Did you miss some of the most entertaining movies of 2015? Thanks to streaming technology, you can catch up over the holidays. Put these 10 terrific films on your Netflix queue or catch them on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu or HBO GO. All of these channels are available through the Roku and other devices that stream from your computer to your TV — or you can watch them on your iPad or laptop.
Second Best Marigold Hotel
This is a poignant, funny and gorgeous sequel to the unexpected 2012 romantic comedy hit about a group of British retirees who move to a crumbling Indian hotel. The second installment picks up where the first one left off, with Sonny, the proprietor, trying to start another hotel. The plot is silly, but getting to see the first installment’s cast of eminent, mostly British actors play out the film’s mantra —this is your last act, so make the most of it— is a treat.
- Stars: Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Richard Gere
- Stream for $4.99 on Amazon Video, YouTube and iTunes
In this affecting drama, an aging rocker is suddenly confronted with the life he might have lived after he receives a long-undelivered letter from the late John Lennon. Even though he can’t sing worth a damn, Al Pacino comes back to the screen displaying the same mixture of poignance and pugnacity that earned him an Oscar so long ago. I’m still in love with him.
- Stars: Al Pacino, Annette Benning, Jennifer Garner
- Stream for free on Amazon Prime $2.99 on YouTube $4.99 on iTunes
Ricki and the Flash
Meryl Street stars in this entertaining feel-good movie about a wife and mother of three who long ago left her family to follow her rock ‘n roll dreams. Now, she has to go back home and face the music. Streep once again displays her chameleon-like ability to play any role, and she sings with the best of them. I rocked out on this one.
- Stars: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield
- Stream for $3.99 to $4.99 on YouTube, Amazon, iTunes
Long retired and near the end of his life, Sherlock Holmes grapples with an unreliable memory and must rely on his housekeeper’s son’s help as he revisits the unsolved case that led to his retirement. Critics raved about Ian McKellen’s performance as an old Sherlock Holmes. I’m a longtime fan of Sherlock in all his incarnations and am glad I get a second chance to see this one.
Woman in Gold
Helen Mirren gives a bravura performance in the real-life story of a Jewish-Austrian woman’s efforts to reclaim her family’s famous “Woman in Gold” painting, which was stolen by the Nazis during World War II. For some reason the critics thought this movie was “predictable,” which just shows how wrong they can be. It is riveting.
I’ll See You in My Dreams
After realizing how lonely and routine her life has become, a longtime widow begins a relationships with two very different men. The NY Times called this “a modest, quietly touching portrait of an older woman radiantly embodied by Blythe Danner.” It’s on my “must see” list.
Far from the Madding Crowd
If you’re longing for a romantic costume drama set in the English countryside with artistic photography, meticulous historical detail and a headstrong heroine, the latest cinematic adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 140-year-old classic should fit the bill. I’m counting on this one to help hold me over until the new season of Downton Abbey starts.
- Stars: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen.
- Stream for $4.99 and up iTunes, Amazon, YouTube
5 Flights Up
A warm and funny comedy about an aging couple selling their beloved Brooklyn apartment is charmingly played by its well-cast, ever watchable leads, according to one review. If you adore Keaton and Freeman as much as I do, and especially if you’ve ever been a New York City apartment dweller, add his to your queue.
One of the most brilliant and eccentric films of 2015, this riveting portrait of an artist is also beautiful to look at—best seen in HD on a large screen. It’s well worth the high streaming cost.
If you didn’t already love monkeys (and who doesn’t), this adorable Disney documentary that follows a troupe of macaques in the jungle ruins of Sri Lanka will swing you in the right direction. When a rival troupe takes over their territory, a single mom macaque has to fight the simian social hierarchy to lead her troupe to safety, while simultaneously protecting her baby. Critics said Tina Fey’s narration lends wit and edginess to what could have been excessive cuteness. This one’s perfect to watch with the grandkids, but I’ll just watch it myself since mine aren’t visiting. (The video below is the full documentary, so you can watch right here.)
I’ll Be Me
Legendary singer Glen Campbell starts a farewell tour after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he and his family navigate the unpredictable nature of the disease. His valiant struggle is heartbreakingly chronicled in this documentary. I saw a clip and it looks amazing—but make sure you’ve got a box of tissues on hand.
- Stream for 99c on Amazon, (probably as a public service) a lot more elsewhere.
Which of these do you plan to catch up on?