It is a truth universally acknowledged that, while streaming services make it incredibly easy to see movies and television shows, they also make it impossibly difficult to watch one. There are thousands upon thousands of titles available at your fingertips (and more being added every month), but the sheer number of things to choose from is so paralyzing that every night inevitably ends the same way: with that episode of Friends where Ross’ loses his monkey.
Fortunately for you, Rolling Stone is here to help. Every month, we sift through streaming services to bring you the 10 best new items on that seemingly infinite menu of media in the clouds. And given that November’s new offerings run the gamut from devastating French autobiographies to old-school Bond movies to Marvel’s first truly adult superhero story, it’s the perfect time to get started.
Abuse of Weakness (Hulu, 11/5)
Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl) has long been compelled by the failings of the human body — so when the French filmmaker suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage that paralyzed the left side of her body, she was uniquely well prepared to mine the trauma for newfound creativity. In this lightly fictionalized and fascinatingly thorny reenactment of the years following her illness, a director (played by Isabelle Huppert) recounts how she forfeited much of her money to a con man who took advantage of her helplessness. The film’s title hints at the ugliness of what’s to come, but it’s never less than compelling to watch an artist of Breillat’s caliber so acutely grapple with her own loss of control.
Anna Karenina (Netflix, 11/2)
It’s impressive when any film coherently wrangles Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel of love and death into a manageable running time — so it’s something of a minor miracle that Joe Wright’s (Atonement) adaptation is able to do so while also imbuing the tale with a uniquely modern, self-conscious spirit. Originally slated to be straightforward adaptation, the filmmaker was afflicted with an idea too intoxicating to shake out of his head: turn the literary totem as a glittery Prussian snow globe and treat the aristocracy feels like a single organism. Keira Knightley makes for a marvelously entitled Anna, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is perfectly loathsome as her mustached lover, and future stars Alicia Vikander and Domhnall Gleeson shine as the gooey center of a story that has never been told so concisely yet felt so grand.
Awakenings (Amazon Prime, 11/5)
Based on Oliver Sacks’ 1973 memoir of the same name, this 1990 Penny Marshall drama stars Robin Williams as a version of the good doctor who, in 1969, discovers a drug that might bring certain catatonic patients (like Robert De Niro’s Leonard Lowe) back to consciousness. Sad, wistful, and only a pinch schmaltzier than it should be, it’s a fine tribute to the untold wonders of the human mind. Perhaps even more importantly, it features a quick cameo of a baby-faced Vin Diesel as a hospital orderly, so it’s place in the cinematic pantheon is assured.
Best of Enemies (Netflix, 11/23)
What had a greater impact on the future of the United States: the 1968 presidential election, or the televised debates between two overeducated blowhards that aired preceding it? This documentary doesn’t have to grasp at that kind of gravitas to suggest that the margin is closer than you might think. A hyper-engaging look back at how the groundbreaking squabbles between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley gave birth to modern punditry and forever blurred the line between news and entertainment, Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s chronicle of an ideological battle royale is an enjoyably tragic reminder that politics is all fun and games until someone gives Bill O’Reilly his own television show.
The Craft (Amazon Prime, 11/1)
Practically the Citizen Kane of the Buzzfeed generation — you know you’re a Nineties kid if youplayed “light as a feather” with your friends after watching this movie — The Craft has magically wormed its way into the heart of our collective Clinton-era nostalgia. Ironically, for a movie that seems like such a product of its time, this goth power trip about a troubled teen (Robin Tunney) who falls in with a clique of witches isn’t that far removed from some of today’s edgier YA fare (Chronicle is practically a remake). It’s a little gnarlier, and it involves a lot more plaid, but this tale of fitting in and fighting back is as timeless as adolescence itself. Also, the movie imparts a very valuable lesson to kids of all ages: Don’t fuck with Fairuza Balk.
From Russia With Love (Hulu, 11/1)
Some 15 classic James Bond adventures are hitting Hulu this month, but this 1963 entry is the one you’ll be turning to when it comes time to scratch that cinema du superspy itch. The second and arguably best film of the entire franchise, this globetrotting 007 mission has it all: A fist fight to the death in a small European elevator; a ride on the Orient Express, complete with close-quarters combat and blade shoes; Connery at his most charismatic; that peerless John Barry score; and the nefarious organization known as S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Goldfinger might be more iconic, but when it comes down to what makes James Bond such an enduring icon, everything you need to know is right here.
Jessica Jones: Season 1 (Netflix, 11/20)
Marvel’s TV outings, both on network TV and on Netflix, have been hit-or-miss affairs, but the fourth time is the true charm: Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is the superheroine the world has been waiting for. Part Buffy and part Veronica Mars, the titular character is a former superhero-turned-private investigator who’s struggling with the residual trauma from an abusive relationship. We’ll leave it there for now, but it’s safe to say that showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has no intention of wasting her chance to use the language of fanboys as a means of dismantling rape culture. This is undeniably the current crown jewel of the company’s small-screen roster and possibly the most interesting thing they’ve done since the dawn of the MCU. Don’t miss it.
The Man in the High Castle: Season 1 (Amazon Prime, 11/20)
Former X-Files writer/producer Frank Spotnitz riffs on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel about an alternate history in which the Nazis won World War II. Executive produced by Ridley Scott and told with the scale that his name implies, the 10-episode first season explores the mounting tension between the Japanese Pacific States (everything west of the Rockies) and the Greater Nazi Reich. It’s a fascinating premise rich with possibility, and filled with the sort of pulpy “what-if” noodlings that’s fueled speculative fictions, as well as arguments among History Channel addicts and armchair generals, for ages.
With Bob and David: Season 1 (Netflix, 11/13)
Once upon a time, Mr. Show gave us the future of sketch comedy. And then, on a cold December night in 1998, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’ beloved series quickly became a thing of the past. Thankfully Netflix, determined as ever to resurrect all of the things you love and feared forever lost, is predictably riding to the rescue. With Bob and David won’t be exactly the same show that you remember (the new title isn’t purely cosmetic), but that won’t matter to the diehard fans who would happily trade their limbs for these four half-hour episodes.
Wolf Hall (Amazon Prime, 11/10)
Packing 102 characters into a mere six episodes, this adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s historical novel isn’t the kind of show you should watch while checking your smart phone; it’s the type of drama that you should watch with the obsessive attention to detail that a detective hunts a serial killer. The mammoth BBC Two production follows a working-class bloke as he ascends through the court ranks and becomes the right-hand man of Henry VIII, transforming 16th Century politics into the stuff of grand opera. And for those who’ve been wondering whether Mark Rylance really is the second coming of Laurence Olivier, he turn as Thomas Cromwell will either turn you into an apostle or have you blowing Bronx cheers.