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The Best Movies Coming to Screens Big and Small This Week

Meet WWII’s greatest art forger and a punk rocker plagued by tinnitus

En español | We all have our favorite Christmas films, but did you know that there’s a stack of Thanksgiving movies out there for our indulgence this week? Leave it to the critics at AARP to find the best holiday flicks as we hunker down with chilly nights and tighter pandemic rules in some states. Want more? We’ve got a high-art thriller, a searing documentary, and an eye-opening drama about hearing loss. Pop the popcorn, and pass the remote!

Put this fine-art forgery thriller at the top of your watchlist this week

 The Last Vermeer, R

Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential) goes full long-haired artiste as art forger Han Van Meegeren, a real-life postwar folk hero in Holland. The charismatic artist could create a brilliant faux Vermeer painting, but critics shred his own original artwork. Hey, it stings. So, during World War II, Van Meegeren exploits his genius for forgery, subsequently putting him in the crosshairs of Capt. Joseph Piller (The Square’s Claes Bang), who’s investigating wartime Nazi collaboration in Amsterdam. Did Van Meegeren sell a stolen Jewish-owned masterpiece to the war criminal Hermann Goering for big bucks, a crime meriting a firing squad? Or did he craft the Vermeer himself to scam the art-collecting Nazi? The handsome period thriller would have benefitted from a zippier pace, and Bang is stiff and square. But Pearce’s complicated, flamboyant historical figure is total best actor Oscar bait. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)

Where to watch: In theaters Nov. 20

Here comes Thanksgiving! Need a break?

We thought you might, which is why our critics have rounded up a cornucopia of the best Thanksgiving movies to stream right now. Whether it’s the truly sweet Katie Holmes film Pieces of April or the crazy Ocean’s Eleven-esque Tower Heist featuring the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in a central role, these movies will play ice cream to your pumpkin pie. In other words, sweeten your days this week and settle in: 10 Heartwarming Thanksgiving Movies to Stream This Holiday

If you loved Spotlight, you’ll want to check out …

 Collective, Unrated

In this devastating Romanian documentary that unfolds with the force of a political thriller, reporters investigate a deadly 2015 Bucharest disco fire and discover ghastly medical and governmental corruption, and an aggressive cover-up. Burn victims who could have survived their wounds died from invasive bacteria in the hospital, thanks to a murderous, for-profit scam by a consortium of medical supply companies — aided by government bribes — that cut the potency of the biocidal solution surgeons used to sterilize their tools, unleashing rampant deadly bacteria. A rare foreign documentary put up for the best international picture Oscar, Alexander Nanou’s gut-wrenching film underscores the power of a relentless press to right wrongs, save lives and cauterize corruption. —T.M.A.

Where to watch: In theaters and on demand Nov. 20

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Mind-expanding watch of the week

 Sound of Metal, R

Amazon’s first film about hearing loss boasts an innovative sound design that recreates the losing-hearing experience of a fictional punk-rock drummer (Riz Ahmed) who spirals into dope and despair. His bandmate and girlfriend (Olivia Cooke) saves his life and career by sending him to a sober house for the hearing impaired. Ahmed learned both American Sign Language and drumming to play the part, and he’s convincing. It’s an eye-opening film. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)

Where to watch: In theaters Nov. 20 and on Amazon Prime Dec. 4

Your holiday season movie preview is here!

Viola Davis stars in the film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Dolly Parton stars in Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

Netflix (2)

November and December are peak movie months, and while this year’s crop is poised to land more on our small screens than big ones, it’s still a great holiday season haul of quality films and big stars. Our critics have picked out the best of the best, so check out our list, mark your calendars and put the hot chocolate on to simmer: 2020 Holiday Season Movie Preview: 18 Films to Look Forward To

Geena Davis has something to say, and we all need to listen up

Actress Geena Davis

Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

You may know the actress best for her star-making turn in 1991’s Thelma and Louise, but you may not know that her experience on that film inspired her to found an institute focused on gender bias in the media. AARP caught up with Davis this week to discuss her latest research — a sobering look at how women over 50 are portrayed in film. Read more (and get riled up), here: Geena Davis Calls Hollywood’s Age Bias ‘Dismal’

RELATED: 13 Female Directors You Should Discover Right Now

Hike! These movies put you right on the gridiron

Football fans, rejoice. The NFL is back (sort of), and we’re back with a critic-picked list of the best football movies to stream right now. This means you can have game night, well, every night. Get the whole list here (foot-long franks and beers optional): 15 Great Football Movies to Stream Between NFL Games

If it’s fall, it must be biopic season!

Tilda Cobham Hervey stars as Helen Reddy in the film I Am Woman and Ethan Hawke as John Brown in the miniseries The Good Lord Bird

Kino Lorber; William Gray/Showtime

Forget the pumpkin spice lattes, it’s time for Oscar-seeking films about famous people, and we are here for it. And so will you be, when you check out our critics’ roundup of the best biopics coming to screens big and small (mostly small). Mark you calendars and cozy in for some fascinating films, here: 10 New Biopic Movies and TV Shows to Watch This Fall

Got a case of cabin fever? Have we got the movies for you

Diane Lane and Raoul Bova star in the film Under the Tuscan Sun

Touchstone Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

We know, we know. All those incredible vacations have likely been put on the back burner for now, so our critics went into movieland and brought back a list of glorious films that take place in all your favorite vacation spots. It’s double-fisted escape, and no TSA lines! Get the whole list (and start your escape right now), here: 15 Movies to Ease Your Postponed Vacation Blues

If you loved Da 5 Bloods, or BlacKkKlansman, or Do the Right Thing, or…

Director Spike Lee poses for photo in Sydney Australia

Jaimi Chisholm/Getty Images

Then you know that Spike Lee is one of America’s most influential filmmakers working today. But what you might not know is the full scope of his work, including these five critic-picked Spike Lee Joints that you should put to the top of your streaming list pronto. Get the list and catch up, right here: The 5 Best Spike Lee Films You Haven't (Yet) Seen

Backward AND in High Heels Department

Directors Lulu Wang Greta Gerwig and Ava DuVernay

Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images; Lia Toby/PA Images via Getty Images; Amy Sussman/Getty Images

(Left to right) Lulu Wang, Greta Gerwig and Ava DuVernay.

Women directors — long sidelined — are tearing it up in movies right now. And to celebrate their achievements, we’ve rounded up the 13 essential female filmmakers you need to be following — from Ava DuVernay to Kathryn Bigelow (plus links to their films available online).

Get the list: 13 Female Directors You Should Discover Right Now

You won’t believe which movies turned 50 this year

Does it feel like you saw M*A*S*H only yesterday? How about Love Story? These are just two of a big batch of memorable films that were all released in 1970 — yep, 50 years ago. Our critics have chosen 11 that are really worth a rewatch — so join the fun and see which ones you think have stood the test of time. Get the list and where to stream them here: You Won’t Believe The Movies That Are Turning 50 in 2020

More of the very best movies online

It’s truly amazing how many incredible movies there are available on mainstream platforms like Amazon, Netflix and others. Our critics round up the very best for you, no matter what your interest. Check out the latest “Best of” lists from AARP critics. There’s never been a better time to catch up on movies you always intended to watch.

Other movies to watch

 Mank, R

Gary Oldman may win another Oscar for playing Herman “Mank” Mankiewicz, the alcoholic founding drama critic of the New Yorker who wrote the screenplay for Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane in 90 days flat, mostly sozzled. But Amanda Seyfried is even better as his dear friend and victim, William Randolph Hearst’s talented, delightful mistress Marion Davies. They meet in the 1930s, when Davies is about to film a scene where she’s burnt at the stake, and Mank pretty much torched her reputation in the film by making the mistress of Kane (based on Hearst) a no-talent, washed-up drunk. He only meant to get even with Hearst, whose lavish parties he once attended as an intellectual court jester. Film buffs will flip for Mank’s retro look and the backstage melodrama about the best film ever made (though grumble that it minimizes Welles’ contribution). But even if you don’t give a fig about film history, it’s a showbiz time trip as meticulous and marvelously immersive as Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood. —T.A.

Watch it here: In theaters now and coming to Netflix Dec. 4

 The Climb, R

Catch the opening bicycle sequence of this fresh bromance, and you’ll be hooked. Directed by Michael Angelo Covino and co-written by his co-star and real-life bestie Kyle Marvin, the film charts the fall and rise of the friendship between two man-boys over a number of years — betrayals, sudden deaths, broken marriages, children, and substance abuse. Frequently employing long, bold takes, the hilarious first feature nabbed a prize at Cannes in 2019 and is a real contender for bigger awards to come. The Climb entertains while capturing the cycle of two schlemiels whose bond exceeds the sum of their parts. —T.M.A.

Watch it here: In theaters

 Ammonite, R

In the wake of last year’s stupendous Portrait of a Lady on Fire (on Hulu), along comes Francis Lee’s self-conscious Oscar-bait flick about two Victorian ladies who dare to love. Kate Winslet plays a relatively plain, pinch-lipped British fossil hunter (the title refers to the fossilized sea creatures she uncovers) living drearily by the sea with her sour dying mother, warmed by a new flame (Saoirse Ronan). Their passion never catches fire, but there’s a juicy, naked, athletic love scene, and the award-winning duo tries hard. —T.M.A.

Watch it here: In theaters

RELATED: 12 Great LGBTQ Movies to Stream Right Now

 Fatman, R

Mel Gibson plays another loony fighting against the machine: a raggedy-bearded Kris Kringle in a modestly entertaining holiday action comedy that will play well on VOD after a short theatrical run. Gibson’s Santa attempts to maintain the family “shipping” business by selling out to the U.S. military. Bratty tween Billy (Chance Hurstfield), incensed at finding coal in his Christmas stocking, hires an assassin (Justified’s Walton Goggins) to snuff the Fatman responsible. This Bad Santa-like B-movie has its jollies, plus the inspired Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Without a Trace, Secrets & Lies) as Mrs. Kringle. She blows warmth and good sense into a character who could have been merely a wig and an apron. Their North Pole romantic interlude shows that Gibson’s still got game. —T.M.A.

Where to watch: In theaters and video on demand

The Queen’s Gambit

Who knew the latest smash critical hit on Netflix would be a miniseries about a pill-popping orphan chess prodigy (Anya Taylor-Joy)? She’s a skyrocketing talent cast in the next Mad Max spinoff, and her chess champ is a superhero with spectacular problems. But the show’s emotional anchor is its love story between the eccentric kid and the orphanage janitor (Bill Camp), her chess teacher and surrogate dad and the show’s secret weapon. No intergenerational relationship onscreen this year can match the warm tears they’ll make you shed. And while you’re at it, catch up on Camp’s amazing string of prestige hits: 12 Years a Slave, Lincoln, The Looming Tower, Molly’s Game, The Night Of, Birdman, and Love & Mercy.

Watch it here: Netflix

RELATED: Need a little Netflix to get you through the start of the first holiday season during a pandemic? We thought so, which is why our critics have sifted through the deluge of new films and series arriving this month to pick out the must-watch gems. It’s right here: The 12 Best Things Coming to Netflix in November

 Let Him Go, R

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner made a convincing married couple as Superman’s adoptive parents in 2013’s Man of Steel, but they’re even more magnetic in a better film about a lovingly tough Montana granny and her ex-sheriff husband whose son dies in a horseback accident in 1961. Their son’s widow then marries an abusive husband who whisks their grandson to his terrifying North Dakota family, run by a criminal matriarch (the genius Lesley Manville). Like crossing Fargo with No Country for Old Men, this is a sensitive grownup grief drama that turns into a revenge drama. —T.A.

Watch it here: In theaters only

 Kajillionaire, R

Grifters Debra Winger, 65, and Richard Jenkins, 73, raised their daughter Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) right, teaching her the con artist game. But when they recruit new protégée Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), things go awry. Not your run-of-the-mill grifter picture, it’s by indie cinema’s Queen of Quirk, Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know). It’s one eccentric comedy but cult heroine July’s best movie yet, and there’s real moral tension in Melanie’s campaign to save Old Dolio from her self-serving parents. —T.A.

Watch it here: In theaters and streaming on Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango Now, Alamo on Demand

 The Trial of the Chicago 7, R

An utterly wonderful, vivid dramatization of the trial of Chicago’s 1968 demonstrators, with bravura performances by Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman, Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale. —T.A.

Watch it here: Netflix

RELATED: Frank Langella tells AARP about The Trial of the Chicago 7, his string of history-based hits and the best time of his life — his 80s, here: All Rise for Frank Langella

 The War With Grandpa, PG

Robert De Niro is both a towering icon of Scorsese gangster flicks and high-art tragedy and the king of blockbusters about the Focker family. In his latest silly featherweight comedy, he’s an irascible guy who moves into his grandson’s bedroom, so they conduct a prank-war over its possession. Grandpa’s shaving cream gets switched with foam sealant. The conflict is somewhat Home Alone-like, but more illogical, as when De Niro, Christopher Walken, Jane Seymour and Cheech Marin challenge the kids to a trampoline volleyball match and the ref rules on the first round: “Age-appropriate team 1; AARP team none.” —T.A.

Watch it here: In theaters

RELATED: Find out what Jane Seymour thought about playing for laughs with Robert De Niro, in her new interview with AARP: Jane Seymour Shares Her Special View of England’s Royal Family

 The Glorias, R

Oscar-nominated Tony and Emmy winner Julie Taymor (Frida, The Lion King) dramatizes Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem’s eight-decade life, with four actresses in the part: Ryan Kiera Armstrong as the child Gloria, besotted by her doting traveling salesman dad (a wild-haired Timothy Hutton); teen Lulu Wilson as Gloria coping with her dad’s irresponsibility and caring for her mom, a thwarted journalist with mental illness; Alicia Vikander as the young writer discovering India and exposing U.S. sexism; and Julianne Moore as the grownup Gloria conquering the world — but heartbreakingly losing the ERA fight. Bette Midler is terrific as feminist firecracker Bella Abzug. —T.A.

Watch it here: Amazon Prime

 Bill & Ted Face the Music, PG-13

Watch the reunion of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in the third episode of their time-tripping fantasy comedy. The music they face this time is aging, but assigned by stern Holland Taylor, they’ll write a song to save the universe, see their future selves in a retirement community, and find reassurance that friendship and rock will never die.

Watch it here: In theaters and video on demand

RELATED: The most important woman in Bill & Ted’s universe — Holland Taylor — tells AARP about her latest hit, and her excellent career.

 Critical Thinking, Unrated

Besides starring in billion-dollar-grossing movies, John Leguizamo, 56, is also a born teacher (don’t miss his hilariously inspirational lecture-movie Latin History for Morons). How ideal, then, is his latest outing — as director and star — in this highly entertaining true tale of the Miami Black and Latino students who became the first inner-city team to win the U.S. National Chess Championship. Matched up against 1988’s Stand and Deliver — another inspiring true story with a brainy underdog motif — Leguizamo’s performance may play Edward James Olmos’ to a draw, but he runs the board when it comes to his work in the director’s chair. The kids fizz with Leguizamo’s infectious spontaneous energy. It’s the kind of movie that gives you hope for America. —T.A.

Watch it here: Apple TV+, Vimeo

RELATED: 12 Latinx Directors You Need to Know

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