What to Binge-watch this Winter



Millie Bobby Brown stars in "Stranger Things"

Photo courtesy of Netflix

 

It’s officially cold and snowy in Western New York, and that calls for some hibernation. While there are plenty of entertainment options beyond the confines of one’s home, some of the most unique and interesting choices are ready to be streamed. Here are some binge-worthy picks that are sure to intrigue.

 

Stranger Things

Who’s In It: Millie Bobby Brown, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Paul Reiser, Sean Astin
Who Made It: “The Duffer Brothers,” a.k.a. Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer
Where to Stream It: Netflix
What It’s About: Strange, supernatural events keep occurring in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the early to mid 1980s.
For Fans Of: 1980s cinema, especially the films of Steven Spielberg
Why You Should Watch: Stranger Things became a pop culture sensation when it debuted on Netflix in the summer of 2016, and the recently released second season saw the series grow even more popular. While the series’ playful incorporation of 1980s cinema tropes (children with special powers, government conspiracies, alternate dimensions) is key to its success, so, too, is the writing and acting. The kids in the cast, especially the wonderful Millie Bobby Brown, are truly talented. They make Stranger Things a must-watch.

 

Mindhunter

Who’s In It: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv
Who Made It: David Fincher, director of Seven, Fight Club, and The Social Network
Where to Stream It: Netflix
What It’s About: Set during the late 1970s and inspired by true events, Mindhunter follows two FBI agents and a psychologist who delve into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to imprisoned serial killers.
For Fans Of: Cerebral serial-killer dramas like Fincher’s own Zodiac and thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs
Why You Should Watch: While the first two episodes of this slick, ten-episode procedural are a bit slow, you’ll quickly become hooked by the central premise. The interviews with killers are disturbingly fascinating, and the acting is top-notch. Season two should be even scarier.  

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

Who’s In It: Elisabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella
Who Made It: Directed by Reed Morano, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood
Where to Stream It: Hulu
What It’s About: In a totalitarian society called Gilead, a military dictatorship has taken away the civil rights of women. Fertile women, like Offred (Elisabeth Moss) are forced into servitude as Handmaids for the upper class.
For Fans Of: Dark, dystopian stories with echoes of the present
Why You Should Watch: The Handmaid’s Tale is one of 2017’s most upsetting series. It’s also one of the most important. Mad Men’s Moss leads a remarkable cast that brings a terrifying, all too relatable world to life. This is haunting television.

 

Alias Grace

Who’s In It: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Zachary Levi, David Cronenberg, Anna Paquin
Who Made It: Directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho), written by Sarah Polley (Away From Her), it is also based on a Margaret Atwood book, Alias Grace)
Where to Stream It: Netflix
What It’s About: A psychiatrist must determine whether a murderess should be pardoned due to insanity in 19th-century Canada.
For Fans Of: Dark costume dramas
Why You Should Watch: Based on real events, this harrowing Canadian drama is top-lined by actress Sarah Gadon, a rising star who gives her best performance yet as convicted killer Grace Marks. This six-part series is even more emotionally affecting than that other recent Atwood adaptation, the aforementioned Handmaid’s Tale.

 

Twin Peaks: The Return

Who’s In It: Kyle MacLachlan, Naomi Watts, Sheryl Lee, Robert Forster
Who Made It: David Lynch, director of Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, and Mark Frost, co-creators of the original Twin Peaks
Where to Stream It: Showtime
What It’s About: Twenty-five years after the ending of the series Twin Peaks, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is missing, a doppelganger named Dougie Jones has appeared in Las Vegas, and a series of events join together Twin Peaks, Washington; Las Vegas; and South Dakota.
For Fans Of: The original Twin Peaks, which aired on ABC in 1990 and 1991, and the mind-bending work of David Lynch
Why You Should Watch: The greatest creation of 2017 was Twin Peaks: The Return, an eighteen-episode TV event like no other. Yes, it was difficult to follow. But the unpredictability made each week an unexpected thrill, the performance(s) of MacLachlan were award-worthy, and the shocking conclusion took it all into even stranger terrain. It’s like nothing else in TV (and cinematic) history.

Looking for more? Try the western Godless and royalty drama The Crown on Netflix, the delightful Mrs. Maesel on Amazon Instant, sci-fi yarn Westworld on HBO, and season three of Fargo on FX.

 

Christopher Schobert is a film critic and columnist for Buffalo Spree and Forever Young.

 

 

 

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