Behold, the streaming wars have begun! Much like your parents (or grandparents) remember the days of three major networks, we may one day look back with great fondness when Streaming’s Original Big Three — Netflix, Amazon and Hulu — was the only game in town. The much-touted online video services from Apple and Disney burst onto the scene this month, and they’re roaring out of the gate with star-packed series and big IP plays. It’s not like the original holy trinity went away — Netflix brings back their most expensive series ever, Hulu gives Kat “2 Broke Girls” Dennings a surreal starring vehicle and we’re admittedly curious about Amazon’s The Feed (which, alas, is not listed below) — but we’re officially entering a whole new era now. Here’s what you need to stream this month.
Atlantics (Netflix, Nov. 29th)
First-time feature filmmaker Mati Diop scored a coveted spot in Competition at Cannes this year, and then proved she deserved it by walking away with the Grand Prix. (It bears mentioning that she was also the first woman of color to have a film in the main lineup.) Her debut involves a futuristic spire built outside the Senegalese metropolis of Dakar; a mysterious fire with untold consequences; and a woman torn between her betrothed and her true love. It’s a movie that touches on the romance and occult-horror genres without fully embracing either, reserving the prime real estate for commentaries on capitalism and the screwed-up status quo. Do not sleep on this one. (Note: This starts its streaming run after a brief theatrical release on November 15th.)
The Crown, Season 3 (Netflix, Nov. 17th)
From the Changing of the Guard Department: The third season of Netflix’s popular, handsomely mounted period piece picks up the story of Britain’s royal family in 1964 and chronicles an era of upheaval that saw the United Kingdom loosening its grip on Africa, bidding farewell to Winston Churchill, and ferreting out a Soviet spy among the royal ranks. More importantly, however, is the fact that the cast has been overhauled, with Olivia Colman taking over the role of Elizabeth II from Claire Foy and Helena Bonham Carter succeeding Vanessa Kirby as her sister Margaret. Game of Thrones‘ Tobias Menzies rounds out the lineup of new additions. The drama and stellar writing, however, blissfully remain the same.
Dickinson (Apple, Nov. 1st)
The Affair‘s writer-producer Alena Smith brings us an irreverent look at the girlhood years of Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld), legendary poet and O.G. goth teen. Her wild imagination and hunger for all life had to offer created friction with her repressive time, which she felt compelled to rebel against one subversive verse at a time. If that sounds like a pretty by-the-book treatment, not so fast: This Dickinson calls her suitors “dude,” busts sick moves instead of old-timey waltzes and gets on the selfie game a couple centuries ahead of schedule. Because we could not stop for anachronistic flourishes, they kindly stopped for us.
Dollface (Hulu, Nov. 15th)
Breaking up is, as you may know, hard to do. Readjusting to life after your self-involved boyfriend dumps you and you now have to reestablish all those female friendships you let slip by the wayside for the last few years? Way, way harder. Kat Dennings stars in this warped comedy about life after that longtime relationship goes pfffttt, complete with cat-headed bus driver, Judge Judy-style courtroom shows (god forbid you have to go on trial for buzzkilling) and a car showroom for rebound hook-up dudes. Think of it like a kooky left-of-center rom-com, except for the platonic love between day-one besties. Watch with a free trial to Hulu here.
For All Mankind (Apple, Nov. 1st)
What if the Russians had made it to the moon first? That’s the alternate-timeline question upon which Battlestar Galactica‘s Ronald D. Moore built his latest sci-fi epic. Watch as NASA scrambles to be the first agency to put a woman on the moon, drastically altering the evolution of feminism through the Sixties and Seventies. And follow the rerouted course of history regarding our nation’s project for outer-planetary travel and how that affects everyone from the technicians to the families supporting our new astronaut heroes. The Space Race isn’t over until America says it’s over!
The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash (YouTube, Nov. 11th)
Everyone knows Johnny Cash: the black suit, the prison records (as in albums, not rap sheets), the middle-finger photo. This new documentary from Thom Zimny (Elvis Presley: The Searcher, Springsteen on Broadway) unearthes new insights on the country-music titan that dig a little deeper than Walk the Line. There’s a treasure trove of fresh archival material, exclusive interviews with surviving collaborators and family members, and a running commentary from the man himself, courtesy of audio tapes used for his 1997 autobiography. Cash contained multitudes. This film captures damn near all of them.
Lady and the Tramp (Disney, Nov. 12th)
Disney’s campaign to give each and every animated classic in their vault a “live-action” remake continues with 1955’s celebrated canine romance. Forget the recent Lion King‘s onslaught of CGI, however — real live dogs perform in this film, with the leading couple’s voices provided by Justin Theroux and Tessa Thompson. She’s a pampered spaniel. He’s a street-bred Schnauzer. Cue “Puppy Love.” With a script co-written by indie filmmaking darling Andrew Bujalski, this could very well be a standout in the small but rapidly expanding revisionist-Disney canon. Get a free trial to Disney+ here.
The Mandalorian (Disney, Nov. 12th)
Speaking of the Mouse House: Their streaming service’s highest-profile project takes the Star Wars universe online, following a lone-wolf bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) on his exploits of derring-do across the cosmos. An eclectic cast including Carl Weathers, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, and Werner Herzog has been enlisted to portray the allies, enemies and assorted aliens that cross the expert gunfighter’s path. The trailer plays up some series galaxy-far-far-away action. And if you’re still not sold, Taika Waititi voices a little droid incapable of comprehending sarcasm. Get a free trial to Disney+ here.
The Morning Show (Apple, Nov. 1st)
It’s got three big-name stars and a hot-button premise: A prominent newsman (Steve Carell) gets embroiled in accusations of sexual misconduct, leaving his longtime co-anchor (Jennifer Aniston) to pick up the slack and keep the show afloat. (Any resemblance to actual events is not the least bit coincidental.) She recognizes an opportunity for a complete overhaul, but her advancement is threatened by an ambitious journalist (Reese Witherspoon) keen to fill the open chair. Tension, naturally, arises. Apple+ is hedging a lot of prestige-TV bets on this one.
See (Apple, Nov. 1st)
In a far-off future, the gift of sight has taken leave of humanity. After generations of complete blindness, a pair of twins are born to alpha warrior Baba Voss (Jason Momoa) of a nomadic tribe — and they are miraculously able to see . So begins an epic struggle for the fate of the species, as a megalomaniacal queen (Sylvia Hoeks) orders her minions to retrieve the children by any means necessary. With an encouraging pedigree (the show was created by Steven Knight, the mind behind Peaky Blinders and Taboo) and a killer supporting performance from Alfre Woodard, it could win over the post-GoT fantasy fanbase while they kill time waiting for Amazon to get their big Tolkien series ready.