What’s on this week? Whether it’s what’s on cable, streaming on Prime Video or Netflix, or opening at your local movie theater, we’ve got your must-watch list for the week. Start with TV and scroll down for movies. It’s all right here.
On TV this week …
Slow Horses, Season 2
Gary Oldman has never had more fun than he does playing the sardonic, hilariously obnoxious boss of Slough House, a kind of detention class for British spies whose careers aren’t going well, in the famously glum London suburb of Slough. But when Cold War secrets erupt, an officer dies and Russian villains threaten to inflict catastrophe on London, Oldman’s gang are the only ones who may save the day.
Watch it: Slow Horses, on Apple TV+ Dec. 2
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Scrooge: A Christmas Carol
Scrooge-like critics were chilly toward this animated musical version of Dickens’ holiday chestnut, with voices by Olivia Colman, Luke Evans, Jonathan Pryce and Jessie Buckley. But audiences liked it.
Don’t miss this: Holiday Movie Preview Guide 2022
And for more holiday fun: 12 Fantastic New Christmas Movies and Specials to Stream
Your Netflix watch of the week is here!
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Emma Corrin (The Crown’s Princess Diana) plays a wife whose impotent World War I vet husband wants her to get discreetly pregnant by another man of their class — but she scandalously falls for a gamekeeper (Jack O’Connell from Skins) in a terrific, sexy adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s steamy novel.
Don’t miss this: The 16 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in December
Your Prime Video watch of the week is here!
Three Pines (Amazon original)
Alfred Molina (Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2) plays Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in this eight-episode adaptation of Louise Perry’s best-selling detective novel, which also stars Rossif Sutherland (Donald’s son and Kiefer’s brother), Anna Tierney (daughter of Star Wars actor Malcolm Tierney) and Canadian singer Roberta Battaglia. Nathaniel Parker played Gamache in a 2013 British TV movie, but judging from the trailer (and the fact that it’s made by the producers of The Crown), Amazon is giving this adaptation a major upgrade.
Watch it: Three Pines, on Prime Video Dec. 2
Don’t miss this: The Best Things Coming to Prime Video in December
What’s new at the movies
Will Smith does a good job of projecting indomitable, embittered nobility as Peter, the real-life hero who escaped from slavery, eluded hounds and slave hunters through Louisiana’s croc-and-snake-infested swamps, and joined a Black unit of the Union Army. An 1863 photo of his whip-scarred back in Harper’s Weekly helped inspire the abolition movement. Ben Foster is sinisterly good as Peter’s satanically relentless racist pursuer, and Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) is a marvelous action director. William N. Collage’s screenplay is weak, and the story often feels generic. But Smith’s performance and Fuqua’s gift for grueling spectacle carry the film. If only Smith hadn’t done that slap at the last Oscars, this movie would have more Oscar buzz.
Watch it: Emancipation, in theaters Dec. 2, on Apple TV+ Dec. 9
Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, PG-13
Like many first dates, Spoiler Alert gets off to an awkward start. But, as it turns out, it’s a modern Terms of Endearment (a movie that’s referenced), teary and endearing. Jim Parsons plays entertainment journalist Michael Ausiello in this adaptation of his memoir of love, TV and tragedy. He warms to a nerdy, vulnerable role he seems born to play. The TV-obsessed “former fat kid” falls in love for the first time with a hot photographer, Kit Cowan (the charming Ben Aldridge). They gradually grow closer, and Cowan comes out to his parents in a wonderfully calibrated scene that’s all the better for their casting: Sally Field and Bill Irwin. Fast-forward 13 shared Christmas trees, a separation and Cowan’s diagnosis, which brings the pair to the cancer ward and the altar, too. We know from the beginning where the witty and warm Spoiler Alert is headed, but not how moving that journey will be. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)
The Inspection, R
Jeremy Pope (TV’s Pose) is meteoric as Ellis French, a 25-year-old gay homeless person estranged from his single mother (a heart-wrenching Gabrielle Union, 50) who hits the wall hard. French envisions two options: He’ll die like those in poverty around him and become a nameless statistic, or join the Marines and try to turn his life around under extreme conditions. Sharply written and directed by Elegance Bratton based on his military experience, this is a powerhouse boot camp story. Race, sexuality and comradeship collide under the gimlet eye of Laws (a propulsive Bokeem Woodbine), a sergeant intent on breaking down the new recruits. Observant, insistent and unsparing, wrapped around characters that feel real and rounded, The Inspection closed the New York Film Festival and introduces audiences to Bratton, a strong new voice in moviemaking. —T.M.A.
Neil Young: Harvest Time, Unrated
If you liked The Beatles: Get Back, try Neil Young’s documentary about the making of his 1972 smash hit Harvest, an album so good, Dylan complained that Young was invading “my thing.” Young tapped a similar vein of Americana in immortal tunes like “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man,” “The Needle and the Damage Done” and “Are You Ready for the Country?” Seeing his creative process in a movie that takes you back to a groovier time is wonderful. It’s only screening in limited theaters starting Dec. 1. If you can’t make it to the movie, there’s a 50th-anniversary boxed set of the album, released Dec. 2, which also includes performances from his 1971 BBC concert.
Top Gun: Maverick, PG
Feel the need for speed? Tom Cruise’s biggest hit returns to the big screen for two weeks. See the exhilarating epic about the gravity-defying flyboy in IMAX if you can.
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The Menu, R
The marvelous, multitalented Ralph Fiennes is the best thing on the menu in this clever culinary delight. On an isolated 12-acre island, celebrity Chef Slowik (Fiennes) has created an exclusive, one-night-only feast for a handpicked selection of guests: irritatingly arrogant Tyler (Nicholas Hoult): his last-minute date, Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy); an uncouth, fading Hollywood star based on Steven Seagal (John Leguizamo); and a food critic and killer of restaurant dreams (Janet McTeer). A variation on an Agatha Christie closed-room mystery, the wonderfully written and tautly directed entertainment skewers its characters while playfully attacking elite foodie culture and its acolytes. Delicious. —T.M.A.
Watch it: The Menu, in theaters
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, R
Two worlds collide — fine art and Big Pharma — in this compelling documentary about artist-activist Nan Goldin. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur, Goldin led an ACT UP–style protest against its mega-donors, the Sacklers, whose Purdue Pharma paid billions to settle lawsuits involving the opioid crisis. Goldin pursues her cause with passion and recklessness, and reveals her life story: She rose from early tragedy to fame as a photographer in the art-and-drug scenes of Provincetown and Manhattan, and became an opioid addict for three years after wrist surgery. She makes a flawed but relatable heroine, challenging museum orthodoxy while bringing down the Sackler Goliath, using her own towering reputation as collateral. —T.M.A.
Bones and All, R
This Romeo & Juliet about cannibals is creepy and seductive, fluid, gorgeously shot and gracefully acted. It won Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) the best director award at the Venice Film Festival, and Taylor Russell won best young actor as an “eater,” a mortal hungering for human flesh and hitting the road to seek the mother she never knew (Chloë Sevigny). Funky stranger Sully (Mark Rylance, at his most insinuating and alarming) invites her home, explaining their common bond. Sensing ulterior motives, she hops the next bus out, only to meet Lee (Timothée Chalamet), a handsome, wiry lad who shares her eating disorder. They munch their way west, sharing secrets. With Sully in pursuit, their road-trip romance can’t last — but, baby, they were born to run. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Bones and All, in theaters
The Son, R
Its Oscar-winning predecessor, The Father, got you inside the head of a man with dementia (Anthony Hopkins). This film fails to get inside the unknowable, severely depressed head of the title character, Hopkins’ character’s teen grandson Nicholas (Zen McGrath). But Hopkins does get one great scene, being a dreadful father to the teen’s dad Peter (Hugh Jackman). Laura Dern and Vanessa Kirby are solid as Nicholas’ increasingly fretful mom and stepmom, and Jackman has never plumbed such emotional depths. The script is lacking, but the acting is aces. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Good Night Oppy (Amazon Original)
Think Wall-E, only for real. Documentarian Ryan White hooked up with the special effects wizards of ILM to tell the story of the two Mars rovers NASA shot into space back in 2003 for what were supposed to be three-month missions. Astonishingly, one rover, Spirit, kept going for seven years; the other, Opportunity, for nearly 15. The Hollywood Reporter calls it a “celebration of unabashed nerdiness and enthusiastic problem-solving, the sort of movie that feels designed to attract Wall-E-loving children, who can then be shaped into the engineers and astrophysicists of the future.”
Watch it: Good Night Oppy, on Prime Video
She Said, R
In the most gripping thriller about newshounds since Spotlight, Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan are superb as the New York Times reporters who convinced the victims of movie mogul and rapist Harvey Weinstein to speak out against him. We love the grownups in the cast: Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher as their unflappable editors, Samantha Morton as a Weinstein employee who tried to stop him, and Ashley Judd, movingly portraying her own brave self — she went on the record, helping the titanic reporter duo nail the criminal and spark the #MeToo movement. —T.A.
Watch it: She Said, in theaters
Perennial Christmas elf Will Ferrell meets perennial yuletide favorite Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. What follows is a modern musical twist in this instant classic produced for holiday rewatching for years to come. Funnyman Ferrell stars as the Ghost of Christmas Present who’s tasked with redeeming the irredeemable Manhattan spin doctor Clint Briggs (an irresistible toe-tapping Ryan Reynolds). As Briggs’ number two, digging up oppo research as it sucks away her soul, is Kimberly (a Broadway-caliber Octavia Spencer), caught between good and bad, gifts and coal. Any excuse leads to a musical number, from solo ballad to full-on West Side Story street ensemble, something that repeatedly peeves ghost wrangler Marley (the phenomenal bass Patrick Page). It’s a funny, bouncy romp with strong singing and dancing talent and just the right touch of snark to please any Scrooge. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Spirited, on Apple TV+
Dead to Me, Season 3
Despite her MS diagnosis, Christina Applegate, who just got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 50, is back on her comedy/mystery/drama about two women (Applegate and ER’s Linda Cardellini) who bond amid a soap opera’s worth of car crashes, betrayals, furtive burials, identical twins and bizarre plot twists. Applegate is still funny after all these years, but this season feels more poignant than the last one, and livelier. The show’s 30 million fans should be pleased.
Watch it: Dead to Me, on Netflix
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, PG-13
In the most eagerly anticipated superhero movie of all, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) fight to protect Africa’s best-kept-secret kingdom. Instead of recasting the first film’s central role of King T’Challa after beloved star Chadwick Boseman died of cancer, the sequel makes the character’s death an emotional engine driving the plot. Nyong’o said this “put our grief to good use.”
Don’t miss this: ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’: Strong Women, Spock-Like Fish Men
The Fabelmans, PG-13
In the front-runner for the best picture Oscar, boy meets camera — hilarity and pathos ensue. That’s the good part of Steven Spielberg’s wobbly autobiopic about movie nut Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel Labelle) growing up absurd (and Jewish) in white-bread suburbia 60 years ago. As electronics genius Bert Fabelman (Paul Dano) drags his wife (Michelle Williams), three daughters and Sammy from South Jersey to points west, Spielberg studs the film with inspired household slapstick but falls short on revelation or epiphany. He and cowriter Tony Kushner diagram rather than dramatize the temperamental clash between an orderly scientific dad and a disorderly artistic mom; the couple forms a fraught emotional triangle with a ubiquitous best friend (Seth Rogen). Judd Hirsch, Jeannie Berlin and David Lynch steal scenes, but Spielberg’s film sense (sort of) saves the day, especially when Sammy stages mini epics with his Boy Scout troop and uncovers family secrets in home movies. If you’re Sammy, or Steven, movie love conquers all. —Michael Sragow (M.S.)
Watch it: The Fabelmans, in theaters
A little bit Close Encounters, a little North by Northwest, Jordan Peele’s big, glossy, funny, gross, scary, wild Western UFO tale Nope is nonstop entertainment. It follows a man-of-few-words (Daniel Kaluuya) struggling to maintain the family’s Hollywood horse-wrangling business while a suspicious disc cruises above their inland California ranch. Joined by his fast-talking sister (a delightful Keke Palmer), an alien-obsessed techie (Brandon Perea) and a traumatized former child star (Steven Yeun), they battle to survive and capture the wily alien — on film. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard veteran character actor Michael Wincott as the dour cinematographer singing Sheb Wooley’s 1958 “The Purple People Eater” in his gravelly voice. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Nope, on demand
Yellowstone, Season 5
In Kevin Costner’s smash-hit modern Western, two-fisted John Dutton (Costner) gets elected Montana’s governor, and his ruthless daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) gets a worthy new opponent: Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri), a corporate shark for Market Equities. Reilly predicts, “It’s gonna be like two Goliaths.”
Watch it: Yellowstone, on Paramount Network
The Crown, Season 5
In what Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton) calls her “annus horribilis [horrible year],” Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) reveals the adultery of Prince Charles (Dominic West) with Camilla Parker (Olivia Williams). Lesley Manville plays Elizabeth’s naughty sister Princess Margaret, and onetime Bond star Timothy Dalton flying ace Peter Townsend, the love of her life. Manville tells AARP it’s about time that grownup characters are depicted with passionate love interests. “It really annoys me when there’s an assumption that once you’re over 50, we mustn’t show those people being interested in romance. I mean, nonsense! It’s just insulting. It amazes me how long its taken for women to get where they are, from kings having our heads chopped off, to get into a point where we don’t tie our bodies up in corsets anymore.”
Watch it: The Crown, on Netflix
Don’t miss this: ‘The Crown’ Is a Tragic Royal Triumph
Falling for Christmas
A rom-com about a blue-collar ski lodge owner (Glee star Chord Overstreet) who looks after a recently engaged, spoiled-rotten heiress (Lindsay Lohan) after a holiday skiing accident gives her amnesia.
Watch it: Falling for Christmas, on Netflix
And get in the holiday spirit: The Best TV and Movie Santas of All Time
The Wonder, R
In 1862, a nurse (Florence Pugh) is called to the Irish Midlands to examine an 11-year-old girl (Kíla Lord Cassidy) who claims she hasn’t eaten in months, surviving thanks to “manna from heaven.” But her health is failing, and the local devout community and doesn’t want to hear anything that questions their miracle.
Jennifer Lawrence returns to her indie roots in a melancholy yet redemptive drama, playing Lynsey, an Afghanistan war vet recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Rebuilding her life in working-class New Orleans, she moves back in with her alcoholic mother (Succession’s Linda Emond). Lynsey’s always had to be the adult in the room; she went to war pre-traumatized. To regain her independence, she gets a job as a pool cleaner — this is the kind of movie where you feel every stroke of the leaf skimmer. She also befriends a brokenhearted, beer-drinking, one-legged mechanic (a grounded and compelling Bryan Tyree Henry). He gradually teaches Lynsey how to make peace with loss, live simply and create a family of choice, not biology. Causeway is a small film with a big heart. —T.M.A.
My Policeman, R
Yes, pop star Harry Styles can act too! Here he plays a 1950s British copper who falls in love with an urbane, older museum curator (David Dawson), yet also marries a lovely young schoolteacher (Emma Corrin, young Diana in The Crown, Season 4). Only 40 percent of critics liked it, but 96 percent of audiences did, because it’s an honest tearjerker with terrific actors, including Rupert Everett as the curator who reunites with his policeman decades later, after suffering a stroke. —T.A.
Watch it: My Policeman, on Prime Video
The White Lotus, Season 2
Heiress Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) is back, now married but lonelier and needier than ever, in the darkly comic hit about spoiled, neurotic rich guests at a luxury hotel where a mysterious murder occurs. This time it’s in Sicily, and visitors include an irritable attorney (Aubrey Plaza), an outrageously flirty Italian American (F. Murray Abraham), his adulterous Hollywood-macher son (The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli) and assorted Sicilian sex workers.
Watch it: The White Lotus, on HBO
All Quiet on the Western Front
If you liked the movie 1917, you may enlist to watch this adaptation of the 1929 best-selling novel by Erich Maria Remarque, who was wounded five times as a teenage soldier in World War I. The 1930 movie version is one of the greatest war films ever made; this version, the first from Germany, is that nation’s entry for the 2022 foreign-film Oscar.
Watch it: All Quiet on the Western Front, in theaters and on Netflix
Armageddon Time, R
In James Gray’s moving, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story set in 1980 Queens, New York, a headstrong, bratty boy who daydreams of artistic glory (Banks Repeta) gets in trouble at school along with a Black classmate (Jaylin Webb) who dreams of joining NASA. His distraught parents (utterly brilliant Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong) send him to a private school packed with bullying racists. Only his doting Holocaust-escapee granddad (Anthony Hopkins, dazzling as ever) really understands the lad. It’s a thoughtful meditation on class, race and national decline. And the dinner-table family quarrels are among the most lifelike you’ll ever see. —T.A.
Watch it: Armageddon Time, in theaters
The Banshees of Inisherin
King Kong vs. Godzilla is a pipsqueak squabble compared to the titanic acting duel of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in this fable set in a spectacularly quaint 1923 village off Ireland’s coast. It’s an Oscar magnet with a perfect 100 percent Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score. Sweet, dim farmer Pádraic (Farrell) demands that bright, gloomy composer Colm (Gleeson) explain why he’s abruptly ended their best friendship. The “feckin’ nutbag” won’t, and threatens violence if Pádraic won’t let him be. A black comedy with more than a wee bit o’ green, it makes you feel resident in the way director Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took you to that feisty town. The locals couldn’t be more feckin’ perfect, from the village “eejit” (Barry Keoghan) to Pádraic’s bookishly brilliant sister (Kerry Condon) to Mrs. McCormick (Sheila Flitton), the Inisherin version of a Macbeth witch. In a way, the irresistible dialogue is the main character. See it and you’ll speak Irish for a week. —T.A.
Watch it: The Banshees of Inisherin, in theaters
Don’t miss this: The 10 Best Movies Set in Ireland
The fall season’s emotional surprise is this Cannes film fest prizewinner. Young Scotswoman Sophie (Celia Rowson-Hall) reflects on a resort holiday two decades earlier to celebrate her 11th birthday with her dad, Calum (a muscular and moving Paul Mescal). The drama hinges on young Sophie (Frankie Corio), a sunny youngster who shares a deep, often wordless bond with her father. As Sophie splashes around, plants a first kiss and plays video games, cracks begin to show in Calum’s cheerful, caring façade. He’s holding on to life by their love’s thread, trying to repress his demons. But it’s a fool’s errand. I wept buckets, because writer-director Charlotte Wells so honestly realizes Sophie and Calum, and the potency and poetry of their father-daughter connection. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Aftersun, in theaters
In an all-too-true story from 1955, an ebullient 14-year-old Chicago boy Emmett Till (scene-stealer Jalyn Hall), while visiting kin in Mississippi, is accused of whistling at a white woman, and lynched. His grief-and-guilt-stricken mother Mamie (dynamic, devastating Danielle Deadwyler) insists on an open casket for the world to witness his beaten and bloated body. Reluctantly, she travels to Mississippi to testify before an all-white jury of the killers’ peers. This powerful period drama, with marvelous costume and production design, ties Till’s death to local efforts to intimidate Blacks from exercising their right to vote. It bridges the past and 2022, when the Emmett Till Antilynching Act defined lynching as a hate crime. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Till, in theaters
Masterful Cate Blanchett, 53, plucks our heartstrings as the fictional Leonard Bernstein protégé Lydia Tár, the ruthless, passionate superstar conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. At the pinnacle of an international career, she meets her Waterloo in the cancel culture she disdains, thanks to her woman problem. She grooms talented young musicians, like her long-suffering assistant (Portrait of a Lady on Fire’s Noémie Merlant), and callously abuses them emotionally and/or sexually. For her, it’s all about the music, not the morals. It’s an epic character study that got a six-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere, though it lacks a final movement that delivers a crescendo of feeling. Maestro or monster? Tár’s both. —T.M.A.
Watch it: Tár, in theaters
The Woman King, PG-13
Muscular and well oiled, Oscar winner Viola Davis, 57, vanquishes and vanquishes again as the emotionally and physically scarred General Nanisca, who cuts through rival tribes and European slavers in a war epic from Gina Prince-Bythewood, 53. Set in the 19th-century West African kingdom of Dahomey, this violent, female-driven history centers on the triumph of Nanisca’s women-only army, loyal to King Ghezo (an underused John Boyega). It’s also the tale of new recruit Nawi (The Underground Railroad’s outstanding Thuso Mbedu) and her journey under Nanisca’s critical eye from abused daughter to machete-wielding warrior. While the movie’s treatment is surprisingly conventional, the tale of women empowered to own their own bodies couldn’t be timelier. —T.M.A.
Watch it: The Woman King, in theaters
Don’t miss this: Viola Davis’ 10 Fiercest Roles (So Far!)
Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.