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The Best Movies Coming to Screens Big and Small This Week

2 juicy, star-studded family dramas top our critics’ picks

En español | Well, folks, the whole moviegoing thing is back to being complicated — one of the week’s biggest films is opening in 350 theaters nationwide while social distancing is still the norm and many movie lovers are very leery of sitting inside any building with folks they don’t know. We’ll keep our eye on terrific movies that are opening straight to streaming platforms (like Blackbird, opening on Amazon Prime this week), and we want everyone to know that while we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage everyone to make careful decisions on where, when and how to engage in public with the movies (or anything, for that matter).

Two great movies made the top of our critics’ picks this week. One is coming to theaters, the other to Amazon Prime.

 The Nest, R

Intoxicated by the greed-is-good rush of the go-go 1980s, Britain-born broker Rory (Jude Law) uproots his American family to make a killing in London, their fourth move in 10 years. “It’s not your job to worry — leave that to your husband!” he tells wife Allison (The Leftovers star Carrie Coon). She worries, with good reason. To pay for their new, Downton Abbey-like English mansion, he must persuade his rather untrustworthy boss (Michael Culkin, The Crown) to take a buyout that would earn Rory a bundle. The future’s so bright, he’s got to wear shades — but she’s not blind. Law and Coon have never been better, depicting a marriage that’s hot in bed yet fissioning before our eyes, and about to go nuclear. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)

Where to watch: Opening Sept. 18 in 350 theaters nationwide

 Blackbird, R

In a truly moving movie by Roger Michell (who got Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant Golden Globe nominations in Notting Hill and Peter O’Toole his last Oscar nom in the must-see Venus), a successful architect (Susan Sarandon) stricken with ALS gathers her family at their Dwell magazine-worthy oceanfront villa for a last Christmas celebration before she ends her life. Her husband (Sam Neill) is as supportive as the rock of Gibraltar, but her grown daughters can’t stop feuding. The older (Kate Winslet) is uptight, as controlling as her mom and not half as nice, the younger (Mia Wasikowska) a flaky screwup who resists her mom’s end-of-life plan. There’s a last-act revelation or two that ring false, but mostly, this is a sensitive, superbly acted film about an important topic. —T.A.

Watch it here: Amazon Prime starting Sept. 18

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Calling All Goodfellas Fans!

Ray Liotta Robert De Niro Paul Sorvino and Joe Pesci star in Goodfellas

Entertainment Pictures/Alamy Stock Photo

Can you believe Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning gangster film turns 30 this year? If you love this movie as much as we do, you’re going to love matching wits with our latest quiz, which tests your Goodfellas trivia chops. Come on and play, because it’d be a shame if something had to happen to your family: 30 Years Later, How Well Do You Know Goodfellas?

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

Netflix Super Pick of the Week

The Devil All the Time (2020)

Robert Pattinson (Twilight) plays a mysterious preacher in a Gothic saga about a troubled family in small-town Ohio, from World War II to the Vietnam era. With Spider-Man’s Tom Holland as a nice Christian boy gone wrong and Jason Clarke (51) and Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough as killers you don’t want to pick you up while hitchhiking.

Watch it here: Netflix

RELATED: Love your Netflix? We know you do, which is why we get the list of everything that’s new on your fave streaming service and pick the very best releases for you. Because you need time to melt some truffle butter for that popcorn: The 12 Best Things Coming to Netflix in September

Who are we to argue with success? This is the no. 1 streaming hit three weeks in a row

 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.

If you watch one thing on Amazon this week, watch this 

Gemini Man (2019)

Three-fourths of critics hated the intensely dumb dialogue in this flick about assassin Will Smith, entering his AARP years, battling a replica of himself decades younger. But more than 80 percent of viewers loved it. Watch it and let us know what you thought! (Pretty good CGI on young Will, though old Will is aging rather slowly.)

Watch it here: Amazon Prime

RELATED: Want a little more Will Smith in your life? Our critics have not only pulled together the megastar’s best films — they’ve ranked them! Watch them in order, or pick your faves and stream them first. Here’s the list: The Best Will Smith Movies (So Far), Ranked

RELATED: Did you know Amazon Prime just released a whole bunch of fabulous movies? We did, and we’ve already gone through the list to line up the films you won’t want to miss. Get the scoop here: 11 Great Things Coming to Amazon Prime Video in September

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

Bone up with biopics!

Sally Field stars in the film Norma Rae and Helen Mirren in The Queen

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection; Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

If your summer reading list leans more to beach reads than big biographies, you can still get that history fix with a great biopic — those movies that elevate a well-known life (or bring to light a lesser-known but equally deserving one), in what’s usually a star (and Oscar-worthy) turn. We’re talking Gandhi, Churchill and Queen Elizabeth, not to mention Loretta Lynn, Harvey Milk, Ray Charles and many more. Use our brand-new list of 17 amazing biopics streaming right now to dig in. And don’t worry: Those doorstop biographies will be right there on the bedside table when you’re ready to read them again.

Get the list: 17 Entertaining Biopic Movies to Watch Now

RELATED: Want the best beach reads this year? We’ve got a tote bag full, right here: 2020 Summer Book Preview: 12 Unique Novels to Choose From

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

 I Am Woman, Unrated

The most uplifting music biopic since Bohemian Rhapsody stars the winsome Tina Cobham-Hervey as Helen Reddy, the Aussie single mom who improbably conquered Hollywood, scoring 14 Top 10 and four No. 1 hits. She wrote, “I am strong, I am invincible,” and women responded. It’s a love story about her marriage to fellow nobody Jeff Wald, who managed her career and then with increasing success those of Tiny Tim, George Carlin, David Crosby, Sylvester Stallone, and Barbra Streisand’s husbands Jim Brolin and Elliott Gould. But a cocaine habit (a quarter-million a year in 2020 dollars; he’s sober since 1986) made him snort coke from a shag rug as Helen’s daughter watched sobbing. It destroyed their relationship (now somewhat healed). Reddy had strife with her dying best friend too, Aussie immigrant and Encyclopedia of Rock author Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald). While it’s very square and predictable, it’s nonetheless thrilling to watch Reddy’s tormented ascent, and Cobham-Hervey lip-syncs well to singer Chelsea Cullen’s recreations of Reddy’s style. Reddy now lives in a dementia facility, but she’s seen the film, understands it and loves it. I sure did. —T.A.

Watch it here: Virtual cinemas

 Mulan, PG-13

Disney’s new live-action remake of its popular 1999 animated saga of the girl warrior (Yifei Liu) who became her empire’s  greatest warrior may not best its predecessor, but director Niki Caro does offer oodles of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon energy. Pretty soon you feel as if you, too, could run straight up fortress walls and conquer, if you only had her chi (life force). But Liu is an emotional blank — whenever her witch antagonist (Gong Li, 54) is onscreen, the latter steals the scene — and between rip-roaring action scenes, sometimes the film feels like a glum slog. Still, it’s a stylish war film with a marvelous sense of place. —T.A.

Watch it here: Disney+

RELATED: Did you know that Mulan’s director, Niki Caro, also directed another memorable film about a very plucky young heroine — Whale Rider? Discover more about this director, along with 12 more of her powerful female counterparts, right here: 13 Female Directors You Should Discover Right Now

 The Mole Agent, Unrated

In Maite Alberdi’s charming documentary, Chilean detective Romulo Aitken, hired by the daughter of an assisted-living resident to find out who’s taking advantage of her mother, hires recent widower Sergio, 83, to nose around, equipped with spectacles and a pen — each containing a video camera. The octogenarian takes to his role with diligence, fumbles with spy gear notwithstanding. There’s humor and intrigue, but it’s Sergio’s blossoming friendships with a number of the women in the nursing home that make this covert operation brim with grace. He’s companion, confessor, caretaker. The Mole Agent — alongside recent Aussie comedy Never Too Late — makes clear that where folks grow older is a universal source of anxiety. —Lisa Kennedy (L.K.)

Watch it here: Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube

 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


Double Oscar winner Hilary Swank leads the first mission to Mars, contending with a virus outbreak onboard her ship (social distancing in a spaceship — how very 2020!) and a stroke afflicting her husband (The Good Wife’s Josh Charles) back on Earth. A series from the creators of Parenthood, thirtysomething and Shakespeare in Love.

Watch it here: Netflix

Tenet, PG-13

In a much-awaited mind-bender epic by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Inception), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) globe-trots to prevent World War III by confronting bad guys like a Russian arms merchant (Kenneth Branagh) who make time flow backwards and bullets zoom back into guns. Check this page for a review when the film is screened for critics online. On Rotten Tomatoes, critics rated it 75 percent (good), and audiences rated it 90 percent (better yet). If you choose to visit a theater to see a film, read the CDC’s coronavirus health and safety guidelines, and consult AARP’s latest news on the coronavirus.

Watch it here: In theaters

 The Owners, Unrated

We don’t often feature home-invasion horror flicks, but this one boasts two of the great grownup actors, Dr. Who’s Sylvester McCoy, 77, and Rita Tushingham, 78, sporting the same bangs she made famous in the 1960s must-see movies A Taste of Honey (remember that tune?) and The Knack … and How to Get It. Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark) and her youth gang think it’ll be a breeze to get the rich old folks to give the combination to their safe. But the kids picked on the wrong victims. This one’s worth seeing to see Rita and Sylvester show young actors how it’s done. —T.A.

 Robin’s Wish, Unrated

It may move you to tears — you’ll also bust a gut laughing at his dialogue-recording scenes from Aladdin and stage-show improvs — but this important documentary about the last days of actor Robin Williams is must viewing. Everyone needs to know about the illness that led to his death, Lewy body dementia, the second-leading cause of progressive dementia (after Alzheimer’s). And the film corrects erroneous reports that his 2014 suicide involved depression, money woes or substance abuse (he was sober). In fact, as his widow, friends and directors explain for the first time, his invaded brain was erasing his memory, giving him tremors and causing paranoid delusions. Despite it all, he heroically continued to film his show The Crazy Ones and movie Night at the Museum III. (He also spent lots of time comforting disabled people and entertaining American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.) He never knew what he had — his autopsy revealed it. “I’m not me,” he said. The film will clarify who he really was and why he’s immortal. —T.A.

Watch it here: Available on video on demand and Apple TV, iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, FandangoNow and Redbox On Demand.

RELATED:  Find the latest news and resources for caregivers on AARP’s Disrupt Dementia page.


The producer of Mel Gibson’s blockbuster The Passion of the Christ brings you another faith-based film, about the Virgin Mary’s 1917 apparition before a 10-year-old Portuguese girl, who gets visions of World War I and hell itself. Harvey Keitel, 81, plays a skeptical professor interviewing the girl, now a grownup modern nun (Sonia Braga, 70), and ER’s Goran Višnjic plays an atheist mayor who throws kids in jail for claiming to have visions. —T.A.

Watch it here: In theaters and video on demand

 The 24th, Unrated

Oscar-winning screenwriter Kevin Willmott (BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods) directed and cowrote this saga of the 1917 Houston riot that sparked the biggest murder trial in U.S. history. The 24th Infantry’s all-Black battalion was stationed in Houston the summer that murderous white mobs attacked thousands of Blacks in East St. Louis and Chester, Pennsylvania. Racist Houston cops dragged a Black woman from her home, GIs defended her, the cops beat and shot them, and more than 100 mutinous soldiers shot it out with the cops. A kangaroo court hanged 13 soldiers, some or most likely innocent. Empire’s Trai Byers is inspiring as the soldiers’ leader, a Paris-educated intellectual resented both by whites and lower-class Black soldiers (Mykelti Williamson, 63; and Mo McRae) who bitterly dismiss his dreams of racial equity. It’s a grim, important tale rich with historical detail. —T.A.

Watch it here: Available on video on demand

 Tesla, PG-13

Kyle MacLachlan, 61, has a ball portraying electricity entrepreneur Thomas Edison while Ethan Hawke, 49, broods as Edison’s thwarted rival Nikola Tesla, who dreamed of a wirelessly connected world. It’s a high-IQ, Drunk History-like romp, alternating between low-lit 1890s scenes that look like daguerreotype photos and jaunty modern touches: Google searches, a karaoke rendition of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and an ice-cream-cone duel between the inventors. The film is an inventive mess, but way more lively than Benedict Cumberbatch’s 2017 flick about Edison called The Current War. —T.A.

Watch it here: In theaters and on demand

 Greyhound, PG-13

Tom Hanks is great at playing morally upright officers, and he’s never been more biblically correct than he is as the Christian commander of an Allied convoy in the early days of World War II, conveying crucial supplies to Europe. But in the middle of the Atlantic, the Air Force can’t protect his ships from marauding Nazi U-boats. Though Hanks’ self-doubting, prayerful hero is masterfully rendered, the movie is mostly a big battle scene, a cat-and-mouse drama of pinging sonar, relentless torpedoes and high-stakes maneuvers at sea. The human drama is muted, but the movie makes you feel like a World War II veteran. —T.A.

Watch it here: Apple TV

RELATED: If you love war films, you’ll love this list! Check out the Best World War II Movies Ever Made.

 Palm Springs, Unrated

If you liked Groundhog Day and Russian Doll, you’ll love this version of the every-day-is-the-same-day fantasy. Niles (Andy Samberg) is the guest at a wedding who wakes up every day to the same events, and cannot escape, even by stealing a plane with the boozy maid of honor (Cristin Milioti) and crashing it. J.K. Simmons is a growling delight as a guy who keeps shooting arrows at our hero, peeved that Niles got him stuck in the Groundhog Day-like time prison, and Meredith Hagner is hilarious as Niles’ ghastly, faithless girlfriend. This is a fresh, funny and original take on a time-honored trope. —T.A.

Watch it here: Hulu

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