Streaming TV: 7 Top New Series/Movies You Won’t Find on Cable

By: Marcus Varner | March 1, 2016 (Edited July 7, 2017)

Streaming TV Reviews

What's on tonight?

While you can find plenty of top-notch movies and TV shows on plain old cable, thanks to streaming TV services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, more and more critically acclaimed movies and series are popping up exclusively online. These offerings range from romantic comedies to superhero series to horror; some of it is safely for families and some is decidedly not. And lest you should think that these offerings are of lesser quality than their TV counterparts, many of these shows and movies have been nominated for and even won Emmy and Golden Globe awards. They've also scored well with fans.

Bottom line: if you want to see some of the best entertainment around, it might be time for you to tune into an online streaming service. Turns out, this is a pretty good time to sign up.

Here are 7 of the best shows and movies that you can watch today on streaming TV sites:

1. 11.22.63

Streaming service: Hulu

Starring: James Franco, Sarah Gadon, Chris Cooper, Josh Duhamel

Synopsis: "Imagine having the power to change history. Would you journey down the 'rabbit hole?' This eight -part event series follows Jake Epping (James Franco), an ordinary high school teacher, presented with the unthinkable mission of traveling back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Jake travels to the past in order to solve the most enduring mystery of the 20th century: who killed JFK, and could it have been stopped? But as Jake will learn, the past does not want to be changed. And trying to divert the course of history may prove fatal."

What critics have to say:

"JFK assassination conspiracy theorists won't be disappointed with King's whodunit premise in 11/22/63, although they might argue with it. Likewise, the miniseries has something for fans of science fiction, romance and thrillers in general." - Gail Pennington, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Hulu's most ambitious original project... a well-crafted period look and an engaging leading man in Franco. But that slow pace makes it tough for viewers to stick around long enough to learn if Jake ever becomes the hero he's striving to be." - Eric Deggans, NPR

Why it's worth it: Not only does this series come from one of Stephen King's best novels in years, it's also got a fun mix of nostalgia, horror, and sci-fi, along with solid performances all around. The series is produced by JJ Abrams' Bad Robot, ensuring that things will always be ratcheted up to 11 in the intensity and heart departments.

2. Fuller House

Streaming service: Netflix

Starring: Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber, Michael Campion

Synopsis: "A recently widowed D.J., the mother of a 12-year-old, 7-year-old, and a newborn son, finds a few extra roommates in her sister, Stephanie, who is trying to be a musician, and her best friend Kimmy, who is the mother of a teenage daughter."

What critics have to say:

"By lazily throwing everything at the wall without a single element sticking, Fuller House stands as a threat to memories of an older generation and future memories of a younger one. How rude, indeed." - Ben Travers, indieWIRE

"Fuller House is sugary garbage that might drive you to madness if you watch enough of it, which is to say it honors its predecessor... incredibly well." - Tim Surette, TV.com

Why it's worth it: Did someone say nostalgia? Fuller House is nostalgia exploitation at its most unabashed. The old sitcom was never the kind you tuned into for gripping drama or the twisting plotlines. And let's face it, we haven't given the fates of the titular house's inhabitants a second thought since the series ended. So why can't we turn away now that they're back? Maybe the answer is less relevant than the fact that we can't. Maybe we're going to tune in, if only because these goofy characters and all their corny catchphrases just take us back to a simpler time.

3. Beasts of No Nation

Streaming service: Netflix

Starring: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi, Andrew Adote

Synopsis: "Follows the journey of a young boy, Agu, who is forced to join a group of soldiers in a fictional West African country. While Agu fears his commander and many of the men around him, his fledgling childhood has been brutally shattered by the war raging through his country, and he is at first torn between conflicting revulsion and fascination. Depicts the mechanics of war and does not shy away from explicit, visceral detail, and paints a complex, difficult picture of Agu as a child soldier."

What critics have to say:

"Fukunaga's hurtling camera and taut cutting keep Beasts of No Nation only just this side of hallucinatory, and Elba is the kind of titanic actor to kick it to a near-mythic level." David Edelstein, New York Magazine

"Idris Elba gives a powerhouse performance as the warlord of a rebel African army that trains children as soldiers. The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor should have his name on it." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Why it's worth it: No online streaming production could be farther from Fuller House in terms of quality and seriousness, which just showcases how diverse online content really has become. This bleak film on the heartbreaking subject of child soldiers raked in dozens of awards for directing, cinematography, acting, and more. It's one example of an outstanding film that would never receive a widespread release in the theatre, but now given an online stage on which to shine and find an appreciative audience.

4. The Man in the High Castle

Streaming service: Amazon

Starring: Alexa Davalos, Luke Kleintank, Geoffrey Blake, Rupert Evans

Synopsis: "Based on Philip K. Dick's award-winning novel, and executive produced by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), and Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), The Man in the High Castle explores what it would be like if the Allied Powers had lost WWII, and Japan and Germany ruled the United States."

What critics have to say:

"The result is bracing but shaky. The series is trying to explore difficult themes - the psychology of defeat, free will vs. fate, the tensions between conquering cultures - but its thin characters and pulp story twists raise doubt as to whether its sophistication matches its ambition." - James Poniewozik, New York Times

Why it's worth it: This grim series pulls you in with a mystery worth sticking around for and a world that feels all too real, a testament to the fact that online series aren't messing around. They have special effects budgets and acting chops to give the best network shows a run for their money. You can't watch this series without thinking about how this never would've been made by a network, but how we're all better off that Amazon gave it a chance.

5. Making a Murderer

Streaming service: Netflix

Synopsis: "Filmed over a 10-year period, Making a Murderer is an unprecedented real-life thriller about a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime. Set in America's heartland, the series takes viewers inside a high-stakes criminal case where reputation is everything and things are never as they appear."

What critics have to say:

"Few series pack a punch like this, and, further stoking your moral outrage, the tale this 10-hour docuseries tells is real." - Frazier Moore, Associated Press

"Making a Murderer is shockingly, disturbingly, infuriatingly a true story which took place in Wisconsin between 1985 and the present, and let me tell you-it will devastate you." - Vinnie Mancuso, New York Observer

Why it's worth it: Streaming TV sites like Netflix have created a whole new venue for documentaries, and this series represents the best of them. Although it is a documentary, it plays like the most suspenseful, unpredictable of crime dramas. The biggest kicker of the series is that it really happened. Again, a perfect example of the kind of must-watch programming that would never be produced by the major networks.

6. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Streaming service: Netflix

Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Harry Shum Jr.

Synopsis: "A band of legendary warriors protects a 400-year-old sword known as 'The Green Destiny'."

What critics have to say:

"While Sword of Destiny looks tremendous and the fight scenes are giddy fun, you can't help but get the sensation that something is missing." - Chris Nashtaway, Entertainment Weekly

"With all of the first film's startling beauty and emotional subtlety lost, even Sword of Destiny's established stars look uninspired in their roles." - David Sims, The Atlantic

Why it's worth it: This film isn't going to win any Oscars for acting, directing, or cinematography, not like its masterfully artful predecessor. Let's face it: the only things it has in common with the first Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are the sword and Michelle Yeoh. Otherwise, it's just another cheesy kung fu movie. But that's enough to put it on our must-see list.

7. Daredevil

Streaming service: Netflix

Starring: Charlie Cox, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jon Bernthal

Synopsis: "Marvel's Daredevil is a live action series that follows the journey of attorney Matt Murdock, who in a tragic accident was blinded as a boy but imbued with extraordinary senses. Murdock sets up practice in his old neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, New York where he now fights against injustice as a respected lawyer by day and masked vigilante at night.

What critics have to say:

"Netflix's Daredevil ... is a shock to the senses in a number of ways, but the first and biggest is that it's really, really good." - Jack Hamilton, Slate

"Marvel's Daredevil, Netflix's latest offering, is a well-scripted, beautifully acted superhero saga that is surprisingly impressive." - Tirdad Terakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer

Why it's worth it: Supremely dark, fast, gritty, and violent, this series leaves so many of its Marvel counterparts in the dust in terms of drama, action, and story. Watching this series will make you wish all of the Marvel properties were Netflix series. Take for example, the hallway fight scene in season one, episode two. You will be hard-pressed to find anything so crazy, and yet inspiring, in all of the Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor movies combined.

Oh, and you might want to get on this one ASAP. The second season is about to come out:

Of course, these aren't the only shows and movies made just for streaming TV. To see what's showing online and what customers think about, visit our Streaming TV reviews page today!

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Written by Marcus Varner

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