The last month of the year has finally arrived, and with it comes a plethora of new movies available on streaming to see us through the winter.
We’ve highlighted the best of the best new movies on Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Hulu, and other streaming platforms in December 2022. Our list includes Bullet trainthe outrageous new action comedy from John Wick co-director David Leitch and starring Brad Pitt, 2004’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou starring Bill Murray, a tender 2019 bromance about two men and a cow, and a neo-noir thriller and classic revisionist western drama to spice things up. If you’re looking for a certain mood, we’ve got a movie for you.
Duration: 1h 53m
Director: Paul Schrader
Form: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the entertainer
If I were asked to pick my favorite movies of the 21st century, I’d spend quite a bit of time figuring out my best choice. But I know Reformed first would be at issue.
Paul Schrader is a filmmaker obsessed with contradiction, often combining improbable groups of themes or characters to beautiful effect. We saw it early on with Cab driver and more recently with Card Counter (or movies like Hardcore, Autofocusand Patty Hearst), but for me it is the pinnacle Reformed first.
Anchored by a masterful performance from Ethan Hawke, Reformed first follows a pastor (Hawke) of a small, old New York congregation. His church is more of a museum than a proper congregation, funded by a local megachurch led by a famous preacher (Cedric the Entertainer). For many filmmakers, that conflict alone would be rich enough to delve into. But Paul Schrader is different from many other filmmakers.
Schrader subtly weaves a story about climate change, grief and the challenges ahead, both as individuals and as a society. What could easily be a downer (and it is bleak at times) for me instead manifests a very human connection, even in desperation. It’s a great movie, and I’m glad more people can see it now. —pete people
Reformed first is available to stream on HBO max.
Duration: 2 hours 3 minutes
Director: Michael man
Form: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky
Michael Mann’s 1981 neo-noir crime thriller is exceptional. The late, great James Caan (The godfather) stars Frank, an accomplished safe-cracker and ex-con who dreams of retiring from his life of crime to live a normal life and start a family. After losing the money from his last major robbery, Frank agrees to sign up for another heist with a major mobster who, unbeknownst to him, plans to cheat him out of his part again. Even if you’ve never seen the movie before, you can probably add two and two together and guess how well that goes for the mobster. With stunning nighttime cinematography from Donald Thorin and a pulsating synth score from Tangerine Dream, Thief is a bona fide marvel anchored by an inimitable protagonist. End of blurb. —Toussaint Egan
Thief is available to stream on Prime video.
New on Netflix
Duration: 2 hours 7 minutes
Director: David Leitch
Form: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor Johnson
One of the best action movie traditions is to take an ordinary, mundane location – say, a train – and promise the audience about two hours of outrageous violence in that mundane place. With that in mind, Bullet train — named after Japan’s famous high-speed commuter train — didn’t have to do much to pass; a few good fights with nice actors and a neat ending would have been enough. But Leitch, with the help of a stellar cast including Brian Tyree Henry, Bad Bunny, Joey King and lead actor Brad Pitt, turns Bullet train into a brooding doll of misunderstandings and complications that coalesce into a steady stream of jokes and violence, gaining such momentum that the only way to stop it is to blow it all up. —Joshua Rivera
Bullet train is available to stream on Netflix starting December 3.
New to Hulu
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Duration: 1h 59m
Director: Wes Andersen
Form: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett
You know what you’re getting with a Wes Anderson comedy, and Zissou is one of his best.
Dedicated to legendary French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Murray plays the Cousteau-esque documentary filmmaker Steve Zissou, who embarks on a dogged quest to find and kill the shark that killed his best friend.
Featuring an extensive cast of Anderson regulars and an outstanding soundtrack of David Bowie covers by Brazilian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge, Zissou excels not only for the hilarious jokes from some of the funniest actors in the business, but also for Anderson’s signature attention to detail in his shot compositions. It’s a wonderful movie and a funny one. That’s not an easy combination to nail. —PV
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is available to stream on Hulu.
The best of the rest
Duration: 2 hours 2 minutes
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Form: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones
One of my favorite movies of the decade, First cow is a tender bromance about two men in 1820s Oregon, the unlikely friendship they strike, and a very sweet cow they meet and steal milk (in a friendly way). They use that milk to bake some goodies, with a view to a life of comfort and security. —PV
From our glowing review:
The way Cookie and King-Lu’s story fits into a larger picture of American history isn’t as important or moving as the way their relationship blossoms on screen. They’re both oddballs in Fort Tillicum, where the ability to pack a punch and get rowdy is a dominant factor in securing social status. King-Lu is more of a dreamer while Cookie is more practical, but they are kindred spirits, despite their occasional squabbles. […]
It’s the little things that make life worth living. The key to that rise is how well Magaro and Lee fit together. Magaro’s sad eyes and vaguely scratchy voice convey a softness and warmth, as he chats politely with the cow as he milks it. His vague sense of insecurity is offset by Lee’s self-assurance. Even when King-Lu experiences moments of doubt, Lee speaks with a comforting timbre and skillfully flips the dial between King-Lu’s professional sharpness and his genuine affection for Cookie as their situation becomes more complicated.
First cow is available to stream on Peacock.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Duration: 2h 1m
Director: Robert Altman
Form: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois
In an oeuvre of films including undisputed classics such as The long goodbye and M*A*S*H, this 1971 revisionist Western drama nonetheless stands out as the only one of Robert Altman’s works that Roger Ebert championed as “perfect.” It’s not hard to understand why – McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a great period drama made possible by the combined charisma of Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as a notorious gambler and a streetwise prostitute, respectively, who join forces to run a successful brothel in a 1902 Pacific Northwest mining town. to buy out and later extort McCabe, he will have to resort to desperate measures to fend off a trio of bounty hunters and protect what is his.
Featuring beautiful cinematography of the forests and hills of West Vancouver by Vilmos Zsigmond, razor-sharp dialogue, compelling characters and a hauntingly plaintive score composed of songs written by the one and only Leonard Cohen, McCabe & Mrs. Miller is an exciting, tragic portrait of frontier life on the edge of civilization that’s perfect for any fan of shows like Dead wood or movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. -THE
McCabe & Mrs. Miller is available to stream on Criterion Channel.