What to stream: ‘Moonlight’ and ‘What/If’ in Netflix, ‘Ben is Back’ on Hulu, ‘The Vanishing’ on Amazon

Mahershala Ali and Alex Hibbert in the Oscar-winning film from Barry Jenkins

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …

Winner of three Academy Awards (including best picture), Moonlight (2016, R) is a poetic and provocative portrait of a young black child, the sensitive, bullied son of a crack-addict single mom in a tough Miami neighborhood, presented through three acts of his life from childhood to adulthood. Mahershala Ali costars in an Oscar-winning performance as a drug dealer who shows the boy compassion and concern. Streaming on Netflix.

Julia Roberts is the concerned mother of a son (Lucas Hedges) fresh out of rehab in Ben is Back (2018, R), a drama about addiction and second chances. Streaming on Hulu.

Gerard Butler and Peter Mullan are lighthouse keepers who stumble upon a small fortune in The Vanishing (2019, R), a tension-filled thriller set on a remote Scottish island. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Renée Zellweger headlines the first season of the new anthology series What/If” a twist on the 1993 film “Indecent Proposal” by way of an outsized melodrama of power and infidelity, costarring Jane Levy and Blake Jenner. On Netflix.

CW’s young adult soap opera Riverdale: Season 3, a dark twist on the “Archie” comics, is now available to stream on Netflix, along with superhero shows The Flash: Season 5 and Arrow: Season 7, barely a week after their respective network finales.

Classic pick: Preston Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) stirs slapstick, saccharine romance, sex, and small town values into and audacious comedy, one of the funniest of its time. Streaming free on Kanopy.

Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand

Rebel Wilson is a cynic whose world becomes a series of romantic comedy clichés in the spoof Isn’t It Romantic (2019, PG-13) with Liam Hemsworth. Also new:

Available same day as select theaters nationwide is private detective thriller The Poison Rose (2019, R) with John Travolta and Morgan Freeman.


Allison Williams stars as a former musical prodigy with a sinister scheme in the horror film The Perfection (2019, not rated), which arrives direct to Netflix from its film festival debut. Debuting direct to Netflix is misfit teens-vs.-alien invasion adventure Rim of the World (2019, not rated) from producer/director McG.

Also new: science fiction thriller Limitless (2011, PG-13) with Bradley Cooper and horror film The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015, R) with Emma Roberts and Kiernan Shipka.

Foreign affairs: Joy (2018, Austria, with subtitles), a drama set in the modern world of sex trafficking, comes to Netflix after winning numerous awards as international film festivals.

True stories: the short documentary After Maria (2019, not rated) looks at three Puerto Rican women struggling to keep their families together in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and A Tale of Two Kitchens (2019, not rated) profiles two very different restaurant cultures created by Gabriela Cámara.

More streaming TV: Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It: Season 2 shifts the journey of Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) inward as she seeks her artistic voice. Also new:

Foreign language TV: two sisters turn detective after a series of mysterious deaths on a luxury cruise in High Seas: Season 1 (Spain, with subtitles), a mystery set in the 1940s. Also new:

Amazon Prime Video

The romantic drama People Places Things (2015, R) stars Jemaine Clement as a single father with young kids who reenters the dating scene.

Cult pick: Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide (1963) is an eerie psychological fantasy with Dennis Hopper as a lonely sailor who falls in love with siren.

Prime Video / Hulu

Billy Crudup is a young drifter turned drug addict in the 1970s in Jesus’ Son (1999, R), adapted from the stories of Denis Johnson (Prime Video and Hulu).


Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, and Gwyneth Paltrow star in Thanks for Sharing (2013, R), a romantic comedy about recovering sex addicts.

Streaming TV: the search for God gets more complicated in Preacher: Season 3 as the trio tangles with a vampire, a soul-stealer, and a ruthless organization known as The Grail. Also new: the remastered Baywatch: Complete Series (1989-1999) with David Hasselhoff.


The animated comedy Smallfoot (2018, PG) follows the adventure of a Yeti (voiced by Channing Tatum) in a remote Himalayan mountain who discovers that the legend is true: humans do exist!

Also new: military adventure 12 Strong (2018, R) with Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon.

Available on Saturday night is Halloween (2018, R), David Gordon Green’s sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic.

Acorn TV

Larry Lamb and Hayley Mills star in Pitching In: Season 1, a family drama set on the North Wales coast. The BBC production makes its US debut on Acorn TV. Also new:


A British family takes over a Florida RV park in Living the Dream: Season 1, a culture clash comedy starring Philip Glenister, Lesley Sharp, and Kevin Nash.


Disobedience (2018, R), starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams as women in love in London’s Orthodox Jewish community, is a compassionate drama of family and identity. The English language debut of award-winning Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman) co-stars Alessandro Nivola and Allan Corduner. It’s streaming free on Kanopy this month along with:

  • Steven Soderbergh’s indie horror Unsane (2017, R) with Claire Foy;
  • Breathe (2017, PG-13) with Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy;
  • true-life drama Denial (2016, PG-13) with Rachel Weisz;
  • Al Pacino in Danny Collins (2014, R) for “This is Us” creator Dan Fogelman;
  • Shunji Iwai’s cruel story of youth All About Lily Chou-Chou (Japan, 2001, not rated, with subtitles).

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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