TORONTO – Whether you’re laying out this year’s Oscar picks or looking for a great TV series to tide you over until spring, March’s streaming lineup is bursting with options.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most worthy streaming picks this month:
Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi lovingly embraces Toronto with her coming-of-age Pixar adventure set in the city’s Chinatown district circa 2002. A young teen girl’s boyband obsession is sidelined when she unexpectedly begins exploding into a giant red panda every time she gets excited. The phenomenon sends her life into a tailspin as she looks for answers while facing the possibility of missing out on catching her favourite pop group when they roll into town. Filled to the brim with local colour, Canadian humour and charming characters, Shi proves her Oscar-winning 2018 animated short “Bao” — another ode to Toronto — wasn’t a fluke. (Disney Plus, March 11)
Oscar’s Best Picture Race
The Academy Awards are coming in quick on March 27, so there’s no time to waste in doing your homework on the 10 best picture nominees. Luckily, brushing up is easier than ever this year with many of the nominees landing on streaming services ahead of the main event. Disney Plus debuts contenders West Side Story on March 2 and Nightmare Alley on March 16, while Crave premieres “Dune” on March 18. Other best picture nominees have settled onto streaming platforms already, with Don’t Look Up and leading 12-time nominee Power of the Dog on Netflix and CODA on Apple TV Plus.
With their marriage on the rocks, a dried-up romance author and her husband — played by Courteney Cox and Greg Kinnear — flee New York with their kids to resettle at a rural Connecticut mansion. Purchased at a bargain, they hope the sprawling property will give Pat the inspiration she needs to plot her next book. Instead, she finds herself distracted by glimpses of a mysterious ghostly figure, played by Mira Sorvino, who’s lurking around the house. What begins as a simple haunt grows into a darker tale as Pat begins popping pills and seeking answers for her visions. Told with cutting humour and some seriously effective scares, Shining Vale is a playful spin on typical horror fare. (Crave/Starz, March 6, episodes weekly)
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
Adam McKay divided audiences with his apocalyptic comet satire Don’t Look Up and his contributions to this heavily stylized, fourth-wall shattering chronicle of the NBA’s heyday in the 1980s will likely split viewers, too. Told over 10 episodes, the HBO dramedy tells of a new age for basketball in America as superstars and rising players of the era, among them Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin (Magic) Johnson, run against the excesses of the era. At the centre, John C. Reilly plays Jerry Buss, the testosterone-driven new owner of the Los Angeles Lakers who splits his time between parties and the courtside strategy. McKay sets the vibrant and relentless tone as director of the first episode, delivering one of the most uniquely cinematic experiences on television this year. (Crave, March 6, episodes weekly)
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
Samuel L. Jackson plays the titular Grey, an ailing old man who’s living in squalor as his dementia eats away at his memory. Abandoned by his family and friends, he is assigned to the care of an orphaned teenager, played by Dominique Fishback, who helps him pursue an experimental treatment that could restore his memories or possibly kill him. Jackson delivers a gut-wrenching performance layered with vulnerability and conviction in this six-episode limited series adapted by Walter Mosley of his own novel. (Apple TV Plus, March 11, episodes weekly)
ALSO THIS MONTH:
Three Months – After being exposed to HIV, a teenager played by pop singer Troye Sivan begins a weeks’ long waiting period for his results, finding a new perspective on life and love in the meantime. (Paramount Plus, March 1)
Our Flag Means Death – Rhys Darby plays a wealthy landowner who ditches his comfy lifestyle to become a pirate in this 1700’s-set comedy with Taika Waititi, Leslie Jones and Fred Armisen. (Crave, March 3)
Spencer – Kristen Stewart gives an Oscar-nominated performance as Diana, Princess of Wales, who is haunted by her troubles over Christmas at the Queen’s estate. (Prime Video, March 10)
Deep Water – Erotic thriller director Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal) pairs Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as a couple whose open marriage leads to murder. (Prime Video, March 18)
WeCrashed – Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway play the flamboyantly capitalist couple at the centre of the WeWork scandal. (Apple TV Plus, March 18, episodes weekly)
Halo – The popular interstellar war video game franchise is adapted into a live-action science fiction series. (Paramount Plus, March 24)
Pachinko – A sprawling cross-generational story of a Korean immigrant family. (Apple TV Plus, March 25, episodes weekly)
RETURNING SERIES: Netflix returns to the drama of Bridgerton for a second season on March 25, while the streaming giant puts the pedal to the metal with a fourth season of its acclaimed Formula 1: Drive to Survive documentary series on March 11. Also in the pot this month is season 2 of Drake’s executive produced Top Boy on March 18 and Queer Eye Germany with a local cast of Fab Five hosts on March 9. A second season of Star Trek: Picard begins its weekly rollout on Crave starting March 3. Amazon’s Prime Video returns to metaverse comedy Upload on March 11 and animated musical Central Park returns to Apple TV Plus on March 4.