En español | Those aren’t just fireworks you hear outside this holiday weekend — that’s movie fireworks. Our home screens (and select movie theaters) are lighting up with fantastic new films, including the hotly awaited screen version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, a searing new war film based on true events and an inspiring documentary about the great John Lewis. Don’t know where to begin? Use our critic’s picks, below, to set your watch schedule. Don’t forget the sparklers!
Critic’s Pick of the Week
Hamilton, PG-13 (Disney Plus, July 3)
Sure, seeing it on your home screen might make you want to see it again onstage. But the hotly awaited film of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony- and Pulitzer-winning feuding-Founding-Fathers musical with the original cast is better in some ways on screen. It doesn’t cost $849 per ticket, you can rewind to catch rapid-fire lyrics you missed (or better yet, opt in for subtitles), and you get better closeup views of actors nonpareil: Miranda as the man on the $10 bill, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Daveed Diggs as two showboats, Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette, and Leslie Odom Jr. as Hamilton’s fatal friend and rival Aaron Burr. Hilarious Jonathan Groff almost steals the show as King George III. The whirligig staging is cinematic, and this movie makes you feel like you’re in the room where it happened. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Watch it here: Disney Plus
RELATED: Watch the 18 best star-spangled patriotic movies for the Fourth of July weekend.
Must-Watch Documentary of the Week
John Lewis: Good Trouble, PG
Critic Eric Kohn calls John Lewis, 80, “the real movie star of the summer.” A sharecropper’s son who practiced oratory to the chickens as a child, Lewis was brutally assaulted by police in Selma alongside Martin Luther King Jr., was arrested 45 times for the cause and served 17 terms in Congress (so far). Director Dawn Porter (Bobby Kennedy for President) captures the civil rights giant in verite footage and archival clips plus interviews with the late Elijah Cummings, Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi. Says Lewis: “Whatever we do we must do it in an orderly, peaceful, nonviolent fashion, and I believe in a biracial or interracial movement — that’s the only way we’re going to succeed. I never chanted Black Power. I think we all have power.” —T.A.
Watch it here: Theater screenings
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This Summer’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’
The Outpost, R
Rod Lurie, 58, the only West Point-trained film critic turned director, delivers the best war film since 1917. Sadly, it’s a true story, based on Jake Tapper’s best seller about Combat Outpost Keating, a U.S. base in Afghanistan so dangerously located below three mountains that a military analyst dubbed it “Camp Custer.” On Oct. 3, 2009, 400 Taliban attacked the 53 GIs there, and you’ll feel like one of them. Orlando Bloom soars as the commander, and Clint Eastwood’s son Scott, Mel Gibson’s son Milo, Mick Jagger’s son James, Richard Attenborough’s grandson Will and Alan Alda’s grandson Scott Alda Coffey excel as soldiers. The last hour is more tense than Zero Dark Thirty. At the end, you’ll meet the actual survivors, including Daniel Rodriguez, who plays himself in the film. —T.A.
Watch it here: Theater screenings
Art Film of the Week
The Truth, PG (July 3)
French screen goddess Catherine Deneuve, 76, has a big comeback role as a movie star whose memoir upsets her daughter (Juliette Binoche, 56) and son-in-law (Ethan Hawke, 49), who return from New York to Paris for a feud-filled reunion. All three stars and director Hirokazu Kore-Eda are widely acclaimed, and art-film fans are eager to see this.
Watch it here: https://www.thetruth.movie/
FREE Movies for Grownups!
Here’s the good news: The streaming site Tubi costs you nothing to watch — just like TV in days gone by. But like TV in days gone by, you’ll need to watch about a minute of ads every hour or so. Perhaps a small price to pay for free films. Check out Tubi’s top 10 list of films for viewers over 50:
- Ali (2001)
- Foxcatcher (2014)
- Fury (2014)
- Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
- Concussion (2015)
- Draft Day (2014)
- Solace (2015)
- The Gambler (2014)
- The Hours (2002)
- Frankie & Alice (2010)
Watch these and all Tubi movies, right here.
Shaken, Not Stirred: How Well Do You Know Your 1960s Movies?
We all know that James Bond famously uttered those immortal words, “A martini. Shaken, not stirred,” but do you know in which movie he said it? We’ve got classic lines from some of your favorite movies of the 1960s, and it’s your challenge to match them to the movies they came from and who said them. Ready to play?
Take the quiz here: How Well Do You Know Your 1960s Movies?
RELATED: Have you taken our fantastic 1970s movie quiz yet? Match your wits against these classic lines from movie-making’s classic era.
Pretend You’re at the Drive-In This Weekend
Missing those summer action films? We know the feeling, so our critics rounded up an incredible list of the best action movies to stream online. From the comic genius of Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop to Bruce Willis’ pyrotechnics in Die Hard, we’ve got the thrills for your summer nights. So buckle up.
Get the list here: 13 Great Action Movies to Heat Up Your Summer
Netflix’s Black Lives Matter Collection
Netflix unveils a useful, intelligently curated menu of 48 or so top titles including When They See Us, Moonlight, Malcolm X and the current must-see, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (which could win star Delroy Lindo the Oscar he’s deserved for some time, and maybe the Emmy, too).
Watch it here: Netflix
Our Summer Movie Preview Is Here!
Warner Bros. Pictures; Clay Enos/DC Comics; Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Yes, there will be a movie season this summer (drive-in theaters are even opening back up), but some of the hits will be on streaming services instead of — or also in — movie theaters. Get our critics’ inside picks on what to watch for, and get the latest on what to expect as actual movie theaters begin to turn on the lights this summer.
Hit the Road (on Your Home Screen) With These Classic Road Trip Movies
MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection; Courtesy Everett Collection
Is there anything more summer-fun than a road trip? While you work out whether you feel comfortable with the real thing, we’ve got just the scratch for that itch. Fill the cooler with cold drinks, buckle up and hit the road from your sofa with Thelma, Louise, the Griswolds and many more classic characters in any (or all!) of these dozen great road trip movies handpicked by our critics.
Get the list: 12 Great Road Trip Movies to Satisfy Your Wanderlust
Movies to Stoke Pride
Suzanne Tenner/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection; David Bornfriend/A24
June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and while we adjust to no parades or celebrations this year, we can get our rainbows on with critically acclaimed films by and about queer people. From Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a lesbian couple whose life with their teenagers gets upended by a visit from the kids’ biological father (Mark Ruffalo) in The Kids Are All Right or the soul-stirring, Oscar-winning Moonlight, we’ve got a new list of 12 great LGBTQ films to stream this (and every) week.
Check out the list here: Great LGBTQ Movies to Stream During Pride Month
Overwhelmed by Amazon and Netflix? We hear you
simpson33/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Which is why our critics bring you the best series and films to watch on both of these enormous streaming platforms every month. Set your watch schedules with our help, and don’t miss anything great, from new flicks to classic TV series.
We’ve Got Your Feel-Good Fix of the Week!
AF archive/Alamy Stock Photo
Have a thing for a sweet little romantic movie? Want it all to work out in the end, after just a little bit of drama? Love a small-town setting? It’s time to indulge in a little Hallmark Movie fun, and our critics have rounded up the 11 best Hallmark classics that are streaming right now. Bet you can’t binge just one!
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
Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things, Unrated
America’s greatest popular singer gets her due in a swingin’ documentary featuring Ella herself and a parade of smart witnesses to her talent, including Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Itzhak Perlman, Andre Previn, Ella’s son, Ray Brown Jr., and dancer Norma Miller. Miller was there at New York’s Apollo Theatre when Fitzgerald, a homeless teenage reform school runaway, became famous overnight in 1934. Miller says she joined the audience in booing Fitzgerald, who wore a shabby dress and boots to hide her skinny legs. But when she sang, says Miller, “she shut us up so quick you could hear a rat piss on cotton.” It’s fun to hear critic Will Friedlander explicate the 40-plus songs Fitzgerald quotes in her 1960 scat classic “How High the Moon.” —T.A.
Watch it here: Eventive
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, PG-13
The least popular singers in a small Icelandic fishing village, Lars and Sigrit Erickssong (Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams), try to crack the famous international singing competition that inspired American Idol and launched ABBA and Celine Dion. Lars’ dad (Pierce Brosnan) is not a fan. Made by the director of Wedding Crashers, the comedy is getting mixed reviews, but critics are hyperventilating over the comic gifts of Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey’s Matthew Crawley) as the Erickssongs’ Russian rival, who wants Sigrid for his own. —T.A.
Watch it here: Netflix
Jon Stewart writes and directs a political satire starring Steve Carell as Gary, a Democratic campaign consultant who thinks he’s found a winning mayoral candidate in a small Wisconsin town (the terrific Chris Cooper, Oscar winner for Adaptation). The guy’s a churchgoing, widowed Republican farmer and ex-Marine, but Gary thinks, “He’s a Democrat — he just doesn’t know it yet,” and his upright, Mr. Smith-goes-to-Washington vibe reminds Gary of “Bill Clinton with impulse control.” But Gary’s sometime lover and rival strategist (Rose Byrne) is out to thwart them. The comedy isn’t often laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s intelligent in a way that fans of Stewart’s The Daily Show will enjoy. —T.A.
Mr. Jones, PG-13
Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa) is a past master of World War II drama, and there’s much genius in her film about Welsh reporter Gareth Jones (Grantchester and Little Women hunk James Norton), who sounded a warning about Hitler in 1933, then exposed Stalin for murdering as many as 10 million in an intentionally created 1933-34 famine — a story that inspired George Orwell to write Animal Farm. Peter Sarsgaard is great as vile, pro-Stalin New York Times reporter Walter Duranty, and the Ukraine scenes pack a punch. But Andrea Chalupa’s uneven script juggles subplots ineptly. Worth watching, but not as rewarding as Holland’s fact-based 2018 World War II epic In Darkness. —T.A.
Miss Juneteenth, Unrated
The best-timed film debut of the year is first-time director Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Sundance and SXSW film fest hit about a former Fort Worth, Texas, Miss Juneteenth beauty pageant winner (Nicole Beharie, Little Fires Everywhere) who wants her teen daughter to win the crown, too — because it comes with a college scholarship. Which the mom wishes she’d had instead of becoming a single mom and bartender moonlighting in a mortuary. Peoples is from Fort Worth, and her movie makes you feel like you’re from there, too, in the way that Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird made you feel like you were from Sacramento. It’s a comparably touching mother-daughter coming-of-age film. —T.A.
Watch it here: Apple TV
The King of Staten Island, R
Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) cowrote and directs Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson’s semiautobiographical comedy-drama about a slow-to-grow-up young man coping with his fireman dad’s 9/11 death and the new boyfriend of his mom (Marisa Tomei, 55), with help from an avuncular guy named Papa (Steve Buscemi, 62). —T.A.
Mad Men vet Elisabeth Moss gives a typically riveting performance as Shirley Jackson, author of such horror classics as 1948’s “The Lottery.” When an oblivious young couple (Logan Lerman and Odessa Young) stay with mentally ill Shirley and her equally unstable professor husband (A Serious Man’s always-excellent Michael Stuhlbarg, 51), the ensuing mind games play out like an even fiercer version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Shirley is as unsettling as one of the writer’s own stories. —Bruce Fretts (B.F.)
Watch it here: Hulu
The Vast of Night, PG-13
In the best teens-stumble-upon-uncanny-events movie since 2011’s excellent Super 8, Fay (Sierra McCormick) and Everett (Jake Horowitz) are nerds in Cayuga, New Mexico, pop. 492, in the 1950s. She’s the town’s switchboard operator, he’s a radio DJ. She excitedly tells him about coming tech wonders she’s read about: tiny TV telephones and radio-controlled electronic cars — “and a voice will come over the radio and give you directions!” But an eerie sound signals that there’s something even stranger in the air, maybe an invasion by aliens (or commies?). The story is framed as an episode of a Twilight Zone-like show whose intro says, “You’re entering the realm between clandestine and forgotten.” The film remembers the ’50s brilliantly, and it’s a gem — original, with crackling dialogue and orchestrated tension. —T.A.
Watch it here: Amazon
The High Note, PG-13
You think you’re terrified to sing in public? Try being the daughter of Diana Ross. Tracee Ellis Ross, 47, makes her music debut crooning six tunes in this comedy about a big-time Hollywood singer and her ambitious assistant and piano accompanist (Dakota Johnson). Ice Cube, 50, plays her manager, and it costars Eddie Izzard, 58, and Bill Pullman, 66. —T.A.
Lucky Grandma, Unrated
What a find! Tsai Chin, 86, who costarred with Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery and Daniel Craig’s Bonds, and Tamlyn Tomita in The Joy Luck Club, plays a gruff, chain-smoking widow who wants to avoid moving in with her son’s family. So she bets her skimpy life savings at a casino, loses, heists some gangster’s loot, defies thugs named Pock-Mark and Little Handsome, and hires a rival gang’s tallest guy as a bodyguard. A movie that might have caught on in theaters works just fine on the home screen. It’s got some of the snap of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but it’s sweet and funny too. Part of the fun? You can stream it via Kino Marquee, a wonderful site that hosts films that would be showing currently in independent theaters, and Alamo Drafthouse, an Austin-based independent theater that hosts streaming now as well. —T.A.
Military Wives, PG-13
Originally intended for a theatrical release, this uplifting British comedy-drama is now on video-on-demand (VOD) and streaming just in time for Memorial Day weekend. The English Patient’s Kristin Scott Thomas, who turns 60 this weekend, and Catastrophe’s Sharon Horgan, 49, provide perfect counterpoint as a colonel’s buttoned-down wife and a snarkier military-base compatriot who organize a choir of women with spouses serving in Afghanistan. Director Peter Cattaneo, a veteran of The Full Monty, hits the right notes, finding laughs in the familiar yet satisfying story while never losing sight of the situation’s underlying seriousness. Another hit from Bleecker Street, the film company specializing in movies for grownups. —B.F.
Valley Girl, PG-13
Valley Girl, the jukebox-musical reboot of the excellent 1983 Nicolas Cage teen comedy of the same name, opened in select drive-in theaters (as well as on Apple, FandangoNOW, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VUDU, Xbox and Redbox). Set to a soundtrack featuring Roxy Music and the Go-Gos, it stars teen film icon Alicia Silverstone and a gang of next-gen teen queens. Drive-ins might be leading the way to a movie theater recovery, as Americans flock to them again this season.
Want to grab some popcorn and watch it on the big screen from inside the safety of your car? See full list of drive-ins screening Valley Girl: valleygirlmovie.com
The True History of the Kelly Gang, R
This film was scheduled for theatrical release, but because of pandemic limitations, it has opened on your screen instead. Ned Kelly, Australia’s 19th-century answer to Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Butch Cassidy all rolled into one folk-hero package, was played on-screen by Mick Jagger (1970) and Heath Ledger (2003). Now indie wunderkind Justin Kurzel (Macbeth) directs George MacKay (1917) as the charismatically unhinged Kelly, a violent psychopath scarred by a horrific childhood. Russell Crowe plays a shaggy, hair-trigger bandit who sets the young Kelly on his path, and Game of Thrones’ Essie Davis is his she-wolf of a mother. They’re scary-good. —Chris Nashawaty
Bad Boys for Life, R
Will Smith, 51, and Martin Lawrence, 54, return as Miami cops who battle a ruthless Mexican cartel assassin, as well as deal with aging. It’s fun and silly, and the digital release has 50-plus minutes of new material, including an alternate ending. —T.A.
The Invisible Man, R
In this number 1 box-office hit, Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) flees her controlling lover (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), an inventor. When he slits his wrists and leaves her $5 million, she fears he’s found a way to get invisible and hunt her. Moss rocks the role, delivering screams and sudden jumps, then turning the tables on the bad guy — aided by stilettos, juicy red lipstick and an excellent cosmetic concealer. —T.M.A.
Doe-eyed Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) spins an enchanting web as Emma Woodhouse, the rich, spoiled queen bee of her sleepy village, who lives with her hypochondriac father (Love Actually’s Bill Nighy, 70). Emma believes she can find the perfect husband for sweet, naive Harriet Smith (a refreshing Mia Goth). It’s akin to a delicious crumpet smothered in lemon curd with the perfect cup of Earl Grey tea. —Susan King (S.K.)
Uncut Gems, R
This is definitely not family fare, thanks to the raw profanity. But grownup viewers may find Adam Sandler, 53, impressive as a New York jeweler, gambler, dreamer and self-defeating buffoon who keeps making the wrong decision. —T.A. (READ FULL REVIEW)