20 shows to watch on Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix this Christmas and New Year

From a thrilling new Star Wars series to a second season of Emily in Paris

PRIME VIDEO

Harlem
Now streaming
If the privileged ecosystem of And Just Like That is leaving you cold with the show's desperate attempts to assimilate the ladies into the modern world, why not try a new neighbourhood? Harlem is another trip through the lives and loves of four New York City women. From a writing team responsible for the raucous Girls Trip and the peerless First Wives Club, Harlem mixes the raw and gritty reality of sex and dating with an escapist dollop of glamour and humour.

Being the Ricardos
From Tuesday, December 21st
Aaron Sorkin's take on the story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz removes the comic stylings that made Ball famous and instead injects sombre Sorkinisms, earnest speechifying and commentary on the politics of the age. The film centres on certain sections of the stars' lives, using as its fulcrum Walter Winchell's gossip column, which stirred up trouble for Ball during the McCarthy era, when Winchell not so discreetly implied she may have been a communist. He then trails back through Ball's unlikely success and the couple's turbulent marriage. With Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as her affable husband, as well as JK Simmons and Nina Arianda, it's a solid, prestigious interpretation of the life of the scarlet-haired slapstick siren.

Yearly Departed
From Thursday, December 23rd
How better to exorcise 2021 from our souls than with an old-fashioned comedy roast? This one features the internet's sardonic little sister, Meg Stalter, Brooklyn 99's Chelsea Peretti, Aparna Nancherla, Yvonne Orji and the legend that is Jane Fonda. Never has a funeral felt so welcome.

Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
From Tuesday, December 28th
Another foray into the bird-brained world of bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) as he tries to protect the lives of Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) and Kincaid's wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), as they stumble on the plan of a Greek mobster, Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas) to destroy the European power grid. It's the usual self-referential style that Reynolds has become known for, a buffoonish take on Mission: Impossible for those who like their action with a knowing wink.

The Protégé
From Friday, December 31st
Maggie Q returns to her action roots in this slick thriller from the director of Casino Royale, Martin Campbell. Q plays Anna, an inscrutable assassin who prefers the finer things in life. When her trainer and surrogate father, Moody (Samuel L Jackson again) runs afoul of some gangster types she endeavours to track him down – but also has to confront the demons of her past. It's a fast-paced, glossy and pleasingly predictable affair that features an alluring appearance from Michael Keaton as a smooth-talking criminal mastermind.

DISNEY+  

Devs
Now streaming
Another opportunity if you missed Alex Garland's mind-bending philosophical sci-fi series when it aired on BBC Two. When a Russian coder, Sergei (Karl Glusman), takes up a position in the mysterious Amaya, the more he learns about the company – a terrifying mashup of all our big-tech anxieties – he the more he wants to destroy it and everything it stands for. When he then goes missing, it is up to his software-engineer girlfriend, Lily (Sonoya Mizuno), to untangle the strands of deception and malevolence at the heart of a company threatening the very nature of humanity.

The Rescue
Now streaming
The incredible story of the rescue operation in Thailand in 2018 after a junior soccer team got trapped in an underwater cave. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the directing couple behind the Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo, chronicle the work of the British divers whose mission made headlines worldwide (and attracted the misplaced ire of one Elon Musk).

The Wonder Years
From Wednesday, December 22nd
The 1988 version of this gentle coming-of-age comedy followed the white, middle class Arnold family in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The 2021 version is told through the eyes of the Williamses, a black middle-class family. Narrated by Don Cheadle, it follows young Dean (Elisha Williams) through the triumphs and disasters of first crushes and first kisses against the backdrop of the civil-rights movement.

The Con
From Wednesday, December 22nd
This docuseries is about the grifters and scam artists who have become a fitting symbol of this age of anonymity. From romance-fraud Romeos to those engaged in catfishing and identity theft, as well as the high-profile mess of the Fyre festival, it's a look at how our desire to feel connected with others can be exploited and abused.

The Book of Boba Fett
From Wednesday, December 29th
Following on from the success of the Star Wars series The Mandalorian comes The Book of Boba Fett, which delves further into the life of the elusive bounty hunter. The series focuses on Jabba the Hutt's desolate desert empire, Tatooine, which is full of villainous characters and intergalactic scum. Boba Fett ( Temuera Morrison) and mercenary Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) infiltrate this underworld and try to eliminate the criminals who have eyes on Jabba's throne.

NETFLIX

The Power of the Dog
Now streaming
Jane Campion's Oscar-tipped drama is a furious Gothic western full of bitterness and breathtaking malice. Set in 1920s Montana, it features two rancher brothers, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch), a dysfunctional loner who enjoys torturing his more sensitive, cultured brother, George (Jesse Plemons). When George marries Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and they set up home in the ranch, Phil becomes obsessed with her, pushing her to the brink of sanity.

Nicole Byer: BBW – Big Beautiful Weirdo
Now streaming
The effervescent Nicole Byer fizzes with life in this stand-up special, in which she gouges out the wounds of our pandemic anxiety, the loneliness that forced some to become full-time conspiracy theorists and the detrimental effect that this has had on the dating world and the plight of being single. She also shares her personal experiences regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and the US healthcare system. Sharply observed and brilliantly pieced together, BBW is a wry and thoughtful look back at a year of undiluted madness.

Saturday Morning All Star Hits!
Now streaming
Saturday Night Live's Kyle Mooney spoofs the Day-Glo mayhem of Saturday-morning kids' shows with this irreverent mix of live action and adult animation in which he plays the surfer-dude twins Skip and Treybor, who host the show. The cartoons they introduce are based on 1980s favourites such as Jem and Dungeons & Dragons.

The Hand of God
Now streaming
Paolo Sorrentino's stirring semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story follows a young boy (played by Filippo Scotti) growing up in 1980s Naples as he wonders how he fits into his eccentric family and tries his best to shape his own identity. A seductive, immersive experience.

The Witcher season 2
Now streaming
Henry Cavill returns as the fantasy epic's monster hunter, the lusciously locked Geralt of Rivera, who bring Princess Ciri to his childhood home of Kaer Morhen to keep her safe. This allows several new Witchers to be introduced to the story, in which Ciri and Geralt are both struggling to contain the young princess's powers.

Emily in Paris season 2
From Wednesday, December 22nd
Hate-watchers and comfort-viewers can unite for the return of a favourite American annoyance, Darren Star's frothy tribute to the imaginary Paris of Ratatouille and The Devil Wears Prada, starring Lily Collins, which became perhaps the most divisive hit of 2020. Emily in Paris is like a live-action Taylor Swift song, a pretty souffle that some enjoy but leaves others queasy.

Don't Look Up
From Friday, December 24th
Vice director Adam McKay tries to poke at our environmental consciousness with this sprawling star-stuffed comedy. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawerence team up as two concerned astronomers valiantly trying to warn the oblivious world about our imminent demise at the hands of an Earth destroying comet. With cameos from everyone from Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande and Timotheé Chalamet, Don't Look Up is a climate change SNL sketch writ large.

The Lost Daughter
From Friday, December 31st
Olivia Colman stars in Maggie Gyllenhaal's directorial debut, an elegant psychological drama, adaptated from the Elena Ferrante novel, that touches on hot-button topics such as ageism, motherhood guilt and the complex nature of parental relationships. Colman plays Leda, an academic who becomes transfixed by a young mother, Nina (Dakota Johnson), and her daughter Elena while holidaying in Greece. The terrific Jessie Buckley plays Leda in flashbacks to her younger adulthood.

Stay Close
From Friday, December 31st
Stay Close, the latest Harlan Coben mystery from the author's Netflix deal, stars the reliable James Nesbitt and the underrated Sarah Parish in a thriller about three people hiding dark secrets that threaten to destroy their seemingly idyllic lives. Megan (Cush Jumbo) is a hard-working, unassuming mother of three; Ray (Richard Armitage) is a frustrated documentary photographer relegated to pandering to obnoxious rich kids; Broome (Nesbitt) is a cynical detective tormented by a missing-person case he couldn't solve. When Megan's old friend Lorraine (Sarah Parish) arrives back in her life she resurrects past conflicts as the trio are left wondering if it is possible to ever truly know someone. Expect Coben's signature stew of intrigue, discombobulating theories and perplexing twists.

Queer Eye season 6
From Friday, December 31st
The "new year, new you" mantra may feel redundant in the Covid era, but that won't stop Netflix's fab five from doing all they can to revive flagging spirits as they travel to Austin, Texas, to improve the lives of frontline workers and others deeply affected by the pandemic. Expect heartbreaking stories and uplifting insights, as well as sexy salads, style counselling and whatever it is that Karamo does.

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