Amazon's original offerings continue with a second season of the site's 1980s comedy, Red Oaks, as well as the debut of gonzo car show The Grand Tour. The movie offerings are plentiful and dominated by two names and franchises: James Bond and Rocky Balboa. We've picked the best of what Amazon has to offer this month.
Amazon may be the source of many holiday presents this year, but its video selection for December is modest. The highlight is the debut or return of three Amazon original TV series. Although a huge number of movies come to Prime this month, most can be skipped. But, there are a handful of winners that earn our recommendation.
Lost in Oz (Dec. 2)
Those of you who are expecting anything like the 1939 Technicolor film will be surprised by this 3D animated reimagination of the L. Frank Baum parable. Dorothy is a sassy modern teen who is transported into a high-tech, mechanized Oz that looks like something out of Futurama. Amazon debuted the pilot a year ago, and the full series is finally ready.
Man in the High Castle, Season 2 (Dec. 16)
Showrunner Frank Spotnitz starts with Philip K. Dick's enticing alternate history of World War II — in which the Germans and Japanese win. He expands the great sci-fi novel into a multifaceted series full of intrigue, with Nazis, Japanese invaders and conquered Americans jockeying for power and scrambling to survive. Plots collapsed and characters were running for their lives at the end of Season 1.
Mozart in the Jungle, Season 3 (Dec. 9)
After Season 1 set up a crazy cast of characters in a fictionalized version of the New York Philharmonic, Season 2 seeds chaos with an almost-romance between young oboist Haley (Lola Kirke) and eccentric young maestro Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal). Meanwhile, dissension grows as the musicians come closer to going on strike. Now things are set to explode in Season 3, with lovely Italy as a backdrop.
The Expanse (Dec. 14)
Two hundred years in the future, humans haven't made it to other stars, but they do have colonies on Mars and in the asteroid belt in SyFy's new series. And once humans settle in someplace, they have a tendency to want to attack other places. Such is the danger — a solar system war — that's threatening humanity in The Expanse.
Anomalisa (Dec. 17)
Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), the central figure in this animated film by Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), perceives all people as identical. But while attending a conference to promote his latest book, he meets the one woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who might be different.
Blood Diamond (Dec. 1)
Diamonds fuel bloodshed in Africa, either by funding armies or giving them a prize to fight over. Seven countries have endured diamond wars in recent decades. This film uses the 1990s Sierra Leone war as a backdrop for a fictional tale of two men — one a scammer (Leonardo DiCaprio), one a destitute laborer (Djimon Hounsou) — who are pursuing an ultrarare pink diamond.
Caddyshack (Dec. 1)
Comedy writer-director Harold Ramis' first feature film is an outrageous spoof of the petty squabbles and shenanigans of the members of a suburban country club. The 1980 film's comic-legend cast includes Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield.
Café Society (Dec. 22)
Jesse Eisenberg, the master of coming-of-age stories, plays Bobby, a young man who is sent from New York City to work for his uncle Phil, a hotshot talent agent in 1930s Los Angeles. In this Woody Allen film, Bobby is torn between two cities, two lifestyles and two women, who are played by Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively.
The Fighter (Dec. 1)
Mark Wahlberg plays "Irish" Micky Ward, a 1980s welterweight boxing sensation, in this 2010 docudrama. Wahlberg's performance is dependably solid, but the standout actor is Christian Bale, who portrays Dicky — the scraggly, drug-addled half-brother who becomes Micky's trainer.
Lars and the Real Girl (Dec. 1)
Ryan Gosling plays the title character, Lars — a man who falls in love with a doll of a girl — literally. Lars purchases a "real girl" sex doll not just for basic pleasure, but also for actual companionship. He thinks she's real. Although his family and friends — and in fact the entire town — are mortified at first, they humor him by treating Bianca as real, on the advice of a doctor who says that's the best way for him to work through his psychological break and eventually come back to reality. What could be a one-joke flick turns instead into a kindhearted comedy.
The Lobster (Dec. 2)
Writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos' absurdist comedy envisions a near future in which being single is not an option. The government runs a program to match up singles, but those who fail to find a partner within 45 days are transformed into the animals of their choice. The entire cast, lead by Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, performs in perfectly flat-affect deadpan.
What Else to Stream
Keep making the most of your Amazon Prime membership by using it to the fullest. When you're done with all these shows, check out our list of the best shows to binge watch.