It’s big, it’s splashy, it’s Elvis as you’ve never seen him — plus beloved grown-up movie star Tom Hanks as the King’s manager, Colonel Parker. As one of the summer’s biggest movies hits the big screen, check our critic’s take, below. Is he all shook up? Or is this biopic nothing but a hound dog? Read on… and pass the popcorn!
What did our critic make of the new Elvis (and Tom Hanks)? Read on!
Baz Luhrmann’s best movie since his masterpiece Romeo + Juliet (1996) is brilliant but overlong, and Tom Hanks (65) masterfully wrestles with a flubbed role as con-man manager Colonel Tom Parker. But Austin Butler is an utter wonder as Elvis, and Baz is even better, frenetic yet nimbly precise, the camera leaping from Elvis belting the first rock hit, “That’s All Right,” to the child Elvis peeking at a Black singer performing the blues original in a wicked juke joint. Quick as a cricket, Baz’s dazzling cinematography conveys his subject’s roots in Black blues and gospel, and Gary Clark Jr., Kevin Harrison Jr., Yola, Shonka Dukureh and Alton Mason are superb as influencers Arthur Crudup, B.B. King, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Big Mama Thornton and Little Richard. Hanks does his best as Parker, narrating the King’s heroic, tragic arc while robbing and ruining him with carny marketing and god-awful films. Elvis balks when Parker tries to make him sing songs like “What Child Is This?” — Parker calls it “Whose Child Is This?” — in a cheesy Christmas special. But he permits Parker to imprison him in Vegas, doped up, instead of touring the world. Baz makes Parker almost nice, vague when the movie (and authenticity) need him to be vividly villainous. Still, you likely won’t see a more original film this year. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Watch it: Elvis, coming June 23 to theaters
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A beautiful film to watch with all your generations
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, PG
The charming YouTube-sensation short about a brave, inch-tall seashell (voiced by Jenny Slate) gets the full feature treatment, demonstrating a gigantic heart and an easygoing humor. The animated and live-action film follows the bighearted shell-on-sneakers as he navigates the disappearance in the night of a huge portion of his extended family, the diminishing abilities of his beloved immigrant Nana (the sly, moving vocal talent of Isabella Rossellini, 70) and a quest to recover his community with a little help from a heartbroken documentarian (the film’s director Dean Fleischer-Camp). Like wisehearted early Pixar films (Up), Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is a treat for the whole family, and a welcome respite from cynicism, sentimentality and anything-for-a-buck-ism. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
Your Netflix watch of the week is here!
The Departed (2006)
Martin Scorsese won his Oscar for this superbly plotted tale of a bad cop (Matt Damon) and the good cop infiltrating his gang (Leonardo DiCaprio). Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin are fantastic in supporting roles, and Jack Nicholson is good enough to overcome his own over-the-top impulses.
Watch it: The Departed on Netflix
Don’t miss this: The 26 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in June
Summer is here, and that means one thing…
It’s our annual summer movie preview! Get our critics’ inside look at the blockbusters, dramas, comedies and documentaries that are coming this season. Spoiler alert: One of them is the new Downton Abbey film (be still our hearts)!
Get the list: Summer Movie Preview: 23 Films Not to Miss
What are the best thrillers on Netflix right now? We’re here with the goods
Winter just seems like the perfect time to curl up on the sofa with a pulse-pounding film, which is what inspired our critics to gather up the 13 very best thrillers currently streaming on platform powerhouse Netflix. From 1982’s Blade Runner (never a bad idea to revisit that classic) to the 2020 Netflix original Tyler Perry’s A Fall From Grace, we’re here to pull you into the rabbit hole of suspense and sweaty palms.
Get the list: The Best Thrillers Playing on Netflix Right Now
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
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?
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
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.
- The amazing roster of stars who have played Elvis Presley on-screen
- These 10 movies remind us why we listened to punk rock back in the day
- The 10 greatest Stephen King films — and 5 to skip
- Jack Nicholson’s all-time best performances, ranked
- Great movies about Watergate that go way beyond All the President’s Men
Other movies to watch
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, R
Sometimes hard to watch but impossible to turn away from, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande tells the story of uptight, self-conscious widow Nancy Stokes (pitch-perfect Emma Thompson, 63), who hires smooth escort Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack, 29), hoping to find the adventurous sexual fulfillment lacking in her 31-year marriage. Nancy seems as if she’ll never be able let go of her fussbudget, retired teacher persona, even presenting Leo with a list of the sex acts she wants to tick off. But just when you think the film will end with Nancy abandoning herself to Leo’s confident charms, their antiseptic meetups take an abrupt, earthy turn. Nancy pries too much, and Leo’s self-assurance proves a mask concealing an interior as messy and sad as hers. Nancy has never had an orgasm, with herself or others. But their inauspicious coupling — however temporary — results in a happy ending for both. —Dana Kennedy (D.K.)
Watch it: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, on Hulu
The Lost Girls, Unrated
From Jean Rhys’ The Wide Sargasso Sea to the Broadway hit Wicked, taking famous stories — Jane Eyre or The Wizard of Oz — and flipping the narrative to put supporting characters at the story’s center can yield fascinating results. In The Lost Girls, Italian actress-screenwriter-director Livia De Paolis puts four generations of Peter Pan’s Darling family at the center of this female-driven fantasy. The casting is amazing: Vanessa Redgrave (85) as the original Wendy Darling; her real-life daughter Joely Richardson (57) as her fictional offspring Jane; Iain Glen (60) as the lascivious Hook; and lush-lipped Louis Partridge (Medici) glorious as Peter Pan. But then De Paolis goes and casts herself as the namesake and granddaughter of Redgrave’s Wendy and, with a screenplay as awkward as her acting, no amount of fairy dust can help her rise to the level of her stellar cast. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
Watch it: The Lost Girls, in theaters
Jerry and Marge Go Large, PG-13
Bummed by bad news about investments? This feel-good flick is the antidote. In a fact-based story, Bryan Cranston (66) and Annette Bening (64) play the Selbees, high school sweethearts who married, raised kids, ran a convenience store in Evart, Michigan, then retired. Jerry Selbee, a math wizard who regarded the stock market as risky gambling, spent three minutes calculating the odds of Massachusetts’ lotto and realized they could legally game the system by recruiting a small-town team to buy tickets and win big — over $26 million. Cranston and Bening head a brilliant grownup cast including Rainn Wilson (56), Michael McKean (74) and Larry Wilmore (60). But a rival team of nasty, ageist Harvard kids demands that the Selbees sell out to them — “You won’t even have to leave your rocking chairs!” Guess who wins? (Everyone who sees the movie.) —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Watch it: Jerry and Marge Go Large, on Paramount+
Official Competition, R
A pharmaceutical zillionaire (José Luis Gómez) turns 80 and decides to immortalize himself by making a prestige blockbuster with the best talent on the planet: wild-haired Venice Film Fest award-winning director Lola (Penélope Cruz, 48), highbrow theater-turned-indie star Ivan (real-life Venice prizewinner Oscar Martínez, 72) and shallow, womanizing A-list hack actor Felix (Antonio Banderas, 61). The two men play rivalrous brothers, and the erupting resentments are hilariously real. Lola puts them through bizarre ordeals — like trapping them together in cling wrap as she destroys their most precious possessions — and her reasoning is preposterously hyperintellectual. But somehow it all works! They’re good in the movie-within-a-movie, and uproarious between scenes. The satire hits the bull’s-eye in a film that’s a send-up of arthouse pretensions, and a darn good arthouse film. —T.A.
Watch it: Official Competition, in theaters
Lost Illusions, PG-13
Juicy, wise and sumptuous, Xavier Giannoli’s period epic based on the Balzac novel was never able to compete for an Oscar because of narrow Academy rules for foreign language recognition. Quel dommage! It did, however, deservedly score seven Césars, the French equivalent, including best picture and most promising actor. Set in the 19th century, the sublime film follows a familiar pattern: A rube poet named Lucien (a dazzling, sexy Benjamin Voisin) escapes the dull countryside for Paris. Once there, he rises to the very peaks of society, experiencing love’s raptures and the taste of fame, before facing his inevitable comeuppance at the hands of heartless city folk. With soaring production values and a brilliant cast — including Gérard Depardieu, 73, as an illiterate publisher — and with an unquenchable joie de vivre, Lost Illusions is the Proustian madeleine of historical dramas. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Lost Illusions, in theaters
Jurassic World: Dominion, PG-13
Run, run like a dinosaur fleeing extinction or a farmer escaping a lobster-sized locust, to see Jurassic World: Dominion. Director Colin Trevorrow returns with a host of familiar players — Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Laura Dern (55), Sam Neill (74), Jeff Goldblum (69) — plus newcomers DeWanda Wise and Mamoudou Athie in a sequel set four years post-Jurassic World. The dinosaurs liberated at the last movie’s climax are living in relatively peaceful coexistence with humans. However, a biotech corporation, led by smooth talker Campbell Scott (60), is splashing around in the gene pool and putting THE ENTIRE WORLD AT RISK in profit’s name. In the sixth lesson that it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, and the third film in the World trilogy, the story hurtles forward so fast and the beasts are rendered so realistically that despite its 146-minute length, there’s hardly time to think about the cataclysms outside the theater’s doors. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Jurassic World: Dominion, in theaters
The Phantom of the Open, PG-13
“I’m going to take a crack at the British Open,” says workingman Maurice Flitcroft, gloriously evoked by Oscar winner Mark Rylance, 62. With the support of his loving wife (Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins) and disco-dancing teens, he tees off at the 1975 British Open. The inexperienced amateur golfs to the worst score in the competition’s history — and national fame as the little putter who could, the Don Quixote of the links. Directed with a light touch, the true sports story boasts a slyly wicked turn from Rhys Ifans, 54, as the standard-bearer for the status-conscious golfing establishment. Like The Duke, which paired Jim Broadbent, 73, and Helen Mirren, 76, Phantom of the Open is the entertaining and uplifting portrait of an ordinary extraordinary man, a perfectly imperfect marriage and the power of positive thinking in bucking the system and realizing the impossible. —T.M.A.
Watch it: The Phantom of the Open, in theaters
Top Gun: Maverick, PG
The jet-fueled sequel to the 1986 flyboy classic has charisma to burn, soaring airplane indulgences and a narrative that honors the past while breaking the sound barrier as it shifts to the future. Tom Cruise, 59, returns to play fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a rebel who refuses to be promoted out of the cockpit. Retirement? That’s not in the cards for this ace, who resists a desk job and bristles under his new boss (Jon Hamm, 51). Maverick tries to mentor the resentful hotshot son of his late colleague Goose, Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), and leads a team of hotshot Top Gun grads to attack an unnamed enemy in an all-but-impossible aerial mission. In fine form, Jennifer Connelly, 51, provides an age-appropriate romantic interest, and throat cancer survivor Val Kilmer returns for an emotional reunion as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky. If an adrenalized and often shirtless Cruise can’t lure the over-50 crowd back into theaters, who can? —T.M.A.
Watch it: Top Gun: Maverick, in theaters
Downton Abbey: A New Era, PG
Need a soothing antidote to the news? Let Downton’s denizens deliver you to 1928, in a movie that’s immensely better than the first one and on par with the nonpareil TV series. It’s wittier, thanks to new director Simon Curtis (Cranford; his wife, Elizabeth McGovern, plays Lady Grantham). And the heartstring-fiddling hasn’t been this skillful since Matthew Crawley died in a car crash in Season 3. As a Hollywood crew shoots a movie at Downton (to raise cash to fix its roof), Lady G, Tom (Allen Leech) and Edith (Laura Carmichael) visit a French villa that Violet (Maggie Smith) just inherited from a long-ago swain — could he be Lord Grantham’s secret father? Downton’s staff gets cast in the flick, and the most inept servant turns out to be a natural scriptwriter, like the mobster Cheech in Bullets Over Broadway. The glamorous, insecure, low-born movie starlet bonds with the servants, and once-bitter butler Barrow (Robert James-Collier) falls for the movie’s star (Dominic West, The Wire). Full satisfaction depends on knowing everyone’s Downton backstory — but who doesn’t? —T.A.
Watch it: Downton Abbey: A New Era, in theaters
Have You Heard About Greg?: A Journey Through Alzheimer’s With Faith, Hope and Humor, PG-13
At 59, distinguished newspaperman Greg O’Brien developed Alzheimer’s disease, which is expected to afflict 80 million people by 2031. He covered his own experience and interviewed experts in the 2014 best-selling book On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s and became an Alzheimer’s activist. At their 50th high school reunion, somebody asked his filmmaker classmate Steve Ecclesine if he’d heard about O’Brien’s misfortune. So Ecclesine reunited with him and made this documentary, featuring O’Brien — one vivid, irreverent cinematic subject — and his friends, family, pastor, and doctors, plus neurologist Lisa Genova, whose Still Alice was adapted into the Oscar-winning movie starring Julianne Moore. It’s a loose jumble of talking-head interviews, but it’s never less than moving, fascinating, painful yet inspiring, and extraordinarily important. —T.A.
Everything Everywhere All at Once, R
Michelle Yeoh, 59, and Jamie Lee Curtis, 63, make beautiful movies together — and I hope to see them joined in everything from Westerns to crime thrillers. In this whacked-out, exuberant, multiple-timeline sci-fi actioner, Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, a bedraggled Chinese immigrant living above the family laundromat with her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, 50). While sandwiched between her cranky father, Gong Gong (James Hong, 93), and moody daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), she finds herself on the wrong side of IRS auditor Deirdre (Curtis in a crowd-pleasing, physically comic performance). In other words, she’s doing the everywoman juggle, except that in an outrageous series of multiverses, Evelyn has to dig deep, find her inner kung fu fighter, make peace with Joy (who often appears in outrageous costumes as her mother’s multiverse antagonist), Waymond and Gong Gong, and save the world. Spoiler alert: She succeeds — and global audiences will emerge feeling like winners, too. —T.M.A.
The Outfit, R
Mark Rylance, who stole Don’t Look Up from Leo DiCaprio and Bridge of Spies from Tom Hanks, plays a self-deprecating, London-trained tailor in 1956 Chicago who matches wits with his customers, dumb young gangsters who underestimate him (excellent Dylan O’Brien and Johnny Flynn) and one smart old gangster (Rylance’s fellow British stage great Simon Russell Beale). They use his shop to stash stuff they don’t want cops or rivals to find, and when one mafioso gets shot, the tailor stitches him up. The FBI has bugged the tailor shop (which really happened in 1950s Chicago), the mob is hunting whoever ratted on them, and the tailor tries to protect his receptionist, who’s like a daughter to him (Zoey Deutch, a ringer for her mother, Lea Thompson). Writer/director Graham Moore, who wrote the Oscar-winning The Imitation Game, crafts a tense thriller that’s like a cross between Sleuth and Reservoir Dogs — he keeps you guessing. You won’t likely find better acting in any film this year. —T.A.
Watch it: The Outfit, 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.