Best streaming movies this month (December 2019)
Deciding what to watch on any streaming platform can be downright overwhelming. Let’s make it easy: What are the best streaming movies arriving this month?
The vast majority of these titles just returned to streaming on November 1, with only a couple coming later in the month. They wouldn’t be on here if they weren’t well worth the wait.
Now presenting SNIPdaily’s top 10 newly arrived or returning, highly recommended movies to stream this November.
Bad Santa – Amazon Prime Video
Billy Bob Thornton is unbelievable in the titular role. Think of the absolute worst influence on kids ever, multiply that person by about 1,000 and you’re almost to where he is.
But that makes his journey from criminal to somewhat redeemable by the end all the more compelling. The amount of laughs along the way, from physical comedy to just downright shocking dialogue, never let up. Please don’t miss this ahead of the holiday season if you haven’t seen it already.
Booksmart – Hulu
Hulu’s among the elite streamers in part due to its impressive indie film catalog. One of the best movies to hit theaters in 2019, Booksmart may not get recognition from the Academy, yet it’s one of the best buddy comedy/coming-of-age tales in recent memory.
It feels like this movie should’ve been hyped more before and should be celebrated now. No better time than the present to give it a whirl. It flies in the face of clichés for the most part, and lays out some bold commentary that fits with the current times extremely well.
If you won’t take my word for it, consider Rotten Tomatoes’ Certified Fresh rating of 97 percent. Difficult for a comedy to score that high, but Booksmart is a clear A+++.
Chinatown – Hulu & Amazon Prime Video
How would you like to watch a much younger Jack Nicholson lead a noir-style private eye movie that happens to be the best screenplay ever translated to film?
Nicholson plays a character named Jake Gittes, who largely investigates infidelities and believes that’s all he’s in for in another routine case. However, the plot quickly spins off in all different kinds of directions. It becomes a politically-charged murder mystery that goes to as dark of a place with family as you’ll ever see. This movie absolutely could not be made today.
There’s definitely some elements from this 1974 classic that are dated. Let’s acknowledge that. However, it’s all outweighed by a truly remarkable story, an excellently tenacious performance from Nicholson, further acting prowess by Faye Dunaway and a most unsettling supporting turn from legendary director John Huston.
Crazy, Stupid, Love – HBO Go/HBO Now
This one boasts one of the biggest ensemble casts ever in modern comedy: Steve Carell, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon. Crazy, Stupid, Love sells itself in that regard.
Enter: Gosling’s Jacob Palmer. He’s the suavest man ever with the ladies, picking up women with ease. He teaches ole’ Cal the ropes of that lifestyle, and the two have a lot of fun together. Only problem is: Jacob falls for Cal’s daughter, Hannah (Stone). To borrow a word from someone I know: Ooft.
Let the chaos ensue. The film balances poignant drama with tons of situational comedy and irony to create one of the better rom-coms of the decade.
Love & Mercy – Hulu
Many are excited about Paul Dano’s reported casting as Edward Nashton/The Riddler in the Matt Reeves-directed, Robert Pattinson-starring The Batman. Dano has played unsettling characters in the past, but his turn in Love & Mercy shows how incredible his range really is.
This 2015 film follows the story of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. It focuses mostly on Wilson’s personal life, with Dano portraying a younger version of the legendary singer and songwriter. John Cusack plays Wilson later in life. Both are brilliant and disappear into the role.
Love & Mercy is simply one of the best movies revolving around music in recent memory. It was overlooked at awards season for reasons unclear — perhaps because Dano and Cusack shared the lead character.
The two-hour running time flies by, as Wilson’s psychology and relationships are explored in depth. Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti are in the cast, too, and they’re fantastic. Don’t think. Just watch. On Hulu.
The Matrix – Netflix
This sci-fi blockbuster is groundbreaking. Quite literally in some of the fight sequences in the film, but also in terms of special effects, high-concept technological ideas and the craft of large-scale filmmaking. Despite being released in 1999, The Matrix still holds up as a masterpiece with brawn and brains in bold supply.
Lots of people give Keanu Reeves grief for his perceived lack of acting chops. If you really think about it, he’s actually a lot more versatile than may be perceived. That said, he’s the ideal person for Neo — a character Will Smith passed on before him.
Laurence Fishburne is tremendous as Neo’s mentor, Morpheus, who introduces him to “The Matrix” itself. Then of course, the iconic Agent Smith, portrayed in scenery-chewing, articulate fashion by Hugo Weaving.
With a fourth Matrix film slated to begin production early this coming year, now is the perfect time to reenter and discover the story of The One.
Step Brothers – Netflix
“So much room for activities!” Thank goodness, the Step Brothers get to play on Netflix again. This is a treasure of a comedy. Yours truly isn’t the most massive Will Ferrell fan — hit and miss, more often hit — but there’s no denying the greatness of this romp.
The title is rather self-explanatory. Ferrell co-wrote the screenplay with director Adam McKay, and co-stars as Brennan with Talladega Nights collaborator John C. Reilly, who plays Dale. They’re both living at home with single parents until their parents fall in love. Then they become stepbrothers.
Brennan and Dale get into all kinds of unimaginable disputes. A wise teacher once said something like, “comedy comes from an inappropriately extreme reaction to a situation.” Case in point: an over-the-top music video the men-children make for their exciting new business venture, “Prestige Worldwide.” Oh, and also a disagreement regarding a drum set.
If you don’t yet know why the Catalina Wine Mixer is a big deal, please watch this one in November.
Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Amazon Prime Video
Don’t hate on the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp dynamic duo. Sure, their best work hasn’t happened for a while, but they found some magic in this 2007 musical.
Adapted from a smash hit musical of the same name, Sweeney Todd stars Depp as a man who was exiled from London but returns 15 years later under an alias. His real name is Benjamin Barker, and he winds up resorting to creepy measures to keep his identity a secret.
It wouldn’t be a Burton-Depp collaboration if there weren’t some off-putting elements. But the whimsical music and playful tone Burton finds in all his work shines through here, and the goriest parts of the film are often played more for laughs and catharsis than horror and dread. It also makes the tension in each scene palpable.
Depp’s singing is exceptional, and the soundtrack by Stephen Sondheim doesn’t disappoint.
The Talented Mr. Ripley – Hulu & Amazon Prime Video
Matt Damon is a good dude, right? Not so fast, people! In the 1999 thriller, Damon is Tom Ripley, a straight-up manipulator who’s hustling for odd jobs as a young man in 1950s New York City. He’s basically a con man, and convinces Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn) to give him $1,000 to find his son Dickie (Jude Law) in Italy. Mr. Greenleaf believes Dickie and Tom attended Princeton together. Well, they didn’t.
Tom ends up overstaying his welcome in more ways than one as he snakes into the lives of Dickie and his lady Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). Dickie and Tom are great friends initially, sure, but that changes in a big way. No spoilers here, but it’s so dark.
Great jazz music populates the movie, as does a perpetually beautiful backdrop and electric performances from all these young actors. Those elements, along with an engrossing but disturbing story, combine The Talented Mr. Ripley ripple with energy.
Lastly, let’s not forget to mention supporting players Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who used this film in part as a springboard for their respective careers.
Zombieland – Netflix
Sneaking its way into the top 10 is this number. With Zombieland: Double Tap hitting theaters at the minute, Netflix was wise to push out the original now.
The 2009 comedy obviously focuses on zombie in a post-apocalyptic world. Jesse Eisenberg is his usual neurotic self, trying to deal with life. His timidity is eventually quashed when he comes upon a man named “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson). This turns into a road trip comedy, and they pick up some friends along the way: Wichita (Emma Stone) and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).
Together this power quartet fights off numerous zombies, as you might’ve guessed. Eisenberg’s Columbus provides hilarious narration throughout to keep the pace zipping along.
Zombieland subverts expectations and parodies the zombie genre but isn’t too on-the-nose about it. That’s what puts it far and above many others in the spoof horror genre.