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Best New Shows and Movies on Netflix This Week: Chadwick Boseman's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Ariana Grande's Documentary

Plus: George Clooney and his beard try to save humanity

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Tim Surette

Looking for something new to watch on Netflix? You've come to the right place. Here are the best new shows and movies releasing on Netflix the week of Dec. 18-24, 2020 (we start it on Fridays since that's when Netflix releases its biggest shows).

If you've ever been a child, and there's a good chance you have, then you know that week leading up to Christmas is the week that you get pretty much nothing. (If you celebrate, Hanukkah, you can skip this intro.) That's pretty much what's happening this week at Netflix, as the streamer is delivering the fewest amount of new releases that I can recall all year. Just eight things! However, two of them are very high profile movies. You can be done watching all of them by Saturday if you put in the time and caffeine. Maybe next week we'll get a pile of presents.

All titles debut on Friday, Dec. 18 unless otherwise noted. Here's what came out on Netflix last week.

If you're looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, we have plenty. If you'd like to see the best of what's coming out on Netflix in December, here are our Editors' Picks for Netflix's December releases and everything that's coming to the service in the month


The Biggest Release


Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Chadwick Boseman's final film role was in this Netflix original that's based on the Tony-nominated Broadway play written by the Pulitzer-winning playwright August Wilson. Viola Davis stars as Ma Rainey, a powerhouse blues singer in 1927 Chicago who holds up a recording session to butt heads with her white manager over the ownership rights to her music. Boseman plays a trumpeter in the recording session who's angling to get a foothold in the music business and sees Rainey's fight as an opportunity for his own gain. This is going to be an electric movie about race and music ownership, with powerful performances from both Davis and Boseman. [Review]

The Midnight Sky
Well humans, you've done it again. The Earth is an uninhabitable mess in this science-fiction drama from a grizzly George Clooney, in which he plays a scientist in the Arctic who must warn a team of astronauts in space that the planet isn't worth coming back to. Everyone's just trying to survive, man, except the fate of the human race may depend on the astronauts finding another place to land, so they have even more pressure to make it to tomorrow. This looks like Gravity mixed with a post-apocalyptic film. [Trailer / Review / Wednesday, Dec. 23]

The Best Shows of 2020


Everything Else


Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You
Well, I love you too, Ariana. It's not necessary for you to declare your love for me in the title of your new documentary, which includes concert footage and behind-the-scenes action from your latest tour, but somehow does not include me. It's OK! We'll just continue to keep our love out of the public eye and everyone else's reality. [Monday, Dec. 21]

Home for Christmas, Season 2
Tired of Christmas movies because they're not long enough? Then BAM, here's a Christmas TV series. Perpetually single Johanne faces another December of being unattached and all the questions that come with it, so she's off to find some love. However, problems at home threaten the celebration. And because this is a Scandinavian show, it's more authentically Christmas because it's closer to the North Pole. Fact! [Trailer]

Sweet Home
Aww, what is this darlingly titled movie about? An emotional drama about a young man helping his elderly mother? A romance about two small-town lovers? A candy maker who leaves the big city to peddle taffy where she grew up? Oh, it's a Korean horror movie featuring monsters and lots and lots of blood. [Trailer]

London Hughes: To Catch a D*ck
British comedian London Hughes performed this stand-up special back in 2019, but hunting for trouser snakes never goes out of style. [Trailer / Tuesday, Dec. 22]

The Best New TV Shows of 2020 to Binge-Watch

Rhyme Time Town Singalongs, Season 1

My name is Tim and I'm here to say, you can watch this show on Tuesday. It features rhymes that are full of cheer, but if you're older you may stab your ear. [Trailer / Tuesday, Dec. 22]

Your Name Engraved Herein
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll cry some more, and then you'll cry again. This Taiwanese film about the strong friendship (and more) between two young men in 1980s Taiwan looks like a real emotional slap to the face. [Trailer / Wednesday, Dec. 23]

Stop searching, start watching! TV Guide's Watch This Now! page has even more TV recommendations. And check out our picks for the best Netflix shows and movies to watch in December.

PHOTOS: The Best Netflix Originals of 2020 So Far

Lucifer, The Baby-Sitters Club, Love Is Blind

LuciferThe Baby-Sitters ClubLove Is Blind

Netflix