2020 will soon draw to a close and most will be glad to see the back of it, so just how does the world’s largest streaming service plan to see out the world’s annus horriblis?
Updated 03-Dec-2020: Big Mouth S4 added (04-Dec-2020) - Rick and Morty S4 Pt2 added (04th Dec) - Kings of Jo'Burg S1 added (04th Dec) - How to Get Away With Murder S6/Final (09th Dec) - The Surgeon's Cut (09th Dec) - Giving Voice (11th Dec) - Hilda S2 (14th Dec) - Tiny Pretty Things S1 (14th Dec) - The Ripper (16th Dec) - Home for Christmas S2 (16th Dec) - Sweet Home (16th Dec) - Shaun the Sheep S5 (22nd Dec) - The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 4 (Trailer updated)
Since most of the seasonal big guns were unloaded last month, you might reasonably expect December to be somewhat lighter on Christmas fare. Not so! This time though, there are international variations a-plenty on the Yuletide theme (Brazil’s Just Another Christmas) along with a ball-pool sized selection of child-focused, attention-span reducing, Yuletide E-numbers from creatively divorced processes that randomly pick thematically opposed genres and smushes them together… and then adds tinsel. F’rinstance, (picks one from the air) - A Trash Truck Christmas. Well, if it keeps the young’uns anaesthetised for a few hours, so be it… but check your conscience in 15 years time parents!
Still, Netflix UK will see a number of highly anticipated movies finally make their streaming debuts to ensure the year goes out on a high. These include David’s Fincher’s adaptation of Mank, from his late father’s script examining the life of acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz along with the much missed Chadwick Boseman’s last screen performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
George Clooney returns to the director’s chair for the first time since Suburbicon with Sci-Fi drama The Midnight Sky and elsewhere, there’s Shonda Rhimes' series set in Regency England, Bridgerton.
Finally, the year plays out with spooky goings on in the final season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
So let’s have a closer look at what’s in Santa’s sack for December. As always, bear in mind that although we’ve tried to be as UK specific as possible, streaming dates can change, content can sometimes be territory specific and shows can even get pulled by Netflix itself.
Pick of the Shows
Angela’s Christmas Wish (2020, Netflix Original Animation, Voices: Moe Dunford, Jared Harris, Ruth Negga, Lucy O’Connell. Dir. Damien O’Connor)
The heart-warming tale of a determined seven-year-old girl who, with her father working far away in Australia, sets out to reunite her family in time for Christmas.
Based on characters from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank (Angela’s Ashes) McCourt, Brown Bag Film’s follow up to its 2017’s Angela’s Christmas short is a tender and funny story about the importance of family and togetherness, set in the 1910s.
The Holiday Movies That Made Us (Netflix Original Two Part Documentary Series)
The Movies That Made Us is a docu series that takes an in-depth and nostalgic look into some of the most popular movies in Hollywood history. The first four episodes already contain deep dives into Christmas set movies Home Alone and Die Hard and the two special seasonal episodes on offer here take a look at the production journeys of holiday favourites Elf, starring Will Ferrell, and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (directed by Henry Selick, lest we all forget).
The Elf episode is particularly interesting given the studio's extreme reluctance to cast Ferrell in the lead (... of anything!)
Unfortunately neither film is available to view on Netflix with Elf currently on Starz and Nightmare long since departed for DisneyPlus.
Big Mouth (S4, Netflix Original Animation) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Season 4 of the Emmy winning American coming-of-age adult animated sitcom which follows a group of 7th graders (that’s 12-13 in UK money), including best friends Nick and Andrew as they navigate their way through puberty with their developing urges, which manifest themselves as over-sexualized shoulder angels.
Rick and Morty (S4, part 2) -Added 03-Dec-2020
The remaining 5 episodes of Adult Swim’s current fourth season come to Netflix and continue the utterly deranged and brilliantly bonkers adventures of Rick Sanchez, a narcissistic genius, and his terminally anxious but well meaning grandson Morty.
Selena: The Series (2020, S1 Netflix Original Series)
Selena is a Texas girl with big dreams and a bigger voice. Under the guidance of her father, and with her sister also in the band, Selina starts her journey to become the most successful female Latin artist of all time, a journey that’s not without difficult and heartbreakingly tough choices that Selina and her family have to make in order to hold on to love and music.
This musical biopic series based on the life and career of Selena Quintanilla follows her from childhood to the height of her success as the Queen of Tejano music.
Detention: The Series (2020, S1, Netflix Original Series, International: Taiwan)
Detention is a Taiwanese horror series which asks, ”Have you forgotten, or are you afraid to remember?”
Set in the 1990s at Greenwood High School, transfer student Yunxiang Liu enters a forbidden area of the school grounds, where she encounters the ghost of Ruixin Fang. Fang reveals the hidden history of the school over the past 30 years, including how a group of students and teachers were persecuted as they fought for freedom in an era of censorship.
Based on the video game of the same name and set in the period of martial law known as the White Terror in Taiwan, Detention entwines the suffocating political situations under martial law with heart-stopping paranormal legends into stories which keep coming back to the school like nightmares.
Alice in Borderland (2020, S1, Netflix Original Series, International: Japan)
Arisu, Karube and Segawa, a trio of bored highschool delinquents, find themselves transported into a seemingly post-apocalyptic-like parallel world, where they must take part in a series of games in order to survive. Now the threesome must stay alive while they work out who the games master is, and what they want, if they are to return home.
Hollywood style live-action adaptation of Haro Aso’s survival-thriller manga.
Bridgerton (2020, S1, Netflix Original Series)
Featuring the voice of Julie Andrews as Lady Whistledown, who narrates the series via entries in her newspaper gossip column, Bridgerton is set in Regency era English high society with its accompanying wealth, lust, and betrayal seen through the eyes of the titular family.
Part Downton Abbey, part Disney princess wish fulfilment, Bridgerton is the first major output from Netflix’s enormo-deal with Shonda Rhimes, who produced Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy (both showing on Amazon Prime Video UK this November), and is based on Julia Quinn's best-selling novels.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2020, S4 / Final, Netflix Original Series)
The final season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is set in the fictional town of Greendale and continues its dark coming-of-age story that includes horror and witchcraft, as teenager Sabrina Spellman must reconcile her dual nature as a half-witch, half-mortal, while fighting the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.
Based on the characters from Archie comic.
Trailer updated: 03-Dec-2020
Pick of the Movies
Galaxy Quest (1999, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Comedy. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Dir. Dean Parisot)
The alumni cast of a long cancelled space opera television series spend their fading careers at fan conventions and doing commercials, However, they have to play their roles for real when a peaceful alien race visits, seeking their help, convinced they are the only ones who can help them in a conflict against an intergalactic warlord.
Quest Quest looks at the world of TV Sci-Fi shows, obsessive fandom, and past-their-heyday actors and pulls off a deft balancing act between tribute, gentle mocking and a thrilling emotional ride. It acknowledges the legions of nerd fans by having them instrumental in saving the day through the use of ‘attention to detail’ while still throwing in an archetypal deus ex machina to wring out maximum thrills.
Full of quotable lines, and memorable characters, chief of which is Sam Rockwell’s single-episode extra Guy, who’s convinced he’s an expendable ‘redshirt’ given that the others don’t even know his last name.
Managing to become as beloved as the show it was referencing, it was voted seventh best Star Trek movie in 2013 (by Star Trek fans!) and has its own documentary, Never Surrender, which examines the film’s cult status and impact.
Director Dean Parisot recently helmed Bill and Ted Face the Music.
Mank (2020, Netflix Original Film, True Life, Drama. Gary Oldman, Lily Collins, Tom Burke, Amanda Seyfried, Dir. David Fincher. Scr. Jack Fincher)
In 1941, Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz has to overcome personal and professional demons to get Citizen Kane made. His job? To write the words. The development process is tumultuous and his deteriorating relationship with wunderkind Orson Welles does nothing to help.
David Fincher’s last movie was 2014’s Gone Girl and he’s stayed with Netflix post Mindhunter and Love Death & Robots for this adaptation of his late father’s script which was itself based on an article by renowned film critic Pauline Kael, in which she espoused that Orson Welles did not deserve screenwriting credit for Citizen Kane. The claim was vociferously denied by many but the Fincher father and son duo clearly felt there was plenty of narrative meat in exploring the accusation and Mankiewicz’s legacy.
Fincher has bestowed Mank with the look and feel of the Hollywood era it looks back on and it was released in select theatres during November to ensure preparedness for the delayed award season - after all, Hollywood sure does love films about movies (or maybe it’s movies about films?)
Rose Island (2020, Netflix Original Film, Comedy, Drama, International: Italy. Elio Germano, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Tom Wlaschiha, Dir. Sydney Sibilia)
An idealistic engineer at a crossroads in his life decides to prove a point by building his own island off the Italian coast. He declares it a nation, drawing the world's attention, and values and beliefs are tested when the Italian Government declares him an enemy.
The original Italian title is L'incredibile storia dell'isola delle Rose which is possible for even the most linguistically challenged of us to roughly work out. Features Game of Thrones’ Faceless Man, Tom Wlaschiha, in a supporting role.
The Prom (2020, Netflix Original Film, Musical, Comedy, Drama. Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, James Cordon, Dir. Ryan Murphy)
A troupe of self obsessed of Broadway legends whose latest show is a disastrous flop turn their attention seeking beacon to high school student Emma Nolan, whose conservative Midwest town won’t allow her to attend Prom with her girlfriend. But when their self-absorbed celebrity activism unexpectedly backfires, the actors find their own lives upended as they rally to give Emma a night where she can truly celebrate who she is.
More output from Ryan Murphy who really is Mr Netflix at the moment (Hollywood, Ratched, The Boys in the Band have all hit the streaming service the last 6 months), The Prom is based on a 2018 Broadway musical and will undergo a limited theatrical release at the start of December before screening digitally.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020, Netflix Original Film, Music, Period, Drama. Viola Davies, Chadwick Boseman, )
Chicago, 1927, and the legendary but fiery ‘Mother of the Blues’, Ma Rainey, is late to an afternoon recording session as her band waits to start. As temperatures in the claustrophobic studio rise and tempers among the musicians fray, ambitious trumpeter Levee, who is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry, spurs his fellow players into spilling stories, truths, and lies that will forever change the course of their lives.
Produced as the follow up project to Fences by Denzel Washington, as part of his deal to adapt nine of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson’s works, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is yet another of Netflix’s December movies that will earn a theatrical release prior to streaming, thus giving an insight in to the films that the company deems most likely to gain any kind of awards traction. Unfortunately, there’s the possibility that the film will be more sadly remembered as Chadwick Boseman’s final movie performance prior to his untimely passing in August 2020.
The Midnight Sky (2020, Netflix Original Film, Sci-Fi, Drama. George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Sophie Rundle, Dir. George Clooney)
Lonely Arctic scientist Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney) races to warn Sully (Felicity Jones) and her fellow astronauts on the exploratory space vessel Aether from returning home to Earth, where a mysterious global catastrophe has taken place.
Based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, Clooney has described The Midnight Sky as a cross between Gravity and The Revenant, and its post apocalyptic prescience might be a bitter tang a few days before what’s likely to be a muted Christmas celebration.
Rest of the TV Shows
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019, Documentary)
The words Miles Davis and jazz are somewhat synonymous and this documentary from Emmy Award-winner Stanley Nelson looks into what made Davis both an innovative musical genius and also incredibly difficult to live with for those that loved him most.
Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, studio outtakes, and rare photos, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool tells the story of a truly singular talent and unpacks the man behind the horn.
Super Wings (2017, S2)
Children’s animated series in which a jet plane named Jett travels the world delivering packages to children and solving problems with his friends, the Super Wings.
Thomas and Friends (S23)
Thomas & Friends: Digs & Discoveries: All Tracks Lead to Rome (2019)
Thomas & Friends: Digs & Discoveries: Mines of Mystery (2019)
Thomas and Friends: Steam Team to the Rescue (2019)
More animated adventures with Thomas the Tank Engine.
Ari Eldjarn: Pardon My Icelandic (2020, Netflix Standup Special, International: Iceland)
Hazel Brugger: Tropical (2020, Netflix Standup Special, International: Germany)
Chico Bon Bon and the Very Berry Holiday (Netflix Animated Short
Children’s animated adventures following Chico Bon Bon. A Monkey. With a tool belt
Captain Underpants: Mega Blissmas (Netflix Animated Short)
Part of season four of The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants from Dreamworks Animation Television, George, Harold, and Mr. Krupp serve up a Christmas holiday special.
Kings of Jo’Burg (S1, International: South Africa) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Action thriller series: The Masire brothers rule Johannesburg's criminal underworld, but a supernatural family curse and a tangled web of betrayal threaten to destroy them.
Mighty Express: A Mighty Christmas (2020, Netflix Animated Series)
Seasonal special with an ensemble cast of trains and kids in an expansive world with amazing adventures.
Emicida: AmarElo – It’s All For Yesterday (2020, Netflix Original Documentary: Brazil)
Documentary which follows rapper and activist Emicida celebrating the rich legacy of black Brazilian culture.
Mr. Iglesias (2020, Part 3, Netflix, Original Series)
New episodes of the sitcom starring comedian Gabriel Iglesias as a High School Spanish teacher working with gifted but misfit students.
Super Monsters: Santa’s Super Monster Helpers (2020 Netflix Original Animated Short)
Christmas special featuring the preschool kids of the world's most famous monsters.
Ashley Garcia: Genius In Love: Christmas (2020, S1 Netflix Original Series Special)
Christmas special which rounds off this cancelled series about a prodigy who moves in with her uncle on the other side of the country for a chance to work for NASA.
How to Get Away With Murder (S6/Final) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Viola Davis stars in this tale about a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant criminal defense professor who become involved in a twisted murder plot that promises to change the course of their lives… and it does, over the course of 6 seasons.
The Big Show Show: Christmas (2020, S1 Netflix Original Series Special)
WWE wrestler Big Show stars as a fictionalized version of himself in this US family sitcom which was cancelled after one season. Like Ashley Garcia: Genius In Love (above), the final episodes of The Big Show Show end with a holiday special.... and someone getting smashed over the back with a folding chair (rumoured only!).
The Surgeon’s Cut (2020, Netflix Original Limited Series) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Docuseries which looks at four surgeons from around the world and, whether they see themselves as philosophers, pioneers, saviours or warriors, they each have visionary approach to saving and improving lives.
A Trash Truck Christmas (Netflix Animated Short)
Children’s animated holiday special featuring six-year-old Hank and his best buddy — a giant honking, snorting trash truck, called Trash Truck.
Giving Voice (2020, Netflix Original Documentary) - Added 03-Dec-2020
A look at the August Wilson Monologue competition that sees thousands of high schoolers compete for the opportunity to perform on Broadway. Features interviews with Viola Davis and Denzel Washington.
The Mess You Leave Behind (El desorden que dejas) (2020, S1, Netflix Original Series, International: Spain)
Raquel, a young literature teacher, gives her marriage a second chance and moves to her husband's birth town, which hides a dark secret she tries to unravel.
Hilda (S2, Netflix Original Animation) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Hilda is back! The fearless, free-spirited Hilda finds new friends, adventure and magical creatures when she leaves her enchanted forest home and journeys to the city.
Tiny Pretty Things (2020, S1, Netflix Original Series) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Drama centered around a group of aspiring students of an elite ballet academy who live far from their homes, each standing on the verge of greatness or ruin. They are rich and poor, from north and south, and a range of backgrounds. Yet they all share a rare talent and passion for dance, a loyal sense of community… and when it comes to their dreams, no Plan B.
Song Exploder (2020, Volume 2, Netflix Original Docu Series)
Musical docu series that examines the creative process behind some of the world’s favourite songs. In this second batch, the tracks looked at include: Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, Love Again by Dua Lipa and When You Were Young by The Killers.
Anitta: Made In Honório (2020, S1, Netflix Original Docu Series, International: Brazil)
Portuguese language docu series which follows Brazilian singer, songwriter, television host, actress, dancer, business woman and entrepreneur Anitta - raw and without filters.
The Ripper (2020, Netflix Original Limited Series) - Added 03-Dec-2020
The 4 part miniseries recounts the murders of 13 women that took place in West Yorkshire and Manchester between 1975 and 1980, carried out by the serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper. The series is told through interviews with investigators, journalists, survivors, and the families of victims
Home for Christmas (S2, Netflix Original Series, International: Norway) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Netflix’s first Norwegian series is a romantic-comedy which sees Johanne settle into a promising new relationship, but must contend with ex-boyfriends and new neighbours.
Sweet Home (S1, Netflix Original Series, International: South Korea) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Following the death of his family in an accident, loner Cha Hyun-soo moves to a new apartment. His quiet life is soon disturbed by strange incidents that start occurring in his new building. As people turn into monsters, Hyun-soo and other residents try to survive.
Shaun the Sheep (S5) - Added 03-Dec-2020
Animated series spin-off from Wallace & Gromit creators Aardman which follows the adventures of Shaun, an unusually clever sheep who lives with his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm.
There’re plenty of other brand new and older movies arriving on or returning to the service too:
Rest of the Movies
Cats & Dogs (2001, Action Comedy, Family. Jeff Goldblum, Voices: Alec Baldwin, Tobey Maguire)
Family comedy starring Toby Maguire as Lou the Beagle, a family dog who becomes an agent in the top-secret, high-tech espionage war going on between cats and dogs, of which their human owners are blissfully unaware.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, Sci-Fi, Drama. Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Dir. Steven Spielberg)
Roy Neary, an electric lineman, experiences things he can’t explain but as he obsessively investigates he comes across a mother and her young child who have a similar story. Together, they try and get to the bottom of a government programme which is reaching out to extra terrestrial beings.
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005, Comedy. Rob Schneider, Eddie Griffin, Jeroen Krabbé)
Deuce Bigalow is tricked into being a gigolo once more by his friend TJ, and finds himself in Amsterdam looking for a murderer who is killing the greatest "man-whores" of Europe. Yes, honestly.
Falling Down (1993, Action, Crime, Drama. Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey, Dir. Joel Schumacher)
Michael Douglas asks if he’s the bad guy as he goes postal, lashing out and violently venting his frustration on the flaws he perceives in society.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012, Action, Adventure, Fantasy. Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Dir. Brad Peyton)
Sean Anderson partners with his stepdad on a mission to find his grandfather, who is thought to be missing on a mythical island.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992, Action, Adventure, Period. Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Dir. Michael Mann)
Sweeping epic set in Albany, New York during the French and Indian War in 1757 which sees three trappers, Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas, agree to escort a British Army major’s two daughters to a nearby fort.
The Prestige (2006, Drama, Mystery, Fantasy. Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Dir. Christopher Nolan)
After a tragic accident, two stage magicians engage in an obsessively destructive battle to create the ultimate illusion while sacrificing everything they have to outwit each other.
Sucker Punch (2011, Action, Adventure, Fantasy. Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish. Oscar Isaac, Dir. Zack Snyder)
A young girl institutionalized by her abusive stepfather retreats to an alternative reality as a coping strategy and envisions a plan to help her escape.
The Sweeney (2012, Action, Crime, Drama. Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Hayley Atwell)
Movie adaptation and reboot of the classic 70s UK series, which sees Flying Squad veterans Jack Regan and George Carter take on hardened criminals planning a robbery.
Be warned though - once seen, you cannot unsee Ray Winstone in his underpants.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009, Adventure, Fantasy, Family. Max Records, Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker, Dir. Spike Jonze)
Yearning for escape and adventure, a young boy runs away from home and sails to an island filled with creatures that take him in as their king.
Family adventure based on the classic illustrated children’s tale.
Wild Wild West (1999, Action, Western, Fantasy. Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld)
The two best special agents in the Wild West must save President Grant from the clutches of a diabolical, wheelchair-bound, steampunk-savvy, Confederate scientist bent on revenge for losing the Civil War.
The movie that brought the 90s Will Smith juggernaut to a screeching halt.
Just Another Christmas (2020, Netflix Original Film, International: Brazil, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy)
Stuck in a time loop where it’s forever Christmas, a family man who hates the holiday starts to learn valuable lessons about what’s important in life. Kind of like Groundhog Day with fairy lights.
Leyla Everlasting (2020, Netflix Original Film, International: Turkey, Comedy, Drama)
Leyla and Adam’s happy marriage is stuck in a rut but things don’t get any easier when they seek the help of a therapist, miring the couple in a toxic love triangle and a plot to obtain an antique manuscript.
Fierce (2020, Netflix Original Film, International: Poland, Comedy, Music)
A gifted young singer becomes an instant sensation on a popular talent show. But her real goal is earning the love of her father, who is a member of the judging panel.
The 2nd (2020, Action. Ryan Phillippe, Casper Van Dien)
Grizzled Secret Service Agent Vic Davis finds himself single-handedly fighting to thwart a terrorist operation and the attempted kidnapping of a Supreme Court justice's daughter in an effort to influence a vote on the future of the Second Amendment.
The Front Runner (2018, True Life, Drama. Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, Dir. Jason Reitman)
Biopic which chronicles the rise of American Senator Gary Hart, a candidate to be the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, and his subsequent fall from grace when media reports suggest he is having an extramarital affair.
If you haven’t had enough exposure to US politics recently, the trailer is below.
Ava (2020, Action Crime Drama. Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Common)
Ava is a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe specializing in high profile hits. When a job goes dangerously wrong she is forced to fight for her own survival.
Stage Mother (2020, Comedy, Drama, Music. Jacki Weaver, Lucy Liu, Adrian Grenier)
When conservative, Texas church-choir director Maybelline inherits her recently deceased son's drag club, she surprises her closed-minded husband and everyone else she knows by moving alone to San Francisco to save the club from bankruptcy. Here she begins to open up and find new meaning for her life, even becoming a mother-figure to the club's flamboyant performers until a surprise visit threatens to upend her new life.
So now you’ve opened up all of Netflix’s seasonal gifts, what do you think of the final month’s lineup for 2020? Leave a comment and let us know what you’re planning on watching / missing. We'll keep adding to the list as new shows and movies are announced, so keep an eye out for updates to the article.