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December 2023’s Best Streaming Titles: Reacher, Doctor Who, The Matrix, The Hunt For Red October, Wonder Woman

Lee Child, the Doctor, Neo, Tom Clancy, Princess Diana of Themyscira, and more.
Doctor Who 60th Anniversary
David Tennant and Catherine Tate return to the TARDIS in the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special

As Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. add more content, it can be difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the new titles. Every month, I compile a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.

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Amazon Prime Video

The Magnificent Seven (Dec 1)

Directed by John Sturges and inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven follows a motley group of seven gunfighters who are hired to protect the small Mexican village of Calvera from a gang of vicious bandits. Although a remake, Sturges’ film has been widely praises for its own merits, and is considered one of the greatest Western movies of all time. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it boasts a star-studded cast that includes Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Eli Wallach.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Dec 1)

John and Jane Smith look like your typical suburban couple. But in reality, they’re contract killers working for rival organizations who have been tasked with killing each other. Will they be able to take each other down, or will their marriage get that old spark reignited? Directed by Doug Liman and starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as the titular assassins, Mr. & Mrs. Smith was a huge box office hit when it was released in 2005. Amazon is currently set to release a TV reboot starring Donald Glover and Maya Erskine; it will be released in February 2024.

Asteroid City (Dec 12)

Wes Anderson’s latest film is set in the 1950s, and as is his wont, blends several highly stylized layers of narrative around extraterrestrials and UFOs in the American Southwest. And of course, as is Anderson’s wont, Asteroid City features many of his usual players, including Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, and Willem Dafoe alongside Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, and Bryan Cranston (to name but a few).

Reacher, Season Two (Dec 15)

Reacher’s first season was a total guilty pleasure; sometimes, you just want to see a beefy hero punch bad guys in the face without any qualms. Based on Lee Child’s novels, the Amazon original stars Alan Ritchson as a former military cop who now travels the country as a drifter who gets into various adventures along the way. In season two, Reacher investigates a series of mysterious deaths involving members of his former military unit. I think it’s safe to say that said investigation ultimately leads to a lot of bad guys getting punched in the face.

Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in December 2023.


Disney+

Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special: Wild Blue Yonder” (Dec 2)

The TARDIS arrives on Disney+ for this special that brings back David Tennant and his former companion Donna Temple-Noble (Catherine Tate) to battle a nefarious new enemy known as the Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris). “Wild Blue Yonder” will be followed by another special, titled “The Giggle,” on December 9, 2023, and a Christmas Day special titled “The Church on Ruby Road” that will introduce Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor.

Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in December 2023.


Hulu

Airheads (Dec 1)

Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler are three bandmates who are willing to do anything to break into the music business and be heard — even holding a radio station hostage. Although a critical and commercial failure, Airheads is a perfect movie for the ’90s MTV crowd. Just look at the soundtrack, which features the likes of 4 Non Blondes, Primus, Anthrax, and White Zombie.

The Bourne Identity (Dec 1)

Matt Damon stars in this thriller based on Robert Ludlum’s 1980 novel about a man who awakens with no memory but soon finds himself the target of the American intelligence community. Luckily, he possesses a set of deadly skills that will come in very handy. Also starring Run Lola Run’s Franka Potente, The Bourne Identity helped kick off the Jason Bourne franchise, which delivered some of the best action/thriller films of the 2000s.

House of Flying Daggers (Dec 1)

Zhang Yimou’s followup to his 2002 martials epic Hero is — you guessed it — another martial arts epic. Two police officers in the Tang Dynasty (Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro) are tasked with shutting down an infamous rebel group. Which proves easier said than done when one of them falls in love with a blind woman (Zhang Ziyi) who is a suspected rebel. House of Flying Daggers is much more of a love story than Hero, and filled with plenty of intrigue — but it still boasts some impressively choreographed and stunningly filmed action sequences (read my review).

The Matrix (Dec 1)

The first time I saw The Matrix was one of those moviegoing moments, where your mind is completely and thoroughly blown, and you can honestly say you’ve never seen anything like that before. In the ensuing years, the film has been copied, parodied, and whatnot to kingdom come, and the two sequels — 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions — muddled up the mythology a bit. But there’s no denying that The Matrix is a sci-fi/action movie classic. Whoa…

Paddington 2 (Dec 1)

The first Paddington movie was an absolute delight and yet somehow, the sequel turned out to be even more so. This time around, everyone’s favorite marmalade-loving bear is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and sent to an infamous prison. His adopted family scramble to prove his innocence even as he sets about improving the lives of his fellow inmates. Paddington 2 is filled with enough heart and whimsy for a dozen movies, with Hugh Grant turning in a scene-stealing performance as a washed up actor.

Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in December 2023.


Max

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Dec 1)

You know the story: two rock n’ roll-obsessed burn-outs are destined to save the world with their band Wyld Stallyns, but only if they can successfully complete high school with a kick-ass history presentation. Enter a time-traveling phone booth from the future and, well, the rest is history. Featuring what is arguably Keanu Reeves’ greatest role, this is truly a most bodacious movie. Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes.

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?)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Dec 1)

George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is an absolute juggernaut of a film, from its mind-blowing visuals of an apocalyptic wasteland to some of the most insane and over-the-top action sequences in recent history. Indeed, you’ll often find yourself wondering how no one died during the making of this film. Even more surprising, though, are the quiet and even hauntingly beautiful moments that Miller intersperses amongst the action and chaos.

Here’s everything arriving on Max in December 2023.


Netflix

L.A. Confidential (Dec 1)

One of 1997’s most acclaimed and successful films, L.A. Confidential follows a group of cops in 1953 California who become embroiled in police corruption and the dark side of Hollywood. Directed by Curtis Hanson and based on James Ellroy’s novel, L.A. Confidential was a commercial success as well as a critical one, winning several Academy Awards and appearing on numerous year-end lists as 1997’s best film.

Wonder Woman (Dec 1)

The entire DC Extended Universe of films are coming to Netflix in December, including 2017’s Wonder Woman. Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot as the Amazonian princess, Wonder Woman remains my favorite DC movie (read my review). Set during World War I, the film finds Diana of Themyscira venturing into the broader world in order to slay a great evil and stop “the war to end all wars.” The film is filled with the expected superhero hijinks and effects-filled battles, but it’s also filled with heart thanks to the performances of Gadot and her co-star Chris Pine, who plays her unlikely love interest.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (Dec 15)

A new release from Aardman Animations is always cause for celebration. This time around, it’s a sequel to 2000’s Chicken Run, the studio’s first feature-length film. When a new threat facing all of chickenkind emerges, it’s up to a handful of fowl to ensure their safety. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget features the voices of Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Bella Ramsey, Romesh Ranganathan, and Nick Mohammed.

Trevor Noah: Where Was I (Dec 19)

Trevor Noah returns with his fourth Netflix special, following 2022’s I Wish You Would. The special finds him talking about his travels around the world, with humorous commentary on foreign national anthems and different cultural norms.

Rebel Moon, Part One: A Child of Fire (Dec 22)

Originally envisioned as a potential Star Wars film way back in 2012, Rebel Moon is Zack Snyder’s attempt at creating his own galaxy-spanning space opera. There are certainly plenty of striking visuals in the trailer — which should come as no surprise since this is Zack Snyder we’re talking about — but it remains to be see if his pastiche of Star Wars and The Seven Samurai will result in a good story for his cast, which includes Sofia Boutella, Djimon Hounsou, Doona Bae, Jena Malone, and Ed Skrein. The second Rebel Moon movie, titled The Scargiver, will be released on April 19, 2024.

Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in December 2023.


Peacock

Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie (Dec 8)

Tony Shalhoub reprises his beloved character Adrian Monk, a brilliant detective who also happens to be saddled with a host of phobias and neuroses. The original Monk TV series ran on the USA network throughout the ’00s, and received widespread acclaim for both Shalhoub’s performance and its blend of police procedural and dark humor. But this time, Monk gets a feature-length movie, and he must solve one final case involving his beloved stepdaughter. Shalhoub is joined by most of the original series’ cast, including Ted Levine, Jason Gray-Stanford, and Traylor Howard.

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