Around this time every month, the powers that be at Netflix release their list of what’s coming to and leaving the platform in the month to follow. It’s a time to reflect. A time of mourning. A time of hope.
To help you wade through that emotional soup, and help you decide what to watch in the weeks to come, we’re putting together the Monthly Netflix Report Card, a highly scientific, yet mostly arbitrary, very subjective assessment of the streaming giant’s gains and losses.
The final grade will take into account the three biggest gains in the Netflix original movies and shows/comedy specials, as well as the three biggest gains and losses in standard movies and shows/comedy specials. As months go on, we’ll look to improve our criteria as much as possible. And keep in mind: Netflix is a fickle beast, meaning they could always drop something out of the blue. So don't get mad at us.
Top Three Netflix Original Movies/Comedy Specials Coming to Netflix in December
-Bird Box, a post-apocalyptic survivor thriller starring Sandra Bullock as a mother protecting her children from an unseen force—which takes the form of a person's greatest fears—that has driven most of society to suicide. Think: A Quiet Place, but with characters limited by their sense of sight versus their ability to talk. And John Malkovich. (Dec 21)
-Springsteen on Broadway, the filmed version of the Boss's hit one-man show on Broadway, an intimate combination of theatrical memoir and song. (Dec 16)
-Roma. This is the big one. It's so big, in fact, that Netflix has broken its own rule and released it exclusively in theaters before making it available to stream (reluctantly setting the precedent for other major films). Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuarón's deeply personal profile of '70s-era Mexico City is already being hailed as a masterpiece, and will likely become the first Spanish-language film to elicit a Best Picture nomination. If you can see it in theaters, see it in theaters.
Top Three Netflix Original Series Coming to Netflix in December
-Netflix has substantially increased their international offerings (particularly, it seems, from Australia), so we're breaking our own rules and highlighting a trio of new-to-America shows: The Hook Up Plan (via France), about a heartbroken girl whose friends set her up with a high-class escort (consider this a cross between Deuce Bigalow and a reverse Pretty Woman); Derry Girls (via the UK), a coming-of-age dark comedy set amidst the turmoil of '90s-era Northern Ireland; and Perfume (via Germany), a six-part series based on the novel of the same name, which revolves around a murder and a group of friends obsessed with using human scents to create a one-of-a-kind fragrance. Interesting...(Dec 7, Dec 21, Dec 21)
-Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter's Tale and Ezra Koenig's Neo Yokio: Pink Christmas, two very different new Christmas specials from two very good new Netflix shows. (Dec 14 and Dec 7)
-The Fix, season one, a panel-style talk show in which comedians (like Michael Ian Black and Nikki Glaser) attempt to solve the world's most pressing problems. Hey, it's worth a shot...(Dec 14)
Aggregate Grade of Netflix Originals: A-. Are Roma and Bird Box two of the the biggest movies of the year for Netflix, prestige-wise? Certainly. Will any of those three international series, plus The Fix, actually be any good? That remains to be seen.
Top Three Movies/Comedy Specials Coming to Netflix in December
-The Big Lebowski. The Coen brothers' cult masterpiece is perfect for lazy holiday Netflix-watching. (Dec 1)
-The Lobster, twisted Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos's most accessible film, starring Colin Farrell as a man sentenced to become a lobster. (You might want to pair this with Lanthimos's highly-anticipated new film, The Favourite, starring Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.) (Dec 2)
-Avengers: Infinity War, for all you Marvel heads. (Dec 25)
Top Three Series Coming to Netflix in December
-The Great British Baking Show: Masterclass, season 5, which seems like appropriate viewing come Christmastime. (Dec 1)
-Blue Planet II, season one. Because there's no better place to escape the cold than inside, underwater...(Dec 3)
-Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, season 11. Picture this: you, leftovers, the couch, a dog (?) and an entire season's worth of Parts Unknown on Christmas Day. (Dec 25)
Aggregate Grade of Non-Originals: B+. Nothing major, but you've got some strong options here, particularly for Christmas Day.
Top Three Movies/Comedy Specials Leaving Netflix in December
-Groundhog Day, a movie you can watch over and over again, and chuckle to yourself about how meta it is to watch over and over again. (Dec 1)
-Spotlight, the affecting newsroom drama with, yes, some over-acting, but also an Academy Award for Best Picture. (Dec 22)
-Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a worth-seeing John le Carré spy novel adaptation with a great Gary Oldman performance. (Dec 16)
Top Three Series Leaving Netflix in December
-Sons of Anarchy, seasons 1-7. Under-appreciated, perhaps, at the time of its release, history has generally looked back fondly on this FX series, about an outlaw motorcycle club whose outlaw-ishness starts getting out of hand.
Aggregate Grade of Non-Originals Leaving: B. I would say, based on nothing much at all, that the movies leaving in December are far less significant than an average month. That said, Sons of Anarchy represents a major loss. Oh, well. You'll get over it.
The Final Grade
B+. This is a strong month, for sure, with a legitimately startling amount of new original content—most of which nobody has ever heard of. Roma, on its own right, is cause for celebration—particularly if (or, really, when) it earns Netflix its first Best Picture nomination. And there's some good Christmas stuff, too (though you can check last month's report card if you want more). Happy Holiday Streaming.