Each week we highlight the noteworthy titles that have recently hit streaming platforms in the United States. Check out this week’s selections below and past round-ups here.

Avatar: The Way of Water (James Cameron)

James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel finally arrived. If not to just wax poetic on the photo-realistic Na’vi and the water they inhabit, one has to admire the megalomaniac yet compassionate director’s knack for a satisfying narrative. Culminating in a perfectly constructed final act which shifts from about four different kinds of action sequence, constantly escalating the stakes and managing to conclude with a lovely, Miyazaki-like grace note… well, you can’t help but admire a blockbuster that has the whole package. – Ethan V.

Where to Stream: VOD

Creed III (Michael B. Jordan)

Just to get it out of the way: the first Creed is the best Rocky film. They share the same formula, a foundation no doubt solidified by the ‘70s sports classic, but Ryan Coogler perfected it to shape a framework that would become emblematic of so many lega-sequels thereafter. The backslide of a follow-up, Creed II, seemed to trade fully in nostalgia, and leaning so hard into the Rocky IV of it all felt cheaper in comparison. A safety net. In such terms Creed III’s success may hinge on a viewer’s love for the Rocky franchise overall. For devotees, Sylvester Stallone’s absence as the Philly icon may leave something of an emotional vacuum. For those unattached, especially following a Drago-heavy part II, it’s almost immediately apparent how liberating Rocky Balboa’s vacancy is. A third installment (or ninth, depending on who’s counting) can be hard to narratively justify in any franchise, let alone one where the legacy character decides to uncharitably bow out. But star and first-time director Michael B. Jordan uses newfound free space to his advantage. Haymakers and uppercuts aren’t the only bold swings taken here. If Creed is the best of the Rocky films, Creed III works because it’s barely a Rocky film. – Conor O. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Giraffe (Anna Sofie Hartmann)

Like Jia Zhangke’s Still LifeGiraffe is a fiction sketched around the margins of an infrastructure project, capturing impressions of life and landscape in a place across which the state will soon sweep like a hand across a countertop. Instead of Still Life’s Three Gorges Dam, which juxtaposed the epic scope of the CCP’s ambition against the worker ants carrying the project out or being washed away in its wake, Giraffe’s Danish director Anna Sofie Hartmann tells a prototypical EU story of technocratic consensus and its faint, localized counterweight of regret over dying tradition. – Mark A. (full review)

Where to Stream: Film Movement Plus

Hunt (Lee Jung-jae)

Lee Jung-jae’s writing, directing, and producing debut Hunt is a tricky film, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. At its heart this is a 50-50 blend of The Raid and JFK, but camouflaged in espionage procedure. It’s 1983, South Korea. The 1979 assassination of the president / coup by the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA, since renamed the NIS––National Intelligence Service) has left a wake of political chaos and widespread distrust across and within every government agency, the kind that forms a melodramatic web of tension so knotted it would take 25 pages to unpack in narrative detail. Moreover, North Korean attacks are an ever-present threat, and intelligence is leaking from South Korean agencies like oil from a BP oil rig, assuring the presence of a mole: Donglim. – Luke H. (full review)

Where to Stream: Hulu

In Viaggio: The Travels of Pope Francis (Gianfranco Rosi)

Following The Young PopeThe New Pope, and The Two Popes, the time has officially come for the Woke Pope. In Viaggio, Gianfranco Rosi’s fascinating Rorschach test of a documentary, is also something of a People’s History of Pope Francis, pontiff since 2013, in that it largely consists of television broadcast footage of the man on his sundry global travels, though the filmmaker wisely deigns not to visualize his popular Twitter account. We don’t glimpse him from his own subjective point-of-view, as Fernando Meirelles and Jonathan Pryce attempted to show in their version; instead Rosi privileges what the global Roman Catholic membership and also what curious nonbelievers and secular onlookers observe—the dignified outer surface. And intriguingly enough, it’s a fairly flattering picture as one of the world’s oldest, most powerful institutions attempts some crisis PR in front of the contemporary world’s gaze. – David K. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Phoenix (Christian Petzold)

Following the Second World War, European auteurs probed its lingering national psychological fallout resulting in films such as Night and FogHiroshima Mon Amour, and Germany Year Zero. Phoenix sits well within that style, its historical perspective strangely 60 years out of date but not unwelcome for it. Themes of identity, guilt, and misrecognition play out when a Holocaust survivor returns to Berlin. Nelly (Nina Hoss), who’s had reconstructive surgery on her face, seeks out her husband Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld) in the ruins of the city even as her friend Lene (Nina Kunzendorf) warns her that Johnny betrayed her to the Nazis. – Martin J. (full review)

Where to Stream: Tubi

Rye Lane (Raine Allen-Miller)

Early into Raine Allen-Miller’s Rye Lane, the London-set romantic comedy shows a sense of newness. Using fisheye lenses, zooming close-ups, and integrated flashbacks, this directorial debut feels undeniably modern. The comedy wants to reinvent past tropes, underlying British hip-hop and rap beneath the entirety of the speedy 82-minute runtime. It flies with London as a backdrop, a city that’s as alive as ever in this story. – Michael F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Hulu

Smoking Causes Coughing (Quentin Dupieux)

Teeming with all kinds of freaks and plots that toggle freely between the real and the absurd, Quentin Dupieux’s films are the work of an inveterate, shamelessly playful raconteur. With ten features now to his name, the musician-turned-filmmaker has amassed an oeuvre whose leitmotif isn’t (just) the director’s penchant for the gonzo, but his passion for storytelling itself. Stories and storytellers abound in his latest, Smoking Causes Coughing. A Russian doll of tales-within-tales, it features one of Dupieux’s most bizarre concoctions yet—which, for a man that gave us a sentient killer tire (Rubber), an oversized fly-turned-pet (Mandibles), and a leather jacket with homicidal powers (Deerskin), is to say plenty. That’d be the Tobacco Force, a group of five superheroes who roam the Earth slaughtering monsters with the power of the toxic substances they borrow their names from—but which, curiously, none of them has ever consumed. (Lest you forget, as a squad member warns a boy at the outset, “smoking is for losers!”)  – Leonardo G. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Trust (Hal Hartley)

One of the great American filmmakers of his time––so inevitably, invariably among the most undervalued––Hal Hartley is in perpetual need of appreciation, recognition, discovery. Le Cinéma Club are aiding the cause by streaming, one week and for free, his 1990 feature Trust, an ideal introduction to his Bressonian compositions, Godardian humor, and mix of menace and pathos that is Hartley’s alone. I can’t emphasize how jealous I am of those who could use this as opportunity to plunder his filmography. – Nick N.

Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club

Also New to Streaming


The King of Comedy

MUBI (free for 30 days)

Ghost in the Shell 2.0
In the Fade
Switchblade Sisters
The Five Obstructions
Little Men


Murder Mystery 2

Prime Video

To the Stars
Zeros and Ones

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