Every month, Netflix churns up its selection of offerings with new TV shows and movies—adding even more to what feels like a veritable ocean of material to watch, while adding deadlines to those things you’ve promised to yourself to watch later. So here, our critics make their recommendations about the best and most bingeable things that are coming out this month, and flag the series or film on the way out that you should see before it’s too late. For the full list of what’s coming and going, click here.
OUT: Gone Girl
Like The Social Network, Gone Girl is so good at portraying such bad behaviour. Adapting Gillian Flynn’s novel, David Fincher skilfully realizes her bleak vision, laced with black humour. Ben Affleck plays laid-off journalist turned bar-keep Nick Dunne, who is accused of murdering his wife “Amazing” Amy (Rosamund Pike), after glass shatters and she disappears on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. The glam couple had gone from the NYC highlife to flyover frustration. Affleck and Pike are both excellent. The engaging supporting cast features an ace turn from Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt, Nick’s razor-sharp lawyer in the Johnnie Cochran vein. As Tanner observes, Nick’s case won’t be decided by “the facts”, but by “what the public thinks of you.” Toxic masculinity, toxic femininity, toxic marriage, toxic relationships and toxic media are thrown together in a provocative, technically sharp package. “What have we done to each other?” 150 twisty minutes zip by. Gone Girl leaves Netflix on Dec. 1.
IN: Blue Planet II: Season 1
Blue Planet II: Season 1 plunges us enticingly into the deep blue sea. Nonagenarian BBC natural historian and broadcaster David Attenborough narrates with gravitas and levity. Almost a generation ago, Blue Planet took us beneath the waves: today there is more than was dreamed of. Attenborough emphasizes that new science and technology allow us to voyage further and deeper than ever before. “Enchanted undersea forests where fairytale creatures grow, across vibrant coral cities busy with ingenious inhabitants…unchartered depths where some of earth’s best- kept secrets hide.” Over eight hour-long episodes, there are stunning images of dolphins, whales, turtles, seahorses, Yeti crabs, and much more. In addition to the magic, vexed questions of pollution and climate change are probed. Vast and varied, Blue Planet II: Season 1 is relaxing and stimulating content that merits wide appeal. With music by Hans Zimmer and Radiohead. Blue Planet II: Season 1 comes to Netflix on Dec. 4.
IN: Pete Holmes: Dirty Clean
Pete Holmes is an entertaining verbal and physical comedian, like his closing Dirty Clean riff on going off excessive porn. “This isn’t an exorcism. People are trying to masturbate!” In his second HBO special, Holmes riffs on his very funny, corporeal Mike Pence joke. “Mike Pence looks like a clear gummy bear that kind of got its shit together.” He continues on the Pence Rule, aka Pence not dining alone with a woman. “I don’t think it’s sexual. I think it’s because he’s too delicious.” With an atypical conservative background for contemporary Hollywood, Holmes has some different material: life makes no sense, so maybe there is an after-life? Or his tattoo-covered friends being anti-marriage: a neck-tattoo is “commitment”. Like his Crashing character, Lululemon-wearing Holmes is an engaging blend of annoying and (mostly) affable. Holmes also zings with jokes on dogs’ needs (“never-ending eye contact”), lunching with a black friend (“I said that’s our word”), staying in, and new fatherhood (“I’m so glad that you [Portland] guys are baby-positive”). His routine on proposing to his wife while on a hot-air balloon ride, operated by a macho bigot, is memorably dynamic, too. Pete Holmes: Dirty Clean comes to HBO on Dec. 15.