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 …
Slow Horses, Season 3
If you thought Gary Oldman, 65, was great in his Oscar-nominated role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he’s even better as Jackson Lamb, the ill-kempt, flatulent, crapulous, sarcastic old honcho of Slough House, where Britain sends its most downwardly mobile MI5 secret agents. His fretful physician asks, “How’s the drinking?” Lamb replies, “Fine, thanks!” He tells a colleague, “You’re about as useful as a paper condom!” Over at the Park, Slough House’s rival office for spies on the way up, two ambitious cloak-and-dagger pros (Kristin Scott Thomas, 63, Oscar nominee in The English Patient, and Sophie Okonedo, 55, Oscar nominee in Hotel Rwanda) scheme to knife each other’s careers. Slow Horses has never been funnier — scoring a perfect 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — or more action-packed, with an exciting first episode set partly in Istanbul.
Watch it: Slow Horses, Nov. 29 on Apple TV+
Your Prime Video watch of the week is here!
Candy Cane Lane
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.
Don’t miss this: The Best Things Coming to Prime Video in December
Your Netflix watch of the week is here!
May December, R
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, Dec. 1 on Netflix, also in limited theaters
Don’t miss this: The Best Things Coming to Netflix in December
What’s new at the movies …
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 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. —Tim Appelo (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.)
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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. —Thelma M. Adams (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