The holiday season is officially upon us. Here are the shows and movies least likely to help lull you into that impending food coma.
Hawkeye: Series Premiere
The man who dropped Scarlett Johansson off the side of a cliff gets his own Disney+ show. In Marvel’s latest, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye does what can only be described as reenacting the plot to the 1996 hit Jingle All the Way starring Arnold Schwarzeneger and Sinbad. Along with him on the journey is Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop. Would I be surprised if Hailee Steinfeld killed Hawkeye and took his place amongst the new era of Marvel superheroes? Not in the slightest. I welcome this new development. I say, “Mmm, just in time for the holidays.” What is a bigger treat is that a spin-off focused on Maya Lopez/Echo (played by deaf Native American actress Alaqua Cox) is already in development. Let’s get that fast-tracked. First Two Episodes land November 24 on Disney+.
The Beatles: Get Back
One time I told my friend I had never heard of the Beatles and he believed me. Keeping that very same energy, here is a documentary from a little unknown director on a little unknown band. Peter Jackson (The Frighteners and those Middle Earth gremlin movies) turns his Beatles obsession into a three-night mega-event series, cut from 55 hours of unseen footage. Jackson told The Guardian, “What other band in the 60s or 70s allowed themselves to be shot in such an intimate way? There isn’t another. And then I got to edit it. The whole thing boggles my mind.” There couldn’t have been a better filmmaker chosen to put this together. Coming hot off the heels of his acclaimed World War I documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, Get Back is sure to be not only a celebration of the iconic band, but also of the art of music itself. Each 2-Hour Episode lands consecutively November 25 – 27.
When A24 throws a family into a cramped New York apartment, you’re sure to have some tension. Playwright Stephen Karam writes and directs this adaptation of his own one-act play, The Humans. Taking place on Thanksgiving Day, a family comes together to relish in small talk and traditions long gone. And then, naturally, things get out of control. Starring an iconic group of actors—Richard Jenkins (!), Beanie Feldstein (!), Jayne Houdyshell (!), Steven Yeun (!!), Amy Schumer (well, ok), and June Squibb (!!!)—The Humans tiptoes the fine line between drama and horror. Because what’s more horrific than family ties? In a review by The Washington Post, Ann Hornaday says, “Karam has concocted a diabolically creaky duplex whose wonky corners and jury-rigged “improvements” take on an increasingly sinister patina as the meal progresses.” Taking on-screen inspiration from classics like Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, we’re sure to have our stress sweats. November 24 on Showtime (and in theaters).
Super Crooks: Season 1
The first taste of Super Crooks comes to Netflix on Thanksgiving Day. Based on the comic book series by Mark Millar, this anime focuses on a low-life crook by the name of Johnny Bolt as he assembles a team of superpowered villains to perform a dangerous heist. Ocean’s Eight but make it…super. Fans of Invincible are sure to latch onto this. And if you’re still jonesing for more after the 13-episode season, fear not, as a live-action Super Crooks series in the works, marketed as a spinoff to the now-cancelled Jupiter’s Legacy. November 25 on Netflix
Elves: Season 1
And now, this. Netflix’s third Danish series (after Equinox and The Chestnut Man) is sure to intrigue some viewers. In the same vein as Gremlins, Elves reimagines the folk creature as they were originally intended to be: vicious little monsters (it’s giving…trolls). If the trailer above is any indication, we’re sure to feel that joyful holiday spirit (speaking of, have you scheduled the annual Krampus viewing yet?). Thrills and chills abound in the serie’s six episodes. November 28 on Netflix.
Hailing itself as a new Christmas Story (their words, not mine), 8-Bit Christmas tells the story of a group of kids as they try to nab the newest, coolest, bestest toy ever: the Nintendo. Hey, it was the ’80s. The Verge said, “Warner Bros. may be putting a solid contender in the annual competition for the worst Christmas movie if the official trailer for 8-Bit Christmas is anything to go by.” Y’know what? I have to respectfully disagree. Slap me around and call me silly, but I found this trailer to be rather delightful. Neil Patrick Harris aside, this does feel like a solid Christmas movie that would bring on the chuckles. Could it suck? Yeah. But who wants to go in expecting it to suck? Don’t be a grinch. November 24 on HBO Max.
True Story: Limited Series
Now allow me to demonstrate not going into something expecting it to suck. Picture me (let’s pretend I look like Rachel Weisz in Disobedience) typing this write-up with a strained smile on my face. From the mind of uber-producer Eric Newman (Narcos, Hemlock Grove, Bright), we have Kevin Hart playing a fictionalized version of himself, a comedian on the rise to become a mega star. If you’re still with me, let’s go on. He returns home to Philadelphia to visit his troublemaker older brother (Wesley Snipes), and all hell breaks loose when he (Hart) wakes up next to a dead woman after a night of partying. Okay, Kevin Hart does The Flight Attendant. I’m not against it. However, The Hollywood Reporter claims Snipes is the only reason to tune in, driving scenes with his “effortless cool and growing vulnerability. […] If there’s anything true in this True Story, it’s Snipes’ ageless charisma and brooding panache. In a show about a fake star, he’s the real one.” That’s good enough for me. November 24 on Netflix.
A Boy Called Christmas
If you’re looking for something a bit more lighthearted this holiday season, here it is. According to the trailer, it’s “From the studio that brought you The Christmas Chronicles,” which may mean something to some people. Supposedly the sequel was seen by 60 millions households. Who knew Kurt Russell had such an ironclad grip on the necks of Earth’s residents with Internet access? But we are not here to discuss Kurt. We’re here to discuss A Boy Called Christmas! Gil Kenan (Monster House, that Poltergeist remake) directs this film based on a script he co-wrote with Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again). The intersection between these two men’s credits is where I live and breathe. It tells the origin story of Father Christmas as a young boy searches for his father in the snowy north. Looking like if Guillermo del Toro did a family holiday movie, A Boy Called Christmas stars Jim Broadbent, Sally Hawkins, Maggie Smith, Kristen Wiig, and my favorite actor in anything ever, Michiel Huisman. November 24 on Netflix.
How To with John Wilson: Season 2 Premiere
One of 2020’s best series returns this Sunday for its second second on HBO. As a native LA resident who moved here six years ago, I am not the biggest fan of New York City. However, John Wilson makes it seem like the most magically grotesque place on this pale blue dot. It’s hard to believe that we all work on the same Earth. Kinda crazy. For those of us Earthwalkers who do not know what How To is all about, filmmaker John Wilson (the John Wilson of How To with John Wilson) focuses on a topic of advice every episode, ranging from “How To Make Small Talk” to “How To Cover Your Furniture.” And then you take hold of John’s hand and you both jump in a very deep rabbit hole. It’s like reading a Wikihow article after dropping acid. Executive produced by the one and only Nathan Fielder (Nathan for You), How To brings “into the world a wealth of human experience that would otherwise have stayed hidden, in the parts of New York where the cameras don’t usually go.” (Variety). November 28 on HBO and HBO Max.
Halle Berry’s directorial debut lands on Netflix after a week in select theaters. Placing herself front and center, Berry stars as Jackie Justice, a retired MMA fighter returns to the ring all the while dealing with the return of her 6-year-old son, whom she previously gave up for adoption. While her on-screen performance has been singled out for praise, Berry’s directoral attempt has been seen as a bit been-there and unfocused, taking cues from past films like Million Dollar Baby and Rocky. Robert Daniels, writing for Roger Ebert, claimed, “Berry’s film doesn’t display a clear passion for the subject of MMA, rendering the sport with a generic gaze, nor a measured eye for pruning the copious subplots. Bruised barely leaves a mark.” November 24 on Netflix.