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The Movies You Have To Watch Before They Leave Netflix In December 2019

December of 2019 is going to be a fateful time for Netflix. Disney+ went live in the middle of November, but the ramifications of the sudden stiff competition won't really be felt until the following month. The shows and movies that will fall off of Netflix as streaming arrangements with Disney begin to expire will constitute a sign of things to come, and only the streaming giant's brass will get an idea how the attrition will affect subscriber numbers. Netflix famously keeps most of that data close to the vest — and it'll be heavily incentivized to continue doing so as Disney's incursion on their turf continues.

Some of these selections are virtually guaranteed to not return to Netflix ever again, as they are Disney-owned releases — so if you're not quite ready to jump in whole-hog on Disney+, check out or revisit those particular releases now or forever hold your peace. (Or, you know, pony up for a bunch of Blu-rays).

Thor: Ragnarok

If you haven't seen this particular Marvel Cinematic Universe offering yet, allow us to make a very explicit statement: you gotta get on this one for real, dudes. The third installment of the Thor series is one of the higher-rated and more widely acclaimed installments in the entire MCU; even those who typically don't get into superhero films tend to make an exception for this one, with its exceptional blend of action, heart, and humor. As with all MCU films, it of course does help to have seen a few others before diving into Ragnarok (most importantly the first Thor movie and Avengers: Age of Ultron), but the film is a fairly well-contained story that outside context only enhances, rather than being a structural necessity.

Directed by Taika Waititi, Ragnarok sees the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) learning some new and uncomfortable hidden truths about Asgardian history and his father, Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins). A conflict with a new and powerful enemy sends Thor to the secret world of Sakaar, ruled over by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and home to his ruthless gladiator games, where he pits hapless victims against his great Champion as entertainment. Along with old friends and new alliances, Thor must survive and find a way to flee Sakaar to save his homeland from the threat of Ragnarok, the prophecy that foretells the destruction of the entire Asgardian race.

Thor: Ragnarok will be leaving Netflix on December 4th.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

With a box office take of $1.3 billion, there many not be a whole lot of people in the United States left who haven't sat down to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi at least once, but if you have not, this is probably the last opportunity to stream it on a third-party platform before it reemerges on Disney+ forevermore. You may recall there being some kerfuffle about this movie upon its initial release; we suggest that you set that aside, and come to this sequel on its own terms. Writer/director Rian Johnson makes a concerted effort to both enrich Star Wars lore, and to play with expectations, giving fresh perspectives of what we know about the Jedi and the universe in which Star Wars exists. 

The Last Jedi immediately picks up where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) beginning a proper education in use of the Force — and in doing so, she'll discover many truths about the Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and his relationship to Ben Solo before his transformation into Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Meanwhile, division begins to roil within the Resistance, and the First Order is on the case, hoping to destroy the Resistance's high command at last. As Rey begins to realize that nothing is what it seems, how will she go forward, for both her own sake and that of the Resistance?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi leaves Netflix on December 25th.

The Dark Crystal

Seeing the 1982 feature The Dark Crystal before it leaves Netflix is of particular prescience if you have watched or eventually want to get around to watching Netflix's revival series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The modern series is set well before the events of the film, and chronicles the downfall of the world and near-extinction of the species known as the Gelfling. The movie may be going away, but not necessarily forever — Jim Henson's Muppet works and characters are owned by Disney, but The Dark Crystal film and its characters are owned entirely by The Jim Henson Company, which is still an independent studio. The license will likely be re-upped at some point in the future, especially if a second season of the revival series is greenlit.

The Dark Crystal, directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, is a high-fantasy story about the planet Thra, a world on the edge of total destruction. A thousand years before, the evil vulture-like Skeksis shattered a magic crystal that is the world's life force in order to utilize it for themselves as a source of eternal life. Thra's last living Gelflings, Jen and Kira, undertake a quest to find the missing shard and heal the crystal in hopes of destroying the Skesis and returning Thra to its former thriving and lush green. The film features the most ambitious utilization of complex puppetry ever for a studio as accomplished as Jim Henson's, and it's worth watching for this massive technical achievement alone.

The Dark Crystal departs Netflix on December 31.

Schindler's List

Schindler's List needs no introduction; the 1993 historical drama appeared on Leonard Maltin's list of 100 most important films of the 20th century and won a small avalanche of awards, including six Oscars. Its cultural significance (despite being a semi-fictionalized narrative) is so profound that it is often shown in high schools as part of modern history courses covering World War II. If you missed out on that easy opportunity, the time to catch the movie has never been better — though if you are sensitive to graphic depictions of death and other dark themes, you should be very aware that the film comes with a whole bunch of trigger warnings attached to it.

Schindler's List, directed by Steven Spielberg, is an adaptation of the historical fiction novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally. While it depicts actual events, and the central characters did exist, some of the narrative lacks firm historical record and has been filled in with supposition. The film tells the story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a factory owner who saved over a thousand Jewish people from death at the hands of the Nazi regime by trafficking them through his business. 

Schindler begins as a faithful Nazi party member enjoying status among the SS, employing Jews recruited from the ghetto for cheap labor. When the Krakow ghetto is purged, however, the violence is so extreme that Schindler's allegiance is forever altered, and he begins working with his Jewish business partner Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) in secret to secure the safety of as many Jews as possible. Schindler survived the war and was awarded by Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust memorial authority, for his courage and life-saving efforts.

Schindler's List will leave Netflix on December 31.

Wet Hot American Summer

Wet Hot American Summer, released in 2001 to underwhelming reviews and anemic box office, has developed a reputation as a nostalgic cult classic in the years since. This is another movie worth watching if you're interested in watching the corollary Netflix spin-offs related to the original film as the streamer fielded the limited series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp in 2015 and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later in 2017. It's important to know going in that the film is a surrealist dark comedy that is parody before anything else, and sometimes that means it gets a little weird — especially for Gene, the character played by Christopher Meloni.

Wet Hot American Summer boasts a cast that was relatively unknown when the flick was released, but today is celebrated: it stars Meloni, David Hyde Pierce (Frasier), Janeane Garofalo (Mercy Black), Paul Rudd (Avengers: Endgame), Amy Poehler (Inside Out), Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy), and more. The film focuses on the last day of summer camp at the fictional Camp Firewood in 1981, where the various camp kids and counselors fall in love, get into hijinks, plan talent shows, and try to save the camp from being crushed by a piece of NASA's Skylab that happens to be plummeting through Earth's atmosphere.

Wet Hot American Summer will also be departing from Netflix on December 31.