‘Tis the season to cancel your plans (if you’ve been optimistic enough to make any), pull on your finest pair of pyjamas, and hunker down with a mug of something mulled. Winter is well and truly upon us, and quite frankly we are thrilled — not least thanks to all the excellent TV hitting our favourite streaming services.
Netflix has once again cast its net wide and this month it’s all about the platform’s award-winning original content, with new releases form Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy and a bevy of A-list talent. Here’s what should be on your must-watch list for December 2020…
Mank - 4 December
In the mood for some serious (and seriously) good film making? This highly anticipated work by David Fincher documents the life of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he attempts to finish the script for Citizen Kane. Also starring Amanda Seyfried, Tuppence Middleton, Charles Dance and Lily Collins, it’s shot entirely in black and white, and offers a fresh perspective on the glamour and hedonism of 1930s Hollywood as seen through the eyes of a pessimistic, critical and sceptical alcoholic.
Selena: The Series - 4 December
One of the greatest outcomes of the Golden Age of TV – and especially the advent of streaming platforms – is the room it’s given for works hailing the lives of overlooked and under appreciated stars from years gone. Selena: The Series is a perfect example. Telling the story of Selena Quintanilla, the most successful Latin artist of all time who was tragically murdered aged 23, it stars Christian Serratos and promises to the definitive guide to this incredible Tejano singer.
The Prom - 11 December
Okay, so we know a cinematic adaptation of a Broadway musical about the failing careers of two actors and the banning of a gay student from her high school prom may not necessarily sound like your thing but wait until you get a load of its (literally) all-singing, all-dancing cast. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key and Tracey Ullman all star while Ryan Murphy has given the film his Midas touch as director. Sure it’s a little cheesy, in that classic big-budget musical way, but if there was ever a year in which we all needed a little unadulterated, heart-warming fun on our screens, it was this year.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - 18 December
Adapted from the play by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom stars Viola Davis as the titular ‘Mother of the Blues’ and takes place over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago. While Ma is late to the session as she battles with her white manager for control of her music, her band – led by ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) – engage in a series of stories, truths and lies that will turn out to have dramatic consequences. With a score by Grammy-winner Branford Marsalis, as well as input from Denzel Washington, this is a powerful piece of TV that’s not to be missed.
The Midnight Sky - 23 December
Remember that Christmas a few years ago when all anyone could talk about was Bird Box? Well, post-apocalyptic thriller The Midnight Sky is this year’s Bird Box – thanks largely to the fact that George Clooney is throwing the full weight of his producing, directing and acting talents behind it. He stars as Augustine, a lonely scientist based in the Arctic and tasked with stopping a team of astronauts returning to a world in the grips of a mysterious global catastrophe. Adapted from Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel Good Morning, Midnight, it also stars David Oyelowo, Felicity Jones and Kyle Chandler.
Bridgerton - 25 December
Shonda Rhimes turns her hand to period drama with this new adaptation of the historical romance novels by Julia Quinn. Set in 19th Century London, with a brilliant colourblind cast that includes Julie Andrews, Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page and Adjoa Anjoh, Bridgerton centres around the eight siblings of the eponymous Bridgerton family as they head out into Regency London in search of romance and adventure. With a faux love story, glittering Mayfair balls, aristocratic palaces and more frilly shirts than you can shake a lace fan at, this is the series to fill that Crown-shaped hole in your viewing schedule.