Love is in the air as we make our way into February and Valentine's Day season. And we're head over heels for the great movie options coming to Netflix, Paramount Plus, and more of the best streaming services this weekend. But narrowing down what to watch isn't always easy.
Here at Tom's Guide, we've done the hard work for you by rounding up all of the hits and none of the duds to make your next movie night one to remember. Leading the pack is Timothée Chalamet's take on the famous "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" chocolatier in "Wonka," which just hit paid video-on-demand (PVOD) streaming services this week.
Meanwhile, Paramount Plus sees the debut of "Past Lives," a heartbreaking yet grounded tale of star-crossed lovers that nabbed a Best Picture nomination at the 2024 Oscars. Over on Netflix, we have "Fresh off the Boat" star Randall Park's feature-length directorial debut, "Shortcomings," as well as the first haunting entry in Ti West's X horror movie trilogy.
So without further ado, here are our top picks for what to watch on streaming this weekend. If you're still looking for more solid recommendations, check out our 5 new to Netflix movies that are certified "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes.
Though it may not be obvious from the trailer, this Willy Wonka origin story is a musical like the two "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" movies that came before it. Timothée Chalamet stars as a younger version of the famous chocolatier, who arrives in Europe with big dreams of opening his own shop in a city renowned for its chocolate. He soon discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers who aim to muscle the promising young upstart and his bag of tricks out of town.
Critics have praised Chalamet's portrayal of the iconic character, even if the script doesn't consistently showcase his talents. "Wonka" director Paul King is best known for the surrealist British comedy TV series "The Mighty Boosh" as well as directing Paddington Bear's big screen adventures.
Buy or rent on Amazon now
'Past Lives' (Paramount Plus with Showtime)
Critics have been singing the praises of this semi-autobiographical romantic drama from debut director Celine Song since it debuted at Sundance last year. So it's no wonder "Past Lives" went on to secure a Best Picture nomination at the 2024 Oscars. The real surprise was Greta Lee being snubbed for Best Actress as her performance was often discussed as one of the year's best.
"Past Lives" tells the story of Nora (Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), two childhood sweethearts who lose touch over the years but reunite when Sung arrives in New York to see her one last time. Throwing a wrench in the works is the fact that she's already married to Arthur (John Magaro), who, despite his jokes, is not the "evil white American husband" that would be easy for Nora and viewers to despise. It's a heartbreaking tale of missed connections and the interminable links of fate that transcend time and space.
Watch it now on Paramount Plus with Showtime
"Shortcomings" is the feature-length directorial debut of beloved actor Randall Park ("Fresh off the Boat," "WandaVision"). In this Sundance comedy-drama, aspiring filmmaker Ben (Justin H. Min) sees his relationship begin to fall apart after his girlfriend, Miko (Ally Maki), takes on an internship in New York. While she's chasing her dream in the big city, he remains tethered to his day job of managing a movie theater and immersing himself in his cinematic passion.
However, with Miko's absence, Ben's world unfolds, and he begins embracing a variety of unfamiliar experiences and connections. With his best friend Alice (Sherry Cola), a queer grad student navigating her own romantic misadventures, Ben sets out on a journey of self-discovery.
Watch it now on Netflix
"Freelance" has the dubious distinction of being one of the worst-rated movies in the history of Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were much kinder, giving it a (relatively) impressive 77% "fresh" rating and praising it for being an entertaining, action-filled romp. So by most accounts, it's a perfectly enjoyable excuse for grabbing some popcorn and having a movie night with the family.
John Cena stars as a retired Special Forces operative who's medically discharged after failing to assassinate the dictator of the fictional country of Paldonia. He begrudgingly starts a new career as a lawyer but walks away from the job after a former Special Forces officer offers him a personal security role on a dangerous mission. He's tasked with protecting journalist Claire Wellington (Alison Brie) as she ventures through Paldonia to interview the very leader he once tried to kill. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
Watch it now on Hulu
Ti West's "Pearl" easily tops my list of the best horror movies in recent years. While its prequel, "X," is a bit of a harder sell, it still marks a haunting twist on the slasher movie formula. Albeit a deeply unsettling and gorey one at times.
Set in the 1970s, it follows Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow and the rest of a group of aspiring adult filmmakers who rent a guesthouse on a remote farm in rural Texas to shoot a porno. They keep the elderly couple they're renting from in the dark about the shoot, but when Maxine (Goth) catches the eye of a senile Pearl (also played by Goth) who's bitterly jealous of her youth, things take a turn for the murderous.
Watch it now on Netflix
‘Dicks: The Musical’ (Max)
Think “Profane Parent Trap.” This raunchy comedy expands on a two-person off-Broadway show created by writer/stars Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp. They play Trevor and Craig, self-obsessed business rivals who discover they are long-lost twins who were separated at birth. After discovering each other’s existence, they hatch a scheme to reunite their divorced mother (Megan Mullally) and father (Nathan Lane). Along the way, they sing, dance and let loose an untold number of F-bombs.
Streaming now on Max
In “Moneyball,” Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, a first-round MLB draft pick who was predicted to become an all-time great. Beane never reached those lofty expectations, and after a short, and uneventful, career as a pro player, he transitioned to the front office where he changed the way that people think about baseball by applying statistical analysis to the Oakland A’s player recruitment strategy, a system that was traditionally relying on a scouts gut feeling.
On paper that might not sound like the most compelling subject matter for a biopic, but thanks to a laser-sharp screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, as well as strong performances from Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt and more, “Moneyball” is elevated into a movie that grips throughout.
Watch it now on Netflix