American Beauty

Editors: Buy This Feature

December has arrived and with it, another month of fresh movies and TV shows to watch on Netflix! Not to mention plenty of Netflix Originals.

Be sure to check out “American Beauty,” Sam Mendes’ 1999 film starring Kevin Spacey as a sexually frustrated suburban dad; “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Martin Scorsese’s film about the fast-living Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio); and the first season of “Broadchurch,” a crime thriller starring David Tennant.

I also have to mention “The Honorable Woman: Season 1,” in which Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers a spot-on performance as a woman who works for the reconciliation of Israelis and Palestinians amidst government paranoia, espionage and sibling treachery.

Let’s take a closer look at all the new releases on Netflix in December.


A Knight’s Tale (2001). Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, Mark Addy. After befriending aspiring writer Geoffrey Chaucer, squire William Thatcher persuades the scribe to forge documents passing William off as a bona fide knight — who soon becomes a jousting star while finding romance with an admiring princess.

Almost Famous (2000). Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Zooey Deschanel. In the early 1970s, teenage writer William Miller gets a plum assignment from a Rolling Stone editor to write about the band Stillwater on a cross-country tour. Along the way, he learns about friendship and love with help from Penny Lane.

American Beauty (1999). Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher. While struggling to endure his tightly wound wife, an unfulfilling job and a sullen teenage daughter, suburbanite Lester Burnham falls deep into a midlife crisis and becomes infatuated with one of his daughter’s friends.

Bewitched (2005). Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth. Hoping to revive his career, washed-up actor Jack Wyatt is convinced that Isabel Bigelow would make the perfect Samantha to his Darrin in a film update of the 1960s sitcom “Bewitched.” But Jack doesn’t know how right he is: Isabel really is a witch.

Jewtopia (2012). Ivan Sergei, Joel David Moore , Tom Arnold, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jon Lovitz, Wendie Malick, Nicollette Sheridan, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Peter Stormare, Rita Wilson, Camryn Manheim. Old friends Chris and Adam are facing opposite marriage issues: Chris is pursuing his Jewish dream girl, while Adam is having doubts about his own. When Chris asks Adam to help him pass as Jewish, comedic complications and consequences ensue.

Knights of Badassdom (2014). Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Peter Dinklage, Summer Glau, Margarita Levieva, Jimmi Simpson. Venturing deep into the woods to act out a medieval fantasy scenario, three friends forsake their imaginary roles when they face a real-life struggle for survival after inadvertently conjuring an evil succubus.

Madison (2005). Jim Caviezel, Roger Wolski, Bruce Dern, Mary McCormack, Jake Lloyd, Paul Dooley, Brent Briscoe. Based on a true story, this drama follows hydroplane boat racer Jim McCormick as he prepares for the 1971 Gold Cup championship, which is being hosted in his depressed river town of Madison, Indiana.

Out of the Clear Blue Sky (2012). Directed by a family member of one of the victims, this gripping documentary tells the story of financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, which took the lives of 658 of the company’s employees.

Out of Time (2003). Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain, John Billingsley, Robert Baker, Alex Carter. When a small Florida town is shocked by a double homicide, chief of police Matt Lee Whitlock races against time to solve the case as he himself falls under suspicion. To uncover the truth, he’ll have to stay a few steps ahead of his own police force.

The Out-of-Towners (1999). Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn, John Cleese, Mark McKinney, Oliver Hudson. Empty-nesters Henry and Nancy Clark hit New York for a job interview and high hopes for reviving their staler-than-yesterday’s-toast relationship. But when Murphy’s Law repeatedly strikes the Clarks, the results are sidesplitting!

Troop Beverly Hills (1989). Shelley Long, Craig T. Nelson, Betty Thomas, Mary Gross, Stephanie Beacham, Audra Lindley. Shelly Long stars as a spoiled Beverly Hills housewife who decides — in an effort to disprove her husband’s characterization that she’s a selfish trophy wife — to become the leader of her daughter’s wilderness group. Failing miserably at first — she takes them on outings at the mall rather than in the woods — she later must prove her worth as a legitimate troop leader by instilling lessons of teamwork and selflessness in her young charges.

Turbo FAST (Additional Episodes) – Netflix Original. Join Turbo and his posse on the Turbo Fast Action Stunt Team. Filled with outrageous comedy, action and laugh out loud fun, “Turbo FAST” amps up everything to the extreme: extreme adventures, extreme challenges, and extreme excitement.


Oculus (2014). Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan. Now young adults, sibs Tim and Kaylie are still trying to recover from — and get to the bottom of — their parents’ deaths more than a decade ago. Tim is skeptical, but Kaylie believes an antique mirror is to blame, and sets out to prove it.

Son of God (2014). Diogo Morgado, Greg Hicks, Adrian Schiller, Darwin Shaw, Sebastian Knapp, Louise Delamere, Roma Downey, Amber Rose Revah. A follow-up to the landmark 2013 miniseries “The Bible,” this feature follows the life of Jesus Christ from his humble birth to his resurrection. Filmed in authentic historical locales, this epic presentation brings new life to the miraculous story.


Bill Burr: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way (2014) – Netflix Original. Bill Burr escapes the zombie apocalypse, explores how rom-coms ruin great sex, and explains how too many childhood hugs may be the downfall of man.


American Horror Story: Coven. Exploring humankind’s unsettling capacity for evil, this darkly twisted drama plays upon the power of supernatural fears and everyday horrors. Each season brings back familiar faces, but they’re playing different characters in an all-new setting.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Super-Sized Version) (2013). Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Meagan Good, Kristen Wiig, James Marsden. The ’70s are over, and the anachronistic Channel 4 news team — including newsman Ron Burgundy and his co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone — tries to stay classy as they reassemble to join New York’s first 24-hour news channel.

Ava & Lala (2014). George Takei, Tim Curry, Mira Sorvino, J.K. Simmons. After Ava, a spirited, imaginative girl who’s always in trouble meets a curious animal named Lala, she follows him into a magical whale that takes them to Cloud Land; a world of talking animals. Together, Ava and Lala go on a wild adventure.

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014). Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica A. Fox, Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer, Courtney Baxter, Dante Palminteri, Judd Hirsch, Kurt Angle, Billy Ray Cyrus, Downtown Julie Brown. A freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites – and only Fin and April can save the Big Apple.


Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Season 3. This CNN original series has chef Anthony Bourdain traveling to extraordinary locations around the globe to sample a variety of local cuisines.


I Am Ali (2014). Rahaman Ali, Angelo Dundee, Jim Brown, Carl Fischer, George Foreman, Mike Tyson. Drawing from a collection of audiotapes recorded by Muhammad Ali as a personal journal, this affecting documentary offers new perspectives on the legendary boxer’s life outside the ring.

Drive Hard (2014). John Cusack, Thomas Jane, Damien Garvey, Zoe Ventoura, Christopher Morris. Former racecar driver Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane) traded the winner’s circle for a beginners driving instructor. But his life shifts into overdrive when mysterious out-of-towner Simon Keller (John Cusack) shows up for a driving lesson.


A Haunted House 2 (2014). Marlon Wayans, Jaime Pressly, Essence Atkins, Gabriel Iglesias, Cedric the Entertainer, Missi Pyle. Marlon Wayans returns in this spoofy sequel as the grieving Malcolm, who’s trying to move on after his girlfriend’s untimely tragic death. But Malcolm has reason to believe his beloved is back when strange things start happening in his new home.


The Village (2004). Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver. When a willful young man tries to venture beyond his sequestered Pennsylvania hamlet, his actions set off a chain of chilling incidents that will alter the community forever in this atmospheric thriller featuring a star-studded cast.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jon Bernthal. Martin Scorsese’s high-rolling Wall Street drama is based on the memoirs of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, whose giddy career — involving audacious scams and confrontations with the FBI and other agencies — ended in federal prison.


Broadchurch: Season 1. After a young boy is murdered in the small seaside town of Broadchurch, local detectives Ellie Miller and Alec Hardy are assigned the mysterious case. This crime series follows the clues, obstacles and red herrings that surface in the investigation.

Marco Polo (2014) – Netflix Original. Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Rick Yune, Amr Waked, Remy Hii, Zhu Zhu, Tom Wu, Mahesh Jadu, Olivia Cheng, Uli Latukefu, Chin Han. Set in a world of greed, betrayal, sexual intrigue and rivalry, “Marco Polo” is based on the famed explorer’s adventures in Kublai Khan’s court.

Nick Offerman: American Ham (2014). Riding on the crest of his TV success in “Parks & Recreation,” musician and comedian Nick Offerman covers a galaxy of topics in a one-man stage show. Filmed live in New York, the show features Offerman’s woodworking skills and tips for prosperity.


Don’t Blink (2014). Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, Joanne Kelly, Fiona Gubelmann, Robert Picardo, Zack Ward. Ten people arrive at a secluded mountain resort to find it completely deserted. With no gas for the return trip, the visitors are forced to stay and investigate the mystery surrounding the abandoned lodge.


Jake Squared (2014). When 50-year-old auteur Jake Klein decides it’s time to make sense of his life, he throws a bash, hires an actor to play him and starts filming. But Jake gets an earful when everyone from his dead dad to his younger selves turn up to dispense advice.


Ragnarok (2014). Pål Sverre Hagen, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Sofia Helin, Bjørn Sundquist, Maria Anette Tanderød Berglyd. When archaeologist Sigurd Svendsen sets out to find the link between an ancient shipwreck and the Viking apocalypse known as Ragnarok, his search for the truth leads to an earth-shattering discovery beyond his worst nightmares.

Honorable WomanThe Honourable Woman: Season 1. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lubna Azabal, Katherine Parkinson, Eve Best, Stephen Rea, Janet McTeer. Newly ennobled Baroness Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhall) works tirelessly for the reconciliation of Israelis and Palestinians, pitting her fortune and her intelligence against government paranoia, espionage and sibling treachery.


All Hail King Julien (2014) – Netflix Original. King Julien is shaking his booty harder than ever! Discover the wild world of Madagascar as the king takes on the jungle’s craziest adventures.


Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Extended Version) (2014). Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Renée Victor, Noemi Gonzalez, David Saucedo. This spinoff from the spooky “Paranormal Activity” series relates the terrifying ordeal of a Latino family living in Southern California. When assailed by a horde of demons, the family must turn to their faith to escape with their souls intact.


Dark Skies (2013). Keri Russell, Dakota Goyo, J.K. Simmons, Josh Hamilton, Annie Thurman, Trevor St. John. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton star in this thriller as a couple who has trouble convincing friends and neighbors that an alien is entering their house each night to terrorize their children. So they take matters into their own hands.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997). Lisa Kudrow, Mira Sorvino, Janeane Garofalo, Alan Cumming, Julia Campbell, Mia Cottet, Kristin Bauer. Two not-too-bright party girls reinvent themselves for their high school reunion, armed with a borrowed Jaguar, new clothes, and the story of their success as the inventors of Post-it notes.


The Trip to Italy (2014). Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rosie Fellner, Claire Keelan, Ronni Ancona, Rebecca Johnson. Following in the footsteps of the great romantic poets, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon traverse the Italian countryside musing about life and love. Work enters the conversation as well in this largely improvised sequel to the roadtrip comedy “The Trip.”


Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2014). Patrick Stewart, Lea Michele, Martin Short, Hugh Dancy, Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, Kelsey Grammer. A bevy of stars — including Lea Michele — provide the voices for this animated film that returns Dorothy to Oz to help find her trio of pals. With the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow nowhere in sight, Dorothy faces a new villain: the wicked Jester.


Good People (2014). James Franco, Kate Hudson, Omar Sy, Tom Wilkinson. A financially beleaguered couple can’t believe their good fortune when they discover a boatload of money in the apartment of a neighbor who was recently murdered. But their luck soon turns dangerously sour.


Child of God (2014). Scott Haze, James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, Nina Ljeti, Brian Lally. First parentless, then homeless, poor Lester Ballard never had much of a chance. Now, as a violent, anti-social adult, he has even less of one. Simultaneously shunned and pursued, Lester retreats to a cave and descends into his own dark fantasies.

Labor Day (2013). Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Tom Lipinski, Maika Monroe, James Van Der Beek. What begins as a short ride turns into a life-changing event for divorced single mother Adele Wheeler and her 13-year-old son, Henry, when they give a lift to a bloodied man on a fateful Labor Day weekend.


Behaving Badly (2014). Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez, Mary-Louise Parker, Elisabeth Shue, Dylan McDermott, Jason Lee. Nina is so lovely, and Rick so besotted with her, that he has no qualms about wagering against a mobster’s son over his chances of dating her. With two weeks to land his prey, the teen must face down a host of wild characters in this dark comedy.

Comedy Bang! Bang!: Season 3. Scott Aukerman brings his popular podcast Comedy Bang! Bang! to television. Scott writes and stars in the series along with his co-host and bandleader, Reggie Watts, while featuring celebrity guests playing either themselves or characters.

I, Frankenstein (2014). Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Socratis Otto, Jai Courtney, Kevin Grevioux. Many decades after his creation, Adam Frankenstein is still hunted through modern city streets, although now his pursuers are opposing clans of demons who want to uncover the secret of his longevity and use it to sustain their own immortality.

Maron: Season 2. Marc Maron stars as Marc Maron, who interviews fellow comedians for his podcast, only to reveal more about his own neuroses and relationships. In his anxiety-filled daily life, Maron stalks an Internet bully, hires an intern, and dates a dominatrix.

Jessie: Season 3. Texas teen Jessie moves to the Big Apple to follow her dreams, and finds a job as a nanny for a high-profile family with four high-energy children.


Last Weekend (2014). Patricia Clarkson, Zachary Booth, Jayma Mays, Joseph Cross, Rutina Wesley, Fran Kranz, Devon Graye. When well-heeled, fastidious Celia Green rounds up her two grown sons and husband for a holiday weekend retreat at their beloved vacation home, perfection is her goal. Unfortunately for Celia, discord and dysfunction intervene.

All images used with permission of the distributors and studios.


  1. Gutted. I signed up to Netflix as I wanted to watch broadchurch and your post said it was on. It’s not available to me-do you know why??

  2. […] New on Netflix: December 2014 – American Beauty, Broadchurch & MoreReel Life With Jane, on Sun, 30 Nov 2014 22:45:51 -0800Be sure to check out “American Beauty,” Sam Mendes' 1999 film starring Kevin Spacey as a sexually frustrated suburban dad; “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Martin Scorsese's film about the fast-living Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio); and the first season … […]


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