The time has come once again for that most hallowed and accessible of online streaming services known as Netflix to cut a few titles from its voluminous selection of films and television shows while adding many more guaranteed to please its subscriber base.
Below youâ€™ll find my picks for the best of Netflixâ€™s new additions for the month of December 2015. As usual, most of the titles are available for viewing right now, but there are a few more set to premiere later in the month that those of us unable to get out to the movie theater much will find to be of great interest.
A Very Murray Christmas (December 4)
Anyone who has ever seen Scrooged knows that Bill Murray and Christmas go together like pancakes and whiskey. Here the comedy icon reunites with his Lost in Translation director Sofia Coppola for a unique special to celebrate the season that brings together Murray and several of his famous friends and then strands them inside New York’s Carlyle Hotel during a blizzard, forcing them to make the best of a lousy situation. Judging by the special’s full trailer, their best will certainly be worth watching. George Clooney, Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus, Amy Poehler, Jason Schwartzman, Michael Cera, Maya Rudolph, Rashida Jones, Paul Shaffer, and Phoenix join in the festivities.
The Ridiculous Six (December 11)
The first original film in Adam Sandler‘s deal with Netflix is a western-comedy full of action, juvenile humor at the expense of Native Americans, and Taylor Lautner for some ungodly reason. It definitely isn’t the next Blazing Saddles, but time will tell if it can even reach the lofty heights of A Million Ways to Die in the West. Steve Buscemi, Terry Crews, Rob Schneider, Luke Wilson, and Steve Zahn co-star, and somehow this project managed to rope in both Nick Nolte and Harvey Keitel. Meh, couldn’t have been that difficult.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (December 1)
Released directly to home video to coincide with the theatrical release of the big-budget Pitch Black sequel The Chronicles of Riddick, the animated Dark Fury was meant to serve as a bridge (a between-quel, if you will) between the first two cinematic adventures of Vin Diesel‘s anti-hero super-criminal with the special eyes that can see in the dark. Peter Chung, the creator of the classic MTV sci-fi series Aeon Flux, directed the half-hour-long Dark Fury and also pulled double duty as the character designer, which would explain why Fury has the look and feel of an episode of Flux. Diesel and Pitch Black co-stars Rhiana Griffith and Keith David return to voice their characters.
Cradle 2 The Grave (December 1)
If you’re in the mood for a good guilty pleasure to stream late at night when you’re too drunk or weary to use your brain, Cradle 2 The Grave might do the trick. It has plenty of mindless action, stars Jet Li and DMX, and has a pretty stylish look due to the direction by former cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak, who shot Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City and The Verdict and John Huston’s Prizzi’s Honor (he also directed Doom and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, so there’s that).
Darkman (December 1)
Now we’re talking. Having developed his skills behind the camera to their fullest on the first two Evil Dead movies, Sam Raimi was ready to embrace the world of big time Hollywood moviemaking with this operatic action-horror-comedy that contained elements of 1930’s Universal horror features and comic book superheroics. Liam Neeson, before he became a 21st century action icon, and Frances McDormand, before she won an Oscar for Fargo, star in Raimi’s lurid adventure about a scientist who survives an assault from mobsters but loses most of his face, so he employs a synthetic skin of his own creation to infiltrate the gang and get a taste of that dish that is best served cold (or so the Klingons would have us believe). The visual pyrotechnics Raimi would use to magnificent effect on the Spider-Man movies is on display here, and the action sequences are extraordinary fun.
The Da Vinci Code (December 14)
I’ve never seen Ron Howard‘s first adaptation of one of Dan Brown‘s inexplicably popular religious conspiracy potboilers, but I do have a vivid memory of driving by a theater showing the movie and seeing a crowd out front protesting it. That was a first for me. If you’re one of those individuals who obsessively re-reads Holy Blood, Holy Grail, you might find this one enjoyable. Or maybe you want to see Tom Hanks trying to rock a hairstyle that made his scalp hate him so much it will make him bald one day. It didn’t surprise me to see The Da Vinci Code end up a box office blockbuster at the time of its release, but I’ll stick with the Indiana Jones movies.
Ray (December 1)
Jamie Foxx won his first Academy Award as the late groundbreaking musical giant Ray Charles in Taylor Hackford‘s epic soul stirrer of a biopic that does a commendable job of condensing the most noteworthy moments of Charles’ life and career into feature form. Foxx embodies Charles’ lovable public persona but manages to find the pain and self-doubt lurking beneath his charismatic exterior, and he is admirably supported by a stellar cast that also includes future television stars Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Terrence Howard (Empire), as well as Regina King, Harry Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine, and Larenz Tate.
For a full list of what’s new to Netflix for December, click here.
In addition, the site will also be pulling many films and television shows from their queue throughout the month, including Batman Begins, The ‘Burbs, The Dark Crystal, The Great Escape, Labyrinth, the Omen trilogy, The Silence of the Lambs, and more. For a full list of the titles leaving Netflix in December, click here.
That wraps up my choices for the best movies to watch this month on Netflix. Having a subscription is one of the best investments that someone who is rarely away from their laptop for long like myself can make. I highly recommend getting one. Come back next time for more recommendations.