Ever feel like there’s too much to watch, and you don’t know where to start? Well don’t worry. Our Film & TV editor Hidzir Junaini will be rounding up only the very best things to hit your screens at the end of every month! Skip the mediocre and delve right into the good stuff.
A dearth of quality films at the cinema meant that only one great movie made our list this August. But as always, there’s more than enough amazing shows in the age of peak TV to make up the slack. Beyond the critically-hyped American prestige dramas, cable comedies and online animation – we also venture around the world to cherry pick amazing shows from India, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and England for you to check out.
Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul only continues to get better as we follow Jimmy McGill’s descent in this masterful fourth season. No other series is as adept making small human moments feels monumental. Bob Odenkirk’s nuanced performance here is absolutely gripping, conveying the toll of tragic misfortune, and the slow erosion of Jimmy’s soul, in subtle but no less powerful ways. As the show inches closer to Breaking Bad territory, the disparate worlds of Jimmy’s small-time hustle and Gus Fring’s big-time drug cartel begin to overlap in unexpected ways.
Although season one started shaky, Detroiters has quickly grown to be one of the very best pure comedies today in season two. A bit like Mad Men meets Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the delightful misadventures of inept ad men Sam Duvet and Tim Cramlin elicit mile-a-minute laughs with smart running gags, layered jokes, and blunt physical comedy. Although most of the humour in mined from it’s specifically downtrodden city, and the pair’s social obliviousness, there’s an earnestness to it all that keeps Detroiters’ surreally awkward mishaps from ever feeling mean.
“Life is stressful enough,” Amy Poehler says in the intro to each episode. “Let’s make a show that makes you feel good!” Making It is like The Great British Bake Off for DIY crafters – it prizes fun creativity and personal expression over competition. Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman reunite to host, and their charming onscreen chemistry evokes Parks and Recreation‘s ethos of kindness and decency. No drama – just good-hearted, talented people making beautiful things (when they’re not making friends). This is a comforting balm for a world that sorely needs it.
Spun of from What We Do In The Shadows, Jemaine Clement and Coco Solid’s new horror-comedy follows the same hapless officers we met in Taika Waititi’s mockumentary, as they get recruited into in the Wellington Police’s new Paranormal unit. Think COPS meets The X-Files (or “X-Cops” from season seven) done in the tone of Flight of the Conchords – this show delights in taking the piss with dry, understated humour. Whether handling petty crimes or battling hellish demons, these guys have no clue what they’re doing, and therein lies the fun.
Dear White People levels up from great to genius with it’s superior sophomore volume. The show’s ability to ground thought-provoking discourse on American race relations in emotional consequence, relationship turmoil and offbeat comedy is extraordinarily compelling. Dear White People somehow manages to both challenge it’s own “woke” ideology (by meaningfully giving voice to the criticisms of season one), and double-down on it’s perspective of the black experience through richly layered character portraits. Read our full review of season two here.
Within the kinetic and breathless badminton match in its opening five minutes – Hanebado! announces itself as the best sports anime of the year. Within its first five episodes, you’ll be convinced that it’s one of the greatest sports animes of all time. Everything about this new series is stunning. It’s animation is fluid and incredibly detailed, it’s sound design is evocative and intense, and the emotional arcs of it’s female protagonists are immensely compelling. Badminton looks like the most badass sport on Earth here, and you’ll be invested instantly.
In terms of tone and execution, Issa Rae’s storytelling sensibilities grow more assured and relaxed than ever in Insecure’s wonderful third season – even as her onscreen counterpart mines sharp humour and drama from sliding backwards. This show is a delightful low-key hangout precisely because it’s characters are so subtly drawn, it’s relationship dynamics are so nuanced, and it’s commentary on the contemporary African-American life is so organic. HBO’s hidden gemreally hit its stride last year, and it only keeps getting funnier and smarter.
Screenwriter Marti Noxon is showrunning five different shows in 2018, and while Sharp Objects is far and away her best work, Dietland is a clear second. Based on Sarai Walker’s book of the same name, this series is a dark satire about sizeism, a riveting drama on feminist rage, and a dizzying evisceration of the beauty industrial complex. While it’s many themes may leave it feeling unfocused at times, Dietland’s verve, style and wit is always ludicrously entertaining.
While it’s attempts at comedy are uneven at best, Final Space quickly reveals itself to be a really good sci-fi series in terms of raw emotion and beautifully crafted character arcs. Think of it as a much darker and more dysfunctional version of Futurama, filled with rollicking adventure and surprisingly potent drama – daring to go to tragic narrative places these types of shows almost never do. Final Space is an addictive, irreverent and simple cartoon that’s easily binged.
Hot off a buzzworthy first season that revitalized Jessica Biel’s career, The Sinner is back for yet another psychologically scarring whydunnit mystery. This new case finds Detective Harry Ambrose returning to his hometown to help investigate why an 11-year-old child would commit the horrific ritualized murder of his parents. As usual, shocking twists and turns abound, anchored by the discovery of a creepy cult, and a show-stealing performance from the great Carrie Coon.
Bobcat Goldthwait’s new horror-comedy anthology is a mixed bag of scathing satire, bizarre absurdism and timely allegory. From stories of a werewolf running for President and an actor haunted by the animated blue bear he voices, to a whirlwind date with a racist mermaid and a documentary about Justin Bieber-esque popstar selling his soul to the devil – Misfits & Monsters is always delightful and darkly hilarious because of Goldthwait’s idiosyncratic creativity.
With all due respect to Sherlock, this is Benedict Cumberbatch’s career best performance to date. Based on the novels by Edward St. Aubyn, Patrick Melrose is a miniseries that spans several decades of the titular character’s turbulent life, which included physical abuse from his father, a mother who did nothing to stop it – and his nightmarish descent into alcoholism and drug addiction. This dazzling tale of bleak circumstance and black humour is a must-watch.
Adapted from Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel about Mumbai’s criminal underworld, Sacred Games is a gritty Indian neo-noir series that’s unpredictable as it is addictive. Sure it’s “mastermind toys with a cop” premise is fairly trope-y, but it’s mix of Bollywood maximalism and dense Hollywood gangster epic offers a stylized flavour that few of Netflix’s other offerings can match. It’s lavish production, bracing narrative and superb cast will keep you enthralled.
WynonnaEarp’s unique blend of fantasy, horror and Western elements is such a fun ride that one wonders why it continues to be so underrated. It’s titular character is the descendant of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, and she battles a variety of supernatural threats with her 16-inch barrel special “Peacemaker” revolver. Now in its third season, this whisky-fueled, queer-friendly tale of complex women saving the world continues to be Buffy’s best spiritual successor.
Orange Is The New Black’s latest installment moves our cast of inmates from Litchfield Penitentiary to a maximum security federal prison after the catastrophic riots of last season. The change in setting functions as soft reboot of sorts, as half of the original ensemble is replaced by a new group of dynamic new characters. This drastic shift makes for an energetic and markedly improved sixth season, that mixes refreshing new stories with familiar long-running arcs.
This new animated web series kicks off Marvel’s more kid-friendly banner at Marvel HQ in spectacular fashion. Serving as a prequel to the upcoming Secret Warriors movie, Initiation follows Spider-Gwen on the run for a crime she didn’t commit. On her tail are heroes like Ms. Marvel, Patriot, Quake, and Squirrel Girl. With only six four-minute episodes, this is a fun and breezy adaptation of the popular Earth-65 storyline, featuring Marvel’s next generation of heroes.
Although it’s already been running for two seasons over in Canada (where it’s racked up a ton of awards), this screwball family comedy is finally available for international audiences via Netflix. Based on Ins Choi’s eponymous play, this series about a Korean family running a convenience store in Toronto is an uproarious delight that never takes itself too seriously. Kim’s Convenience is a throwback to old-school sitcom dynamics that always makes you feel easy and welcome.
Josephine Decker’s latest film is a funhouse mirror distortion of the lines between performance art and reality – as told through the roiling psyche of a teenage actress whose mental illness is exacerbated by an emotionally exploitative theatre director. And the film does an exceptional job of plunging it’s audience into the girl’s struggle for clarity by totally upending traditional narrative cadence. Madeline’s Madeline is 2018’s most invigoratingly unique cinematic experience, anchored by the awe-inspiring feature debut of Helena Howard. Read our full review here.