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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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 Stanley Kubrick’s death, nearly 30 years after its initial release.
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.
Before Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan collaborated on Fruitvale Station, which is based the true story of Oscar Grant, a young man killed by a police officer in 2009. The film, which chronicles the last day of Grant’s life, debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won several top awards (including the Grand Jury Prize). The film was subsequently on numerous critics’ top ten lists for 2013.
Ron Howard directs this adaptation of J.D. Vance’s bestselling memoir about his family, their history of poverty, and their various addictions. Vance’s memoir has generated no small amount of controversy for its depiction of “hillbilly culture.” Even so, the film attracted the likes of Glenn Close and Amy Adams to its cast, both of whom look like they give powerhouse performances.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in November 2020.
Matt Damon stars as Jason Bourne, a highly trained and deadly government operative with no memory of his previous life. Not surprisingly, he’s soon at the center of a government conspiracy, with former colleagues putting him in their sights. Along with The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, which begin streaming the same day, The Bourne Identity form the best action/espionage thriller trilogy of the ’00s.
Four years before he was Neo, Keanu Reeves was Johnny, a data courier who transported valuable and sensitive information in his brain in the distant future of 2021. But his most recent job might be his last, as he finds himself running afoul of the Yakuza and a global corporation, both of whom want the secrets in his brain. Based on a William Gibson short story and also starring Dolph Lundgren, Henry Rollins, Ice-T, and Takeshi Kitano, Johnny Mnemonic is a mid ’90s guilty pleasure.
Christopher Nolan may be best known for the “Dark Knight” trilogy — which is arguably the definitive film version of Batman — but in 2006, he directed this entertaining little suspense thriller about the escalating rivalry between two magicians in the early 20th century. As is Nolan’s wont, The Prestige is full of clever little visuals, twists, and turns. Oh, and it features a David Bowie cameo as the legendary inventor Nikola Tesla.
That’s right, the Warner kids are returning to TV with new episodes. Originally airing in the mid-to-late ’90s, Animaniacs chronicled the zany adventures of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner as they tore up the Warner movie lot with a mix of slapstick comedy, pop culture riffery, and musical numbers. The show also featured a slew of other characters, including Pinky and the Brain, Slappy Squirrel, and the Goodfeathers. We’ll actually be getting two new seasons of Animaniacs, with the second season arriving some time in 2021.
Based on the Rumer Godden novel, Black Narcissus follows a group of nuns serving at a remote monastery in the Himalayas. In that extremely isolated location, they find themselves under attack from all manner of temptations and pressure: psychological, spiritual, and sensual. Godden’s novel was previously adapted by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1947, with the legendary Deborah Kerr in the lead role. This latest adaptation stars Gemma Arterton, Jim Broadbent, and the also legendary Diana Rigg in one of her final performances.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in November 2020.
If you’re looking for a throwback to classic adventure films, but with a dash of romance, then Romancing the Stone might be just up your alley. Starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as a pair of unlikely lovers who find themselves chasing a priceless jewel in South America, the film was a massive box office hit in 1984. Tragically, the film’s writer, Diane Thomas — who was working as a waitress when she wrote the script — died shortly after the film’s release.
In this post-Cold War espionage thriller by John Frankenheimer, a group of former operatives from various nations are recruited for a job. Of course, not everyone is who they seem and the unlikely allies are soon on the run from the Russian mafia, the CIA, and even Irish nationalists. Ronin is best known for its intense car chase sequences as well as its impressive cast, which includes Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Sean Bean, and Jonathan Pryce.
Written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan — of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Empire Strikes Back fame — Silverado is a rollicking western that takes some classic genre tropes and breathes new life into them. Namely, an unlikely group gunfighters and cowboys must join forces to prevent a wealthy cattle baron from taking over all of the surrounding land. Silverado stars Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, John Cleese, and Jeff Goldblum.
This cult TV show about a group of community college students and their crazy hijinks may be the most pop culture-literate show since Spaced. I’m looking forward to the various paintball episodes, the Dungeons & Dragons episode, the darkest timeline, and of course, Troy and Abed in the morning!
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in November 2020. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.
The eight episodes of Marvel’s 616 find various directors — including David Gelb, Gillian Jacobs, and Alison Brie — exploring Marvel’s comics in the real world. Some of the topics covered will include cosplayers, the role of women in Marvel’s history, and the process of creating a new Marvel title. I’m particularly interested in the series’ fourth episode, which will look at some of Marvel’s strangest and most obscure characters.
Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in November 2020.
The best DC film of all time (sorry Wonder Woman). The second film in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy finds the Caped Crusader coming into conflict with his arch-nemesis the Joker, played by Heath Ledger. Sadly, this would be one of Ledger’s final roles — he died in 2008 as a result of an accidental overdose — but his bravura performance was one for the ages, and earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Before Brad Bird turned to superheroes, he directed this adaptation of Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man. Set during the ’50s, The Iron Giant blends classic sci-fi and Cold War-era paranoia into a charming coming-of-age story between a boy and a gigantic robot. I unashamedly wept the first time I saw the film’s heart-wrenching finale, and I still get chills whenever I think of the word “Superman.” The film did poorly during its initial release due to the studio’s poor promotion, but the ensuing years have been very kind to its legacy, and for good reason: it’s a classic in every sense of the word.
I’ll admit, I had very low expectations for The Lego Movie when it was originally announced. But I need not have worried: The Lego Movie turned out to be way more delightful, inventive, and affecting than I could’ve expected. When a lowly Lego guy named Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt) finds himself in possession of a powerful relic, he’s drawn into a conflict between freedom fighters and an evil overlord that will completely change his view of the world. The Lego Movie also features the voice talents of Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, and Morgan Freeman (to name a few).
Set nine years after the end of the original series, Veronica Mars finds our titular detective compelled to return home to the perpetually corrupt town of Neptune, California when her former boyfriend is accused of murder. As with the series, the Veronica Mars movie is filled with solid performances by Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, et al., lots of twists and turns, and plenty of the clever, whip-smart dialog that you’ve come to expect from Ms. Mars and her crew.
Although I’m a Marvel guy, I’ve really enjoyed DC’s various animated titles, and Young Justice is at the top of that list. Focusing on some of DC’s younger heroes (e.g., Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian), Young Justice features some of the most intense and well-plotted superhero storylines you’ll find on TV. I’ve only seen the first two seasons, which were excellent, and season three finds the young heroes confronting the trafficking of superheroes and their abilities.
Our family has recently begun watching old Fresh Prince of Bel Air episodes, and they still totally hold up — and my kids find them hilarious. 30 years after the show ended, the remaining cast members (James Avery, who played Uncle Phil, died in 2013) are getting back together to discuss the show and its cultural impact.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving HBO Max in November 2020.