Ever feel like there’s too much to watch, and you don’t know where to start? Well don’t worry. Our Film & TV editor Hidzir Junaini will be rounding up only the very best things to hit your screens at the end of every month! Skip the mediocre and delve right into the good stuff.
Part anti-hate satire and part coming-of-age black comedy, Jojo Rabbit takes place during the final days of Nazi Germany, and follows an impressionable 10-year-old Hitler Youth as he grows out of his indoctrinated beliefs. This film is sweet, tender and hilariously absurdist – but can also be dark and harrowing at times. It’s a tricky tonal tightrope, but writer-director Taika Waititi finds just the right balance between his trademark sense of goofy mischief, and a timeless, thoughtful message of empathy. Funny yet surprisingly emotional, Jojo Rabbit is an audacious charmer.
Director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins have accomplished a cinematic miracle by presenting this epic war film in one long continuous shot. Following two young British soldiers as they trek through no man’s land on a race against time mission, 1917 captures the immense scope and intimate horrors of WWI by putting the viewer in the heat of each harrowing moment. From muddy trenches to bombed-out villages – this intense film isn’t just a technical feat, it’s also a moving look at the visceral terror and human cost of war. Read our full review.
Trey Edward Shults’ bruising, beautiful drama set in sun-drenched South Florida is an emotional knockout. Tracing the emotional journey of a African-American suburban family as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss – Waves pulsates with colour and life in all its vibrancy and fragility. Aurally and visually resplendent, this boldly original tale of family fracture and healing is also bolstered by a quartet of career-defining performances. The film undergoes a radical shift midway, and it’s a shock that earns a profound emotional payoff.
Louisa May Alcott’s novel is probably the most-filmed book in all of literature. But through eight different adaptations over the last century, Greta Gerwig’s version is undoubtedly the best. This latest Little Women reimagines the classic to its roots, retelling the story nonlinearly, while exuding a deep affection for the source material. Although a period piece, its themes of women finding a place in a patriarchal society is still relevant 150 years later. And Gerwig masterfully infuses a contemporary prism to a familiar tale with such joy, sadness and sweeping emotion.
Shoplifters director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s first film outside Japan is a beautifully observed French family drama. Catherine Deneuve plays a narcissistic movie star who publishes a self-flattering memoir detailing. Meanwhile, Juliette Binoche plays her daughter, who returns home to point out that mother’s book is full of rose-tinted fabrications. Just seeing these two titans of French cinema play off each other is a pleasure. But The Truth’s real joy is Kore-eda’s compassionate and humorous storytelling, examining the lies we tell ourselves, and the subjectivity of memory.
Following the unlikely friendship between dogmatic traditionalist Pope Benedict XVI, and his progressive reformist successor Pope Francis – The Two Popes is a heartwarming film set against a pivotal transitional period for the Catholic Church. Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce are perfectly cast in this absorbing papal tête-à-tête. Whether they’re eloquently sparring over their opposing socio-political and theological views, or bonding over their shared faith and humanity (from football and music to their deepest shame) – their gentle chemistry is heavenly.
Todd Haynes (Carol) tackles the maddening true story of Dupont’s shocking corporate malfeasance through the lens of a gripping David vs Goliath legal drama. Mark Ruffalo stars as Rob Bilott, a crusading Cincinnati lawyer who gives up everything to prove that the chemical giant has been using toxic materials in their products since the 1950s, knowing full well what the poisonous effects could do. Following in the footsteps of Erin Brockovich and The Insider, this takedown of capitalist villainy is made riveting through an underdog’s personalized obsession.
Directed by JD Dillard, Sweetheart is an effective, efficient, and engrossing low-budget creature feature that makes the most of its limited resources to deliver a perfect blend of Cast Away and Predator. Kiersey Clemons delivers a star-making performance as a young woman who doesn’t just have to survive the elements after finding herself stranded on a deserted island – she must also fend off a mysterious amphibious monster that lurks beyond the shores. Streamlined and simple, Sweetheart is a lean genre exercise buoyed by great character work and subtle horror.
Following a young man with Down syndrome who escapes from a nursing home to follow his dream of becoming a professional wrestler, and a small-time outlaw on the run – ThePeanut Butter Falcon is feel-good road movie that feels like a modern day Mark Twain buddy adventure. Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf are wonderful as the film’s mismatched duo, brimming with warm chemistry and innocent charm. Its sensitive treatment of a character with a developmental disability, and its sense of earnest sentimentality – makes this a sweet, funny and heartfelt joy.
Based on true events, Richard Jewell was a security guard at the 1996 Olympics who saved hundreds of lives after discovering three pipe bombs. While his brave efforts briefly earned admiration, Jewell’s life was railroaded when the FBI and the media suspect him of being the perpetrator. Paul Walter Hauser is magnificent in the titular role, embodying both the courage and delusions of a flawed man. Meanwhile, Clint Eastwood’s skilled direction offers sympathy for a presumed loser turned unlikely hero, and harsh criticism for the reflexive establishment.
Framed during the final year of the great Judy Garland’s life – this film is a heartbreakingly raw portrait of a broke, broken and substance-addled icon, who remained an otherworldly stage presence even in her darkest days. Playing such a legend is an unenviable task, but Renée Zellweger is phenomenal here, delivering all-singing, all-dancing, all-collapsing performance of the star at her lowest physical and psychological ebb. Carried by Zellweger’s bravura turn, this late-life biopic is a compelling and sympathetic look at the tragic decline of a 20th century icon.
The team behind Last Chance U switches from the world of collegiate football to the world of collegiate cheerleading for this fantastic new documentary series. Cheer follows a champion team from Navarro,Texas, and just seeing their dedication, resilience and talent is awe-inspiring. From the intricacies of their gravity-defying routines, to the physical and emotional toll of such a high-pressure and high-flying activity (the injuries are gnarly, but the stress can be worse), to the diverse lives of the coaches and athletes – this show will make you tremendously invested.
Coming to you from Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, this new three-part miniseries adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a bloody delight! Funny, witty, gross, and scary, with just the right dose of silly camp – this entertaining and smartly written twist on a classic enjoys paying homage to past iterations while also subverting tropes. Claes Bang is absolutely magnificent as the titular vampire, playing him with an abundance of diva bombast. Meanwhile, Dolly Wells is similarly arresting as Sister Agatha, a jaded nun with a shocking past.
Leaning into the toxic tropes of the romance genre, the first of YOU followed the exploits of an obsessive stalker named Joe Goldberg as he lied, manipulated and murdered his way to win the girl of his dreams. Now back for a breathless, thrilling and addictive second season – YOU switches the story to L.A., as Joe escapes from past sins by hiding in a city filled with people as delusional as he is. Naturally, the creep falls head over heels for a new girl named Love. But things get dicey when he discovers that she harbours secrets as dark and dangerous as his.
Created by Owen Dennis, the first season of Infinity Train was an endlessly inventive ride, following a runaway girl named Tulip trying to escape a magical train, where each car contains a separate universe. But while Tulip’s arc was wrapped up beautifully, season two follows Mirror Tulip – a sentient manifestation of Tulip’s reflection that was left behind. This time, she discovers Jesse Cosay, the newest kid trapped on the train. On the run together, they venture across new worlds that force them to confront deep-seated issues of identity, friendship and peer pressure.
Raunchy and sweet, horny and heartfelt – Sex Education continues to the most charming coming-of-age series out there in it’s second season. Far from the shallow teen sex comedies of the 80s and 90s, creator Laurie Nunn deliveres a smarter, kinder, and all-around funnier story of youths wracked with hormones. This season furthers the hilariously awkward mother-son dynamic between Jean and Otis by stationing the sex therapist at his school, while still exploring compelling stories about confused teens grappling with sexuality and romantic entanglements.
Created by Lee Eisenberg (The Office) alongside Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (the husband-and-wife writers of The Big Sick) – Little America is a poignant new anthology telling short stories about immigrants living in America. This smart, compassionate portrait of lives in the margins will make you smile and weep in equal measure. From the daughter of a Mexican housekeeper who becomes a squash star, to a Nigerian student struggling to fit in, these culturally specific tales exemplify how the American dream can inspire both hope and agony.
In a breakout role for SNL’s Aidy Bryant, the first season of Shrill was a nuanced depiction of a plus-sized journalist confronting body issues and beauty myths. Now back for a second season, this show wisely follows up the empowering catharsis of protagonist Annie by challenging her with the messy realities that come after self-discovery. It’s a fine line between selfishness and self-worth, and this season spends time fleshing out Annie’s friends and family – to poignantly show us that her awakening could be a double-edged sword for her loved ones, and her career.
Netflix’s latest true-crime miniseries chronicles the story of Luke Magnotta, an infamous murderer who sought internet attention by posting videos of himself killing kittens prior to the murder of a Chinese student in 2012. As Magnotta courted online fame, a group of amateur sleuths set out to track him down. Don’t F**k With Cats follows their manhunt and the role they played in bringing him to justice. This twisty and twisted investigation is genuinely one of the craziest and most traumatizing things the genre has produced, so sensitive viewers be warned.
Seen as the antidote to the banal privilege of Singapore Social – this new six-part anthology series follows the lives of ordinary Singaporeans (all neighbours living within the same HDB Estate) just trying to make ends meet. From a kopitiam auntie who takes care of her teen son with autism, to a taxi driver who moonlights as a medium, to a love story between a Bangladeshi construction worker and an Indonesian domestic helper – Invisible Stories is an exceptional observational drama, highlighting the marginalized within the country’s multicultural community.