While Christmas and Hanukkah may be over, the holiday season is still going strong as New Year’s weekend looms and, with it, the start of January. Netflix is closing out the year in style, with a pair of ambitious original programming pieces launching, while the end of the year serves as an opportunity to look back at some of the streaming service’s debuts in 2022. CBR is here to provide recommendations on what to watch, from new arrivals to fan-favorite Netflix originals from the past year.
Here are all the biggest and best movie and television picks to stream on the final weekend of 2022, including family-friendly musicals and intense action thrillers.
Matilda the Musical Brings New Life to Roald Dahl’s Classic
Roald Dahl’s classic 1988 children’s novel Matilda has endeared itself to millions worldwide, including through a 1996 feature film adaptation directed by Danny DeVito and starring Mara Wilson in the title role. After being developed as a stage musical in 2010 by Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly, this version of Matilda has since been adapted into its own feature film. Released on Netflix in time to close out the year, Matilda the Musical provides an energetic twist to Dahl’s story.
After Matilda Wormwood is born into a family that doesn’t love her, she begins to develop genuine superpowers. Relegated to a boarding school supervised by the cruel headmistress Ms. Trunchbull, Matilda rises up to inspire her students to stand up to their adult bullies. A delightful translation of what made the stage musical so great, Matilda the Musical offers great family-friendly fun for the holidays.
The Witcher: Blood Origin Expands the Dark Fantasy World
With fans of The Witcher still reeling from the news that Henry Cavill will be departing the Netflix adaptation after its upcoming third season, there are more adventures in the show’s dark fantasy world to help mitigate the loss. The spinoff series The Witcher: Blood Origin premiered this week, offering audiences a new adventure and period in the franchise created by Polish novelist Andrzej Sapkowski. Running for four episodes, Blood Origin showcases the ancient history behind the Witchers themselves and a bloody conflict that defined the realm.
Set 1,200 years before the events of the main Witcher story and time of Geralt of Rivia, Blood Origin depicts the creation of the first Witcher. As monster hunters begin to surface, a fiery conflict set to consume the realm’s elven civilization escalates, changing the trajectory of the continent forever. Developed by the same team as the main Witcher series, Blood Origin helps tide over the wait for Cavill’s impending swan song as Geralt.
Bridgerton Made Its Triumphant Return
Not all Netflix originals deal with supernatural stakes and bloody conflict, with its hit original series Bridgerton returning for its sophomore season. Based on the novel series by Julia Quinn, the historical romance shifted its focus from Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset to Daphne’s older brother Anthony searching for love in Regency Era England. With its courtly drama and wish-fulfillment fantasy, Bridgerton remains as strong as ever with its change in protagonists.
Deciding to find a wife, Anthony Bridgerton becomes one of the most eligible bachelors in England as he is pursued by numerous aristocratic young women offering their hand in marriage. Anthony is smitten by the lovely Kate Sharma, but their road to true love proves more complicated than either could have imagined. Expertly crafted, with lush production design and stellar performances from its cast, Bridgerton avoids the sophomore slump to remain as sterling as ever.
Stranger Things Stands Among Netflix’s Best
Was there a bigger show on television this past year, streaming or otherwise, than Stranger Things? The hit horror series returned for its eagerly anticipated fourth season, bringing scares, harrowing set pieces and plenty of ‘80s nostalgia, including a memorable use of Kate Bush’s single “Running Up That Hill.” And while it may be some time before Stranger Things returns for its fifth and final season, now’s the perfect time to revisit what made the show’s return so great.
Set months after the cataclysmic events of Season 3, Stranger Things Season 4 has an insidious villain from the Upside-Down known as Vecna prey on the teenagers of Hawkins, Indiana. As the fan-favorite ensemble try to drive Vecna from their hometown, Eleven moves to restore her powers while Joyce and Murray travel to the Soviet Union to rescue Hopper. The most ambitious season for the series to date, Stranger Things’ fourth season comes out swinging and sets the stage for a hellish finale.
The Gray Man Reunited the Russos With Chris Evans
The most high-octane Netflix original action movie released this year was The Gray Man, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Led by an all-star cast, including Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Jessica Henwick, the film adapts the 2009 novel of the same name by Ryan Greaney. With its breakneck pacing and a wickedly against-type performance from Evans, The Gray Man is one of the year’s more entertaining Netflix originals.
The Gray Man has CIA operative Courtland Gentry (Gosling) discover dark secrets about his employers, prompting them to send the sadistic mercenary Lloyd Hansen (Evans) after him. The two operatives play a cat-and-mouse game around the world, with Gentry determined to rescue a young girl caught up in the clandestine intrigue. Marking the Russos’ first time working with Evans after their collaborations in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Gray Man is slated to get a sequel set to double down on the spy game action.