Benedict Cumberbatch plays a darkly charismatic but brutal rancher in "The Power of the Dog" (2021, R), Jane Campion's western set in 1920s Montana. Jesse Plemons costars as his younger brother who marries a widow (Kirsten Dunst) with a gentle son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), all whom become targets of his bullying. It won awards at major film festivals around the world and streams two weeks after a limited theatrical release. (Netflix)

Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yuen, and Amy Schumer star in "The Humans" (2021, R), a darkly comic family drama set over a holiday gathering directed by Stephen Karam, who adapts his own play for the screen. Streaming through December 21. (Showtime Anytime)

Celina Smith is the world's pluckiest orphan and Taraji P. Henson is the scheming Miss Hannigan in "Annie Live!" (TV-PG), this season's live musical TV event. Titus Burgess and Harry Connick Jr. costar. (Hulu and Peacock)

The animated feature "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (2021, PG) is based on the first book in Jeff Kinney’s bestselling series of kids' books about a hapless middle school boy. (Disney+)

"Harlem: Season 1" (TV-MA), a comedy created by "Girl's Trip" writer Tracy Oliver, follows four ambitious best friends (Meagan Good, Jerrie Johnson, Grace Byers, and Shoniqua Shandai) looking to level up in their personal and professional lives in the big city. (Amazon Prime Video)

"Money Heist: Season 5, Part 2" (Spain, TV-MA, with subtitles) brings the addictive international crime drama, a clever mix of heist thriller, buddy movie, and criminal mastermind chess match, to a finish. The series launched on Netflix in 2017 with almost no fanfare and became a worldwide phenomenon, which is celebrated in the companion documentary "Money Heist: From Tokyo to Berlin: Volume 2" (Spain, TV-MA, with subtitles). (Netflix)

True stories: "The Rescue" (2021, PG) recounts the daring 2018 rescue of twelve boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Northern Thailand (Disney+) and "Burning" (2021, TV-PG) looks at the catastrophic Australian bushfires that burned over 59 million acres and killed an estimated three billion animals in 2019-2020 (Amazon Prime Video)

Holiday Trimmings:

The apocalyptic comedy "Silent Night" (2021, not rated) stars Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode as hosts of a Christmas dinner during the end of the world. Streaming same day as theaters. (AMC+)

Far less dark are the holiday family comedy "8-Bit Christmas" (2021, PG) with Neil Patrick Harris (HBO Max) and LGBTQ romantic comedy "Single All The Way" (2021, TV-PG) with Michael Urie, Philemon Chambers, and Kathy Najimy.

The animated "Santa Inc.: Season 1" (TV-MA), featuring the voices of Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman, is a holiday comedy for older audiences (HBO Max, new episodes on Thursdays) while "Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas" (TV-Y, Netflix) and the multi-denominational "Rugrats: Traditions" (TV-G, Paramount+) are for the whole family.

For the more traditional variety special, you can get Mariah Carey singing her latest holiday song in "Mariah's Christmas: The Magic Continues" (TV-G, Apple TV+) or the NBC special "Kelly Clarkson Presents: When Christmas Come Around" (TV-G, Hulu and Peacock)

Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand

Ethan Hawke plays two roles in "Zeros and Ones" (2021, R), a political thriller from filmmaker Abel Ferrara set in Rome.

Annabelle Wallis stars in "Malignant" (2021, R) from horror veteran James Wan. Also on disc and at Redbox.


Ville Virtanen returns as eccentric investigator Kari Sorjonen in "Bordertown: Mural Murders" (Finland, 2021, with subtitles), a feature-length sequel to the popular Finnish crime drama.

The third and final season of "Lost in Space: Season 3" (TV-PG) brings the family science fiction odyssey to an end.

An orphaned 12-year-old girl reconnects with her late parents through a "Mixtape" (2021, TV-PG) they left behind in this music-centric family drama set in 1999.

True stories: "14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible" (2021, TV-MA) chronicles Nims Purja's attempt to climb all 14 of the peaks over 8,000 meters in seven months and "The Alpinist" (2021, PG-13) follows free-spirited solo climber Marc-André Leclerc.

International passport: The animated feature "The Summit of the Gods" (2021, France, PG, with subtitles) is a mix of mystery and adventure surrounding the first ascent of Mt. Everest.

Amazon Prime Video

"White as Snow" (France, 2021, TV-MA, with subtitles) is Anne Fontaine's modern reworking of "Snow White" with Isabelle Huppert.

Streaming TV: the Norman Lear sitcoms "The Jeffersons: Complete Series" (1975-1985) with Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford and "Sanford and Son: Complete Series" (1972-1977) starring Redd Foxx arrive.


The limited series "The Hot Zone: Anthrax" (TV-14) with Daniel Dae Kim and Tony Goldwyn dramatizes the hunt for the homegrown terrorist behind the 2001 anthrax attacks.

True stories: "All Light, Everywhere" (2021, TV-14) looks at the history of surveillance technologies and the biases of seemingly objective evidence.

Streaming TV: "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 15" (TV-MA) begins with new episodes on Thursdays. Also new:
middle-school for grown-ups comedy "Pen15: Season 2, Part 2" (TV-MA);
crime drama "Godfather of Harlem: Season 1" (2019, TV-MA) starring Forest Whitaker as crime boss Bumpy Johnson in Harlem in the 1960s;
CBS drama "All Rise: Complete Seasons 1 & 2" (TV-14) starring Simone Missick as a newly-appointed judge at an L.A. County courthouse. Also on HBO Max.


LeBron James joins forces with Bugs Bunny and other animated characters in the fantasy dream team basketball comedy "Space Jam: A New Legacy" (2021, PG).

True stories: "Life of Crime 1984-2020" (2021, TV-MA) spans 36 years in the lives of three friends from Newark, New Jersey whose lives have been defined by and torn apart by their addictions. Also new:
"Adrienne" (2021, TV-MA), a celebration of the life and art of actress and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly;
"Listening to Kenny G" (2021, TV-MA) takes on the fans and the haters of the smooth jazz legend.


Andy Samberg and Maya Rudolph host "Baking It: Season 1" (not rated), the newest culinary competition show in an increasingly crowded field. Also new:
horror series "Chucky: Season 1" (TV-MA), featuring Brad Dourif as the voice of the murderous doll;
trendsetting crime drama "Miami Vice: Seasons 1-5" (1984-1989) with Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas;
action series "Knight Rider: Seasons 1-4" (1982-1986) with David Hasselhoff.

Other streams

The limited series thriller "Outbreak" (not rated) follows the efforts of public health officials to fight a viral outbreak in Quebec. Streaming free with ads. (Crackle)

A veteran DS (Gemma Whelan) investigates two dead from a fall off a tower block and the disappearance of rookie cop in the British crime drama "The Tower: Season 1" (not rated). (Britbox)

Four employees at a Welsh brewery cover up the death of their boss in the crime thriller "The Pact: Season 1" (not rated). New episodes on Thursdays. (AMC+ and Sundance Now)

"The Advent Calendar" (France, 2021) is this year's inevitable holiday horror film. (Shudder and AMC+)

Graham Norton hosts "Queen of the Universe: Season 1" (not rated), a drag singing competition spin-off of "RuPaul’s Drag Race." (Paramount+)

"Persona: Season 1" (Turkey, with subtitles) is a drama of crime and corruption. Four episodes available, new episodes on Thursdays. (Topic)

The second season of the junior James Bond series "Alex Rider" (TV-14) and the long running British forensic crime drama "Silent Witness: Seasons 1-21" (1996-2018, TV-MA) stream with ads. (IMDbTV)

"Female Gaze: Women Directors + Women Cinematographers" presents 50 features and short films, including the streaming debuts of the restored American indie "The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love" (1995, not rated), a groundbreaking landmark in queer representation, and "Ste. Anne" (2021, not rated), an allegorical drama set in the rural landscape of Manitoba. (Criterion Channel)

New on disc and at Redbox:

Visit the paper's website online for more options and recommendations.

Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at

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