En español | Is it us, or did Hollywood decide we were all OK to go back into theaters again? Look no further than the bulk of this week’s movie openings hitting theaters only, from a gentle Billy Crystal comedy to a no-revenge-left-unconsidered thriller starring Jason Statham. But! Here just for our living rooms, a beautifully rendered look at the legacies of motherhood among Black women is here to nurture all of us. Here’s to the moms … and to the movies!
For Mother’s Day (and every day), a moving new look at Black mothers and their legacies
In Our Mothers’ Gardens, Unrated
Shantrelle P. Lewis’ extraordinary documentary, from Oscar winner Ava DuVernay’s Array film collective, is the ideal Mother’s Day movie. It proves that sometimes the best stories come from simply listening. Lewis asks mature African American women to talk — about their mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and the generational trauma and profound love that unites them. As the fascinating subjects — #MeToo founder Tarana Burke; Tina Farris, tour manager for the Roots and Dave Chappelle; Rutgers professor and author Brittney Cooper; “GlowMaven” and women’s health advocate Latham Thomas; and photographer Adama Delphine Fawundu — share family photos and dig deep into their spiritual and emotional legacy, a larger picture emerges of the strength and struggles of this complicated matriarchy. It embodies the classic line by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, 77: “In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.” —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
Watch it: In Our Mothers’ Gardens, on Netflix
DON’T MISS THIS: The 15 Best (and Worst!) Moms in Movie History
View dementia, caregiving and friendship through a gently comic lens
Here Today, PG-13
Billy Crystal, 73, and fellow early SNL talent Alan Zweibel, 70, cowrote this poignant, jokey fable about the wise elder writer (Crystal, who also directs) on an SNL-like show with a young staff that drives him crazy. And he’s starting to get dementia for real, losing his memory, possibly to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. He gets mixed up in a fond friendship with a young singer (Tiffany Haddish), who livens up a bat mitzvah with “Piece of My Heart” and becomes his de facto caregiver. But she can’t help him when, at a tribute to one of his hit films, he doesn’t recognize its stars and director (Sharon Stone, Kevin Kline and Barry Levinson). The jokes aren’t very funny, the story is clunky, the directing sketchy, and many scenes fall flat. Yet when it’s good, it’s absorbing and moving, and Crystal and Haddish are two great tastes that taste great together. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Watch it: Here Today, coming May 7 to theaters
Love teachers (who doesn’t)? Then you’re going to love our critics’ latest watch list!
We all have a teacher we’ve loved, or who had the biggest impact on us. Or, even more special, we’ve got teachers in our families. No matter what, we’ve all been touched by those classroom heroes, and Hollywood has created some terrific movies in their honor. Revisit classic classroom dramas and discover new ones, all available to stream from your sofa right now: These 12 Super-Inspiring Movies About Teachers Will Warm Your Heart
Prepare to have your mind blown with this fascinating documentary about the Middle East
The Human Factor, PG-13
Dror Moreh, 59, nominated for an Oscar for his 2012 documentary The Gatekeepers, scores again in this brilliant doc about American negotiators’ three-decade struggle to make peace in the Middle East. It reveals the human dramas behind the headlines, the personal foibles and out-of-nowhere disasters (peace-seeking Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, Bill Clinton’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky) that thwarted common sense. Who knew that Jordan’s King Hussein told Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, “You have to grow up and become a leader”? Or that PLO leader Yasser Arafat was a Golden Girls fan with a deep need to look macho and tote guns in military garb? Moreh is a master of turning history into riveting cinema. —T.A.
Watch it: The Human Factor, in theaters
Jason Statham is out for revenge and we are here for it
Wrath of Man, R
It’s raining men — and bullets — in the unsentimental reunion of writer-director Guy Ritchie, 52, and Jason Statham, 53 (2005’s Revolver). The lads are back for a grim, grinding, wrecking ball of a revenge thriller. Statham plays “H,” a rangy, wrathful thug. To catch the fiends that slayed his only son during a previous armored truck heist, he gets a job at a trucking company. Gritting his teeth, the antihero action star boldly goes where other over-50s like Liam Neeson have gone before, riding the vengeance train in a violent, stunt-filled action thriller that takes no prisoners. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Wrath of Man, coming May 7 to theaters
Your Netflix must-watch of the week is here!
Mystic River (2003)
Clint Eastwood directs a knockout whodunit about the murder of the daughter (Emmy Rossum) of an ex-con (Sean Penn), who hunts the killer in a race with a detective (Kevin Bacon). Could the killer be Tim Robbins?
Watch it: Mystic River, on Netflix
WHAT ELSE IS NEW ON NETFLIX: The 20 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in May
DON’T MISS THIS: The Coolest Clint Eastwood Movies Ever, Ranked!
Mommie dearest, is that you?
Celebrate Mother’s Day with our critics’ latest, and greatest, watch list: the best and worst moms in movie history. Whether you want your heart warmed by the moms in The Joy Luck Club or your goosebumps raised by bad moms like Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, now’s your chance for a maternal movie night. Get the whole list and start streaming, right here.
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
Geena Davis has something to say, and we all need to listen up
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’
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
Four Good Days, R
Eight-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close, 74, pairs with TV star Mila Kunis for a fraught mother-daughter drama. Based on a feature by Washington Post writer Eli Saslow about opioid addiction and its impact on a middle-class family, and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, 61, the movie drills deep into the dynamic between suburban Deb and her 31-year-old heroin-hooked offspring. Molly comes in from the street to dry out — for the 15th time, and after the torching of many familial bridges. Kunis, with her big possum eyes, goes full-on Charlize Theron Monster ugly. Close tries to convince that she’s just a regular old mum fighting the battle of her life for her soul — and that of her once-beautiful child. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
Watch it: Four Good Days, in theaters now and video on demand May 21
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. The action scenes are serviceable. If it weren’t for a semi-surprising third-act twist, this would feel right at home on Cinemax circa 1992. —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).
Concrete Cowboy, R
Far more than People’s 2018 sexiest man alive, Idris Elba, 48, mounts a horse as Harp in director Ricky Staub’s uplifting father-son drama. It’s set in the real-life, but little-known, community of Black cowboys at the Fletcher Street Stables on the fringe of a gentrifying Philadelphia neighborhood. Based on Gregory Neri’s bestselling YA novel Ghetto Cowboy, the strongly acted, leisurely-paced family drama costars Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin as Harp’s estranged son Cole, who gradually learns the cowboy way. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Concrete Cowboy, on Netflix
Set in 1981, when the white-minority apartheid government fought Soviet-backed Angola (more than a decade before Nelson Mandela became president), Moffie follows a fresh teen “scab” doing compulsory service in the South African army. Nicholas, played with a quiet, Merchant Ivory beauty by Kai Luke Brummer, is a grunt with an extra strike against him. He’s a closeted “moffie,” an Afrikaans slur referring to homosexuals. Surrounded by athletic young men in boot camp and on the battlefield, he finds love, both carnal and collegial. Meanwhile, all around him the violent treatment of his brother soldiers, the virulent racism toward Black civilians and the unbridled homophobia constantly bombard him, chewing away at his soul and forcing him even deeper into silence. Moffie is a powerful tale of survival in the face of senseless prejudice and agonizing loss.
Watch it: Moffie, in theaters and on demand
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, in select theaters and 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. Hopkins’ London octogenarian character alternately rails against his caregiver and flirts with the new one (Imogen Poots), who resembles his younger daughter, Lucy. He’s furious that Anne plans to run off to Paris with her beau — but that guy seems to be two people (sometimes played by Mark Gatiss, sometimes by Rufus Sewell). More disconcertingly, sometimes his daughter, Anne, seems to be another person (Olivia Williams). It’s a head-spinning masterpiece, and Hopkins tops himself as an actor. —Tim Appelo (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
Coming 2 America, PG-13
Fun is back at the movies with Eddie Murphy’s Coming 2 America! The hilarious, big-hearted sequel three decades in the making has a fairy-tail plot. Happily married Prince Akeem (Murphy, 59, who also plays multiple supporting characters) ascends the Zamundan throne after the death of King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones, 90). The rules of succession demand a male heir. So Akeem and wingman Semmi (Arsenio Hall, 65) go back to Queens – and the illegitimate son (Jermaine Fowler) he unwittingly left behind. The cast is so delicious – charismatic Wesley Snipes, 58, as the evil general from Nextdoria, brassy baby mama Leslie Jones, 53, and funky Tracy Morgan, 52, as the lad’s uncle, to name a few. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Coming 2 America, on Amazon Prime Video
DON’T MISS THIS: Eddie Murphy’s 10 Best Movies, Ranked
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
In a sweet, funny, poignant tale inspired by director/writer Lee Isaac Chung’s own family, the squabbling Korean American family of Jacob Yi (The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun) flees a soul-crushing life as California chicken factory workers to chase the American dream to a farm in the Ozarks. They’re shunned by some, but another outsider, a local extreme Christian (a brilliant Will Patton, 66), pitches in on the planting. A good story gets great when the kids’ immigrant grandma (Yuh-Jung Youn, 73, Korea’s Meryl Streep) moves in, puzzling kids with her love of swearing, gambling, TV wrestling and funny foods like the wild crop minari. “Grandma smells like Korea!” complains one kid — who then bonds with her. A film that’s a trip to the heartland in more ways than one. —T.A.
Watch it: Minari, in theaters and on demand via A24 Films
One Night in Miami, R
Oscar- and Emmy-winning powerhouse actress Regina King, 49, flexes her muscles behind the camera as a feature film director — and it’s clear it will be the first of many. For her debut, she opts for a talky screen adaptation of Kemp Powers’ 2013 play, which imagines a fictional February night in Miami. That 1964 evening, boxer Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), athlete Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and crooner Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom, Jr.) gather, party and discuss what it meant, and what the obligations were, to be a successful Black man in ‘60s America. —T.M.A.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, R
Viola Davis and, in his last role, the late Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) star in Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s illustrious tale of Ma Rainey, the 1920s Mother of the Blues. It’s hard to say which actor scores the more towering performance. It’s like a duet between geniuses — or, since they’re fighting bitterly over how Ma should record her music, old-dirty-blues-tent-show style or hepcat modern jazz style — an acting duel. Both win, as do all of us. —T.A.
Watch it: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, in theaters and on Netflix
RELATED: Viola Davis tells AARP about Ma Rainey, August Wilson, aging, her big break and what happens when you get everything you always wanted. Read it here: Viola Davis Finds a Powerful Voice
ALSO RELATED: Get the full story on August Wilson’s remarkable Pittsburgh Cycle — 10 plays that explore the American Black experience in every decade of the 20th century — and discover how to get a taste (or more) of each play, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, here: The Essential Guide to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Playwright August Wilson
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
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: The Trial of the Chicago 7, on 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
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.