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What to Watch on TV and at the Movies This Week

A new Monk movie and the latest Indiana Jones film hit small screens, while big screens light up with a quiet masterpiece (perfect for taking older grandkids) from legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki

spinner image Tony Shalhoub stars in "Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie"
Tony Shalhoub stars as Adrian Monk in "Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie."
Steve Wilkie/Peacock

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. Start with TV and scroll down for movies. It’s all right here.

On TV this week …

Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie (Peacock)

Tony Shalhoub, 70, earned Emmy nominations eight years in a row (and won thrice) playing the OCD, germophobic, acrophobic San Francisco private investigator Adrian Monk. Now he (plus longtime cast members Ted Levine, 66, and Traylor Howard, 57) stars in a movie by the show’s creator, Andy Breckman, 68. Monk navigated the COVID pandemic with difficulty — and his stepdaughter (Caitlin McGee) wants him to find out what happened to her late fiancé.

Watch it: Mr. Monk’s Last Case, Dec. 8 on Peacock

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​​Your Prime Video watch of the week is here!

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (PG-13)

Harrison Ford, 81, has said that this would be his last turn as Indy. And if it truly is, he’s gone out in style. Is Dial of Destiny as rollickingly great as Raiders of the Lost Ark? No. How could it be? But it is a triumphant bounce back from 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Directed by James Mangold (instead of Steven Spielberg), the action sequences have energy and wit, and it’s interesting to get a peek at how everyone’s favorite archaeologist would deal with the ’60s counterculture (not well).

Watch it: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, for purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV, streaming on Disney+

Don’t miss this: The 10 Best Things Coming to Prime Video in December

Your Netflix watch of the week is here!

Leave the World Behind (R)

Sam Esmail, best known for creating Mr. Robot, directed and co-adapted this movie based on the unsettling best-selling book. A family of four (led by Julia Roberts, 56, and Ethan Hawke, 53) rents a ritzy vacation home on Long Island — only to be interrupted by a man and his daughter (Mahershala Ali and Myha’la Herrold), who turn up claiming the house is really theirs and that a cyberattack has forced them to seek shelter in a familiar place. Prepare to be unnerved in all the right ways.

Watch it: Leave the World Behind, Dec. 8 on Netflix

Don’t miss this: Julia Roberts’ Apocalyptic Netflix Movie ‘Leave the World Behind’: Controversial Changes, Weird Ending

And don’t miss this: The 12 Best Things Coming to Netflix in December

What’s new at the movies …

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆ Poor Things, R

Emma Stone goes far out on a limb — and then leaps without a net — in her second outrageous collaboration with Yorgos Lanthimos, 50 (The Favourite). Stone delivers a sexy, physically demanding and outlandish performance that exists in an artistic universe far, far away from the mainstream gloss of Spiderman’s saucy girlfriend Gwen. She plays Bella Baxter, a young suicide given an electric shock at a second life by the compassionate but cray-cray scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (a sublimely ridiculous Willem Dafoe, 68). His bumpy, scarred visage reflects his predilection for self-experimentation, while Bella is his beauty. Mark Ruffalo, 56, flexes his comic chops as a Bella-obsessed gent who has no idea what she’s capable of — or of his own limitations. Part Frankenstein, part Galatea, Bella has a learning curve that’s swift, unexpected and driven by unrestrained appetites. Although Poor Things occasionally careens into extreme whimsy, it’s a gorgeously shot, designed and costumed portrait of an incomparable woman on the verge of a fantastical breakthrough. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)

Watch it: Poor Things, Dec. 8 in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Waitress: The Musical, PG-13

What a backstory: Gifted indie actress Adrienne Shelly wrote and costarred in the quirky, wonderful 2007 movie Waitress, starring Keri Russell as Jenna, a yearning young woman trapped in a bad marriage, a tiny town, an unplanned pregnancy and a diner job she hopes to escape by winning a $20,000 pie-baking contest. Tragically, Shelly was murdered when she caught a burglar in her apartment (in the documentary Adrienne, her widower confronts the killer).

Grammy winner and triple Emmy and Tony Award nominee Sara Bareilles turned the tale into a smash musical starring herself, with some of the most poignant yet upbeat tunes Broadway has ever heard. Can she and her waitress pals actualize themselves? Can Jenna shed her abusive hubby (played by her actual fiancé, Joe Tippett) and make things work with her nerdy, married obstetrician (Drew Gehling)? Watch the film version of the musical, and you’ll find out what baking can do. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)

Watch it: Waitress: The Musical, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Boy and the Heron, PG-13

Long ago, when my two grown kids were little, I adored animation. Then it became something like eating too many hot dogs — I never again craved wieners or hyper cartoons. The major exception is the creations of Japanese genius Hayao Miyazaki, 82. His latest movie is true to form: unhurried, tender and wise. Nearly every frame of this artistic masterpiece inspires awe. His visions of undulating waters, flickering flames and sunlight cracking cloud cover have sublime detail, composition and color. The story itself offers wonder, humor and life lessons that don’t reduce to “Eat your broccoli.” The hero of this feature, which Miyazaki claims to be his last, is a motherless boy. Mahito encounters a heron, a magical creature symbolizing good luck, a fowl capable of moving among three elements: earth, water and air. Together, bird and orphan cross the thin membrane between life and death, encountering strange and marvelous creatures, and inhabiting a visually thrilling story that represents the very best in bold contemporary animation and popular art. —T.M.A.

Watch it: The Boy and The Heron, Dec. 8 in theaters

Also catch up with …

Candy Cane Lane (Prime Video)

Everyone seems to be getting in on the original holiday movie trend, which the Hallmark Channel kicked off a decade ago. Now Prime Video joins the Christmas derby with a big splash and some heavy-duty star power, thanks to Eddie Murphy, 62, who stars in this family comedy as a guy who will stop at nothing (including teaming up with an elf) to win his neighborhood’s cutthroat annual house-decorating contest.

Watch it: Candy Cane Lane on Prime Video

May December, R (Netflix)

Like the real Mary Kay Letourneau — jailed for bedding a 12-year-old she later married and had children with — this film’s Gracie (Julianne Moore, 62) was jailed for having sex with young Joe (Charles Melton, 32). Now they’re married and about to send their teens off to college. She strenuously denies she ever did anything wrong, though Joe is having midlife doubts. Director Todd Haynes, 62, makes it even more unsettling by introducing TV star Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), who’s going to play Gracie in a movie, so they let her live with and study them way too intimately. The Joe-Gracie dynamic is like Gus Van Sant’s To Die For; the Elizabeth-Gracie clash recalls Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. The result is a creepy master class in acting. 

Watch it: May December on Netflix, also in limited theaters



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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Maestro, R

Who cares about his controversial prosthetic schnoz? Director and star Bradley Cooper dazzlingly embodies the contradictory whole of conductor and West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein, capturing his incandescent musical gift, his joie de vivre, his reckless prankishness, his composer’s inwardness and performative ebullience, his bisexual seductiveness and utter selfishness. And as his Costa Rica–born Broadway star wife, Felicia Montealegre, Carey Mulligan is even better. We feel her radiant intelligence and big heart, the spark between them, and her exasperation when he courts handsome youths at their legendary posh parties. From their first magical flirtation to their big fight scene (as a giant Snoopy from the Thanksgiving Day parade passes by their fab Manhattan apartment window), they capture two lives well — if tumultuously — lived. —T.A.

Watch it: Maestro, in select theaters, on Netflix Dec. 20

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Napoleon, R

This account of the warrior ruler who defined 19th century Europe is the sort of stuff epic director Ridley Scott, 85, eats for breakfast. Here he reunites with his Gladiator villain Joaquin Phoenix, whose take on Napoleon is frequently fresh and often funny (deliberately so). Scott brings an almost classical sense of spectacle to the often pulpy script by David Scarpa and gives each detailed battle scene its own distinct color palette. As Napoleon’s love Josephine, Vanessa Kirby is an apt volleyer for Phoenix’s eccentricity. The movie’s 158-minute length is substantial, but given how eventful its subject’s life was, Napoleon practically gallops along. —Glenn Kenny (G.K.)

Watch it: Napoleon, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆ The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, PG-13

Set 64 years before the 2012 hit about Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the young badass who volunteered to fight to the death on TV in a dystopian future, the Hunger Games prequel stars not Lawrence but Rachel Zegler (from the West Side Story remake) as fighter Lucy Gray. It’s mainly the origin story of future villain Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth). Like Anakin Skywalker before he morphed into Darth Vader, Snow starts off sympathetic, an ambitious but nice guy from a genteel but financially strapped family. He falls for Lucy (who has a Southern accent for some reason and dresses and sings like a minor country star), whom he’s assigned to mentor to win the deadly game. At 157 minutes, it’s overlong, but Blyth and Zegler have chemistry and real acting chops, and his not-so-heroic journey is a nicely nuanced portrait of how someone started out before breaking bad. —Dana Kennedy (D.K.)

Watch it: The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, in theaters

Don’t miss this: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Viola Davis

Next Goal Wins, PG-13

This broad sports comedy from hilarious Taika Waititi, 48, features the cowriter/director in a small role as a kooky man of the cloth. It’s a David and Goliath parable based on the true story of the crushing failures of the American Samoa soccer team documented in the 2014 same-name documentary. In the fictional version, brokenhearted, raging alcoholic coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) is sent to save the contenders from oblivion. Coach builds a team and, absorbing the local spirituality, rebuilds himself. The titular next goal gets a broader definition: What sense of purpose will this Western man who’s hit rock bottom embrace to save himself? Though it’s no Ted Lasso, it’s a feel-good movie with potential to inspire audiences to cheer on this ragtag bunch. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Next Goal Wins, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐☆☆ Saltburn, R

Socially awkward scholarship nerd Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin) develops a possibly fatal attraction to tall, charismatic rich kid Jacob Elordi (Elvis Presley in Priscilla) in this satirical drama written and directed by Emerald Fennell, following up her acclaimed Promising Young Woman. It’s as if the filmmaker pureed Joseph Losey’s 1963 class-clash drama The Servant, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1968 satire Teorema and bits of Monty Python and Peter Greenaway, and baked them in an overheated oven. Consistently perverse and often visually startling, it’s nevertheless weirdly unsatisfying. But it’s worth it to see Richard E. Grant, 66, and Rosamund Pike, highly entertaining as Elordi’s dotty parents. —G.K.

Watch it: Saltburn, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Rustin, PG-13 (Netflix)

The enormous potential of historical movies is to resurrect heroes scratched from the official record — like Bayard Rustin. The charismatic, gay believer in Gandhi's peaceful civil disobedience orchestrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington in a matter of weeks. Oscar-bound Colman Domingo, 53, brilliantly embodies the Civil Rights grassroots activist while showing a powerful man with a joy for living and compassion for his fellow men. The tragedy — and the root of the film’s complexity — is that Rustin’s sexuality put him at odds with some in the movement’s inner circle, revealing that their dedication to equality had limits. With exquisite music from Branford Marsalis, 63, and a stellar supporting cast including Aml Ameen as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jeffrey Wright, 57, as Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Rustin is a bold and generous movie that sets its conventional biopic wrapper on fire. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Rustin on Netflix and in limited theaters

Fargo, Season 5 (FX, Hulu)

If you liked the Coen brothers’ classic film Fargo, you’ll love the similar yet completely distinct TV series, whose new season got a perfect 100 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. Jennifer Jason Leigh, 61, plays a billionaire who resents her daughter-in-law Dot (Juno Temple), a mild-mannered Minnesota homemaker who turns out to have a dark past involving Roy (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, 52), a funny but scary sheriff who likes the Bible, despises pesky human laws and is a public menace. When Dot gets kidnapped, she’s a more ingenious booby-trapper than the kid in Home Alone

Watch it: Fargo on FX and Hulu

The Crown, Season 6, Part 1 (Netflix)

The final season of the ultimate royal soap opera kicks off with Prince Charles (Dominic West, 54) and Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) enjoying their first post-divorce summer — the latter in the early throes of a romance with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla). After these four episodes, in which Imelda Staunton, 67, returns as Queen Elizabeth II, we’ll wait a month for the final six installments — no word on how they’ll depict the queen’s 2022 death.

Watch itThe Crown on Netflix

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Dream Scenario, R

In Norwegian director Kristoffer Borgli’s frightfully intelligent, brushed-with-horror dark comedy Dream Scenario, an obscure, humdrum evolutionary biology professor (Nicolas Cage, 59) is peeved that nobody wants his scholarly book on ants. Suddenly he finds himself famous, because he mysteriously starts to appear in the dreams of people worldwide. But when those strangers’ dreams become nightmares, they turn on him. Cage’s nuanced performance is one of his career best. —Fred Schruers (F.S.)

Watch it: Dream Scenario, in theaters

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Holdovers, R

Director Alexander Payne, 62, made actor Paul Giamatti, 56, famous in his 2004 wine-country comedy Sideways. They reunite in an Oscar-touted, record-setting Toronto Film Festival hit about a curmudgeon (Giamatti’s specialty) who teaches at a New England prep school and is stuck on campus to babysit a few students over Christmas break in the early 1970s. He bonds with one chronic misfit kid (Dominic Sessa) and the school’s cook (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), who’s mourning her son, a former student at the school who was accepted at Swarthmore but, cash-poor, was sent to die in Vietnam. It’s a hilarious, poignant movie in a beautiful, character-rich retro-1970s style. It’s a Christmas movie as uplifting as the saddest of Christmas songs, and as full of hope against all odds. —T.A.

Watch it: The Holdovers, in theaters

Nyad, PG-13 (Netflix)

Annette Bening is generating Oscar buzz for this biopic of Diana Nyad, a competitive swimmer who long dreamed of swimming from Cuba to Florida. Decades after a failed attempt at age 28, she returned to the waters to try again. And again. And again. With the support of a loyal friend (Jodie Foster, 60) and coach (Rhys Ifans, 56), she eschews a shark cage and battles both jellyfish and the elements in the feel-good story of one stubborn and determined woman.

Watch it: Nyad on Netflix

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Priscilla, R

Priscilla flips the legend of Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi) on its pompadoured head, putting his young bride Priscilla Presley née Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) center stage. Directed by Sophia Coppola, 52, whose Marie Antoinette (another tale of an imprisoned princess) was ahead of its time, the movie shows Elvis plucking the ninth-grade brunette from a lunch counter on the Air Force base in Germany where he was stationed. Their whirlwind romance begins, as a controlling Elvis grooms and woos the bobby-soxer 10 years his junior. In its simplicity and emotional candor, the movie recalls 2016's Jackie (about Jackie Kennedy) and 2021's Spencer (about Princess Diana). The fascinating and delicate creation, superbly acted and gorgeous to behold, shares a portrait of an artist’s wife, and through her gaze reenvisions the man behind the curtain of superstardom. —T.M.A.

​​Watch it: Priscilla, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆ Killers of the Flower Moon, R

Lily Gladstone is the beating heart of Martin Scorsese’s historical true-crime drama about the reign of terror in 1920s Osage County, Oklahoma. The wealthy diabetic Mollie Burkhart comes to represent the Osage Nation, who are living in frontier luxury after oil was discovered beneath their communal land. Scorsese, 80, lushly re-creates the oil-rush backwater, with its muddy streets, fancy motorcars and tribal pageantry. However, the director miscasts 48-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio as 28-year-old Ernest Burkhart, Mollie’s white seducer. They wed but the seemingly dutiful husband has divided loyalties, remaining obligated to his uncle, rancher William Hale (quietly terrifying Robert De Niro, 80). Hale architects a murderous conspiracy to profit from the Osage birthright. As the body count rises, including Mollie’s two sisters, coincidence turns to conviction — and the greedy culprits must be brought to justice. The juicy period piece based on the nonfiction bestseller by David Grann gets the Hollywood star treatment, but a multipart series with age-appropriate male stars might have better-served the grim chapter’s complexities. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Killers of the Flower Moon, in theaters

Don’t miss this: Everything you need to know before watching 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Anatomy of a Fall, R

Writers Sandra (standout Sandra Hüller) and Vincent (Swann Arlaud) share a remote alpine chalet with their 11-year-old son, Daniel, but their marriage is strained. What makes this elegant, gripping crime thriller (and Cannes Film Festival winner) unusual is that the pot never boils. When an attractive journalist comes to interview the more successful Sandra, an unseen Vincent blasts music to disrupt their conversation. How passive-aggressive — or is his behavior something angrier? Later, he tumbles from the third-floor window, bloodying the snow below. The narrative pivots, becoming a courtroom drama with Sandra in the dock, accused of suspicious death. Her vision-impaired son is the sole material witness. Daniel has knowledge of what occurred in the house — but how reliable is he? Is he loyal to his surviving mother, or to his late father? Did Sandra or didn’t she? If only those chalet walls could talk. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Anatomy of a Fall, in theaters

Reptile (Netflix)

Benicio Del Toro, 56, and Justin Timberlake star in Netflix’s hottest new movie, a murder mystery so twisty its finale left lots of viewers scratching their heads. To find out what really happened, read AARP’s Netflix’s No. 1 Hit ‘Reptile’: Crazy Ending Explained (warning: many spoilers!).

Watch it: Reptile on Netflix

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Joan Baez: I Am a Noise, R 

Downward spirals dominate music documentaries, but not Joan Baez: I Am a Noise. From her teenage breakout at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, icon and activist Baez, 82, achieved fame for her clear soprano, open heart and command of center stage in the folk music revival. The compelling narrative melds home movies, diaries, concert footage and even D. A. Pennebaker’s 1967 doc where lover Bob Dylan, now 82, dumped Baez, ostensibly to protect her from the juggernaut of his career. Revealing her traumas of heartbreak, estrangement and physical abuse, the feature paints a portrait of an artist who has an electric connection with her audience but struggles with interpersonal trust and intimacy. The octogenarian known for speaking truth to power only approached full strength herself when she confronted her personal demons with the same passion. After intensive therapy, Baez still performs and protests, and has reached the far side of entertainment’s dark tunnel healthy, hopeful and wise. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Joan Baez: I Am a Noise, in theaters

​​Don’t miss this: Joan Baez, 82, on Repairing Her Mental Health: “I Don’t Have Those Demons Now”

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour

Missed the kabillion-dollar concert tour of America’s hottest singer? Catch the show on the big screen! And to get an idea of what the show is all about, check AARP’s Grownup’s Guide to Taking Kids to Taylor Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour’

Watch it: Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆ Oppenheimer, R

Ounce by ounce of plutonium, this biopic of the father of the atomic bomb is pretty genius — but it’s no Albert Einstein (played by Tom Conti, 81, in an essential cameo). The story ricochets through time and space fast as a photon, plotting the arc of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Oscar-bound Cillian Murphy). As head of the Manhattan Project, the left-leaning, womanizing physicist passionately pursues pioneering atomic science. But he can’t live with his baby, the bomb that decimated Hiroshima, ending World War II. The sprawling drama is a dazzling cinematic achievement boosted by muscular performances from Robert Downey Jr., 58, Matt Damon, 52, and Jason Clarke, 54, and a huge cast of characters with complicated collisions. Showstopper Florence Pugh seduces as the communist mistress Oppie dumps for career and the missus (Emily Blunt). Perhaps in trimming the story to three hours, some of the male-female narrative connective tissue was cut, which may be why, for all its fascinating moving parts, the busy biopic isn’t more emotionally explosive. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Oppenheimer, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆ Barbie, PG-13

Hot pink in the summertime: That’s the new Barbie. And, whoopsie, she’s having an existential crisis. When the Mattel doll (a perfectly cast Margot Robbie) leaves her platonic pal Ken (hunky Ryan Gosling) for the real world, she gets a big surprise. Unlike her native Barbieland, a girl-power utopia where plastic playthings are presidents and Supreme Court justices, she confronts the patriarchy. Over at Mattel, the CEO (Will Ferrell, 56) presides over an all-male board that won’t play nice and wants to put her in a box. Throughout, the tone is playfully ironic with a side of preach. The biggest joy is in the endless runway of familiar doll costumes and the cotton candy sets. Robbie makes a genial ringmaster, with a terrific cast that includes Rhea Perlman, 75, America Ferrera and a slew of starry Barbies and Kens. Is Barbie a feminist? The movie replies with a chorus of “yes!” —T.M.A.

Watch it: Barbie, in theaters and on demand

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