As the year comes to a close, streaming services are filling up with family-friendly fare, holiday entertainment, and some blockbuster movies.
December usually offers more than ample time to sit around with loved ones to enjoy shows and films, whether they’re old favorites or new offerings. We’ve rounded up all the content coming to three of the top platforms: Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. As we bid farewell to 2020, here are our best picks to enjoy this December.
This Disney original comedy finds Jillian Bell as Eleanor, a fairy godmother-in-training, worried that this career path is not long for the world. When she reads a hopeful letter from a 10-year-old girl, Eleanor learns that the young one who penned it is now an adult woman with her own responsibilities and worries. This warm-hearted and surely silly story is set during the holidays — we’re anticipating a teary-eyed, joyful ending that everyone can embrace.
It took a long time for audiences to experience the much-anticipated live-action remake of “Mulan,” though when it finally came to streaming services and on-demand, it still cost a fee. Three months after its premium price offering on Disney+, all subscribers will now get a chance to enjoy the beloved, magical tale updated for modern and slightly more adult audiences.
This reimagining of a beloved holiday staple makes its way to Disney’s service with iconic music and many memorable characters taking the screen. This beautiful and whimsical tale stars Mackenzie Foy as young Clara who stumbles onto the Four Realms, a magical land of wonder where evil has taken over. While the plot is a bit cumbersome, the visuals are spectacular, and a lengthy ballet sequence in the middle is mesmerizing, making this a worthy piece of Christmastime fare.
Disney+ is offering a slew of holiday-themed content for younger viewers, particularly specials involving stars of the Disney Channel. The Epic Holiday Showdown is a save-Christmas styled story featuring Ebenezer Scrooge, while Disney Magic Holiday Quest is an adventure show showcasing stars competing at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney Resort. Meanwhile, High School Musical fans will not want to miss out on the show’s very own holiday special complete with beloved carols. Lastly, Disney Channel Holiday House Party (Dec. 25) is a sketch comedy show, shot across the various homes of its featured performers.
This inspiring tale is based on the journey of former Clemson collegiate football player Ray McElrathbey, following him as he overcomes a series of challenges, both on and off the field. A story of love, friendship, and family, “Safety” looks to follow in the footsteps of a series of Disney sports-adjacent films based on stirring true stories. While they may be familiar, they are certainly stories worth telling and ideal offerings for families looking for some winsome content.
On Christmas Day, you can enjoy Pixar’s latest film “Soul” in the comfort of your own home, who is forgoing a theatrical release. This imaginative tale follows a disenchanted music teacher who inadvertently travels to another world where he looks to rediscover his passion, drive, and the meaning of having a soul. With voices by Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, and Daveed Diggs, along with veteran Pixar filmmakers behind the scenes, expectations are high for “Soul,” and seem likely to be met.
We loved the first two iterations of this series, and we’re all ready for the next. Disney Singalong has featured noted singers and celebrities offering their renditions of popular Disney songs, and this special is no exception. The diverse range of performers includes Andrea Bocelli, BTS, and Katy Perry. The special will also include Chloe x Halle — one half the popular duo, Halle Bailey, will play Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake, though we’re guessing they will stick to holiday songs for now.
“The Lord of the Rings,” the famed trilogy made with incredible detail by Peter Jackson, becomes available in its entirety on Hulu in December, though watching it all in one day may be a big ask considering since it’s well over 10 hours in total. The first installment is almost 20 years old, but the special effects are still impressive, as are the performances and the masterful storytelling. Enjoy a fantastical, immersive adventure through Middle Earth filled with orcs, wizards, elves, and some determined, loveable hobbits.
It’s one of the most outrageous sci-fi films of recent memory, boasting colorful characters, strange aliens, high-speed chases, and memorable quotes. The space opera “The Fifth Element” stars a slew of well-cast actors in iconic roles, including Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Chris Tucker, and still stands as a surprising and beloved original story. It’s immediate and endless fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously and yet still manages to be compelling, tense, and even hopeful.
The young adult literary series comes to the small screen, as “The Hardy Boys” makes its way to Hulu. This reimagined series looks primed to capture the attention of a teen audience, featuring a diverse cast of youngsters equal parts heroic and sassy. It’s got the us-versus-them mentality too, as the trailer features a parent declaring, “you’re just kids.” We suspect our young heroes and heroines are going to prove otherwise.
For those looking for the next fascinating horror thriller, be sure to catch “She Dies Tomorrow,” a 2020 release that’s slowly gained buzz and a fan base throughout the year. Written and directed by Amy Seimetz comes a story about a young woman who is sure she is going to die tomorrow. However — and it’s a big however — her fear and paranoia are contagious. We’re hopeful this promising psychological horror can deliver on its curious premise.
Continuing the trend of made-for-TV musicals, NBC is putting on a production of “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” just in time for the holidays. This musical rendition stars Matthew Morrison of “Glee” fame as the grinch, with an impressive cast of musically-included actors alongside. These specials are always entertaining, especially because everyone involved gives it their all. They’re not always the most polished, but they’re definitely satisfying.
For some adult-oriented fun and antics, check out a double-bill of Harold & Kumar on Amazon Prime. This 2004 comedy gave a diverse retelling of the stoner buddy genre and helped introduce the world to a pair of talented and smart actors. The movies are profane, absurd, and fairly familiar, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining and worthy, too.
We’re excited about this new movie that follows a heavy metal drummer, played by Riz Ahmed, who begins to lose his hearing. It boasts an impressive cast, and from what we can glean from the trailer, features a stirring, emotional performance by Ahmed. It’s already gotten some rave reviews having played on the festival circuit for about a year, and now audiences at home have a chance to check out this fascinating drama.
One of two female-fronted Amazon Prime original movies dropping this month, “I’m Your Woman” stars Rachel Brosnahan as a woman forced to reckon with her criminal husband's treacherous actions. It’s set in the 1970s, so we’re all in on the look and feel of the film. We’re also curious what kind of story writer and director Julia Hart, who’s told some inspiring fictional tales about determined young women, weaves with her heroine.
We’ve another new series coming out this month featuring young adults in adult-like situations. We’re curious about “The Wilds,” a new show that immediately and obviously evokes “Lord of the Flies” and “Lost” with a few twists thrown in. The premise is seemingly simple: a diverse group of teen girls are marooned on an island and must work together to survive. A plot tease though indicates that these young women aren’t here by chance. Here’s hoping for some coming-of-age drama, lots of mystery and suspense, and a somewhat reasonable explanation for what’s happening, unlike “Lost.”
Coming to Prime on Christmas, we’re ready to enjoy “Sylvie’s Love,” a romance starring the very talented and charming Tessa Tompson. Set in New York City in the 1950s amid the backdrop of post-war America, “Sylvie’s Love” follows a pair of hopeful friends turned lovers across the years. It was well-received at Sundance, and particularly championed for its unabashed, optimistic, and all-too-rare look at love among Black characters onscreen.
A lineup of impressive female comedians, from Sarah Silverman to Natasha Leggero, star in this standup special that says goodbye (and probably, get lost) to the year 2020. Also featuring Rachel Brosnahan and Tiffany Haddish, “Yearly Departed” will muse on those things and experiences we lost this year, surely some of which include stuff we’re happy to say goodbye to. It’s always great to end the year with a laugh and a celebration, and 2020 is surely no exception.
Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
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