December may be chilly, but it’s a hot month for new movie and television show premieres. There’s the usual slam of holiday-themed romances, dramas, and comedies, but there’s also a lot of major productions looking to make a year-end splash before awards season. So many options, so little time! How to choose what to stream in December? Well, dear reader, we’ve taken the task of narrowing the scope of what should be on your radar.
Unfortunately, a great many excellent titles were left on this list’s cutting room floor. We’ll still be on the lookout for all the releases, though, from The Witcher’s second season on Netflix (Dec, 17) to the Prime Video feature Being the Ricardos (Dec. 10) to Hulu originals like Mother/Android (Dec. 17), and on and on. In the meantime, we’ve focused our December streaming picks on titles that can be fun for every kind of audience as we close out 2021.
There are big stars, highly anticipated returns, sci-fi epics, and an international Oscar contender—all for your streaming pleasure this month!
A Show Everyone Will Be Talking About
Queer Eye Season 6
Netflix, Dec. 31
We are currently in the midst of a Queer Eye drought, folks. (Not to be confused with “droughtlander,” as applied to the Starz series Outlander, which doesn’t return until March, 2022.) The last season of the rebooted makeover series was released almost a year and a half ago, and the demand for more wholesome stories and happy tears is ever present. Have no fear, though, the Fab Five is back for season six, and they’re taking over Austin, Texas, this go around. Judging by the trailer, the very lucky makeover subjects just might be getting the Wild West–but make it chic–treatment. One of the stars of the show (and chef extraordinaire), Antoni Porowski, has shared that the group helped small businesses in Austin affected by the pandemic. He also teased that he “cried within 5 minutes” of meeting one person in particular. (And now I’m crying.) Queer Eye drops on Netflix right at the end of year, on Dec. 31st. A perfect binge-watch fest for New Year’s Eve!
What to Watch First/After
And Just Like That…
HBO Max, Dec. 9
Emily in Paris
Netflix, Dec. 22
If you’re a lover of eccentric fashion choices and messy relationships, then these picks are for you. First, any self-respecting Sex and The City fan must watch the limited-series revival called And Just Like That… Kim Cattrall isn’t returning as the iconic Samantha, but Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda will be there, as well as Mr. Big himself (in an unknown capacity). The girlfriend group still talk about their (sometimes raunchy) sex lives, but the 10-episode series also promises to tackle what it means to live life authentically, especially as much older and much wiser women in this new age of sexual fluidity and podcasts. We expect the new addition to the Sex and The City pantheon will carve out new cultural conversations, just as the original did over two decades ago. The first two episodes premiere on Dec. 9 on HBO Max, with the rest thereafter coming out on a weekly basis. Bonus: If you’re a fan, be sure to join The Watercooler for our virtual after-watch party!
After you get some quick first hits of And Just Like That… (And while you wait for more), one way to tide yourself over would be Netflix’s second season of Emily in Paris. Creator and executive producer Darren Star is the mastermind behind both shows, among many others. Some have even touted (and sometimes criticized) the character Emily (played by Lily Collins) as a younger, more upbeat version of Carrie Bradshaw. The new season continues to show off Emily’s crazy wardrobe and the glamour of Paris–and yes, we just want to eat up the entire bright confectionery aesthetic like the ringardes we are. New lovers also materialize, though, and more problems with them. So the real question fans want to know is: Will Emily end up with Gabriel after all? Or is it time for a “French Ending?” Season two streams on Netflix starting Dec. 22.
Welcome to Earth
Disney+, Dec. 8
Some things are hiding in plain sight. While fans were checking out actor Will Smith’s impressive turn as Serena and Venus Williams’ father in the film King Richard, they probably didn’t realize he is also the focus of a National Geographic documentary arriving on Disney+. In Welcome to Earth Will Smith shares that he’s “missing something.” He enlists tried-and-true explorers to take him on adventures to the ends of the earth, and they reportedly go beyond even that. The magnificent views of deep ocean life, desert caravanning, and active volcanoes are surpassed only by Will Smith doing what he does best: telling a story. And evidently, it’s a very real and personal story about him, too. Darren Aronofsky, the Oscar-nominated director behind Black Swan, lends a hand as executive producer of the series and even directed the premiere episode. So if you want resplendent cinematography of nature and Will Smith’s beloved bravado, then check out Welcome to Earth when it starts streaming on Dec. 8th on Disney+.
Don’t Look Up
In theaters Dec. 10, streaming on Netflix Dec. 24
It’s December, the month of holidays and cheer and hope. And what better says all of that than Don’t Look Up–the action comedy about a planet-killing comet hurtling toward earth. And no one but Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence are taking it seriously. DiCaprio plays an anxiety-ridden scientist, Lawrence emulates her real-life sarcastic persona (with a mullet added to the mix), and the literal powers-that-be (played by Jonah Hill and Meryl Streep) would rather bust their chops. It’s the most fitting satire for our current real-world climate crisis and perfect for any couple that inevitably have discussions about what they would have done in the same life-threatening scenario. What’s more is that the film is stacked with Oscar winners and nominees all the way through–from Cate Blanchett to Mark Rylance to Tyler Perry to Timothée Chalamet, just to name a few. Infamous director/writer/producer Adam McKay pulls out all his typical comedic stops in Don’t Look Up, but hopefully that won’t also mean the on-screen death of Leonardo DiCaprio. The film starts streaming on Netflix and in select theaters on Dec. 24th.
The Matrix Resurrections
HBO Max, Dec. 22
It’s time again for you and your family to resurrect the age-old debate of the early aughts (that’s still simmering in some circles): Would you take the red pill or the blue pill? Would you rather be oblivious or awake? Or perhaps it’s changed somewhat in the upcoming franchise reboot, The Matrix Resurrections, where instead the question might just be: Is death even real? Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their iconic roles as Neo and Trinity in this long-awaited sequel. Apparently things only got worse in the aftermath of The Matrix Revolutions. It’s 40 years later, and war between humans and machines is brewing once again. Beyond the enduring philosophical debates about consciousness and control, though, director Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections offers a sleek, modern-day update to the special effects that were pioneered in the original, as well as more Kung Fu badassery. New faces also enter the program/time loop/dimension/whatever you want to call it, including Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman), and Jessica Yu-Li Henwick (Luke Cage). To find out if Neo overcomes The Matrix once and for all, you can catch The Matrix Resurrections in theaters or streaming on HBO Max beginning Dec. 22nd.
The Hand of God
Netflix, Dec. 15
Of all the fantastic international films coming out before the end of 2021, we’re most looking forward to the release of Paolo Sorrentino’s semi-autobiographical Italian coming-of-age story called The Hand of God. Sorrentino directed The Young Pope and The Great Beauty and is known somewhat as a Federico Fellini student. That association seems to have endured in this latest project. The Hand of God follows a 17-year-old boy in 1980s Naples, navigating the joyful confusion that can be family, sexuality, and one’s life purpose. But it’s the surreal visuals, music, and sound design–abrupt and dramatic though they may be–that always make Sorrentino’s work so intriguing. The Hand of God also marks Italy’s official selection for the Best International Feature Film at the next Academy Awards, a honor previously bestowed upon The Great Beauty in 2014. The film will be released on Netflix on Dec. 15.