As Netflix et al. add more content, it’s difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So at the start of every month, I publish a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
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Dark (December 1)
This German sci-fi mystery series has been billed as a spiritual follow-up to Stranger Things 2 (including by yours truly). A series of mysterious kidnappings begin to unravel the secrets of a small German town, and based on the creepy, gloom-laden, and very intriguing trailers, it looks like time travel of some kind will be a factor.
Full Metal Jacket (December 1)
Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War epic is coming to Netflix in December (read my review). While it’s probably most famous for the boot camp sequences, which feature all manner of colorful and brilliant insults and epithets spewing from the mouth of R. Lee Ermey’s drill sergeant, Full Metal Jacket’s second half is a spellbinding and harrowing journey into the psychological and spiritual hell of war.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (December 5)
Your favorite dysfunctional bunch of galaxy savers are back. This time, the group’s existence is just as threatened by internal strife and conflict as by threats from the deepest reaches of space. Basically, it’s everything you loved about the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie — colorful characters, fanciful adventures, cheeky dialog, bitchin’ soundtrack — only turned up to eleven (and then some).
Erased: Season 1 (December 15)
Erased was one of the best anime series I’ve seen in recent years, so I’m very excited to see this live action adaptation about a young man who suddenly travels back in time to elementary school, and attempts to prevent the disappearance of one of his classmates. The anime was a great blend of suspense and coming-of-age melodrama; hopefully, the live action series can pull that off, too.
Trollhunters: Part 2 (December 15)
I randomly started watching Trollhunters with my boys, mainly because of the Guillermo del Toro association, and found myself pleasantly surprised. Yes, it has some expected fantasy tropes but it’s also a genuinely delightful series, featuring several high school students who discover the hidden world of trolls lurking beneath their town. The series boasts some solid animation, creative design, likable characters, and some inspired voice acting courtesy of Kelsey Grammer.
Bright (December 22)
Arguably Netflix’s biggest production to date — at a rumored $90 million — Bright has one heckuva concept: it’s a buddy cop movie set in a world where fantasy creatures like elves are real. A particularly grizzled-looking Will Smith is saddled with a new partner who happens to be an orc, and together they must track down an artifact that could… you guessed it… destroy the world. I can’t wait to watch this; I love the concept, the execution looks bonkers, and I always love a good Will Smith quip.
The Toys That Made Us (December 22)
Netflix is totally cashing in on nostalgia these days. They released the cult smash hit Stranger Things, they rebooted the classic Voltron cartoon series, and now they’re about to stream The Toys That Made Us, a documentary series about some of the most famous toys of all time, including GI Joe, Transformers, He-Man, and Barbie. While I expect lots of nostalgic ruminating and glamor shots of priceless collections, I hope there’s also some cultural analysis about why these toy lines have proved so endearing over the years.
Travelers: Season 2 (December 26)
Travelers proves that, with a solid concept, you can do a lot with little. In this case, the concept is that people from the future have discovered a way to send consciousnesses back in time, in the hopes of preventing a catastrophe in their time. Shot in Canada on a shoestring budget, Travelers makes the most of things, and the results (so far, I’m still making my way through season one) have been intriguing.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in December 2017.
Apocalypse Now (December 1)
Based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is one of the greatest war movies of all time — though, like the aforementioned Full Metal Jacket, it focuses on the spiritual and psychological horrors of war as a haunted soldier travels deep into enemy territory to kill a colonel (played by Marlon Brando) who’s gone rogue. Filmed at tremendous cost and beset by numerous disasters and setbacks, Apocalypse Now contains some of cinema’s most indelible images. (The extended Apocalypse Now Redux also starts streaming on December 1.)
Bloodsport (December 1)
Bloodsport is the film that put Jean-Claude Van Damme’s name on the map. Supposedly inspired by a true story (which is total baloney), Van Damme plays Frank Dux, an army captain who also happens to be a ninja, as he battles his way through the Kumite, an illegal martial arts competition. Make no mistake: Bloodsport is not a great movie, but it is an entertaining one, especially if you’re looking for some mindless martial arts mayhem.
Kill Bill, Volume 1 and 2 (December 1)
Both volumes of Quentin Tarantino’s bloody revenge epic — which is also a love letter to all manner of Asian action cinema, from Shaw Brothers kung fu to Japanese samurai films — come to Hulu in December. Uma Thurman plays an assassin who is betrayed and left for dead. Unfortunately for her enemies, she survives and takes off after them, leaving countless bodies in her wake.
Silence (December 1)
Martin Scorsese spent 25 years preparing this adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s novel about a pair of Jesuit priests who sneak into 17th century Japan to find their former mentor who is rumored to have abandoned the faith. Facing extreme persecution and torture, the two priests’ faith is pushed to extremes. Silence is considered one of Scorsese’s best films, and stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, and a number of Japanese stars (e.g., Shinya Tsukamoto, Tadanobu Asano, Yōsuke Kubozuka).
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 5 Premiere (December 2)
I’ve already written quite a bit about my fondness for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which has truly come into its own over the last four seasons. For this latest season, Agent Phil Coulson and his crew find themselves in space, where they’ll come face to face with the Kree, one of the primary alien races in the Marvel universe. I expect lots of zingers from Coulson, some good shotgun-axing from Mack, and of course, plenty of FitzSimmons-related angst and melodrama.
Legion: Season 1 (December 8)
Calling Legion “weird” is an understatement, but its weirdness is compelling as it follows a man named David who learns that his mental illness is actually a sign of powerful psychic abilities. The series’ offbeat and often creepy plotting, paired with an inventive approach to superheroes and their powers, makes Legion quite unlike any other comic book TV series or movie out there. Ostensibly set in the same universe as the X‑Men movies, Legion often seems more like Twin Peaks than anything Marvel-inspired.
The Crow (December 15)
It’s always a risk when talking about The Crow; the tragic on-set death of Brandon Lee has become so interwoven with the movie’s mythos that enjoying it can seem disrespectful. But the fact is that The Crow remains a singular movie of the ’90s, as stylized and goth‑y as can be, with intense action and a brooding soundtrack featuring a host of alt-rock superstars. Lee is absolutely perfect as the titular character, a musician brought back to life to avenge the death of his fiancé, which only adds to the movie’s poignancy.
Osiris Child: SFv1 (December 31)
I always love a good indie sci-fi movie — see Arq, iBoy — so I’ve been excited to check out Osiris Child, which has received some promising reviews despite flying largely under the radar. Set in a future run by conglomerates, a police officer must deal with a jailbreak and corporate malfeasance as he attempts to rescue his daughter on a barren planet.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in December 2017.
Class (December 3)
There have been several Doctor Who spin-offs, including The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood, and K‑9 and Company. The most recent spin-off is Class, which focuses on a group of a high school students tasked by the Doctor with confronting alien threats to Earth. Of course, this being a series set in a high school, expect plenty of angst and melodrama, as well.
It Comes at Night (December 9)
A24 continues their string of acclaimed horror and genre moves with It Comes at Night, a psychological horror movie from Trey Edward Shults. A small family ekes out a barebones survival after an outbreak has decimated the planet. But when they allow some strangers into their house, paranoia and distrust threaten to destroy them all.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson: Season 1 (December 15)
Jean-Claude Van Damme has never been afraid to poke fun at himself — if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend JCVD — and Jean-Claude Van Johnson finds the action star getting particularly meta. In this Amazon exclusive, Van Damme the actor is revealed to be just a cover identity for Van Johnson, a retired secret agent who really wants to get back in the field. This looks like it’ll be a lot of fun as Van Damme tweaks not just his own image, but the film industry, too.
Doctor Who Christmas Special (December 18)
The Doctor Who Christmas special is an annual tradition, and often serves as a transition point between Doctors. This year’s Christmas special will be Peter Capaldi’s final episode as the Doctor, as he finds himself trapped along with the first incarnation of the Doctor in World War One. It’s a safe bet that by the special’s end, we’ll get to see the thirteenth (and first female) Doctor in action.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in December 2017. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.