Netflix has been getting a lot of press about how many titles have been and will be leaving the service with their new focus on original programming. We have mixed feelings about that shift, since the reason we got Netflix in the first place was their back catalog of movies and TV shows. But a decent chunk of their original programming is top quality, so it’s entirely possible that we’re not losing anything on this deal. No matter the direction they go, we’ll keep bringing you lists on what to keep your Netflix eyes on.
But someone has to pick up the bingeing slack, and that’s where Amazon comes in. While the Netflix library has steadily decreased, Amazon’s been picking up more and more titles, including some original content that, while not at Netflix’s level, still deserves a look. For our money, these are the title we’re most excited about on Amazon Prime this November.
A Ton of James Bond
Amazon’s collection of Bond movies is about to get a whole hell of a lot bigger. Diamonds are Forever, Dr. No, Goldeneye, Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Thunderball, and You Only Live Twice are only a few of the most recent additions, meaning the next time you decide to have a good old fashioned Bond marathon, you won’t even have to get up off the couch. You can watch Connery, Dalton, Moore, and others tear their way through just about every country even tangentially related to the Cold War.
It’s easy to forget there was once a time when people actually wanted Charlie Sheen in their movies. It’s also easy to forget Sheen had real comedic chops. Major League is best watched knowing those two things beforehand, since it’s a solid comedy that we’d hate for present Sheen to ruin. And since we didn’t expect ourselves to ever express that opinion, we double checked. But Rotten Tomatoes has a solid 82% posted on their site, so we must not have been hallucinating. Also, the Indians are in the World Series, so while the stars might not be relevant anymore, at least the premise is.
If it’s possible to have a passing obsession, poker is on everyone’s list. Reasons vary from person to person, but everyone seems to like playing cards. Naturally, Hollywood reflects that. Rounders is one such movie. It’s not breaking any ground for originality, but it’s a solid, entertaining movie that features Ed Norton and Matt Damon in two roles that seem tailored exactly to them. Ed Norton is a shady but likeable card shark and Matt Damon is inhumanly good at reading people in a poker game. Early on, Norton finds himself in a ton of debt and enlists the help of Matt Damon’s abilities to win them both money enough to pay the debt down. It’s a movie meant for a night in when you want to watch two guys work their way through the underground poker scene and listen to John Malkovich be a cartoonish Russian.
It’s arguable that we already included an espionage comedy on this list, considering there’s no way most of the campy stuff from every Bond movie up to (but not including) Casino Royale should be taken completely seriously. Case in point, in Live and Let Die, Bond inflates a man to death. Top Secret! takes all that over-the-top stuff, mixes it with a dozen other genres, and becomes a parody of just about every movie made so far. What’s surprising about it though, is that it’s actually clever. Most parodies end up like Epic Movie, with two hundred cameos of D-list celebrities and no jokes, but they put some actual thought into Top Secret!’s script and what we ended up with is an amusing way to spend two hours. It’s kind of uplifting to know that parody isn’t always a guaranteed cultural dumpster fire.
The Night Manager: Season 1
Back when Daniel Craig was shit-talking Bond movies, other names started to float around as our new 007. Tom Hiddleston was one of those names and if you’d want to see what he might be like as an agent of MI-6, watch him play an MI-6 agent. Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) is tasked with infiltrating an arms dealer’s (Hugh Laurie, the second most British person alive right now) operation. This is one of those short, intense British series, like Sherlock or Luther, that only runs for a few episodes a season, but man are those good episodes. We’re always on the fence about bingeing these shows, since they’re all begging to be binged, but we feel like we need at least a day to digest what we just saw.
Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans
Before Steve McQueen was a black English director making movies about the American South, he was a white American movie star making movies about how great escaping is. Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans is a documentary about the making of Le Mans a box office flop, despite having the beginnings of a guaranteed hit, although that’s a common story in Hollywood. Behind the scenes, Le Mans was a complete mess, ending several friendships, destroying reputations, and possibly, as the documentary suggests, contributing directly to McQueen’s significant decline. McQueen’s struggle during the film is a story that deserves to be told.
It’s hard to find a suspenseful survival movie that doesn’t feel like some executive saw Hostel and Saw back to back and said, “Get me one of those.” Also, it’s hard to find a good suspenseful survival movie. But then, they don’t all have Patrick Stewart as a neo-Nazi. We’re so used to Stewart as Ian McKellen befriending Professor X that we almost forgot he was an actual actor with range, complex emotions, and talent. Then he led a gang of skinheads as they terrorized a struggling punk rock band and we remembered that Captain Jean-Luc Picard could thespianize with the best of them.
Patton Oswalt: Comedy Plus Tragedy Equals Time
Patton Oswalt’s had a rough go of it recently. We won’t go into too much detail, because honestly the guy’s probably sick of having people on the internet talk about his difficulties, but we’re bringing it up because it’s great to see that he’s absolutely not done with comedy. He’s one of the best comedians out there, perfectly blending high and low humor and creating some of the tightest routines we’ve ever seen. Any world where Oswalt’s not producing comedy is one we don’t want to live in, so we’re happy we get to stay in this one for a little while longer.
The Grand Tour
There was some weird shit going on with the UK’s Top Gear in the recent past and what came out of it was no doubt entertaining, but probably shouldn’t be called Top Gear. But now, with The Grand Tour, we’ll end up with something even better. Online streaming affords entertainers a bit more freedom, so while Clarkson and pals were excellent while on a major network, it’s going to be interesting to see if anything changes now that they don’t answer to the BBC. Differences or not, we’ll be watching this one start to finish.
We should mention though, this one’s a bit different. The Grand Tour’s going to blend TV and streaming by having weekly releases for their episodes, but on Amazon’s platform. So that date we have below the title is the date the first episode airs. After that, you can expect a new one every Friday.
There are a lot of movies where the characters we used to love in the 80’s just keep on being badasses but this is one of the first movies that really felt like the torch was finally being passed to the next generation of action stars. Rocky Balboa is back, but plays more of a supporting role to Adonis Johnson, the son of Apollo Creed. Michael Jordan is a worthy successor to Stallone’s Rocky as well as being a talented actor and a capable action star. Hopefully what Creed means is we’ll get to see Jordan in a lot more movies like it, maybe even getting a franchise of his own. He’s proven he can handle the stunt work and some of the more emotional scenes show us any action movie he’s in (besides Fantastic Four) is going to have some real weight and significance behind it. For those of you who haven’t seen Jordan in a movie, Creed is an excellent introduction to the young star, as well as being a great Rocky sequel.