The Criterion Channel’s December 2019 Lineup

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Nov 27, 2019

The holidays are fast approaching, and our gift to you this season is a new round of programming on the Criterion Channel! This December, we’ve got a stellar lineup that celebrates legends of cinema both classic and contemporary—from Bette Davis to Juliette Binoche, from William Wyler to Andrea Arnold. Plus: a series on the art of the heist, a selection of our favorite melancholy Christmas films, three of Michael Caine’s most iconic turns, and a new episode of Observations on Film Art!

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* indicates programming available only in the U.S.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1

Starring Bette Davis
Featuring a new introduction by critic Farran Smith Nehme
The undisputed queen of the Warner Bros. lot from the midthirties to the early forties, Davis was a force of nature who dominated the screen with her fearless portrayals of complex, often defiantly unsympathetic characters.

Featuring: Three on a Match (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932), Hell’s House (Howard Higgin, 1932), The Cabin in the Cotton (Michael Curtiz, 1932), Of Human Bondage (John Cromwell, 1934), Front Page Woman (Michael Curtiz, 1935), The Petrified Forest (Archie Mayo, 1937), Marked Woman (Lloyd Bacon, 1937), Kid Galahad (Michael Curtiz, 1937), Jezebel (William Wyler, 1938), Dark Victory (Edmund Goulding, 1939), The Old Maid (Edmund Goulding, 1939), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Michael Curtiz, 1939), The Letter (William Wyler, 1940), The Little Foxes (William Wyler, 1941), Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942), The Man Who Came to Dinner (William Keighley, 1942), In This Our Life (John Huston, 1942), Mr. Skeffington (Vincent Sherman, 1944)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 2

Diamantino
Exclusive streaming premiere
A word-of-mouth sensation on the festival circuit, Diamantino is one of the most unclassifiable films of the year: a high-camp masterpiece of genre-blending and gender-bending satire.

Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, 1986)
Criterion Collection Edition #563

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3

Short + Feature: For the Birds
The Cage and Kes
Featuring an introduction by Criterion Channel programmer Penelope Bartlett
A bird is a boy’s best friend in these bittersweet coming-of-age fables, both of which blend social-realist grit with child’s-eye poetry.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4

Directed by Andrea Arnold
Bristling with a wild, untamed naturalism, the films of British auteur Andrea Arnold are bracing immersions into the worlds of the young, the restless, and the dispossessed. Including the short films Milk (1998), Dog (2001), and Wasp (2003), and the features Red Road (2006), Fish Tank (2009), and Wuthering Heights (2011).

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5

Bogart’s Beginnings
Before he was Bogie, Humphrey Bogart was just another workaday character actor struggling to break out of the Warner Bros. stock company. After getting a late start in the film industry, he was typecast as a tough-guy villain in gritty crime dramas like Marked Woman and Dead End. These films show Bogart on the come-up, gradually honing his legendary persona on his way to stardom.

Featuring: Three on a Match (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932), Black Legion (Archie Mayo, 1937), Dead End (William Wyler, 1937), Marked Woman (Lloyd Bacon, 1937), The Petrified Forest (Archie Mayo, 1937), Kid Galahad (Michael Curtiz, 1937), Dark Victory (Edmund Goulding, 1939)

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6

Double Feature: Paint It Black
Scarlet Street and The Woman in the Window
Edward G. Robinson and art are a deadly combination in these twin noir masterworks by Fritz Lang.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7

Saturday Matinee: The Black Stallion
A wild horse saves a young boy’s life after a terrifying shipwreck and the two become unlikely friends in Carroll Ballard’s cinematic tour de force, adapted from Walter Farley’s classic children’s novel.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8

The Art of the Heist
A crack team, an ingenious scheme, a foolproof getaway plan . . . what could possibly go wrong? Perhaps the only thing more fun than watching a perfectly executed cinematic heist unfold is watching it unravel, as evidenced by these safe-cracking classics, each a masterwork of palm-sweating, high-stakes tension.

Featuring: They Live by Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948), He Ran All the Way (John Berry, 1951), Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955), Bob le flambeur (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956), The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956), Big Deal on Madonna Street (Mario Monicelli, 1958), The League of Gentlemen (Basil Dearden, 1960), Cruel Gun Story (Takumi Furukawa, 1964), The Italian Job (Peter Collinson, 1969), Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, 1973), Incident by a Bank (Ruben Östlund, 2009)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 9

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, 1973)
Criterion Collection Edition #475

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10

Short + Feature: Jingle Hells
Bad Night for the Blues and Mon oncle Antoine
Family got you down this holiday season? Commiserate with the poor, put-upon nephews in these incisive portraits of yuletide dysfunction.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11

Directed by Maren Ade
Featuring an interview with Ade
One of contemporary cinema’s most astute chroniclers of the intricacies of social interaction—often at its messiest and most awkwardly uncomfortable—German auteur Maren Ade navigates complex emotional terrain with deadpan delicacy. 

Featuring: The Forest for the Trees (2003)*, Everyone Else (2009)*

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12

The Breaking Point (Michael Curtiz, 1950)
Criterion Collection Edition #889

Terms of Endearment*
From grand slapstick to deepest sentiment, director James L. Brooks masterfully paints scenes from the evolving thirty-year relationship between a mother a daughter in this multiple Oscar-winning classic, featuring dazzling performances from Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13

Double Feature: Blondell Bombshells
Three on a Match and Gold Diggers of 1933
The ever-saucy Joan Blondell is at her wisecracking best in a pair of pre-Code aces.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14

Saturday Matinee: On the Town
For this exuberant adaptation of Leonard Bernstein’s Broadway hit, directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen busted out of the soundstage and hit the streets of the Big Apple, making unprecedented use of location shooting from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park to the top of Rockefeller Center.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15

Starring Juliette Binoche
Incandescent muse of the French cinema, Hollywood movie star, and international art-house icon: Juliette Binoche has been all of the above in her extraordinary career. Bringing nuance, intelligence, and a radiant screen presence to each of her performances, she has delved fearlessly into a wide range of complex roles for some of the greatest and most daring directors of the last four decades.

Featuring: Rendez-vous (André Téchiné, 1985), Mauvais sang (Leos Carax, 1986), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufman, 1988), The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax, 1991), Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1993), Code Unknown (Michael Haneke, 2000), Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005), Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas, 2008), Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010), Elles (Małgorzata Szumowska, 2011), Camille Claudel 1915 (Bruno  Dumont, 2013), Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, 2014), Slack Bay (Bruno Dumont, 2016)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 16

The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)
Criterion Collection Edition #575

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17

Short + Feature: Let’s Talk About Love
Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak and Metropolitan
With their emphasis on literate conversation and the romantic complications of the young and urbane, the films of French New Wave titan Eric Rohmer and New York indie darling Whit Stillman share a sophisticated spiritual connection.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18

Directed by Céline Sciamma
To mark the release of her acclaimed new film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, we’re revisiting the revelatory first three features by French director Céline Sciamma. Forming a loose trilogy centered around the experiences of young people grappling with issues of sexual, gender, and social identity, these films ache and soar with the pain, confusion, and exhilaration of adolescence.

Featuring: Water Lilies (2007), Tomboy (2011), Girlhood (2014)

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (William Greaves, 1968)
Criterion Collection Edition #360

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20

Double Feature: Madcap Marriages
I Married a Witch and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
Veronica Lake casts a spell and Preston Sturges runs riot in a pair of lively screwball romances.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21

Saturday Matinee: Murder on the Orient Express
It’s all stars aboard the mystery train in Sidney Lumet’s deluxe adaptation of the Agatha Christie classic.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22

Blue Christmas
It may be the season of cheerful carols and twinkling lights, but the holidays also bring about a melancholy mood that has inspired some of the world’s greatest filmmakers. This selection explores the clashing emotions at the heart of the yuletide spirit.

Featuring: Morning for the Osone Family (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1946), Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947), Plácido (Luis García Berlanga, 1961), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964), My Night at Maud’s (Eric Rohmer, 1969), Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982), Cronos (Guillermo del Toro, 1993), A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 23

Observations on Film Art No. 33: Mise-en-scène in My Brilliant Career
In this episode, Professor Jeff Smith explores how director Gillian Armstrong uses lighting, costuming, and decor to upend the conventionally masculine mythologies of the frontier tale in her Australian New Wave classic, creating a uniquely feminine “western” in which self-realization is tied to creative expression and the rejection of patriarchal norms.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24

Short + Feature: Homoerotic for the Holidays
Wren Boys and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Queer love and desire smolder behind bars in these unconventional holiday tales. 

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25

The Juniper Tree
Streaming premiere, featuring three short films by Nietzchka Keene
Björk makes her incandescent film debut in this spellbinding, medieval-set feminist fantasia.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26

Three Starring Michael Caine
With his much-impersonated cockney accent, sly grin, and signature blend of humor and grit, Michael Caine has been a British screen legend for six decades and counting. This trio of favorites from Caine’s heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s showcases the actor in three of his most iconic roles. Featuring: Alfie (Lewis Gilbert, 1966), The Italian Job (Peter Collinson, 1969), Get Carter (Mike Hodges, 1971)

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 27

Double Feature: Love Notes
In the Good Old Summertime and The Shop Around the Corner
Ernst Lubitsch’s classic romance swoons alongside a tune-filled remake starring Judy Garland.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28

Saturday Matinee: Oliver!
Charles Dickens gets the ol’ musical razzle-dazzle in Carol Reed’s irresistible Oscar winner.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29

Directed by William Wyler
One of Hollywood’s preeminent craftsmen, William Wyler brought a rigorous technical perfectionism and penetrating emotional insight to some of the richest, most complex human dramas of the studio era.

Featuring: Dodsworth (1936), These Three (1936), Dead End (1937), Jezebel (1938), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Letter (1940), The Westerner (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 30

Tunes of Glory (Ronald Neame, 1960)
Criterion Collection Edition #225

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31

Short + Feature: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Coda and The Phantom Carriage
Drunken nights lead to encounters with the Grim Reaper—and, paradoxically, a chance at rebirth—in these tales of death and transfiguration.