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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    When it comes to the Academy Awards, the Oscar statuettes may be gold, but the only color people have been talking about for months is white.

    In January 2015, frustrated by a lack of representation of filmmakers and actors of color in the Academy Awards nominations, April Reign created the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. The managing editor at Broadway Black, Reign is no stranger to highlighting the achievements and challenges of black actors on Broadway, so focusing on Hollywood’s struggles with racial diversity wasn’t a huge leap.

    Little did she know that her hashtag campaign would take off the way it did: Nearly 14 months later, with the 88th Academy Awards set to air tonight, diversity in the top eight Oscar categories is still almost non-existent, and #OscarsSoWhite once again dominated conversations after the nominees were announced. Reign spoke with the Daily Dot about the Oscars, Hollywood’s diversity problem, and campaigning for change.

    “Unfortunately we have seen that the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag is still very relevant this year in 2016 and in fact, has experienced a resurgence,” Reign told the Daily Dot.

    Reign credits the Oscars’ diversity issues to a larger problem in Hollywood: opportunity. She says people of color aren’t given the same opportunities as white actors and filmmakers. Consider Idris Elba, who was favored this year for a Best Supporting Actor nod in Beasts of No Nation (2015) but ultimately not nominated. “When you don’t reflect the real world, too much talent gets trashed,” Elba said the week of the nominations, according to the Guardian. “Thrown on the scrapheap. Talent is everywhere; opportunity isn’t. And talent can’t reach opportunity.”

    “When we have studio heads who are all-white (and I believe all-male) who are greenlighting films and determining who should play particular parts, it’s imperative that they think on a broader perspective,” said Reign.

    According to Reign, movies like The Martian (2015), which stars Matt Damon in an Oscar-nominated performance, could’ve starred an actor of color like Don Cheadle or Javier Bardem in the lead role. “There’s nothing to say that a straight white man needs to be the astronaut going out into outer space.”

    John Boyega—who stars in Star Wars: The Force Awakens—proved that black actors not only can go to outer space in films, but they can lead in critically acclaimed box office successes, Reign explained. Thus far, the latest Star Wars sequel has grossed more than $2 billion worldwide.

    “Our stories are so much more than that. Our people are so much more than that.”

    Reign acknowledges the need for other types of diversity in the Oscar ranks too: LGBT characters need to tell their stories too. “It’s about all marginalized communities and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to audition for roles and to ensure that these roles are even being written,” Reign explained.

    Filmmaker of colors don’t have it any easier with their behind-the-scenes work as screenwriters, directors, and producers. “Everything starts from a page,” she said. “Directors have a certain vision, and it’s their vision that translates from the page to what we see on the screen,” she said. “If a director is a person from a marginalized community, he or she will speak from their experience in telling hopefully a full narrative from what the screenwriter was trying to portray.”

    She adds that diversity both onscreen and off- is crucial for giving filmgoers the opportunity “to be able to see ourselves up on the screen”—ideally in realistic and approachable roles that aren’t stereotypical archetypes or caricatures. Of the 20 black male performances nominated for Best Actor, 13 included arrest or incarceration and 15 involved violent behavior, according to the New York Times.

    For black women, the statistics are bleaker: Only 10 black actresses have been nominated with one win for Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball. All 10 characters lived in poverty, and 9 out of 10 were homeless or on the verge of homelessness.

    “Our stories are so much more than that,” Reign said. “Our people are so much more than that.”

    #OscarsSoWhite may have started with the fans and filmgoers, but it’s spurred larger conversations about diversity in Hollywood too. Many actors, filmmakers, and public figures have spoken out about the lack of diversity both at the Oscars and in Hollywood at large.

    Notably, Jada Pinkett-Smith encouraged people of color to skip the Oscars, as she expressed her frustrations with the lack of diversity recognition. Will Smith and Spike Lee are bowing out as well, and nominees Mark Ruffalo and Sylvester Stallone reportedly considered not going.

    Facing such intense backlash, the Academy Awards released a statement announcing changes for improving diversity by 2020. (In 2014, the Atlantic reported the Academy Awards were 94 percent white, 76 percent men and an average of 63 years old.)

    “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs at the time. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

    “The Academy can only nominate quality films that are made.”

    While Academy bylaws present a roadblock for Isaacs’s plan, “The fact that they are now looking within themselves and attempting to increase the diversity among its membership is big and isn’t something that happened ever to my knowledge,” said Reign.

    Should those changes pass, though, it’s still just a first step. “The onus is still on Hollywood and the studio executives,” Reign said, “because the Academy can only nominate quality films that are made.”

    As for the hashtag, “the fight continues,” Reign ensured. This weekend she and #OscarsSoWhite supporters will engage in counter-programming during the awards telecast. Instead of watching the Oscars, they are logging into Netflix, watching the coming-of-age story of three young black men in  The Wood (1999), and livetweeting the event.

    There’s a strong possibility of little diversity at the Oscars in 2017, but Reign says she won’t back down: “We keep fighting until the hashtag is completing irrelevant.”

    Illustration by Jason Reed

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    In a world of texts, tweets, posts, and pins, emojis—those little yellow dudes inside your phone—dramatize the emotion where words alone fail to communicate.  

    We use emojis to clarify a vague text message, lighten a serious conversation, or send your wife the midday “kissing heart.” But also being the (admittedly nerdy) composer that I am, I came to realize that I could put these same miniature companions to use in yet another culturally valuable way. Much like a novel or film, classical music utilizes many of the same storytelling devices: various narratives become subjects and counter-subjects, character arcs become thematic variations and developments, and structural points (like chapters or acts) become cadences and movements. So when I listen to music, what I am hearing and enjoying the most is very similar to what I also enjoy in movies like Pulp Fiction or Harry Potter (except Chamber of Secrets. Spiders. Ugh).

    That in mind, and an arsenal of cartoon expressions at hand, I could explain entire symphonies—mapping the emotion and tracking the narrative—without a single word. Perhaps these wee personalities could even make classical music—like your questionably sarcastic Facebook post—seem a little less serious and just a bit more friendly.

    So, I set out on my journey to emojify Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The challenge was more a reason to procrastinate than a serious analysis. But after 10 minutes of work, I decided that it was historically significant and socially responsible of me to continue to procrastinate for the greater good of all musicians and music lovers.

    Therefore, I give you… Josh Green’s Musical Emojing.

    How to follow: The emojis represent significant emotional shifts. This could be a single measure, a phrase, or an entire passage of music. Being that some of this is fairly subjective, I tried to pace the emojis vertically, as to provide a bit more clarity as to where the emotions fall within the musical form.

    1) Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons — Violin Concerto No. 4, “Winter”

    You can track the pacing of emotions and the back-and-forth dialogue (between orchestra and solo violin) unfolding:

    2) Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, I. Allegro Con Brio

    Dun-dun-dun Duuuun! With a lack of instrument emojis, I designated the “evergreen tree” as those funny little double-reed entrances (e.g. oboes and bassoons). For the classically trained, you can actually identify the sonata form with the emoji’s faces! 

    3) Antonín Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”, IV. Allegro Con Fuoco

    Dvorak’s most popular symphony (inspired by his trip to “The New World”… #murica). You can see how the composer has paced each theme and utilized each cultural reference (the march theme, Three Blind Mice, and “Goin’ Home”).  Not to forget the emotional journey Dvorak takes his listeners on as well.

    4) Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1, IV. Stürmisch bewegt

    Following up Dvorak, we have Gustav Mahler—perhaps the most wildly emotional of them all. See for yourself!

    5) Charles Ives: Symphony No. 2, V. Allegro Molto Vivace

    One of my favorites: Charles Ives! The American composer left an enormous legacy in experimenting with traditional songs and hymns. Ives liked to reconstruct recognizable tunes in very jarring or satirical ways that were either the focus of the work, or just a passing thought in a much larger piece. Symphony No. 2 is chock-full of allusions and quotations to the American songbook (“Columbia, Gem of the Ocean,” “Pigtown Fling,” “Camptown Races,” “Joy to The World,” etc.), but the real reason I love this work is for the ending:

    6) Igor Stravinsky: Rite of Spring - The Augurs of Spring

    How could I not emojify this one? The Rite of Spring is quite possibly the ultimate emoji.  The Stravinsky/Diaghilev 1913 ballet was interrupted by a rioting audience! Hence the tomatoes. (For historical accuracy: No tomatoes were actually thrown at the premiere, although I wonder if one would actually pack a tomato for the theater… “Honey, do you have the tickets? Did you pack the tomatoes?”)

    7) George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

    Most recently arranged for United Airlines by Hollywood orchestrator Conrad Pope, this one is a classic of the early 20th century. Fun fact: Gershwin himself performed the piano solo at the premiere of Rhapsody in Blue, and freely improvised throughout most of the work. It wasn’t until after the first performance in 1924 that Gershwin notated the part. Unfortunately, other than anecdotes surrounding the events, there are no recordings of this first performance, so we leave it up to our imagination as to what that first draft actually sounded like!

    8) Philip Glass: Satyagraha - Evening Song

    Philip Glass is most certainly a minimalist. You’re probably smirking at the repetitiveness and mountain of endless yellow faces—but take a closer look! The first four emojis are only four measures of music.  Now, track those four faces throughout the work and see how Glass slowly and subtly layers and manipulates the phrase. Minimal but incredibly moving!

    9) Meredith Monk: Woman at the Door

    Meredith Monk’s influence on contemporary classical music is immeasurable. If I were going to properly emojify Ms. Monk’s music, I would have to start several decades earlier. However, having attended this exact performance and been utterly floored by the simplicity and poeticism of the work, I felt compelled to include it in this list. Here’s a smidge of background: Much of Ms. Monk’s vocal music, while very contemporary, harkens back to a much more primitive time. Her music blends abnormal vocal techniques in a way that should sound ludicrous, but rather, feel very natural and visceral. In Woman at the Door, the “lyrics” are essentially unimportant. The voice, in this instance, is a very nimble and resonant instrument, making the very end, all the more powerful.

    10) Karlheinz Stockhausen: Helicopter Quartet

    As much fun as this was, these little personalities only scratched the surface of each work. But what I hope Josh Green’s Musical Emojing did do, is clarify that what classical music is trying to say, doesn’t always have to seem so darn “classical.”

    My only regret is not being able to utilize the poop emoji in a meaningful way.  If anyone has recommendations on a famous classical work that purposefully sounds like crap— then throw it at me!

    Josh Green is a composer and music supervisor. He was recently awarded the 2016 Herb Alpert Jazz Composer Award. | Illustration via Bruno Moraes

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    On the verge of the delegate-rich Super Tuesday, the Democratic challengers are jostling for any kind of an edge. And while Hillary Clinton is sitting pretty having just won South Carolina in a landslide, Bernie Sanders can at least match resources when it comes to musician support.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the far-left candidate Sanders enjoys a menacing mixtape of support from trending indie musicians. For her part, Clinton can lean on a monolithic battering ram of legends and headliners. 

    While scattered strummers—Ted Nugent, Loretta Lynn—are stumping for the GOP, the Democrats in 2016 are retaining a super-majority of rock stars. The question, then, becomes which presidential short-lister can point to a better Spotify playlist composed of supporters? We'll leave the subjective analytics to your earbuds. 

    (Note: In instances where members of bands have publicly endorsed candidates—Foo Fighters and Slipknot, for instance—we're counting their corresponding act unless other members of the band have offered dissenting public opinions.)

    Hillary: On the Hill, Vol. 1

    Feel the Bern: The Prequel

    Sources: the Guardian, the Hill,, Wikipedia listings.

    Photos via Sascha Kohlmann/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | U.S. Embassy Montevideo (PD) | Phil Roeder/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

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    Chris Rock took #OscarsSoWhite head-on in his Oscars monologue, devoting almost all of his time onstage to addressing the controversy.

    The 2016 nominations sparked outrage after white actors accounted for all of the possible acting nominations for the second year in a row. And while some people called for Rock to boycott the Oscars, he decided to keep hosting.

    “I thought about quitting,” Rock said. “I thought about it really hard. They’re gonna have the Oscars anyway,” Rock said. “And the last thing I need is to lost another job to Kevin Hart.”

    Rock came onstage after a montage of the year’s best and biggest films, and he wasted no time ripping apart the Oscars, the whiteness of the nominees, and the racism that’s still apparent in Hollywood, while much of the audience squirmed or laughed uncomfortably.

    And while the outrage led to some possible changes within the Academy, Rock pointed out that this is nowhere near the first time all of the nominated actors have been white.

    “Black people didn’t protest, because we had real things to protest at the time,” Rock said. “We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. When you’re hanging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary short.” He even took a swing at police brutality before turning to the underlying question at hand.

    "Is Hollywood racist?” he continued. “You're damn right Hollywood's racist … Hollywood is sorority racist. ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ But things are changing. We got a black Rocky this year!”

    Rock then directed his criticism toward the systematic racism that’s woven throughout Hollywood.

    People online largely loved Rock’s monologue, but some criticized it for not including other minorities.

    Photo via Disney | ABC Television Group/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

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    Leonardo DiCaprio has received six Oscar nominations (five of them in an acting category) over the years, but his losing streak—and its corresponding meme—came to an end tonight.

    He won an Academy Award for his portrayal of fur trapper Hugh Glass in The Revenant, which was based on true events. Once his name was announced, the audience at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood gave him a standing ovation.

    The Revenant was a product of the tireless efforts of an unbelievable cast and crew I got to work alongside,” DiCaprio said in his acceptance speech.

    But his speech also got political as he addressed global warming and the trouble the crew had in finding part of the world that had snow for them to film in.

    “Climate change is real; it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of under-privileged people who will be most affected by this, for our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics and greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let’s not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

    Throughout the press tour for The Revenant, DiCaprio and director Alejandro González Iñárritu often spoke of their pride for the film despite miserable conditions and how difficult it was to make.

    “I feel blessed to be able to do movies like this,” DiCaprio said on the red carpet. “I've worked for almost 25 years in this industry, and here I am representing a movie that I feel so particularly proud of."

    Some members of the Academy saw the constant mention of those difficulties as a turnoff, seeing it as a transparent attempt to win an Oscar.

    DiCaprio received his first nomination for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993, and as he racked up nods for his work in The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and The Wolf of Wall Street, his quest to finally win that elusive Oscar became the stuff of legend—and an entertaining meme. In 2013, fans made DiCaprio his own Oscar after not winning.

    His quest for an Oscar even became a playable game.

    DiCaprio won nearly every award during this year’s awards season and was at the top of many sites’ predictions lists, so it looked as if his Oscar was inevitable. But before that happened, we had to rib him a little, one last time.

    But now that he’s won? The collective Internet can’t handle it, whether it’s because this day finally came or we don’t have to see him try even harder to win.

    The meme is dead. Long live the meme.

    Congrats, Leo!

    Screengrab via 20th Century Fox/YouTube

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    Chris Rock’s scathing Oscars monologue was only the beginning.

    Prior to the Oscars, many figured that Rock would acknowledge #OscarsSoWhite, the hashtag and movement that resurfaced after the Academy failed to nominate any people of color in the acting categories (as well as many categories behind the scenes) for the second year in a row. But he went much deeper.

    Diversity and race not only dominated much of Rock’s material throughout the show, they even got some play before the ceremony as Total Beauty’s Twitter feed tweeted a photo of Whoopi Goldberg and identified her as Oprah. (The site has since apologized.)

    Outside of Hollywood, artists, activists, and filmmakers such as Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler, Hannibal Buress, and Ledisi gathered in Flint, Michigan to put on a free benefit concert, #JusticeForFlint, and raised more than $122,000 for the residents affected by the Flint water crisis.

    April Reign, who started #OscarsSoWhite last year, organized a viewing of The Wood for those who wished to boycott the Oscars ceremony.

    With the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag being used for the boycott as much as the ceremony itself, race was fresh on everyone’s minds. And Rock made it a key part of his material as many of the award recipients showcased the lack of diversity; 31 men and 12 women won Oscars and the majority of those winners were white. Even as people of color failed to get the spotlight on stage, diversity and #OscarsSoWhite were front and center.

    1) Chris Rock’s monologue

    Nothing was off the table. Rock launched right into addressing the Oscars’ racial issues in his monologue by commenting on the film montage that played right before him.

    From there, he addressed the history of black activism and Oscar diversity, mocked Jada Pinkett Smith’s decision to boycott the Oscars after her husband didn’t get a nomination, defined Hollywood’s racism, and called for studios to give black actors the opportunity to play significant roles.

    It made people laugh, for sure, but it also appeared to make even more people in the audience visibly uncomfortable.

    2) The Academy’s deleted scenes

    Where’s the diversity? It ended up on the cutting room floor, at least according to this prerecorded parody showing Rock, Goldberg, Leslie Jones, and Tracy Morgan with roles in some of the night’s nominated films.

    Why those scenes were cut we’ll never know.

    3) Introducing Stacey Dash as the ‘Director of our Minority Outreach Program’

    Rock explained how the Academy would address the issue of diversity and then brought out Dash, who has a complicated history with race, onto the stage. Her explanation was a head-scratcher to many.

    Right after that, he finished off with “but enough about black people, let’s bring out Sarah Silverman.” Soon after, he would lead off after a commercial break with “and we’re black.”

    4) Rock throws in his towel for Michael B. Jordan

    He’s just as mad about the Creed actor’s snub as the rest of us.

    5) Black History Month Minute

    In another pre-recorded sketch, the Academy did a segment on Black History Month—but who it’s discussing may surprise you.

    6) Rock went back to Compton

    Reprising a man-on-the-street sketch he did in 2005, Rock returned to Compton to talk to regular people about the lack of diversity and #OscarsSoWhite.

    But one person’s would-be acceptance speech encompasses part of the hold-up on making Hollywood diverse: “I would complain, but it was me so maybe I’ll complain next year.”

    7) The Academy addresses diversity

    The Academy has already proposed sweeping changes for how the Academy operates, and president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took her time onstage to discuss it once again.

    “While change is often difficult, it is necessary,” she said.

    8) The show ended with a shoutout to Black Lives Matter and ‘Fight the Power’

    Spotlight took home Best Picture to close out the awards ceremony, but Rock used his platform one last time to acknowledge the diversity issues as he invited everyone to the BET Awards and name-checked Black Lives Matter.

    And as the credits rolled, the show played “Fight the Power,” a powerful statement on a night full of them.

    Photo via Disney | ABC Television Group/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

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    Donald Trump's dominance of the Republican presidential primary, with wins in three out of the four state contests, has sent a shockwave through the party establishment and sparked furious efforts to defeat him. But on Sunday night, a late-night comedian, not a sophisticated political operation, unveiled the most aggressive, comprehensive effort so far to puncture The Donald's image.

    In a sweeping 22-minute segment on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver methodically and brutally dismantled each of Trump's selling points, from his toughness to his business acumen and from his policy knowledge to his lack of campaign contributions.

    "For a tough guy," Oliver said in one of many remarks aimed squarely at Trump's ego, "he has incredibly thin skin."

    At another point, he charged, "You are either a racist or you are pretending to be."

    The Republican National Committee may never love the liberal, conservative-bashing Oliver as much as they love him right now.

    Screengrab via Last Week Tonight/HBO

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    Jimmy Kimmel is a huge comic-book fan, so he was thrilled to land a part in Batman v Superman. Unfortunately, as his Oscars-night guest Ben Affleck revealed on Sunday night, the editors had to make some tough choices in post-production, and Kimmel's scene didn't make the cut.

    "We can't have him be that good and only be in this little part of the movie," Affleck said, "so what they went and ahead and did is just took that right out."

    The scene looks remarkably like a key one in the movie—until Kimmel shows up. Then, well, everything changes. Watch until the end for a very unexpected cameo.

    "More people will see this than that stupid movie," Kimmel grumbled to Affleck before playing the clip.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

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    We here at the Daily Dot are big fans of streaming TV and movies, but we also know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the massive lists of Netflix’s comings and goings each month. Here’s our curated take of what’s new on Netflix this month.


    Pick of the Month: Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 2 (March 18)

    Marvel and Netflix kicked off their ongoing partnership with a bang last spring, finally giving the devil his due in the form of a Daredevil TV series that was as smart, dark, and brutal as the character deserved. Thanks to the brooding performance of lead Charlie Cox and the behind-the-scenes talents of tag-team showrunners Drew Goddard and Steven S. DeKnight, all those bad memories of Ben Affleck in red leather were forgotten. We also got a truly terrifying Kingpin courtesy of Vincent D’Onofrio and an overall worthy launch of Marvel and Netflix’s roadmap toward the eventual Defenders miniseries.

    For season 2, there’s even more to be excited about, because the Punisher is coming to Hell’s Kitchen. The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal joins Daredevil as a ruthless vigilante who’s willing to take his war on crime a lot further than old hornhead, and who serves as a reminder of just how far down the abyss Matt Murdock might fall if he’s not careful. As if the Punisher didn’t complicate things enough, Matt will also have to deal with his old flame Elektra (Élodie Yung) reentering his life. Fans of the comics know that she brings more baggage with her than your average ex… and the bags are all filled with knives.

    2) Adult Beginners (March 1)

    The League’s Nick Kroll stars as a former hotshot Manhattan entrepreneur whose company takes a nosedive on the eve on its launch. His life in disarray, Jake (Kroll) is forced to move in with his pregnant sister (Rose Byrne) and brother-in-law (Bobby Cannavale)… and to get a taste of real responsibility as nanny to his 3-year-old nephew. Reviews were mixed, but I’m a fan of Kroll so I’ll give it a look-see regardless. Wait, or was it Krull I liked?

    3) Before We Go (March 1)

    Captain America himself took a break from bouncing his adamantium shield off the face of bad guys long enough to helm this romantic drama. Cap actor Chris Evans made his feature directorial debut on Before We Go, in which he also co-stars as a man who gets swept up into a long overnight adventure with a beautiful stranger (Alice Eve) after she misses her train at Grand Central Station. Brooke desperately needs to get home to Boston by morning, so she and Nick (Evans) embark on a series of romantic mishaps trying to figure out how to get her where she needs to go.

    4) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (March 1)

    After the controversial Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious franchise director Justin Lin is taking the helm for the next sequel, Star Trek Beyond. Meanwhile, Trek is due to return to the small screen next year with a new series headed for CBS’s exclusive streaming service and with Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) serving as showrunner. Thankfully, whatever happens with the future of where no man has gone before, we’ll always have Trek’s finest hour to return to, and you can enjoy it again on Netflix this March. Clear a couple of hours to rewatch Wrath of Khan for the umpteenth time, or check out the epic battle between the crew of the Enterprise and genetically engineered madman Khan for the first time if you’ve never seen it. But remember a blanket; it is very cold in space.

    5) House of Cards: Season 4 (March 4)

    Netflix’s flagship political drama returns with the duplicitous Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) still ensconced in the White House and enjoying the fruits of many decades’ worth of scheming, deceit, and betrayal. Unfortunately, he may have to enjoy that power without the one person who has been his partner in crime from the start. Last season’s shocker of an ending saw First Lady Claire (Robin Wright) finally fed up with Frank’s disrespect, declaring she was leaving him—leaving Frank, for once, unsure what to do. Safe to say the fourth season will focus heavily on the crumbling of Frank and Claire’s relationship, as well as the fact that Frank is in the midst of an election year. But honestly, what could the House of Cards writers possibly come up with that will be more outlandish than this real-world election cycle?

    6) Louie: Season 5 (March 4)

    It’s hard to believe that Louis C.K.’s brilliant semi-autobiographical TV series is already five seasons deep, but that just serves as the perfect excuse for a binge watch. The fifth season is a bit shorter than previous outings, clocking in at eight episodes of the usual vignettes focusing on a fictionalized Louie’s career, family drama, dating disasters, and general existential neuroses. The guest list for the season is as impressive as always, featuring appearances by Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Michael Cera, Jimmy Fallon, and Charles Grodin, as well as comedians Steven Wright, Todd Barry, Jim Norton, and Nick DiPaolo.

    7) Cuckoo: Seasons 1-2 (March 7)

    In this 2012 British sitcom, young Rachel (Tamla Kari) returns home to Staffordshire after a year abroad, stunning her parents when she introduces American Dale (SNL’s Andy Samberg), a free-spirited American friend… who also happens to be Rachel’s new husband. Surprise! Samberg’s schedule didn’t permit him to return to the U.K. for season 2, so he was replaced with a new character, played by Twilight’s Taylor Lautner. Andy Samberg, Taylor Lautner—yeah, that’s pretty much a one-for-one switch, right? Fun fact: NBC ordered a pilot based on Cuckoo this past March, with Michael Chiklis and Cheryl Hines playing the put-upon parents.

    8) Hateship Loveship (March 9)

    It’s been fascinating to watch Kristen Wiig’s career arc post-Bridesmaids. She’s about to star in the Ghostbusters reboot, which could be a huge blockbuster or a massive flop. But in the meantime, rather than just cranking out easy studio comedies, she’s continued to work on interesting little smaller flicks such as Welcome to Me, The Skeleton Twins, and Girl Most Likely. Add to that roster Hateship Loveship, based on a 2001 short story by Alice Munro. Wiig plays a nanny to a teenage girl and her elderly grandfather. Teen Sabitha decides it would be funny if she tricked the nanny into thinking her recovering addict father (Guy Pearce) is interested in her, kicking off an elaborate ongoing ruse that soon turns into something more.

    9) Flaked: Season 1 (March 11)

    Arrested Development alums Will Arnett and Mitch Hurwitz reunite on Netflix for this new comedy series in which Arnett plays“a self-help guru named Chip who’s struggling to stay a step ahead of his own lies.” You had me at “Will Arnett as a self-help guru,” but the role looks to be considerably more earnest than AD’s GOB. Ruth Kearney stars opposite Arnett as a waitress and love interest named London. I’ll watch the hell out of anything with Mitch Hurwitz’s name on it, and the trailer below looks pretty great. The first season will run for eight episodes, making it a perfect bite-size palate cleanser between House of Cards and Daredevil.

    10) Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (March 18)

    It’s been nearly 30 years since we last got a Pee-wee movie (1988’s Big Top Pee-wee, for the record), but that long drought is about to be over. Star Paul Reubens and producer Judd Apatow teamed up for this month’s big Pee-wee return outing, in which the goofy manchild takes a trip that becomes an “epic story of friendship and destiny.” Director John Lee (Broad City) helms a script co-written by Reubens and Paul Rust (who also stars in and co-created Netflix’s recent rom-com series Love with Apatow and Lesley Arfin). The cast also includes True Blood’s Tara Buck and Joe Manganiello, with Manganiello playing Pee-wee’s best friend. Let’s just hope he doesn’t say the secret word.


    1) Better Call Saul: Season 1 (Feb. 1)

    Netflix is starting things off strong this month, finally letting the cord cutters of the world check out one of the most buzzed-about shows of 2015. Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk returns as shady lawyer Saul Goodman in this prequel to Vince Gilligan’s brilliant AMC drama, but at this point in his life, he was still going by his birth name of Jimmy McGill, and he hadn’t yet found his niche as the go-to legal counsel for drug dealers, murderers, and other disreputable sorts. Better Call Saul introduces us to a Jimmy who can barely pay his rent, six years before a certain Walter White entered his life and set him on a path of destruction. Just as exciting as more Saul, we also get more of Jonathan Banks at his grumpy best as Mike Ehrmantraut, future bad-guy fixer but currently working as a parking lot attendant. How the hell did these guys get from point A to point B, where we met them? Let’s find out.

    2) Sin City (Feb. 1)

    Say what you will about Frank Miller’s harder-than-hard-boiled writing style, there’s no question that this adaptation of his acclaimed crime comics is visually stunning, contrasting stark black and white with splashes of strategic color. Miller co-directed with Robert Rodriguez, loosely adapting several of Miller’s neo-noir Sin City graphic novels to spin tales of cruelty, double-crosses, and the worst of human nature run rampant across an urban hellscape called Basin City. It doesn’t hurt that the cast includes Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Alexis Bledel, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rosario Dawson, Carla Gugino, Rutger Hauer, Jaime King, Michael Madsen, and Nick Stahl.

    3) Stardust (Feb. 1)

    This adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 1999 novel is criminally underrated, but the best compliment I can give to it is this: It’d make a really great double-feature with The Princess Bride. Sure, it’s not as good as that legendary classic, but it’s got laughs, romance, high adventure, evil witches, and sky pirates. What’s not to like? Eventual Daredevil Charlie Cox stars as Tristan Thorn, a simple lad who sets off to fetch a fallen star for the object of his affections, only to discover that the fallen star is a lot more feisty than he expected—and also looks like Claire Danes.

    4) I Love You, Phillip Morris (Feb. 1)

    Speaking of unlikely romances, this 2009 black comedy stars Jim Carrey as real-life con artist Steven Jay Russell, who gets thrown in the clink and promptly falls head-over-heels for fellow inmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). Unfortunately, their nascent romance hits a speedbump when Morris is released from prison—so Russell decides to escape so they can be together again. Four times. Honestly, at that point just credit the guy for determination and put them in a halfway house together. Can’t the penal system make allowances for twue wuv?

    5) Love (Feb. 4)

    If you’re looking for something a bit more… nontraditional… in your love stories, Love might be your cup of tea. So long as you’re not enjoying that tea with, like, your parents or pastor in the room. Irreversible director Gaspar Noe helms this story of a couple in Paris who complicate their relationship by inviting another woman into their bed. Love got a lot of attention for its hardcore 3D sex scenes, but I don’t think Netflix has mastered 3D streaming yet. Still, feel free to watch the flick with 3D glasses on if that does it for you.

    6) Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado (Feb. 5)

    Comedian Hannibal Buress landed in the news in a big way last year, thanks to the increased media spotlight on the rape accusations against Bill Cosby… something Buress had very publically called out onstage in 2014. Thankfully Buress is really damn funny and insightful even without that historical footnote, but he does address it in this upcoming comedy special hitting Netflix in February, along with sillier things such as “zipper etiquette.”

    7) Mad Men: Season 7, Part 2 (Feb. 5)

    As a devout cord cutter, I’ve long since gotten used to being behind the curve on water-cooler television. Thankfully I’ll finally be able to binge all the way through Matthew Weiner’s brilliant Mad Men when the final episodes hit Netflix Instant in February. It’s always tricky to wrap up a show that’s become a legitimate pop-culture phenomenon, but by most accounts Weiner and company did a solid job giving closure to Dick Whitman/Don Draper and company, while simultaneously tying the show into one of the most famous ad campaigns of all time.

    8) Dope (Feb. 10)

    The 2015 coming-of-age drama Dope tells the story of Malcolm, a geeky young kid growing up in a bad neighborhood in Inglewood, California. He spends his days obsessing over ’90s hip-hop and dreaming of escaping his surroundings by landing admission to Harvard. An invitation to an underground party soon sends him and his friends on an adventure that will help him discover who he is… assuming he makes it out intact. Dope was executive produced by Pharrell Williams and Sean Combs, and it’s currently rocking an 88 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The soundtrack is also, dare I say it, dope.

    9) The Face of Love (Feb. 13)

    Annette Bening stars as Nikki, a woman still grieving over the loss of her husband, after his accidental drowning. Then she meets Tom (Ed Harris), a guy who looks uncannily like the aforementioned dead husband. Needless to say, that’s a helluva basis for a relationship, but the two soon become lovers nonetheless, which understandably freaks the hell out of her neighbor (Robin Williams), who is irked at her dating a dude who’s wearing her dead husband’s face (and not just because he himself also had romantic designs on her). Man, modern romance is complicated.

    10) The Returned: Season 2 (Feb. 17)

    Not to be confused with the short-lived American remake that aired on A&E, this is the French original, which follows the events in a small French town after dead people begin returning. But not in a “hungry undead” kind of way. They’re just back, with no idea how or why they’ve been brought back. The show explores both that mystery and the trials of the returned and their families as everyone tries to adjust to the “be careful what you wish for” scenario.

    11) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (Feb. 26)

    Another entry from the “Netflix Did What Now?” school of unlikely sequels and resurrections, Sword of Destiny follows up on Ang Lee’s acclaimed 2000 flick Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This time around Chinese martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping is in the director’s chair, with Michelle Yeoh returning from the original film and joined by Donnie Yen in a tale that finds a group of warriors fighting to protect a legendary sword known as “the Green Destiny.”

    12) Fuller House: Season 1 (Feb. 26)

    The other big Netflix original this month is just as unlikely a project as the Crouching Tiger sequel. Two decades after the sitcom wrapped up its run on ABC, Full House is returning on Netflix as Fuller House. Nearly all of the original cast will be back for further stories of the Tanner family. Just don’t expect to find any Olsens hanging around the joint, unless maybe Superman’s pal swings by for a visit.

    13) Finding Vivian Maier (Feb. 27)

    If you were frequenting the Internet in 2009, you’ve probably seen the work of Vivian Maier, even if you didn’t realize it. That’s when a Flickr gallery of her work introduced the world to the story of a Chicago nanny who was, unbeknownst to most of the world, also an extremely talented and prolific street photographer, taking more than 150,000 photographs over the course of her life. This 2013 documentary chronicles how collectors discovered her work and set about to learn the story of the woman behind the pictures.

    January 2016

    1) Constantine (Jan. 1)

    Vertigo Comics’ hit supernatural comic series Hellblazer became a surprisingly good but unsurprisingly short-lived NBC TV series this past year, but chain-smoking occultist John Constantine made the leap to the big screen a decade ago—even though he lost his accent along the way. Keanu Reeves stars in this 2005 outing directed by Francis Lawrence (the Hunger Games franchise), which sees Constantine caught between the machinations of heaven and hell, with his own soul on the line. The show was certainly a better adaptation of the comic than this film, but the movie has its charms, including Tilda Swinton as an androgynous angel Gabriel and Peter Stormare as a particularly slimy incarnation of Lucifer. It’s not enough to forgive an Americanized Constantine, but hey, Keanu did what he could with it.

    2) How to Change the World(Jan. 1)

    Director Jerry Rothwell (Deep Water) helmed this documentary look at the origins of the environmental activist organization Greenpeace. It all started in 1971 with a single fishing boat and a group of true believers determined to stop Richard Nixon’s atomic testing in Amchitka, Alaska. The film focuses particularly on Robert Hunter, whose long career includes stints in journalism and politics as well as eco-activism, and how he co-founded the often-controversial Greenpeace along with several others. How to Change the World won both the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing and the Candescent Award after its premiere at Sundance 2015. It’s currently rated 95 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

    3) Intolerable Cruelty (Jan. 1)

    Netflix is adding two Coen Brothers flicks this month, and while neither is anywhere near the best of the brothers’ works, they’ve still got their moments. In Intolerable Cruelty, George Clooney stars as hotshot divorce attorney Miles Massey, a guy so good at his job that they named an ironclad pre-nup after him. He winds up on the bad side of the beautiful Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones) after helping her philandering husband kick her to the curb and leave her nothing. She soon begins to hatch a long con to win Miles’ affections, the better to eventually nab his fortune. This is a Coen Brothers movie, however, so of course things soon get very complicated and very silly. Even though Intolerable Cruelty isn’t considered in the Coens’ top tier, it’s still rated a respectable 75 percent Fresh on RT.

    4) Meet the Parents(Jan. 1)

    In Meet the Parents (and its inferior sequel, Meet the Fockers) Robert De Niro leverages his tough-guy image to play the intimidating father-in-law every guy dreads of meeting. The man in his crosshairs (and outside his circle of trust) is Greg Focker (Ben Stiller), a well-meaning male nurse who tries and fails at every opportunity to impress De Niro’s Jack Byrnes, a gruff former CIA man who’s convinced Greg isn’t good enough for his daughter (Teri Polo). Greg tries everything he can to prove that he’s worthy and win the affections of his fiancée’s family, but whether it’s clumsily toppling a funeral urn or accidentally burning down a gazebo, the poor Focker just can’t catch a break. Meet the Parents is 84 perfecnt Fresh on RT, proving that they should have stopped while they were ahead. Meet the Fockers—which is also arriving on Netflix Instant and which introduced Greg’s parents in the form of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand—rates only a 38 percent. (The less said about 2010’s Little Fockers, the better.)

    5) Stephen Fry Live: More Fool Me (Jan. 1)

    Brilliant British comedian, author, and actor Stephen Fry (Blackadder, A Bit of Fry & Laurie) recorded this stage performance as part of a 2014 book tour to promote the third volume of his autobiography, titled—you guessed it—More Fool Me. Both the book and this one-man show focus on Fry’s recollections of the tail end of the ’80s and early ’90s, when his career was already well established and the darker side of fame began to intrude, with glamorous parties and celebrity friends sending Fry down the path to excess and addiction. Thankfully, Fry made it out intact, so now he can look back on it all through the lens of his own cutting wit and a few decades’ hindsight, mixing readings from his diaries from that period with his latter-day insights.

    5) We Need to Talk About Kevin(Jan. 1)

    I always like to think this is a Home Alone sequel focused on a deeply troubled adult Kevin McCallister, but Macaulay Culkin already kind of made that. But no, it’s actually an acclaimed psychological thriller based on the 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver. Tilda Swinton stars as Eva Khatchadourian, a parent living out a nightmare after her troubled son committed a school massacre. The story unfolds as she remembers her son Kevin’s earlier life, and the various warning signs that the boy was not well. John C. Reilly stars as her husband, Frank, who repeatedly dismisses and downplays her concerns about Kevin (Ezra Miller). The film received critical praise, especially for Swinton’s performance, including from the late Roger Ebert, who gave it four stars and called it “a masterful film.”

    6) Training Day (Jan. 4)

    Denzel Washington brilliantly played against type in this 2001 crime thriller from director Antoine Fuqua, and his performance earned him an Academy Award for his role as dirty cop Alonzo Harris. Ethan Hawke was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor for his role as Jake Hoyt, a rookie LAPD narcotics officer spending the day training under the legendary and decorated Detective Harris. Hoyt is shaken as he learns how morally gray Harris’ world is, and how many compromises he’s made to navigate the dangerous world that is his day-to-day. Soon, however, the depths of Harris’ corruption become clear, and Harris begins to suspect Hoyt might be a liability he can’t abide.

    7) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 10 (Jan. 5)

    It’s hard to believe the crew from Paddy’s Pub have been sharing amoral adventures together for a solid decade at this point, but there you have it. Mac, Dee, Dennis, Charlie, and Frank’s 10th year finds them group dating, appearing on a gameshow, attempting to clear Mac’s dad of murder charges, and trying to beat Wade Boggs’ record for the most beers consumed on a cross-country flight. The 11th season of Sunny is scheduled to premiere Jan. 6 on FXX.

    8) New Girl: Season 4 (Jan. 5)

    On the slightly more twee/less deplorable end of sitcom, we have the Zooey Deschanel Fox sitcom New Girl, which drops its fourth season onto Netflix Instant this month. This outing sees Jess pining for a charming British teacher, Schmidt pursuing a councilwoman, and Cece still struggling with her maddening feelings for Schmidt. You even get to learn Jess’ middle name, which is apparently a whole big deal. The fifth season of New Girl premieres on Fox the same day this season hits Netflix, so you can catch up quickly with some judicious binge-watching and DVRing. (Fun fact: New Girl was developed under the working title of Chicks & Dicks, which they totally should have stuck with.)

    9) The Ladykillers (Jan. 12)

    The second of the lesser Coen Bros. flicks to hit Netflix Instant this month, The Ladykillers is actually a remake of a 1955 British film starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. Ladykillers was the Coens’ immediate follow-up to their previous flick on this list, Intolerable Cruelty, and features Tom Hanks doing his best Col. Sanders impression as Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, an alleged linguist who’s actually a would-be criminal mastermind. He and his gang—including Marlon Wayans and J.K. Simmons—pose as a band of musicians and rent out the root cellar of an elderly widow for their “rehearsals,” as cover for their scheme to tunnel into the underground vault of a nearby riverboat casino.

    10) Parks & Recreation: Season 7 (Jan. 13)

    NBC’s hit sitcom starring Amy Poehler wrapped up its run with its seventh season last February, so as of Jan. 13, you’ll be able to binge your way through the entire series. The final year of the Emmy-winning show unfolds in 2017, with Leslie Knope (Poehler) working as Midwest Regional Parks Director and Ron Swanson having left the Parks department to start a construction company. As the season progresses, Leslie and Ron butt heads over her efforts to found a national park in Pawnee, and the emotional series finale flashes forward even further to show what happens to all the characters we came to know and love.

    11) Degrassi: Next Class - Season 1 (Jan. 15)

    The Canadian teen drama Degrassi has been unfolding in one form or another for over 35 years, beginning as a series of afterschool specials on CBC Television and spawning multiple spin-off shows over the years, including this latest installment. Degrassi: Next Class will feature ties to the previous incarnations but is aimed at being a standalone “soft reboot” of the show, which is easy to do when you’re telling stories about a high school, which has new crops of kids arriving every year. As with earlier versions of Degrassi, Next Class will tell stories that address issues and problems faced by modern teens, from cyberbullying to sexuality to drug use. All 10 episodes of Next Class’ first season will be available for streaming on Jan. 15.

    12) The Overnight (Jan. 15)

    Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are new arrivals to Los Angeles, trying to find their place in a new city and new home. During a family outing to the park with their son, they meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godreche), a free-spirited hipster couple who invite everyone back to their house for a playdate with their own kid. As the grown-ups bond and the kids eventually go to sleep, it becomes clear that Kurt and Charlotte may have an entirely different kind of playdate in mind. The Overnight is certified 81 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising the talents of both the cast and of writer/director Patrick Brice.

    13) Chelsea Does (Jan. 23)

    Former E! host Chelsea Handler stars in this new four-part docu-series that will explore a different subject that Handler is interested in each episode: drugs, racism, marriage, and Silicon Valley. Each installment with Handler discussing the topic with a psychologist, then delving into the subject in a broader way. It’s definitely a departure from Handler’s typical image and material, so it’ll be interesting to see her showing viewers, in her own words, her “serious side.” It’s also not the last we’ll be seeing of Handler on Netflix: She has a talk show debuting on the streaming network later in 2016.

    December 2015

    Pick of the Month: A Very Murray Christmas (Dec. 4)

    One of the best parts of the holidays for cinephiles is revisiting the movies and shows that have become traditional viewing over the years, whether they’re officially “holiday movies” or not. I’ve got a friend who watches Blade Runner every Christmas Eve. For me, Edward Scissorhands has always felt very Christmas-y. Well, this year Netflix is looking to add another tradition to your queue, and it may just be the best present ever: It’s A Very Murray Christmas.

    The Murray in question is, of course, the only Murray that matters. Bill Murray headlines this musical/comedy special directed by Sofia Coppola and also featuring George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Chris Rock, Michael Cera, Maya Rudolph, and Miley Cyrus, to name but a few. The storyline focuses on Bill Murray making a TV show and worrying that no one will make it to the taping after a massive snowstorm buries New York. But honestly, does the storyline even matter? It’s Bill Murray, singing and generally being Bill Murray, which is awesome. I think I’ll save this one for Christmas Eve and double-feature it with Scrooged.

    Best of the rest:

    1) Broadchurch: Season 2 (Dec. 1)

    If you’re one of the folks who’ve encountered David Tennant for the first time as the sadistic Kilgrave in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, we highly recommend checking out his time as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who. But watching him as a benevolent god might be a bit too jarring fresh off the trauma of Jessica Jones. So allow us to point to the excellent British crime drama Broadchurch as a palate cleanser that puts Tennant on the side of the angels. (Not the Weeping Angels.)

    Not to be confused with the American remake Gracepoint—which also starred Tennant—Broadchurch casts the Scottish actor as Alec Hardy, one of two detectives charged with investigating the murder of a young boy in a small British town. The show was created by Chris Chibnall, who previously worked on both Doctor Who and its Torchwood spinoff, as well as Law & Order: UK and Starz’s one-season King Arthur series Camelot. A third season of Broadchurch is scheduled to shoot next summer, but in the meantime the two eight-episode seasons will make for perfect holiday binge watching.

    2) The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (Dec. 1)

    With Vin Diesel having recently announced that he’s working on both a fourth Riddick film and a spinoff TV series set in the Riddick universe, now’s as good a time as any to revisit the hit-or-miss mythology Diesel and writer/director David Twohy have been spinning for 15 years now. That includes the solid 2000 cult classic Pitch Black; its two lesser sequels, 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick and 2013’s Riddick; the excellent Riddick video games, Escape From Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena; and this 2004 direct-to-DVD animated flick that bridges the first two movies.

    Dark Fury picks up after Riddick, Jack, and the Imam escape the deadly world featured in Pitch Black, only to be picked up by a ship full of mercenaries. Unfortunately for Riddick, the ship’s captain has an odd hobby of literally collecting criminals, capturing them in suspended animation and using them as living artwork. Needless to say, Riddick isn’t amenable to this arrangement, which means motherfuckers gonna die. Dark Fury was directed by Korean-American animator Peter Chung, best known for creating MTV’s Æon Flux.

    3) Darkman (Dec. 1)

    Long before he bedeviled Batman as R’as Al Ghul, Liam Neeson played Dr. Peyton Westlake, a brilliant scientist on the cusp of perfecting a revolutionary type of synthetic skin to help burn victims. Unfortunately, after his lawyer girlfriend acquires documents that could incriminate a local crime boss, Peyton gets caught in the middle and blown the fuck up. He survives, just barely: He’s horribly disfigured, incapable of feeling pain, and now flirting with insanity. Fortunately, that’s a useful combination of qualities when you’re about to seek vengeance on a crime syndicate, especially if you’ve also got a synthetic skin formula that lets you disguise yourself. Let the games begin!

    A twisted chimera combining director Sam Raimi’s love of pulp heroes like the Shadow and classic screen monsters such as the Phantom of the Opera, Darkman didn’t reach blockbuster levels like Tim Burton’s Batman the year before, but it did become a cult classic that still gets watched and referenced some 25 years later. It also spawned a couple of direct-to-video sequels, several actual comic-book series, and a failed 1992 TV pilot, which you can watch on YouTube.

    4) Stir of Echoes(Dec. 1)

    We’re now one major holiday beyond peak horror season, but you can only take so much holiday cheer before you need a break. Even if there’s tinsel and colored lights everywhere, that chill in the air will still make for ideal viewing of this underrated ghost story starring Kevin Bacon, directed by David Koepp (War of the Worlds), and based on a novel by the (I am) legendary Richard Matheson.

    Bacon plays Tom Witzky, a telephone line repairman living with a pregnant wife and young son in blue-collar Chicago. While he and his friends are having a shindig, Tom makes the mistake of letting his wife’s sister hypnotize him. Unfortunately, the seemingly innocent party trick opens Tom up to something profound: He begins having violent visions of a young girl fighting for her life. Once he eventually learns that the girl from his dreams is a real local teen who vanished a few months earlier, Tom’s obsession with learning what happened to her threatens to tear his family apart.

    5) The Da Vinci Code (Dec. 14)

    It’s been 12 years, so it’s easy to forget how big a deal Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code was in 2003, managing to outsell every other novel of the year that didn’t have “Harry Potter” in the title. The blend of page-turning beach read and faith-baiting controversy was a powerful mix, so naturally Hollywood soon came a-calling, casting Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon, an expert in religious symbolism. After the curator of the Louvre is murdered, the authorities are convinced Langdon may have done the dirty deed, forcing him to try and uncover a centuries-old mystery to clear his name. And the secret involved is a whopper, involving the Catholic Church, the Holy Grail, and Jesus Christ himself. Also, Hanks has really weird hair in this, but that doesn’t seem to be part of the conspiracy, so far as I could tell.

    6) Helix: Season 2 (Dec. 16)

    Helix was one of the first shows out the gate under the current Syfy regimen, which seems genuinely committed to returning the network to its roots and embracing ambitious genre storytelling like it used to. And the show had a solid pedigree, with Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore on board as an executive producer. Unfortunately, Helix was a bloody mess: Season 1 started out as a riff on John Carpenter’s The Thing, then settled into extended wheel-spinning punctuated by batshit-crazy plot twists that would have been more shocking had they made any damn sense at all. There were viruses, silver-eyed immortals, pseudo-zombies, and frozen severed heads. You certainly couldn’t fault the show’s ambition.

    Season 2 leaves the arctic setting of its freshman year behind, following CDC disease expert Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) and his team to a mysterious island populated by a creepy cult led by that guy from Wings. (No, the other one.) Syfy killed Helix after season 2, so don’t expect all the show’s questions to get satisfying answers.

    7) Black Mirror: White Christmas (Dec. 25)

    The critically acclaimed British anthology series Black Mirror is one of the best shows of the young century, and a worthy successor to the legacy of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. Created by Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror explores the darker aspects of of our relationship with technology in a brutal and insightful fashion that eschews easy answers. Netflix earned a collective high five from all of us earlier this year with the announcement that it’d be producing a third season of the show, but while we’re waiting for those new episodes to come down the pike, there’s still one you might not have seen yet. The holiday special “White Christmas,” starring Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, hasn’t previously been available on Netflix… but that’s about to change. “White Christmas” intertwines three different stories, including some of the show’s darkest material yet. This is not feel-good television, but we’ll celebrate its Netflix arrival as a Christmas miracle just the same.

    8) Maron: Season 3 (Dec. 28)

    Standup comedian/podcaster Marc Maron stars as a fictionalized version of himself, trying to balance his personal life and career against the constant realization that he’s usually his own worst enemy. In season 3, Marc struggles with success, invites his ex-wife onto his podcast, and dabbles with antidepressants. If you’re a fan of Maron’s standup or his long-running WTF Podcast, you’ll find plenty to like in Maron. The show has already been renewed for a fourth season on IFC, so expect more to come in 2016.

    9) Nurse Jackie: Seasons 1-7 (Dec. 31)

    Hulu launched a major partnership with Showtime this past summer, but Netflix continues to acquire the network’s shows as they wrap up, and at the end of the month Nurse Jackie will join Weeds, Dexter, and Californication in the Netflix queue. Jackie stars Sopranos alum Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, a put-upon ER nurse who numbs the stress of her job with pills. Jackie earned critical praise for its dark humor and explorations of addiction, not to mention a Best Actress Emmy Award for Falco in 2010.

    November 2015

    1) Jessica Jones: Season 1 (Nov. 20)

    With Jessica Jones (formerly A.K.A. Jessica Jones), Marvel is doing the same thing it did with flicks like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man: taking risks. Marvel made a massive small-screen success out of Daredevil, a character that had been languishing in big-screen development hell for years. So next up? An obscure Marvel character all but the most die-hard fans probably haven’t even heard of. And it’s not a traditional superhero tale and it’s incredibly dark material and it’s got the most generic title since John Carter. You certainly can’t accuse Marvel of playing it safe. Thankfully, there’s every reason to be optimistic that Jessica Jones will carry on the solid momentum built by Daredevil and further flesh out this seedy little corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the path toward Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the eventual Defenders Netflix miniseries.

    So who the hell is Jessica Jones? Well, she was a costumed superhero for a hot minute, until that career… ended badly. The man responsible for that end was Kilgrave, a sociopath with the metahuman ability to make people do whatever he tells them to. It’s not hard to imagine how that sort of power could be abused, and abuse it he does. (With Doctor Who’s David Tennant in the role of Kilgrave, there are sure to be a lot of traumatized Whovians if the show goes half as dark with his storyline as the comics did.) Now Jessica (Krysten Ritter) works as a private investigator, deeply scarred by her past and just trying to get by. Along the way she meets Luke Cage (Mike Colter), another mysterious figure with powers of his own, including a powerful romantic connection with Jessica. Jessica Jones was created and developed by Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter), based on the critically acclaimed comics by Brian Michael Bendis, and the pilot episode received a rousing reception at New York Comic-Con a few weeks back. Fingers crossed that this show keeps up Marvel’s winning streak.

    2) The 100: Season 2 (Oct. 31)

    Based on the series of young adult novels by Kass Morgan, The 100 is set a century after a global nuclear war wiped out most of humanity. Thankfully some small percentage of mankind was living aboard 12 space stations orbiting the planet. They unified as “the Ark” and spent the next 97 years cobbling together a makeshift society… but one that’s on the verge of disaster, thanks to failing life support. Out of desperation, the Ark’s leadership conjures up a truly crazy plan: Drop 100 expendable juvenile delinquents back to the surface to see if the planet can support human life yet. But Earth has become a dangerous place in all those long years, and it harbors many secrets. If you get hooked on The 100 after a Netflix binge, the series will return for a third season in 2016.

    3) Last Days in Vietnam (Nov. 1)

    Rory Kennedy (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) directed this documentary look at the dire final weeks of the Vietnam War. With the local citizenry desperate to escape as the North Vietnamese army inched ever closer to Saigon, United States forces were ordered to evacuate themselves and any American citizens—but only American citizens. Last Days in Vietnam examines the closing act of a war that defined a generation through archival footage and interviews with those who were there. Kennedy’s documentary currently boasts an impressive 95 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    4) Twinsters (Nov. 1)

    There are plenty of fascinating things to discover on YouTube, but Anais Bordier found something wholly unexpected: a twin sister she didn’t know she had. A French fashion design student living in London in 2013, Anais had the no-doubt surreal experience of seeing a video online featuring American actress Samantha Futerman...who looked exactly like her. A bit of Googling and social networking later, Anais contacted Samantha and the pair became convinced they’d been separated at birth. The Kickstarter-funded documentary Twinsters follows the stranger-than-fiction tale of their meeting and burgeoning relationship. Moral of the story: Maybe don’t ignore all those emails from names you don’t recognize.

    5) The Midnight Swim (Nov. 3)

    Few horror movies have ever hit me in the gut as strongly as Lake Mungo, and I’m intrigued by the creepy, understated trailer for The Midnight Swim because it gives me the same kind of vibe: an aura of sadness and unsettling strangeness, the sense both of something bad having happened and something worse yet to come. Similar to Lake Mungo, The Midnight Swim is set in motion by a death—in this case, the death of a mother, who vanishes while diving in the notoriously deep Spirit Lake. Her three daughters, one a filmmaker, return home to grieve and deal with her affairs, but strange occurrences drag them deeper into the mysteries of the lake. The Midnight Swim has received strong critical praise for its story and performances, currently holding an 83 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    6) Master of None: Season 1 (Nov. 6)

    Netflix has been building a solid catalog of diverse, original comedies over the past couple of years, from BoJack Horseman and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Grace & Frankie and the Wet Hot American Summer prequel. Landing a new series from popular comic and Parks & Recreation vet Aziz Ansari was a major get. Ansari co-created Master of None with Parks & Rec producer Alan Yang, and Ansari stars as Dev, a 30-something actor navigating family, relationships, and generally trying to make a go of it in the Big Apple. Treat yo’self to all 10 episodes of the first season when it premieres this month.

    7) With Bob and David: Season 1 (Nov. 13)

    I would have thought Netflix had exhausted its comedy miracles with its seven-years-later resurrection of Arrested Development. But it trumped that feat entirely by getting the principals behind HBO’s brilliant Mr. Show back together for With Bob and David. In addition to Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, the new Netflix sketch comedy series also reunites much of the Mr. Show writing team, including Brian Posehn and Dino “Star-Burns from Community” Stamatopoulos. Mr. Show has justifiably ascended into the holy pantheon of comedy in the 20 years since it aired on HBO, so the show has a high bar to clear. But if there’s a chance it could give us even one sketch as good as “Pre-Taped Call-In Show,” there’s more than enough reason to be giddy.

    8) Blue Caprice (Nov. 14)

    Sadly, there have been so many horrific headlines in the years since, many of us have probably all but forgotten about the Beltway Sniper shootings of 2002. Director Alexandre Moors’ Blue Caprice tells the story of John Muhammad and Lee Malvo, who killed 17 people and injured more in a crime spree that stretched across several states before culminating in the Washington murders that captured the world’s attention. Named after the modified vehicle from which they fired their shots, Blue Caprice examines Muhammad (Isaiah Washington) and Malvo’s (Tequan Richmond) twisted father-son relationship and the unsettling banality of evil.

    9) Continuum: Season 4 (Nov. 15)

    As a fan of both Rachel Nichols and time-travel stories done well, I was intrigued by Continuum when the Canadian series popped up on Syfy a few years back. However, I soon got sidetracked and never returned to the show after midway through its first season. I’ve had multiple friends who stuck with it singing its praises to me nonstop pretty much ever since, insisting that the series soon became bold and unpredictable in much the same way shows like Fringe and Person of Interest eventually blew past the limitations of their first impressions. Nichols stars as Kiera Cameron, a cop from a corporate-controlled 2077 Vancouver who follows several “freedom fighters”/terrorists back in time to 2012, where she must track down the fugitives, try and get home, and struggle with the realization that her very actions may already have cut off any access to her own time—or permanently rewritten it. All four seasons will be available streaming by mid-month.

    10) Soaked in Bleach (Nov. 15)

    It’s been over two decades since the death of legendary Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, who took his own life on April 5, 1994. Like many fallen celebrities before him, however, his death has become a nexus of conspiracy theories for those who won’t, or can’t, believe the official explanation. Mixing dramatizations with interviews and documentary footage, Soaked in Bleach explores the persistent theories that Cobain’s death wasn’t actually a suicide. It revisits the events through the eyes of private investigator Tom Grant, who was hired by Cobain’s wife Courtney Love to track him down in the weeks before his death. Unsurprisingly, Soaked in Bleach has aroused plenty of controversy, with Love’s lawyers sending out cease and desist letters to theaters and detractors trying to sabotage its Rotten Tomatoes rating before it was even released.

    11) The Red Road: Season 2 (Nov. 23)

    Most people know Jason Momoa from his role as Khal Drogo on HBO’s Game of Thrones, and he’s going to spend the next decade or so immersed in the big-screen DC Cinematic Universe in the role of Aquaman. In between those two life-changing events, Momoa played a heavy in Sundance’s original scripted series The Red Road. Martin Henderson plays Harold Jensen, a recovering alcoholic sheriff in a fictional Jersey town called Walpole. After a cover-up involving his mentally ill wife, Jensen is forced into an alliance with Phillip Kopus, an unsavory member of the local Ramapough Mountain tribe. With its mix of crime, corruption, and Native American politics, it reminds me a bit of Longmire. The series received decent reviews, but it was canceled after its second season. Still, that makes for perfect bite-size binge-watching. If you dig it, definitely also check out Sundance’s Rectify.

    12) Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (Nov. 29)

    The Cannon Films logo was a persistent presence in the B-movie circuit throughout the 1980s, often attached to movies starring Sylvester Stallone (Cobra) or Chuck Norris (Missing in Action), as well as Tobe Hooper’s cult classic “space vampire” flick Lifeforce. They also gave us some of the decade’s easiest punchlines, such as the Stallone arm wrestling movie Over the Top, the Masters of the Universe movie, and the flick which gave both this documentary its title and the internet one of its favorite memes: the mock-worthy breakdancing sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Director Mark Harley’s 2014 documentary examines the rise and fall of the notorious Cannon Group featuring interviews with the likes of Tobe Hooper, Richard Chamberlain, Bo Derek, Elliott Gould, Dolph Lundgren, and Molly Ringwald, to name a few.

    October 2015

    Pick of the month: Beasts of No Nation (Oct. 16)

    Having established a solid foothold in the world of streaming television with shows like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Daredevil, now Netflix is stepping into the world of film with Beasts of No Nation. Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga (HBO’s True Detective, season 1), Beasts stars Idris Elba and Abraham Attah in a story about civil war and child soldiers in an unnamed African country. Attah plays Agu, a young boy who is recruited into the rebel forces of the NDF after his family is executed. Elba is the Commandant, both commander and twisted father figure to Agu as he serves as a pawn of the forces ripping his homeland apart. Netflix released Beasts simultaneously on streaming and as a limited release in theaters, continuing to shift the dynamics of the media landscape in a way that has some theater owners irked (four theater chains, including AMC and Cinemark, are boycotting the film for violating the traditional 90-day theatrical release window). Both Elba and Attah have received tons of critical praise for their Beasts performances, and there’s already potential Oscar buzz for the both of them. Netflix has already acquired a shelf full of Emmys, so can an Academy Award or two be far behind?

    Best of the rest

    1) Batman Begins (Oct. 1)

    While Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is a true masterpiece, Batman Begins is arguably a better realization of Batman/Bruce Wayne himself, if only because it doesn’t have Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of the Joker to steal the spotlight. Bale’s gruff Batman voice may still be an easy punchline, but his haunted, determined portrayal of the crimefighter is still one of the best, and the script by Nolan and David S. Goyer actually makes the concept of a rodent-dressed vigilante scaring the shit out of hardened criminals grounded and believable. If somebody really was going to become Batman, it would pretty much have to happen like this. (Except for maybe the fear gas and the ninjas.)

    2) Boogie Nights (Oct. 1)

    I’ll always have a special soft spot for Magnolia (that montage!), but Boogie Nights rivals it for the position of my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson flick to date. Mark Wahlberg stars as doofy high school dropout Eddie Adams, who is reborn as “Dirk Diggler” after porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) discovers him and his star-making schlong. In between all the boot-knocking, Dirk finds a new dysfunctional family in his porn crew, but his cockiness (ahem) paves the way for his own eventual downfall. The amazing cast also includes Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, to name a few.

    3) The Bourne Identity/The Bourne Supremacy (Oct. 1)

    It’s a little frustrating that The BourneUltimatum wasn’t included with Netflix’s October update, but even two-thirds of one of the best action franchises of all time is still plenty to be excited about. Matt Damon sells both the badassery and the tortured humanity as a former covert agent with a Swiss cheese memory and loads of people who would really prefer he be dead now, thanks. And if you want to finish out the trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum is available from Amazon and other digital retailers.

    4) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Oct. 1)

    You have to admire the gumption of director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp for thinking they could improve upon Gene Wilder’s iconic performance as mysterious confectioner in 1971’s WIlly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Actually, no, you don’t, it was a terrible idea. Still, if you liked the story of Wonka and Charlie but thought it needed a less charismatic lead and a bunch of the same schtick Burton has been serving up for the past several decades, help yourself. Me, I’ll stick with the creepy-ass boat ride and the sheer, pitch-black brilliance of Wilder-Wonka. Good day, sir!

    5) Million Dollar Baby (Oct. 1)

    Hilary Swank earned her second Best Actress Academy Award for her performance as an underdog amateur boxer who is taken under the wing of a weary trainer haunted by his past (Clint Eastwood). Baby also earned trophies for director Eastwood and supporting actor Morgan Freeman—oh, and it nabbed the Best Picture Oscar for 2005. The flick is based on the short stories of fight manager Jerry Boyd, so it’s certainly not lacking for verisimilitude. Adapted for the screen by Paul Haggis (Crash), it’s a powerful and emotional story of redemption and tragedy, but it’s also depressing as all hell. Don’t watch it unless you’re ready for a downer.

    6) The Nightmare (Oct. 1)

    Wes Craven soiled the pants of an entire generation with his stories of teenagers being tormented in their dreams by a vicious, knife-fingered psychopath who could kill you while you slept. If Freddy Krueger ever frightened you, the documentary The Nightmare will likely scare the snot right out of you, because it examines the very real phenomenon known as “sleep paralysis,” a condition where the sufferer experiences vivid, frightening dreams or hallucinations while incapable of moving or waking up. It would be a very bad idea to watch this before bed time … which I wish someone had told me before I made that very mistake. The Nightmare was directed by Rodney Ascher, who previously earned both attention and critical acclaim for 2012’s Room 237.

    7) Reign: Season 2 (Oct. 2)

    The CW’s period drama is currently chugging through its third season, continuing the net’s history of letting shows grow and find their audience even if they aren’t breakout hits. Created by Laurie McCarthy and Stephanie Sengupta (Ghost Whisperer), Reign explores the early life of Mary, Queen of Scots. In season 2, King Henry II is dead, and Mary and her husband Francis have ascended to the throne of Scotland. Unfortunately, the land has been devastated by a plague, religious discord is rife, and politics continues to be deadly. (Reign airs Friday nights at 7pm CT on the CW.)

    8) iZombie: Season 1 (Oct. 6)

    Based on the Vertigo comic-book series by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, iZombie stars Rose McIver as Olivia “Liv” Moore, a morgue worker who regularly “samples the merchandise.” She’s a zombie, and she has to eat brains both to survive and to be able to pass as the living. But all that noshed gray matter has some gnarly side effects, allowing her to see flashes of the dearly departed’s lives and deaths. Being a civically minded zombie, Liv poses as a psychic and uses her abilities to help the local cops solve the murders of those on her menu. iZombie was adapted for TV by Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Bates Motel) and Rob Thomas, the genius who gave us Veronica Mars. iZombie’s second season is currently airing Tuesday nights at 8pm CT on the CW.

    9) The Flash: Season 1 (Oct. 6)

    DC may be trying to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe with next year’s Batman v Superman, but I’m far more interested in the shared TV mythology it created with Arrow and expanded with the breakaway CW hit The Flash. Grant Gustin is perfect as speedster Barry Allen, a crime scene investigator haunted by his mother’s murder by a superfast mystery man. After being granted powers of his own by a freak accident, he struggles to defend his home of Central City against a rogue’s gallery of villains, as well as to solve the mystery of his origins and clear the name of his father, who’s in jail for the murder of his mom. The Flash is action-packed, funny, earnest, and charming as hell, a perfect slice of Silver Age comic-book fun updated for the smartphone era. You can keep your brooding Dark Knights and even your Men of Steel; I’ll stick with the Fastest Man Alive, thanks. (Season 2 of The Flash is currently airing Tuesday nights at 8/7c on the CW.)

    10) Arrow: Season 3 (Oct. 7)

    Of course, there would be no Flash without the show that spawned it, the CW’s take on DC’s emerald archer, the Green Arrow. After being lost on a remote island for years, aloof playboy Oliver Queen learned the skills and the drive to return to his home of Starling City and take down all the crooks and corrupt officials who have “failed this city.” In season 3, Oliver and his team of noble vigilantes faces his most overwhelming foe yet: the nigh immortal Ra’s Al Ghul and his League of Assassins. Arrow has had its ups and downs over the years, but its strength has always been its charismatic cast, including Emily Bett Rickards as adorable tech expert Felicity Smoak, David Ramsey as stalwart badass John Diggle, and Stephen Amell as the wounded but well-intentioned Oliver. Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 7pm CT on the CW.

    11) Legends: Season 1 (Oct. 7)

    Sean Bean—he of the frequent onscreen expirations—headlines this TNT thriller series as Martin Odum, a crack undercover FBI man who can become damn near anybody but whose revolving door of identities leaves him questioning both his sanity and his own real identity. Based on an award-winning novel by Robert Littell, Legends was adapted for television by Howard Gordon (24, Homeland), Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow), and Mark Bomback (The Divergent Series: Insurgent). Legends will return for a second season on TNT beginning Nov. 2.

    12) Supernatural: Season 10 (Oct. 7)

    Carry on, my wayward sons, indeed. Supernatural is one of the shows that helped build The CW, so it’s not surprising that the network has continued to return that support, allowing the show to build a large and loyal following over the past decade. Brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) have a lot of bad road behind them, having faced down creatures from every corner of your nightmares and lost pretty much everyone they care for along the way. In season 10, Dean has fallen prey to a terrible darkness, and Sam works to try and find a way to bring him back from the precipice before he does something unforgivable. Supernatural’s 11th season is currently airing Wednesday nights at 8pm CT on the CW.

    13) Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Oct. 9)

    In addition to becoming a power player on the original scripted drama front, Netflix has been racking up quite a track record for acquiring top-notch documentaries, including What Happened, Miss Simone? and Mitt. That trend continues with Winter on Fire, which delves into the protests and civil unrest that rocked Ukraine in 2013, eventually resulting in the Ukrainian revolution the following year. As the official synopsis puts it, “The film captures the remarkable mobilization of nearly a million citizens from across the country protesting the corrupt political regime that utilized extreme force against its own people to suppress their demands and freedom of expression.”

    14) Jane the Virgin: Season 1 (Oct. 12)

    Adapted from a Venezuelan telenovela, Jane the Virgin is the story of a devout young Latina woman who is saving herself for marriage … until a doctor mistakenly artificially inseminates her during what was supposed to just be a checkup. As if that’s not awkward enough, the father of her new aspiring bundle of joy is 1) married, 2) her former teenage crush, and 3) the owner of the hotel where she works. That’s one helluva triple-whammy. Actress Gina Rodriguez won a Best Actress Golden Globe for her performance as Jane, and the series also earned both a Peabody Award and an AFI Award. Jane the Virgin returned for a second season on Oct. 12, and new episodes air Mondays at 8pm CT on the CW.

    15) Circle (Oct. 16)

    The 2015 horror/sci-fi flick Circle begins with a simple but intriguing premise: 50 people awaken to find themselves in a strange room with no memory of how they got there. They are arranged in a circle, and very soon, something unseen begins killing them. Every two minutes, another person dies, but the group soon realizes they can control the carnage … to an extent. They can’t stop it, but they can decide who dies next, through an act of collective will. So how do you direct a chain of death that very well may kill all of you? Who deserves to live the longest, or maybe even to be the last man standing? The Hollywood Reporter described Circle as “Twilight Zone-y” in its generally positive review, and that’s certainly good company to be in.

    16) Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (Oct. 18)

    Ruth (Rooney Mara) and Bob (Casey Affleck) are a pair of wannabe Bonnie and Clydes for whom one job goes very bad indeed. Their buddy Freddy is killed, Ruth shoots a sheriff, and Bob decides take the fall for the whole mess so the pregnant Ruth can raise their child. Years later, Bob escapes from prison and hopes for a happy reunion with the mother of his child, but his oncoming presence could collapse the lie that has permitted Ruth a somewhat normal life while he was in the clink. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was written and directed by Texas filmmaker David Lowery, who’s currently working on Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon.

    17) Hemlock Grove: Season 3 (Oct. 23)

    Just in time for Halloween, Netflix’s horror/thriller series is returning for a third and final season. If you’ve been curious about the show are a horror junkie, this will be the perfect excuse for a binge-a-thon. The series, executive produced by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), centers on a fictional Pennsylvania town plagued by violence, supernatural goings-on, and Famke Janssen. Season 3 promises more monsters, more gore, and possibly even the “end of days.” Sadly, the most carnage involving the show may have come from the critics savaging it for the past two seasons. Still, they’re called “guilty pleasures” for a reason.

    17) Manson Family Vacation (Oct. 27)

    Reconnecting with the brother you never really got along with is a noble enough goal. Unfortunately for Nick Morgan (Jay Duplass), all his estranged brother Conrad (Linas Phillips) wants to do during his visit to Los Angeles is tour the Manson Family murder sites. Well, they always say the family that becomes just a little too interested in a bunch of homicidal psychopaths together, stays together… right? The film began life as a Kickstarter project, and it’s currently rocking a damned impressive 100 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    18) The Gunman (Oct. 28)

    Sean Penn tries to follow in Liam Neeson’s footsteps on the “respectable older actor tries out the action-hero thing” path. Penn is Jim Terrier, a veteran black-ops merc who left the soldier’s life behind after successfully assassinating a government official in Africa. Years later, he returns to the “scene of the crime” for nobler purposes, serving as a charity worker. Unfortunately, his dark past catches up with him when he’s attacked, forcing him to go on the run in search of the truth about who wants him dead—and why.

    Screengrab via Netflix US & Canada/YouTube

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    If you liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you will absolutely hate Sword of Destiny, the direct-to-Netflix knockoff now streaming on the site. A decade ago, back when people still rented DVDs, this was the kind of movie that would be dumped ignominiously at a Blockbuster, tucked behind a wall full of copies of Freddy Got Fingered

    That’s precisely where it belongs, hidden away where no one can see it. 

    In the opening of Sword of Destiny, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) says that a warrior is destined to be remembered 20 years after his death. But in the case of this movie, that’s about 20 years too long.

    Aside from the title, Sword of Destiny has almost nothing to do with the 2000 original, a surprise smash that brought a wave of wuxia films to the United States (Hero, House of Flying Daggers). Directed by Woo-PingYuen (Iron Monkey), this is the equivalent of one of those imitation “Prado” bags you pick up in Chinatown. It might look passable at first, but it’s bad stitching that falls apart quickly.

    Sword of Destiny picks up decades after Yu Shu Lien’s lover, Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat), died in her arms, but aside from an intro reminding us this is the same series, there’s almost nothing that spiritually or tonally connects the two films. Where the original was impassioned and lyrical, its follow-up feels rushed, clunky, and surprisingly jokey. In Sword of Destiny, Yu Shu Lien must protect the titular weapon, which still holds extraordinary powers, from a band of usurpers who want the Green Destiny for themselves. It’s more or less the same plot as before, but any resemblance between the two has an Uncanny Valley effect: Many bad movies are offensive or painful, but this one feels just plain wrong.

    If the movie’s subtle colonialism isn’t distracting enough, Sword of Destiny appears to be filmed in a diffuse glow. 

    Let’s start with the film’s most glaring creative mistake. For some reason, the filmmakers chose to shoot Sword of Destiny on location in New Zealand, which makes the proceedings feel less like a martial arts film than an episode of Game of Thrones. You may as well be in the Shire with Bilbo Baggins. This issue is not helped by the decision to have all the actors speak in faux British accents this time around, rather than Cantonese, lest the subtitles put anyone off.

    If the movie’s subtle colonialism isn’t distracting enough, Sword of Destiny appears to be filmed in a diffuse glow—which gives the movie a mise en scène that perpetually resembles a wuxia Glamour Shot. Every frame looks vaguely embalmed. Yuen was the man behind the death-defying stunts of the original (Ang Lee declined to return), and he shoots the movie like a choreographer—with little sense of setting, ambiance, or character. While the fighting itself is passable, Yuen has little idea how to film his elaborate stunts. Whereas the original felt the weight of gravity, here it just looks like every ancient Chinese warrior was gifted with the magic powers of flight (with a little help from their friends in the CGI department).

    Sword of Destiny’s failings would be less egregious if there were much of a story to get invested in, but the attempt to recreate the original’s high-flying romance is laughable. Chow Yun-fat’s torch is passed to Harry Shum Jr. (Tiefang), whom you may remember as Asian Mike from Glee. His scenes with Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Snow Vase, a pupil of Yu Shu Lien’s) are unintentionally funny. He’s supposed to be a conflicted warrior, sent to steal the sword for his master, Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee), and she’s a young wannabe fighter who finds herself strangely drawn to Tiefang, despite her expressed loathing for him. But instead of building up to a good hate-fuck, it appears as if the two may break into song at any moment.

    Many—like the Verge’s Tasha Robinson—argued that Sword of Destiny would be better received if it were simply its own standalone movie, divorced from such an iconic predecessor. If you have to live up to one of the greatest martial arts movies ever made, surely you’ll fail.

    That’s a nice sentiment, but frankly, Sword of Destiny didn’t need anyone else’s help to be a bad movie. It’s a stilted, strangely dull effort that rarely finds its dramatic footing or makes viewers care much about what’s happening on-screen. Many of the characters—including a band of warriors inserted for comic relief—are barely fleshed out, and the disparate storylines never gel into anything resembling a cohesive whole. Yu Shu Lien gets yet another doomed love affair with Silent Wolf (Donnie Yen of the Ip Man series), but their unconvincing backstory feels oddly first draft-y, tossed in to remind reviews of the original. That pretty much sums up the movie itself.

    In recent months, Netflix has developed a reputation for half-baked originals that unsuccessfully bank on viewer nostalgia—between Fuller Houseand their partnership with Adam Sandler. Sword of Destiny might not be nearly as horrendous as Ridiculous 6, the first film in Sandler’s four-picture deal with the streaming platform, but its existence is a troubling sign of things to come for the company. Nostalgia is nice, but Netflix should just focus on making better content.

    Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube

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    Great news for Snapchat comedians: A new category has been added to this year's Tribeca Film Festival, and they're looking for your funny Stories.

    Celebrity judges DJ Khaled, Steve Buscemi, Jessica Alba, Steve Aoki, David Gordon Green, Shay Mitchell, and Vashtie will pick 10 winning stories to be screened at the festival as part of a new category called Tribeca Snapchat Shorts.

    The goal is to spotlight the "best Snapchat Stories from across the U.S." with a special focus on comedy. The festival experimented with a custom Vine category in 2013, so this isn't its first foray into the world of social media filmmaking, but it is its first time allowing submissions longer than six seconds.

    All you have to do to submit is save your Snapchat story to your camera roll, and then upload it to the festival's website. Shorts need to be less than 200 seconds in length and submitted by Tuesday, March 8.

    Time to get snapping. 

    H/T Variety | Screengrab via EW/Twitter

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    Love watching movies and TV online? Have an Instagram account? Great news: You're probably eligible to be one of Netflix's "Grammasters."

    It's a contest the streaming service is running from now until March 6, and four winners will be chosen to spend two weeks on sets in "Europe and the Middle East" to post behind-the-scenes content. As an added bonus, the company will cover all travel expenses and pay each winner $4,000 for their time. Not too shabby. 

    To enter, all you have to do is follow Netflix on Instagram and tag three of your best photos with #grammasters3 by the March 6 deadline. 

    They're not too specific about the type of person they're looking for, but they do instruct you on their website: "We’re looking for TV & movie fans with a talent for taking pictures. Choose photos that show off your interests or passions."

    H/T Business Insider | Screengrab via Netflix/Instagram

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    Comedian Nicole Blaine wasn’t planning on meeting Quincy Jones, but when she did, she knew he was special.

    “When you’re a standup, you’re running around from show to show,” Blaine said. “You have to get there three hours early.” It was during one of those eternal open-mic waits roughly two years ago that she met fellow comedian Jones. She remembers seeing him when he walked in: People shouted his name. Even though Blaine didn’t know him, he came and sat down right next to her.

    Blaine and Jones became fast friends, which is helpful in a comedy scene as sprawling and competitive as Los Angeles’s. Last August, the 31-year-old found out he has mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, and doctors gave him a year to live. Jones, who’s been doing standup for seven years, says he “snuck” his diagnosis into a Facebook post with other assorted random thoughts. Blaine saw it and reached out.

    “I remember my stomach dropping,” she said. “I don’t think he posted at the time that it was terminal.”

    A few months later, Blaine asked what he wanted to do while he still had time, and Jones didn’t hesitate: film a standup special. Last year, Blaine shot a low-budget standup comedy special called Virgin Sacrifice, and she and her husband have made films on their own budget, so she figured she could make the special happen for her friend. She launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the special, and it blew past its modest $4,985 goal in a very short time.

    Comedians have found their own unique ways of dealing with a cancer diagnosis: The Jesse vs. Cancer podcast documents Jesse Case’s life as he battles Stage IV cancer; Tig Notaro’s 2012 standup set at Largo is a now-famous example of how one can turn a devastating statement into a masterful longform joke. But Jones says he doesn’t have “cancer material.”

    “I’m not choosing to make it a laughing matter,” he said. “It has changed my philosophy on life a lot, and how am I using my time and energy.”

    Blaine’s already started documenting parts of Jones’s life, like accompanying him to chemo.

    “It’s one thing to meet someone who has cancer; it’s another to watch them get chemo,” she said. “But when he walks in for his chemo, it’s a giant room, [and] there are all these nurses. He is one by one shouting out their names, making jokes. He lights up a chemotherapy unit… He’s just different.”

    Still, Jones admits chemo changes you mentally and emotionally—it “messes with everything.” Though a special would be a dream for any comedian, he admits he’s “already living out my dream doing comedy in L.A.” This special is a more tangible document of his time here.

    “When you’re faced with your mortality, it puts things in perspective,” he said. “You’re like, ‘OK, I don’t have much to show for my time here on Earth. I have family, but not my own family. [I want] something out [there] that I was here.”

    The special will film in early April in Santa Monica, and distribution options are still up in the air. In the meantime, Jones has continued to hustle through as many open mics and gigs as he can, while also getting chemo, in preparation for crafting a solid set. As he says, there’s no cancer when he’s on stage. 

    “The doctors could give you a prognosis,” he said, “but it’s up to you if you want to accept it.”

    Screengrab via Kickstarter

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    If the biggest sporting event has a puppy-friendly version, shouldn’t the biggest night in movies have one too?

    Stephen Colbert, staying up to watch the Oscars like the rest of us, needed a puppy break about halfway through the ceremony. And since a show like that doesn’t exist, he had to get creative.

    It’s a giant woof-fest as the pups of Hollywood (who are up for adoption!) gather on the red carpet and run off from interviews, try to snag each other’s dresses, and generally create an alternate universe in which Leonardo DiCapriohas not won an Oscar.

    Puppies or not, that’s not a reality we want to live in.

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube

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    Mad Max: Fury Road is a cinematic masterpiece (and now a six-time Oscar winner), but as Seth Meyers demonstrates, Immortan Joe and the War Boys could’ve easily prevented their dystopian reality from becoming worse.

    The War Boys go to Gas Town for more gas, but in order to get there they drive giant, gas-guzzling cars—and Coma-Doof Warrior’s flame guitar doesn't exactly help them preserve the energy they need to sustain themselves. Meyers, as one of the War Boys, has been thinking about it, and he has some really good ideas for how to get the gas they need without wasting it in the process.

    But nobody is very interested in listening to him—or doing anything about the myth that is global warming, as they put it, in an argument that sounds all too familiar. Maybe Furiosa will be more willing to listen.

    Screengrab via Late Night with Seth Meyers/YouTube

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    The crowd erupted in chants, standing on their chairs to get a better view of the contenders, cloaked in different colored robes on opposite sides of the venue, bouncing and ready to face off.

    It may have felt like a boxing match, but Saturday’s event at the Ace Hotel Theatre in Los Angeles was a battle of heavyweights of a different variety: two YouTube pranksters at the top of their game.

    Yousef Saleh Erakat, better known as FouseyTube, and Roman Atwood joined forces for a short, five-city tour that brought their individual brands of pranking and vlogging off the YouTube screen and into theaters for their legions of fans. Between them, they command a subscriber base of 25 million, making their tour one of the most statistically powerful of the recent set of YouTubers making the leap off screens and into packed theaters. (Erakat and Atwood will broaden their appeal even more in the coming months, with Atwood’s Natural Born Pranksters film hitting theaters in April and Erakat picking up a role in Tyler Perry’s forthcoming A Madea Halloween.)

    A testament to their mostly young and mostly male fanbase, the event felt vastly different from other tour attempts by fellow YouTubers, catering to a combative atmosphere that included a scoreboard keeping track of points scored for tasks completed, good jokes executed, and other, completely arbitrary reason.

    The fans fit right in with the boxing theme, shouting for their favorite star each time he spoke. Some were undoubtedly fans of both, but there was a sense of taking a side, at least for one night, for which star they generally preferred in the world of YouTube pranking. Erakat and Atwood emphasized that battle with a fake force field keeping them separate on stage for most of the night as they vied against each other in various challenges.

    Despite these attempts at a theme, the show itself could have used polish. While the battle premise has promise, the flow of the show was marred by a lack of momentum and some technical glitches. Both stars took time to invite fans on stage for bits with varying degrees of success, from a failed rap battle moment to a live head-shaving while the duo fielded audience questions. That said, the crowd seemed just happy to scream their adoration in the presence of their idols, not engage in an actual performance. When one girl in the front row kept falling into histrionics, Erakat joked that she was at the wrong place, that he was not Zayn Malik, but “another brown person.” Breathless fans jumped from their seats only to plug their brother’s barber shop or ask “where’s the afterparty?” to which Fousey replied, “that’s a bad question.” Atwood and Erakat’s willingness to tell their audience to calm down or to think harder was the most refreshing aspect of the show.

    Not that they did calm down much. During an unnecessary 15-minute intermission, the aisles flooded beyond fire safety standards as fans tried to snap selfies with the famous faces who were just trying to enjoy the show from the audience. Stars like Lilly Singh and sWooZie seemed unfazed by the masses surrounding them as the venue security tried to restore order.

    While pranksters on YouTube get a bad rap for setting poor examples, Atwood and Erakat made strides to define themselves as something more.

    As the actual show resumed, the audience kept that manic energy, which only subsided when Atwood and Fousey each took to the stage to give inspirational speeches about their lives and careers. While pranksters on YouTube get a bad rap for setting poor examples and creating harmful content, Atwood and Erakat made strides with their speeches to define themselves as something more: The audience roared as Atwood explained the hardships in his life that led him, piece by piece, to his successful career, and Erakat shared personal stories about his insecurities as a creator and a person. Their divergent backgrounds, with Atwood from humble Ohio beginnings and Erakat being of Palestinian heritage, shed light on a diverse cross-section of experiences that touch a wide swath of YouTube viewers. It was the only time the crowd felt palpably silent the whole night—even if only for moments at a time.

    The segment ended with the two men breaking down the fictional barrier that kept them on separate sides during the show and embracing… only for Erakat to turn it into a headlock and lead them back into a battle of one-upmanship. After more rounds of arm-wrestling and rap-battling, the meaningless scoreboard ultimately declared Atwood the night’s winner.

    The fans, however, didn’t really care about a winner in this fight, only that they got two and a half hours in the presence of their favorite stars without screens between them. But as they poured out to the downtown streets after the house lights went up, fingers flying across mobile devices, sharing their selfies and stage shots and reactions, the IRL moment faded into a digital one after all—until the next time.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman

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    We’re in the midst of the most insane American election cycle I’ve yet witnessed, with the world waiting impatiently for the moment when Donald Trump peels the skin off his face to reveal that he’s been Andy Kaufman all along. Between the constant mudslinging, the social media cacophony, and the bleak, unsettling feeling that the slope toward dystopia is receiving daily coats of grease, sometimes you just need a break. We’re well past the point where truth is stranger than fiction, so why not take comfort in fiction?

    To that end, we’ve assembled a dozen outstanding political shows that you can stream right now, ranging from the jaw-dropping twists of House of Cards to the wholesome comfort food of Parks and Recreation. We’ve got a long road until Election Day, and you know it’s only going to get crazier, so we wouldn’t blame you if you just lock yourself indoors and spend the next nine months binge-watching.

    1) Alpha House (Amazon Prime)

    Four Republican senators keep the living costs down by sharing a house in Washington, D.C., in this series from Pulitzer Prize-winning Doonesbury creator Gary Trudeau and inspired by several real-life legislators. John Goodman heads the cast as the blustery North Carolina Sen. Gil John Biggs, and his roomies include Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy, and Mark Consuelos. Keep an eye out for cameos from Bill Murray, Amy Sedaris, Wanda Sykes, Stephen Colbert, and more. Two seasons of Alpha House are available on Amazon Prime.

    2) Battleground (Hulu)

    Battleground is probably the lowest-profile show on this entire list, but it was actually Hulu’s first foray into original scripted programming. Created by J.D. Walsh (Two and a Half Men), the 2012 mockumentary series follows a Wisconsin campaign staff working hard to get their underdog candidate elected to the U.S. Senate. It’s reminiscent of Parks & Recreation, albeit less overtly silly, and critics praised the show’s writing and acting in spite of a nearly nonexistent budget. Battleground’s single season is available to stream on Hulu.

    3) Boardwalk Empire (Amazon Prime)

    Steve Buscemi stars as the ruthless and manipulative Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, a spectacularly corrupt politician who pulled the strings of both legal and illegal enterprises during the Prohibition era in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Created by Wolf of Wall Street screenwriter Terence Winter, Boardwalk Empire is as much crime drama as political drama, but then again, the line between the two has always been thin at best. In addition to Buscemi, Boardwalk features dynamite performances by Michael Pitt as Nucky’s would-be protégé Jimmy Darmody, Kelly Macdonald as a pious young woman who feels an inexplicable connection to Nucky, and Michael Shannon as a Prohibition agent determined to bring Nucky down. All five seasons are available on Amazon Prime.

    4) Boss (Netflix Instant)

    Cheers alum Kelsey Grammer left any Frasier comparisons in the dust with his leading role as Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, who attempts to steer a prosperous course for the Windy City while disguising the fact that he’s suffering from a progressively debilitating neurological disorder. Created by Iranian-American screenwriter Farhad Safinia (Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto), Boss ran for two seasons on Starz before being canceled. Unfortunately, that left some storylines up in the air, never to be resolved, but it’s still a ride worth taking for Grammer’s performance alone. Both seasons are available on Netflix Instant.

    5) Commander in Chief (Hulu)

    Depending on how the next nine months go, America may follow up its first black president with its first female president, but the short-lived ABC drama Commander in Chief explored the possibility a decade ago. Geena Davis stars as Mackenzie Allen, a vice president of the United States who suddenly gets kicked up into the big chair after the sitting president dies from a brain aneurysm. She must face down not only all the usual challenges of the presidency, but also all the bullshit others bring to the table because of her gender—not to mention those who question how she took the Oval Office, legal line of succession or no. The show was created by TV and film vet Rod Lurie, but he left the show early on; it was cancelled even after ABC brought in Steven Bochco to save it. You can watch the full season on Hulu.

    6) House of Cards(Netflix Instant)

    Netflix’s flagship drama stars Kevin Spacey as Congressman Francis Underwood, a Machiavellian schemer determined to lie, swindle, betray, and extort his way into the highest corridors of power, no matter who gets trampled along the way. Ever at his side is Frank’s wife, Claire (Robin Wright)—brilliant and ambitious in her own right, and capable of being just as ruthless and formidable as her husband… perhaps even more so. Together, they set their sights on the highest office in the land, leaving a trail of bodies behind them and skeletons crammed into every closet. Unfortunately, that seemingly indivisible partnership hit the rocks hard at the end of the last season, so the Underwoods’ will-they-or-won’t-they reconciliation will undoubtedly form a huge part of the upcoming fourth season. House of Cards returns on March 4, so stragglers better catch up, pronto! (You can also check out the original British House of Cards series, which inspired the American version, right here.)

    7) Madam Secretary (Netflix Instant)

    Téa Leoni stars as Dr. Elizabeth Adams McCord, a former CIA analyst and political science professor who becomes secretary of state after the current secretary dies in a plane crash. While her keen mind and expertise in areas such as the Middle East are invaluable, she’s no expert at playing the political “games,” leading her to frequently butt heads with White House Chief of Staff Russell Jackson (Željko Ivanek). In addition to the challenges and pitfalls of her career, Madam Secretary also follows McCord’s family life, in particular her husband, Georgetown University theology professor Dr. Henry McCord (Tim Daly). The show was created by TV vet Barbara Hall, who has also worked on such series as Homeland, Judging Amy, and Joan of Arcadia. Both seasons of Madam Secretary are available streaming on Netflix Instant.

    8) Parks and Recreation (Hulu, Netflix Instant)

    Shot in the same mockumentary style as fellow NBC hit The Office, Parks and Recreation is centered around the men and women of the fictional Pawnee, Indiana, parks department. The unflappably optimistic Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is queen bee of the department, trying to make her hometown something special in spite of insufficient budgets, snarls of bureaucratic red tape, and the frequent distractions or disinterest of her staff. The yin to Leslie’s bubbly yang is parks and rec director Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), a droll small-government Libertarian whose love of smoked meats is surpassed only by his joy at watching his department operate as inefficiently as possible. The cast is across-the-board amazing, with Poehler and Offerman verbally sparring with the likes of Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, and Chris Pratt, to name a few. All seven seasons of Parks and Rec are available on both Hulu and Netflix Instant.

    9) Political Animals (Netflix Instant)

    Sigourney Weaver headlines this critically acclaimed USA Network miniseries created by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash). Weaver plays Elaine Barrish, a U.S. secretary of state (another one!) whose past résumé includes stints as governor of Illinois and as First freaking Lady. That presidential pairing didn’t last, however: After her own bid for the White House stalled out, Elaine filed for divorce from her philandering, formally presidential hubby. She’s now serving as secretary of state under the man to whom she lost the Democratic nomination (Adrian Pasdar). Carla Gugino also co-stars as a reporter who frequently makes Elaine’s life difficult. At only six episodes long, Political Animals is perfect bite-sized binge-watch if you’re craving political intrigue with a sense of humor. You can watch the whole thing on Netflix Instant.

    10) The Thick of It (Hulu)

    Before he was exploring time and space as the current incarnation of the Doctor on Doctor Who, Scottish actor Peter Capaldi was swearing up a storm as the vitriolic Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It. Created by Armando Iannucci as a sort of modern spin on the classic British political satire Yes Minister, The Thick of It centers on the fictional Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, an entity that exists primarily to oversee other rungs of the British governmental bureaucracy. Chris Langham plays Minister Hugh Abbot, well-meaning head of DoSAC who struggles to do his job and make it through a single day without being verbally eviscerated by Tucker, the government’s director of communications. Much of the dialogue was improvised, and Capaldi delivers the acrobatic profanity with skill that rivals Deadwood’s Ian McShane. (Also be sure to watch the Academy Award-nominated spinoff film, In the Loop.)

    11) Veep (Amazon Prime)

    Almost a decade after unleashing The Thick of It on the world, creator Armando Iannucci once again returned to skewer the political landscape with HBO’s Veep. Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Selina Meyer, onetime Maryland senator turned vice president of the United States. The role of veep has often been described as a thankless one, and the gig certainly generates its share of stomach acid for Meyer, who spends most of her days neck deep in political quagmires and misunderstanding. The show has earned Louis-Dreyfus multiple Emmys for her performance, as well as an Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy for the show itself in 2015. Only the first season is available for free to Amazon Prime members at the moment, but that should still be enough to hook you before Veep returns for a fifth season on April 24.

    12) The West Wing (Netflix Instant)

    Last but not least is arguably one of the best political dramas ever to grace the small screen. Perhaps Aaron Sorkin’s finest hour, The West Wing aired for seven seasons on ABC beginning in 1999. The show racked up 26 Emmys as it chronicled the presidency of Josiah Bartlet, one of the greatest fictional presidents ever conceived and a masterful, charismatic performance by Martin Sheen. While the show had its ups and downs over the years, especially in the last few seasons, the cast, including Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, John Spencer, and Dule Hill, was consistently excellent. The West Wing is by turns smart, funny, challenging, heartbreaking, and inspirational… but if you watch it and then compare the show’s aspirational characters to the actual current political landscape, you may very well wind up eating a bullet. Proceed with caution. All seven seasons of The West Wing are available on Netflix Instant.

    Screengrab via Netflix US & Canada/YouTube

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    For those of you who were moved from watching you saw 50 sexual assault victims defiantly march onstage to stand alongside Lady Gaga, as she performed her survivor anthem “Til It Happens To You,” at the Oscars Sunday night, you are not alone.

    Former The Bachelor contestant Jade Roper shared difficult details about being sexually assaulted while she was in high school on her blog Burn Bright, Love.  

    "To be honest, I'm terrified. Yet, this is something I felt was put on my heart to write and to share and after all these years allow myself to be free of something I felt I had to hide," Roper said on an Instagram post, encouraging people to read her latest blog update. 

    After revealing information about the attack, she echoed the sentiment that many of the victims—23 percent of female undergraduates, according to the Association of American Universities—feel after being assaulted. 

    “I convinced myself I must have deserved it. That this bad thing happened to me because of something I had done. That I wasn’t worth being loved. That I wasn’t worth having sex for the first time with someone who cared about me. All the hurt and the anger I had towards the boys that assaulted me, I took out on myself. I destroyed myself with harmful words and internalized all my emotions. I became depressed, anxious, and self loathing. I contemplated hurting myself several times. I learned to bury everything so I could try and move on.”

    The Bachelor fans remember Roper from Chris Soules' season, but the 29-year-old reality TV vet fell for Tanner Tolbert on Bachelor in Paradise. The newlyweds had their on-screen wedding in January

    She shared the link to her blog on Twitter, where Lady Gaga applauded her for her revelation. 

    Check out Lady Gaga's performance from Sunday night here: 

    Screengrab via Lady Gaga Vevo/YouTube

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    We here at the Daily Dot love our streaming TV and movies, but we also know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the massive lists of comings and goings on streaming platforms each month. Here’s our curated take of what’s new on Amazon and Hulu this month.

    Check our for Netflix list for more streaming picks.


    1) Bosch: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, March 11)

    Lost alum Titus Welliver returns for a second season as Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch in this series based on the novels of Michael Connelly. Just as last year’s freshman season loosely adapted three of Connelly’s novels, season 2 will tackle another trio: Trunk Music, The Drop, and The Last Coyote. In addition to Bosch’s ongoing personal problems, this season will explore corruption within the police force and domestic terrorism, all of it kicked off with a dead body in a trunk and what at first appears to be a straightforward mob hit. The first season of Bosch was perfect binge-fodder, with multiple cases interweaving in a way that kept you interested in all of them but still provided enough variety and twists to keep you guessing. Connelly’s novel series is up to nearly 20 books, so hopefully Welliver will be playing Harry Bosch for a long time to come.

    2) Ghostbusters/Ghostbusters II (Amazon Prime, March 1)

    It’s going to be a big year for Ghostbusters, one way or another. The reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, and directed by Paul Feig, is due out this summer. Whether fans will accept a new spin on such a beloved classic remains to be seen, but the nice thing is that, even if the new Ghostbusters is a complete trainwreck, we’ll always have the original. Having just rewatched it recently, I can confirm that Ghostbusters holds up brilliantly, every bit as charming, quotable, and hilarious now as it was in 1984. Ghostbusters II… well, less so, but I think it gets an unfairly bad rap. How else would we have known that the world was going to end this past Valentine’s Day?

    3) American Psycho (Amazon Prime, March 1)

    Long before Christian Bale was playing a crazy, violent rich guy in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, he was playing a crazy, violent rich guy in Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 thriller/black comedy novel. But this crazy, violent rich guy is less about punching people while wearing elaborate costumes and more about hooker threesomes and axe murder. Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a narcissistic investment banker who loves pop music and the finer things in life. And also killing people (or fantasizing about killing people, depending on your interpretation of the film). Just remember: If you go to someone’s house and they have plastic covering the floor, you should pay attention to your surroundings.

    4) Damages: Seasons 1-5 (Hulu, March 1)

    Glenn Close stars as ruthless but brilliant lawyer Patty Hewes in this critically acclaimed legal drama from Daniel Zelman and Glenn and Todd A. Kessler (who later went on to create Netflix’s Bloodline). Rose Byrne stars as Ellen Parsons, a recent law school graduate who is swept into a world of moral compromise as Hewes’ protégée. Unlike most legal shows, each season of Damages follows a single case from start to finish. The show earned Close a pair of Emmys for her performance, and Damages attracted a genuinely gobsmacking lineup of acting talent over the years, including John Goodman, Lily Tomlin, Ted Danson, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, and Martin Short, to name just a few.

    5) Dawson’s Creek: Seasons 1-6 (Hulu, March 1)

    Hulu is unleashing a pair of major nostalgia bombs onto ’90s kids like myself this month. First up is Dawson’s Creek, Kevin Williamson’s ode to teenage longing and James Van Der Beek’s enormous forehead. The Beek stars as the titular Dawson Leery, aspiring filmmaker and full-time romantic, who is frequently crushing on girl-next-door Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), with bad(der) boy Pacey (Joshua Jackson) and Jen (Michelle Williams) tumbling around in the romantic mix as well. It’s painfully earnest and eminently mockable, but damned if it didn’t break a lot of hearts back in high school. The music! The hair! The heartstrings!

    6) Party of Five: Season 1-6 (Hulu, March 1)

    Speaking of ’90s melodrama, it didn’t get much more melodramatic than Party of Five, which starred eventual Lost leading man Matthew Fox as 24-year-old Charlie Salinger, an immature ladies’ man forced to take on real responsibilities after his parents are killed by a drunk driver. He becomes the de facto head of the Salinger household, overseeing 16-year-old Bailey (Scott Wolf), 15-year-old Julia (Neve Campbell), 11-year-old Claudia (Lacey Chabert), and infant Owen. Over the course of six seasons, the Salinger clan faces down just about every dramatic development you could think of, from cancer to drug addiction to the ongoing trauma of losing their parents. Binge it back to back with Dawson’s Creek and your closet’s flannel content will spontaneously increase by at least 300 percent.

    7) Gattaca (Amazon Prime, March 3)

    Andrew Niccol’s hugely underrated Gattaca is set in a future that seems increasingly plausible, one where prospective parents are able to custom-design their children, screening out any inherited flaws or harmful mutations. In a world of perfect people, Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is a natural-born “in-valid,” doomed by his genetics to menial jobs and discrimination. Vincent dreams of traveling into space, so much so that he works as a janitor at the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, just so he can be a little closer to his aspirations. But when he concocts a plan to fool the system and pose as someone else, Vincent puts himself square in the crosshairs of a system designed to suppress anyone who refuses to stick to their proper roles within society. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, inspirational, and absolutely a classic that more people should know about. Give it a watch.

    8) Louie: Season 5 (Amazon Prime/Hulu, March 4)

    See our write-up in this month’s Netflix column for details.

    9) The Comedians: Season 1 (Hulu, March 9)

    Developed by Billy Crystal, Larry Charles, Matt Nix, and Ben Wexler, The Comedians stars Crystal as a fictionalized version of himself who is forced to pair up with young comedian Josh Gad in order to get his new late-night comedy sketch series made. The partnership is an ungainly, Frankenstein’s monster of a collaboration, but the two struggle both on and off the job to find common ground and bond so they don’t wind up killing each other. In the tradition of shows like The Larry Sanders Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm, celebs regularly turn up playing versions of themselves, including Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, and even Larry Charles himself. The show only lasted one season, so enjoy.

    10) Orphan Black: Season 3 (Amazon Prime, March 27)

    BBC America’s brilliant clone drama returns for a fourth season on April 14, which will give you plenty of time to catch up now that Amazon Prime is adding the third season. Actress Tatiana Maslany continues to give a freaking master class in acting by portraying multiple different clones, each with their own distinct look, voice, personalities, and quirks. Honestly, if they ever need to trim the budget, Maslany could probably hold down this entire show by herself, and I would absolutely watch that. In season 3, the clones continue to try and dig into the mystery of their origins and the Dyad Institute, but things become considerably complicated with the revelation that there is another project out there that’s been churning out male clones. Let the clone-on-clone (on-clone-on-clone-on-clone) action commence…


    1) 11.22.63 (Hulu, Feb. 15)

    What if you found a time portal? What if you found it in the back of a diner? Weird, right, but still pretty cool. Less cool: if it only takes you to the same day in 1958, so checking out the dinosaurs or visiting the future are off the table. But when teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) finds himself in just that situation, he decides to try and change one of the great focal points of the 20th century: He will travel into the past and try to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But again, the portal only links to 1958, and since JFK was murdered in 1963, Jake is going to have some time to kill. Then again, he might just need it, since figuring out how to prevent an event that people are still arguing the true nature of even 50 years later is probably going to take some planning. 11.22.63 is based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel, and the miniseries was executive produced by J.J. “Star Wars, yo” Abrams.

    2) Amy (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)

    This Oscar-nominated documentary traces the life and death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning at the young age of 27 in 2011. The five-time Grammy winner’s problems with substance abuse were no secret—how could they be when one of her most famous songs was about not wanting to go to rehab?—but the film explores those struggles in detail, as well as including tons of interview footage and previously unseen performances. It won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar this year.

    3) Grease Live! (Hulu, Feb. 1)

    The trend of staging live musicals on network TV continues with Grease Live! (exclamation point theirs). Fox is taking viewers back to Rydell High for one night only, with Julianne Hough taking the role of Sandy, Aaron Tveit as Danny, and High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo. Those names don’t mean anything to me since I’ve never sat through Grease and have no intention to, but I’m sure there are plenty of cord-cutters out there who will be excited to see Grease Live! on Hulu the day after it airs on Fox. It’s the one that you want.

    4) The Kings of Summer (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)

    Sick of their parents and the mundanity of everyday life, three teenage friends set off to build a house in the woods and live off the land over the course of one long summer. The Kings of Summer was the debut feature film for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and the first produced film for screenwriter Chris Galletta, and the result is an endearing, sun-dappled coming-of-age flick that’s perfect viewing if you’re currently snowed in and freezing. Parks & Rec’s Nick Offerman also co-stars as the lead’s struggling single father.

    5) Nintendo Quest (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)

    This 2015 documentary follows a pair of game lovers as they embark on a road trip with one goal in mind: finding and buying a copy of every single game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System—all 678 of them. They’ve got 30 days, and they’re not allowed to order any of them online. Double-feature this one with that documentary about the E.T. video-game landfill and you’ve got yourself the makings of a good time. Along the way, the pair also delve into plenty of history and trivia about probably the best-known video game company of all time.

    6) UnREAL: Season 1 (Hulu, Feb. 3)

    You have to think that the behind-the-scenes reality of most “reality” shows is far more interesting than the heavily edited final product, so I’m surprised we haven’t seen more shows that take the next incestuous metafictional leap into showing us what goes into the “reality” we see on screen. The Lifetime series UnREAL takes that concept and makes it even more confusing by fictionalizing it, starring Shiri Appleby as a reality TV producer returning to her popular dating show after having a breakdown the previous season. The show earned solid critical reviews and was the co-brainchild of former Buffy-verse alum Marti Noxon, so consider me sold.

    7) Chi-Raq (Amazon Prime, Feb. 5)

    Amazon unleashes its first original feature film with this new Spike Lee joint, which hit theaters in early December and becomes free for Amazon Prime subscribers in February. Riffing on the classical Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Chi-Raq has a group of Chicago women hitting upon an unusual plan to curb gang violence. To wit, until the menfolk knock it off with all the shooting, they won’t be getting any good times from the ladyfolk. The flick is 82 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and features a cast that includes Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Dave Chappelle, and Samuel L. Jackson.

    8) Girls: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, Feb. 11)

    Amazon Prime’s partnership with HBO offers up tons of the cable network’s back catalog, but is a lot stingier with current content such as Game of Thrones or True Detective. Also on the no-fly list has been everything beyond the first season of HBO’s hit comedy Girls, created by Lena Dunham. Thankfully the slow rollout will continue in February, with the second season becoming available on the 11th. And if you don’t want to wait another few years to get seasons 3 and 4, there’s always HBO Now… (And look, it’s Kylo Ren!)

    9) The Americans: Season 3 (Amazon Prime, Feb. 15)

    Still firmly on the “criminally underrated” list after three seasons, FX’s The Americans is the Cold War family spy drama you never knew you needed. Keri Russell and Philip Jennings are two KGB operatives embedded in American suburbia, posing as a married couple and raising two kids who haven’t a clue about their parents’ true loyalties. They also happen to be neighbors with an FBI counterintelligence agent, so… awkward. It’s prime—and Prime—binge-watching material if you haven’t given it a shot, and you’ll be surprised at how badass the girl who was Felicity can be. Season 4 premieres March 16 on FX, so catch up while you can!

    10)The New Yorker Presents (Amazon Prime, Feb. 16)

    Amazon’s new docu-series brings the long-running magazine to the screen with a mix of cartoons, documentary shorts, silly sketches, and tons of other material. Unlike most of Amazon and Netflix’s shows, this one also has a more traditional format, rolling out one 30-minute episode per week just like caveman television. You can go ahead and watch the pilot on Amazon as we speak (hit the link above), which features a documentary segment directed Jonathan Demme and sketch starring Alan Cumming.

    11) Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon (Hulu with Showtime, Feb. 20)

    This is a great month for fascinating documentaries on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, so we’ll close out this month’s entry with this look at the history of the infamous comedy magazine that spun out of the equally legendary Harvard Lampoon. From the magazine’s heyday in the 1970s, through the launch of the production company that gave us many memorable Vacations, up through the publication’s eventual decline, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead kicks open all the Lampoon’s closets to air out the skeletons, featuring tons of never-before-seen footage. The documentary includes appearances from a who’s who of Hollywood talent, including Judd Apatow, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, John Goodman, Christopher Guest, John Landis, and Bill Murray.

    January 2016

    1) Fear the Walking Dead (Hulu, Jan. 26)

    There are no doubt quite a few cord-cutters out there who’ve been eagerly waiting for the chance to see the much-hyped Walking Dead spinoff/prequel series Fear the Walking Dead, and now your chance is finally on the horizon. Love or hate its parent series, there’s no question that Fear the Walking Dead had big shoes to fill, and even the mixed reviews that accompanied its run this past summer likely won’t be enough to keep curious Dead fans from wanting to judge for themselves—me included, since I haven’t watched it yet. Fear the Walking Dead is set during the earliest days of the undead outbreak that brings down civilization, following a Los Angeles family as the world begins to crumble around them. And at a brief six episodes long, the first season will make for easy bite-sized bingeing.

    2) Scrooged (Hulu, Jan. 1)

    Talk about bad timing. It would have made a lot more sense to have Scrooged available for streaming before the holidays were over, but such are the vagaries of entertainment contracts. Still, there’s no bad time to watch or rewatch Bill Murray’s darkly hilarious spin on Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Directed by Richard Donner, Scrooged stars Murray as Frank Cross, a humbug-y TV exec staging a ridiculous live production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, even though that means forcing his staff to work through the holiday. Just like Scrooge before him, Frank is due for a lesson in the holiday spirit, courtesy of three holiday spirits.

    3) 1408 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 5)

    Based on one of my favorite Stephen King short stories, 1408 stars John Cusack as Mike Enslin, a writer who’s built a career investigating haunted houses despite being a dyed-in-the-wool nonbeliever. An anonymous postcard tips him off about New York’s Dolphin Hotel, and one particular room—1408—which is supposedly a hotbed of paranormal activity. Enslin is determined to spend the night in the room, ignoring the warnings of the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson). After Enslin sets up camp in 1408, he soon learns that his lifelong search for proof of the supernatural is about to reach a terrifying conclusion.

    4) Bone Tomahawk (Amazon Prime, Jan. 1)

    This horror/Western from writer/director S. Craig Zahler is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Kurt Russell stars as Sheriff Franklin Hunt, who leads a mission to rescue several kidnapped locals from a band of cannibalistic cave-dwellers dubbed “Troglodytes.” In spite of warnings from a Native American familiar with the savage group, Hunt assembles a posse to head into the hills in search of the missing settlers. Unfortunately, they find the Troglodytes, and they prove to be even more brutal than expected, setting up one of the goriest and most disturbing death scenes of 2015. Bone Tomahawk definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of both the the horror and Western genres, it will ensure you never want to venture into a cave again in your life.

    5) Goodnight Mommy (Amazon Prime, Jan. 9)

    Speaking of scary, this disturbing German horror flick was selected as one of the top five foreign language films of 2015 by the National Board of Review. Goodnight Mommy has a mother (Susanne Wuest) returning home to her twin sons after facial reconstruction surgery, her face draped in bandages. The twins soon become convinced that the woman beneath the bandages is not their mother, but rather some other impostor, and they set out to force her to confess the truth...whatever it takes. Playing on dueling universal fears of something being wrong with your parents or your children, Goodnight Mommy is an unsettling, slow-burn descent into terror, full of surprising twists and with nary a punch pulled.

    6) Billions: Season 1 (Amazon Prime with Showtime, Jan. 17)

    “What’s the point of having fuck-you money if you never say fuck you?” This new Showtime series stars Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti as a powerful hedge fund king and the determined U.S. Attorney on a collision course with him, respectively. Exploring the world of high finance—and the abuses therein—Billions was created by Ocean’s 13 co-writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien, along with journalist/Too Big to Fail author Andrew Ross Sorkin. Lewis was one of the best parts of Showtime’s Homeland even when it went off the rails, and Giamatti is always a hoot even when he’s in subpar material. Thankfully, Billions looks to offer meaty roles to both of them—and the chance to see the two of them going head-to-head and trying to outsmart each other. Even if you aren’t springing for the Amazon/Showtime package, you’ll be able to watch the premiere episode of Billions Jan. 1 on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, Roku, and others.

    7) Baskets: Season 1 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 22)

    This new FX series will be premiering Jan. 21 and then hitting Amazon Prime the following day, with future episodes set to follow that same one-day delay pattern. Created by Louis C.K., Zach Galifianakis, and Jonathan Krisel, Baskets stars Galifianakis as Chip Baskets, a man chasing his dream of becoming a professional clown (apparently there’s more to it than just buying a squeaky nose and some oversized shoes). Unfortunately, that dream took a hit after Chip failed to gain admission to a prestigious French clown school (apparently there are prestigious French clown schools), so now he’s working in the somewhat less prestigious role of “rodeo clown” in Bakersfield, California.

    8) Mad Dogs: Season 1 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 22)

    Mad Dogs was one of my favorite Amazon pilots I’ve seen, so I’m thrilled the black comedy is dropping its first full season this month. Adapting a 2011 U.K. series of the same name, Mad Dogs follows a group of 40-something friends reuniting at their rich buddy’s posh Belize villa, only to see things take a bloody turn after a series of bad decisions leaves one of them dead and the rest under the thumb of some very bad people. Cris Cole, who created the British original, helped adapt it for Amazon alongside TV vet Shawn Ryan, whose résumé includes The Shield, The Unit, and a pair of my underrated favorites: the short-lived Terriers and Last Resort. The cast is great across the board, including Billy Zane, Ben Chaplin, Michael Imperioli, Steve Zahn, and Romany Malco. The pilot was funny, shocking, and thoroughly addictive, so bring on the rest!

    9) Black Sails: Season 3 (Amazon Prime with Starz, Jan. 23)

    One of the perks of the Showtime and Starz Amazon subscriptions is that, unlike Amazon’s deal with HBO, they’ll get you access to new episodes as they premiere on their home networks. So that means you won’t have to wait for new episodes of Starz’s pirate drama Black Sails when it returns for its third season on Jan. 23, even if you have bailed on cable and satellite. And if you haven’t checked out Black Sails, this is the perfect time to dive in, since the Amazon membership also gives you access to the first two seasons. The show is actually a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure novel Treasure Island, set two decades before the events of the book and mixing fiction with real-life during the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy.” Lost treasure, swashbuckling, naval battles, and shivered timbers: Black Sails is the most pirate-related fun you can have without Johnny Depp and a bottle of rum.

    December 2015

    Pick of the Month: Transparent: Season 2 (Amazon, Dec. 11)

    Amazon’s slate of original programming finally found its flagship success with Transparent, which stars Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) as the patriarch of a family who announces to his grown kids that he’s transgender and will begin living as a woman. The series explores both Maura’s transition into living out what she always felt to be true, and her kids—played by Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, and Gaby Hoffman—dealing with the changes. The show boasts a ridiculously impressive 98 percent Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, and it has picked up a slew of awards, including an Emmy for Tambor’s performance and a Golden Globe for Best TV Series – Musical or Comedy. The show is already renewed for a third season as well.

    Best of the rest

    1) Dr. No (Hulu, Dec. 1)

    Last month Hulu added a motherlode of James Bond movies, adding damn near the entire pre-Brosnan run of agent 007’s adventures. One notable absence, however, was the movie that started it all (setting aside the non-canonical original Casino Royale). Now that oversight has been remedied, as Hulu added 1962’s Dr. No on the first of the month, ensuring you can begin your holiday Bond binge with Sean Connery’s very first outing as the debonair spy with the license to kill. After all, it just wouldn’t be a proper Bond-athon without Ursula Andress emerging from the surf in that white bikini.

    2) Friday the 13th series (Hulu, Dec. 1)

    Speaking of long-running movie franchises, Hulu’s also ringing in December with a very different killer. I’m not sure who’s got the higher body count, James Bond or Jason Voorhees, but I’m pretty sure Bond wins in the “flagrant womanizing” department. We all know Jason’s aversion to people having sex, after all… December is a weird time to stock up on slasher movies, but if you’re in the mood for a seasonally dissonant bloodbath, Hulu’s got your back, stocking the streaming catalog with the first eight Friday the 13th movies—well, seven. For some reason Friday the 13th – Part V: A New Beginning is missing. Maybe it’ll pull a Dr. No and show up next month. Slay bells ring, are you listening…

    3) Good Morning, Vietnam / Good Will Hunting (Hulu with Showtime, Dec. 1)

    The holidays are often a mix of the merry and the melancholy, and few actors have ever brought to life both ends of that spectrum as well as the late, much-missed Robin Williams. However your holiday season is playing out, Hulu with Showtime has left a wonderful present under the tree: two of Williams’ best films. And hey, they both start with “Good,” so it’s a natural double feature. In Good Morning, Vietnam, Williams plays an Armed Forces radio DJ in 1965 Saigon whose on-air antics inspire the troops but put him increasingly at odds with his superiors. In Good Will Hunting, Williams gives an Oscar-winning performance as a therapist trying to crack the affected apathy of the brilliant but troubled math genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon). Watch ’em both and raise a glass in Robin’s honor.

    4) Young Sherlock Holmes (Hulu, Dec. 1)

    Even though it was released in 1985, Young Sherlock Holmes would fit right in with today’s crop of films. It’s a prequel, it’s about an iconic pop-culture character during his younger years—hell, it even has cutting-edge CGI special effects! Well, they were cutting edge at the time. The film explores the first meeting between Sherlock (Nicholas Rowe) and John Watson (Alan Cox), who encounter each other at school and are soon swept up in a mystery involving poison darts, an ancient cult, and good old-fashioned human sacrifice. Barry Levinson directed YSH, from a script by Chris Columbus.

    5) Man Seeking Woman: Season 1 (Hulu, Dec. 7)

    Jay Baruchel, (Undeclared, How to Train Your Dragon) stars in this FXX sitcom about a young man navigating the perils and pitfalls of trying to find love after a breakup from his longtime girlfriend. That sounds like a thousand other disposable sitcoms you’ve seen before, but this one at least has the advantage of a singular creative vision guiding it. It’s based on Simon Rich’s 2013 book of short stories, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, and Rich serves as showrunner on the series. The show’s featured some noteworthy guest stars in its 10-episode run thus far, including Bill Hader, Sarah Silverman, and Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan, and it’s currently rocking an 81 percent Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes. It’s due to return for a second season on FXX on Jan. 6, 2016.

    6) Interstellar (Amazon/Hulu, Dec. 12)

    Christopher Nolan’s space epic was one of the most anticipated films of 2014 before it came out… and one of the most controversial and divisive afterwards. Visually stunning and unquestionably ambitious, the film becomes either more interesting or a complete mess in the third act, depending on who you ask. Matthew McConaughey stars as Joe Cooper, a widowed NASA vet living on a dying Earth that’s running out of natural resources. Through a weird set of circumstances related to the aforementioned bonkers third act, Joe winds up enlisted in a secret last-ditch mission to travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new planet for humanity to colonize. Taking the mission could literally mean saving the species, but it will also mean he’ll have to leave his young daughter behind, where, thanks to the vagaries of physics, she’ll keep getting older while he stays the same age.

    7) Mozart in the Jungle: Season 2 (Amazon, Dec. 30)

    Transparent isn’t the only Amazon Original returning for a second season this month. Created by Paul Weitz (About a Boy), Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited), and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), Mozart in the Jungle takes viewers inside a world of “sex, drugs, and classical music.” The behind-the-curtain look at modern classical music is revealed through the eyes of Gael García Bernal as composer Rodrigo and Lola Kirke as young oboist Hailey. Like Transparent, Mozart received rockstar critical ratings, currently sitting at 95 percent Fresh on RottenTomatoes, even if it didn’t get nearly the same level of spotlight as Tambor’s show.

    November 2015

    Pick of the Month: The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime, Nov. 20)

    The Man in the High Castle is Amazon Studios’ most ambitious project yet, a much-anticipated adaptation of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s infamous novel of alternate history. Set in a divergent 1962 in which the Axis powers won World War II, The Man in the High Castle imagines an America under the bootheel of Japanese and German forces. That status quo is threatened by the appearance of a film titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, said to have been created by the mysterious so-called “Man in the High Castle” and depicting a very different America—our America. Is it merely anti-authoritarian propaganda, a postcard from a different reality, or something else entirely?

    The Man in the High Castle was executive produced by Ridley Scott, a bloke who knows a thing or two about successful adaptations of Dick, having given us the best of the best in the form of Blade Runner. It was written by X-Files veteran Frank Spotnitz, with a cast that includes Alexa Davelos, Rupert Evans, Rufus Sewell, and DJ Qualls, to name a few. The pilot was the most-watched since Amazon began its “pilot season” system of development and audience voting, and it’s already been renewed for a second season.

    Best of the rest

    1) Bond. James Bond. (Hulu, Nov. 1)

    Agent 007 returns this month with the much-anticipated Spectre, and if Bond’s latest adventure leaves you craving more, Hulu has got your back and then some. Continuing a press to beef up its movie catalog, Hulu has snagged streaming rights to the mother lode of classic Bond. While it doesn’t have the entire Bond catalog—Daniel Craig’s modern era is missing, as are the Pierce Brosnan years—you can still watch three decades’ worth of licensed killing for your streaming enjoyment. Clear your schedule and you’ll be able to watch From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Never Say Never Again (1983), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), and License to Kill (1989).

    2) Adventures in Babysitting (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    Chris Hemsworth may be perfectly cast as Marvel’s Nordic beefcake God of Thunder, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Thor’s appearance in Christopher Columbus’ 1987 directorial debut, Adventures in Babysitting. OK, so he isn’t really Thor, but it was still his most noteworthy live-action appearance until the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe. Elisabeth Shue—cementing my childhood crush begun in The Karate Kid—stars as Chris Parker, a teenage girl who gets stood up, takes what should be a simple babysitting gig, and winds up having a night of crazy adventures across Chicago.

    3) Arachnophobia (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    If you’ve got a thing about spiders, there’s a very good chance you won’t survive viewing Arachnophobia. After a rare and deadly Venezuelan spider hitches a ride to the States, the creepy crawly and its offspring begin terrorizing a small California town. Jeff Daniels is a local doctor trying to figure out what’s causing all the mysterious deaths, and he’s increasingly paralyzed by his crippling fear of spiders. Come for the ookiness, stay for John Goodman as no-nonsense exterminator Delbert McClintock.

    4) Exists (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    Back in September in this column we profiled Bobcat Goldthwait’s found-footage Bigfoot flick Willow Creek. Behind that movie, Exists is probably the second-most noteworthy of the recent trend of Bigfoot horrors. Directed by Eduardo Sánchez—one of the men responsible for kickstarting the modern found-footage genre with The Blair Witch ProjectExists opens with a standard horror setup, with a group of friends venturing into the woods for some fun. Unfortunately, strange noises escalate to mysterious damage to their car, and the friends soon realize there’s something menacing stalking them. Exists only has a 35 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but fans of Sanchez will likely enjoy the ride.

    5)Grosse Pointe Blank (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    Martin Blank (John Cusack) is a professional killer, but his personal life is more of a mess than his crime scenes: He’s bored, depressed, and in therapy years before Tony Soprano got the idea. After fouling up a hit, he takes a job in his hometown to appease his irate client, attend his 10-year high school reunion, and hopefully reconnect with the girl he stood up at prom a decade earlier (Minnie Driver). Grosse Pointe Blank is an eminently rewatchable flick, and the blending of rom-com tropes with edgier scenes like Martin killing a guy with a ballpoint pen in the hall of his high school perfectly mirror Martin’s internal crisis. Bonus points for Dan Aykroyd’s role as a rival “professional” who’s determined to put Martin in the ground.

    6) Out of Sight (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    Say what you will about J-Lo, but her onscreen chemistry with George Clooney is electric in this Elmore Leonard adaptation directed by Steven Soderbergh. Clooney is a professional bank robber named Jack Foley; Lopez is U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco. The pair meet-cute while crammed inside a trunk during Foley’s escape from prison, and after that she’s determined to take him down. But is she really pursuing him for the right reasons? The rest of the top-tier cast includes Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, and Albert Brooks. The script by Scott Frank is one of the best Leonard adaptations ever, and the flick is worth watching for the nonlinear love scene alone.

    7) Turner & Hooch (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    I’m a sucker for a Tom Hanks ’80s comedy—The ‘burbs is unapologetically one of my favorite movies—and watching him play straight man to an oversized canine with a drooling problem sounds like a great way to kill an afternoon to me. Hanks is a Scott Turner, a neat-freak cop forced to take the slobbery Hooch into his life after the dog is the only witness to his owner’s murder. Hooch proceeds to eat more or less everything Turner owns, but damned if he doesn’t start growing on the reluctant cop. Half the fun is watching Hanks interact with the dog, but Turner & Hooch also has heart to spare. That heart is just covered with ropes of dog saliva.

    8) The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Amazon Prime, Nov. 5)

    Star Heath Ledger died a third of the way through filming on Terry Gilliam’s fantasy film, but his friends rose to the occasion, with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all stepping in to play different incarnations of Ledger’s character. It was a clever solution to a heartbreaking problem, but also a lovely tribute to a powerhouse talent taken far too young. Ledger & co. headline a tale of a travelling theater troupes, magic mirrors, and outsmarting the Devil himself.

    9) Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 6)

    Superman Lives has become one of the most notorious failed productions in Hollywood history, thanks in no small part to Kevin Smith’s accounts of his time on the project, not to mention those pictures of long-haired Nic Cage in the Superman costume. Death of ‘Superman Lives’ dives deep into the history of the doomed project, which was set to be directed by Tim Burton but was canceled three weeks before filming was set to begin in 1998. The documentary includes interviews with Burton, Smith, writer Dan Gilroy, and producers Jon Peters and Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

    10) Ex Machina (Amazon Prime, Nov. 14)

    Alex Garland has been the screenwriter on some of the best and most intriguing genre films of the young century, from 28 Days Later and Sunshine to Never Let Me Go and Dredd. He finally made his feature directorial debut with Ex Machina, a critically acclaimed science-fiction thriller about a Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer invited to the home of his wealthy, eccentric employer (Oscar Isaac) to investigate a breakthrough: an android named Ava who may be the first example of true artificial intelligence. The more Caleb interacts with Ava (Alicia Vikander), the easier it becomes to forget that she’s machine, but it soon becomes clear that his boss’ motivations may not be as clear-cut as they first appeared. Ex Machina has been almost universally praised, currently rocking a 92 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    October 2015

    Pick of the Month: The Back to the Future trilogy (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)

    This year rings in the 30th anniversary of Robert Zemeckis’ beloved Back to the Future trilogy, and in fact we’re only a few weeks away from “Back to the Future Day”—Oct. 21, 2015, the date Marty arrived in the future in BTTF2. There are plenty of crazy celebrations going on this month, from this cheeky fake trailer for Jaws 19 to the sudden appearance of Pepsi Perfect. But the very best way to celebrate the adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown is to rewatch them, and Amazon Prime customers can do just that throughout the month of October. Amazon Prime has added all three Back to the Future movies to the streaming catalog, so now’s the perfect time to play hooky from work, school, or family commitments and settle in for six hours or so of pure time-hopping, hover-boarding, paradox-inducing, “Great Scott”ing, 1.21 gigawatting awesomeness. Our real-life hoverboards may still not be as cool as the movie version, but at least we have the Back to the Future trilogy on-demand for our marathoning delight. This is heavy.

    The best of the rest:

    1) Blood Simple (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    The Coen Brothers have been a pair of the most fascinating filmmakers in the industry for the past three decades, but it all started here, in 1984’s bleak noir crime thriller Blood Simple.

    Small-town Texas bar owner Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya) hires a private dick (M. Emmet Walsh) to investigate his wife (Frances McDormand), whom he suspects is cheating on him. That simple act is the beginning of a long, crooked road full of bad turns and dead bodies. In addition to marking the Coen Brothers’ directorial debut, Blood Simple also kickstarted the careers of cinematographer (and later director) Barry Sonnenfeld and actress Frances McDormand. Blood Simple is currently rocking a 94 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    2) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)

    Jim Carrey mostly makes the news these days for being a vocal anti-vaxxer, so it’s easy to forget just how good he can be when paired with the right material. He’s never been better than in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and directed by Michel Gondry. Carrey plays Joel Barish, coming off a bad breakup with the former love of his life, Clementine (Kate Winslet). He hires a mysterious company to erase all memory of his relationship with his ex… but then changes his mind halfway through. Unfortunately, the procedure has to be done while the subject is sleeping, so Joel is left fleeing through the landscape of his subconscious, clinging to a memory of Clementine and trying to save her from the encroaching darkness. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and is rated 93 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

    3) The Expendables 3(Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Sly Stallone managed to resurrect both of his iconic ’80s franchises with 21st century installments of Rocky and Rambo, so it made sense when he eventually put together a series designed to bring every last aging action relic of the Reagan years back to the big screen. In the third Expendables outing, merc badass Barney Ross (Stallone) and his crew face off against one of the group’s co-founders (Mel Gibson), an arms dealer who’s nursing a grudge and determined to make the Expendables live up to their name. The cast for this go-round also includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, and… Kelsey Grammer?

    4) Girl Most Likely (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Imogene (Kristen Wiig) is a failed playwright struggling with writer’s block, working a crappy job at a New York magazine to make ends meet. After a failed suicide attempt in hopes of luring back her ex, she winds up in the custody of her mother (Annette Bening), who frankly would rather be gambling. After inadvertently discovering that her long-thought-dead father is actually alive and living in NYC, Imogene enlists her friends and brother to help track him down, and along the way falls for a charming Backstreet Boys cover band performer.

    Girl Most Likely got nailed with negative reviews, but Wiig and Bening’s performances were singled out for praise. If you’re a Wiig fan, double-feature it with Welcome to Me over on Netflix, or wait around for another Wiig entry further down this list.

    5) The Innkeepers (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Director Ti West has established himself as one of the most talented young horror directors in the game with flicks such as The House of the Devil and The Sacrament, as well as segments in the V/H/S and The ABCs of Death anthologies. The Innkeepers is by far my favorite thing he’s done thus far, a good old-fashioned ghost story buoyed by charming performances from Sara Paxton and Pat Healy.

    They star as the last two remaining staff at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a historic hotel that’s about to close its doors permanently. With the building mostly abandoned, the pair set out to try and gather tangible evidence of the spirits said to haunt its hallways, and what unfolds bounces between funny, tragic, and slow-burn terrifying. If you like the cut of West’s jib, The House of the Devil is also available on Hulu, and The Sacrament is on Netflix Instant. The Innkeepers has a 79 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    6) Joe (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    In recent years, David Gordon Green has mainly been on a comedy run with things like Pineapple Express and HBO’s Eastbound & Down, but he returned to his drama roots with 2014’s Joe. Nicolas Cage stars as the titular Joe Ransom, an ex-con who runs a tree-removal crew in rural Texas. He hires and then befriends 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan), a good kid with a particularly bad dad (Gary Poulter). That friendship will put Joe on a path for either redemption or destruction… maybe both.

    With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 86 percent Fresh, Joe earned praise from critics for both Green’s direction and Cage’s performance, and god knows it’s nice to see Cage actually being good in something these days. One tragic and morbid footnote: Actor Gary Poulter, who played the alcoholic father in Joe—who was homeless in real life when he was cast—was found dead before the film even made it to the festival circuit.

    7) Much Ado About Nothing (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Joss Whedon has spent the past several years earning Disney billions of dollars with the juggernaut Avengers franchise, but he cleansed his palate between them with Much Ado About Nothing. A modern-day remake of Shakespeare’s beloved proto-screwball comedy, Whedon’s Much Ado enlists several of his regulars, including Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, and Tom Lenk. The reunion of Acker and Denisof in a romantic pairing—playing Beatrice and Benedick, respectively—should be more than enough to lure in Angel fans still stinging from the respective ends of Fred and Wesley, but the film was well received overall, currently sitting at 84 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It even earned a Guinness World Record, courtesy of a Blu-ray commentary track that crammed in a whopping 16 members of the cast and crew.

    8) Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)

    Paul Reubens is on the cusp of resurrecting Pee-wee with the help of producer Judd Apatow and Netflix, but in the meantime you can re-experience one of the best iterations of Reubens’ hyperactive manchild. In Big Adventure, Pee-wee sets out cross-country in search of his stolen bicycle, along the way encountering hobos, biker gangs, and “Large Marge,” a creepy trucker who single-handedly soiled the pants of my entire generation thanks to one iconic close-up. Scripted by Reubens with Michael Varhol and the late Phil Hartman (Simpsons, NewsRadio), Pee-wee’s Big Adventure also marked the feature directorial debut of Tim Burton and the first of many collaborations with composer Danny Elfman.

    9) The Skeleton Twins (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Kristen Wiig’s second appearance in this month’s list is in another movie that, weirdly enough, also involves a suicide attempt as inciting incident, just like Girl Most Likely up top. In The Skeleton Twins, Maggie’s (Wiig) attempts to end it all are interrupted by a phone call notifying her that her estranged twin brother Milo (Bill Hader) also just tried to kill himself. She travels to Los Angeles to visit him in the hospital and eventually convinces him to return to their hometown and stay with her a while. The pair’s mutual brush with death proves to be the unlikely catalyst for their own reconnection and discovery of reasons to keep on keeping on. The Skeleton Twins is rated 87 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so if you’re only going to watch one streaming Kristen Wiig suicide comedy this month, it should probably be this one.

    10) The Wolf of Wall Street (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Hulu just snatched a ton of content from Netflix after the latter ended a multi-year deal with the cable net Epix, and one of the big fish switching ponds is the award-winning Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio joint The Wolf of Wall Street.

    Based on the memoir of ruthless former stock trader Jordan Belfort, Wolf follows Belfort’s (DiCaprio) rise and fall on Wall Street, earning millions through crooked business practices before eventually being brought down by the feds. The cast is stellar across the board, including DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, and Rob Reiner, and screenwriter Terence Winter’s adaptation of Belfort’s book is by turns funny, infuriating, and profane. But poor old Leo still didn’t get to take home an Oscar

    11) They Came Together (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    There’s plenty to mock in modern romantic comedies: the cliched twists and turns, the tired formulas, the inevitable comic misunderstandings. All of that is grist for the mill in They Came Together, a sharp satire of everything rom-com starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, directed by David Wain from a script by Wain and fellow Stella comedy group veteran Michael Showalter. Molly (Poehler) runs a small candy shop. Joel (Rudd) is the head of a massive candy corp that wants to shut her doors permanently. Naturally, they hate each other. But wait...maybe they actually love each other? Because that’s how it works in these things.

    12) You’re Next (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    If you still haven’t seen Adam Wingard’s acclaimed post-modern slasher flick You’re Next, this will make perfect viewing for the Halloween season. Like Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, You’re Next is best approached with as little foreknowledge as possible, so suffice to say it involves a family gathering that goes sideways when masked figures start trying to kill everyone in the house. Where it goes from there… Well, just watch and know that You’re Next ably mixes scares, gore, pitch-black humor, and a star-making performance by Sharni Vinson. It’s rated 75 percent Fresh on RT, but horror fans can easily add another 10-15 percentage points onto that score. Also be sure to check out Wingard’s The Guest on Netflix Instant, which reunited the director with You’re Next screenwriter Simon Barrett, to good effect.

    13) American Horror Show: Freak Show (Amazon Prime/Hulu, Oct. 6)

    The fourth season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s FX horror anthology series unfolds in 1950s Florida, set in and around “Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities,” one of the last surviving “freak shows” in America. As with previous seasons, much of the earlier cast recurs in new roles, including Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sidibe. Even more intriguingly, several other actors, including James Cromwell, actually reprise their roles from season 2’s Asylum, strengthening theories that all of these stories are unfolding within the same narrative universe. Also, there’s a scary-ass clown, because of course there is.

    14) Casual (Hulu, Oct. 7)

    Jason Reitman has racked up the résumé over the past decade, including Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult. He also directed several episodes of the American incarnation of The Office, and now he’s diving back into television with Hulu’s Casual, which he created.

    Michaela Watkins (SNL) stars as Valerie, a newly divorced therapist and single mom who moves herself and her 16-year-old daughter (God Bless America’s Tara Lynne Barr) in with her bachelor brother (Tommy Dewey), who runs a dating site. Hijinks will undoubtedly ensue.

    15) Red Oaks (Amazon Prime, Oct. 9)

    Amazon’s much-anticipated Philip K. Dick adaptation The Man in the High Castle is due to arrive next month, but in the meantime they’re serving up another new original series—and this one’s a bit less heavy than “What if the Axis powers won WWII?”

    Red Oaks is set at the prestigious Red Oaks Country Club in 1985, following a young college tennis player named David (Craig Roberts) who is working a summer job there. It’s a coming-of-age tale blended with a workplace comedy, with a dash or two of familial dysfunction thrown in for good measure. Red Oaks was created by Joe Gangemi and frequent Steven Soderbergh collaborator Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL). Soderbergh also executive produced the series, with David Gordon Green (see also Joe) directing the pilot. Red Oaks’ 10-episode first season features a cast that includes Paul Reiser, Richard Kind, and Jennifer Grey.

    16) Camp X-Ray (Hulu with Showtime, Oct. 17)

    Kristen Stewart continues carving out a post-Twilight career with this drama set at the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Stewart plays a guard at the facility, spending her days watching over the prisoners designated “enemy combatants” as part of America’s ongoing war on terror. Both the prisoners and her fellow soldiers are frequently hostile toward her, but she befriends one man in particular, who has been incarcerated in Guantánamo for eight long years. That relationship causes her to begin questioning her convictions. Camp X-Ray earned a 73 percent Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, with critics singling out the performances of Stewart and co-star Peyman Moaadi.

    17) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (Amazon Prime/Hulu, Oct. 23)

    Hollywood will be in need of a new reigning young adult movie franchise to milk after The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 hits theaters on Nov. 20. The fourth film in the franchise will wrap up the big-screen adaptation of author Suzanne Collins’ best-selling YA book series, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) determined to take down the oppressive government of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) once and for all.

    But before then, both fans and newcomers alike will get the chance to revisit the path that led Katniss from simple small-town girl to revolutionary. The original Hunger Games flick isn’t available on any of the core trio of streaming services, but Hulu already has Catching Fire, and the third film is coming to both Amazon Prime and Hulu later this month.

    18) While We’re Young (Amazon Prime, Oct. 23)

    While We’re Young is one of the latest from writer/director Noah Baumbach, who previously gave us indie hits such as Frances Ha, Greenberg, and The Squid and the Whale. While We’re Young reunites Baumbach with his Greenberg leading man, Ben Stiller, with the actor this time playing a New York City documentarian named Josh, alongside Naomi Watts as his wife Cornelia. Their marriage is on the rocks, and Josh has been struggling to complete his latest film for years. Their lives are energized after befriending a younger couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), but they soon learn that sometimes something that looks too good to be true, is. While We’re Young is currently sitting at 83 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

    19) Danny Collins (Amazon Prime, Oct. 30)

    Screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s (Crazy, Stupid, Love) feature directorial debut stars Al Pacino as an aging ’70s rock icon named, well, Danny Collins. Based loosely on the real life of folk singer Steve Tilston, Danny Collins has the titular rocker reexamining his life after discovering a 40-year-old letter written—but never delivered—to him by the late John Lennon. He moves into a hotel in Jersey, tries to start a relationship with the grown son he’s never met (Bobby Cannavale), and tries to reconnect with the creative fire he lost somewhere along the way. The flick is rated 77 percent Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, with Pacino’s lead performance earning much praise, alongside a dynamite cast that also includes Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, and Christopher Plummer as Collins’ long-time manager who discovers the Lennon letter.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman

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    California doesn’t hold its presidential primary until June, but that didn't stop some residents from telling Jimmy Kimmel's crew all about the people they voted for on Super Tuesday.

    Kimmel dispatched a camera crew to quiz Californians about the the massive day of primaries and caucuses. Even though they weren't part of the festivities, Californians had plenty to say about the whole process. Between being charged at the door, getting juice and swag, and that sweet holographic voting system, pulling the lever has gotten a lot more complicated since the last primary.

    It might almost certainly be fake, but at least this time everyone got the proper sticker as proof of their lies. 

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

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