Presidential elections – like all contests – result in winners and losers. While there was too much gray area in the results for many of us, the 2016 election was won by Donald J. Trump, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. Sore losers make for lame citizens, and no matter who we may have voted for, this is the America we live in now. That said, Trump and his cabinet, and the minority of Americans that elected him, have given the poor, people of color, the LBGT community, environmentalists and the just plain rational plenty to worry about. Two of the best ways to push back against bullying and bumbling in the coming year are education and organization. Let’s link arms and march together, and let’s use these new selections coming to online streaming services in January to inspire the bright new ideas that will illuminate our path.
American History X (1998) tells the story of two brothers living in Venice, Calif. Danny (Edward Furlong) is a high school student who admires his older brother, Derek (Edward Norton), who becomes the leader of a neo-Nazi organization following the murder of the boys’ father by black drug dealers. Derek is sentenced to three years in jail where he becomes disillusioned with the race-based gangs before abandoning his hate and trying to rescue Danny from making the same mistakes. X offers an illuminating look into white supremacist culture, and Norton’s transformation from burly bully to reformed racist earned him a much-deserved Academy Award nomination. – Coming to Amazon Prime Jan. 17
Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next (2015) finds the lefty prankster traveling the world and looking to other countries for solutions to America’s social and economic ills. The movie has been praised as one of Moore’s funniest, but the filmmaker’s investigations into sex education in France, Italy’s paid parental leave, Tunisia’s support of women’s reproductive rights, Slovenia’s free higher education and Norway’s humane prison system are as illuminating as they are entertaining. Many of the solutions Moore explores – like equal rights for women – were born right here in America, and Where to Invade Next is really about reclaiming a legacy that might actually help America become even greater yet again. – Coming to Amazon Prime Jan. 22
The first season of America Divided (2016) premiered on the EPIX channel back in October. The series features high-profile correspondents like actress Rosario Dawson and hip-hop artist Common exploring the impact of inequality in America as they tackle issues like education, housing, healthcare, labor, criminal justice and access to the political system. The title might call to mind the liberal/conservative divide, but America Divided admirably dives deeper into the other two groups that are coming to define our two Americas: the haves and the have nots. – Coming to Amazon Prime Jan. 26
Braveheart (1996) begins like the sappiest of love stories, but by the time Scottish rebel leader William Wallace (Mel Gibson) leads his first attack on a British garrison to revenge the murder of his wife, it’s made brutally clear that this is one of the greatest war films ever made. Gibson’s new World War II movie Hacksaw Ridge was released before Thanksgiving, and the movie is garnering the black sheep director his first Oscar buzz since this masterpiece which won Best Picture and Best Director two decades ago. If you’re looking to get fired up for the coming fight against racist, fascist bullies, there’s probably no better movie than Braveheart. – Now streaming on Netflix
It’s important to remember that when it comes to the people’s politics, social justice and inspired citizenship, there will never be a hero who will magically appear in the sky to do the hard work for us – we have to fight those battles for ourselves. That said, there’s no reason we can’t find inspiration in the superhuman strength and otherworldly integrity of Superman when he soars onto Netflix this January. Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), and Superman Returns (2006) will all be streaming online when Trump puts his tiny little hand on that Bible Jan. 20. I’d love to see a man in blue spandex swoop down from the sky to whisk that fraud off to an intergalactic prison before we have to go to the trouble of formally impeaching him, but, again, that’s not going to happen. In the meantime, we can still look to our greatest comic book hero as our best example of truth, justice and the American way. – Coming to Netflix Jan. 1