Our film and TV recommendations: What to watch, from Encanto to Selling Sunset

·10-min read
Our film and TV recommendations: What to watch, from Encanto to Selling Sunset
 (DISNEY)
(DISNEY)

Want to hunker down in front of a screen but stuck for something to watch?

Here are the films, TV shows and special streaming events on our cultural radar right now, plus some of our favourites from recent weeks that you can catch up on…

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Encanto

Perfect for Christmas, this gorgeous and charming new Disney animation follows the only non-gifted girl in a magical Columbian family as she tries to find out what’s threatening their (also magical) home. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs are slightly L-MM by-numbers but the animation is lush, the story layered and complex and the performances a delight.

In cinemas

Annette

Adam Driver makes another appearance this week in this absolutely barking musical laced liberally with sardonic humour, available on Mubi from Friday. As toxic comedian Henry he shines alongside Marion Cotillard in what resembles A Star Is Born, as re-jigged by Charlie Kaufman after watching The Shining and La boheme on loop.

Mubi

Dying to Divorce

At a time when violence against women is in the spotlight in Britain, this documentary focusing on the parallel situation in Turkey makes for a sobering watch, illustrating how women are being failed at social, political and institutional levels despite shocking numbers. There’s hope here, among the brilliant women fighting for their rights, but it’s a glimmer rather than a warm glow.

In cinemas

Selling Sunset

LA’s most glamorous estate agents are back for the fourth series of Netflix’s addictive reality series, available to stream now. Since the Oppenheim Group last graced our screens, Chrishell and boss Jason have struck up a shock romance, so expect that particular twist to occupy plenty of screen time, interspersed with more jaw-dropping vistas of multi-million dollar residences and more bonkers outfits from scene stealer Christine.

Netflix

King Richard

This enjoyable sports biopic focusing not on the players (Venus and Serena Williams, perhaps they’ll get their own at some point? Seems reasonable?) but on their hard-pushing, determined father Richard Williams is elevated by a barnstorming central performance by Will Smith, who knows a thing or two (according to his recent autobiography) about domineering dads.

In cinemas now

Petite Maman

Portrait of a Lady on Fire director Céline Sciamma’s latest is a gem of a film centring around a lonely young girl and a strange new friend she makes in the woods near her recently bereaved mother’s childhood home. The conversation between the children flows through past and future with a breathtaking fluidity, capturing the sheer weirdness of the idea that your parents were once young too, feeling what you feel.

In cinemas now

An Audience With Adele

The all-conquering superstar who we all secretly reckon we could be best mates with, actually, is back on home turf for this one-off concert, filmed at the London Palladium in front of an audience of celebs (everyone from Stormzy to Suranne Jones was spotted there), fans and the singer’s personal heroes. She’ll be performing tracks from new album 30 along with all the old tearjerkers we know and love, and the chatter in between will probably be top tier, too.

ITV Hub

Hawkeye

Marvel’s recent spin-off series - this one begins on Disney+ on November 24 - may deviate from the usual superhero formula (see WandaVision and its sitcom parodies for a case in point) but few could have predicted that Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)’s standalone drama would be so festive in theme. The bow and arrow-bearing Avenger teams up with protégée Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) to defeat some baddies and get home to his family in time for Christmas.

Disney+

Passing

Actress Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut is an adaptation of a novel by the American author Nella Larsen, first published in 1929. It starts with a chance meeting of two black former-schoolfriends, Clare (Ruth Negga) who passes as white, and Irene (Tessa Thompson, marvellous) who could, if she wanted to. The fallout from their reconnection makes for an understatedly headlong ride.

Netflix

The Colour Room

Phoebe Dynevor’s first film role couldn’t be further from her breakout turn as aristocratic debutante Daphne in Netflix’s all-conquering period drama Bridgerton. In this winning, warm-hearted biopic, she plays Clarice Cliff, the pioneering ceramicist whose Bizarre pottery line was all the rage in the 20s and 30s (and can now command huge prices at auction). She’s joined by Matthew Goode as Colley Shorter, the factory owner who she fell in love with.

Sky Cinema and Now

Dopesick

This ambitious and rightfully angry drama attempts to grapple with America’s opioid epidemic, broaching this subject through multiple storylines across several timelines. It gets a little confusing in places, but it’s anchored by strong performances from Michael Keaton (as a Rust Belt doctor), Kaitlyn Dever (as a miner who is prescribed with OxyContin) and Will Poulter (as a sales executive for Purdue Pharma, the makers of Oxy).

Disney+

Finch

There’s more than a little WALL-E about this post-apocalyptic AppleTV+ film which features Tom Hanks as a scientist, teaching a robot, Jeff (played winningly like a young teenager by Caleb Landry Jones), how to be human in order that someone might be left behind to look after his dog, Goodyear. Hanks is, as always, eminently watchable.

Apple TV+

The Harder They Fall

Stylish, riotous and righteous, this debut feature by Londoner Jeymes Samuel (produced by one Shawn Carter, AKA Jay-Z) finally hits Netflix after a triumph at the London Film Festival. Jonathan Majors leads a nearly all-black cast that includes Idris Elba, Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield in a rollicking Western that rewrites the rules while paying loving homage to the genre.

Netflix

Maid

If you’re not already watching this ingenious, hard-hitting Netflix drama about a young mother struggling to rebuild her life after escaping an emotionally abusive relationship, you should be. Margaret Qualley is excellent in the leading role and the unconventional structure paints an evocative portrait of what it’s like to be in the middle of a legal system that you don’t understand.

Netflix

The Tower

 (MAMMOTH SCREEN FOR ITV)
(MAMMOTH SCREEN FOR ITV)

Game of Thrones alum Gemma Whelan leads the cast of this new three-part thriller from Homeland writer Patrick Harbinson, playing a police officer tasked with hunting down a fellow cop who has gone missing after witnessing two people falling to their deaths from a London tower block. It kicks off on ITV on Monday evening at 9pm.

ITV Hub

Colin in Black and White

The American football player Colin Kaepernick (known overwhelmingly for his decision to take the knee in protest against police brutality) reclaims his story with this Netflix drama series about his journey as a young biracial boy adopted by a white family (and the complexities inherent in that dynamic) to star quarterback in the NFL and the fallout from his protest. It’s patchy, but effective.

Netflix

Maradona: Blessed Dream

If you can’t get a decent drama out of the rollercoaster life of legendary Argentinian striker Diego Maradona then you shouldn’t be making telly. This Prime Video series promises much, covering his humble origins in Villa Fiorito outside Buenos Aires, his preternatural sporting gifts, his cocaine addiction and health problems. English viewers will be keeping an eye on his hands, inevitably.

Amazon Prime

Showtrial

 (BBC/World Productions)
(BBC/World Productions)

Here’s your latest thriller from the makers of Line of Duty and Vigil. Showtrial, which begins on Sunday evening on BBC One, explores how politics and press bias can get in the way of justice. When Talitha, daughter of a wealthy property developer, is charged with conspiracy to murder fellow student Hannah, the trial grips the nation and drags both their families into a media storm.

BBC One, Sundays at 9pm and BBC iPlayer

The Outlaws

Seven very different people find themselves on the wrong side of the law and must complete 100 hours of community service together, renovating a derelict community centre, in this warm-hearted series from Stephen Merchant (who also stars as one of the offenders). Christopher Walken plays an ageing conman in his first British television role.

BBC iPlayer

Stath Lets Flats

Jamie Demetriou’s Stath, aka London’s worst estate agent, is back for round three. All is not well at family business Michael & Eagle Lettings following the dramatic series two finale, leaving Stath concerned about how he’ll be able to provide for his new baby. A brilliant line-up of guest stars is in place, including Julia Davis and This Country’s Charlie Cooper.

Channel 4, Tuesdays at 10.15pm and All4

Dear Evan Hansen

This grimly sincere snivel-fest, out in cinemas, about a young man struggling with his mental health whose compassionate lie gets very big, very quickly, is adapted from the hit stage musical. A mostly good cast including Julianne Moore, Amandla Stenberg and Amy Adams, make it bearable for the cynics while earnest teens will likely love every minute.

In cinemas

Impeachment: American Crime Story

After exploring the OJ Simpson trial and the killing of Gianni Versace, Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story juggernaut continues to roll on. The latest series tackles the fallout surrounding President Bill Clinton (Clive Owen)’s affair with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein, always a scene stealer). This is a Murphy project, so naturally Sarah Paulson is involved, this time playing whistleblower Linda Tripp.

BBC Two, Tuesdays at 9.15pm and BBC iPlayer

The Velvet Underground

Director Todd Haynes brings his usual flair to this documentary charting the iconic band’s emergence from New York’s avant-garde scene in the Sixties, using split screens and montage to echo their sometime-manager Andy Warhol’s multimedia shows. Haynes has gathered new interviews with band members and other major players, as well as never-before-seen performance footage.

Apple TV+

Reservation Dogs

This coming-of-age comedy, co-created by Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo and made with a majority Indigenous American cast and crew, picked up rave reviews when it debuted in the US earlier this year. It follows four Indigenous teens who, bored of their Oklahoman reservation, embark on a crime spree to fund their longed-for escape to California.

Disney+

Scenes From a Marriage

If anyone can pull off re-making Ingmar Bergman’s acclaimed 70s series about a couple navigating the highs and lows of marriage, it’s Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, who studied at Juilliard together and previously made a formidable on-screen couple in A Most Violent Year. This intense two-hander puts long-term relationships under the microscope.

Sky Atlantic and Now

Ridley Road

This gripping period piece feels uncomfortably timely. Aggi O’Casey is so good as Vivien, a young Jewish woman who ends up infiltrating a neo-Nazi movement, it’s hard to believe this is her first TV role. The story is inspired by the 62 Group, the Jewish-led organisation that fought fascists in the East End in the Sixties.

BBC iPlayer

Squid Game

This new South Korean series sees people forced to compete in playground games for cash prizes, with the teeny catch that the losers face a gruesome death. Yes, it sounds gruelling, but no one can stop watching it - this week it was revealed that it’s on track to become Netflix’s most popular series ever.

Netflix

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