TORONTO — Awards season is in full swing on streaming services this month, even if the Oscars and Golden Globes have been pushed further into 2021 due to the pandemic.
Several likely contenders are making their at-home debut over the holidays, including Chadwick Boseman’s final role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom." The film hits Netflix on Dec. 18 and Boseman is considered one of the frontrunners for a best actor nomination at the Academy Awards.
There’s also “Mank,” David Fincher’s three-hour passion project about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. The Netflix film may secure Fincher his third director Oscar nod after it arrives Dec. 4.
Here are some other picks to add to your watchlist in December:
Sri Lankan-Canadian author Shyam Selvadurai's acclaimed novel is brought to the screen by Deepa Mehta in this vibrant coming-of-age tale set in the leadup to the deadly Tamil-Sinhalese conflict. A Tamil boy, growing up in a wealthy Sri Lankan family, comes to terms with his sexual identity as a gay teen while simmering political tensions threaten to upend everything he holds dear. The film is Canada’s submission for best international film at the Oscars. (CBC Gem, Dec. 4)
"SELENA: THE SERIES"
The tragic story of Mexican-American pop singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who was gunned down by her fan club manager in 1995, is retold through a romanticized lens in this dramatic series that’s being released into two packages of episodes. The first round of nine episodes centre on her family’s rags-to-riches story as they work to make their band, fronted by Selena, bridge the gap between Tejano music and pop radio. Stuffed with feel-good ‘80s hits and an understated performance by Christian Serratos as the titular singer, the series offers a new perspective on a rising star first portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in a 1997 biopic. (Netflix, Part 1, Dec. 4)
“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston is a New Orleans judge who built his career on truth and justice until his only son confesses involvement in a hit-and-run. Tossing aside his moral high ground, he begins to bury the evidence, hoping to tip the scales in his son's favour. Of course, everything quickly goes off the rails in this 10-episodes limited series. (Crave, Dec. 6, episodes weekly)
Andy Samberg is a slacker who stumbles into a time-loop while trying to evade mingling with guests at a desert wedding. But once he gets comfortable in the cyclical monotony of his new reality, a surprise arrives that could turn his entire world upside down again. Built on a script that's a cross between “Groundhog Day” and “Russian Doll,” this lively flick, co-starring J.K. Simmons and Cristin Milioti, takes the traits of a typical rom-com and creates a timely reflection on life’s relationship routines. (Amazon Prime Video, Dec. 18)
"SMALL AXE" - "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen delivers five distinctly different films in this anthology series about West Indian immigrants in London, mainly during the 1970s. "Mangrove" and "Lovers Rock" have already received rapturous reviews. (Amazon Prime Video, updated Fridays)
“LENNON'S LAST WEEKEND” – The BBC’s Andy Peebles was the last journalist to interview John Lennon and he returns to New York in this documentary to revisit that experience. (BritBox, Dec. 8)
“LET THEM ALL TALK” - Meryl Streep plays an acclaimed author forced to confront her troubled relationships while on a cruise. (Crave/HBO, Dec. 10)
This report by The Canadian Press was first published December 2, 2020.
David Friend, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version included a dropped letter in the title of "Lennon's Last Weekend."