Summer is in full swing, and with it, a ton of new streaming titles to check out. We’re all eagerly waiting for Netflix to drop the last remaining episodes of Stranger Things on July 1, obviously. (I still have its grocery-store-promoted Surfer Boy Pizza I bought to tide me over until then.) For the most part, though, July seems to be a month of exciting original movies. Some that didn’t make it onto our list below but that I’m just as eager for as well include the cheeky new Netflix adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (starring Dakota Johnson, most recently seen in Cha Cha Real Smooth), Prime Video’s daddy-daughter flick Don’t Make Me Go, and the Zoey Deutch-led Not Okay on Hulu.
All good options. However, our Watercooler picks for July just happen to be a lot of feel-good family ones–what with BBQs, fireworks and happy memories on the general horizon. For good measure, too, there’s a few other streamers listed for the older crowd, which I include myself in, who are looking for something a bit darker and, perhaps, scandalous. Happy summer and may the Fourth (of July) be with you!
In a Patriotic Mood: America the Beautiful
July 4 | Disney+
There will always be time to watch something familiar like The Sandlot or Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day on the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. But the much better way to celebrate what is the 246th anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence and the United States as a whole is the latest National Geographic six-part docuseries, America The Beautiful. Sprawling, magnanimous shots of our country’s wilderness and wild animals are eclipsed only by the fact that the one and only Michael B. Jordan (Creed) narrates the story. So, enjoy that and have a safe and happy Fourth of July!
After Hours Viewing: How to Build A Sex Room
July 8 | Netflix
I know I said there’d be a lot of family-friendly options on this list, but this is not one of them. The pool of reality TV options is aplenty and ever-growing these days. High-end real estate, high-maintenance housewives, dating shows, competitions for cash. Well, now, Netflix has cooked up an altogether new kind of take on peering behind the red curtain, so to speak, with How to Build A Sex Room. In the series, luxury designer Melanie Rose collaborates with couples looking to renovate a space in their house–and their love life. A playful spin on topics that Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Lab has previously addressed, the whips-and-chains new series is sure to be deliciously shocking, if nothing else. All eight 40-minute episodes release on July 8.
An International Find: Dangerous Liaisons
July 8 | Netflix
There’s one trope of the teenage love story that never gets old, apparently. You know the one, right, when the handsome, popular guy enters into some kind of bet or scheme to trick the beautiful new girl at school into loving him. Think 10 Things I Hate About You or Netflix’s After and its many sequels. Not to mention the 1999 classic Cruel Intentions. Now the French are at it again with a new take on Dangerous Liaisons (or, as they would say, Les Liaisons Dangereuses), based on the book of the same name and not to be confused with the 1988 English-language adaptation. The film revives that old trope once again, with a Gen-Z Instagram influencer villainy twist. What’s more is that the bad boy-nice girl chemistry between the leads, Paola Locatelli and Simon Rerolle, seems spicier than even After’s Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin. Find out for yourself when it starts streaming on Netflix on July 8.
Watch with the Lads: Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher
July 22 | Prime Video
It’s time for 1800s fisticuffs in Prime Video’s next big original film, Prizefighter. Russell Crowe returns to his former Cinderella Man glory, only this time he plays the patriarch figure to infamous bare-knuckle boxer Jem Belcher (Matt Hookings). Based on a true and very tragic story, Prizefighter packs a mighty promise about the ideals of family legacy and how societal expectations of the day complicated Belcher’s journey to the top of his sport. A perfect pick for a guy’s night or even date night in, wouldn’t you say? (Fun fact: Hookings acts as both lead star, producer, and writer of biographical drama.)
For Strong Feminist Vibes: The Princess
July 1 |Hulu
“I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation,” indeed. The Princess starring Joey King (The Kissing Booth) puts a modern, feminist spin on the old tales of sleeping beauties and locked-away royalty. And goes one step further, in fact. Not only is she not marrying her much older fiancé (played by Dominic Cooper), but she’s also willing to fight quite literally to the death over her conviction. Yet, it’s a much more jovial tone than how it sounds on the face of things, in the similar vein of Mirror, Mirror or Ella Enchanted, except with more grit and lots of martial-arts action. Catch this original film streaming on Hulu on July 1.
For True Crime Fans: Black Bird
July 8 | Apple TV+
For all the true crime fanatics out there, Apple TV+ is about to drop your next best option: Black Bird. In this story inspired by true events, Taron Egerton (The Kingsman) plays a convicted felon who enters into a dangerous bargain. In exchange for his release from prison, he must first transfer to a max security one, befriend suspected serial killer Larry Hall and illicit a confession from him while also facing the most extreme version of prison life with all its terrors. Between the trailer’s eerie choral music and another spooky tour de force performance by Paul Walter Hauser as Hall, I’m already kind of scared. Find out if snitches really do get stitches when the miniseries drops on July 8.