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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Knight Rider, Seasons 1 – 4 (Dec 1)
I’m not going to lie: my inner 11-year-old is absolutely thrilled right now. Knight Rider was a huge part of my childhood. Sure, David Hasselhoff was pretty slick as Michael Knight, a former Green Beret and police detective. But the real star of the show was KITT, a heavily modified and nigh-indestructible Pontiac Firebird Trans Am powered by artificial intelligence. Together, the duo travel the country for the Foundation for Law and Government, fighting crime and helping the helpless. Knight Rider is a show that could only have happened in the ’80s, and I. Am. Here. For. It.
Looper (Dec 1)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hitman tasked with killing victims sent back in time from a crime syndicate in the future. But when his latest victim turns out to be an older version of himself (played by Bruce Willis), it sets in motion a game of cat-and-mouse as the two men try to find a powerful psychic while avoiding the crime syndicate. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Looper is a twisty-turny sci-fi action movie of the finest sort, with plenty of philosophical questions to go along with the intense action.
Lost in Space, Season 3 (Dec 1)
The third and final season of Netflix’s reimagining of the classic ’60s sci-fi series finally arrives after a two-year wait. The second season ended with the Robinsons separated and still threatened by the alien robots, while uncovering yet more mysteries. And as the teaser shows, their situation hasn’t improved much at all. My family really enjoyed the first two seasons, so I’m glad the third season’s coming — though I think we might need to rewatch some of the previous episodes to remember what happened.
Tremors (Dec 1)
The remote town of Perfection, Nevada has a problem: it’s under attack by giant subterranean worms. And it’s up to a couple of handymen (Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward) and the town’s residents to fight them off. But how do you kill an enemy you can’t see? Tremors is prime, grade A ’90s cheese that benefits from some inspired casting (e.g., Family Ties’ Michael Gross and Reba McEntire as a pair of gun-loving survivalists). Tremors proved popular enough to inspire a long-running series, with the most recent movie, Tremors: Shrieker Island, coming out in 2020.
Voir (Dec 6)
David Fincher presents this documentary series about movies and the impact that they can have our lives. Featuring visual essays from a number of excellent film critics and writers, including Walter Chaw, Drew McWeeny, and Tony Zhou, Voir aims to celebrate “the personal connection we each have to the stories we see on the big screen.”
Don’t Look Up (Dec 24)
In this Netflix original, two low-ranking astronomers — played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence — attempt to warn the world of an approaching comet that will destroy the Earth. Given McKay’s previous films (e.g., Vice, The Big Short), I suspect Don’t Look Up will be quite the farce, as the astronomers encounter all manner of human ignorance, stupidity, and shortsightedness. In other words, perfect viewing material for the Christmas season. Don’t Look Up also stars Cate Blanchett, Ariana Grande, Jonah Hill, Ron Perlman, and Meryl Streep as the President of the United States.
The Silent Sea (Dec 24)
Earlier this year, Netflix has a smash hit on their hands with South Korea’s Squid Game. No doubt they’re hoping to repeat that success with The Silent Sea, a sci-fi thriller starring some of South Korea’s biggest names (e.g., Gong Yoo, Bae Doona). Set in a future where Earth has become a desert, The Silent Sea follows a group of astronauts sent to retrieve a mysterious experiment from an abandoned moon base. Choi Hang-yong will direct based on an earlier short film of his.
Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in December 2021.
Ocean’s Eleven (Dec 1)
Ocean’s Eleven is about as slick as heist movies come, as Danny Ocean (George Clooney at his most charming) assembles a team to knock over three Las Vegas casinos in one night. Directed with all assurance by Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s Eleven is just a joy to watch, as the twists keep coming and the stakes keep getting higher. The film’s two sequels — Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen — will also be available.
The Princess Bride (Dec 1)
The Princess Bride is a classic family film that has it all: comedy, romance, swashbuckling sword fights, memorable dialog, and André the Giant. What more could you want? Just before the beautiful Buttercup’s wedding day, she’s kidnapped by a group of outlaws, which finds her ultimately reunited with her long-lost love. Her enraged fiancé will stop at nothing to get her back, but as we soon find out, not even death can stop true love.
Shanghai Noon (Dec 1)
On paper, a kung fu western starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson probably shouldn’t work. And no, it doesn’t quite measure up to Chan’s Hong Kong films. (Then again, what does?) But taken on its own terms, Shanghai Noon is a pretty fun film to watch, with Wilson’s slacker charms providing a decent foil for Chan’s always inventive stunts and action choreography.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Dec 1)
As one of the first feature films shot entirely on a digital background, with characters acting entirely against bluescreens, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow broke a lot of ground. Unfortunately, it was a box office flop when it was originally released in 2004, and to date, is director Kerry Conran’s only feature film. But Sky Captain has since become something of a cult classic due to its retro style, pulp-influenced sci-fi action, and visuals that remain striking, even by today’s standards.
The Warriors (Dec 1)
After they’re falsely accused of murdering the leader of the city’s most powerful gang, the Warriors must make the long journey back to their home base while fending off the rest of New York’s gangs. This simple premise makes for one of the great cult movies, as the Warriors make their way through a nightmarish, dystopic New York as imagined by director Walter Hill (The Driver, Streets of Fire).
Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in December 2021.
Amazon Prime Video
The Hunt for Red October (Dec 1)
This is one of those movies that I’ll pull up every now and then just because it’s so solidly made and entertaining. Based on the best-selling Tom Clancy novel about an experimental Russian submarine, and starring Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery, The Hunt for Red October is classic Cold War action/intrigue that is eminently watchable. (But what else would you expect from director John McTiernan?)
Ronin (Dec 1)
A group of ex-spies and ex-mercenaries are recruited by a mysterious woman to retrieve a mysterious briefcase for mysterious reasons. What could go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out, which is precisely what makes John Frankenheimer’s Ronin such a great action thriller. That, and some of the greatest car chases in movie history. And if that weren’t enough, Ronin boasts an impressive cast that includes the likes of Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, and Jonathan Pryce.
The Royal Tenenbaums (Dec 1)
Arguably my favorite Wes Anderson film, The Royal Tenenbaums is a dark, drier-than-dry — and at times, quite poignant — comedy about a trio of genius siblings who must confront their deadbeat dad when he announces that he’s dying. The film stars the usual Anderson players, along with Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, and Gene Hackman as the conniving-yet-lovable father, Royal, who seeks to redeem himself after causing his family years of grief.
The Usual Suspects (Dec 1)
Even after you know the big twist, The Usual Suspects is still a fun noir film to watch due to powerhouse performances from Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, and of course, Kevin Spacey (back when he was still a respected actor). But if you don’t know the big twist, then you’re in for a treat. And once you’ve seen the twist, you’re going to want to rewatch it, just to see how the film put everything together leading up to that sublime “A ha!” moment.
The Expanse, Season 6 (Dec 10)
The sixth and final season of TV’s best sci-fi series arrives, and not a moment too soon. At the end of season five, the Rocinante crew experienced a terrible loss even as they stood together against the forces of the treacherous Marco Inaros. But even bigger threats loom in the galaxy: the protomolecule is still active and the mysterious alien entities who destroyed the Ring Builders are awakening. Given that this is the The Expanse’s final season — and a shortened one at that — I really hope that the show can wrap things up in a truly satisfying manner.
Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in December 2021.
Edward Scissorhands (Dec 3)
In this Tim Burton classic, Johnny Depp stars as the titular character, the result of a mad scientist’s experiments. (And yes, he does have scissors for hands.) But when he’s adopted by a family in suburbs, has this lonely outcast finally found a community where he could belong? Edward Scissorhands also stars Winona Ryder, Anthony Michael Hall, and Vincent Price (in his last theatrical role) as Edwards’ creator.
Welcome to Earth (Dec 8)
In the six episodes of Welcome to Earth, Will Smith travels with various explorers to the ends of the Earth. Along the way, he descends into a volcano, explores the ocean depths, and witnesses spectacular natural phenomena. Welcome to Earth is directed by Darren Aronofsky, who knows a thing or two about capturing incredible visuals.
Tron: Legacy (Dec 10)
I’ll be honest, this follow-up to the cult classic Tron doesn’t entirely succeed in its efforts. Its attempts at expanding the original’s world are a mixed success. However, I think Tron: Legacy is still worth seeing for the imaginative concepts, the striking visuals and, of course, the Daft Punk soundtrack.
The Book of Boba Fett (Dec 29)
The galaxy’s most famous bounty hunter returns with his own series. At the end of The Mandalorian’s second season, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) appeared to have taken over Tatooine’s criminal underworld. This is Boba Fett we’re talking about, however. I think it’s safe to say that he has a host of enemies waiting to dethrone him. But if Fett was able to survive the sarlacc pit, then he’ll probably be able to take on any and all comers.
Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in December 2021.
Blade II (Dec 1)
The first Blade movie was an OK superhero movie, but Blade II benefits greatly from both Guillermo del Toro’s direction and Donnie Yen’s fight choreography, both of which go along nicely with Wesley Snipe’s brand of bad-assery. The result is a solid superhero/action/horror hybrid, as the titular superhero (Snipes) must defend both humans and vampires from a new threat.
Changing Lanes (Dec 1)
Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck square off in this modern morality tale about two men — a recovering alcoholic and a hotshot Wall Street lawyer — caught in an ever-increasing spiral of revenge after they get into a car accident. It gets a bit heavy-handed in places, but Jackson and Affleck are at the top of their game as men who justify increasingly unethical actions in order to protect themselves and the ones they love. Changing Lanes also stars Toni Collette, William Hurt, Amanda Peet, and Sydney Pollack.
No Country for Old Men (Dec 1)
In this harrowing adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, a hunter discovers a bunch of drug money and decides to keep it — which puts him in the sights of a psychotic hitman (Javier Bardem, in a chilling performance). Meanwhile, the only one who might save him is an aging, world-weary sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones, also giving a fantastic performance). No Country for Old Men may not have the quirky humor that the Coen Brothers are best known for — O Brother, Where Art Thou? this most certainly is not — but its depiction of human evil and darkness is captivating and provocative in its own right (read my review).
Station Eleven (Dec 16)
This adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel’s best-selling novel depicts the aftermath of a mysterious flu that devastates the world. The series follows the various survivors, including a group of actors and musicians who perform Shakespeare plays and classical music in order to salvage what remains of humanity.
The Matrix Resurrections (Dec 22)
Whoa… Keanu Reeves returns to his most iconic role in The Matrix Resurrections. No longer Neo, Thomas Anderson lives a seemingly normal life in San Francisco. But when a familiar face reappears with a red pill, Anderson is drawn back into the world of the Matrix — or is he? Written and directed by Lana Wachowski as a way to process grief over her parents’ deaths, The Matrix Resurrections seems like something much more than a mere cash grab — which is encouraging. But will it live up to nearly two decades of fan expectations? Alongside Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss also returns as Trinity. Joining them will be Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Here’s everything arriving on HBO Max in December 2021.