The last two weeks of the year, also known as “the holidays,” are always a great time to stay inside, hold back, and catch up on the conversation that the year-end lists remind those who missed it. Unfortunately, there are additional reasons to stay inside again this year, but on the plus side, the range of new things to see has never been so rich. In the past few weeks alone, some of the best shows, most anticipated films, and compelling documentaries of the year have fallen across the wide range of streaming services. If you haven’t subscribed to all of this, you surely know someone who does. Here’s a handy guide to where to find the new movies and TV shows your timeline is talking about this holiday season.
The Matrix Resurrections (HBO-Max). Sooner or later, the reboot culture comes for every beloved classic, whether it needs a new entry or not. But the fourth Matrix movie is fun and confident as Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are kind of embroiled in a war that we saw them sacrifice their lives in in 2003. Film Must Exist? Not really, but in dealing with this on-screen question, Resurrections is an unexpectedly good time.
The power of the dog (Netflix). Jane Campion’s first film in over ten years explores the 1920s descent of a Montana ranch community into self-loathing, alcoholism, depression, masculinity, and violence. Benedict Cumberbatch plays head rancher Phil Burbank and changes minds Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes for his most hideous role of all time and career high achievement, the Academy can only try to reward him; Kodi Smit-McPhee is an exciting new talent.
Swan song (Apple). In a near future where cloning is possible, Mahershala Ali plays a dying man who must decide whether to replace himself without telling his family about it. Walking a fine line between melodrama and science fiction, Swan song is enhanced by Ali’s excellent performance.
Don’t look up (Netflix, available December 24th). With Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Chris Evans, Cate Blanchett, Kid Cudi, and Tyler Perry, writer / director Adam McKay’s climate satire has probably the strongest Netflix cast of all time. Two astronomers try, try, and then try some more to warn a disinterested world of its own impending doom: Don’t look up can be too preaching, but with a bench as deep as this, even minor characters bring huge laughs.
Be the Ricardos (Amazon Prime). Aaron Sorkin is all about biopics these days. This time around, his focus is on the duo that once dominated 72 percent of American television viewers, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, played by Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman. Sorkin dissects the most public marriage in American history, with fears of comedians, affairs and business intrigues floating around in the background. It is an exciting, if a little muddled, narrative.