Twelve Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream in December
Make a couch date with the new 'Knives Out' whodunnit, Annie Murphy's latest gem, a steamy romance and an ace Aussie rom-com sitcom.
December 23, 2022
Not all that long ago, the idea of getting cosy on your couch, clicking a few buttons, and having thousands of films and television shows at your fingertips seemed like something out of science fiction. Now, it's just an ordinary night — whether you're virtually gathering the gang to text along, cuddling up to your significant other or shutting the world out for some much needed me-time.
Of course, given the wealth of options to choose from, there's nothing ordinary about making a date with your chosen streaming platform. The question isn't "should I watch something?" — it's "what on earth should I choose?".
Hundreds of titles are added to Australia's online viewing services each and every month, all vying for a spot on your must-see list. And, so you don't spend 45 minutes scrolling and then being too tired to actually commit to anything, we're here to help. We've spent plenty of couch time watching our way through this month's latest batch — and, from the latest and greatest through to old and recent favourites, here are our picks for your streaming queue in December.
BRAND NEW STUFF YOU CAN WATCH IN FULL
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery opens with a puzzle box inside a puzzle box. The former is a wooden cube delivered out of the blue, the latter the followup to 2019 murder-mystery hit Knives Out, and both are as tightly, meticulously, cleverly and cannily orchestrated as each other. The physical version has siblings, all sent to summon a motley crew of characters to the same place, as these types of flicks need to boast. The film clearly has its own brethren, and slots in beside its predecessor as one of the genre's gleaming standouts. More Knives Out movies will follow as well, which the two so far deserve to keep spawning as long as writer/director Rian Johnson (Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi) and Benoit Blanc-playing star Daniel Craig (No Time to Die) will make them. Long may they keep the franchise's key detective and audience alike sleuthing. Long may they have everyone revelling in every twist, trick and revelation, as the breezy blast that is Glass Onion itself starts with.
What do Connecticut Governor and US Senate candidate Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn, WandaVision), model-slash-designer-slash-entrepreneur Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon), scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr, The Many Saints of Newark) and gun-toting, YouTube-posting men's rights activist Duke Cody (Dave Bautista, Thor: Love and Thunder) all have in common when this smart and savvy sequel kicks off? They each receive those literal puzzle boxes, of course, and they visibly enjoy their time working out what they're about. The cartons are the key to their getaway to Greece — their invites from tech mogul Miles Bron (Edward Norton, The French Dispatch), in fact — and also perfectly emblematic of this entire feature. It's noteworthy that this quartet carefully but playfully piece together clues to unveil the contents inside, aka Glass Onion's exact modus operandi. That said, it's also significant that a fifth recipient of these elaborate squares, Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe, Antebellum), simply decides to smash their way inside with a hammer. As Brick and Looper also showed, Johnson knows when to attentively dole out exactly what he needs to, including when the body count starts. He also knows when to let everything spill out, and when to put the cravat-wearing Blanc on the case.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery streams via Netflix. Read our full review.
KEVIN CAN F**K HIMSELF
Not once, not even jokingly, does Annie Murphy utter the words "ew, David" in Kevin Can F**k Himself. She's never ever just a little bit Alexis, either. Murphy is just as exceptional and awards-worthy here, however, in a superb show that's a clever and cutting dark comedy — and, perhaps more accurately, offers a clear-eyed unpacking of what sitcoms usually mean (Schitt's Creek excluded, obviously) for women. In its first season in 2021, Kevin Can F**k Himself cast its star as Allison Devine-McRoberts, wife to the manchild of a titular figure (Eric Petersen, Sydney to the Max), and clearly in the kind of TV show about obnoxious husbands and their put-upon spouses that've been a small-screen mainstay for far too long. In those segments of the series, the lights glow, the McRoberts home looks like every other abode in every other program of its ilk, multiple cameras observe the action and viewers can be forgiven for expecting Kevin James to show up. Also, canned laughter chuckles — always unearned.
Consider the above setup Kevin Can F**k Himself's starting point, though, because the show itself does. From there, creator Valerie Armstrong (Lodge 49) exposes what life is truly like for Allison — who is considered Kevin's wife first and foremost by almost everyone around her — including by switching looks, hues and camera arrangements whenever its namesake isn't around. The visible change is smart and effective, with this two-season show keeping digging into Allison's bleak situation from there. In the spirit of the series' title, she's trying to rid herself of her horrible marriage, including with help from neighbour Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden, The Righteous Gemstones). Alas, as this second and sadly last batch of episodes shows — as its first did as well — nothing is ever that easy. In a better world, Kevin Can F**k Himself would've had more time to unfurl and interrogate its story, but in this world it doesn't put a foot wrong with the time it's been given. Murphy and Inboden make one of TV's best duos, too; fingers crossed that someone reteams them again sometime soon.
Kevin can F**k Himself streams via AMC+. Read our full review of 2021's season one.
LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER
Neither Emma Corrin's nor Jack O'Connell's resumes lack past highlights — The Crown for the former, and Skins, Starred Up, '71 and The North Water among the latter's — but the two actors scorch up the screen in Lady Chatterley's Lover. There'd be a problem if they didn't, given that the film adapts DH Lawrence's famously steamy and even banned 1928 novel. (In Australia, even a book about the British obscenity trial that the tome inspired was censored.) To tell this tale about an upper-class wife, her unfulfilling marriage to a Baronet injured in World War I, and the sexual and emotional yearning she quenches with the family property's gamekeeper, chemistry has to drip from the images, sparks need to fly so furiously that the movie's frames almost ignite, and a feverish and all-encompassing mood is a must. Along with actor-turned-director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (The Mustang), Corrin and O'Connell bring all of the above to the latest take on Lady Chatterley's Lover, and help the sumptuous erotic period drama itself not just bubble but boil.
As lensed with a sensual eye by cinematographer Benoît Delhomme (At Eternity's Gate), this achingly romantic film sees its titular Lady Connie (Corrin, My Policeman) meet her also-eponymous paramour Oliver Mellors (O'Connell, Seberg) following the war, after Clifford Chatterley (Matthew Duckett, A Confession) has returned paralysed and moved his bride into his stately estate. Talk of an heir remains — pre-injury, it was the first thing mentioned in their wedding toast — but Clifford's condition, as well as his focus on writing a novel and then modernising the local mine, prove obstacles. Connie could have a discreet affair for the sole purpose of getting pregnant, however, as Clifford suggests. But it isn't just a head-over-heels clandestine love that springs with Mellors, who's also a veteran. Connie and Oliver are bowled over by the kind of adoration, affection and lust that inspires frolics in the fields and stripping down in the rain, all while their romance also helps interrogate class clashes. As well as woozily heady, vibrantly performed and handsomely shot, Lady Chatterley's Lover also enjoys eating the rich; yes, that's sexy, too.
Lady Chatterley's Lover streams via Netflix.
In Nanny, Aisha (Anna Diop, Us) is haunted, both when she's asleep and awake. Her slumbers are disturbed by nightmares, but seeing rising waters and unwelcome spiders isn't just relegated to when the Senegalese woman in New York closes her eyes. A gut-wrenching sense of unease also lingers while she works, after securing a childminding job for rich Upper East Side residents Amy (Michelle Monaghan, Echoes) and Adam (Morgan Spector, The Gilded Age). Their five-year-old daughter Rose (Rose Decker, Mare of Easttown) adores Aisha — more than her parents, it often seems. And, the nannying gig helps Aisha distract herself from missing her own son, who she's desperately trying to bring over to the US. She's haunted by his absence, too, and by the stolen snippets of conversation she gets with him on the phone, constantly juggling the time difference. The supernatural disturbances plaguing Aisha and her feelings about leaving her child in Senegal to chase a better future for them both are clearly linked, although Nanny is atmospheric and insightful rather than blunt and overt.
The first horror film to win Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize, this evocative effort hails from writer/director Nikyatu Jusu, who makes her feature-length debut with quite the calling card. 2022 isn't short on affectingly moody and evocative female-focused thrillers with a maternal bent — see: Resurrection, which also debuted at Sundance — but Nanny's addition to the fold is deeply steeped in Aisha's immigrant experience. Thanks to all that otherworldly water, it feels like it's always steeping, in fact, soaking in the troubles and struggles of trying to snatch even a piece of the American dream when you're not wealthy, white and originally from the so-called land of the free. Also prominent: the dispiriting minutiae of Aisha's day, aka exactly what she has to endure to even have a chance of gaining what comes easily and obliviously to her employers. Like its central figure, Nanny is haunted several times over, too.
Nanny streams via Prime Video.
COLIN FROM ACCOUNTS
A girl, a guy and a meet-cute over an adorable animal: that's the delightful and very funny Colin From Accounts' underlying formula. When medical student Ashley (Harriet Dyer, The Invisible Man) and microbrewery owner Gordon (Patrick Brammall, Evil) cross paths in the street one otherwise standard Sydney morning, they literally come to an impasse. He lets her go first, she flashes her nipple as thanks, then he's so distracted that he hits a stray dog with his car. As these circumstances demonstrate, Colin From Accounts isn't afraid to get awkward, much to the benefit of audiences. There's a syrupy way to proceed from the show's debut moments, intertwining sparks flying with idyllic dates, plus zero doubts of a happy ending for humans and pooches alike. If this was a movie, that's how it'd happen. Then there's Dyer and Brammall's way, with the duo creating and writing the series as well as starring in it, and focusing as much on ordinary existential mayhem — working out who you want to be, navigating complex relationships and learning to appreciate the simple pleasure of someone else's company, for example — as pushing its leads together.
Just like in the Hollywood versions of this kind of tale, romance does blossom. That Dyer and Brammall are behind Colin From Accounts, their past chemistry on fellow Aussie comedy No Activity and the fact that they're married IRL means that pairing them up as more than new pals was always going to be on the show's agenda. It's how the series fleshes out each character and their baggage — including those who-am-I questions, Ash's difficult dynamic with her attention-seeking mother Lynelle (Helen Thomson, Elvis), and the responsibility that running your own business and committing to care for other people each bring — that helps give it depth. Colin From Accounts lets Ash and Gordon unfurl their woes and wishes, and also lets them grow. Sometimes, that happens by peeing and pooping in the wrong place, because that's also the type of comedy this is. Sometimes, it's because the show's central couple have taken a risk, or faced their struggles, or genuinely found solace in each other. Always, this new Aussie gem is breezy and weighty — and instantly bingeable.
Colin From Accounts streams via Binge. Read our full review.
DREAMING WALLS: INSIDE THE CHELSEA HOTEL
Part of Manhattan since the 1880s, the Chelsea Hotel is as much a New York City icon as the Statute of Liberty or the Empire State Building, and as influential over the cultural landscape as well. It's where 2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, where Janis Joplin and Allen Ginsburg have resided — Patti Smith, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen as well — and a key factor in the Andy Warhol co-directed 1966 film Chelsea Girls. It's the last place that poet Dylan Thomas stayed, and where Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious, was found dead. All of these details could fuel a documentary, or several, but that's not the approach that the Martin Scorsese-produced Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel takes. As the building undergoes extensive renovations that've been happening for years, upending long-term inhabitants and transforming historic apartments, filmmakers Amélie van Elmbt (The Elephant and the Butterfly) and Maya Duverdier spend time with the people determined not to leave.
Everyone who still calls the Chelsea home knows the ins and outs of its past; "the ghosts who haunt it," as one puts it. But Dreaming Walls considers those everyday dwellers — most linked to creative fields in one way or another, of course — the life and soul of the current joint. That might be easy when so much of the place, and its gorgeous gothic architecture, is a construction site in the documentary's frames. The contrast between stripped-bare walls and jam-packed apartments that've been occupied by the same people for decades is haunting as well. It's no wonder that this ethereal and evocative film is largely content to loiter, to listen and to bear witness to the folks who've been there, seen it all, heard what they didn't personally experience and aren't willing to simply move just because a boutique spot is poised to take over.
Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel streams via DocPlay.
Time-jump alert: when Bump returns for its third season, four years have passed in this supremely bingeable Aussie dramedy's on-screen world. Oly (Nathalie Morris, Petrol) and Santi (Carlos Sanson, Sweet As) are no longer high schoolers, or even teenagers. They're also no longer the couple that took a big leap at the end of season two by moving into their own apartment, away from both of their chaotic families, while Oly finished her HSC, Santi started working full-time and both juggled all of the above with caring for baby J. Indeed, this new batch of Bump episodes begins with its central pairing taking the now almost five-year-old Jacinda (Ava Cannon) to her first day of kindergarten. All three are both excited and nervous amid the awkward co-parenting energy between the now-split Oly and Santi — and as Oly's mother Angie (Claudia Karvan, Moja Vesna) surprises them en route. Times and ages may have changed, and situations and appearances as well, but the warmth this series feels for its characters — and the complexity it works through in well-worn scenarios — steadfastly remains.
We said it when the first ten-episode season dropped at the end of 2020, and we still stand by it today: Heartbreak High fans, Bump is for you, too. That isn't just because Karvan starred in The Heartbreak Kid, the movie that the OG Heartbreak High spun off from, but due to its dedication to chronicling the ins and outs of growing up and parenting in Sydney — yes, with school a focus as well. Bump has matured as Oly and Santi also have, however, even if the same can't always be said about Angie, Oly's dad Dom (Angus Sampson, The Lincoln Lawyer) and her older brother Bowie (Christian Byers, Between Two Worlds). A key theme in season three: what it means when life already hasn't turned out as planned when you still have so much of it left ahead of you. The show is called Bump, after all, and finds plenty of them paving everyone's paths. With the series also devoting its time to Santi's stepmother Rosa (Paula Garcia, Thirteen Lives) and best friend Vince (Ioane Saula, Preppers) among its broader look at Oly and Santi's support network, it also finds an array of ways to contemplate hopes, dreams, loves, losses, joys and disappointments.
Bump streams via Binge from December 26.
NEW AND RETURNING SHOWS TO CHECK OUT WEEK BY WEEK
The Office did it, in both the UK and US versions. Parks and Recreation did so, too. What We Do in the Shadows still does it — and, yes, there's more where they all came from. By now, the mockumentary format is a well-established part of the sitcom realm. Indeed, it's so common that additional shows deciding to give it a whirl aren't noteworthy for that alone. But in Emmy-winner Abbott Elementary, which is currently streaming its second season, the faux doco gimmick is also deployed as an outlet for the series' characters. They're all public school elementary teachers in Philadelphia, and the chats to-camera help convey the stresses and tolls of doing what they're devoted to. In a wonderfully warm and also clear-eyed gem created by, co-written by and starring triple-threat Quinta Brunson (Miracle Workers), that'd be teaching young hearts and minds no matter the everyday obstacles, the utter lack of resources and funding, or the absence of interest from the bureaucracy above them.
Brunson plays perennially perky 25-year-old teacher Janine Teagues, who loves her gig and her second-grade class. She also adores her colleague Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph, Ray Donovan), the kindergarten teacher that she sees as a mentor and work mum. Actually, Janine isn't just fond of all of the above — she's so devoted to her job that she'll let nothing stand in her way. But that isn't easy or straightforward in a system that's short on cash and care from the powers-that-be to make school better for its predominantly Black student populace. Also featuring Everybody Hates Chris' Tyler James Williams (also The United States vs Billie Holiday) as an apathetic substitute teacher, Lisa Ann Walter (The Right Mom) and Chris Perfetti (Sound of Metal) as Abbott faculty mainstays, and Janelle James (Black Monday) as the incompetent principal who only scored her position via blackmail, everything about Abbott Elementary is smart, kindhearted, funny and also honest. That remains the case in season two, where Janine is newly single and grappling with being on her own, sparks are flying with Williams' Gregory and James' Ava can't keep bluffing her way through her days.
Abbott Elementary streams via Disney+.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Is every vampire film destined to become a television series? Where Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What We Do in the Shadows and Interview with the Vampire have already tread — the latter just this year, too — Let the Right One In now follows. Originally a devastatingly haunting Swedish novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, then an entrancing 2008 film in its original language, then an American big-screen remake called Let Me In, this one just keeps drawing audiences in. In its present guise, it takes its tale to New York, where Mark Kane (Demián Bichir, Godzilla vs Kong) and his daughter Eleanor (Madison Taylor Baez, Selena: The Series) are trying to live as normal a life as they can when the latter is a member of the bloodsucking undead. Other changes abound, including the fact that Ellie has been blighted by her condition for just a decade; that NYC is being plagued by a series of brutal but strange killings; and that former pharmaceutical executive Arthur Logan (Željko Ivanek, The Last Duel), his estranged daughter Claire (Grace Gummer, Dr Death) and afflicted son Peter (Jacob Buster, Colony) factor into the narrative.
Because everything is a murder-mystery of late — see: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery above, and fellow recent streaming hits Only Murders in the Building, The Afterparty, Bad Sisters and Black Bird — so is Let the Right One In circa 2022 in its way. When Ellie befriends a boy, as has happened in every version of this tale so far, his mother happens to be a police detective investigating those aforementioned deaths. So, while the show chronicles Ellie and Isaiah Cole's (Ian Foreman, The Holiday Switch) affinity as outsiders, with the magic-loving neighbour kid bullied at school, it also charts his mum Naomi's (Anika Noni Rose, Maid) time on the job. And, this Let the Right One In is also a survival quest, chasing a cure for Ellie's predicament. In other words, creator and writer Andrew Hinderaker (Away) has taken the source material, filtered it through thoroughly 2022 obsessions, conjured up there requisite moody vibe and filled it with weighty performances. Sinking your teeth in is recommended.
Let the Right One In streams via Paramount+.
2022 CINEMA HIGHLIGHTS WORTH CATCHING UP WITH AT HOME
Flickering across a cinema screen, even the greatest of movies only engage two senses: sight and hearing. We can't touch, taste or smell films, even if adding scratch-and-sniff aromas to the experience has become a cult-favourite gimmick. British director Peter Strickland hasn't attempted that — but his features make you feel like you're running your fingers over an alluring dress (In Fabric), feeling the flutter of insect wings (The Duke of Burgundy) or, in his latest, enjoying the smells and tastes whipped up by a culinary collective that turns cooking and eating into performance art. Yes, if you've seen any of his movies before, Flux Gourmet instantly sounds like something only Strickland could make. While it's spinning that tale, it literally sounds like only something he could come up with as well, given that his audioscapes are always a thing of wonder (see also: the sound-focused Berberian Sound Studio). And, unsurprisingly due to his strong and distinctive sense of style and mood, everything about Flux Gourmet looks and feels like pure Strickland, too.
The setting: a culinary institute overseen by Jan Stevens (Gwendoline Christie, Wednesday), that regularly welcomes in different creative groups to undertake residencies. Her guests collaborate, percolate and come up with eye-catching blends of food, bodies and art — hosting OTT dinners, role-playing a trip to the supermarket, getting scatalogical and turning a live colonoscopy into a show, for instance. Watching and chronicling the latest stint by a 'sonic catering' troupe is journalist Stones (Makis Papadimitriou, Beckett), who also has gastrointestinal struggles, is constantly trying not to fart and somehow manages to keep a straight face as everything gets farcical around him. Asa Butterfield (Sex Education), Ariane Labed (The Souvenir: Part II) and Strickland regular Fatma Mohamed play the three bickering artists, and their time at the institute get messy and heated, fast — but this is a film that's as warm as it is wild, and stands out even among Strickland's inimitable work. Also crucial: riffing on This Is Spinal Tap.
Flux Gourmet streams via Shudder. Read our full review.
STREAMING HIGHLIGHTS FROM EARLIER IN THE YEAR WORTH CATCHING UP ON
THE LAST MOVIE STARS
Filmmakers adoring filmmakers is basically its own on-screen genre. Six-part documentary limited series The Last Movie Stars gives that idea a different spin: actors loving actors. Here, Ethan Hawke turns director, not for the first time — see: films Blaze, Seymour: An Introduction, The Hottest State and Chelsea Walls — to show his affection for the inimitable Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Unsurprisingly, he has a wealth of company, some chatting through their fondness for two Hollywood talents like no other and some contributing by giving voice to interview transcripts. For a memoir that didn't eventuate, Newman and Woodward compiled chats by a who's who of showbusiness during their careers; however, they also had the tapes destroyed. Cue George Clooney voicing Newman's chats, Laura Linney doing Woodward's, and everyone from Oscar Isaac, Sam Rockwell and Mark Ruffalo to Rose Byrne and Zoe Kazan also subbing in for other famous names.
That's where The Last Movie Stars' audio comes from, echoing with insightful discussions given the emotion they deserve. Hawke also includes new zoom chats with his players, as well as with Martin Scorsese, his daughter and Stranger Things star Maya and more, but his engrossing and probing series is head over heels for pairing those recreated interviews with archival footage. Staring at Newman and Woodward is easy, as is celebrating them and their relationship. This isn't just a case of deserved worship, though, but shows its subjects as real people rather than just stars — all while exploring Hollywood at the time, stepping through their careers and contemporaries, and overflowing with clear-eyed warmth. Hawke doesn't avoid tricky traits or truths, and this in-depth doco is all the more enlightening and compassionate for it. Whether you already treasure Newman and Woodward or you've always wanted to know more about the two legends, this is a movie buff's pure and utter dream.
The Last Movie Stars streams via Binge.
For three seasons on Ramy, Mohammed Amer has played Mo, the diner-owning cousin to the show's namesake. For those three seasons, including 2022's batch of episodes, he's also been part of one of the best and most thoughtful shows currently streaming, especially when it comes to the immigrant experience and telling Muslim American stories. Instead of just co-starring in an art-imitates-life dramedy inspired by someone else's existence, however, Amer has taken a leaf out of Ramy Youssef's book with Mo — a show with the same underlying concept, as co-created by Amer and Youssef. This time, the pair draw upon Amer's background rather than Youssef's. So, Amer's on-screen alter-ego is a Palestinian living in America. He's a refugee, in fact, who fled the Middle East when he was a child and sought asylum with his family. His US home: Houston, Texas. IRL, every one of these points is drawn from Amer's existence, as fans of his Netflix standup specials Mo Amer: The Vagabond and Mo Amer: Mohammed in Texas will recognise.
That's the history behind Mo, with the series' eight-episode first season honing in on its protagonist's attempts to gain US citizenship. Mo Najjar (Amer, Black Adam), his mother Yusra (Farah Bsieso, Daughters of Abdul) and brother Sameer (Omar Elba, Limetown) have been waiting two decades to have their cases heard — another detail ripped from reality — and trying to forge new lives while remaining in legal limbo has long since taken a toll. Spanning losing jobs, trying to find a new one as an undocumented American resident, the Najjars' family dynamic, pain from back home they haven't processed, the weight of cultural traditions and expectations, and Mo's relationship with Mexican and Catholic mechanic Maria (Teresa Ruiz, Father Stu), there's no shortage of detail and drama to Amer's passion project. Indeed, every second of the series feels as personal and authentic as it clearly is, and does far more than merely give Amer his own Ramy.
Mo streams via Netflix.
Need a few more streaming recommendations? Check out our picks from January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November this year.
You can also check out our running list of standout must-stream 2022 shows as well — and our best 15 new shows of the year, top 15 returning shows over the same period, 15 shows you might've missed and best 15 straight-to-streaming movies of 2022.
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