Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 by Jacob Hall
It’s time for our monthly tragedy. It’s time to take a deep breath and see what movies and television shows are departing Netflix in December, so we can throw together a must-watch-now list and try to see everything before it goes. The films leaving Netflix this month include a few bonafide cinematic classics, a vital superhero movie, two Jim Henson favorites, and two of the best horror movies ever made.
Read on for our recommendations for the shows and movies leaving Netflix that you need to watch right now.
All About Eve (December 1)
Writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s acidic comedy swept the 1951 Academy Awards, taking home trophies for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor and Screenplay. Somehow, the film is more relevant than ever today, examining how the entertainment industry chews up and spits out talented actresses as soon as they begin to lose their youth. Catty and quotable, this depressing message is delivered in the most entertaining manner imaginable. Bette Davis and Anne Baxter are incredible and you can smell the gin lingering on every frame. This is classic Hollywood greatness that demands to be seen.
Batman Begins (December 1)
While the first film in the Dark Knight trilogy didn’t reach the box office heights of its sequels, you can feel the influence of of Christopher Nolan‘s Batman Begins in every single modern comic book movie. Even the more colorful and “fun” Marvel Studios movies wouldn’t exist if not for this hugely entertaining movie, which combines class, action, and frequently masterful filmmaking technique to lend gravity to a character who had crashed and burned less than a decade earlier. Spider-Man and X-Men may have started the revolution, but Nolan’s Batman established the tone everyone else rushed to follow.
The ‘Burbs (December 1)
Joe Dante‘s macabre comedy about mysterious new neighbors sending a normal neighborhood down a path of paranoia and cartoonish violence wasn’t received too warmly when it was first released, but movie fans have come around on it. An impossibly young Tom Hanks stars and he’s the perfect instrument for Dante’s unique brand of Looney Tunes-inspired mayhem. Fans of Dante’s more famous work, like Gremlins, owe this one a shot.
Cop Land (December 1)
The ’90s weren’t a good time for Sylvester Stallone. The star of the Rambo and Rocky franchises was no longer the box office draw he once was and the incredible late-career comeback that would accompany 2006’s Rocky Balboa was still years away. However, there is one bright spot amidst all the generally awful movies he appeared in: James Mangold‘s crime drama Cop Land. Stallone, playing a real character for the first time in years. Watching him actually act alongside heavy-hitters like Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Ray Liotta is a reminder that Stallone is an incredible actor when he wants to be.
The Dark Crystal (December 1)
While Jim Henson is best known for creating the Muppets (and God bless him for his contribution to society), but some of his other projects were a bit dark and a bit weirder. The Dark Crystal is an epic fantasy tale that feels custom-built to haunt kids. It’s the kind of movie that worms its way into your brains and stays there. As a dark fantasy movie, it’s an interesting, if occasionally baffling, movie. As an experiment in pushing puppetry into new uncharted territory, it’s a fascinating and vital movie that every movie fan should see.
The Great Escape (December 1)
We need to break out a cliche for The Great Escape: they simply don’t make ’em like this anymore. Directed by John Sturges, this is the kind of World War II adventure movie that makes up for its lack of historical accuracy and political correctness through swagger and style. Here is one of the coolest ensembles ever assembled (Steve McQueen! James Garner! Charles Bronson! James Coburn!) sticking it to the Nazis. And while The Great Escape is a ton of fun, it’s a more complicated film than its popular reputation suggests. This rousing action movie also happens to be a total downer. However, it’s hard to think of a more fun feel-bad movie in existence.
The Hustler (December 1)
Here is one of those movies that’s required viewing if you haven’t seen it. Robert Rossen‘s beautifully shot drama isn’t just a movie about Paul Newman playing pool – it’s a movie about coming to terms with who you are, your abilities, and knowing when to say “enough.” It’s also effortlessly entertaining and will force anyone watching it to develop a crush on Newman, who was never better than he is right here. Of all the films leaving Netflix in December, this should be your main priority.
Insomnia (December 1)
Hot off the success of Memento and still a few years away from changing superhero movies forever, director Christopher Nolan remade the Norwegian thriller Insomnia and it’s pretty good. Although probably the weakest film in Nolan’s filmography (and easily the least ambitious), it’s a solid thriller that showcases how even the most strong-willed filmmakers can end up making a boilerplate police thriller between great movies. Nolan and his cast (including Al Pacino and a seriously creepy Robin Williams) are game, but the script lacks the raw nerve of the original film. Still, a Nolan movie is a Nolan movie and you should catch up with this one before it’s gone.
Labyrinth (December 1)
After The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson made this bonkers musical fantasy about a young Jennifer Connelly embarking on a quest to save her infant brother from the Jareth the Goblin King, played by David Bowie. The movie itself is the kind of weird, subversive ’80s adventure movies that don’t get made much anymore, but it’s probably most noteworthy for Bowie’s crotch bulge, which introduced a generation of kids to feelings they certainly did not understand at the time.
The Omen (December 1)
Richard Donner is one of Hollywood’s greatest jack-of-all-trade filmmakers – it’s almost impossible to tell that Superman, Lethal Weapon and Scrooged were all made by the same man. The Omen is his sole horror movie and it’s a shame he never dipped his toe into the genre again. Then again, he made a bonafide classic on his first trip to the genre. Why try to top that? The Omen looms large over the entire “evil kid” subgenera of horror and many of its plot points and scares may feel a little dull decades of lesser films ripping off every single beat. What’s not dull is star Gregory Peck, whose mere presence ensures that this potentially silly tale of the young Antichrist never means anything less than serious business.
The Silence of the Lambs (December 1)
Don’t let your fondness for NBC’s late and great Hannibal series cloud your judgment. Wipe the lazy movie sequels (and prequel) from your mind. Jonathan Demme‘s The Silence of the Lambs is still one of the best horror movies ever made. It’s a horror movie so good that it somehow convinced the Academy that it wasn’t a horror movie so it could win a bunch of Oscars. Several decades later, Jodie Foster remains one of the most human and well-crafted heroines in movie history, Anthony Hopkins remains one of the cinema’s greatest monsters, and images and lines of dialogue from the film have embedded themselves in the pop culture lexicon. This is movie is as good as your remember.