What to stream: ‘The Crown’ and Dolly Parton on Netflix, ‘Booksmart’ on Hulu, more holiday programming

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …  The weekly column is featured in The Seattle Times, The Oregonian, The Spokesman-Review, and other newspapers.

Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman takes over the role of Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies is Prince Philip in the third season of the lavish historical Netflix drama “The Crown.” This season follows the Royal Family through the tumultuous 1960s and up the Silver Jubilee with episodes focusing on the drama behind key historical moments. Helena Bonham Carter brings the train wreck that is Princess Margaret to a new level of sardonic chaos. 10 episodes streaming on Netflix.

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play overachieving students who throw caution to the wind on the last night of high school in “Booksmart” (2019, R). Actress Olivia Wilder makes a sure directorial debut with this raunchy and smart buddy comedy. Streaming on Hulu.

The music of Bruce Springsteen crosses the Atlantic in “Blinded By the Light” (2019, PG-13), a rousing high school drama of identity and the creative spirit, based on the true story of a first generation Pakistani-Briton in a small factory town in 1980s England. Gurinder Chadha directs this energetic tale of the power of art. On Cable on Demand and VOD, also on DVD and at Redbox.

The Netflix Original anthology series “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: Season 1” dramatizes the stories behind the singer/songwriter’s iconic songs. Ginnifer Goodwin, Kathleen Turner, Melissa Leo, and Julianne Hough are among the guest stars and Parton appears in three episodes. 8 episodes on Netflix.

Holiday trimmings: Vanessa Hudgens stars in the Netflix Original film “The Knight Before Christmas” (2019, not rated), a seasonal romance with time-traveling medieval knight (Josh Whitehouse), and “Nailed It! Holiday!: Season 2” spotlights more baking successes and disasters. Amazon Prime Video presents the animated “Costume Quest: Christmas Special” and the Muppet TV specials “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas” (1977) and “The Christmas Toy” (1986) from Jim Henson.

Classic pick: Henry Fonda takes a rare role as a cold-blooded killer in “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968, PG-13), Sergio Leone’s epic tribute to the American western, shot in part against the primal landscape of Monument Valley. Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson, and Jason Robards star. On Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

Dora and the Lost City of Gold” (2019, PG) brings the animated kid series to the big screen for a family-friendly live-action adventure.

Available same day as select theaters nationwide is the crime thriller “The Courier” (2019, R) with Gary Oldman as a crime boss and Olga Kurylenko as his assassin.


Suffragette” (2015, PG-13) dramatizes the violent struggle for women’s voting rights in Britain in the early 20th century. Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter star with Meryl Streep.

Ryan Gosling is an enigmatic getaway driver in the sleek crime thriller “Drive” (2011, R), co-starring Carey Mulligan and Albert Brooks.

True stories: “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” (2019, not rated) profiles Bikram Choudhury, the founder of hot yoga, from celebrity to accused sexual predator and “Lorena, Light-Footed Woman” (Mexico, 2019, not rated, with subtitles) introduces audiences to the ultramarathon runner who competes in sandals.

International affairs: a teenage boy is arrested dropped into a brutal custody center in “Brother (Mon frère) (France, 2019, not rated, with subtitles), which direct to Netflix from French cinemas.

International TV: two high school boys are invested with supernatural powers in “Mortel: Season 1” (France, with subtitles), a mix of teen crime drama and fantasy adventure. Comedy “Nobody’s Looking: Season 1” (Brazil, with subtitles) also delves into fantasy with its irreverent tale of a fledgling guardian angel. More international TV:

Kid stuff: the animated series “Dino Girl Gauko: Season 1” (Japan) follows a middle school girl who transforms into a dinosaur when she loses her temper. Also new:

Stand-up: “Iliza: Unveiled” (2019, not rated) presents Iliza Shlesinger dishing on her wedding.

Amazon Prime Video

While Disney+ has become the new home for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they don’t yet have lock on all of them. The first “Thor” (2011, PG-13) with Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins, the World War II-era “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011, PG-13) with Chris Evans, and “The Avengers” (2012, PG-13), which brought all of the major Marvel heroes together for the first time, are available to Amazon Prime subscribers.

Joe Mantegna is an ex-con returning home to his Bronx neighborhood in the sentimental drama “Bottom of the 9th” (2019, R).

True stories: “Artifishal” (2019, not rated) looks at the unintended harm of fish farming on wild salmon.

International affairs: Penelope Cruz plays a Spanish actress returning home from a Hollywood career to play “The Queen of Spain” (Spain, 2017, not rated, with subtitles) in this comedy.

Billy Wilder directs Jack Lemmon in the comedies “Irma La Douce” (1963), costarring Shirley Maclaine as a streetwalker in turn-of-the-century Paris, and “Avanti!” (1972, R), a collision of midlife crisis, witty adult romance, and sex farce costarring Juliet Mills.

Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster clash in “Run Silent, Run Deep” (1958), a terrific World War II submarine drama of tactical gamesmanship punctuated with war movie action.

Robert Ryan and Burl Ives star in “Day of the Outlaw” (1959), a western set in a snowbound mountain town under siege from outlaws. More westerns:


Gemma Arterton is socialite Vita Sackville-West and Elizabeth Debicki plays author Virginia Woolf in the romantic drama “Vita & Virginia” (2019, not rated).

True stories: “Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power” (2019, not rated) presents the Canadian author discussing her life and work and “The Quiet One” (2019, not rated) profiles Bill Wyman, a founding member of the Rolling Stones who left the group in 1990.

Streaming TV: The reverberation of a tragic accident threatens to tear apart a small Welsh community as grief turns to anger and blame in “The Accident,” a limited series from writer Jack Thorne (“National Treasure” and the HBO series “His Dark Materials”) starring Sarah Lancashire and Sidse Babett Knudsen. It makes its US debut along with the BBC limited series “Apple Tree Yard” (2017, TV-MA) with Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin.

Kid stuff: family drama “Holly Hobbie: Season 2” (TV-PG) continues the adventures of a 13-year-old girl (Ruby Jay) in a small Midwest town.


A bullying CEO (Regina Hall) wakes up as her young self in “Little” (2019, PG-13), a comedy costarring Issa Rae and Marsai Martin.

The fiftieth season of “Sesame Street” is now underway with new episodes Saturday mornings.

True stories” “Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops” (2019, TV-MA) follows two members of the San Antonio Police Department’s new mental health unit.

Available Saturday night is “Us” (2019, R), Jordan Peele’s nightmarish follow-up to “Get Out.”


In anticipation of “63 Up,” the ninth installment in the ambitious documentary project carried on by Michael Apted, BritBox presents the previous installment “56 Up” (2012) and the new documentary “7 Up and Me” (2019). Also new on BritBox is “Bill” (2015, PG), a comic take on the life of William Shakespeare starring Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory.

The Criterion Channel

An Elephant Sitting Still” (China, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), an epic four-hour drama following the intersecting lives of four people over a single day in a bleak Chinese city, won top awards at film festivals around the world. It makes its streaming debut on Criterion Channel, along with director Hu Bo’s 2017 short film “Man in the Well.”

Also new on Criterion Channel are films by Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher (“Corpo celeste,” 2011, and “The Wonders,” 2014) and Norwegian director Joachim Trier (“Reprise,” 2006, and “Oslo, August 31st,” 2011), and the amazing Koker Trilogy from Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami (“Where is the Friend’s House?,” 1987, “And Life Goes On,” 1992, and “Through the Olive Trees,” 1994). All with subtitles.

Sundance Now

A university professor (Katherine Kelly) locks wits with an angry, disaffected student (Molly Windsor) “Cheat” (2019), a British limited series thriller set in the halls of academia. First episode available, new episodes each Thursday.


This streaming service, a partnership of small but vital independent distributors, remains devoted to documentaries and independent and foreign language films and has been steadily building a robust library.

A few highlights among its recent arrivals include Kelly Reichardt’s “Wendy and Lucy” (2008, R) with Michelle Williams, the comedy “Return of the Hero” (France, 2018, with subtitles) starring Jean Dujardin and Melanie Laurent, Andrea Arnold’s unconventional adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” (2011, not rated), Pedro Costa’s second feature “Casa de Lava (Portugal, 1994, with subtitles) starring Isaach de Bankole, and Jules Dassin’s hot-blooded “The Law” (Italy, 1959) with Gina Lollobrigida, Marcello Mastroianni, and Yves Montand.

May I also recommend the documentary “A Film Unfinished” (Germany, 2010, not rated, with subtitles), a powerful look into the reality of the Warsaw ghettos using footage from an abandoned Nazi propaganda film. It’s chilling and compelling.

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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 at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.