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28 of July 2017's best streaming debuts on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, and more

It’s a great month for comfort viewing, whatever your definition of comfort viewing may be.

Mr. Robot, E.T., Popstar, and Rogue One are among this month’s streaming debuts.

July’s streaming premieres are a generally lighthearted, approachable bunch, heavy on blockbuster fare both classic (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) and recent (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), unapologetically silly comedies (Popstar, Talladega Nights), and recent seasons of highly bingeable TV (Pretty Little Liars, iZombie). It would be easy to just shut off your brain and bask in the comfort viewing afforded by this month’s options — and there would be nothing wrong with that! Comfort viewing is great, especially in the dead of summer.

But July’s streaming slate has hidden depths, too, in the form of a couple of excellent, wrenching recent foreign films (Julieta, The Salesman), one of the year’s most compelling and frustrating documentaries (Risk), and a fraught tale of modernizing Europe disguised as a three-hour German comedy about silly pranks (Toni Erdmann). For those who derive pleasure from the sort of thoughtful, challenging fare that you don’t often get to see at the multiplex, well, July offers plenty of comfort viewing in that respect, too.

And hey, if you can’t decide which kind of viewer you feel like being this month, there’s always Killer Klowns From Outer Space. That’s for anyone, anytime.

Here are July’s best new-to-streaming options, broken down by premiere date and platform.

Premiering July 1

Emma, Netflix

When it comes to Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice gets all the glory. But Emma is one of Austen’s most sparklingly funny novels, and this 1996 adaptation channels its snobby charms beautifully. A pre-GOOP Gwyneth Paltrow is the perfect balance between insufferable and endearing as the eponymous heroine, determined to improve the lives of everyone around her despite all the evidence that her best efforts have quite the opposite effect. And keep an eye out for Alan Cumming doing his best sneer as the hilariously unlikable Mr. Elton, Emma’s least favorite suitor. —Constance Grady

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Netflix

It wouldn’t be summer without E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Steven Spielberg’s masterful fantasy classic that captures the pains and joys of childhood. Sometimes films for and about children veer away from painful feelings; E.T. does just the opposite, frankly addressing the confusion and loneliness felt by a young boy with an absent father and a distracted mother. It’s a familiar world that gets an unfamiliar element — an alien visitor — that turns everything on its head. The movie is just as nail-biting and emotionally resonant as it was back in 1982, and there’s no better time to rewatch. And maybe share it with a young person, too. —Alissa Wilkinson

The First Wives Club, Hulu and Amazon

If you’re someone who’s not immediately sold on a movie starring Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, and Bette Midler as three divorcées taking their unholy revenge on the ex-husbands who dumped them for younger women, there’s probably nothing we can say to convince you otherwise, except that you’re someone who may need The First Wives Club in your life most of all. —Caroline Framke

Johnny Guitar, Hulu, Amazon

It could be easy to write off director Nicholas Ray’s strange, lush Western Johnny Guitar as a campy diva vehicle for cinema’s grand dame, Joan Crawford. Instead, the film has become a beloved cult classic and a critical fave thanks to its weird, surreal plot about a woman trying to maintain control of an outpost saloon, its seething sexuality, and the force with which Crawford and her rival Mercedes McCambridge all but claw their way through the screen. —Aja Romano

Loving, HBO

Loving is a stirring, subtle romance with a Supreme Court case thrown in. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga turned in two of the best performances of 2016 as Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple at the center of the 1967 Supreme Court case that invalidated laws against interracial marriage in the United States. Loving is based partly on a documentary about the couple, but this film is not a triumphalist courtroom drama. Loving is more interested in the quiet love story and its broader implications, and it tells that story with remarkable restraint. —AW

The Matrix Reloaded/The Matrix Revolutions, Amazon

The two Matrix sequels, both released in 2003, have … let’s say “troubled” reputations. But they’re worth another look, if only to see just how many ideas the Wachowskis, who wrote and directed them, crammed into their ambitious vision for the series. The sisters have made better movies both before and since, but Reloaded, especially, is notable for how it tries to cram some deeply fascinating philosophical concepts into a Hollywood blockbuster (and the freeway chase sequence is still mighty impressive). —Todd VanDerWerff

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Amazon, Hulu)

A fleet of Trek films, specifically the entire pre-reboot franchise, is arriving on Amazon and Hulu in anticipation of the release of Star Trek: Discovery this month. The second of those films, Wrath of Khan remains perhaps the most beloved among Trek fans — and for good reason. Bolstered by Ricardo Montalban’s fantastically sympathetic performance as the titular villain, Wrath of Khan features the Enterprise crew’s strongest acting and richest dramatic moments — particularly an ending that’s earned its place in cinema history as one of the most iconic love scenes of all time. —AR

Premiering July 5

iZombie season 3, Netflix

There’s a lot going on in iZombie: It’s a crime procedural, a mythology-heavy story about a very slow zombie apocalypse, and a zany workplace dramedy all at once. In the past it’s had trouble keeping its many balls in the air — and giving every member of its sprawling cast things to do — but in season 3, iZombie has finally found its perfect balance. Each strand of the show strengthens every other strand, and each branch of the plot comes together as the season approaches its climax to create a propulsive, deeply compelling momentum. Plus, Peyton finally got a decent plot for herself. —CG

The Eric Andre Show season 4, Hulu

Four seasons in, comedian Eric Andre is still taking a sledgehammer to boring talk show conventions — and sometimes to his literal set. Hannibal Buress is still in the mix as Andre’s borderline catatonic co-host, and this latest season boasts not only the series’ highest production values to date but also its biggest guests. Jack Black, Stacey Dash, Jack McBrayer, Jesse Williams, and T.I. all endure Andre’s absurd antics, and the results are equal parts cringeworthy and hilarious. As Andre’s star continues to rise, it’s hard to picture celebrities agreeing to participate in his show for much longer, so savor the unmitigated shock value while you can. —Grant Rindner

Premiering July 6

Julieta, Starz

Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, known for his florid, wildly imaginative tales that bend gender, sexuality, and human nature as far as they can, offered something slightly smaller-scale with this 2016 adaptation of short stories by Canadian Nobel winner Alice Munro. Following the titular Julieta over decades, the movie examines her relationships with her husband, daughter, and others as they slowly fray and reknit themselves, over and over again. The ending is beautifully moving. —TV

The Salesman, Amazon

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi became the first director since Ingmar Bergman to direct two films to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film with this muted 2016 saga of a married couple whose quiet lives are broken open by a sexual assault on the wife, committed in her own apartment. Though not to the level of Farhadi’s greatest masterpieces (notably 2011’s A Separation), it’s a thought-provoking film with staggering performances. —TV

Premiering July 7

Castlevania, Netflix

Based on the popular 8-bit video game that roughly 85 percent of players never managed to beat, Netflix’s animated adaptation Castlevania is the classic man-versus-Dracula story, where the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan goes up against Vlad Dracula Tepe (Vlad the Impaler) to save Eastern Europe from a vampire uprising. Our protagonist and his trusty whip (a staple in the video game series) are the last thing standing between Dracula and total extinction. For humanity’s sake, let’s hope it turns out a lot better than when I played the game as a kid. —Alex Abad-Santos

Premiering July 8

Passengers, Starz

What if we told you there’s a movie that’s basically Titanic in space and puts a new spin on the idea of love making you do crazy things? But instead of ditching your rich fiancé in the name of love, this movie is more about love moving you to damn your soul mate to a life spent on a spaceship that will never reach its final destination? And instead of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, hunky-dorky Chris Pratt and American sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence are the star-crossed lovers and Michael Sheen is a weird android bartender? If that sounds great to you, look no further than Passengers, a film that somehow becomes both more inconsequential and more terrifying the longer you think about it. —AAS

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, HBO

One of 2016’s funniest comedies, Popstar was also one of 2016’s most unjustly ignored movies; now that it’s finally hitting streaming, perhaps it will find the cult following it deserves. The magnum opus of musical-comedy stalwarts the Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer), Popstar is a proudly goofy riff on Spinal Tap, applying the mockumentary format to the rise-and-fall-and-fall-some-more fame narrative of Conner 4 Real (Samberg), whose floundering solo career forces him to reckon with his legacy as a former member of the defunct ’90s rap group the Style Boyz (whose other members included include Taccone’s Owen and Schaffer’s Lawrence). Packed with hilarious Lonely Island original songs, literally dozens of cameos, and shrewd comedic observations about the nature of pop music and stardom, Popstar is a comedy worthy of adoration. —Genevieve Koski

Tour de Pharmacy, HBO

The wonderfully silly tennis mockumentary 7 Days in Hell was one of the funniest things TV saw in 2015, so it’s only natural to eagerly anticipate this follow-up from the same writer and director, who reunite with star Andy Samberg. This time, the sport is cycling, and the role of “handsome British foil to Samberg” (played by Kit Harington in Hell) is now filled by Orlando Bloom. This should be the perfect dessert for a long summer week. —TV

Premiering July 9

Lion, Netflix

The story behind last year’s crowd-pleasing Lion is so intriguing that relative newcomer Garth Davis could have leaned back in directing it: a true story of a young boy from the Indian slums who loses his family, is adopted by an Australian couple, and, eventually, goes in search of his mother. But what seems like a surefire home run for families looking for something to watch together takes a trickier, more cinematic approach, with long stretches of silence and a compelling emotional arc built into a story about the challenges of international adoption and a search for home. It’s in the mold of an “inspiring” story, but in Lion, that inspiration doesn’t come easily. —AW

Premiering July 12

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Hulu

While Step Brothers tends to stand out as the quintessential Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly collaboration, Talladega Nights is a more than worthy contender. The 2006 comedy, which casts Ferrell as an enthusiastic NASCAR driver and Reilly as his stalwart sidekick, is the best kind of dumb fun, even if just for the scene of Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) doing dinner prayers complete with shout-outs to his corporate sponsors. —CF

Premiering July 13

Mr. Robot season 2, Amazon

Season two of Mr. Robot is weird and messy and frustrating, but it’s also deeply compelling. It lost the hack-of-the-week structure that gave season one some consistency and balance, and in return viewers got a looping, elliptical conspiracy that was equal parts confounding and shocking (and that is probably likely to play better in a binge-watch than it did week to week, when the lack of episodic structure could be frustrating). If season one of Mr. Robot was about destroying the system, season two is about how to live in the world once the system is in shambles — and whether destroying the system will actually help anyone but those already at the top. —CG

Premiering July 14

Friends From College season 1, Netflix

Does the world need another gently funny show about upper-class people in their 30s trying to figure out how to live their lives? Not really. But this one hails from co-creators Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller, the latter of whom is one of the best directors and writers of comedy currently working. So it should be at least worth a look. —TV

To the Bone, Netflix

At first blush, To the Bone’s “anorexia dramedy” premise sounds like a recipe for disaster. But the movie — which premiered at Sundance — is also the product of writer-director Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, UnReal), who draws on her own experiences to breathe life into the part of a woman (Lily Collins) struggling to keep herself alive and feeling the full weight of that struggle crush her spirit. Throw in supporting performances from Carrie Preston as her mother and Keanu Reeves as her counselor, and we’re officially intrigued. —CF

Premiering July 16

Game of Thrones season 7, HBO

It’s been a longer-than-usual gap between seasons of Game of Thrones, but fans’ breathless anticipation will be rewarded for seven straight weeks this summer, with a season that appears bigger and battle-ier than ever. With most of the characters finally converging on the Seven Kingdoms, expect lots of long-awaited first meetings and reunions. —TV

Premiering July 17

Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Starz

Starz is returning this cheesy ’80s classic to your screen just in time for you to hop on board the hype train for the reported sequel, which — if it exists — is either a 2018 movie called Killer Klowns From Outer Space 2 or a TV series in development. We’re not sure how anything could top this cult favorite, which is one of those perfect ’80s horror-comedies that straddles the line between “intentionally funny” and “intentionally terrible,” with a dollop of “occasionally downright scary” thrown in. But if there’s one thing we can learn from Killer Klowns, it’s that the world will always need more Killer Klowns. —AR

Premiering July 18

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Netflix

Every Star Wars story has its fair share of tragedy, but Rogue One’s story — which follows the underdog Rebel forces who steal the plans for the Death Star, ultimately leading to its destruction in A New Hope — is harrowing in a way that makes it the most unusual chapter of the blockbuster franchise. It might not have the thrills of The Force Awakens, and its characters don’t get nearly as much time to develop, but Rogue One is a fascinating, layered film that you can now watch and rewatch at your leisure. —CF

Premiering July 20

Pretty Little Liars season 7B, Netflix

The most delightfully batshit teen soap on TV finished up its run by forcing its protagonists to play a photorealistic board game about themselves, with such fun turns as “discover that your longtime crush’s abusive husband fertilized and then implanted your eggs inside of her” and “get blackmailed into betraying your best friend by releasing a secret recording of her long-lost birth mother blackmailing her [the best friend’s] father over possibly murdering her [the birth mother’s] twin sister.” Nothing on Pretty Little Liars ever makes sense — especially not the reveals — but it’s always a wild and soapy ride. —CG

Premiering July 21

Last Chance U season 2, Netflix

The first season of this sports documentary series was perhaps Netflix’s most overlooked show of 2016, argued Vox contributor Nate McNamara. And season two looks likely to only increase the heartstring-tugging quality of this real life Friday Night Lights about community college football players trying to balance their studies with their hopes of getting one last chance at a Division 1 football scholarship. —TV

Premiering July 22

Risk, Showtime

Risk is a frustrating and complicated film about a frustrating and complicated subject: Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. And that’s exactly the film it needs to be. Risk plays more as a character study of Assange than a straightforward, informative look at WikiLeaks. Instead of fitting the story into any familiar political narrative about WikiLeaks, director Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) presents an uncomfortable look at the complicated interplay of Assange’s personal goals, the goals of his organization, his ego, and the then-outstanding sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden — all of which contribute to a sometimes admiring, sometimes infuriating portrait. Risk does anything but lionize Assange, but it doesn’t try to take him down either. It’s frustrating and absolutely necessary. —AW

Premiering July 26

Toni Erdmann, Starz

Would you believe that a three-hour German comedy about modernizing Europe was one of 2016’s funniest films, and one of its best? Rather than taking the joke-a-minute slapstick approach, Toni Erdmann slow-burns its humor, winding up to the punch with care and pathos that renders the punchline all the more poignant. But more than that, Toni Erdmann (which is slated for an American remake starring Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig) is about a father who refuses to do what’s expected of him, and a daughter whose desire to be nothing like him has driven her to the verge of hysterics. Their relationship is a hothouse in which the absurdity of modern life can be both exposed and forgiven. —AW

Premiering July 28

The Incredible Jessica James, Netflix

The Incredible Jessica James was a Sundance hit, starring former Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams as a 20-something Brooklyn playwright who strikes up a friendship, and maybe a romance, with a divorced app designer (Chris O’Dowd) whom she meets on a blind date. The film hits mostly conventional notes — equal parts career comedy and romantic comedy — but Williams shines so brightly that it feels fresh, funny, and a little wise. —AW

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