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 …
Start 2019 with some of the best films of last year. Leave No Trace (2018, PG), inspired by a true story and shot in and around Portland, Oregon, is a touching indie drama starring Ben Foster as a troubled military vet and loving single father trying to raise a daughter (Thomasin McKenzie in a revelatory performance) off the grid. It’s won numerous awards and is a favorite going into Oscar season. Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Regina Hall earned a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance as a protective manager in Support the Girls (2018), a smart indie comedy about the women working in a Hooters-like sports bar. On Hulu.
Netflix released Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018, not rated), a feature-length episode of the dark science fiction series with a video game-like interactive approach to storytelling, without advance notice last week. Creator Charlie Booker weaves the gimmick into the fabric of the story, about a troubled video game designer (Fionn Whitehead) struggling to complete a video game, so it becomes integral to the narrative experience. There are dozens of choices and multiple endings but, due to technical requirements, it is not available on all devices (notably Apple TV and Google Chromecast).
Classic pick: Marilyn Monroe is the bubbly gold digger dance partner to wry, man-hungry Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Howard Hawks’ twist on buddy film machismo. It’s a delightful, hilarious farce with great musical numbers, but for all the sexual humor, these two little girls from Little Rock are thoroughly loyal to each other and always in charge. On Hulu.
Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand
Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Jon Hamm, and Chris Hemsworth hit Bad Times at the El Royale (2018, R) in the thriller set at a run-down Lake Tahoe hotel.
Hell or High Water (2016, R) puts the great American anti-hero outlaw story into the modern world of financial crisis and mortgage foreclosure. Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster star. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
Neil Patrick Harris is back Count Olaf in the third and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 3 (Netflix Original), based on the playfully macabre children’s books by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler).
King Arthur and a band of dotty knights run afoul of abusive Frenchmen, sex-crazed nuns, a killer rabbit, the mysterious Knights Who Say “Nih!,” and other medieval threats in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, PG), the cheapest Arthurian adventure ever made and easily the funniest.
Harrison Ford stepped into the battered fedora and leather jacket of archeologist adventurer Indiana Jones in Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, PG) a nostalgic trip through yesteryear thrills with non-stop action, skin of the teeth escapes, and a contemporary tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and returned for three sequels: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984, PG), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989, PG-13), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008, PG-13).
Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers (1912-1923) presents a collection of 17 shorts and features from women filmmakers in the silent era. Among the landmarks are Lois Weber’s innovative short thriller Suspense (1913) and birth control drama Where Are My Children (1916);
- Alice Guy-Blaché’s short feature The Ocean Waif (1916);
- Mabel Normand directing Charlie Chaplin in Caught in a Cabaret (1914);
- the first all Asian-American production The Curse of Quon Gwon (1917);
- Nell Shipman’s ingenious automobile adventure drama Something New (1920);
- Alla Nazimova’s exotic Salome (1923).
True stories: The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mythical Man (2018, not rated) looks at the comedy star’s life off-screen through his encounters with fans and other everyday people.
More streaming TV: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: Season 1 (Netflix Original) is a home makeover show that helps folks clear out the clutter. Also new:
- globetrotting stand-up comedy series Comedians of the World: Season 1;
- Conan Without Borders: Season 1 with Conan O’Brien.
Foreign affairs: Lionheart (Nigeria, 2018), the drama of a woman who battles sexism to run her father’s business, is the first Netflix Original film from Nigeria. Also new:
- And Breathe Normally (Iceland, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), a drama about a struggling single mother and an asylum seeker facing deportation;
- biographical drama El Potro: Unstoppable (Argentina, 2018, not rated, with subtitles) about Argentine music superstar Rodrigo Alejandro Bueno;
- Oscar nominee The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France, 2007, PG-13, with subtitles) with Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner;
- Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006, R, with subtitles);
- Oscar-nominated City of God (Brazil, 2002, R, with subtitles).
Foreign language TV: from Israel comes the cop drama Hashoter Hatov: Season 1 (Israel, 2015, with subtitles). Also new is French comedy Call My Agent!: Season 3 (France, with subtitles) featuring Isabelle Huppert, Monica Bellucci, and Jean Dujardin.
Music: Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour (2018, TV-PG) presents the music superstar in concert. Also new are the documentaries Oasis: Supersonic (2016, R) and Avicii: True Stories (2017, not rated, with subtitles).
The first month of 2019 brings a new slate of movies into the catalog, including the Frankie Valli musical Jersey Boys (2014, R) from director Clint Eastwood;
- standout superhero hits Watchmen (2009, R) and The Dark Knight (2008, PG-13);
- family friendly animated adventure Happy Feet (2006, PG);
- Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed (2006, R)with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson;
- Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction (1994, R);
- Enter the Dragon (1973, R), the film that made Bruce Lee a martial arts movie superstar.
Newly arrived classics include Elia Kazan’s East of Eden (1955, not rated) featuring James Dean in his first starring role on the big screen;
- Sam Peckinpah’s landmark western The Wild Bunch (1969, R);
- Oscar-winning comedy The Graduate (1967, PG) with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft;
- prison drama Cool Hand Luke (1967, PG) with Paul Newman;
- World War II caper The Dirty Dozen (1967, not rated) with Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson;
- David Lean’s Oscar-winning epic Doctor Zhivago (1965, not rated) with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.
Stand-up: Netflix adds over a dozen classic comedy specials with Bill Hicks (including his final recorded special Revelations, 1993, not rated), Sam Kinison, Tim Allen and others.
Amazon Prime Video
Mia Wasikowska is Jane Eyre (2011, PG-13) and Michael Fessbender her tormented Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s superb take on Charlotte Brontë’s beloved gothic romance. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985, R), a dark, dense science fiction fantasy, is like “1984” rewritten by Monty Python, an absurdist nightmare of Kafka-esque dimensions. In other words, as timely as ever.
Foreign affairs: Sigmund Freud treats a neurotic undead client in the comedy Therapy for a Vampire (Austria, 2014, not rated, with subtitles). Also new:
- Eric Rohmer’s bucolic Romance of Astree and Celadon (France, 2007, not rated, with subtitles);
- science fiction adventure Returner (Japan, 2003, R, with subtitles) with Takeshi Kaneshiro;
- Bollywood blockbuster Hum Aapke Hain Koun (India, 1994, not rated, with subtitles).
Streaming TV: Breaking Big: Season 1 looks at how artists, innovators, and political leaders made their careers. Also new are the PBS science series Nova Wonders: Season 1 and history program First Civilizations: Season 1.
Also new: true teen crime thriller Alpha Dog (2006, R) with Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch;
- Oscar-winning drama A Beautiful Mind (2001, PG-13) with Russell Crowe;
- the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971, G) with Gene Wilder.
Amazon Prime / Hulu
Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974, R), starring Jack Nicholson as private eye J.J. Gittes and Faye Dunaway as a tragic femme fatale in 1930s Los Angeles, is a neo-noir classic and one of the masterpieces of American cinema.
Mel Gibson is suicidal firecracker Martin Riggs and Danny Glover is aging family man Roger Murtaugh, America’s favorite buddy cop team, in Lethal Weapon (1987, R), the action hit that spawned three sequels: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989, R), which adds Joe Pesci to the mix, Lethal Weapon 3 (1992, R), and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998, R). Screenwriter Shane Black used a similar approach in The Last Boy Scout (1991, R), with Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans as the mismatched buddy team.
The entire Twilight saga, starring Kristen Stewart as teenage human Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as the ageless, undead Edward Cullen, is now on Hulu, from the original Twilight (2008, PG-13), shot in Oregon and Washington State, through The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009, PG-13) and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010, PG-13) to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011, PG-13) and Part 2 (2012, PG-13).
Streaming TV: The X-Files: Season 11 looks like it’s the last hurrah for Mulder and Scully, and this revival season is a marked improvement from the previous one. Also new:
True stories: Natalie Portman narrates Eating Animals (2017, not rated), which puts a spotlight on the industrial factory farming industry.
Foreign affairs: Renoir (France, 2013, R, with subtitles) stars Michel Bouquet as the legendary painter Auguste Renoir and The German Doctor (Argentina, 2013, not rated, with subtitles) is a drama about Josef Mengele in hiding in Argentina.
Kid stuff: Mike Myers is a grumpy ogre in the animated comedy Shrek (2001, PG) with Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. Also new:
- escape comedy Chicken Run (2000, G) from the creators of “Wallace and Gromit”;
- Antz (1998, PG) with the voices of Woody Allen and Sharon Stone.
Also new: indie romantic comedy Drinking Buddies (2013, R) with Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson;
- Peter Weir’s survival drama The Way Back (2011, PG-13) with Ed Harris and Colin Farrell;
- crime drama Stone (2010, R) with Robert De Niro and Edward Norton;
- Finding Neverland (2004, PG) with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet;
- Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (2000, R) with Kirsten Dunst;
- Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey (1999, R) with Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda;
- Mimic (1997, R) the first American film by Oscar-winner Guillermo Del Toro
- Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989, PG) and sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991, PG);
- cult black comedy Heathers (1989, R) with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater;
- Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988, PG)
- comedy 9 to 5 (1980, PG) with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton;
- the original True Grit (1969, G) with John Wayne.
Available Saturday is Annihilation (2018, R) with Natalie Portman as a Special Forces soldier who joins a team of women scientists to investigate an alien force field slowly growing on Earth. This science fiction thriller from Ex Machina” filmmaker Alex Garland favors science and mystery over action.
Melissa McCarthy is a divorced mother who goes back to college in the comedy Life of the Party (2018, PG-13).
Available Saturday night is Super Troopers 2 (2018, R), the sequel to the sleeper comedy hit starring Brian Cox and the Broken Lizard comedy troupe.
Older films returning this month include Logan (2017) with Hugh Jackman in his final screen appearance as X-Men hero Wolverine;
- Space opera fantasy Jupiter Ascending (2015, PG-13) with Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis;
- superhero sequel X2 (2003, PG-13);
- The American President (1995, PG-13) with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning;
- Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders (1983, PG) based on the novel by S.E. Hinton;
- Oscar-winning The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) with Millie Perkins.
Gerard Butler and 50 Cent star in the heist thriller Den of Thieves (2018, R).
The French drama Chefs: Season 1 (France, with subtitles) follows an ex-con who finds a new life working in the kitchen of a gourmet restaurant in Paris. The second season arrives later in January.
Also new is Beck: Season 6 (Sweden, with subtitles), featuring four feature-length mysteries starring Kristofer Hivju as Swedish detective Martin Beck.
Sofia Vergara presents 365 Days of Love, a new series about real-life love stories with a new episode premiering every day of 2019.