X

Streaming hits (and misses) of 2016

Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu produced more original TV shows and movies than ever in 2016. We list the big names, breakout hits and ones to avoid.

richard-trenholm-square.jpg
richard-trenholm-square.jpg

Richard Trenholm

See full bio
stranger-things-crushing-it-thumb.jpg
1 of 53 Netflix

'Stranger Things'

Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Crackle all create original movies and TV shows for online viewing. The '80s-tastic "Stranger Things" was one of the year's biggest streaming hits on Netflix.

netflix-black-mirror.jpg
2 of 53 Netflix/Laurie Sparham

'Black Mirror'

Netflix bought Channel 4's sci-fi anthology series, "Black Mirror," for more twisted tales of technology that'll leave you shaken -- at least until you pick up your phone again.

amazon-wacky-racists1.jpg
3 of 53 Amazon Video

'The Grand Tour'

The former "Top Gear" team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May hit the road with a pile of Amazon cash in "The Grand Tour."

thecrown10503708r.jpg
4 of 53 Robert Viglasky/Netflix

'The Crown'

The first UK production for Netflix is "The Crown," which tells the story of the British royal family in sumptuous style.

thetick.jpg
5 of 53 Amazon

'The Tick'

The superpower of Peter Serafinowicz is comedy in "The Tick," one of several pilots streamed on Amazon that were then picked up as a full series.

get-down-netflix-baz-luhrman12.jpg
6 of 53 Netflix

'The Get Down'

Baz Luhrman tells the story of hip-hop with lavish musical extravaganza in "The Get Down," a hugely expensive and visually impressive production that somehow didn't get the praise it deserved. Perhaps that's because it landed around the same time as runaway word-of-mouth hit "Stranger Things."

anna-camp-good-girls-revolt-amazon.jpg
7 of 53 Amazon

'Good Girls Revolt'

One of Amazon's unsung gems is 1960s-set "Good Girls Revolt," which entertainingly and quite originally depicts the flipside of "Mad Men," Sadly, it hasn't been picked up for a second season.

tallulahunit00820r.jpg
8 of 53 David Newsom/Netflix

'Tallulah'

Ellen Page stars in the film "Tallulah" on Netflix, one of the movies snapped up by the deep-pocketed streaming service.

luke-cage-mike-colter.jpg
9 of 53 Netflix

'Luke Cage'

Netflix extends its run of hard-hitting Marvel shows with "Luke Cage," a series entertainingly indebted to blaxploitation classics and boasting a badass hip-hop soundtrack.

452a-rng202-11043.jpg
10 of 53 Netflix

'Daredevil'

The second season of Marvel's "Daredevil" introduces Jon Bernthal as the Punisher, who gets his own show next year.

foto3.jpg
11 of 53 Hulu

'11.22.63'

James Franco is one of the proper stars attracted to streaming as he tries to save JFK in Hulu's time-travel series "11.22.63."

389gilmoregirls101sum01916r.jpg
12 of 53 Saeed Adyani/Netflix

'Gilmore Girls'

"Gilmore Girls" has been resurrected on Netflix to finally finish the story.

dead-rising-endgame.jpg
13 of 53 Crackle

'Dead Rising: Endgame'

Sony's Crackle service has streamed a second movie based on the Dead Rising video game series.

theoa1.jpg
14 of 53 JoJo Whilden/Netflix

'The OA'

Alice Krige and Brit Marling help Netflix close out the year with intriguing drama 'The OA."

mascotsunit01672rc.jpg
15 of 53 Scott Garfield/Netflix

'Mascots'

Comic genius Christopher Guest gives the "Spinal Tap" mockumentary treatment to the world of sporting "Mascots."

collection-amazon.jpg
16 of 53 Amazon

'The Collection'

Amazon Prime goes high fashion with "The Collection," a glamorous visit to a scandalous Parisian atelier.

tmiaunit12569r.jpg
17 of 53 Matt Kennedy/Netflix

'True Memoirs of an International Assassin'

Not every original production is a success. For example, Netflix movie "True Memoirs of an International Assassin," starring Kevin James, was deeply unfunny.

special-correspondents-embassy.jpg
18 of 53 Kerry Hayes/Netfilx

'Special Correspondents'

Ricky Gervais claims Netflix had given him a free hand to write and direct "Special Correspondents," in which he stars with Eric Bana. Sadly, there is nothing special about this lackluster and laugh-free affair.

tdo18139rc.jpg
19 of 53 Tony Rivetti Jr., SMPSP/ Netflix,

'The Do-Over'

"The Do-Over" is the second movie in Adam Sandler's four-film contract with Netflix, which means we're halfway through the ordeal.

ranch119unit0280r.jpg
20 of 53 Greg Gayne/Netflix

'The Ranch'

Sam Elliott and Debra Winger give strong performances in the cowboy comedy "The Ranch" on Netflix, but the old-fashioned studio sitcom format feels awkward amid the herd of more heavyweight and innovative productions found on streaming services.

ch0510160131r.jpg
21 of 53 Adam Rose/Netflix

'Chelsea'

Netflix experiments with the chat show format with one led by Chelsea Handler (right), shown here with actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

netflixwhiterabbit.jpg
22 of 53 Netflix

'White Rabbit Project'

Former "Mythbusters" stars Grant Imahara, Kari Byron and Tory Belleci returned with a new science series, "The White Rabbit Project," on Netflix.

chance.jpg
23 of 53 David Moir/Hulu

'Chance'

The current golden age of TV drama is known for its troubled protagonists, and streaming shows have no shortage of conflicted and often unpleasant characters. For example, Hugh Laurie follows his hit show "House" with another difficult man in Hulu's "Chance."

piper.jpg
24 of 53 Netflix

'Orange is the New Black'

There were plenty of troubled women in "Orange is the New Black" when the prison show returned to Netflix for a dramatic fourth season.

marseillenetflix-depardieu-1.jpg
25 of 53

'Marseille'

Political intrigue-packed "Marseille" was the first French show from Netflix. Zut alors!

narcos20400653r.jpg
26 of 53 Juan Pablo Gutierrez/Netflix

'Narcos'

Speaking of unsympathetic protagonists, "Narcos" continues the fascinating story of drug lord Pablo Escobar.

sneaky-pete-ribisi-amazon.jpg
27 of 53 Jeff Neumann

'Sneaky Pete'

Giovanni Ribisi plays the sneaky lead in Amazon pilot "Sneaky Pete," which was ordered to a full series.

bojackhorseman.jpg
28 of 53 Netflix

'Bojack Horseman'

He may be an animated horse, but he's one of the most unsympathetic characters on TV. The new season of "Bojack Horseman" on Netflix was still a compelling watch, especially during the clever silent episode.

goliath-billy-bob-thornton-amazon.jpg
29 of 53 Amazon

'Goliath'

Billy Bob Thornton is another big name playing a troubled role in Amazon's "Goliath."

casual-hulu-season-1.jpg
30 of 53 Hulu

'Casual'

There are family troubles and a few laughs in Hulu's "Casual."

woody-allen-amazon.jpg
31 of 53 Amazon/YouTube

'Crisis in Six Scenes'

Woody Allen brought his period drama "Crisis in Six Scenes" to Amazon Prime Video.

shut-eye.jpg
32 of 53 Hulu

'Shut Eye'

Jeffrey Donovan is a troubled psychic in Hulu's "Shut Eye."

startup.jpg
33 of 53 Crackle

'Startup'

Sony's Crackle streaming service started up "StartUp," the steamy story of Miami criminals including Martin Freeman, who back a bitcoin-like cryptocurrency for their own nefarious ends.

3-percent-netflix-2.jpg
34 of 53 Pedro Saad/Netflix

'3%'

Netflix goes to Brazil for the dystopian sci-fi series "3%."

jean-claude-van-johnson-5.jpg
35 of 53 Erica Parise/Amazon

'Jean-Claude Van Johnson'

Amazon's series sees the muscles from Brussels Jean-Claude Van Damme playing himself, only as a secret agent.

nup1727720001.jpg
36 of 53 Greg Lewis/Universal Television

'The Path'

Aaron Paul stars in cult-themed drama "The Path" on Hulu.

fotoa1.jpg
37 of 53 Netflix

'Kong: King of the Apes'

Speaking of larger-than-life protagonists, there is plenty of monkey business from Netflix with "Kong: King of the Apes."

legofriendsroomies022.jpg
38 of 53 Netflix

'Lego Friends: The Power of Friendship'

Kids shows are big on Netflix and Amazon. Among the hits, friendship is build brick by brick in "Lego Friends: The Power of Friendship" on Netflix.

rwsunit00597r.jpg
39 of 53 Michael Rowe/Netflix

'Reggie Watts: Spatial'

Netflix brought a whole slate of established and up-and-coming comics to the stage for comedy specials. Among them was Reggie Watts with his blend of music and laughs.

awunit0287r.jpg
40 of 53 Alex Crick/Netflix

'Ali Wong: Baby Cobra'

Ali Wong's stand-up special "Baby Cobra" hit a bump on Netflix.

hbsunit0698r.jpg
41 of 53 Marcus Price/Netflix

'Hannibal Buress'

Comedian Hannibal Buress was among the comedy specials on Netflix this year.

issunit0536r.jpg
42 of 53 Timothy Hiatt/Netflix

'Iliza Shlesinger: Confirmed Kills'

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger hit Netflix for a comedy special.

haters105unit01084r.jpg
43 of 53 Katie Yu/Netflix

'Haters Back Off'

Online sensation Miranda Sings went from YouTube clips to Netflix show "Haters Back Off."

lovesickunit00393r.jpg
44 of 53 Neil Davidson/Netflix

'Lovesick'

Netflix picked up British comedy series "Scrotal Recall" and renamed it "Lovesick."

045ld10300220r.jpg
45 of 53 Saeed Adyani/Netflix

'Lady Dynamite'

Maria Bamford blew up in the wacky "Lady Dynamite" on Netflix.

easys01e0211m24s1368fr.jpg
46 of 53 Netflix

'Easy'

"Easy" is a Chicago-set comedy-drama anthology series written, directed, edited and produced by Joe Swanberg for Netflix.

barry01170r.jpg
47 of 53 Netflix

'Barry'

Plenty of real-life stories were told on streaming services this year. Feature-length drama "Barry" tells the story of a young Barack Obama on Netflix.

jv06781r.jpg
48 of 53 Karen Ballard/Netflix

'The Siege of Jadotville'

Jamie Dornan battles both political intrigue and enemy soldiers in "The Siege of Jadotville," based on true events.

lastchanceuunit1472rcrop.jpg
49 of 53 Netflix

'Last Chance U'

Among the slate of Netflix documentaries was the compelling "Last Chance U."

2016052006432299.jpg
50 of 53 Netflix

​'Into The Inferno'

Idiosyncratic director Werner Herzog has a lot of lava for volcanoes in Netflix doc "Into The Inferno,"

daisy-on-porch-copy.jpg
51 of 53 Netflix

'Audrie & Daisy'

Heartbreaking Netflix documentary "Audrie & Daisy" tackles modern attitudes to sexual assault.

grain-media-amelia-franklin-extraction.jpg
52 of 53 Netflix

'White Helmets'

Powerful Netflix documentary "White Helmets" confronts the devastation of war-torn Syria.

captive107unit00031r.jpg
53 of 53 Jean Louis Schuller/Netflix

'Captive'

Netflix documentary series "Captive" explores high-profile kidnappings.

More Galleries

Our Favorite Google Doodles Through the Years

More Galleries

Our Favorite Google Doodles Through the Years

49 Photos
2022's Best TV Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More

More Galleries

2022's Best TV Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More

95 Photos
The 42 Best Games on Nintendo Switch

More Galleries

The 42 Best Games on Nintendo Switch

43 Photos
Movies Coming in 2022 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

More Galleries

Movies Coming in 2022 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

83 Photos
Dodge Hornet Is a New Compact Crossover Focused on Affordable Performance

More Galleries

Dodge Hornet Is a New Compact Crossover Focused on Affordable Performance

21 Photos
Dodge Charger Daytona EV Concept Is the Strong, Silent Type

More Galleries

Dodge Charger Daytona EV Concept Is the Strong, Silent Type

30 Photos
Czinger 21C Hypercar Is the Future of Auto Manufacturing

More Galleries

Czinger 21C Hypercar Is the Future of Auto Manufacturing

64 Photos