Sunday 8 December 2019

Christmas streaming - Marriage Story, The Two Popes, Marvelous Mrs Maisel among December highlights

The best of what's on offer from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Sky/NOW TV this festive season

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in Marriage Story
Adam Driver, Azhy Robertson and Scarlett Johansson deliver emotive performances in Marriage Story
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

For the days and nights when you're not throwing sequin-clad shapes at festive parties this December, there are plenty of new documentaries, films, and series to stream at home. Here are some of the streaming highlights for the Christmas season from Netflix's excellent Marriage Story, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, to the highly-anticipated third season of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime Video...

DECEMBER 1

Method of a Serial Killer, Sky Crime/NOW TV

Kick off the season with a true crime special.  When police picked up serial killer Israel Keyes in Texas in March 2012, it was for the murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenic, who he had brazenly kidnapped from a coffee stand in Anchorage, Alaska.  After an intense game of cat and mouse, the FBI uncovered one of the most calculated serial killers they had ever encountered.

 

Feast on Thrones, Sky Atlantic/NOW TV

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Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

It’s back to back episodes of Game of Thrones right through the festival season.  Stock up on eggnog and mince pies and indulge in all eight seasons in their entirety.

 

DECEMBER 2

Great Film Composers: The Music of the Movies - the 1940s, Sky Arts/NOW TV

One for the movie/music buffs.  As WWII escalated many filmmakers relocated to Hollywood and the composers followed leading to collaborations such as that between composer Miklos Rozsa and Billy Wilder in 1945’s calssic Double Indemnity, then with Alfred Hitcock in 1946’s Spellbound.

 

DECEMBER 5

I am Steve McQueen, Sky Arts/NOW TV

The incredible life story of the legendary actor, racer and cultural icon, with extensive interviews, move clips, archival footage and sound bites chronicling his career and focusing on the correlation between his on-screen and off-screen experiences.

 

V Wars, Netflix

A doctor is pitted against his best friend after an ancient disease turns people into vampires in this small screen adaptation of the comics by Jonathan Maberry and Alan Robinson.

 

Home for Christmas, Netflix

Kick off the season with your very first Christmas-themed movie which sounds like it ticks all the boxes for festival film fare.... Fed up with the constant comments on her relationship status, perpetually single Johanne starts a 24-day hunt for a partner to bring home for Christmas.

 

DECEMBER 6

Marriage Story, Netflix

 

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach's film has already had its big screen outing, but if you missed it at the cinema, you're in for a treat.  It takes a compassionate look at the breakdown of a marriage and the impact on the separating couple and their young son.  The film stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver with co-stars Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta.

Marriage Story review: Gripping, tragi-comic domestic drama may make you reconsider that divorce

 

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (season 3), Amazon Prime Video

 

The series that has bagged 16 Emmys is back.  Midge and Susie discover that life on tour with Shy is glamorous but humbling, and they learn a lesson about show business they’ll never forget. Joel struggles to support Midge while pursuing his own dreams and Abe embraces a new mission and Rose learns she has talents of her own. 

 

Three Days of Christmas, Netflix

You know you need another Christmas movie in your life... Four sisters deal with family drama and secrets throughout three different time periods, all occurring on Christmas Day.

 

The Grinch, Sky Cinema Premiere/NOW TV

 

Animated family fantasy with the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Pharell Williams and Angela Lansbury.  Based on the Dr Seuss classic children's book, it tells the tale of a grumpy green monster who decides he must destroy Christmas for the residents of Whoville.

 

The Confession Killer, Netflix

On trial for murder, drifter Henry Lee Lucas confesses to hundreds more killings. This docuseries examines the truth behind his admissions.

 

DECEMBER 8

The Killing of Jessica Chambers, Sky Crime/NOW TV

Jessica Chambers died hours after being found outside her burning car on a rural Mississippi road in 2014.  With no obvious suspect, a group of online sleuths - spurred on by an interest in true crime documentaries and podcasts - began investigating the crime online.  Meanwhile, police arrest suspect Quinton Tells, a local African-American man, and charge him with the crime, causing racial tensions to grow in the small southern town. (Parts 1 and 2 of 7)

 

DECEMBER 9

New Amsterdam (season 2), Amazon Prime Video

 

This second season picks up where the finale of season one left off - with multiple lives hanging in the balance after the ambulance crash invovling medical director Dr Max Goodwin.  Episodes 1-9 will launch on the day.

 

Great Film Composers: The Music of the Movies - The 1950s, Sky Arts/NOW TV

The episode charts the career of legendary film composer Bernard Hermann.  After his work with Orson Welles in the 1930's and 1940's with the radio special War of the Worlds and the film masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941), Hermann moved to Hollywood to work on 20th Century Fox's The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).  Later that decade he would form a partnership with Alfred Hitchcock which would result in films such as The Man who Knew Too Much (1956) and Vertigo (1958).

 

DECEMBER 10

Michelle Wolf: Joke Show, Netflix

Comedian Michelle Wolf's Netflix comedy special sees her fighting for women's equality - but not in the usual annoying way.  She dissects the differences between men and women, explores gender equality, explains why society should be a little 'less' woke and more.

 

Margaret Atwood: A word after a Word after a Word is Power, Sky Arts/NOW TV

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Margaret Atwood, joint winner of the Man Booker prize and creator of 'The Handmaid's Tale'

This documentary on the Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments Booker Prize winning author shadows her for a year and attempts to reveal who the woman behind the stories is and how does she seem to know what is to come?  The film follows Atwood and her partner, author and activist Graeme Gibson, as they jet to speaking engagements around the world.

 

DECEMBER 12

Jack Whitehall: Christmas with my Father, Netflix

Jack Whitehall and his father return as a charming double-act in this Christmas special which sees son attempting to get reluctant father into the holiday spirit.

 

Discovering Film: Alan Rickman, Sky Arts/NOW TV

This documentary charts the extraordinary career of Alan Rickman from graduating from RADA to theatre, to exploding onto the Hollywood scene as Hans Gruber in Die Hard.  He followed up with another villainous role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves which earned him a BAFTA.  However, he took exception to being typecast as a bad guy and tackled several comedic roles in films like Dogma, Galaxy Quest and Love, Actually.  He forged a whole new following with a younger generation in the Harry Potter franchise.

 

DECEMBER 13

The Grand Tour Presents: Seamen, Amazon Prime Video

 

The first of the Grand Tour adventure specials sees Clarkson, Hammond and May taking a road trip across Vietnam and Cambodia where they will attempt to travel not by car but by boat.  Clarkson’s is a recreation of a Vietnam war-era PBR (Patrol Boat River), the famed military vessel seen in Apocalypse Now. Hammond opts for a Miami Vice style speedboat, and May lives out his canal holiday fantasy dream with a classic 1939 wooden river cruiser.

 

6 Underground, Netflix

Ryan Reynolds stars in this Michael Bay action flick about six individuals from around the globe who have faked their deaths in order to take down criminals.  Reynolds chooses each team member to join his vigilate group based on their skills. Also starring Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Adria Arjona, Corey Hawkins, Ben Hardy, and Dave Franco.

 

The Expanse (season 4), Amazon Prime Video

 

The fourth season sees the crew of the Rocinante on a mission from the U.N. to explore new worlds beyond the Ring Gate. Humanity has been given access to thousands of Earth-like planets which has created a land rush and furthered tensions between the opposing nations of Earth, Mars and the Belt.  All three vie for control of the planet Ilus but they don't understand what awaits them.

 

Glass, Sky Cinema Premiere/NOW TV

M. Knight Shyamalan returns to the world he introduced in Unbreakable and continued in Split.  Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson and James McAvoy reprise their roles, as Dunn pursues the man who used to be known as Crumb but has now developed fully into his most feared personality. 

Glass review: 'Hard to know how to describe it, but the phrase grandiose nonsense springs to mind'

 

I am Johnny Cash, Sky Arts/NOW TV

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Johnny Cash

A celebration of Johnny Cash, from the perspective of his greatest songs.  Songs from the 1960s to the modern day are accompanied by original interviews with Cash's family members John Carter Cash, Rosanne Cash, and Carlene Carter, and also Cash's friends and collaborators Merle Haggard, Kris Kirstofferson, Willie Nelson, Rick Rubin, Sheryl Crow, Eric Church, Kid Rock, John Mellencamp with archival concert footage and family photographs.

 

DECEMBER 17

Cats: The Musical, Sky Arts/NOW TV

Those of you excited by the prospect of seeing Cats on the big screen courtesy of Tom Hooper may fancy catching this 1998 performance of Andrew Lloyd Weber's hit musical - still one of the longest-running musicals on Broadway and the West End.  Recorded from the New London Theatre on Drury Lane it features Elaine Page as Grizabella and Sir John Mills as Gus the Theatre Cat.

 

DECEMBER 18

Soundtrack, Netflix

This new romantic musical drama TV series follows the love stories connecting an eclectic group of people in modern-day Los Angeles.

 

Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer, Netflix

This docuseries examines the greatest online manhunt in history - and the psychopath killer who broke the first rule of the internet: don't mess with cats.

 

DECEMBER 19

A League of Their Own Christmas Holiday, Sky One/NOW TV

Join Freddie Flintoff and Jamie Redknapp as they challenge each other to winter sports in Austria, for the third A League of Their Own Christmas special.  Among their challenges is tackling the Skeleton Bob where they'll lie head first on a sled and travel at speeds of up to 90km/h.

 

After The Raid, Netflix

A large immigration raid in a small Tennessee town leaves emotional fallout as well as far-reaching questions about justice, faith and humanity.

 

DECEMBER 20

The Two Popes, Netflix

Oscar-nominated City of God director Fernando Meirelles and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten are behind this tale of the dramatic transition of power, inspired by true events.  Frustrated with the direction of the church, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) requests permission to retire in 2012 from Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins).  But Pop Benedict summons his future successor to Rome to reveal a secret that would shake the foundations of the Catholic Church.

Read more: 'As I get older, I cry at the drop of a hat' - Anthony Hopkins reflects on films, family and feelings 

 

The Witcher, Netflix

If you're feeling that Game of Thrones-shaped hole in your life, The Witcher may go some way to filling it.  Based on the best-selling fantasy book series, it tells the tale of the intertwined destiniies of three individuals in the world of The Continent where humans, elves, witchers, gnomes, and monsters battle to survive.  Henry Caville stars withAnya Chalotra, Freya Allan, and Jodhi May.

 

Bumblebee, Sky Cinema Premiere/NOW TV

Whatever you think about Michael Bay's Transformers films, put those thoughts aside and succumb to this thoroughly enjoyable family film from director Travis Knight of Kubo And The Two Strings fame.  Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena star.

Bumblebee review: 'Travis Knight's perky Transformers prequel is one of the best family films I've seen all year'

 

DECEMBER 22

Mary Queen of Scots, Sky/NOW TV

Oscar-winning actresses Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan star in this epic historical drama from director Josie Rourke.  Robbie plays Queen Elizabeth, Ronan her cousin Mary and charts the women's tentative friendship turned rivalry.

Paul Whitington: Mary Queen of Scots review - 'It might not be an entirely accurate history lesson, but it’s certainly an entertaining one'

 

DECEMBER 23

Harry Potter Collection, NOW TV

Watch all eight Harry Potter films in sequence because when else will you do so outside of the Christmas break?

 

DECEMBER 24, Christmas Eve

John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch, Netflix

Comedian John Mulaney aims to recapture the magic of that bygone television era when children sang songs about their feelings with celebrity guests on funky outdoor sets.  Mulaney and a group of children aged 8-13 are joined by celebrity guests like David Byrne, Andre De Shields, Natasha Lyonne, Annaleigh Ashford, Richard Kind, and Jake Gyllenhaal for songs, comedy sketches for all ages, and more.  Perfect Christmas Eve family viewing.

 

Cinderella: After Ever After, Sky/NOW TV

David Walliams and comic Siân Gibson star in this Sky comedy in which Cinderella discovers that married life with a narcissistic Prince Charming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and embarks on a journey to save The King (Sir Tom Courtenay) from the clutches of her wicked Stepmother Madame Blackheart (Celia Imrie).

 

Lost in Space: Season 2, Netflix

The Robinson family returns for Season 2 and continues its fight against all odds to survive and escape while lost in space.

 

DECEMBER 25, Christmas Day

Mary Poppins Returns, Sky/NOW TV

Emily Blunt plays Mary Poppins in the sequel to this beloved musical feature which sees the magical nanny bring Christmas joy to a new generation of the Banks family. Also stars Lin-Manuel Miranda, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and Dick Van Dyke.

Mary Poppins Returns review: 'Producers so fearful of tarnishing Ms Poppins' good name, they've created something shiny and dead'

 

DECEMBER 26, St Stephen's Day

You: Season 2, Netflix

If you've had enough of all the festive fuzziness, indulge in a little darkness with the highly anticipated second season of psychological drama You.  Penn Badgley returns as Joe who is now hiding from his ex in LA, but does he have another woman in his sights?

 

Avengers: Endgame, Sky/NOW TV

It became the highest-grossing film of all time and then the fastest-selling download of all time and if you still haven't seen it, here it is... The final instalment in the Avengers franchise sees the heroes from across the MCU unite to save the world from Thanos.  Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, Tom Holland, Paul Rudd, Karen Gillen and Zoe Saldana star.  You should know it's a bum-numbing three hours long.

 

DECEMBER 27

Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up, Netflix

This six-part documentary series follows the comedian and actor over the course of a year, including the Oscars controversy, his marriage, and his career.  The series includes interviews with Hart's friends and family, rare archival footage from his childhood and early stand-up days, and personal anecdotes from the comic himself. 

 

DECEMBER 31

The Neighbour, Netflix

Javier, a 20-something struggling with adulthood and his girlfriend, unexpectedly becomes a superhero. Based on Santiago García and Pepo Pérez's comic.

 

Also in December (date TBC)

In The Long Run Christmas Special, Sky/NOW TV

Idris Elba’s warm-hearted, semi-autobiographical sitcom set in the 1980s returns for its 2019 Christmas special, starring Bill Bailey, Madeline Appiah, and Jimmy Akingbola among others.

 

The Reluctant Landlord Christmas Special, Sky/NOW TV

The Christmas special of this hit comedy series created by Romesh Ranganathan features more of Rom’s high jinks, as he battles to escape a fate pulling pints at his late fathers’ pub.

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