If you’re looking forward to the end of this downright dreadful and challenging year, you aren’t alone. While 2020 has been immensely difficult for so many people, at least TV, movies, books and games have offered some modicum of escape — and connection. The end of the year, which is stuffed with blockbuster film premieres and a slate of gripping shows and games, is no exception. Read on for the full rundown of must-watch (and must-play) hits coming soon.
Netflix | George Clooney Returns to Space and “The Great British Baking Show” Gets Spirited for the Holidays
As always, Netflix has a deep list of originals coming this month, offering more variety than most of its competitors. Without a doubt, it will be hard to top recent successes like The Queen’s Gambit and The Crown, but December certainly holds some promise — and some theater-worthy movies that you can enjoy from home.
Here are the highlights:
- Dec 1: Angela’s Christmas Wish (Netflix Original; 2020); Natalie Palamides: Nate – A One Man Show (Netflix Original; 2020); and The Holiday Movies That Made Us (Netflix Original; Season 1).
- Dec 2: Alien Worlds (Netflix Original; Season 1); Ari Eldjarn: Pardon My Icelandic (Netflix Original; 2020); Fierce (Netflix Original; 2020); and Hazel Brugger: Tropical (Netflix Original; 2020).
- Dec 3: Break (Netflix Original; 2020); Chico Bon Bon and the Very Berry Holiday (Netflix Original; 2020); and Just Another Christmas (Netflix Original; 2020).
- Dec 4: Bhaag Bhaag Bhaag (Netflix Original; Season 1); Big Mouth (Netflix Original; Season 4); Bombay Rose (Netflix Original; 2019); Captain Underpants: Mega Blissmas (Netflix Original; 2020); MANK (Netflix Original; 2020); Pokémon Journeys: The Series (Part 3); Selena: The Series (Netflix Original; Season 1); and The Great British Baking Show: Holidays (Season 3).
- Dec 7: Room 2806: The Accusation (Netflix Original; Limited Series).
- Dec 8: Emicida: AmarElo: It’s All for Yesterday (2020); and Spirit Riding Free: Ride Along Adventure (Interactive Special; Netflix Original; 2020).
- Dec 10: Alice in Borderland (Netflix Original; Season 1).
- Dec 11: A Trash Truck Christmas (Netflix Original; 2020); Canvas (Netflix Original; 2020); Giving Voice (Netflix Original; 2020); The Mess You Leave Behind (Netflix Original; Season 1); and Ryan Murphy’s The Prom (Netflix Original; 2020).
- Dec 14: A California Christmas (Netflix Original; 2020) and Tiny Pretty Things (Netflix Original; Season 1).
- Dec 16: Anitta: Made in Honório (Netflix Original; Season 1); BREAK IT ALL: The History of Rock in Latin America (Netflix Original; 2020); How to Ruin Christmas (Netflix Original; Season 1); and Vir Das: Outside In – The Lockdown Special (Netflix Original; 2020).
- Dec 18: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix Original; 2020), the final movie featuring the late Chadwick Boseman.
- Dec 23: The Midnight Sky (Netflix Original; 2020), a sci-fi space thriller starring George Clooney and Felicity Jones.
- Dec 25: Bridgerton (Netflix Original; Season 1), the first Netflix series from Shondaland.
- Dec 31: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix Original; Season 4), which marks the teenage witch’s final outing.
HBO Max | Hits Like “Wendy” and “Wonder Woman 1984” Make Good on the Service’s “Home Box Office” Name
Even with Nicole Kidman’s thriller The Undoing wrapping at the end of November, HBO is still going strong when it comes to content this winter. Several hit series will continue to debut weekly, including His Dark Materials (Season 2), The Flight Attendant, Murder on Middle Beach and Industry.
In terms of completely fresh debuts, the talk of the town is certainly Wonder Woman 1984 (Dec 25), the sequel to Patty Jenkins acclaimed hit from a few years ago. Diana (Gal Gadot) was supposed to return to the screen earlier this year, but COVID-19 derailed that plan. Thankfully, we can all enjoy the comic book blockbuster from the safety of our sofas on Christmas morning. Our other picks include CW’s Stargirl (Dec 1); Baby God (Dec 2); My Gift: A Carrie Underwood Musical Special (Dec 3); Stylish with Jenna Lyons (Dec 3); The Photograph (Dec 5); 40 Years a Prisoner (Dec 8); Alabama Snake (Dec 9); Let Them All Talk (Dec 10); The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (Dec 12); and Wendy (Dec 19).
Hulu | “Letterkenny,” a Live-Action “Grinch” and “The Hardy Boys” Hit Hulu
Last month, Hulu released a fair bit of original content, including the Kristen Stewart holiday film Happiest Season and the Sarah Paulson-helmed thriller Run. This month, things are a little lighter, but the streamer still has a fair amount of new content — although not Hulu original content in most cases — from this year. If you missed a film or show in 2020, now’s the time to catch up.
Hulu highlights include:
- Dec 1: CMA Country Christmas; Disney Holiday Singalong; and the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- Dec 4: The Hardy Boys (Hulu Original; Season 1), a Nancy Drew-adjacent, gritty adaptation of the long-running book series, and the feature film She Dies Tomorrow (2020).
- Dec 5, 6 and 7: Five films from this year, including Mr. Jones (2020); Waiting for the Barbarians (2020); Black Ops (2020); The Secret Garden (2020); and Valley Girl (2020).
- Dec. 8: The series premiere of NBC’s Nurses and feature film The Fairy Princess and the Unicorn (2020).
- Dec 10: The truly horrifying looking Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical! — because someone had to try to upstage the Jim Carey version. (They did not.)
- Dec 11 and 12: The animated Hulu Original Madagascar: A Little Wild (Season 2) and feature films Rent-A-Pal (2020); Spy Cat (2020); and Endless (2020).
- Dec 22: The intriguingly titled film You Cannot Kill David Arquette (2020).
- Dec 26: The highly anticipated ninth season of cult hit and Hulu Original comedy Letterkenny.
- Dec 27: The season five premiere of The Masked Singer, because somehow this inane show is still going.
Amazon Prime Video | Original Movies, “Clifford” and a New Season of “The Expanse” at the Click of a Button
Unlike virtually every other month this year, Amazon Prime Video is finally giving you a reason to stay subscribed. Besides a few late-year hits in both the movie and series department, Amazon was eking by on its promises of more Mrs. Maisel and no more Man in the High Castle. With a ton of originals this December, Amazon is finally primed to compete with other streaming giants.
- Movies: Sound of Metal (Amazon Original; Dec 4); Valley Girl (2020; Dec 7); I’m Your Woman (Amazon Original; Dec 11); Blackbird (2020; Dec 18); The Grand Tour Presents: A Massive Hunt (Amazon Original Special; Dec 18); Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Original; Dec 25); Hope Gap (2020; Dec 28); and Yearly Departed (Amazon Original Special; Dec 30).
- Series: Clifford the Big Red Dog (Amazon Original; Season 3A; Dec 11); The Wilds (Amazon Original; Season 1; Dec 11); and The Expanse (Amazon Original; Season 5; Dec 16).
Disney+, Apple TV+, Peacock | Everything Else Worth Streaming on Your Favorite Platforms This Month
And now for everything else! There are so many streaming platforms — perhaps too many to keep track of. If your head is spinning or you’re not sure which ones to renew, here’s our comprehensive list of everything else worth streaming this December.
Make your subscription choices accordingly:
- Disney+: Every Friday, episodes in The Mandalorian‘s second season will continue to premiere, and, let’s face it, that’s the primary reason most of us still have an account with Disney. The mouse is also offering up a slate of holiday-themed content, including High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special (Dec 11). December also marks the release of Godmothered (Dec 4), an original feature about a fairy godmother in training, as well as Pixar’s highly-anticipated Soul (Dec 25), an Inside Out-like film about a middle-school music teacher with a passion for jazz. Other content worth noting includes The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse – Winter Finale (Dec 18); the addition of documentary film Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric (Dec 11); and Ralph Breaks the Internet (Dec 11), a hit from a few holiday seasons ago.
- Apple TV+: With most of its series on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple’s first year in streaming was a bit muddled, to say the least. Nonetheless, subscribers can look forward to a few exciting drops on December 4, including Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special; animated fantasy film Wolfwalkers; nature doc Earth at Night in Color; and children’s program Stillwater.
- Peacock: This December, NBCUniversal’s streamer is offering a boon of movies, including all three entries in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the 2020-appropriate dramedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012), which stars Keira Knightly and Steve Carell.
Video Games | End of the Year Must-Plays
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard by now that both Microsoft and Sony released new gaming consoles last month. Although you might still be basking in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X launch titles, December also has quite a few intriguing new releases on offer.
Here are our picks:
- Twin Mirror: Lost on Arrival (PC, PS4, XBOX; Dec 1): When former investigative journalist Sam Higgs returns to his hometown, he’s forced to confront his past — and Basswood’s dark secrets. The first episode in the story arrives this month, and we’re expecting great things from Life Is Strange developer DONTNOD.
- El Hijo: A Wild West Tale (PC, Stadia; Dec 3): In this spaghetti-western-meets-stealth game, you’ll step into the shoes of El Hijo, a young boy who’s determined to find his mother. It’s ideal for fans of Westerns, puzzle-solving and captivating art styles.
- FIFA 21 (PS5, XSX; Dec 4): Did you just get a new PS5 or XSX? Well, if you buy this year’s installment of beloved soccer series FIFA, you get two games for the price of one: a copy for your old console and one for your new console. Score!
- Call of the Sea (PC, XSX, XBOX; Dec 8): This first-person puzzler is set in the 1930s — and, no, it’s not Bioshock-adjacent, though it has a similar vibe art-wise. Here, Norah sets out to find her missing husband’s expedition by navigating a strange-but-beautiful island. Adventure awaits!
- Ryte: The Eye of Atlantis (PC VR; Dec 8): Looking for a little VR action this December? Well, thanks to the Historia Time Travel agency, you can set sail for Atlantis — and try to stop the now-lost civilization’s untimely demise.
- GTA Online: The Cayo Perico Heist (PC, PS4, XBOX; Dec 15): In Rockstar’s newest location, you’ll be taking on a whole island of trouble. The stakes have never been higher, Grand Theft Auto fans.
Books | End of the Year Must-Reads
Hit pause on Spider-Man: Miles Morales and tell Netflix you’re done marathoning The Crown (for now), because it’s time for a much-needed screen break. Although fall is the prime time for big-name releases, this December still has plenty of great new titles on offer. Not sure what to buy yourself — or someone on your holiday gift list? Grab a convenient Kindle gift card to give them quick and easy access to all their favorite reads.
Here are our December picks:
- A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir (Dec 1): Book 4 of the New York Times bestselling Ember in the Ashes YA fantasy series comes to a breathtaking conclusion. There’s a reason Buzzfeed hailed the series as “one of the best YA fantasy series of the last decade” — find out why.
- The Cousins by Karen M. McManus (Dec 1): From the author of the acclaimed hit One of Us Is Lying comes a suspenseful thriller about estranged cousins who are invited to their mysterious, wealthy grandmother’s island resort one summer. Hmm…
- Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo (Dec 1): Best known for her book So You Want to Talk About Race, Oluo presents another masterclass in her most recent published work. This time she focuses on the history of the white male American identity, toxic male privilege — and the systemic oppression they perpetuate.
- New Year’s Kiss by Lee Matthews (Dec 1): Looking for a holiday rom-com in book form? This paperback romance sees Tess and her sister heading to their grandmother’s Vermont holiday resort for New Year’s — only to have Tess meet the charming Christopher in the hotel lobby. Cue Hallmark-level sweetness.
- The Ballad of Ami Miles by Kristy Dallas Alley (Dec 1): Raised in isolation at Heavenly Shepherd, Ami Miles begins to question her fate — and, you know, her family’s whole survivalist compound thing — when it becomes clear she’ll be forced to carry a child for the community’s sake.
- Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, Illustrated by Celia Moscote (Dec 1): A beautiful graphic novel adaptation of the bestselling YA novel of the same name, which sees the titular, Bronx-born Juliet Milagros Palante headed to Portland, Oregon, in the wake of coming out to her family.
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