Release date and platform: Disney+, November 24
Marvel Studios takes a page out of the Die Hard book to give the oft-overlooked Avenger a grand Christmas adventure on a smaller scale. Inspired by the hit 2012 comic series, the show delivers some great action pieces and banter between the main character and his spunky new sidekick, gives closure to plotlines set up in the earlier films, and provides a lot of set-up for the future of the seemingly never-ending franchise.
Watch if: you’re into buddy cop movies.
The Witcher (Season 2)
Release date and platform: Netflix, December 17
The medieval fantasy series, based on the well-known books and (arguably) even better-known video game franchise, returns for another eight-episode series. Season 2 promises to deliver a less convoluted timeline, more familiar characters, and deeper dives into the bestiary of Slavic folklore.
Watch if: you attained 100% completion in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and still want more.
The French Dispatch
Release date and platform: Multiple platforms, December 14 (worldwide) / Kinopoisk HD, January 7 (Russia)
The French Dispatch, or Another Lengthy Wes Anderson Title is out, which means it’s time to put down that issue of Kinfolk, grab your beret, and head down to the cinema. Or, you know, drop the pretense and watch it at home. All jabs aside, the one thing you can be sure of with a Wes Anderson movie is that it’ll be gorgeous, cozy, fun, and full of great actors being seriously silly. In the director’s own words, it is a "love letter to journalists" – so we at ITMO.NEWS can’t help but endorse it.
Watch if: you believe pencil mustaches can still make a comeback.
Release date and platform: Netflix, December 15 (Russia)
By no means a recent release, this wonderful Christmas-themed anime has just made its way to the Russian section of Netflix and thus warrants a mention. Directed by Satoshi Kon, the legendary Japanese animator who you might also know from Perfect Blue (1997) and Paprika (2006), it is a touching and funny story about three homeless denizens of Tokyo who suddenly find themselves taking care of a nameless newborn on Christmas Eve. Few other animated (or live-action, for that matter) films are as effective in making the screen radiate the cold and warmth that co-exist during the darkest days of winter.
Watch if: you’re in dire need of holiday spirit.
Release date and platform: HBO Max, December 16 / More.tv (Russia)
These days, the premise of Station Eleven might hit too close to home – the stage is set 20 years after a flu pandemic has resulted in the collapse of human civilization. But unlike the many post-apocalyptic stories that revel in violence and the “dark truths of human nature,” this series channels a different, hopeful tone, one that inspires confidence in humanity's ability to build back and persist.
Watch if: you need a bit of optimism in your life.
The Matrix Resurrections
Release date and platform: HBO Max, December 22 (+arriving to Okko in 2022)
In 1999, The Matrix took cinema by storm and redefined the meaning of “style” for the better part of a decade; its two sequels birthed a whole movement of people who refuse to admit those films exist. However it turns out, the franchise’s return after nearly 20 years is bound to produce a lot of discourse – so it’s worth watching at least so you don’t miss out on the conversation.
Watch if: you still think leather trench coats are cool (they are).
Don’t Look Up
Release date and platform: Netflix, December 24
For better or worse, the director Adam McKay is unable to stop making movies that break the fourth wall while they satirize the biggest hurdles of modern society (be it the economy, the military-industrial complex, or climate change). Such is the case with Don’t Look Up, an unsubtle allegory about a team of scientists trying to warn the oblivious public about a comet hurtling towards Earth. If you’ve seen The Big Short, you’ll know what to expect, and hey, that’s not always a bad thing!
Watch if: you sometimes feel like the only sane person in the room.
The Book of Boba Fett
Release date and platform: Disney+, December 29
Having revealed the iconic interstellar assassin’s fate in last year’s episode of The Mandalorian, Disney is giving Boba Fett an entire spin-off series of his own. The enigmatic character has spoken barely a dozen on-screen lines over the course of the past forty years, but fascinated fans with his cool outfit and get-the-job-done demeanor. Can he carry an entire TV show? We’re about to find out.
Watch if: you’re into the strong, silent type.
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts
Release date and platform: Amediateka/Kinopoisk/Okko (Russia), HBO Max (World), January 1
The stars of the Harry Potter franchise reunite once again to discuss their favorite episodes of Friends… oh, wait, wrong reunion special. In what seems to be an emerging new trend, the cast, directors, and fans of the Wizarding World are meeting to share behind-the-scenes tidbits, discuss the wizard boy’s impact on pop culture, and explore a number of iconic sets. What better way to cap off your holiday Harry Potter marathon – or kick off another one?
Watch if: you’re still waiting for that letter from Hogwarts.
Release date and platform: iTunes and Amazon Prime Video, January 4 (World) / Kinopoisk HD, January 5 (Russia)
In a year of returning classics, this is probably the one that hits closest to the heart of your average geek. After one too many delays, this follow-up to the all-time comedy/sci-fi classic is finally back on our screens. Based on audience reactions, the movie delivers to the fullest on the nostalgia front, striking a balance between new characters and the original Ghostbusters crew.
Watch if: you ain't ‘fraid of no ghost.
Release date and platform: Disney+, January 12 (+coming to Okko in 2022)
Having concluded the MCU’s Phase 3 with a few major game-changers, Marvel Studios is spending most of Phase 4 refreshing its line-up of superheroes and supervillains. The Eternals bears the brunt of that task, introducing not one, not two, but a whole dozen new faces that are sure to become very familiar to moviegoers in the coming years.
Watch if: you like a spectacle.
The Tragedy of Macbeth
Release date and platform: Apple TV+, January 14
If you’re looking for a change from all the superheroes, mages, and spacefarers, look no further than what promises to be a highly impressive, both in visuals and acting, adaptation of Shakespeare’s play-that-must-not-be-named. Directed by none other than Joel Coen (of the eponymous brotherly duo), the A24-produced movie stars more accomplished actors than we could possibly list here. If you’ve wanted to get to know the works of the Bard better, this is the perfect choice.
Watch if: you’re in for some high-brow entertainment.
Speaking of theater – another great way to spend an evening is to watch an actual stage play from the comfort of your home. All you have to do is visit TheatreHD and choose one of the many dozen classic and modern plays, ballets, and operas, filmed in HD on some of the world’s top stages and starring accomplished movie and theater actors. And all for the price of an average movie ticket! There is a lot to choose from, starting from performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bolshoi Theatre to documentaries on art and architecture.
Make sure to check out the various themed bundles for a nice discount. And keep an eye out for the regular free screenings, such as the Venetian opera L’Olimpiade on January 6 (available from January 6, 9 AM to January 7, 9 AM, Moscow time).