Best Movies & TV (Dec. 22-25)

Santa Claus is coming to town, Babylon, Matilda the musical.
Illustration: Vulture; Photos courtesy of Studios

As quickly as this year went by, the holidays are already upon us. So we thought we’d give you a gift this month: an end to the endless scrolling to find out what’s new streaming or what to watch. It saves time while preparing food with your friends and family or wrapping gifts. It will definitely save you time before you browse two three hour movies out this week – Babylon and Avatar: The Way of Water — which are both worth checking out (maybe not back to back, but that’s up to you). And if you’re looking for more Christmas and Hanukkah movies, we’ve always got you covered in our other guides here and here. Now, for this week’s list. Oh, and happy holidays!

La La Land Director Damien Chazelle returns to California dreams with Babylonaka La La Landis reversed. There’s no Sebastian and Mia dancing dreamily through the stars in Los Angeles here. Instead, you have the dark nature of Hollywood at its most debauched, with Babylon trace the highs and lows of Chazelle’s cast of characters from silent films to talk shows in the 1920s. Margot Robbie plays rising star Nellie LaRoy and Diego Calva plays Manny Torres, a Mexican immigrant who wants to get his foot in the door in Hollywood. Brad Pitt, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li and Jovan Adepo make up the cast. The three-hour epic is a time commitment, sure, but it’s a fun, bombastic film meant to be seen on the big screen.

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We’ve previously recommended director Rian Johnson’s sequel, but after a successful week-long run in theaters, Glass onion is finally on Netflix. Yes, it’s a shame you can’t see Daniel Craig’s detective Benoit Blanc solve his latest case in Greece on the big screen, but maybe it’s just an even better excuse to get the whole family together for a movie night.

Can be streamed on Netflix

If you are not in the mood for Avatar or Babylon this weekend, a less-than-two-hour movie contender is making its way into the ring. The Shrek The spinoff brings back Antonio Banderas as the titular freewheeling Puss as he realizes he’s on the last of nine lives. Meanwhile, Florence Pugh talks Goldilocks, the girl who tries to end him, which is kind of token behavior if you ask me.

The greatest presentation I have ever seen Matilda the musical was the virus Twitter snippet of the girls’ aggressive choreography. To be honest, I had thought this had already premiered, but here we are. It’s curious why Netflix hasn’t been promoting this as hard when so many reviews say it’s absolutely adorable! (And held its own with the top spot at the UK box office) Plus after an amazing performance in The king’s wife earlier this year, Lashana Lynch is shopping action for school books as Miss Honey, while Emma Thompson plays the role of Miss Trunchbull.

One of Tom Cruise’s best stunts of the year was getting Top Gun: Maverick to maintain such restraint in cinemas and ticket offices. While most movies have been released on streaming platforms a month after their theatrical debut, Maverick has stayed strong and stuck to a traditional publishing model. Now, almost seven months later, Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski’s sequel comes to Paramount+ just in time for the holidays. If you’re one of the two who hasn’t watched it yet, go ahead!

Available to stream on Paramount+

Director Sara Polley’s star-studded picture, which comes out this week, is one of the last possible Oscar-winning films of the year. But aside from the Oscar possibilities, Women talking has been hailed as a moving drama based on Miriam Toews’ novel of the same name. Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy and Frances McDormand star as women in a Mennonite colony who, after suffering horrific sexual abuse, discuss their next steps to survive.

Back when cable was in its prime, reruns of classic Christmas specials like Santa Claus is coming to town and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer (along with a Paul McCartney needle drop) would play over the holidays. Now it’s a little harder to get them if you don’t have them. Fortunately, Peacock has at least one of them. It’s really like a fever dream trying to recall the events narrated by this stop mailman from Fred Astaire, but this is a classic!

Nothing says the holidays like a new season Emily in Parée to close the mind. Diabetes? Food coma? The perfect soother for those post-holiday stressors, Lily Collins’ optimistic American in Paris tries to juggle work, love, and learning a new language for frantic seasons on end (okay, well, just three seasons). And even more impressively, Emily begins the third season by emotionally cutting her own teddy bear so you don’t have to! Thanks.

Can be streamed on Netflix

I remember flipping through our list of great value Hanukkah movies and specials Rugrats‘ a perfect holiday show. (American tail is also a great option that reminds me of my childhood, but as writer Rebecca Caplan points out, it’s not quite the cozy holiday feeling you’re probably chasing right now.) And seeing as how Christmas isn’t the only holiday going on right now, “A Rugrats Chanukah” is a fun choice for any family to tune in as the fun kids discover the true meaning (or evil) of Hanukkah.

Available to stream on Paramount+

Also! Read our streaming recommendations from the weekend of December 16. Vulture’s next weekend streaming list goes live on Thursday, December 29.


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