Two androids are tasked with raising human children on a barren, far off planet after a devastating religious war on Earth in “Raised by Wolves: Season 1” (2020, TV-MA), an ambitious, high-concept science fiction drama that tackles issues of parenting, intolerance, and religious mythology. Oscar-winning filmmaker (and science fiction movie veteran) Ridley Scott produces and directs the first two episodes. (HBO Max)
Hillary Swank plays an astronaut who has to leave her husband (Josh Charles) and teenage daughter behind to command an international mission to Mars in “Away: Season 1” (not rated), a mix of space drama and family melodrama that leans on strong characters working their way through familiar tropes. Produced by “Friday Night Lights” creator Jason Katims.
The anti-hero superhero thriller “The Boys” (TV-MA), which deconstructs the superhero mythology with violent action and dark humor, has become one of the biggest hits on Amazon. The second season delves deeper into the conflicts between the team of human avengers (led by Karl Urban) and the corporate superhero squad headlined by the psychotic Homelander (Anthony Starr). (Amazon Prime Video)
“Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices” (2020, TV-Y) presents a collection five-minute episodes featuring prominent Black celebrities and artists reading children’s books from Black authors that highlight the Black experience. (Netflix)
Charlie Kaufman directs the strange, surreal, and melancholy “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (2020, R), a claustrophobic road movie starring Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons as a couple on a visit to the boyfriend’s parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) … or maybe not. It’s adapted from the novel by Iain Reid and, as with Kaufman’s earlier works, the baseline of reality is constantly shifting. (Netflix)
With the latest James Bond film delayed due to Covid, why not revisit “Casino Royale” (2006, PG-13) with Daniel Craig in his inaugural turn as 007. It’s still my vote as the best Bond film of the 21st century. (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu)
Disney intended for an international theatrical release for the live action adaptation of “Mulan” (2020, PG-13). Instead the multi-million dollar action spectacle starring Donnie Yen, Gong Li, Jet Li, and Yifei Liu arrives as a special “Premier Access” streaming debut only through Disney+ with at the price of $29.99.
International pick: “Borgen: Complete Series” (Denmark, 2010-2013, TV-14, with subtitles) is one of the smartest, most engaging TV shows of the last decade. This Danish political drama about a minority party idealist (the superb Sidse Babett Knudsen) elevated to Prime Minister is more satisfying than ever given the polarizing political climate today, and Netflix has announced that it is reviving the show with a new season coming soon. (Netflix)
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
John Leguizamo directs and stars in “Critical Thinking” (2020, not rated) as a coach who leads a team of LatinX and Black teenagers from Miami to the National Chess Championship. It’s based on a true story.
Jon Stewart’s “Irresistible” (2020, R) is a political satire starring Steve Carell and Rose Byrne as campaign strategists who bring national political theater to a small town mayoral race. Previously a Premium release.
Also new are the documentaries “The Mole Agent” (Chile, 2020, not rated, with subtitles), about a civilian hired to go undercover in a retirement home, and “#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump” (2020, not rated), which comes with a self-explanatory title.
Premium VOD: the comedy “Bill and Ted Face the Music” (2020, PG-13) reunites Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as the fun-loving duo as middle-aged father in arrested adolescence who go on a new excellent adventure with their teenage daughters (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine).
“Young Wallander: Season 1” (TV-MA) stars Adam Palsson as the rookie cop tackling an incendiary hate-crime in the prequel to the British adaptation of the Henning Mankell novels about the brooding Swedish detective.
“Adrift” (2018, PG-13), based on a true story, stars Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin as a young couple whose solo sailing adventure becomes a survival odyssey when they are caught in a hurricane. Baltasar Kormakur directs.
Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal star in “Wildlife” (2018, PG-13) adapted from the Richard Ford novel by filmmaker Paul Dano and cowriter Zoe Kazan.
“Blaze” (2018, R), directed by Ethan Hawke, offers an impressionistic look at the life and career of singer-songwriter Blaze Foley, an unsung hero of the outlaw country movement of the 1970s.
Rachael Leigh Cook and Damon Wayans Jr. star in the Netflix original romantic comedy “Love, Guaranteed” (2020, not rated) from director Mark Steven Johnson (“Daredevil,” “When in Rome”).
International Passport: Ordinary people suddenly discover they have superpowers in the conspiracy thriller “Freaks: You’re One of Us” (Germany, 2020, not rated, with subtitles). From France comes “H: Complete Series” (France, 1998-2002, not rated, with subtitles), the medical comedy that made a star of comedian Jamel Debbouze.
More streaming TV: “Chef’s Table BBQ: Volume 1” (2020, TV-MA) takes the foodie series into a new genre and nineties sitcom “Sister, Sister: Complete Series” (1994-1999, TV-G) stars Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley as twin sisters separated at birth and reunited as teens.
Kid stuff: the animated “The Boss Baby: Get That Baby!” (2020, TV-Y7) is an interactive feature for kids to choose their own adventure. Also newly arrived:
- “The Muppets” (2011, PG) with Amy Adams and Jason Segel joining Kermit and friends;
- the sillier sequel “Muppets Most Wanted” (2014, PG) with Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey;
- the animated “Puss in Boots” (2011, PG) with the voices of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.
Amazon Prime Video
Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Bacon star in “Patriots Day” (2016, R), a drama based on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
International passport: Michel Gondry’s “Microbe and Gasoline” (2016, R) is a whimsical French tale of adolescent best friends letting their imaginations carry them away for a summer adventure.
Kid stuff: “Dino Dana: The Movie” (2020, PG) is a feature-length spin-off of the educational series about two young sisters whose imaginations brings paleontology to life.
For grown-ups there is “Sex and the City: The Movie” (2008, R) and the sequel “Sex and the City 2” (2010, R) with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon and the comedy “The Birdcage” (1997) with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
Also new: Oscar-winning drama “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979, PG) with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep;
- Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977, PG) with Richard Dreyfuss;
- classic comedy drama “The Graduate” (1967) with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
The limited series “First Day” (not rated) follow a 12-year-old transgender girl (Evie Macdonald) as she enter high school. The Australian four-part drama was specifically made for families and kids.
James McAvoy gets top billing in “Wanted” (2008, R) but Angelina Jolie is the real star of the wildly absurd (and wildly entertaining) action thriller.
If you like your vampires young and sparkly and romantic, you can stream the entire “Twilight” saga, starring Kristen Stewart as teenage human Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as the ageless, undead Edward Cullen, from the original “Twilight” (2008, PG-13), shot in Oregon and Washington State, through “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” (2009, PG-13) and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (2010, PG-13) to “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” (2011, PG-13) and “Part 2” (2013, PG-13).
The whole family can enjoy the whimsical “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” (1985, PG), the feature debut from director Tim Burton.
HBO Max / HBO Now
Ben Affleck stars in “The Way Back” (2020, R) as an alcoholic who returns to coach his old high school basketball team. (All HBO platforms)
Amy Schumer is an insecure woman who wakes from a fall convinced that she’s a model-thin bombshell in the comedy “I Feel Pretty” (2018, PG-13).
Streaming TV: “Doctor Who: Season 12” (2020, TV-PG) with Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor arrives from BBC America. Also new:
- the CBS sitcom “Young Sheldon: Seasons 1-3” (2017-2020, TV-PG);
- “Miracle Workers: Season 1” (2019, TV-14) with Daniel Radcliffe and Steve Buscemi;
- the surreal Cartoon Network live-action comedy “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!: Seasons 1-5” (2007-2017, TV-14).
International passport: from HBO Europe comes the dramedy “Gosta: Season 1” (Sweden, 2019, not rated, with subtitles) about a young child psychologist (Vilhem Blomgren) in his first job in a small rural area. It’s the first TV series from award-winning filmmaker Lukas Moodyson.
Inspired by the unprovoked 2005 murder of a Black teenager by two white men in Liverpool, the British TV movie “Anthony” (2020, not rated) imagines what the young man’s life might have been had he lived. It makes its stateside debut on Peacock. Also new:
- documentary “A Most Beautiful Thing” (2020, not rated), which chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in the U.S.;
- sitcom “A.P. Bio: Season 3” (TV-14) with Glenn Howerton and Patton Oswalt.
“Earth to Ned: Season 1” (not rated) is a talk show from the Jim Henson Company featuring aliens from outer space interviewing human celebrities. (Disney+)
The true crime documentary series “Love Fraud” (2020, TV-MA) follows the hunt for an online scam artist. New episodes every Sunday night. (Showtime Anytime)
Bela Tarr’s epic seven-hour “Satantango” (Hungary, 1994, not rated, with subtitles), about the desperate members of an agricultural collective in a small village, has been recently restored and now makes its streaming debut on Criterion Channel. Also new:
- Henry James adaptation “The Heiress” (1949), starring Olivia de Havilland her second Oscar-winning performance;
- two films by Dorothy Arzner, the only woman director working within the Hollywood system in the 1930s: drama “Working Girls” (1931) and “Merrily We Go to Hell” (1932) with Sylvia Sidney and Fredric March.
Award-winning Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan directs and stars in the LGBTQ+ drama “Matthias & Maxime” (Canada, 2019, not rated, with subtitles). Available for a limited time. (MUBI)
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.