En español | We all know (and adore) the multi-award-winning megastar Rita Moreno, and this week sees the arrival in theaters of the highly anticipated new documentary about her remarkable life. Will it be as great as its subject? Read on for our critic’s take, along with more all-star films hitting screens big and small right now.
If you love Rita Moreno (of course you do), then you know this is a big week
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, PG-13
Puerto Rico-born, Manhattan-raised and Hollywood-bound (while still a teen!), the high-spirited EGOT winner Rita Moreno, now 89, had a bumpy start on the road to becoming the leading lady in her own life. Director Mariem Pérez Riera’s insightful, vibrant and entertaining doc captures the highs: an Oscar for playing Anita in West Side Story and featured roles in the classic musicals Singin’ in the Rain and The King and I. Add to the mix a Grammy for the soundtrack of The Electric Company kids’ TV show, a Tony for The Ritz and two Emmys (one for a guest appearance on The Muppet Show and another for The Rockford Files). There were also the lows: ethnic typecasting, visits to the casting couch that sent her to the therapist’s sofa and the dry spell that followed her Oscar triumph. And then — both a high and low — her seven-year affair with Hollywood’s hottest star, Marlon Brando, who drove her to the brink of suicide. We’re calling it now: This wise, life-affirming movie rises to its subject’s heights and will continue Moreno’s legacy of winning awards.
Watch it: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, coming June 18 to limited theaters
DON’T MISS THIS: 8 Reasons Why Rita Moreno Is the GOAT in Entertainment
Your must-see documentary of the week
A Crime on the Bayou, Unrated
In 1966 in small-town Louisiana, Black teenager George 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, 75, 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. — Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
Watch it: A Crime on the Bayou, coming June 18 to limited theaters, on digital and on demand
At last, a sexy spy comedy starring AARP-age actors!
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, R
Imagine if they made a Spy Kids comedy for adults? The answer is Patrick Hughes’ rollicking sequel to his 2017 box office hit, The Hitman’s Bodyguard. This time around, randy newlyweds — the hit man (Samuel L. Jackson, 72) and his sexy, thievin’ wife (Salma Hayek, 54) — join forces with Ryan Reynolds as a bodyguard recovering from some major career blowups in order to thwart the evil intent of a courteous terrorist (Antonio Banderas, 60). With suave Morgan Freeman (84) joining the cast for another round of cartoony mayhem, there will be blood and laughs and ridiculous car chases — and that’s a lot of fun to bring us back into theaters to chuckle and whoop together. —T.M.A.
Watch it: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, in limited theaters, on digital and on demand
The musical of the summer is here!
In the Heights, PG-13
In the Heights is a plucky, messy, tongue-twisty spectacle transporting Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-Hamilton Tony Award-winning musical to the talkies. Directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), the movie embraces Spanish-speaking immigrants making their dreams come true in Manhattan’s gentrifying Washington Heights. Vibrant and lively, the movie is dense with acting, singing and dancing talent. A high point that gets the balance right is the song “Paciencia y Fe” delivered by neighborhood matriarch Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz, 65, who won a Tony for the part she originated on Broadway); and always welcome is charismatic leading man Jimmy Smits, 65, in a supporting role. — T.M.A.
Watch it: In the Heights in select theaters, on digital, and on demand
We’ve got your pass to NYC’s Tribeca Film Festival!
Yes, you read that right. This year, the famed New York-based film fest is offering a terrific series of streaming packages for its short films, award winners, and the whole megillah. Get the inside scoop from our critics on how to subscribe, plus which movies to keep an eye out for.
The most AARP movie ever made is here!
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, coming June 11 to select theaters, on digital, and on demand
The first great foreign film of the summer is here!
In any other year, audiences would already have heard the buzz about Sublet, the menschy Israeli romantic dramedy, largely in English, from Eytan Fox, 56. Emotionally stuck, married, middle-aged gay New York Times travel writer Michael (In Treatment’s John Benjamin Hickey, 57, in a quiet, affecting performance) sublets a Tel Aviv apartment from handsome, happy-go-lucky young filmmaker Tomer (Israeli Niv Nissim in his vibrantly sexy film debut). Over five days, a visit to the beach, to Tomer’s mother’s kibbutz, and a detour on an Israeli sex app, Michael begins to surrender to the chaotic and laid-back local vibe — and to Tomer. With a light touch and charm to burn, Sublet gently builds to the point where both men experience a deep emotional shift — and, together, achieve that wonderful exhortation from E. M. Forster’s Howards End: “Only connect.” —T.M.A.
Watch it: Sublet, coming June 11 to select theaters, on digital, and on demand
Love Dick Van Dyke? (Who doesn’t?)
Then you’ll be thrilled that the 95-year-old master of comic acting (and tap dancing) has just nabbed a Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime of great performances. To celebrate that achievement, our critics examined the beloved entertainer’s legacy in movies and TV and plucked out his 10 best performances. Join the trip down memory lane this week with our brand-new watch list to stream: Dick Van Dyke’s 10 Greatest Movies and TV Shows
Your Netflix must-watch of the week is here!
Fatherhood, PG-13 (2021)
Based on Matthew Logelin’s best seller Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love, it’s the story of a new dad whose wife dies 27 hours after giving birth, so he raises his daughter alone. With Kevin Hart as Matthew and Alfre Woodard as his mother-in-law.
Watch it: Fatherhood on Netflix
Your Netflix must-read: The 21 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in June
Summer 2021 movie preview
Ellen Burstyn courts James Caan in the retirement community comedy Queen Bees, Kevin Hart plays a single dad in Fatherhood and Jennifer Hudson plays Aretha Franklin in Respect. And that’s just three of the 18 summer flicks coming your way.
Check it out: AARP's Summer 2021 Movie Preview
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
Love a surprise ending? Have we got the movies for you
There’s no better place to indulge in some fun April fooling than by watching movies — with their proud tradition of twist endings and final-reel gotchas and neck-snappers. In honor of prankster season, our critics are here with the ultimate list of movies with twists and turns we never saw coming. Get the list and start watching right here: The 12 Best Movie Twist Endings
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 Ahead of Opening Day
What’s your favorite George Clooney movie?
It’s tough, right? The megastar has helmed a long list of terrific movies (and broke out on a beloved TV series), but let’s name names. In honor of Clooney’s being named AARP’s Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award winner, our critics have not only named his Top 10 roles, but they’ve ranked them! Is our No. 1 your No. 1? Check out the list (and enjoy the watching), right here: The 10 Best George Clooney Roles, Ranked
This one’s for all the jazz buffs out there
As everyone gets excited for the new Billie Holiday biopic, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, it seemed like the perfect time to get into the jazz mood with some of the best films on the subject. Leave it to our critics to find jewels from 1950 through 2020 (two are even animated)! Turn the lights down low and settle in with our brand new list: Get in the Swing With These 8 Irresistible Jazz Movies
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
If you loved Da 5 Bloods, or BlacKkKlansman, or Do the Right Thing, or…
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
Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images; Lia Toby/PA Images via Getty Images; Amy Sussman/Getty Images
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
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
Remember the last time a movie bewitched and bedazzled you? This elegant, contemporary romance by Christian Petzold (60), who wrote and directed Barbara, playfully revisits the European myth of the water nymph. The mysterious title character, portrayed by Paula Beer (who won Best Actress at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival), is a Berlin City Museum historian who reveals the secrets of east and west to foreign tourists. Bursting with life, Undine is actually an undercover water sprite who assumed human form after falling for a man. Naturally, there’s a catch: They both face mortal peril if he cheats. During a coffee break, she gets unceremoniously dumped by Johannes (Jacob Matschenz), whom she promises to kill for his betrayal. But then she immediately falls for the gentle underwater diver Christoph (Franz Rogowski). The potency of their passion is short-lived but shimmers with truth and harmony, a feeling that remains like an aftertaste of honey once the final frame fades to black. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
Watch it: Undine, in theaters and on demand
Under the Stadium Lights, PG-13
Don’t high school football films make you feel warm? Though this one doesn’t equal the genre’s gold standard — Denzel Washington’s Remember the Titans — the audience can rely on multiple adversity-crushing character arcs, the inevitable Gipper speech and the rousing big-game finale. Under the Stadium Lights dramatizes the true story of the Abilene Eagles’ road to the state championships through the faith-based lens of an activist team chaplain (Mel Gibson’s son Milo). He regularly reminds the audience of the holy trinity of Texas sports: faith, football and family. Laurence Fishburne (59) provides a charm pill as a team booster and father figure. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Under the Stadium Lights, in limited theaters, on digital and on demand
Don’t miss this: 15 Great Football Movies to Stream Right Now
American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally, R
Michael Polish’s post-WWII courtroom drama is a must for Al Pacino completists. With his wild hair standing at attention, The Godfather star, 81, plays James Laughlin, the wily attorney who defended American crooner turned Nazi radio propagandist Mildred Gillars, aka Axis Sally, aka “The Bitch of Berlin” (Meadow Williams, 55). Based on the strange-but-true story of a flaky Maine native who found her star rising in Berlin, and a spot beside Third Reich minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels (Thomas Kretschmann, 58), she became the first American woman convicted of treason, in March 1949. Pacino never flags as Laughlin, giving the impression that he doesn’t know what he’s doing and is past whatever prime he had — until he nails a closing argument monologue for the ages. —T.M.A.
Watch it: American Traitor, in theaters and on demand
Here Today, PG-13
Billy Crystal, 73, and fellow SNL alum Alan Zweibel, 71, co-wrote this poignant, jokey fable about a wise elder writer (Crystal, who also directs) on an SNL-like show with a young staff that drives him crazy. As he begins to develop dementia, he befriends a young singer (Tiffany Haddish). “As we were writing the movie, I was taking care of my aunt as she started to get dementia, my sole surviving older relative,” Crystal tells AARP. “A novelist and Book of the Month Club editor, she heartbreakingly said to me, ‘I’m terrified, and losing my words.’ And Alan’s dad was suffering dementia, too. So we tapped into an emotional place.” Crystal’s character’s incipient dementia gave Haddish’s character a motive to love him, not just the usual older actor-younger actress romance. “Love is more important than romance. Tiffany’s character gives up her singing career to take care of this guy 35 years older, because she wants to pay him back for saving her life — and help him finish his book about his late wife and his family.” Some scenes fall flat, but when it’s good, Here Today is absorbing and moving, and Crystal and Haddish are two great tastes that taste great together. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Watch it: Here Today, in theaters nationwide
Dream Horse, PG
If you liked The Full Monty and Seabiscuit, you’ll cheer for this Sundance festival crowd-pleaser about Jan (Toni Collette, 48), a bartender in a rundown Welsh mining town who gets pub patrons to pony up their last pence for a temperamental stallion they call Dream. Braggadocious accountant Howard (Homeland’s Damian Lewis, 50) doubts working-class rubes can compete with the posh toffs who raise racehorses. But Jan’s warm heart could melt glaciers, and the eccentric locals pitch in for the long-shot bet. The improbable true story (with terrifically filmed racing scenes) is inspired by the 2015 hit Sundance documentary Dark Horse. Stick around for the credits, when the real villagers join the actors playing them to sing along with Welsh crooner Tom Jones’ hit “Delilah.” —T.A.
Watch it: Dream Horse, in theaters now, on demand June 11
DON’T MISS THESE: 10 Great Horse Movies to Get You Excited About Triple Crown Season
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Unrated
In the vein of hit flicks from kids’ books — The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Book Thief, Jojo Rabbit — the family-friendly When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit follows a household of privileged Jewish Germans who, after Hitler’s 1933 election, flee to Switzerland, France and England. Directed by Caroline Link (Oscar and AARP Movies for Grownups winner Nowhere in Africa), from Judith Kerr’s bestseller, the autobiographical period drama is a moving but unsentimental WWII exodus story propelled by a spunky Jewish girl, Anna Kemper (a charming Riva Krymalowski). While Anna is forced to leave a favorite stuffed rabbit behind in her family’s Berlin atelier, she survives the dangers of exile and loss, finding security and wisdom in her close family bonds and a newfound spirit of self-reliance. —T.M.A.
Watch it: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, in theaters
The Dry, R
The plot of this noir is as juicy as the soil is cracked and parched in the drought-stricken rural town of Kiewarra, Australia. Melbourne lawman Aaron Falk (the spectacular Eric Bana, 52) returns to the hometown he fled decades earlier for the funeral of a friend who died in a domestic murder-suicide. This stirs up memories of a long-ago crime: the drowning of a teen girl in which Falk was implicated but never tried. The two violent crimes — one when the area was verdant, the other when water was scarce — force Falk to confront his past while attempting to solve murders in two timelines. Deftly told, engrossing, complex, this moody, sun-drenched mystery is the 13th-highest grossing Australian film of all time. —T.M.A.
Watch it: The Dry, in theaters and on demand
New Order, R
The illegitimate love child of Parasite and Roma, Michel Franco’s breathless, 86-minute Mexican thriller won the Venice festival Silver Lion in 2020. In its sprint from bright beginning to devastating end, the film hardly pauses to examine the Mexico City scenery. Within a private walled compound, an attractive young couple are on the verge of their lavish wedding. Enter an armed militia, which tosses the celebrants into a crude jail as part of a larger coup d’état. This tough dystopian drama powers through a crime that lays bare the difference between the haves and have-nots, those with guns and those who only know how to wield their wallets. No punches are pulled, no grand statements offered — just a sharp, swift, vibrant vision of an unequal society tilting wildly. —T.M.A.
Watch it: New Order, in theaters
Oh, stop! We’re recommending an arty, black-and-white documentary about the day-to-day reality of a domesticated sow, some cows and a one-legged chicken? Yes! This extraordinary, passionate feature executive-produced by vegan Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Victor Kossakovsky, 59, is one of the year’s best movies. Gunda documents the birth of a gargantuan porcine litter, mama Gunda’s nudging and nurturing of her piglets, and the devastation of their separation when the market comes calling. Few films capture the intense, sticky bond between a mother and her offspring so simply and wrenchingly, or convey the knowledge that we carnivores are devouring souls with every bite of bacon. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Gunda, in limited theaters and streaming at Film Forum
In a rare villain role, Morgan Freeman, 83, plays a wheelchair-using ex-cop named Damon who’s gone to the dark side in this underworld potboiler. Directed by George Gallo (Midnight Run), Vanquish costars Ruby Rose as Damon’s loyal caretaker with a criminal past, which comes in handy when Damon blackmails her into picking up five packages in one bullet-riddled evening. —Chris Nashawaty (C.N.)
Watch it: Vanquish, in select theaters and on demand
DON’T MISS THIS: Did you know Morgan Freeman began his film career at age 50? And has since made more than 100 movies? In honor of this iconic actor, our critics have named (and ranked!) Freeman’s 10 best films (so far). Get the whole list (and start streaming).
Senior Moment, Unrated
Star Trek’s William Shatner, 90, taps his easygoing charm while plausibly playing a “young” (72-year-old) former NASA test pilot who gets his license revoked for reckless driving when a new district attorney wants to get dangerous senior drivers off the very clean streets of Palm Springs. Without his wheels, Victor meets Caroline (a delightful Jean Smart, 69) on the bus, and their romance runs its bumpy course, with loopy Christopher Lloyd, 82, as his wingman and handsome Esai Morales, 58, as Caroline’s gay best friend. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Senior Moment, on Apple TV
DON’T MISS THIS: Need a little more Shatner in your life? We thought so, which is why we caught up with the iconic star to discuss his new movie and life at 90. Read all about it, here: At 90, William Shatner Hits Warp Speed
The Father, PG-13
AARP Movies for Grownups Awards best-actor winner Anthony Hopkins scores the performance of a lifetime as a man afflicted with dementia. The film takes you inside his disintegrating reality — and also inside the experience of his daughter, Anne (The Favourite Oscar winner Olivia Colman), who looks after him and faces terrifying decisions about his treatment. Like Memento or A Beautiful Mind, the movie is a Rubik’s Cube of shifting memories and moments. —T.A.
Watch it: The Father, in theaters and on video on demand
DON’T MISS THIS: Anthony Hopkins’s Life Has Never Been Better
Judas and the Black Messiah, R
Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield co-starred in Get Out. Now they own top billing in a very different American horror story, one that underscores systemic racism in sorely too timely a fashion. It recounts the FBI’s targeting of Chicago Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton. Kaluuya portrays the firebrand socialist who was building the first multiracial “Rainbow Coalition” to fight poverty, substandard housing and police corruption. That rattled FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who infiltrated Hampton’s group with an informant named Michael O’Neal (Stanfield). Director Shaka King’s retelling is raw when it needs to be (there is gunplay) and stylish from start to brutal conclusion. Hampton was killed on Dec. 4, 1969, in a pre-dawn raid by a contingent of the Chicago police. Was Hampton the savior of the title? The film is sure to ignite conversations. But Stanfield nails the role of the betrayer whose actions are tinged with greed, fear and, yes, love. Judas is a late but commanding entry to the award season. —Lisa Kennedy (L.K.)
Watch it: Judas and the Black Messiah, in theaters and on HBO Max
The Life Ahead, PG-13
At 86, Sophia Loren is back! In her terrific new tearjerker, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, she heartwarmingly plays a former prostitute, Holocaust survivor and caretaker for streetwalkers’ children. She looks after an orphaned African street kid (Ibrahima Gueye), grudgingly at first, and develops a deep bond with him.
Watch it: The Life Ahead, on Netflix
RELATED: Sophia Loren tells AARP about her comeback and her six life lessons
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. 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: The War With Grandpa, 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
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.