"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world." - Jean-Luc Godard
what's new to streaming in november 2020
We’ve just two months to go before the end of the year, so before Netflix starts filling up with holiday movies and A Christmas Prince 17 or whatnot I wanted to make sure that people know what’s available to watch if they are able to wade through the endless sea of Netflix originals. If Netflix holiday films are your thing then I am sorry if I offended you, but maybe this list will introduce you to some classics of cinema that you hadn’t seen before. That is the goal after all. Here are 18 of the best films coming to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and The Criterion Channel in November.
A Clockwork Orange (1971): Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest directors of all time, and it’s fitting that in 1971, 3 years after his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, he released one of the most controversial movies ever made in A Clockwork Orange. The film is one of two films to receive an X rating from the MPAA and to also be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, the other being Midnight Cowboy which won the award. Psychotic, unsettling, and brilliant from the haunting opening shot to the end credits, A Clockwork Orange is one of the great films from a great director and a must-watch for film fans.
Easy A (2010): despite supporting roles in hit comedy films like Superbad and Zombieland, Emma Stone still wasn’t a star in the late 2000s, but then the release of Easy A in 2010 changed that and instantly vaulted her into the spotlight. The film follows Olive (Stone) who tells a little white lie that starts circulating rumors about her promiscuity throughout her high school. The newfound attention quickly goes to Olive’s head and her lies continue and become more grandiose until she begins to lose friends and realizes has to try to put a stop to the rumors. Emma Stone is excellent in the role and leads a great supporting cast in one of the best teen comedies of the 2010s.
Fruitvale Station (2013): this is in my opinion one of the most underrated films of the past decade. Ryan Coogler (who would go on to direct Creed and Black Panther) teamed up with Michael B. Jordan for the first of 3 times to deliver an emotional, unforgettable film about a young black man and his experiences on New Year’s Eve of 2008. Those familiar with the story of Oscar Grant III won’t be surprised by the film, but will be equally as shocked as those who are going in completely fresh. I vividly remember my first time watching this film and my reaction after the credits had begun to roll: I was stunned. If there is one film to watch right now out of any on this list this is the one I would recommend. The film is available to watch on the 12th.
V for Vendetta (2005): if Fruitvale Station wasn’t current enough I present to you V for Vendetta. In a futuristic, fascist Great Britain a young woman becomes entangled with a masked man who plots to overthrow the government, following in the steps of Guy Fawkes from 1600’s England, who attempted to blow up parliament in hopes to end the protestant regime. V for Vendetta is startling and eye opening and has some killer production design. Natalie Portman delivers one of her best performances and Hugo Weaving plays a role most big name actors would be too proud to take on. The film joins Netflix on the 15th.
The Blair Witch Project (1999): is there a bigger horror phenomenon than The Blair Witch? A found footage film that took 8 days to shoot and cost just $60,000 to make, the film grossed $248 million worldwide and scared audiences to their cores. The film was marketed as being real found footage and the actors were listed as missing, adding to the horror that this film induced. I’ll admit found footage is not my favorite horror trope, though I think Cloverfield did a fairly decent job with it some years later, and while the film was certainly scary in 1999 it doesn’t quite hold up as well today and maybe wasn’t as scary as people thought to begin with. Still it has cultural significance, and if you’re still looking for something spooky to watch following Halloween you can’t go too wrong here.
The Bourne Trilogy: when The Bourne Identity was released in 2002 it ushered in a new era of action movies. Up until that point we were used to the macho action films of the 80s and 90s with huge, beefy movie stars like Arnold Schwarzenneger and Steven Seagel. Bourne added parkour, made the fighting more about close combat martial arts than gigantic guns and helped popularize shaky cam. The three films follow ex-special agent Jason Bourne, who suffers from amnesia and is on a quest to rediscover his past life while being hunted by his former employer. Though there was a fourth installment in the franchise starring Jeremy Renner and a fifth film in 2016 with Matt Damon back in the lead role but the first three films are very much a complete trilogy within themselves.
Lord of War (2005): for the last 25 years Nicholas Cage has come to be known as a madman of an actor, being completely over the top in most films, the majority of which are far from great, but yet a few bright spots shine through, one of which is Lord of War. Cage plays Yuri Orlov, who we follow from a young age through to adulthood and his ascension to criminal arms dealer. It’s a very well made, underappreciated film that the average person might turn their nose up at merely because Cage has created such a name for himself as a loose cannon.
The Prestige (2006): in 2006 Christopher Nolan took a break in between Batman films and gave audiences one of the best films about stage magicians of the 21st century. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale star as two rival magicians, both trying to one up the other through illusions that become more and more complex. Not necessarily underrated, but given the weight of the rest of Nolan’s filmography this is one film that is often overlooked. I personally haven’t seen this film in some time so I think I’m more than due for a rewatch.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008): Danny Boyle’s Best Picture winning film was the last film to win Best Picture before the Academy opened the category up to allow for more than 5 nominees. The film is the story of Jamal Malik, a young man who is on the final stage of India’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire when he is arrested and interrogated for cheating. We then follow him through his life as a young boy from Mumbai and see the incidents in his life that have led him to that point. It’s a well made film that if not for its Oscar wins would most likely be unfortunately forgotten by the general public.
The Nice Guys (2016): This Shane Black directed comedy was a great surprise back in 2016. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling play two private investigators hot on the case involving a missing girl and a dead porn star. The two have excellent chemistry together and we are treated to a great buddy cop film with enough action, jokes, and sex to keep anyone entertained. One of my favorite films of 2016 and one that I’ve gone back and revisited multiple times, The Nice Guys is worth your time. The film is available to watch on the 9th.
Amazon Prime Video:
Boyz n the Hood (1991): a cultural touchstone released just 2 years after a similarly groundbreaking film in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Boyz n the Hood is the story of 3 young men living in the ghetto of Los Angeles, their relationships with each other and the world around them and their approach to their forthcoming adulthood. Writer and director John Singleton became the youngest person ever nominated for best director when he was nominated for this film at the age of 24. Boyz n the Hood is an important film from the early 90s and one that should be seen by audiences today. Also available to watch on Netflix.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000): to those familiar with Hong Kong films like Hero or House of Flying Daggers this film is in the same vein, but for anyone who has not yet been introduced to the majesty of Chinese epics then this is a great starting point. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a tale of action and adventure set to the backdrop of a romantic and beautiful 19th century China. It’s a gorgeous film from Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi) and I can’t recommend it enough.
Dead Poets Society (1989): an inspiring film about an English teacher who uses unconventional teaching to relate to his young students and drive them to seize the day and go against the status quo. The film was nominated for Best Picture and Robin Williams was nominated for Best Actor for his work as teacher John Keating. A motivating film if ever there was one, Dead Poets Society will have you longing to make a difference in the world.
Platoon (1986): Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War film about the horrors of war is more Hollywoodized and doesn’t do as good of a job as other Vietnam War films like The Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket or Apocalypse Now but is still a Best Picture winning film with a solid cast that includes Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger and others.
The Criterion Channel:
The Elephant Man (1980): in 1977 David Lynch burst onto the scene with his landmark independent film Eraserhead which excited studio heads and awarded him the keys to the Oscar hopeful The Elephant Man. Lynch created a beautiful film about the life of John Merrick, a man with physical deformities, who was once used as a side-show freak but underneath his scary exterior was a very kind, intelligent, mild mannered man.
It Happened One Night (1934): A delightful comedy starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night follows the story of a young woman who gets married against her father’s wishes and then runs off when he attempts to forcefully take her away on his yacht. Not used to being alone out in the world, she bumps into a reporter who, unbeknownst to her, is using her for a story. The two embark on a journey to reunite her with her husband and get into several outrageous situations along the way. This film is good fun for all ages and one of the best films of the 1930s.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968): Maybe my favorite of Sergio Leone’s westerns, Once Upon a Time in the West represents a turning point in the history of Hollywood. The film production code officially ended in 1968, allowing films to show more explicit violence and sex than before, and while there still isn’t explicit nudity in this film, it’s more than most films had been showing for the past 40 years. Henry Fonda plays the villain of the film, a role that at the time was hard to picture him in but the outcome is more than brilliant. It’s a sprawling western like so many other Leone films, but trades in the grimace of Clint Eastwood for the eerie harmonica playing of Charles Bronson.
Solaris (1972): A space film that rivals 2001: A Space Odyssey in its complex psychological look at mankind, Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi film is a masterpiece of cinema. We follow a psychologist as he is sent to a base on a planet in the far reaches of space and discovers many strange things there. Tarkovsky films are incredible for many reasons, and thankfully he is respected as the master that he is, but for someone unfamiliar with him Solaris is a great starting point.