Congratulations! With your recent purchase of a brand new Roku/Apple TV/Amazon Fire Stick you’re ready to – as Obi-Wan Kenobi said – take your first step into a larger world. That larger world is, of course, the world of chord cutting in which a seemingly endless supply of streaming apps, services, and content are available instantaneously at your fingertips. But with so many options of things to watch spread out across so many different services changing literally by the day, what’s worth binge watching before it expires and you’d have to – (GASP) – pay for it? Allow Crossing the Streams to be your official guide to what’s worth watching before it expires, what’s just been made available, and what’s just plain damn good.
Watch It Now
It’s important to take the news about any titles leaving Netflix with a grain of salt for two reasons: First, just because a title is due to expire doesn’t mean Netflix won’t renew the rights sometime between then and now; and second, a lot of the big titles are due to expire right before April Fool’s Day, so it all could be an elaborate (albeit neither charming nor humorous) prank being pulled by Ted Sarandos and co.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV Series (Netflix): The title that first made us all aware of both Joss Whedon as a unique creative voice and Sarah Michelle Gellar as a badass female vampire hunter just celebrate its twentieth anniversary. While the AV Club has been doing a stellar job of commemorating the series, there’s no better way to celebrate Xander’s ill-advised sweater decisions then by bingeing the entire series before it leaves Netflix on March 31st. Granted, all seven seasons will still be available on Hulu but if you’re not fortunate enough to have access to your co-worker’s brother’s Plus account then you’ve only got a few weeks left until you gotta start asking around to old college friends who owned every season on DVD.
The X-Files (Netflix): If you’re anything like me, then you’d like to pretend that the mini-revival never happened and that “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was just a delightful fever dream. While we may never be able to expunge the memory of Chris Carter putting a bullet in the brain of his own mythos, nothing can ever spoil the memory of the original run. That’s assuming, of course, that you’re able to retake that 9-season walk down memory lane before March 31st when the only truth that’s out there is that you’ll now have to be paying to watch the show. If you’re going to go that route, you may as well make your purchase worth it.
Amélie (Hulu): I know – you’re probably primarily using Hulu to catch up on the episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that you forgot about and you’ve probably forgotten that they show movies too (especially now that their Criterion titles have transitioned over to FilmStruck). Yes, Hulu still has movies and after March 31st you will no longer be able to watch the film that the American Society of Cinematographers said was the best shot film in the 10-year span from 1998 – 2008. With other titles on that list including Children of Men, The Dark Knight, and There Will Be Blood, that’s quite high praise for writer/director Jean-Pierre Jenuet and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel.
Friday the 13th Parts I – VIII (Amazon Prime): Look, we may not all like what Jason Voorhees eventually became and no one will argue that there is ANY merit to Jason Takes Manhattan but there were some genuine thrills and delights to be found amongst the murderous exploits of the most iconic violent man in a hockey mask this side of Patrick Roy. Revisit the reveal at the end of the original, the genuinely perplexing dancing of Crispin Glover in Part IV, and the legitimate tongue in cheek laughs of Part VI, but do it all before the entire series expires on March 31st.
Other Notable Titles Expiring: Arrested Development (Netflix, March 31), The Piano (Hulu, March 31), There Will Be Blood (Hulu, March 31), Traffic (Amazon Prime, March 31), American History X (Amazon Prime, March 31)
Watch It Later
All of the titles mentioned in this section have either just been made available, will be available soon, or their rights have recently been renewed. Either way, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
Gimme Danger (Amazon Prime): I’ve only seen one Jim Jarmusch film in my entire life (Stranger Than Paradise) and I couldn’t name you one Iggy Pop album so I can’t write effusively or enthusiastically at all about Gimme Danger. But I realize that in many circles, I’m the exception to the rule and in some other circles – or, more specifically, at the Venn Diagram intersection of two circles – the ability to stream this Jarmusch documentary about The Stooges for free is the best news they’ve heard all day. You’ll have to wait until March 23rd, but that’s not so long to wait is it, all you Greedy Awful People? (I’ll see myself out…)
The Wicker Man (Shudder): If you haven’t heard of Shudder, aptly described as the Netflix of horror, well… then Shudder is the Netflix of horror. From horror documentaries to cult classics to obscure foreign titles you’d only have heard of on the festival circuit, Shudder will provide horror aficionados with something to satisfy their bloodlust. As of March 1st, Robin Hardy’s original, unsettling English cult classic The Wicker Man, about a police sergeant sent to a cultish Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed, has been available to stream exclusively on Shudder. That means you can’t stream arguably the bleakest ending in cinema history anywhere else unless you want to pay for it (financially AND emotionally).
A Man Called Ove (Amazon Prime): The Swedish film nominated for the 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar didn’t stand much of a chance against Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman but its inclusion in the conversation of one of the best foreign language films of the year is well deserved. Adapted from the book by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove is a touching look at an elderly widower who has given up on life, the factors that led him there, and the outside influences that gradually talk him off the figurative edge. At times a difficult dark comedy and other times a touching, introspective drama, do yourself a favor and get to know Ove sometime after it becomes available on March 29th.
Other Notable Titles Arriving: Orphan Black Season 4 (Amazon Prime, March 14), Everybody Wants Some!! (Amazon Prime, March 17), High Tension (Shudder, March 20), Better Call Saul Season 2 (Netflix, March 27), Pete’s Dragon (Netflix exclusive, March 14), The BFG (Netflix exclusive, March 15)
Just Watch It
Somewhere in between the titles that are expiring and the titles that have just entered this world lay those that we’ve either taken for granted, forgotten about, or just plain didn’t realize we could watch for free. Let’s fix that because they’re damn good and they’re waiting for you.
The Americans Season 1 – 4 (Amazon Prime): Good news for Prime members! You currently have access to the first 4 seasons of the best show on TV entirely for free! Before you start complaining, yes, I watch and am a fan of Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Fargo, and Mr. Robot, but The Americans is – presented with hyperbole – the BEST show currently on television. A masterpiece of tension, political intrigue, complex plots, and wigs, the 5th season of The Americans recently premiered on FX and if you’ve been curious as to what all the hype is about, you have no excuse not to catch up on the show that, thanks to the curious The Wire levels of awards body blind spots, is still flying relatively under the radar. Watch it now and become the guy or girl who months from now can claim that you liked the show before it was cool.
Sing Street (Netflix): 2016 was a pretty great year for cinema so there are ten excuses as to why Sing Street didn’t make my Top Ten of the year but it was in the running for a long time after I saw it streaming exclusively on Netflix. A musical coming of age tale from John Carney, the writer/director/musician who also directed Once in 2007, Sing Street is touching, hilarious, inspirational, and – perhaps most importantly – has a phenomenal soundtrack that features the talents of Carney, Adam Levine, and Oscar-winning The Frames/Swell Season songwriter Glen Hansard. If “Drive It Like You Stole It” isn’t caught in your head for days after watching then you’re doing something wrong.