What you should watch
Natalie Palamides: Nate – A One Man Show (December 1): New York magazine dubbed this comedy show “The Most Astonishing Special of 2020,” and it may turn out to be the latest in the line of deconstructive Netflix comedy specials that started with Nanette: Palamides does the whole show in character as a very toxically-masculine, moustached man named Nate, whose interactions with the audience are often uncomfortable and invasive, turning the whole hour into an interactive comic exploration of issues like consent and the relationship of performers to their audience. Amy Poehler executive-produced the special and contributes a brief introduction.
Mank (December 4): What’s it like to be the less famous writer on the most famous film of all time? Superstar director David Fincher is betting we’ll want to see a feature film addressing that question: the title character is Herman Mankiewicz, a screenwriter and wit who was part of a famous Hollywood family, but who is best known today for the screenplay of Citizen Kane, for which he shared an Academy Award with the film’s producer/director/star Orson Welles. The film stars Gary Oldman as the title character and Tom Burke as Welles, and deals in part with the controversies over how much each man contributed to the script. And speaking of screenwriting credits, the writer, Jack Fincher, has been dead for 17 years; he was David Fincher’s father, and the script was written in the 1990s, though the director wasn’t afraid to ask his dad for rewrites to make it less anti-Welles: “The first draft,” he recalled recently, “just felt like revenge.”
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (December 18): The late August Wilson was one of the leading American playwrights of the of the 20th century; Denzel Washington, who already directed and starred in an adaptation of Wilson’s Fences, co-produced this adaptation of another Wilson play, which takes place at a recording session by the great 1920s blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis). Directed by George C. Wolfe (Bring in ‘da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk) and written for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson (who worked with Wolfe on the play and film Lackawanna Blues), the film version also stars the late Chadwick Boseman as Rainey’s trumpet player, who hopes to ditch everyone there and become a star bandleader. Washington has a deal with Netflix to produce further film versions of Wilson’s plays.
The Midnight Sky (December 23): Another busy actor/producer/director, George Clooney, does all three jobs in this film adaptation of the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Most of it was shot in 2019, and yet, even more than many other films released this year, its plot has an unintended relevance to what happened in 2020: it’s about two people in completely different places who discover that the world has experienced an apocalyptic event and it may be impossible for them to return to the world they knew. Augustine (George Clooney) is an eccentric scientist who stayed at his post in the North Pole despite the apocalypse, while Sully (Felicity Jones) is part of a team of astronauts on their way beck to Earth. Mark L. Smith (Overlord) adapted the novel for the screen, and the supporting cast includes David Oyelowo and Kyle Chandler.
Coming to Netflix on December 1, 2020
🎁 Angela’s Christmas Wish — NETFLIX FILM
A sequel to the 2017 animated special Angela’s Christmas, based loosely on the title character from Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes”: in this 47-minute special, Angela (voiced by Lucy O’Connell) wants to see her dad for Christmas, and the fact that she’s in Ireland and he’s in Australia isn’t going to stop her.
🎁 The Holiday Movies That Made Us — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
A special edition of Netflix’s series “The Movies That Made Us,” featuring behind-the-scenes stories and interviews with the makers of modern Christmas classics like Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Natalie Palamides: Nate – A One Man Show — NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL
See introduction for details
Coming to Netflix on December 2, 2020
Alien Worlds — NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY
A four-episode series that’s a mix of science fiction and science, as the creators try to reconstruct what life might look like on other planets.
Ari Eldjárn: Pardon My Icelandic — NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL
The Icelandic comedian does an English-language special, focusing on traditional observational comedy tropes, plus some Scandinavian content when he makes fun of Thor’s take on Norse mythology.
Fierce — NETFLIX FILM
Katarzyna Sawczuk, a finalist on the talent show “Voice of Poland,” gets to play a fictional talent-show contestant whose own father is sitting on the jury (and probably should have recused himself).
Hazel Brugger: Tropical — NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL
A special by the Swiss-American comedian and commentator, who also spends much of her time in Germany and talks about what it’s like to apply for a bank loan there.
Leaving Netflix on December 2, 2020
Coming to Netflix on December 3, 2020
Break — NETFLIX FILM
French film. originally released there in 2018, about Lucie (Sabrina Ouazani), who’s trying to restart her dancing career after an accident, and Vincent (Kevin Mischel), her young and troubled new partner.
🎁 Chico Bon Bon and the Very Berry Holiday — NETFLIX FAMILY
Christmas edition of the animated series “Chico Bon Bon: Monkey With a Tool Belt,” about Chico Bon Bon, a monkey with a tool belt.
🎁 Just Another Christmas (Tudo Bem No Natal Que Vem) — NETFLIX FILM
It’s a holiday version of Groundhog Day when Jorge (Leandro Hassum), who hates Christmas, finds himself trapped in a time loop where it’s Christmas every day.
Coming to Netflix on December 4, 2020
Bhaag Beanie Bhaag — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
It’s an updated version of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when Beanie Bhatnagar (Swara Bhaskar) decides to leaver her humdrum domestic life and goes to Mumbai to make it as a stand-up comedian.
Big Mouth: Season 4 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg’s animated sitcom about a group of 7th-graders going through puberty is almost, but not quite, on the brink of letting them go to the eighth grade.
Bombay Rose — NETFLIX FILM
Gitanjali Rao directed this animated film, which was chosen to open International Critics Week at the Venice Film Festival; it’s about a Hindu girl who falls in love with a Muslim boy while trying to get out of an arranged marriage.
🎁 Captain Underpants Mega Blissmas — NETFLIX FAMILY
In this Christmas spinoff of the popular franchise, the characters go back in time to change Christmas traditions before they can get started.
🎁 Christmas Crossfire (Wir Können Nicht Anders) — NETFLIX FILM
Director Detlev Buck offers a black-comedy take on the holiday film: a man has to spend Christmas on the run because he stopped a murder and the killers are out for revenge.
Leyla Everlasting — NETFLIX FILM
Ezel Akay directed and co-wrote this film about a strange triangle between a married couple and their marriage counsellor
Mank — NETFLIX FILM
See introduction for details
Selena: The Series — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Biographical drama series about the short life of pop star Selena Quintanilla (Christian Serratos).
Kings of Joburg: Season 1
Coming to Netflix on December 5, 2020
Detention — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
In an adaptation of the popular video game, a high school student discovers that the school is full of ghosts from the White Terror era in Taiwan.
🎁 Mighty Express: A Mighty Christmas — NETFLIX FAMILY
In the holiday edition of the animated show about a talking train, the talking train tries to save Christmas by making Santa’s deliveries.
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
Coming to Netflix on December 6, 2020
Everybody Knows (2019)
Coming to Netflix on December 7, 2020
Coming to Netflix on December 8, 2020
Emicida: AmarElo – É Tudo Para Ontem — NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY
A concert film by the Brazilian rapper Emicida, intercut with segments celebrating the history of Black culture in Brazil.
Lovestruck in the City — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
12-episode series about a disappointed romantic (Ji Chang-Wook) who falls for a free-spirited young woman (Kim Ji-Won).
Mr. Iglesias: Part 3 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
In this Welcome Back, Kotter-style sitcom, Gabe Iglesias (played by standup comic Gabriel Iglesias) continues to teach a group of misfit high school students.
Spirit Riding Free: Ride Along Adventure — NETFLIX FAMILY
Another entry in Netflix’s popular animated series about Lucky, a girl who loves horses, and her friends, who also love horses.
🎁 Super Monsters: Santa’s Super Monster Helpers — NETFLIX FAMILY
Christmas edition of the animated series about a group of kids who are all children of famous monsters.
Coming to Netflix on December 9, 2020
🎁 Ashley Garcia: Genius in Love: Christmas — NETFLIX FAMILY
Originally titled The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia, this sitcom follows teen genius Ashley (Paulina Chávez) who has to move in with her working-class uncle (Jencarlos Canela).
🎁 The Big Show Show: Christmas — NETFLIX FAMILY
Christmas edition of the family sitcom about the family life of the wrestler known as Big Show
Rose Island (L’Incredibile storia dell’Isola Delle Rose) — NETFLIX FILM
Sydney Sibilia directed this Italian film about a man who creates an artificial island and declares it to be an official country.
The Surgeon’s Cut — NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY
A four-part documentary series, co-produced with the BBC, profiling four leading surgeons and the work they do: Kypros Nicolaides (fetal surgery), Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa (neurosurgery), Nancy Ascher (organ transplants) and Devi Shetty (cardiac surgery).
Coming to Netflix on December 10, 2020
Alice in Borderland — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Adaptation of Haro Aso’s manga about people who find themselves in an apocalyptic alternate reality where they are forced to participate in Hunger Games-style games if they want to live.
Coming to Netflix on December 11, 2020
🎁 A Trash Truck Christmas — NETFLIX FAMILY
Christmas edition of the animated series about a boy whose best friend is an anthropomorphic garbage truck. They must save Christmas when Santa may be unable to perform his duties.
Canvas — NETFLIX FILM
Pixar animator Frank E. Abney III wrote and directed this animated short about an old man trying to return to painting after a tragic event caused him to lose his passion for art.
Giving Voice — NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY
This documentary, about student actors auditioning for the August Wilson Monologue Competition, was picked up by Netflix after it won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Mess You Leave Behind (El desorden que dejas) — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Spanish series about a teacher (Inma Cuesta) who begins a new job at a high school in her husband’s old home town, and finds that the school has secrets that may place her life in danger.
The Prom — NETFLIX FILM
Ryan Murphy continues to get the most out of his lucrative Netflix contract by signing up Meryl Streep and James Corden to star in this musical film he directed (based on a musical that had a short 2018 run on Broadway); they play washed-up Broadway actors who try to get some good publicity by going to a small Indiana high school to crusade for LGBT rights.
Coming to Netflix on December 14, 2020
🎁 A California Christmas — NETFLIX FILM
Lauren Swickard wrote, produced and starred in this movie, one of the first U.S. films to be shot entirely under COVID restrictions, about a Josh (Josh Swickard) who poses as a ranch hand to try and get Callie (Lauren Swickard) to sell her family’s ranch.
Hilda: Season 2 — NETFLIX FAMILY
Animated series about a plucky girl (voiced by Bella Ramsey) and her adventures in a magical city called Trolberg.
Tiny Pretty Things — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Drama series about students at a ballet school where the standards are gruelling and the competition is fierce. Written by Michael MacLennan, based on the book by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra.
Coming to Netflix on December 15, 2020
Song Exploder: Volume 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Based on the podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway, each episode of this show takes a deep dive into the making of a hit song. Artists featured in this batch include Dua Lipa, The Killers, Nine Inch Nails and Natalia Lafourcade.
PAW Patrol: Season 7
Pup Academy: Season 1-2
Coming to Netflix on December 16, 2020
Anitta: Made In Honorio — NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY
“Intimate” promotional documentary about the Brazilian pop star.
BREAK IT ALL: The History of Rock in Latin America — NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY
Documentary about the history of rock ‘n’ roll in Latin America and how it intersected with changes in youth culture.
🎁 How To Ruin Christmas: The Wedding — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
In this three-episode comedy series from South Africa, Thando Thabethe and Busisiwe Lurayi play sisters who meet again at a disastrous holiday family gathering: one of them is planning to get married, and the other accidentally ruins the engagement.
The Ripper — NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY
Documentary looking back on the “Yorkshire Ripper” murders of the late 1970s, when a serial killer of women managed to create more terror than any killer since the original Jack the Ripper.
Run On — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Drama series from Korea about a romance between a sprinter (Yim SI-wan) and a professional translator of foreign-language movies (Shin Sae-kyeong).
Vir Das: Outside In – The Lockdown Special — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
A comedy special recorded after the pandemic began, with the comedian talking to his viewers from his own home in Mumbai.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
Coming to Netflix on December 18, 2020
🎁 Home for Christmas: Season 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Romantic half-hour drama series from Norway about an Oslo nurse (Ida Elise Broch) and her attempts to avoid being alone for Christmas.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — NETFLIX FILM
See introduction for details
Sweet Home — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Orphaned teenager Cha Hyun-soo (Song Kang) discovers that his new apartment building is full of literal monsters in this 10-episode horror series.
Coming to Netflix on December 22, 2020
London Hughes: To Catch a D*ck — NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL
The English stand-up comic does a special examining the mystery of why a good romantic partner is so hard to find.
Rhyme Time Town Singalongs — NETFLIX FAMILY
The Rhyme Time Town friends, a group of singing animated animals, sing some more.
Coming to Netflix on December 23, 2020
The Midnight Sky — NETFLIX FILM
See introduction for details
Your Name Engraved Herein — NETFLIX FILM
Jing-Hua Tseng and Edward Chen star in this period drama about two high school boys who fall in love in 1987 Taiwan during the end of martial law.
Coming to Netflix on December 24, 2020
A Dog’s Way Home
Holmes & Watson
Coming to Netflix on December 25, 2020
Bridgerton — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Another Netflix contractee, Shonda Rhimes, executive produced this series, based on Julia Quinn’s series of Regency England romance novels, a sort of Regency England Gossip Girl where the marriage ambitions of Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dyvenor) are threatened by a poison-pen gossip sheet written by the unseen Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews). One of Rhimes’s Grey’s Anatomy writers, Chris Van Dusen, wrote the first and last of the eight episodes.
Grandma’s Last Wishes (El testamento de la abuela) — NETFLIX FILM
Last year, Netflix released a sequel to the popular 2015 comedy Grandma’s Birthday (El cumple de la abuela), called Grandma’s Wedding (La boda de la abuela). The cast and crew quickly reassembled to make another sequel, where Grandma (Susana Alexander) tries to decide which of her relatives will inherit her house when she dies.
Coming to Netflix on December 26, 2020
Asphalt Burning (Børning 3) — NETFLIX FILM
The third movie in the series that’s the Norwegian answer to Fast & Furious, about a guy (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) who is very good at driving a car very fast.
DNA — NETFLIX FILM
The French actor/director Maïwenn directed and starred in this film as a woman who is forced to reconnect with her family after her beloved grandfather dies. Her mother is played by the veteran star Fanny Ardant.
Fast & Furious Spy Racers: Season 3: Sahara — NETFLIX FAMILY
A new season of adventures in this animated spinoff of the Fast & Furious franchise.
Go! Go! Cory Carson: Season 3 — NETFLIX FAMILY
After a series of specials about a kid who is a talking car, Cory is back for another full season of episodes.
The Magic School Bus Rides Again In the Zone — NETFLIX FAMILY
A New Year’s special edition of the popular franchise about a magic school bus, which, in this episode, takes the gang back in time.
Coming to Netflix on December 28, 2020
Cops and Robbers — NETFLIX FILM
Animated short that uses a poem about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery as its soundtrack and inspiration.
A Simple Favor
Isn’t It Romantic
The Spy Who Dumped Me
Coming to Netflix on December 30, 2020
Best Leftovers Ever! — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Cooking competition show where the contestants are asked to make delicious, nutritious meals using nothing but leftovers.
Equinox — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
In 1999, young Astrid saw a bus full of students disappear. In 2019, Astrid tries to solve this mystery, only to discover she ends up changing the past.
Transformers: War For Cybertron Trilogy: Chapter 2: Earthrise — NETFLIX ANIME
Another chapter in the origin story of the good-guy robots known as the Autobots.
Wentworth: Season 8
Coming to Netflix on December 31, 2020
Best of Stand-Up 2020 — NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL
Netflix has dabbled in every other TV genre, so why not the clip show? This is a selection of what Netflix considers the funniest clips from its 2020 stand-up specials (well, only the specials from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia… but that’s still a lot of specials).
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Part 4 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The dark and edgy take on an Archie comics franchise (no, the other dark and edgy take) sees more mystic menaces menacing Sabrina’s town, building up to yet another epic final confrontation that may decide the fate of the world.
A Nice Girl Like You
The Children Act
Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Sorry to Bother You
Leaving Netflix on December 31, 2020
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Gossip Girl (the original series)