En español | Are the movies back? They’re certainly back in movie houses this week, with a handful of terrific films for those who feel safe heading to the local theater. We’ve got a five-star feel-good from the U.K., a can’t-look-away look at Tammy Faye Bakker, a savvy cop comedy that’s a throwback to the ’70s, and a seriously absorbing drama from the writer behind Taxi Driver. It’s big stuff for grownups, so check out our critics’ reviews and recommendations, below. And we’ll see you at the movies!
The best feel-good film of the year has arrived and it’s pure gold
The Duke, R
In 1961, a 60-year-old cabdriver (genius actor Jim Broadbent, 72) gets fired, steals a Goya painting from London’s National Gallery and tries to ransom it in return for the government giving old-age pensioners free licenses for the BBC (which keeps rejecting the plays he writes). His downtrodden missus (Helen Mirren, 76), a housecleaner, tries to keep up appearances as he sows quixotic chaos in a good, yet cracked cause. Scotland Yard can’t seem to catch him, but inevitably he winds up in court, making a public stand for the common man. The tale is sillier than a ’60s Ealing Studios comedy, and will warm you like a perfect cup of English tea. And it really happened. “It’s sweet and endearing,” says Mirren. “You would want to take it with a pinch of salt if it wasn’t all true.” —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Watch it: The Duke, coming Sept. 17 to theaters
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The wait is over and Tammy Faye Bakker is back!
The Eyes of Tammy Faye, R
Not since I, Tonya (about Tonya Harding) has a widely loathed, wildly cartoonish figure in a public scandal been rendered so brilliantly on film as an appalling character we come to know and love. Jessica Chastain will likely get an Oscar nomination as eerily bubbly Tammy Faye, who fell for her bible school classmate Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), a natural-born evangelist inclined to crime, sexual peccadilloes and illegal payoffs to accusers. It’s jaunty to watch them build their religious puppet show for kids into a multimillion-dollar TV empire, and a vast Disneyland for Christians that was both sincere and a scam. Chastain’s Tammy Faye is a grifter with a heart of gold under that mink, a rebel against patriarchal homophobes. Cherry Jones is excellent as her dour, repressed mom, and Vincent D’Onofrio plays the Bakkers’ nemesis Jerry Falwell with diabolical gravitas. —T.A.
Football fans, this one’s for you
The NFL is finally back, and not a moment too soon. Fingers crossed, it feels like a baby step toward normalcy. Which is why our Sundays — and Monday nights, and Thursday nights, for that matter — will be booked solid between now and mid-February. For the other days of the week, well, we’ve got a list of the 19 best football movies for you to stream while you’re waiting for the next slate of games to kick off.
Kick it off here: 19 Great Football Movies to Stream Between NFL Games
Like your laughs to be rough and rowdy? Have we got a movie for you!
Fast, funky and ballistic, Copshop references the ’70s cop actioner and its Western roots, letting the bullets ricochet and the genres collide. With hitman Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler, 51) in hot pursuit, smooth-talking wheeler-dealer Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo, 56) sucker punches badass rookie officer Valerie Young (Watchmen’s Alexis Louder) in front of a wedding gone wild. Apparently, an assault charge and a tidy small-town Nevada jail cell will provide Murretto a safe haven — until Viddick lands himself in the adjacent drunk tank. Backstabbing, wisecracking, mad gunplay and fountains of blood ensue. Directed with a steady hand by Joe Carnahan, 52, who coauthored the tight script, greasy-haired Grillo and gruff Butler banquet on their tasty, oversize outlaw roles. But leave it to Louder’s upright cop to ground the conflict, save the day and showcase the rise of another athletic female action star. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
Watch it: Copshop, coming Sept. 17 to theaters
From the writer who brought us Taxi Driver, a stunning new look at crime and punishment
The Card Counter, R
Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader, 75, is on a spectacular career comeback, first with 2017’s First Reformed, and now with another gorgeous film about Dostoyevskian torment. Incandescent Oscar Isaac plays William Tell, an Abu Ghraib interrogator haunted by what he did under his malevolent commander Major Gordo (Willem Dafoe, 66) and sent to Leavenworth prison for his actions, a fall guy for bigger, badder guys. He mastered gambling in stir, and now he’s recruited by a manager (Tiffany Haddish) who hooks up pros with plutocrat backers. He becomes a kind of spiritual mentor to The Kid (Tye Sheridan), an even more haunted young man connected with Tell’s nightmare past, and out to kill Gordo. It’s a brooding film that often dares to be dull, but Isaac’s darkly dazzling acting makes it a riveting experience. —T.A.
Watch it: The Card Counter, in theaters
Your Netflix must-watch of the week is here!
House Party (1990)
If Spike Lee made Superbad in the era of Eraserhead hairdos, that still wouldn’t have been as fun as the Hudlin brothers’ teen comedy about a super def throwdown at a home where the parents are out.
Watch it: House Party, on Netflix
DON’T MISS THIS: The 24 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in September
Don’t open Netflix again until you’ve read this
Do you get a little dizzy from all those “recommendations” the streaming giant proposes for you? Our critic took a close look behind the browsing curtain at Netflix and has some uncomfortable truths about how Netflix is manipulating your browsing experience. Get the whole scoop and find out how to take control of your account (and see better stuff).
What’s coming to theaters this fall? We’ve got it all for you!
Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures; Nicola Dove/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures; Fabio Lovino/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
While last year’s COVID-19 theater shutdowns delayed big movies for 18 months or more, this season brings an exciting flurry of films. Whether you choose to head to the cineplex with safety measures and masks or wait for the films to stream online, you won’t be able to resist many of our critics’ handpicked preview choices.
Check out the list now: Your Ultimate Guide to All the Best Movies Coming This Fall
21 great movies you didn’t even know were on Netflix!
Sure, you know the big-name shows and original series that the streaming giant wants you to browse … but did you know that Netflix has about 3,700 movies you can stream? Our critics sifted through the whole list to uncover 21 fantastic gems that are ready to watch. So what are you waiting for?
Love Aretha (and Patsy, and Tina, and Loretta)?
Buena Vista/Courtesy Everett Collection; Courtesy Everett Collection; Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
The history of popular music in America has been marked by women of massive talent, personality and grit. Moviemakers have tried to capture and share their spirit (and songs). Inspired by this summer’s release of Respect, our critics pulled together an all-star watch list of the best movies to stream online about those divas of stage and screen. Warning: It’s impossible not to sing out loud while watching!
Start streaming now: The 10 Most Rocking, Soulful and Inspiring Diva Biopics
LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL: The funniest movies are here!
Suzanne Hanover/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection; Frank Micelotta/Getty Images; Courtesy Everett Collection
Our new critics’ watch list, the 20 Funniest Movies of the Last 50 Years, is going to have you ROTFL, guaranteed (and maybe also arguing that your personal faves didn’t make the cut). Check out the list — just reading about these hilarious films might make you laugh out loud — and line up some great summer fun.
Love sports movies like we do?
Sure you do: They’re full of offbeat characters overcoming adversity and usually ending up on top despite all odds. What’s not to love? And that’s what inspired our critics to pull the very best sports movies of all time that are streaming right now. So take a break from the Olympics and enjoy these 16 feel-good films — every one’s a winner.
Get ready to bookmark this ultimate movie watchlist
Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images; Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Miramax Films/Courtesy Everett Collection
Ready for some summer vacation homework that’s the most fun ever? Our critics scanned the entire film catalog from the 1930s to now to handpick just 30 films that you must — must — see. We’re not talking about the best films (everyone does that list) but rather the films that are essential. You want to have seen these movies not just because they’re great (they are), but because they ensure you’re tuned into their cultural moments, the power of their time. So when someone makes a Philadelphia Story reference or deadpans, “the Dude abides,” you know exactly what they mean. See which films made the big cut, watch them this summer (they’re all streamable), and let us know if you think we left an essential one off the list!
Get the list here: The 30 Movies Every Grownup Should Know
This new movie watch list has us wagging our tails
Love dogs? Of course you do! Which means you love movies with dogs, and in honor of National Take Your Dog to Work Day (but shouldn’t that be every day, really?), our critics rounded up the 10 best, heartwarming, tail-wagging films featuring pooches. They’re all available to stream online right now, so hit the list, let your best friend hop up on the sofa (just this one time) and take in some canine cinema!
Get the list: The 10 Best Dog Movies Ever Made
Love rom-coms but tired of watching millennials have all the fun?
Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection; James Hamilton/Focus World/Courtesy Everett Collection
We hear you. Which is why our critics found the 13 best romantic comedies that feature older actors! From an all-grown-up Spencer and Tracy in 1957’s Desk Set to Angela Bassett in How Stella Got Her Groove Back in the late ’90s to Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland in 2017’s The Leisure Seeker, these are love stories for folks who know a thing or two about love. Grab your favorite rom-com date and get streaming here: Grown-ups In (and Out) of Love: 13 Great Rom-Coms Starring Older Actors
Batter up! It’s baseball (movie) season!
D. Stevens/Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection; Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection; Juergen Vollmer/Popperfoto/Getty Images
It’s time to limber up and get ready for a season of America’s pastime with this all-star collection of great baseball films. They’re all streaming for you with a click of the remote control — which means you’ll have plenty of time to steam some hot dogs, pop open a beer or soda, and get ready to cheer. Root, root, root for the home screen here: 12 Great Baseball Movies to Stream
And speaking of stars we love, we talked to Stanley Tucci
The popular actor takes on a tender role in Supernova, which pairs him with Colin Firth as a gay couple facing down the looming prospect of early dementia. Tucci spoke with AARP about preparing for the role and the joy of reuniting with Firth. Read the whole interview, here: Stanley Tucci Explores the Landscape of Love and Early Dementia
Feeling overwhelmed with all the streaming services on your TV?
Disney, HBO, Peacock … it seems like every time you turn around (or turn on the TV), another streaming service is vying for your attention (and subscription dollars). Which streaming services out there are really worth the money? How do you decide what to pick? Here’s what you need to know about your options on Apple, BET, CBS, Disney, HBO and NBC: Too Many TV Streaming Service Choices? Here’s What You Need to Know
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
Couponing is an intense subculture — some would say addiction. In this fresh comedy inspired by real events, former Olympic race walker Connie Kaminski (The Good Place’s Kristen Bell), married to an IRS jerk (Joel McHale) and distraught over infertility, throws all her competitive spirit into saving money by paper discounts. Enlisting the struggling video influencer next door, Jojo Johnson (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), Connie supersizes the scam. They discover more ways to grab free consumer goods, and sell coupons at a 50 percent discount via the web. With a newfound sense of purpose, the neighbors celebrate their financial liberation. Until ... they catch the attention of a sad-sack fraud investigator (Paul Walter Hauser) and U.S. Postal Inspector (a perfectly timed Vince Vaughn, 51). The hilarious comedy taps into the women’s economic frustration, and their Robin Hood decision to rip a page (of coupons) out of the corporate playbook and bring power to the people desperate for affordable diapers and Tide in these hard times. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
Watch it: Queenpins, in theaters
Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali, PG-13
Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali’s historically significant, tragically troubled friendship got superb fictional treatment lately in the hits One Night in Miami and The Godfather of Harlem, so it’s a fine time for this thoughtful documentary by Marcus A. Clarke and Black-ish producer Kenya Barris about what really happened, with the piercing insights of Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and colleagues Herb Boyd and A. Peter Bailey; Ali’s brother, Rahman, and daughters Maryum and Hana, and brilliant professors Johnny Smith, Randy Roberts, Todd Boyd and Cornel West. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Michael Keaton, 70 on Sept. 5, hits a new career high as Ken Feinberg, the attorney who ran the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. His job: put a cash value on lost lives, and wrestle with a moral conundrum. Who’s worth more, a slain immigrant dishwasher or a finance titan with a pregnant wife? Should gay partners or a bigamist’s secret second family get one dime? Can Feinberg, a bottom-line number cruncher, deal with his feelings as he hears out the anguished families of the lost — and reconcile justice with the need to get thousands of victims’ families to agree not to sue (causing airline bankruptcies and a cratered economy) before the deadline elapses and legislators take all the compensation money away? With Spotlight, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Worth, ex-stand-up comic Keaton has become a hero of real-life national dramas, like Tom Hanks. —T.A.
Watch it: Worth, on Netflix
No Man of God, Unrated
In Amber Sealey’s fascinating true-crime two-hander based on government records and transcripts, fresh young FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood, The Lord of the Rings) and convicted serial killer Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) sit across from each other at a dingy table in the Florida State Prison. The two discuss life, death, sexual assault and the dark nature of humans. While the lethally handsome charmer Bundy has gotten more than his share of media attention, and at least nine actors from Mark Harmon, 69, to Zac Efron have played him, this version plays out intensely and intimately, in the mold of Peter Morgan’s brilliant Frost/Nixon. —T.M.A.
Watch it: No Man of God, in theaters
The Protégé, R
It’s three men and a hot babe in a convoluted thriller stylishly directed by Casino Royale’s Martin Campbell, 77. Maggie Q (Mission: Impossible III, Live Free or Die Hard) plays Anna, a stone-cold assassin with ties to this trio: her mentor, Moody (Samuel L. Jackson, 72, delightful as ever); her nemesis, Rembrandt (Michael Keaton, 69); and grizzled biker Billy Boy (Robert Patrick, 62). Rescued by Moody as a child in Vietnam, the elegant Anna becomes a killer with a bent backstory. When rivals blast Moody, the only father she’s ever known, vengeance consumes her – and she returns to Vietnam to neutralize the enemy. While The Protégé doesn’t quite stick the landing, and seduction scenes between Keaton and 42-year-old Q have passed their sell-by date, the hard-core action laced with humor and heart proves that the athletic Maggie Q merits more leading roles — and a prequel with Jackson would be a ton of kick-ass. —T.M.A.
Watch it: The Protégé, in theaters
Flag Day, R
When dad’s a toxic but lovable liar, being daddy’s little girl can be fraught. Just ask journalist Jennifer Vogel, whose 2005 memoir about her love-hate relationship with her father traces her struggle for self-worth. Sean Penn, 61, fearlessly directs himself as the father, a flimflam man born on Flag Day whose biggest victim may just be himself. The director’s greatest achievement is casting Dylan Penn, his daughter with ex-wife Robin Wright, as Jennifer. Grownups dominate the audience for this film: 56 percent of its viewers are over 55. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Flag Day, in theaters
Yes, it’s formulaic, with foreseeable TV-like beats, but there’s a reason this winsome indie film broke all Sundance Festival sales records. The most feel-good Sundance hit since Little Miss Sunshine, it’s an irresistible coming-of-age tale of a CODA, a Child Of Deaf Adults (Emilia Jones). Ruby helps her irascible hearing-impaired folks (Marlee Matlin, 55, and The Mandalorian’s Troy Kotsur) and brother (Daniel Durant) with the family fishing business in a salty Massachusetts town. She joins the school choir — there’s a cute boy — and proves to be a Glee-level singer with a shot at Berklee College of Music. When Ruby sings “Both Sides Now,” her parents can’t hear it, but they can feel it, bridging the gaps of both generation and hearing. Unsurprisingly, Matlin’s acting is just as good when she’s signing (with subtitles), not speaking. —T.A.
Watch it: CODA, on Apple TV+
DON’T MISS THIS: 10 Things Marlee Matlin Suggests Doing Now
Nine Days, R
There are many Twilight Zone moments in Nine Days, Edson Oda’s memorable meditation on mortality. His assured directorial debut turns on the mordant Will (Black Panther powerhouse Winston Duke). Over nine days, he grills five unborn souls competing for the chance to be born. The rejects get a consolation prize: the opportunity to revisit past lives’ best moments virtually — a woman riding her bike beneath falling blossoms, a man savoring the ocean one last time. The acting is outstanding, with Benedict Wong, 51, Zazie Beetz and Tony Hale in strong support. Among its many questions, Nine Days asks: If you could relive one shining moment of your life, what would it be? And, ultimately, it answers brilliantly for Will, who experiences a transformation, stops judging and sends audiences home with an unexpected and satisfying high. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Nine Days, in theaters
Val Kilmer, 61, grew up on Roy Rogers’ old California ranch, made home movies as a teen, and kept on filming his life as he became Juilliard’s youngest acting student ever, then a star of Top Gun, Batman Forever, The Doors and Heat. The documentary made from his trove of offscreen video is more absorbing than many of his onscreen performances, with glimpses of his fellow superstars in youth (Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tom Cruise). He even captures some of the legendary, wild on-set misbehavior that tanked his career. It’s moving to see him as a young Hamlet, then as he is today, when throat cancer has reduced his Morrison-sized voice to a croak. But it hasn’t quelled his quirky imagination, and he’s smarter and funnier than we knew. —T.A.
Watch it: Val, in theaters and on Amazon Prime
“Can you believe I found this online?” asks worried Mama Prisca (Vicky Krieps) of cautious Papa Guy (Gael García Bernal). Well, yeah, because if the deal looks too good to be true, that swanky resort vacation in the Dominican Republic, arranged by writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, 50, is going to be a bad family trip. Old is a gimmicky, yet briskly entertaining, series of frights. From the moment a guide shepherds a “select” group of guests to a private cove, one feels Jurassic Park jitters. When they start aging rapidly, it’s wild as one by one the grownups crack and fall, while the kids traverse puberty and beyond. Old’s worth going out to a theater for because, virus permitting, this is the kind of supernatural thriller where it’s more fun to cringe together. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Old, in theaters
When mercurial Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, 57, stars in a drama entitled Pig, we don’t expect Babe. This stripped-down contemporary adventure twins closer with ’70s soul-searching pics such as Jeremiah Johnson. Cage’s one-named Rob, a hermitlike Oregon truffle hunter, is a victim of a crime. Some fiend has broken into his remote hovel and stolen his beloved pig. In the aftermath, he returns to civilization — Portland — searching for the missing truffle sniffer. There’s a winning simplicity to the story as a grimy Cage, in soiled long johns and with a deadpan, blood-striped, bearded face, searches high and low for his sweet-natured companion. Playing oddly against expectations, there’s no Cage Rage, no showy violence or operatic monologues, just a simple, moving story of a broken man who lost his pig but, perhaps, has found his way. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Pig, in select theaters
No Sudden Move, R
In a thriller by the writer of Men in Black and director Steven Soderbergh, 58, two small-time criminals in 1954 Detroit stumble onto an opportunity that could make them rich — or dead. Curt (Don Cheadle, 56) and Ronald (Benicio Del Toro, 54) meet a shady bad guy (Brendan Fraser, 52) who offers $5,000 for a three-hour job “babysitting” a GM accountant’s family at gunpoint while the guy retrieves a crucial document from his home safe. The ensuing double crosses involve the two feuding gangsters, one crime buster detective (Jon Hamm, 50), three angry gangster bosses (Fraser, Bill Duke, 78, and Ray Liotta, 66) — or four if you count Matt Damon’s mysterious bigwig character), anti-Black urban renewal and loan redlining, and the auto industry’s enraged resistance to pollution-reducing catalytic converters. Soderbergh’s made better movies (like 1998’s similar Out of Sight), but it’s fun, fast, tricky, smart and socially significant. —T.A.
Watch it: No Sudden Move, in limited theaters and on HBO Max
Summer of Soul, PG-13
Ahmir Khalib “Questlove” Thompson won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for his debut documentary on the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a huge, pre-Woodstock outdoor concert series. He unearthed 45 hours of performances by, among others, B.B. King, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Fifth Dimension and Stevie Wonder, much of it never before seen. An exhilarating cure for the summertime blues.
DON’T MISS THIS: Read more about the history of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival shown in Summer of Soul, and stream some of its greatest performances, here: Did You Know There Was a ‘Black Woodstock’ in 1969?
A Crime on the Bayou, Unrated
In 1966 in small-town Louisiana, Black teenager Gary Duncan attempted to dampen an escalating fight outside a recently integrated school. While separating the threatening white schoolboys from their Black schoolmates, he touched the arm of one of the bullies, who recoiled. That night, the police arrested Duncan for assault on a minor — and ignited years of legal battles, which eventually resulted in a Supreme Court battle led by Jewish attorney Richard Sobol. Their legal fight forged a lifelong friendship that also exemplifies the role that Jewish Americans, reeling from European anti-Semitism, had in the battle against domestic prejudice. The documentary’s grace and pacing — and the way Peabody Award-winner Nancy Buirski, eloquently draws out the heroism of ordinary extraordinary Americans — fit snugly in the writer-director’s acclaimed civil rights trilogy (which includes The Loving Story and The Rape of Recy Taylor). The true crime in the bayou? Arresting a man for his skin color. —T.M.A.
Watch it: A Crime on the Bayou, on digital and on demand
Queen Bees, PG-13
Ellen Burstyn, 88, and James Caan, 81, may never receive the MTV Award for best kiss. However, in a delightful rom-com by Michael Lembeck, 72, — think Mean Girls in a retirement home, with Burstyn as the new gal on the block — the couple’s master class in screen chemistry is ageless. Add in a tart Jane Curtin, 73, the magnificent Ann-Margret, 80, generous Loretta Devine, 71, and the ubiquitous Christopher Lloyd, 82, and audiences have a recipe for an entertaining laugh-and-cry comedy, making Queen Bees an ideal date night or friends’ group evening out. Love is love and there’s no expiration date. Or, as Curtin’s bossy biddy says, tongue planted firmly in cheek, “Eighty is the new 18.” —T.M.A.
Watch it: Queen Bees, in select theaters, on digital, and on demand
Tim Appelo is AARP’s film and TV critic. Previously, he was Amazon’s entertainment editor, Entertainment Weekly’s video critic, and a writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, LA Weekly and The Village Voice.