5 must-watch movies & TV shows streaming right now: 2024 Oscars edition – Boston.com

By Kevin Slane
Welcome to Boston.com’s weekly streaming guide. Each week, we recommend five must-watch movies and TV shows available on streaming platforms like NetflixHuluAmazon PrimeDisney+HBO MaxPeacockParamount+, and more.
Many recommendations are for new shows, while others are for under-the-radar releases you might have missed or classics that are about to depart a streaming service at the end of the month.
Have a new favorite movie or show you think we should know about? Let us know in the comments, or email [email protected]. Looking for even more great streaming options? Check out previous editions of our must-watch list here.
First-time director Cord Jefferson made one of the funniest movies of 2023 in “American Fiction,” a sharp satire of the commodification of Black identity nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. Monk (Jeffrey Wright) plays a bitter, depressed author from Boston whose works aren’t considered “Black enough” by the publishing world. In a drunken fit of pique, Monk writes a ludicrous parody of a story — an ebonics-heavy tale of drugs, gangs and murder called “My Pafology” — under a pseudonym. To Monk’s chagrin, the book becomes a hit, forcing him to come to terms with the idea of persona and authenticity as he nears a payday that could help his ailing mother.
How to watch: “American Fiction” is streaming on MGM+ and is available to rent.
From the very first frame, “The Holdovers” is a love letter to a bygone era. Featuring a throwback studio logo and grainy film stock, the movie takes place in 1970 at the fictional Massachusetts prep school Barton Academy, where curmudgeonly teacher Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti) is stuck babysitting a precocious student (newcomer Dominic Sessa) over Christmas break, while the school’s cook, Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), watches from a healthy distance. Director Alexander Payne showed Sessa a number of ’70s films to prepare for his role, including Hal Ashby’s “Harold & Maude” and “The Last Detail.” It’s fitting then, that “The Holdovers” feels like a tribute to the New Hollywood-era filmmaker: A film that prioritizes quirky, flawed characters over plot and leaves your heart full when the credits roll.
How to watch: “The Holdovers” is streaming on Peacock.
From the moment he first steps on screen in “Maestro,” Bradley Cooper is utterly magnetic as composer Leonard Bernstein. The life of the party wherever he goes, “Lenny” quickly begins a courtship with Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan), each glance and one-liner delivered like he’s starring in his own sitcom. Even after decades of marriage, Bernstein still feels like he’s putting on a performance at all times, a function of both his gargantuan ego and the massive pressure of hiding his relationships with other men. As Montealegre, Mulligan sublimely captures a woman who willingly discards her own needs to support a generational talent. When Bernstein takes the stage to conduct Gustav Mahler’s “Resurrection Symphony,” with Montealegre watching in the wings, we understand why.
How to watch: “Maestro” is streaming on Netflix.
“Oppenheimer” is an incredible achievement — one of the most thorough, ambitious historical dramas ever put to film. Every single aspect of the movie is huge, from the cast to the real, non-CGI explosions Nolan created to mimic the Trinity Test. But “Oppenheimer” is also quiet and understated. Much of its three-hour runtime functions as a tense courtroom drama and a sprawling game of 1940s backroom politics. Most of all, it’s a fascinating character study of a man stuck living in a world of absolutes whose mind never seemed to be satisfactorily made up about anything. Cillian Murphy is brilliant, but despite his centrality to nearly every scene of the film, he leaves space for others to shine in roles both big (Robert Downey Jr.) and small (Casey Affleck).
How to watch: “Oppenheimer” is streaming on Peacock.
The 2024 Oscars are this Sunday at 7 p.m., meaning this weekend is your last chance to stream all of the nominated movies. The final of the Best Picture nominees to arrive on a widely available streaming platform is “Poor Things,” which debuted on Hulu March 7. With “Poor Things,” director Yorgos Lanthimos has turned the story of Frankenstein into a treatise on the fundamental nature of womanhood, with Emma Stone as Bella, the living, breathing, highly sexual monster at the center of it all. After a mad scientist (Willem Defoe) implants the brain of an infant in Bella’s reanimated body, she begins a “Billy Madison”-esque speedrun from newborn to full-blown womanhood, with plenty of bumps along the way. Stone’s performance is the most fearless thing you’ll see in 2023, and she’s perfectly in tune with where her character’s development stands. Watching Mark Ruffalo play a mustache-twirling Lothario is icing on the cake.
How to watch: “Poor Things” is streaming on Hulu.
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