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The 7 Best Movies Coming to Netflix in December 2017

From Stanley Kubrick to a Christmas movie where Michael Shannon pretends to be Bigfoot, Netflix's December lineup is all over the place.

Baby Groot

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

If December is a relatively quiet month for Netflix, perhaps that’s because they want you to spend the holidays scaling the seemingly infinite mountain of content they’ve released this year. Good luck with that. But the streaming giant’s latest batch of new releases, however scarce, offer a wild variety of things to see. From an under-the-radar family drama that some critics believe is the best movie the year, to a demented Michael Shannon Christmas movie that some critics don’t even believe is a real thing, these are the seven best films coming to Netflix this December.

7. “Pottersville” (2017)

Okay, so “Pottersville” is a very, very bad movie. It still wouldn’t really be one of the seven best movies coming to Netflix this month if there were only six movies coming to Netflix this month. And yet, you might just have to watch it anyway when you’re home for the holidays. A Christmas tale in which Michael Shannon pretends to be Bigfoot in order to save his small New York town and win back his furry wife (Christina Hendricks), “Pottersville” is a film thats mere existence is infinitely more amusing than any of its jokes. It’s a film that has zero sense of its own tone, and somehow even less of a handle on its relationship to the genre that it exists to parody and/or celebrate. It’s a film that starts with the worst digital snow you’ve ever seen, and ends with someone earnestly saying the words: “You thought you had to become Bigfoot in order to save this town, but it turns out you saved it by just being you.” Gather your family around the television and settle in for something truly special.

Available to stream December 15.

6. “Voyeur” (2017)

Once upon a time, Gay Talese elevated the entire medium of journalistic profiles by fleshing routine portraits into genuine pieces of literature; published in the April 1966 issue of Esquire, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” might well outlive the magazine that paid for it. But now it’s 2017, Talese is 85, and a new documentary about the greatest disaster of his career discretely suggests that he’s grown irrelevant, and that he’s not handling it well. Lucky for Talese, “Voyeur” appears oblivious to the fact that it’s painting him in that light. Directed by Myles Kane and Josh Koury, the Netflix Original film seems to have been conceived as a kinky meta-commentary on the desire to watch and the need to be seen, but it never seems to know what it’s looking for. Still, this documentary is as fascinating as it is flawed, following Talese as he prepares his New Yorker piece on Colorado native Gerald Foos, a man who built an entire motel just so he could secretly spy on his guests all night long.

Available to stream December 1.

5. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017)

The movie that solved Marvel’s villain problem (once, if regrettably not for all), Star-Lord’s second big-screen adventure is space opera done right. Interwoven with daddy issues and residual family traumas, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” improves on the first installment in every way. The action scenes are more graceful, the jokes are a touch less juvenile, Groot is deployed judiciously, and Peter Quill’s story is given some real depth, as his search for one father results in him ultimately losing two. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” solves the MCU’s villain problem by solving its hero problem. After nearly three full phases about how power breeds responsibility, James Gunn made a movie that argues the inverse. This is a film about our shared responsibilities to each other — not in the abstract, academic sense in which the point is argued between Iron Man and Captain America, but in an intimate sense, and on a human scale. The stakes have never been so high (the entire universe is on the line), but it all boils down to Quill’s decision to choose his surrogate family over the only thing he’s ever wanted for himself. The real Infinity Stones, it turns out, are the friends we make along the way.

Available to stream December 5.

4. “Wormwood” (2017)

Documentary legend Errol Morris has always been a real fan of using recreations in his work, but “Wormwood” takes that practice to the next level and then some. A two-part, four-hour behemoth that IndieWire’s Eric Kohn certified as Morris’ “most ambitious work to date,” “Wormwood” unpacks the story of Frank Olson, a CIA operative who either jumped from — or was thrown out — a hotel window in 1953. Judging from Kohn’s review, the project is a very worthy investment of your time:

While much of Morris’ sensibilities comes through in this sprawling tale of government cover-ups and idiosyncratic loners, it’s also a radical break from the dense, interview-driven approach that has distinguished his movies for decades. Gone is the patented Interrotron, Morris’ in-camera device that allows his interviewees to stare straight at the audience. Instead, he sits across the table from a series of men invested in an unsolved mystery, as if they’ve ventured into his laboratory to workshop their concerns. And Morris is quite the experimenter: Their testimonies unfolds alongside a series of dramatic reenactments that may or may not illustrate the precise nature of the events being described. The result is a documentary-fiction combination like nothing seen before.

Available to stream December 15.

3. “8 Mile” (2002)

Possibly Eminem’s finest moment (if not quite on par with director Curtis Hanson’s high watermarks), this wrenchingly person and palpably lived-in memoir should have been an unmitigated disaster. Out of context, the idea of a mega-famous white rapper starring in a semi-autobiographical movie about his rough-and-tumble early years living in a trailer, competing in freestyle battles, and palling around with a mentally impaired guy named Cheddar Bob… it has “vanity project” written all over it. But Eminem keeps his ego in check. Not only is he a warm and affecting screen presence, but he allows the film to feel honest, texturing his natural talent into a blue-collar story that burns with a striver’s determination. There are no rose-colored glasses here, just a tough and tender look back at the things that America gives you, and the things that you have to take it from it with your own two hands. Also, shoutout to the late Brittany Murphy, whose performance here hints at a lifetime of tragically unrealized potential.

Available to stream December 1.

2. “My Happy Family” (2017)

Championed as one of the year’s best films ever since it premiered at Sundance in January, this striking drama skipped straight from the festival circuit to Netflix, where it can finally begin to find its audience. IndieWire’s rave review explains why you need to seek it out:

It doesn’t take long to realize that the title of the Georgian drama “My Happy Family” is ironic. Directors Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Grob plunge into the restless lifestyle of 52-year-old Manana (Ia Shuvliashvili), the matriarch of a cramped and multigenerational household that includes her husband, grown children, parents and various in-laws who pull her from every angle. And it doesn’t take long for Mañana to realize that to escape the mayhem, much to the shock of everyone around her, she can simply move out. The ease with which she embarks on this new stage, even as it baffles her entire community, speaks to the remarkable blend of comedy and sadness that characterizes this sophomore effort from the directors of “In Bloom.” It’s at once a celebration of individuality and its potential to unnerve those who resist it.

Available to stream December 1.

1. “Full Metal Jacket” (1987)

It’s a credit to Stanley Kubrick’s venerable body of work that even his gnarliest, most conflicted mid-tier efforts are still undeniably iconic films that demand to be placed at the top spots of listicles like this one. “Full Metal Jacket” may not resonate with the perennial splendor of “Eyes Wide Shut” or even achieve the same degree of moral clarity as “Paths of Glory” (the director’s first war film), but Kubrick’s penultimate feature wasn’t made for a moral world. A bleakly bisected portrait of the effect that war can have on one’s humanity, “Full Metal Jacket” puts viewers through the most intense bootcamp ever committed to the screen before dropping us in the middle of Vietnam, where we quickly come to realize that we don’t belong there. It’s said that every war movie is a pro-war movie, but this might be the exception that proves the rule.

Available to stream December 15.

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