Streaming Shows to Add to Your Winter Must Watch List

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In my humble TV Addicts Opinion, these TV series and this movie are a cut above all the others and, of course, they all star women. I never recommend anything that I’m not passionate about because that would hinder my writing.  Many of my recommendations are from another country and I feel should be watched with subtitles.  I find watching the dubbed version both irritating and distracting.  Most of the streaming platforms give you a choice in their drop-down menus.  So, if any of these recommendation appeal then Binge Away through the holidays Tomatoes.

“The Queens Gambit” Historical Drama Series Netflix

If you are one the few people on the planet that have NOT watched the Queens Gambit, then you must treat yourself because it is utterly Divine and exquisitely Beautiful … with a capital D and B.  The story, the script, it’s production, the direction and the performances are Perfectly executed. The style is imbued with a wonderful flair of whimsy that is enchanting but does not detract from the more serious storylines included.  The camera loves and adores the star, Anya Taylor-Joy, playing the lead character Beth Harmon. The camera focusing on her eyes, mouth and her subtle nuanced reactions in the closeups was a brilliant move by the director and enhanced her remarkable performance throughout. It reminded me of Audrey Hepburn where the deep expressive gorgeous eyes told so much of the story.  It is a series of the highest caliber in every single way and every episode is a revelation. You will miss it when you are finished, Tomatoes.

The Queen’s Gambit follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy, Beth Harmon, during her quest to become the world’s greatest chess player while struggling with emotional problems and drug and alcohol dependency. The series’ title refers to a chess opening of the same name.

“Calaphate”  Swedish Drama Thriller Series from Netflix

OMG! This gripping, jaw dropping, rollercoaster of a ride series from Sweden and Netflix kept me on the literal edge of my seat. Young women are at the center of this psychological thriller with lots of twists and turns that makes this story, both, eye opening and oh so tragic. If you can handle the intensity, the depressing nature and the tears this tale will provoke, I highly recommend this really top notch series.  Great performances, very polished and slickly executed, well researched and completely believable. It was a big hit in Sweden and is a binge worthy thriller, Tomatoes. 

National Security agent Fatima receives a tip that a terrorist attack against Sweden is in the planning stage. Meanwhile Sulle, a teenage girl in Stockholm, gets interested in her student assistant who opens doors to a new and fascinating world – the true path. That impending ISIS attack on Sweden entangles a group of very different women, including a mother in a bind, a spirited student and an ambitious cop who get tangled in the drama and chaos, while we look at a horrific act of terror from each and every terrifying angle and an examination of how religious fundamentalism can seduce individuals and destroy lives. 

“Patria” Spanish Historical Drama Mini Series from HBO Europe

Patria centers around two older women (Elena Irureta as Bittori and Ane Gabarain as Miren) on different sides of a 40-year terror campaign by ETA in the Basque Country of Spain that is poignant, profound and educational.  Patria took my breath away because of the beautifully drawn subtle moments within the story that were filled with pain, grief, lies, silence and fear. The 2 women and their families in this one community were once loving friends, each with a different background and each of their experiences and viewpoints of the conflict causes a total break in their friendship. The human cost and the emotional toll that the violence and extremism takes on both women and their families keeps you glued to the screen. Patria is an important series that speaks to many issues today and reflects universally what happens when a country and its people are divided. And yet…the series gives hope in the loveliest way.  It will most definitely speak to your hearts and minds in such a way that it will stay with you, Tomatoes. 

The complicated history of two families divided by Spain’s Basque Country conflict is told in this riveting series. Based on Fernando Aramburu’s novel, the series begins with the historic announcement that the nationalistic and separatist group ETA will end its violent 40-year quest for independence–sparking the return of a widow (Elena Irureta) looking for answers.

“The Life Ahead” Movie from Netflix

Holy Cow! Sophia Loren is back and in a big way! Sophia Loren starring in the film “The Life Ahead”, directed by her son, is a powerfully touching film. The acting master and charismatic movie star shines brilliantly and proves she hasn’t lost her touch at grabbing your heart strings and bringing you along with her on this story’s heart-warming journey.  At 80, her acting chops and screen presence still amaze. It was a joy seeing her on the screen again where she belongs playing Madam Rosa.  The simple exquisite moments created in this film by the writer, actors and director make the entire production sweeping in its emotional scope, and the nature of the storyline.  It also sweet, full of hope and goodness despite the ugliness that surrounds the characters. So much so, that I found myself tearing up or weeping through the whole of the film. The film is an inspiring 90 minutes and I recommend you put it on your movie watch list, Tomatoes. Don’t just take my word for it, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 94% rating.

Madam Rosa is a former prostitute and Holocaust survivor. She provides childcare for the children of “working women.” After a 12-year old Senegalese street kid robs her, she reluctantly agrees to take him in. They develop a deep bond and she tries to help him find his way in life, as he learns she is both a Holocaust survivor and an ex-prostitute.

“The Vahalla Murders” Icelandic Crime Thriller Series from Netflix

Especially for you crime and mystery lovers, I found “The Vahalla Murders” to be an excellent Nordic Detective adventure that kept me guessing till the very end. And boy, oh boy, the Icelandic scenery ain’t bad either.  I found the series compelling with a stunning performance by an Icelandic actress Nina Dogg Fillippusdottir in the lead detective role of Kata. I watched a second time because of my love for crime mysteries and I enjoyed it even more.  Give me a year and I always forget who “did it”. The series is intelligent with a riveting, expertly woven and performed tale with great plot twists, screenplay, performances and photography.  In my humble opinion it is an underrated and under watched piece of television art is binge worthy. 

A police investigator named Arnar travels from Norway to assist in the investigation surrounding Iceland’s first serial killer. He works with Kata, the officer in charge of the case, and together they must race against the clock to find the murderer before it’s too late. While the victims initially seem unrelated, the trail leads them to an abandoned boys’ home named Valhalla, where some horrifying events occurred 35 years earlier.

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