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The Best Movies Coming to Screens Big and Small This Week​

Everyone’s talking about the return of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in 'The Last Duel' — is the movie worth the hype?​

En español | ​First there was Good Will Hunting, then there was Bennifer, then Bennifer 2.0, and now … Maffleck? Which means, if you haven’t been keeping score, that BFFs Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have reunited as screenwriting partners and costars in The Last Duel, their high-profile film arriving in theaters this week. Is this big fall movie worth a trip to the theater? See what our critics have to say, check out their other must-sees of the week and pass the popcorn!​

Is this film as good as the hype?

 The Last Duel, PG-13

The Last Duel is something entirely unexpected: a lavish medieval swashbuckler for the Me Too era. And it comes from an unexpected creative team: Matt Damon, 51, and Ben Affleck, 49 — in their first writing collaboration since Good Will Hunting won the duo an Oscar in 1998. They’re partnered with cowriter Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), with Ridley Scott directing. It sounds like a courtly traffic snarl. It’s not. The movie is engrossing, entertaining and ultimately eye-opening. Based on a historical incident, Duel casts Damon as Jean de Carrouges, a battle-scarred 14th-century French knight who challenges rival Jacques le Gris (Adam Driver) to hand-to-hand combat after le Gris rapes Carrouges’ wife. Affleck lurks entertainingly on the sidelines as a bottle-blond nobleman, but the movie belongs to Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) as the wronged wife who, at the climax of the Rashomon-style screenplay, tells us her truth — the truth — with heartbreaking conviction. —Ty Burr (T.B.)

Watch it: The Last Duel, coming Oct. 15 to theaters

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Don’t miss this beautiful film about love, art … and Ingmar Bergman! 

 Bergman Island

Bergman Island exemplifies the thrilling next wave of women directing their own stories. Mia Hansen-Love explores the relationship between two filmmakers — the cocky American Tony (Tim Roth, 60) and his ambivalent partner Chris (a brilliant Vicky Krieps). The couple travel to Sweden’s Faro Island, where the great maestro Ingmar Bergman lived and created such influential movies as Scenes From a Marriage (now an HBO limited series). Chris struggles to find her voice, plumb her feelings and shape her work, inspired by, and in opposition to, Bergman. The scene shifts to her movie-within-the-movie as filmmaker Amy (Mia Wasikowska) arrives in Faro for a destination wedding — and rekindles an old flame. The interlocking stories arrive in moody waves, as joy, daring, longing, playfulness, jealousy and fears of abandonment and imposter syndrome ebb and flow. Bergman Island gloriously captures the messy collision of love and creativity, and the ways women weave family life and personal obsession into the artistic struggle, reinterpreting the greats, like Bergman. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)

Watch it: Bergman Island, coming Oct. 15 to theaters, on demand Oct. 22

Our cover star returns to the franchise that made her a movie legend

Halloween Kills

AARP The Magazine’s current cover subject, Jamie Lee Curtis, 62, returns in arty director David Gordon Green’s latest sequel in the scary-movie franchise she made famous. Curtis plays Laurie Strode, who discovers she didn’t kill the serial killer Michael Meyers in the last flick, as she thought she had, and inspires a vigilante mob to hunt him down.

Watch it: Halloween Kills, coming Oct. 15 to theaters and Peacock​

Speaking of Jamie Lee Curtis …

Emerging from the pandemic with excitement, enthusiasm and a revised view of the rest of her life, actress, author and advocate Jamie Lee Curtis reveals in AARP The Magazine’s cover story how she is making up for lost time. The former “scream queen” and two-time Golden Globe winner opens up about finding creative outlets, embracing her age, and better appreciating each moment in her life. Curtis also shares an inside look into her longtime marriage with her “one and only,” Christopher Guest.

Get the scoop: Jamie Lee Curtis: A Life in Full Bloom​

We bet at least one of this director’s films is in your top 10

Director Ridley Scott on the red carpet at the 78th Venice International Film Festival

Maria Moratti/Getty Images

Did Thelma and Louise change your life? How about Alien or Blade Runner? Welcome to the remarkable world of director Ridley Scott. In celebration of not one but two new films arriving from Scott this fall, check out our brand-new ranking of his all-time best films so far (all available to stream now). ​

Get the scoop: The 10 Best Movies by Ridley Scott (So Far!), Ranked​​

Your Netflix must-see of the week is a beauty

Victoria & Abdul (2017)

Before Mrs. Brown made Judi Dench a star at 63, people thought of Queen Victoria as a dour being who was not amused, let alone aroused. Instead, Dench showed us a devastated widow whose heart blooms from the love of her commoner bodyguard, John Brown. At 82, she played Victoria when a new man caught her twinkling eye after Brown’s death: India’s hunky young Abdul Karim (Furious 7’s Ali Fazal).​

Watch it: Victoria & Abdul, on Netflix​ starting Oct. 16

​​Don’t miss out: The 23 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in October

​Tom Skerritt gets his first leading role … at 88!

 East of the Mountains, Unrated 

Except for a best actor Emmy for Picket Fences, Tom Skerritt is most noted for making some of the most incandescent movie stars shine brighter in iconic films — M*A*S*H, Top Gun, Steel Magnolias, Alien. At an incredibly youthful-looking 88, he’s landed his first lead movie role, in S.J. Chiro’s film of David Guterson’s novel (Snow Falling on Cedars) about Ben, a widowed heart surgeon with stage IV cancer who grabs his dog and daddy’s shotgun and lights out for the land of his childhood, the stark landscape east of Seattle. Ben intends to take his life but instead plunges deeper into it, reckoning with his past and encountering kindly rurals and one violent coyote hunter (John Paulsen, 58). Skerritt is a jiujitsu actor who recedes and draws you in. His Ben is ghostly and grittily real, cowboy-laconic, heartwarming and rending. Skerritt’s career-capstone performance is a credit to his mentors Robert Altman and Hal Ashby. —T.A.

Watch it: East of the Mountains, in select theaters and video on demand

DON’T MISS THIS: Tom Skerritt Gets the Starring Role He Deserves at 88​

Calling all Stanley Tucci fans (in other words, all of us) ...​​

Stanley Tucci attends the 69th San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Can this man do no wrong? With a brand new memoir hitting bookstores this month, we’ve indulged in some excellent Tucci-mania, curating a veritable buffet of his great food-related moments on-screen and in print. Did you know that Tucci, 60, can teach you how to make a Negroni? Of course he can! Get the full list, here: The 6 Most Delicious Moments in Stanley Tucci’s Career​​

Football fans, this one’s for you​

Denzel Washington in the film Remember the Titans

Getty Images

Denzel Washington in "Remember the Titans."

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​

Don’t open Netflix again until you’ve read this

The Netflix logo is displayed on a smartphone in front a television screen that's on the streaming service's home page

Chesnot/Getty Images

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).

Read it: The Surprising Secrets Behind How Netflix Recommends Shows and Movies You Watch

What’s coming to theaters this fall? We’ve got it all for you!

Will Smith stars in the film King Richard, Daniel Craig reprises his role of James Bond in No Time to Die and Lady Gaga stars in House of Gucci

Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures; Nicola Dove/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures; Fabio Lovino/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Will Smith as Richard Williams in "King Richard," Daniel Craig as James Bond in "No Time to Die" and Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani in "House of Gucci."

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!

promotional pictures for Netflix shows Concrete Cowboy and The Dig


Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin in "Concrete Cowboy" (left) and Carey Mulligan in "The Dig."

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?

Get streaming: 21 Buried Movie Treasures You Didn’t Know Were on Netflix Now

Love Aretha (and Patsy, and Tina, and Loretta)?

Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do With It, Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter and Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Buena Vista/Courtesy Everett Collection; Courtesy Everett Collection; Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Angela Bassett as Tina Turner in "What's Love Got to Do With It," Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn in "Coal Miner's Daughter" and Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in "Respect."

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!

Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, Will Ferrell in Anchorman and Eddie Murphy in Coming to America

Suzanne Hanover/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection; Frank Micelotta/Getty Images; Courtesy Everett Collection

(Left to right) Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell and Eddie Murphy

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.

Get ready to bookmark this ultimate movie watchlist

Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire, Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction

Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images; Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Miramax Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

(Left to right) Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh on the set of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" and Uma Thurman in "Pulp Fiction."

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.

Get the list here: The 30 Movies Every Grownup Should Know

Love rom-coms but tired of watching millennials have all the fun?

Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin star in the film It's Complicated and Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman in 5 Flights Up.

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

Feeling overwhelmed with all the streaming services on your TV?

A person holding a remote control in front of a wall displaying of dozen of screens showing content

simpson33/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

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

 No Time to Die , PG-13​​

Just when he thought he was out, James Bond (leathery but lethally sexy Daniel Craig, 53) gets pulled back into his old mess of international intrigue and MI6 office politics. Assuredly directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation), the film dashes from Italy to Cuba to London in one switchback after another with stunning scenes of escalating danger, stolen kisses, and fast cars. The action sequences, particularly in the thriller’s first two thirds, are seamless and giddy. The plot? It has something to do with bitter orphan Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek veering toward Peter Lorre) and his – mwahaha – scheme to unleash a genocidal DNA-driven bio weapon. Meanwhile, the band’s come back together – Lea Seydoux as the love interest; CIA pal Jeffrey Wright, 55; Ralph Fiennes, 58; Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris as Bond’s office pod; and Lashana Lynch as his 007 replacement. On a stealth mission to Cuba, Bond joins newcomer Paloma (Ana de Armas), who kicks butt in a plunging evening gown. The pair’s spark recalls the martini-swilling, devil-may-care Bond, who has left his emotional baggage in his other tux. Is Craig’s poignant farewell the best of the actor’s run? I’d put the emotionality of Skyfall and the eye-popping Casino Royale ahead, but No Time to Die unquestionably makes returning to theaters a reason to live. —T.M.A.

Watch it: No Time to Die, in theaters​

DON’T MISS THIS: The 5 Best (and 5 Worst) James Bond Movies of All Time​​

 The Rescue, PG​

In 2018, the Wild Boars Youth Soccer League plus coach disappeared in a Northern Thailand cave, inspiring a global panic. As monsoons surged, the real danger was that the 13 would drown. Using existing footage, including a tranche of footage from the Royal Thai Navy Seals, interviews and reenactments, filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin reveal the heroism of all involved. This included a small circle of Western amateur cave divers that risked their lives and tipped the balance. If the couple’s Oscar-winner film Free Solo about Alex Honnold’s ascent up Yosemite’s El Capitan triggered acrophobia, The Rescue bristles with claustrophobia. The recent winner of the Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award for Documentaries, this nail-biter is elevated by the notion that sometimes it takes a global village – plus a small circle of amateur experts exceeding their comfort zone – to save lives when natural disasters strike. —T.M.A.

Watch it: The Rescue, in theaters

 Mass , PG-13

Four of the best actors on earth break your heart and deepen your understanding in a drama about the aftermath of a school shooting. Ann Dowd (65, The Handmaid’s Tale) and Reed Birney, 67, play the shooter’s parents; Jason Isaacs, 58, and Martha Plimpton, 50, a victim’s parents. Years later, they meet in an Idaho Episcopal church to process their grief, anger and hunger for forgiveness — and find some way to carry on. Though it raises crucial questions about gun culture, circumambient rage and parental responsibility, it’s no dry issues film. It’s a plunge deep into the most troubled minds imaginable, and arguably the acting feat of the year. —T.A.

Watch it: Mass, in theaters​

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It (2021)

On the eve of her second star turn in West Side Story, revel in the life story of one of the most age-proof stars in Hollywood history.​

Watch it: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, on

 Old Henry, R

Tim Blake Nelson, 57, an Ivy League Phi Beta Kappa classics major from Oklahoma, is the living master of the bookish-hick role. A brilliant supporting player in the Coens’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the best star of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, he plays a hog farmer whose skill in dealing with gun-toting bad hombres and a satchel full of stolen cash reveals a dark past he’d rather conceal. Old Henry is a small film that holds up fairly well against classic Westerns, with familiar oater-flick tropes and a good plot twist. But the reason to see it is Nelson’s career-capping role — critic Owen Gleiberman calls this “the Citizen Kane of Tim Blake Nelson hayseed varmint performances.” —T.A.

Watch it: Old Henry, in select theaters

 Cry Macho​​

At 91, Oscar winner Clint Eastwood is mature enough to make the pictures he damn well pleases. This time around the ring, he chooses a shaggy picaresque about broken-down rodeo cowboy Mike Milo, creaky from hips to skeletal grin. His hinky old boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam, 64) dispatches Mike from Texas to Mexico City to “rescue” Polk’s 13-year-old biological son, Rafo (Eduardo Minett), from his “wanton” mother. It’s a dicey mission at best, but the dusty return road trip with the kid and his fighting rooster named Macho gives Eastwood a chance to reflect and jawbone ("this macho thing is overrated"). Mike also successfully romances a widow 40 years his junior (a charming Natalia Traven, 52). Eastwood's reached the point where starring, directing, producing, riding horses and composing additional music is clearly his pleasure — and if the film's not Unforgiven, the fact that Eastwood’s not stressing too hard and still adventurous is a virtue. As Mike tells Rafo, "We all have to make choices, kid.” —T.M.A.

Watch it: Cry Macho, in theaters and on HBO Max​

 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. ​

Watch it: The Eyes of Tammy Faye, in theaters

 Copshop, R

​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.​ —T.M.A.

​Watch it: Copshop, in theaters

 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 select theaters and streaming

 Queenpins, R

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. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Queenpins, on Paramount+

 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. —T.A.

Watch it: Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali, on Netflix

DON’T MISS THIS: The daughters of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X explain their fathers’ fraught friendship

 Worth, PG-13

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

 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 select theaters and streaming

 CODA, PG-13

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 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 Moveon HBO Max

 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, streaming 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.

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