It’s November – a.k.a. when you need something good to stream after sneaking away from the family Thanksgiving dinner once the conversation turns to politics. (How bizarre to think that the selections below will debut in a post-election world.) Luckily, plenty of excellent films and a handful of intriguing new shows will grace the wi-fi signals this month – including the Citizen Kane of Vegas stripper movies, Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making coming-of-age experiment, what may be the greatest Rocky movie of them all (hint: his name is not in the title), and after nearly a decade, fresh pithy one-liners from the Gilmore ladies. Here’s 10 things you’ll be streaming in between guzzling down pumpkin-spice lattes.
Boyhood (Netflix, 11/25)
When Richard Linklater unveiled his magnum opus in 2014, critics spilled the most ink over his painstaking method of shooting a small bit of the film with the same actors over a dozen years, watching them grow in real time. But even without a working knowledge of the backstory, this outwardly ordinary coming-of-age story still captures the little moments of tedium and frustration that make up life. We watch Mason (Ellar Coltrane) mature from a timid boy into an artful, sensitive man, but the true poetry lies in the restful moments – whipping razorblades at walls with your friends, playing it cool when you come home drunk, losing your first love. And yet it’s his long-suffering mother (Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette) who gets the most powerful moment, as she realizes her whole life has passed her by as her son’s is just beginning.
Creed (Netflix, 11/19)
Ryan Coogler gave America a blockbuster it deserved with the story of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the hardscrabble son of Rocky Balboa’s rival-turned-pal Apollo. Sylvester Stallone reprised his role as the Italian Stallion and picked up an Oscar nomination as the boxer struggled with a cancer diagnosis. But Jordan’s the true star here: With his indomitable spirit, rough-edged toughness, and just the right touch of underdog braggadocio, he’s the one inspiring cathartic cheers here. Coogler staged his boxing sequences with a fighter’s nimble grace, and brought a rare attention to detail in his depiction of the urbanized Philadelphia setting. Any popcorn flick that nails the brains-heart-courage trifecta this completely can’t be missed.
The Crown (Netflix, 11/4)
Nobody can fault Peter Morgan for a lack of ambition: The showrunner has mapped out 60 episodes over six seasons to tell the full story of Queen Elizabeth II, stretching from her marriage in 1947 to the present. As with any British period-set costume drama, the esteemed thespians have turned out in droves, with Claire Foy portraying the royal and Matt Smith, Jared Harris, and John Lithgow supporting her. As scriptwriter of 2006’s The Queen, Morgan certainly knows his way around royalty, but this series’ main selling point is its price tag – the 10 episode debut season will be the most expensive drama that Netflix has produced to date.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Netflix, 11/25)
Return to the idyllic hideaway of Stars Hollow for the triumphant revival of this motormouthed mother-daughter drama. Nine years after Amy Sherman-Palladino closed the book on the CW show, hyperverbal pop-culture savants Lorelei (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) are back for more guy trouble, small-town shenanigans, and coffee, coffee, coffee. Lorelai and her one true love Luke (Scott Patterson) have finally settled down, but now she’s come down with a bad case of Sex and the City: The Movie syndrome and worries the spark is gone. Her overachieving daughter has taken up a nomadic wayward lifestyle, and Lorelei fears Rory’s lost her way. All the familiar faces are back; enjoy it with a tall latte and three kinds of takeout.
The Grand Tour (Amazon, 11/18)
The team from the much-beloved BBC motor-vehicle documentary series Top Gear – hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, along with producer Andy Wilman – all migrated across the Atlantic en masse for this remarkably similar project. Once again, our experts examine the most sophisticated cars from the four corners of the globe; episodes have already been shot in Los Angeles, Nashville, South Africa, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.K. (Amazon head Jeff Bezos has described the project, presumably through gritted teeth, as “very, very expensive.”) Consider this pornography for gearheads.
Green Room (Amazon, 11/18)
A down-on-their-luck punk band, desperate for gas money after weeks on “tour,” agrees to play a gig at a local neo-Nazi clubhouse. If you can believe it, this turns out to be a bad decision. The situation devolves into something like “Die Hard at a Black Flag show,” as the scrappy rockers fight tooth and nail to escape the skinhead stronghold. The late Anton Yelchin leads a strong ensemble including Imogen Poots and Alia Shawkat; director Jeremy Saulnier takes no mercy on his characters, laying traps for them just behind every closed door.
Punch Drunk Love (Hulu, 11/1)
The midpoint between master filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson’s audacious ensemble pieces (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) and his brooding, unknowable character studies (There Will Be Blood, The Master), this film’s greatest achievement might just be getting a good performance out of Adam Sandler. He plays Barry Egan, a lonely, henpecked manchild prone to spasms of rage that punctuate his usual shyness. While attempting to exploit a loophole in a pudding coupon deal in order to amass a million frequent-flyer miles, he’s extorted by a vengeful phone-sex worker. But the real story here is his tentative courtship with Lena (Emily Watson), as he emerges from his shell and reckons with real, grown-up feelings. Essential viewing for romantics and anyone with anger-management issues.
Red Oaks, Season 2 (Amazon, 11/11)
It’s set over the course of one hot summer at a public pool during the Reagan era, but this Amazon sitcom isn’t a studied homage to – or even a deconstruction of – the seminal comedies of the Eighties. Instead, creators Gregory Jacobs (director of Magic Mike XXL) and Joe Gangemi play such dated era-specific plotlines as body-switching completely straight. On-hand poolboy David Myers (Craig Roberts) is in for another season of unfiltered nostalgia as a rotating carousel of MILF-y sunbathers give him the eye while he tries not to lose his job. Ah, to return to such innocent, hyper-randy times.
Showgirls (Hulu, 11/1)
Paul Verhoeven’s erotic spectacle flopped hard when it was released in 1995, but don’t be fooled — folks have gradually come around to reappraise this film as the gonzo satire of American excess that it truly is. Starry-eyed dancer Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley in a go-for-broke performance) comes to Vegas with dreams of climbing the ranks from lowly stripper to esteemed showgirl. Naturally, the road to fame is paved with cocaine and dark secrets. The big surprise: It’s not so-bad-it’s good. It’s just straight-up good.
The True Memoirs of an International Assassin (Netflix, 11/11)
Call it Paul Blart: Espionage Novelist. This straight-to-streaming movie places Kevin James in another fish-out-of-water situation: An office jockey who attains overnight stardom after an agent sells his superspy fiction book as a memoir from a real retired contract killer. Criminal syndicates, as well as the FBI and CIA, soon come a-knocking. It’s another Kevin James movie, with all the positives and minuses that implies; viewers know whether they’ll enjoy it before the even hit play.