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The Best Movies Coming to Screens Big and Small This Week​

A moving family portrait of dealing with dementia has us heading to the theater

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Is there anything Mayim Bialik cannot do? Evidently not! The Jeopardy host, TV star and neuroscience professor (true!) makes her writer-director debut this week with a film that echoes her own family’s struggle with her father’s illness and death. It’s moving stuff; find out what our critics have to say about it, plus all the best new arrivals on Netflix and more. Pass the popcorn!​

See why we loved this new film about dealing with a parent’s dementia

 As They Made Us, R

Jeopardy and Big Bang Theory star and neuroscience professor Mayim Bialik’s writer-director debut is a very fictionalized version of her own family’s experience of her father's decline and death. Despite awkward plotting, sometimes clunky dialogue and two reconciliation scenes that are unconvincing even if they happened, it has a radiant heart and a sense of deep authenticity that will resonate with anyone who faces such family trauma — that is, most of us. Dustin Hoffman, 84, plays the dad, puckish and funny in flashbacks to middle age, touchingly vulnerable as illness takes hold, yet insisting he’s “fine.” Candice Bergen, 75, is a destructive force of nature as his irascible wife, bickering inseparably with him, in deep denial about his condition, heedlessly offending everyone in her path, and then defiantly saying, “What?” Her lines can have sitcom energy (“We just finally figured out his Lipitor dosage and now he’s going to die? His chiropractor thinks maybe meditation will help”). But the lines in her face eloquently express the bitter grief of a mom who repels everyone she loves most. The young Bergen couldn’t have pulled off such emotional complexity. Their son (Big Bang Theory star Simon Helberg, who knows Bialik’s real-life story well) won’t talk to his impossible folks for years. Realistically, it’s left to the daughter (Glee star Dianna Agron), a divorced mom with kids and work woes, to somehow rescue everybody. It’s a film packed with home truths, sometimes wordless — like a scene of Hoffman and Bergen in a non-dish-smashing moment, a sweet, frail dance in the living room.  —Tim Appelo (T.A.)

Watch it: As They Made Us, coming April 8 to theaters and on demand


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Your Netflix watch of the week is here!

Our Great National Parks

Sure, Barack Obama could lead a nation — but how did he do as producer/narrator of a nature docuseries from the executive producer of Blue Planet II?

Watch it: Our Great National Parks, on Netflix

It’s April. Do you know what’s coming to Netflix?

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie

Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Jane Fonda (left) and Lily Tomlin in "Grace and Frankie."

​Good thing our critics know! They keep a close eye on the best films and shows arriving – and leaving – the massive streaming platform so you don’t miss a thing. Get your new watch list for the month, hot off the presses, and mark your calendars now. No fooling!

Get the list: The 26 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in April

Spring is here, and that means one thing…

Tom Cruise in the film Top Gun Maverick and Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith star in Downton Abbey A New Era

Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures; Ben Blackall/Focus Features

Tom Cruise as Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in "Top Gun: Maverick"; Penelope Wilton as Isobel Merton and Maggie Smith as Violet Grantham in "Downton Abbey: A New Era."

​It’s our annual spring 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: 2022 Spring Movie Preview: 15 Films Not to Miss

Whodunit? Wedunit!

Kenneth Branagh stars as Hercule Poirot in the film Death on the Nile

Rob Youngson/20th Century Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in "Death on the Nile."

Agatha Christie fans, rejoice: With Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile now in theaters, our critics wanted to double down on enjoying those twisty-turny, star-studded film adaptations of Dame Agatha’s whodunits. Ready to cozy in with a mystery double feature this weekend? We thought so.

Get the list: The Ultimate Agatha Christie Movie Watch List to Get You Through the Winter​​​

​​Anyone noticing a revival of great black-and-white films this year?​​​

Theater goers watching a film in a scene from the movie Belfast

Rob Youngson/Focus Features

(Left to right) Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Jude Hill and Lewis McAskie in "Belfast."

From The Tragedy of Macbeth to Belfast, some of the year’s high-profile films (and top Oscar contenders) are in black and white. You may be surprised at how many movies set color aside this year. Get our critics’ list and stream them all!​

Get the list: Black-and-White Films Are Having a Moment This Year. Here Are the Ones to Watch​​​​

Need some (more) cozy in your life right around now? These Netflix movies are here for you​​

Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn dance together in My Fair Lady

FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn (right) in "My Fair Lady."

Baby, it is cold outside, and our critics are here to help you get through the winter with a dozen cozy gems (nine films and three bingeable TV series) streaming on Netflix right now. All you need to do is provide the PJs, the throw blanket and the cocoa!​

Get the list: The Coziest Netflix Movies and Shows to Curl Up With Right Now​​

What are the best thrillers on Netflix right now? We’re here with the goods

Side by side images of Jake Gyllenhaal, Tyler Perry and Sandra Bullock in Netflix films

Netflix; Charles Bergmann/Netflix; Saeed Adyani/Netflix

(Left to right) Jake Gyllenhaal in "The Guilty," Tyler Perry in "A Fall From Grace" and Sandra Bullock in "Bird Box."

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​​​

Don’t open Netflix again until you’ve read this

The Netflix logo is displayed on a smartphone in front a television screen that's on the streaming service's home page

Chesnot/Getty Images

Do you get a little dizzy from all those “recommendations” the streaming giant proposes for you? Our critic took a close look behind the browsing curtain at Netflix and has some uncomfortable truths about how Netflix is manipulating your browsing experience. Get the whole scoop and find out how to take control of your account (and see better stuff).

Read it: The Surprising Secrets Behind How Netflix Recommends Shows and Movies You Watch

21 great movies you didn’t even know were on Netflix!

promotional pictures for Netflix shows Concrete Cowboy and The Dig

Courtesy Netflix; LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX

Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin in "Concrete Cowboy" (left) and Carey Mulligan in "The Dig."

Sure, you know the big-name shows and original series that the streaming giant wants you to browse … but did you know that Netflix has about 3,700 movies you can stream? Our critics sifted through the whole list to uncover 21 fantastic gems that are ready to watch. So what are you waiting for?

Get streaming: 21 Buried Movie Treasures You Didn’t Know Were on Netflix Now

Get ready to bookmark this ultimate movie watchlist

Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire, Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction

Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images; Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Miramax Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

(Left to right) Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh on the set of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" and Uma Thurman in "Pulp Fiction."

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?

Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin star in the film It's Complicated and Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman in 5 Flights Up.

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.

Other movies to watch

 Nitram, NR

Justin Kurzel’s disturbing drama digs under the sweaty skin of Nitram (an engrossing Caleb Landry Jones) in a fictional excavation of what drove one Australian to commit the country’s deadliest mass shooting, the Port Arthur massacre, in 1996. The film portrays the shooter as a physically mature young man of limited intelligence who loves lighting fireworks but has a loose grip on consequences. This is a case where everyone — his critical mother (Judy Davis, 66, emotionally stripped bare), his father (an impressive Anthony LaPaglia, 63) and the kooky heiress up the street (Essie Davis, 52, of The Babadook) — knew something was very off but wasn’t equipped to contain him. Ultimately, Nitram is about Australian society’s failure to keep guns out of inappropriate hands. To me, the heartbreak lies in the lack of a mental health safety net to address the young man’s repeated calls for help, and the devastating loss of innocent lives as a result. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)

Watch it: Nitram, in theaters

 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.

Watch it: Everything Everywhere All at Once, in theaters

 The Lost City, PG-13

If you’re nostalgic for Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone, try Sandra Bullock (57) as a perpetually peeved romance novelist on a book tour with her dumb, hunky cover model, Channing Tatum. When she gets kidnapped by a billionaire nut (Daniel Radcliffe) who wants her to lead him to an ancient treasure on a spectacular jungle island, the model tries to rescue her and prove he’s a hero for real. In a role a bit like his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood character, Brad Pitt is fantastic and hilarious as an actual hero who briefly shows the model how it’s done, then leaves the imperiled couple on their own, pursued by billionaire minions and the novelist’s exasperated publicist (talented Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who should sue the screenwriters for her unfunny dialogue). Half the gags land, if that, and the plot doesn’t even try to hold our interest. But Bullock and Tatum make a terrific team, bickering as nimbly as dueling jazz musicians in a virtuoso duet, redeeming even lines that have no right to be so charming. We need a movie this fluffily silly right now. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)

Watch it: The Lost City, in theaters

 Infinite Storm, R

​With a hat tip to Jack London, fact-based Infinite Storm boldly goes where no sane person ever should: up New Hampshire’s Mount Washington on a day the radio weatherman declares iffy. Naomi Watts, 53, plays Pam, an experienced climber who marks the anniversary of her daughters’ deaths by heading up the notoriously fickle mountain to mourn (anyone who has actually hiked in and around the real Mount Washington will be shocked to see that the film’s setting looks nothing like New Hampshire’s White Mountains and is, in fact, Slovenia’s Julian Alps). Amidst the inevitable blizzard, she finds shorts-clad stranger John (On Chesil Beach’s Billy Howle), frostbitten and hypothermic. Pam drags the raving young man down the slippery slope. It’s exhausting. Watts is game, fit and makeup free, but it’s starting to seem like the actress has a rescue-or-be-rescued fixation — she has sat in a monster’s hand (King Kong), fled the 2004 tsunami (Impossible), survived paralysis (Penguin Bloom), and now this infinite storm. She’s never less than admirable, but maybe it’s time for the actress, who also produced, to take 12 steps away from Rescue Mountain. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Infinite Storm, in theaters

 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, in theaters

 CODA, PG-13

Yes, it’s formulaic, with foreseeable TV-like beats, but there’s a reason this winsome indie film broke all Sundance Festival sales records. The most feel-good Sundance hit since Little Miss Sunshine, it’s an irresistible coming-of-age tale of a CODA, a Child Of Deaf Adults (Emilia Jones). Ruby helps her irascible hearing-impaired folks (Marlee Matlin, 55, and The Mandalorian’s Troy Kotsur) and brother (Daniel Durant) with the family fishing business in a salty Massachusetts town. She joins the school choir — there’s a cute boy — and proves to be a Glee-level singer with a shot at Berklee College of Music. When Ruby sings “Both Sides Now,” her parents can’t hear it, but they can feel it, bridging the gaps of both generation and hearing. Unsurprisingly, Matlin’s acting is just as good when she’s signing (with subtitles), not speaking. —T.A.

Watch it: CODA, on Apple TV+

DON’T MISS THIS: 10 Things Marlee Matlin Suggests Doing Now

 Mothering Sunday, R​

Like Downton Abbey with extra naughty bits, Eva Husson’s sensual period piece features sexy maid Jane (dewy Odessa Young). She passes her special day off romping with her posh neighbor Paul (The Crown’s dashing Josh O’Connor) before he weds a suitable match. Based on the 2016 novel by Graham Swift, 72, it’s a gauzy, sexy between-the-wars British reverie that also pairs Colin Firth, 61, and Olivia Colman as Jane’s stolid, grieving employers, the Nivens. Mothering Sunday, celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent in parts of Europe, devastates Mrs. Niven, who lost both children in World War I. Colman spends most of the film traumatized beneath a stunning hat, while Firth stiffens his upper lip and soldiers on. The costumes from Oscar winner Sandy Powell, 61, are gorgeous — but can hardly compete with Jane’s Pre-Raphaelite silky skin gorgeously lit by award-winning cinematographer Jamie Ramsay. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Mothering Sunday, in theaters

 Death on the Nile, PG-13​​

In his second Hercule Poirot mystery (after 2017’s tepid $353 million hit Murder on the Orient Express), director and star Kenneth Branagh resembles the wide-eyed film fanboy in his Oscar-nominated Belfast, swept up by exhilarating big-studio escapism. It’s an opulent, erratic but irresistible version of Agatha Christie’s 1937 novel about a homicidal triangle: an heiress (Gal Gadot), her husband (Armie Hammer) and her former friend and his ex-lover (Emma Mackey). The “go big or go home” ensemble is led by Sophie Okonedo and Letitia Wright as a jazz-blues singer and her niece. The actors hold the screen even when giant statues of Ramses II tower over them. Like an old-time actor-manager, Branagh tosses grand gestures and juicy bits to all, himself included. Here his droll take on an OCD Poirot gets a huge romantic reason for his outlandish mustache. —Michael Sragow (M.S.) ​​

Watch it: Death on the Nile, available on demand

 The Worst Person in the World, R 

Perfectionism isn’t all that in this wry, wise, beautifully acted contemporary drama, a Norwegian Oscar hopeful that I repeatedly recommend to parents of daughters. The movie follows the educated Laura (Cannes festival best-actress winner Renate Reinsve) over four critical years as she rounds 30. She launches a passionate affair with an ambitious older cartoonist (Bergman Island’s Anders Danielsen Lie) despite his warning after their first hookup that their love is bound to fail. Then she turns to a nice, unchallenging guy (Herbert Nordrum) that she meets while crashing a wedding reception. One wants kids; the other doesn’t. Empathetic director Joaquim Trier (Thelma) observes as Laura burns through a number of career and romantic identities while finally finding her feet in the world. She discovers, like so many of us, that her mistakes define her as much as her successes. Now if only I could get my 22-year-old to watch it! —T.M.A.

Watch it: The Worst Person in the World, in theaters​

 The Tragedy of Macbeth, R

"Life is but a walking shadow," says Macbeth, and few films of Shakespeare’s bloody play are more dazzlingly shadowy than this one by Joel Coen. Its stark black-and-white expressionist look is on a par with Dreyer’s Vampyr, Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Denzel Washington (a longtime master of Shakespeare onstage and onscreen) and triple Oscar winner Frances McDormand play the king-killing couple not as young and hungry — the typical take — but as an older couple seizing their last chance at soul-destroying power. Kathryn Hunt is still scarier as all three of the Weird Sister witches who give Macbeth his fatal marching orders. Joel Coen’s first film not codirected by his brother, Ethan, is as good as their collaborations, and superior to Orson Welles’ 1948 Macbeth—T.A.

Watch it: The Tragedy of Macbeth, on Apple TV+

 Nightmare Alley, R

​Guillermo del Toro’s spectacularly nasty carnival movie is like a bitter reply to his smash 2017 romance The Shape of Water — as gorgeous, dreamy and visually inventive, only infinitely bleak. A grifter (Bradley Cooper) flees his fiery past into a lurid circus and learns the art of the con from a clairvoyant (Toni Collette) and her drunk, broken mentalist husband (David Strathairn, 72). Will he find true magic with a circus girl (Rooney Mara) who’s as radiant as the heroine in Fellini’s La Strada? Or go bad, helping a terrifying psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett, 52) fleece a sinister plutocrat (Richard Jenkins, 74)? The tale is propulsive yet shapeless, just one darkly dazzling scene after another. But it holds your attention as the killer cast messes with your mind. Blanchett’s sharp, arch looks and darting emotions are a natural for noir, and Strathairn is great as the carnies’ shattered moral conscience. —T.A.

Watch it: Nightmare Alley, on Hulu and HBO Max

 The Lost Daughter, R

Maggie Gyllenhaal makes a bold writer-director debut unpacking Elena Ferrante’s slim, scorching novel. Among 2021’s best, the vibrant drama centers on Leda (a glorious Olivia Colman, 47), an academic pushing 50. She travels solo to a Greek island for summer sun and self-care but, curious, can’t resist getting entangled in the traumas of glistening young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson). As Leda becomes obsessed with Nina, her clingy young daughter and the extended family swirling around them, the encounter triggers sharp, undigested personal memories — and reveals the past choice that, even now, defines Leda. Enter the brilliant Jessie Buckley in flashback as the younger Leda, raising daughters while pursuing an ambitious intellectual career, struggling with domesticity’s crushing demands and seduced at an academic conference by Professor Hardy (Gyllenhaal’s husband, Peter Sarsgaard, 50). An original character study that spirals like a thriller, The Lost Daughter is an exhilarating, unsparing examination of modern motherhood — its joys and discontents. —T.M.A.

Watch it: The Lost Daughter, on Netflix

 Spider-Man: No Way Home, PG-13

In the latest Spider-Man — part monster mash, part superhero souffle, and the first smash hit of the COVID era — Benedict Cumberbatch is at his wryest as that master of mystic arts, Dr. Strange. His exasperated omniscience conjures ominous hilarity out of clichés like “Be careful what you wish for.” Tom Holland’s exuberant Spider-Man wishes Strange would make people forget that his alter ego is Peter Parker. The resulting botched spell opens portals for super-villains from across the multiverse. The film transcends a hectic, wearying first half when Holland meets two spider-suited allies who empathize with him completely. Holland attains maximum poignance and amiability and the franchise soars into fan heaven while making believers of us all. —M.S.

Watch it: Spider-Man: No Way Home, in theaters

 Swan Song, R

I can never get enough of double Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, 47 (MoonlightThe Green Book) — and here there are two of him: the original and his clone. In writer-director Benjamin Cleary’s existential sci-fi romance set in a near future of driverless cars and dramatic AI advances, Ali plays Cameron. The terminally ill father and husband confronts extinction and the end of his love before his time. His doctor (Glenn Close, 74) recommends he take a radical new course: bid his beloved Poppy (Naomie Harris, 45) and son goodbye, transfer his memories to the clone, and enter an idyllic hospice for his final days while another flesh-and-blood being stuffed with Cameron’s personal memories takes over. That’s going to take some serious adjusting. Ali excels at delivering a man undergoing all five stages of grief until he achieves acceptance, and Harris connects as his wife, but the overall narrative unfolds with all the forward drive of passive voice. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Swan Song, on Apple TV+

 Being the Ricardos, R​

Nicole Kidman, 54, grows on the audience as a brittle version of Lucille Ball, the flame-haired comedienne whose show I Love Lucy ruled 1950s TV. Writer-director Aaron Sorkin, 60 (The Social NetworkThe West Wing), makes the love-and-loathe story between Ball and her onscreen-and-actual Cuban American husband Desi Arnaz (a loose and engaged Javier Bardem, 52) a workplace dramedy unfolding in a single crisis-plagued week. Public accusations that the controlling leading lady has a communist past — and private indications of Arnaz’s sexual infidelity — threaten both the sitcom and their marriage. The dialog’s pungent, the pace fast, and J.K. Simmons, 66, steals the show as William Frawley, delivering some of Sorkin’s sharpest lines as the sardonic, hard-drinking actor who played the Ricardos’ neighbor Fred.

Watch it: Being the Ricardos, on Amazon Prime

 The Power of the Dog, R​​

​Jane Campion’s glorious, sweeping and intimate Oscar-bound Western is set at the volatile crossroads of horse culture and the horseless carriage in 1925 Montana, on the ranch of the bachelor Burbank brothers, menacing Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and temperate George (rock-solid Jesse Plemons). Phil, rangy of build and cunning of eye, is a charismatic and cutting alpha dog. Beneath his bullying hide, he has repressed his authentic, vulnerable self. His secrets erupt when George weds the widow Rose Gordon (a finely wrought Kirsten Dunst), who triangulates their relationship, threatening Phil’s fierce frontier facade. A compelling, visceral tale that sticks its devastating landing. ​​

Watch it: The Power of the Dog, on Netflix

 House of Gucci, R

Directed by maestro Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator), 83, this long, bouncy tale of the Italian luxury designers’ fall never met a fast car it didn’t slow down to capture. And it loves actors! Jeremy Irons, 73, cast as Rodolfo Gucci, the more effete of the two founding brothers, has played his share of Borgias and corrupt popes. Here, with a John Waters mustache, he’s a deliciously toothless lion in winter. As his craftier sibling Aldo, Al Pacino, 81, roars and roars. And the sons! Adam Driver excels as Rodolfo’s socially awkward, intellectual Maurizio. As Aldo’s Paolo, Jared Leto’s smothered in prosthetics yet emotionally present. OK: So where’s Lady Gaga? She’s Patrizia Reggiani, the outrageous outsider who weds Maurizio and eventually Jengas the entire clan. —T.M.A.

Watch itHouse of Gucci, available on demand

 King Richard, R

In the real story of tennis immortals Venus and Serena Williams, the kids (Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton) are all right. They hit all the notes of a sport biopic with a satisfying thwack. But the grownups steal the show. Will Smith (53) outdoes himself as their dad/coach Richard, who survived KKK thugs in youth, protects them from Compton thugs, vows they won’t always have to share a bedroom with three other extremely talented sisters in poverty and shamelessly promotes them to the rich, lily-white tennis establishment. Smith conveys the bizarre drive that made his preposterous plan come true in a performance as impressive as anything he’s done, perhaps more, and entirely new. Remarkably, Aunjanue Ellis (52) is even better in the smaller role of Richard’s wife, Oracene, who stands up to his iron will and coaches just as well. A total feel-good movie. —T.A.

Watch it: King Richard, on HBO Max

Don’t miss this: The 7 things Aunjanue Ellis suggests doing now

And this: The best Will Smith movies (so far), ranked

And this!: The ultimate tennis lover’s movie watchlist

 Belfast, PG-13

Not since John Boorman’s 1987 WWII masterpiece Hope and Glory has there been such an inspiring film about a director’s childhood in a war zone — in this case, Kenneth Branagh, now 60, growing up amid the 1969 Protestant-Catholic riots in Ireland. Jude Hill is brilliant as a sensitive kid troubled by the Troubles, playing war with a wooden sword and a trash-can-lid shield as grownups battle for real. Not just a coming-of-age film, it’s an absorbing family portrait: Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan are wonderful as his movie-star-beautiful parents, and Ciarán Hinds, 68, and Judi Dench, 86, still better as the warmly waggish grandparents they live with. It evokes a time and place through a child’s eyes, and makes you feel part of the torn town and the unbreakable family. It’s shot in luminous black and white, except for the color that lights up their lives when they’re at the cinema gasping at fur-bikini’d Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s flying auto. You feel their urgent need to escape the drama erupting in the streets outside, and why they can’t bear to leave, and the way Belfast will always be with them wherever they roam. Expect Branagh to roam down that Oscar red carpet soon. —T.A.

Watch it: Belfast, in theaters

 The Harder They Fall, R

Like a Tarantino romp only faster-paced, Jeymes Samuel’s Black Western is a sort-of historical hoot and a holler. It really is history-inspired: Blacks were a quarter of America’s cowboys, and the movie’s stampede of stars play wildly fictionalized actual people: Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo, 68), the West’s first Black deputy U.S. marshal; outlaws Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) and Nat Love (Jonathan Majors); and Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), the first Black U.S. mail carrier. Treacherous Trudy Smith (Regina King, 50) is a gas but not real. The shaggy-dog plot involves the Love gang’s vendetta against Buck’s, but it’s just an excuse for tongue-in-cheek genre pastiche, high-noon showdowns and saloon shootouts, shot with flippant style and a killer soundtrack by everyone from Fela Kuti to Jay-Z (a coproducer). It’s overstuffed with terrific actors having a blast, and the fun’s infectious. —T.A.

Watch it: The Harder They Fall, on Netflix

Don’t miss this: 11 Gems From the Black Film Archive to Watch Now​

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.