What to stream: ‘Alias Grace’ on Netflix, ‘Arrival’ on Amazon and Hulu, and more

Sarah Gadon stars in the Netflix series adapted from the Margaret Atwood novel by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, FilmStruck, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …

The Netflix original mini-series Alias Grace takes on the true story of a servant girl convicted of murder in 19th century Canada as reinterpreted by Margaret Atwood in her historical novel. Sarah Gadon plays Grace Marks, who has already served 16 years for the murders of a farmer (Paul Gross) and his housekeeper (Anna Paquin) with a young doctor (Edward Holcroft) is brought in to question her.

It “is a true-crime mystery in the form of an elliptical interrogation,” writes James Poniewozik for The New York Times. “Alias Grace is a story about storytelling — one character compares Grace with Scheherazade — which makes Ms. Gadon essential to its success. She is mesmerizing. She plays Grace convincingly as a timid child and a toughened inmate, and she brings both of them to Grace’s wary testimony.”

The six-episode series is scripted by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron and it co-stars David Cronenberg. That makes two for two for Margaret Atwood in 2017, whose The Handmaid’s Tale became Hulu’s most acclaimed original program to date.

Queue it up!

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

Idris Elba is the last Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey is his evil nemesis in The Dark Tower (2017, PG-13 and unrated versions), based on the novel by Stephen King. Also on DVD and Blu-ray and at Redbox.

Also new: action thriller Kidnap (2017, R) with Halle Berry, family drama Columbus (2017, not rated) with John Cho, and documentary Frank Serpico (2017, not rated).

Available before theaters is hitman thriller 24 Hours to Live (2017, R) with Ethan Hawke and same day as select theaters nationwide is war drama On Wings of Eagles (2016, PG-13, with subtitles), a China/US co-production starring Joseph Fiennes, and sci-fi thriller Singularity (2017, PG-13) with John Cusack.

Netflix

42 (2013, PG-13) stars Chadwick Boseman as baseball legend Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play major league baseball.

Woody Allen’s romantic comedy To Rome with Love (2012, R) stars Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Roberto Benigni, and Penelope Cruz.

Netflix debuts two new foodie programs: the competition series Zumbo’s Just Desserts and unscripted British show The Big Family Cooking Showdown.

Also new this month:

Kid stuff: Julia Roberts is the voice of Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web (2006, G) and Christina Ricci is a human girl who befriends a ghost child in Casper (1995, PG).

True stories: Errol Morris’s The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography (2016, not rated) profiles the acclaimed Polaroid photographer and The Freedom to Marry (2017, not rated) looks at same sex marriage laws.

Stand-up: Judah Friedlander: America Is the Greatest Country in the United States.

Amazon Prime

Jeff Bridges is an alcoholic writer giving life lessons to a privileged teenager (Callum Turner) in the coming of age drama The Only Living Boy in New York (2017, R).

Streaming TV: the first season of the USA series Falling Water follows three characters whose lives are entwined by a shared dream. 10 episodes.

Get a start on your Christmas watchlist by adding the classic TV special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1963).

Also new this month:

Amazon Prime / Hulu

Arrival (2016, PG-13), starring Amy Adams as a linguist making first contact with an alien race with no spoken language, is both a brainy science fiction drama and a touching human story. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and filmmaker Denis Villeneuve went on to direct “Blade Runner 2049.” Now streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.

It’s a little late for Halloween but Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, R), directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is a dreamlike vampire film with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder (Amazon Prime and Hulu).

Also new this month: comedies Airplane! (1980, PG) (Amazon Prime and Hulu) and Crocodile Dundee (1986, PG-13) (Amazon Prime and Hulu).

Hulu

Winter’s Bone (2010, R), a coming-of-age survival story set in the crime and poverty of the Ozark Mountains, features a superb break-out performance by Jennifer Lawrence and a rich sense of place and culture. It won the Grand Jury Prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.

Anne Hathaway is a different kind of Cinderella in Ella Enchanted (2004, PG), a playful twist on the classic fairy tale.

For younger kids there are animated Disney classics The Sword in the Stone (1963, G), The Aristocats (1970, G), and The Rescuers (1977, G).

Jodie Foster’s Home for the Holidays (1995, PG-13) with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. is a comedy for the Thanksgiving family gathering.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the good guys in James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991, R), which set the bar for movie special effects in its day.

Also new this month:

Cult: Jane Fonda is Barbarella (1968, PG) in the pop-art comic strip space fantasy.

Foreign affairs: Stephen Chow delivers hilarious martial arts comedy in Shaolin Soccer (Hong Kong, 2001, PG-13, with subtitles) and Kung Fu Hustle (Hong Kong, 2005, R, with subtitles) (reviewed on Stream On Demand here).

HBO Now

James McAvoy is a kidnapper with multiple personalities in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split (2017, PG-13) and Anya Taylor Joy attempts to navigate the personalities to escape.

Also new this month:

Arriving Saturday night is Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017, R), a smart and successful mix of social satire, modern horror, and savvy commentary on race.

Showtime Anytime

Megan Griffith’s Lucky Them (2013, R) is a detective story set in the Seattle music scene, starring Toni Colette and Thomas Haden Church.

Crime drama God’s Pocket (2014, R) features the final film performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Also new this month:

FilmStruck / Criterion Channel

FilmStruck curates a collection of classic films about hard times, including Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936), David Lean’s Oliver Twist (1948) with Alec Guinness, the neo-realist masterpiece Bicycle Thieves (Italy, 1948, with subtitles), and a reconstruction of the silent film classic Greed (1924).

A collection of Nikita Mikhalkov films from Russian includes his breakthrough film A Slave of Love (USSR, 1977, with subtitles) and his acclaimed An Unfinished Piece of Player Piano (USSR, 1977, with subtitles) and Oblomov (USSR, 1980, with subtitles).

Criterion Channel premieres the John le Carré Cold War classic The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965, not rated) with Richard Burton and Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip” (2014, not rated) with Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss. And on the cult side there is the crazy, cross-dressing sixties spy comedy Black Lizard (Japan, 1968) from director Kinji Fukasaku.

Acorn TV

The series finale of British crime drama George Gently makes its U.S. debut on Acorn TV days after its British TV premiere.

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About Sean Axmaker

Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears in Vulture, Turner Classic Movies online, Keyframe, and Parallax View.

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