Even the streaming services are getting thin on exciting new content these days—the imperative word here being exciting. Curating November’s most promising premieres involved trudging through one too many warm holiday romances from streaming providers hoping to compete with Hallmark. Here are five titles that stand out from the chaff.
Available Nov. 6
This fact-based Nigerian import requires some investment—it runs two hours and 31 minutes—but it appears to be an engrossing story about privilege, tenure and patriarchy. With its shades of David Mamet’s “Oleanna,” “Citation” is about an incident of sexual abuse that may or may not have occurred between a bright college student and her sanctified professor, and the wars waged in the media, academia and the culture when she comes forward with her allegations.
Available Nov. 24
Weaving provocative sociopolitical analysis with candid memoir, J.D. Vance’s best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy never seemed, in my eyes, bound for the big screen—or, in this case, the home viewing platform. But none other than Ron Howard, in his first Netflix offering, takes a whack at its adaptation, with Gabriel Basso as Vance, Amy Adams as his troubled, drug-addicted mother, and Glenn Close as his grandmother and family matriarch. The story jumps from past to present and back again as Vance reflects on familial collapse and its broader implications across the heartland and Appalachia; and judging by the trailer, it provides emotional calisthenics for its two Oscar-angling female leads.
Available Nov. 13
I Am Greta
The “Greta” in the title of this Hulu original documentary is Greta Thunberg, the inspiring and uncompromising 17-year-old from Stockholm, who has transcended certain behavioral disorders to become a global activist for the climate crisis. Followers of Thunberg’s achievements—from launching school walkout protests to rousing the representatives of the United Nations to “flight shaming” air travel—will see her greatest hits play out, while those new to Thunberg’s story may well be driven to action.
ON AMAZON PRIME
Available Nov. 25
Alan Ball, screenwriter of “American Beauty” and showrunner of “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood,” returns to feature filmmaking, in just his second time in the director’s chair, with “Uncle Frank.” A hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it stars Sophia Lillis as a teenager who makes a surprise visit to see her uncle Frank (Paul Bettany), who, unbeknownst to her and her entire conservative family, is gay and living with his longtime partner (Peter Macdissi). Cultures clash, secrets are confronted, and comedy and drama collide as a family emergency brings Uncle Frank home. The great ensemble cast includes Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Margo Martindale, Stephen Root and Lois Smith.
ON HBO MAX
Available Nov. 26
Oddly enough, there’s no trailer, or even an approved still image, for this Melissa McCarthy comedy—all the more unusual considering it was originally scheduled for a December 2019 release before being mysteriously shelved for nearly a year. Is this a bad sign? Usually, but when some 90 percent of movies are exclusive to streaming these days, who knows? At any rate, “Superintelligence” boasts an intriguing comedic conceit: Hyper-intelligent AIs have taken over our lives through our smart home devices, and are planning potential world domination. It’s up to their main target of observation, Carol (McCarthy)—the most average person in America—to represent, and save, the human race.