Sports are coming back this month. Well—maybe they are? As a backup, should you need one, there will be plenty of summer shows and movies to stream. There’s an antihero drama starring Mary J. Blige; riveting documentaries (about Michael Jordan, serial killers, and kids growing up in the Hollywood limelight); and Clint Eastwood classics. Check out everything that’s new on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max below, as well as a few personal selections from the Ringer staff.
What’s New to Streaming in July
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
The Umbrella Academy, Season 2 (Netflix, July 31)
Micah Peters: The Umbrella Academy resembles other, more popular shows, and yes, could easily be narrated by Jude Law and star Daniel Radcliffe. Instead, there’s an elderly butler monkey named Pogo, who wears a tweed blazer with stately brown elbow patches, and Dickon Tarly in a giant furry bodysuit. It’s a weird show. Come to think of it, “weird” is probably underselling it. At one point Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton, who both play time-traveling hatchetmen, eat too much weed chocolate and commit arson.
The Last Dance (Netflix, July 19)
Haley O’Shaughnessy: The Last Dance reveals its thesis statement within minutes: The Bulls front office ended one of the most prolific dynasties ever by triggering an early rebuild and forcing out Phil Jackson, their winningest coach in history, after the 1997-98 season—which ended with Jordan’s fifth MVP and sixth and final championship. It was the end of his career in Chicago, and the end of Jordan’s career in Chicago was, of course, the end of the Bulls.
Showbiz Kids (HBO Max, July 14)
Ringer Staff: Showbiz Kids highlights the highs, lows, and lasting impact of being a young Hollywood star, informed by those who know the industry best. Written and directed by former child actor Alex Winter and executive produced by The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, it features interviews with Evan Rachel Wood, Jada Pinkett Smith, Henry Thomas, Mara Wilson, and more.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (HBO Max, July 1)
Haley Mlotek: In the 20 years since release, The Talented Mr. Ripley, a movie about looks and reflections, remains one of our best-looking contemporary films. Minghella’s adaptation of the 1955 Patricia Highsmith novel is concerned with surfaces, and the depths they conceal. This Ripley is a movie about the intimacy of objects. Visually, the film remains stunning for its lush evocation of depravity concealed by good manners and better clothes; texturally, the depth of feeling is as enduring as the bloodstain that won’t wash off.
Million Dollar Baby (Netflix, July 1)
Adam Nayman: It was, for instance, interesting circa 2004 to see [Clint Eastwood] long vilified by liberal commentators for Neanderthal politics getting pilloried by the right for essentially advocating for euthanasia in Million Dollar Baby—a movie whose shameless emotionalism proved difficult for even skeptics to resist. We’re all guilty of going into certain movies with our hopes low and our guard up, and I fully admit to feeling surprised when a late Eastwood movie lands the equivalent of a sucker punch: Million Dollar Baby knocked me flat.
Magnolia (HBO Max, July 1)
Sean Fennessey: Life is not random. But it also isn’t organized. The sprawling, messy, brilliant, exhausting, miraculous Magnolia—Paul Thomas Anderson’s third film—is a mosaic of Los Angeles at the turn of the century. Its characters are vainglorious, shallow, wounded, vulnerable, gifted, and altogether unwell. Their lives intersect, or don’t, and the movie, across 189 minutes of Altmanesque emotional collision, plumbs new depths in the loneliness of life in Southern California. Upon release, it was considered a valiant but unfocused reach after the extraordinary success of Boogie Nights. Two decades on, it stands as one of the last great auteurist half-court shots.
Blade (HBO Max, July 1)
Shea Serrano: While parts of it sound odd or silly, Blade is an important pivot point in movie history. To keep things concise, it: (1) is the true origin point of the billion-dollar superhero movie industry we are in the middle of, and saw Black Panther turn in record-breaking numbers; and (2) proved that a person of color could take a superhero movie mainstream and not only have it do well critically, but also commercially.
Paranormal Activity (Netflix, July 1)
Fennessey: Truly a genre re-defining moment, the found-footage phenomenon Paranormal Activity is dollar-for-dollar one of the most financially successful movies ever made, grossing $193 million on an estimated $15,000 budget. It spawned five sequels and trampolined producer Jason Blum into the position of foremost horror impresario of the decade to come. Is Paranormal Activity innovative? Not really. Scary? A little. Important? Undeniably.
Some New-ish Things You Might’ve Missed
Because it’s hard to keep up with everything, here are a few things that have premiered somewhat recently that may be worth catching up on.
Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Julian Kimble: Da 5 Bloods is part reunion, part war epic, and part treasure hunt. It tells the story of Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), and Paul (Delroy Lindo), four veterans who return to Vietnam after nearly 50 years to recover the remains of their gallant squad leader, Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman), and the millions in gold they buried in the jungle. They’re later joined by Paul’s son, David (Jonathan Majors), who forces his way into the action. The film stresses that time and unhealed wounds can strain seemingly unbreakable bonds and corrode people from the inside.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO)
Claire McNear: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is not meant as traditional true crime fodder, and neither was the book that preceded it. The story of the Golden State Killer is not just about his crimes and the many victims he left in his wake: It’s also about the amateur sleuths who spent decades poring over the case in search of leads.
Michelle McNamara, who died suddenly in 2016, is perhaps the best known of the self-appointed sleuths. A writer by trade, she began to dig into the Golden State Killer case as an extension of her blog, True Crime Diary. Eventually, her research—interviews with survivors, witnesses, and investigators; visits to the placid middle-class subdivisions that saw long-ago terrors; endless searches for some thread not yet pulled—turned into I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, a book that was in equal parts about the Golden State Killer’s crimes and, as the book’s subtitle summed up, “one woman’s obsessive search” for him. She died before she could finish; the book was completed by a group that included her husband, Patton Oswalt.
Floor Is Lava (Netflix)
Surrey: The wildest part about Floor Is Lava is that nobody ever thought to make this into a show before. Floor Is Lava is exactly what it sounds like: a version of the timeless childhood game of not touching the floor while jumping between living room furniture, but on steroids. In the series, rooms are flooded with 80,000 gallons of gooey, bright orange water while various pieces of furniture and other items are all that separate contestants from falling into the “lava.” It’s perfect(ly stupid).
Perry Mason (HBO)
Surrey: The appeal of Perry Mason and its title character all goes back to Matthew Rhys, in his first starring TV role since his Emmy-winning turn in The Americans, for his indelible ability to look extremely sad. It’s what he’s excelled at for much of his career, and it’s precisely what he was brought in to do. “You get away with more sadness because you have very, very attractive Matthew Rhys,” Perry Mason co-showrunner Rolin Jones told The New York Times in May. “Who doesn’t want to see him brood a little bit, for crying out loud?”
The King of Staten Island (Hulu)
Alan Siegel: The King of Staten Island, which will be released on VOD on June 12, might be Judd Apatow’s most personal movie yet—even though it’s the one that draws least from his own personal history. Cowritten by and starring 26-year-old Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson, the semi-autobiographical tale (for Davidson, that is) follows Scott, a likeably difficult outer-borough kid whose grief over the death of his firefighter dad leads to arrested development. He’s the center of his family’s world, even if his mother, Margie (Marisa Tomei); potential stepfather, Ray (Bill Burr); and sister, Claire (Maude Apatow), are constantly vacillating between being worried sick about him and wanting to kill him.
Babyteeth (Amazon Prime Video)
Surrey: Eliza Scanlen’s terminally ill Milla still has one of her baby teeth, and when it eventually falls out at the end of the film, it is part of an eventful moment for a teenager who’s trying to live as much as possible with the little time she has left. If Sharp Objects saw Scanlen play Chaotic Evil and Little Women had her as Lawful Good, Babyteeth puts the actress somewhere in the middle. (A Chaotic Neutral, perhaps?) In the opening scene of the film, Milla appears to contemplate suicide on a train platform before she has a spontaneous run-in with Moses (Toby Wallace), a freewheeling drug dealer with a rat tail and a smattering of tattoos. (She gets a nosebleed, and his first instinct is to take off his shirt to mop up the blood; you can see how that might create a spark.)
Nadiya’s Time to Eat (Netflix)
Alison Herman: The namesake host of Nadiya’s Time to Eat is Nadiya Hussain, the 2015 winner of The Great British Bake Off. Time to Eat was released earlier this spring, and it isn’t Hussain’s first follow-up to her Bake Off success, but it is the first to be widely accessible to American viewers thanks to its distribution on Netflix. (Hussain’s prior series were native to the BBC, which also coproduces Time to Eat.) Loosely based on Hussain’s cookbook of the same name, published last year, Time to Eat builds on the Bake Off phenomenon even more directly than clear imitators like last month’s The Big Flower Fight. But in its casual centering of a voice rarely handed the spotlight in her industry, Time to Eat recalls a different Netflix hit: Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat.
A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path.
What to watch if you want to see Ross from Friends in a war miniseries: Band of Brothers is a 2001 American war epic following “Easy Company” through World War II, based on a book of the same name. Simply put, it’s got pedigree: It was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, and the cast includes Damian Lewis, David Schwimmer (yes Ross from Friends is in war TV miniseries), Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, James McAvoy, and Ron Livingston. Oh and I almost forgot, the hot priest from Fleabag is in there, too. The 10-episode series explores the unbreakable bonds that form in boot camp and get carried onto the battlefields of Europe. If you’re a war buff of any kind, you’ll definitely want to check out this show, which is available on HBO Max. —David Lara
What to watch if you can’t get enough of Jordan Peele’s work:
Hunters is a drama crime series, now streaming on Amazon, created by David Weil and produced by none other than Jordan Peele. The opening scene gives viewers an immediate glimpse into the show’s plot—Nazis are back and hiding in the United States. Based in 1977 New York City, Hunters introduces us to the protagonist Jonah Heidelbaum (Logan Lerman) who hunts for revenge and answers after witnessing his grandmother’s murder, but instead finds himself amongst a secret group of Nazi hunters seeking their own vengeance. The show portrays the harsh realities and effects of the Holocaust while paralleling the issues in the United States currently. This show dives deep into the notion that “history repeats itself” in a haunting way that encourages viewers to self-reflect. Buckle up, this ride seems awfully familiar. —Erika Cervantes
What to watch if you’re not totally sick of politicians and elections:
Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series The Politician is a thrill ride to say the absolute least. Honestly, it may be the most dramatic show to ever exist. That’s what makes it so much fun. The Politician is clever, funny, and interesting without ever getting stale. Ben Platt, Zoey Deutch, Lucy Boynton, and the rest of the young cast are excellent; they play their roles so well, it will have felt like no time has passed while watching the show. It has many exciting story lines—some that are obvious and others no one would see coming—and the second season turns up the dial to 11. In a world where most politicians suck, The Politician nails it.—Jomi Adeniran
What to watch if you need to distract your 7-year-old brother from using your chest cavity like a trampoline: “I’m doing the scent thing, like that bear from yesterday!” my little brother screamed while indiscriminately humping walls and humans alike. I made the mistake of putting on an old nature documentary, which, in the course of “explaining nature,” showed an adolescent male brown bear marking its territory by shamelessly thrusting its pelvis on a poor, unsuspecting sapling. My brother did not forget. That would’ve been the end of all nature documentaries in the Pryor household if not for my saving grace, Our Planet. Streaming now on Netflix, Our Planet is narrated by the legendary British conservationist Sir David Attenborough. And while it, too, has the occasional “mammal humps tree” action, Our Planet is, in general, quite anticlimactic. It’s the type of nature documentary that teachers might show in school. Which is the point. I do not know much about Sir David, but I know this: His voice is as smooth as honey and makes me fall asleep. He also makes my brother fall asleep, which I’m very thankful for. —Lex Pryor