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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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (December 1)
Based on the 1978 children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable family flick about a scientist who creates a machine capable of creating all manner of food-oriented weather. Yeah, it’s a silly premise, but the film’s visual cleverness and engaging storyline makes it far more than its title might suggest.
Shaun of the Dead (December 1)
The debut feature film by Edgar Wright (if you don’t count 1995’s A Fistful of Fingers, that is), Shaun of the Dead is about as perfect a combination of horror and humor as you could hope for. When a slacker (played by frequent Wright collaborator Simon Pegg) is faced with a zombie holocaust, he and his friends have to find the best way to survive — but things just get more and more complicated. This was the first in Wright’s “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy, followed by Hot Fuzz and The World’s End.
The Lobster (December 2)
In this critically acclaimed pitch black comedy from Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, a lonely man is taken to hotel and told that he has 45 days to find a new partner, or else he’ll be turned into any animal of his choosing. The Lobster was nominated for “Best Original Screenplay” at the 89th Academy Awards and won the “Jury Prize” at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (December 7)
Andy Serkis made a name for himself by elevating motion capture filmmaking to an art form, thanks to his portrayal of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies. And with Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, he may have taken the technique even further — though the film has been plagued with budget issues and early bad press. This adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved stories stars the voice talents of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Roma (December 14)
This film, a semi-biographical take on director Alfonso Cuarón’s life in Mexico in the early ’70s, has been one of the most prestigious films to land on Netflix. The film has played at several major festivals, including Venice, Toronto, and Telluride, and has received near-universal acclaim for Cuarón’s direction and its stunning black and white visuals.
Voltron: Legendary Defender, Season 8 (December 14)
If I’m completely honest, the last season of Netflix’s Voltron reboot might be my most anticipated title for December. Over the course of seven seasons, Voltron: Legendary Defender has been thoroughly entertaining thanks to its universe-spanning narrative and world-building, excellent balance of humor, drama, and action, and fantastic artwork and animation. Season seven ended on a cliffhanger with some troubling ramifications for Voltron’s paladins, and I can’t wait to see how they unfold during the final thirteen episodes.
Avengers: Infinity War (December 25)
What better way to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior than by watching an alien demi-god try to kill off half the universe? The culmination of 10 years’ worth of cinematic world-building, Avengers: Infinity War (and its still-unnamed sequel, due out next year) brings everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a head, as Thanos seeks to acquire the final Infinity Stones so he can enact his utilitarian vision — and it does so in suitably epic, action-packed fashion.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in December 2018.
A Fistful of Dollars (December 1)
One of the most iconic westerns of all time, Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars — an unlicensed remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai film Yojimbo — launched the “spaghetti western” genre and gave us Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” character. Eastwood’s nameless drifter arrives in a town divided between two warring families, both of whom vie for his deadly skills as a gunfighter. Chaos ensues, however, when he starts playing the families against each other.
Killing Eve, Complete Season 1 (December 1)
This critically acclaimed BBC series follows a cat-and-mouse game between an MI5 officer and an assassin who become obsessed with each other.
The Forbidden Kingdom (December 1)
For years, martial arts movie fans have been waiting for two of the biggest names in the genre — Jackie Chan and Jet Li — to team up. Obviously, Chan and Li’s names are the biggest draw for The Forbidden Empire, which also stars Collin Chou, Li Bingbing, and Michael Angarano as an American teen suddenly transported to ancient China, only to find himself in the thick of battle.
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (December 1)
The Naked Gun is one of those movies that, like Airplane and Kentucky Fried Movie, you either love or hate — depending on how you feel about sight gags and visual puns. Me, I love them, and The Naked Gun, based on the Police Squad! series (which only lasted for six episodes back in 1982), is the cream of the crop. The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult are also coming to Hulu at the same time.
Operation Condor and Operation Condor II: The Armour of the Gods (December 1)
If The Forbidden Empire leaves you wanting some classic Jackie Chan, then you’ll be happy to know that Chan’s take on Indiana Jones-type adventure films — the two Operation Condor movies — will be coming to Hulu. While plot isn’t always most important in a Jackie Chan movie, that’s doubly so with the Operation Condor movies, but that’s OK, because the stunts and action scenes more than make up for it.
Requiem for a Dream (December 1)
I fully admire and respect Requiem for a Dream, but I’m not sure I ever want to watch Darren Aronofsky’s movie about a group of people struggling with various addictions ever again. It’s a brutal film, to be sure, as we watch the characters’ lives sink ever more deeply into the toilet. But it’s told with such verve and style, from the masterful editing to the powerful Clint Mansell/Kronos Quartet soundtrack, that it’s a sheer juggernaut.
NASA: Above and Beyond (December 13)
Given that NASA just landed a probe on Mars — and seriously, who didn’t love watching scientists celebrate the successful landing? — it seems only fitting to watch a documentary about the space agency and its accomplishments and vision for the future. Here’s a fun bit of trivia: the documentary is directed by Rory Kennedy, niece of President John F. Kennedy.
Marvel’s Runaways, Complete Season 2 Premiere (December 21)
The first season of Marvel’s Runaways was a big success, featuring a group of teens who discover that their parents are a cabal of super-villains trying to take over the world — and decide to use their own burgeoning powers to stop their parents’ evil schemes.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in December 2018.
A Clockwork Orange (December 1)
If you’re looking for something that’s a far cry from the usual holiday fare, then I present to you Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. A young man (played by Malcolm McDowell) obsessed with sex, violence, and Beethoven is subjected to a controversial treatment to cure his anti-social desires, but it all goes wrong. The film was originally rated “X” and stirred up considerable controversy; it wasn’t even widely available in the UK until after Kubrick’s death, nearly 30 years after its initial release.
Groundhog Day (December 1)
In this surprisingly existential comedy, Bill Murray plays an arrogant weatherman who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again in picturesque Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania — and forced to confront who he is as a person. This is one of the classic Bill Murray movies, and was even added to the National Film Registry in 2006.
Mars Attacks! (December 1)
It’s the greatest alien invasion movie based on a series of trading cards ever made, and it boasts a heckuva cast: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Short, Natalie Portman, and Tom Jones, to name a few. True story: when I was in college, I missed school for about a week due to illness. During that time, all I could do was lie on the couch, and the only thing I remember watching was Mars Attacks!, so my memories of the movie might be a bit addled.
The Game (December 1)
David Fincher’s twisty thriller The Game stars Michael Douglas as a man who seems to have it all, only to have it all stripped away when he finds himself caught up in a game run by a shadowy company that begins to destroy his life. I still remember vividly the first time I watched The Game, and how its twists and turns totally blew me and my friends away.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in December 2018. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.