inspired slice of YA cinema sci-fi tackles police violence against Black youth with a Back to the Future conceit. Director Stefon Bristol got great performances out of a young cast, and it has only grown more timely since its largely ignored release last year.
What if The Omen but funny? An always-game Adam Scott and an always-beloved-by-me Evangeline Lilly give us a horror comedy, which is right there at the top of my favorite, neglected subgenres (with “Erotic Cyborg Western” and “Animated Pagan Ritual”). I find that, since the world is now seemingly entirely devoid of humor, even passable comedies feel like pure genius.
What to Watch on Quibi
Oh man, are some of you watching Quibi? On purpose? Quibi is the Betamax of streaming services! It’s the Pet Rock of 2020. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars and came up with “What if we found a way to make movies and TV more upsetting to watch? Anyway, I just wanted to laugh at dumb rich people for a moment. Feels good, right?
What to Watch on Hulu
The safest recommendation I make to people right now is the latest Andy Samberg movie. One of the more refreshing films to ever blatantly steal from Groundhog Day, it is hard to actively dislike this one. I think my favorite part is that it lowers the bar on the moral of the story from “you won’t find love until you become a better person” to “give a shit about others maybe?” Let’s be honest, that’s a message we very badly need right now.
If you liked The Favourite and basically wanted 10 or so hours of something with that exact same feel, has Hulu got a show for you! Featuring Elle Fanning as Catherine the not-yet-great, the show follows her marriage to Peter III of Russia, played by an upsettingly funny Nicholas Hoult. Wickedly clever, it made me realize that I can handle cheeky costume dramas if there is enough obscenity involved. Just a damn delight!
I have been singing the praises of this raunchy sci-fi comedy since its debut. Three time traveling idiots keep saving and breaking the world, but it is really all about Wolf, played by Derek Wilson, who is in my top 5 characters all time from anything ever. The show completed a three-year run satisfyingly, but if they want to give Wolf a spinoff, I will dedicate my life to its honor.
What to Watch on Amazon Prime
Another show I have been trumpeting for years, Patriot is a twisty-turny spy series that has simply haunted me. The tone is somehow both really sad and really, really funny. The plot is somehow super simple—a secret agent spectacularly screws up a simply money exchange—and yet exceedingly intricate. It features a near-silent, super-long game of Rochambeau that is the tensest thing I’ve ever seen on TV. You gotta watch it!
Obviously, all of us love horror movies set in the 1970s that combine interpretive dance, unfathomable gore, and Tilda Swinton. Yet somehow, the most recent version of Suspiria did not get the love it deserved! This stunningly meticulous film is “beautifully ugly,” which is a very hard thing to pull off. Its exploration of cold war themes, gender conventions, and artistic brutality makes it one of the more brilliant remakes to ever remake.
For a few years, I held out, as everyone told me The Expanse was the new Battlestar Galactica. Was that because Battlestar Galactica’s ending hurt me? Yes. But I learned to love again. The Expanse features intense explorations of colonization and citizenship, bonkers interactions with aliens, and Thomas Jane in a really dumb hat. Do you need more than that?
If you have suggestions for hidden gems on streaming services, hit me up on Twitter @thereaderfilm, as lord knows this madness ain’t gonna end anytime soon.