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The best new movies to watch at home now

Viola Davis stars in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

As the challenges and delays for cinematic releases continue, there is still a wealth of exciting new movies you can watch from the comfort of your own living room. From star-studded thrillers to beautiful romantic dramas, here are the films to stream from home this season

Lifestyle

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

It’s Chicago in the 1920s, and legendary blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) is late to the recording studio where her tense, ambitious musicians, including trumpeter LeVee (Chadwick Boseman), wait. While Ma Rainey fights her white manager for control of her career, the musicians share stories of prejudice and self-worth. The story, the stars and the score all promise cinematic perfection, and it is a beautiful, and fitting, swansong for Boseman, following his death earlier this year. Available on Netflix from December 18

John Boyega plays policeman Leroy Logan in Red, White and Blue, the third episode in Steve McQueen’s five-part anthology, Small Axe

Small Axe

Steve McQueen’s five-part anthology tells of the racial injustices suffered by London’s West Indian community in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. From Mangrove (about the Notting Hill restaurant repeatedly raided by police, starring Letitia Wright as Black Panther leader Altheia Jones-LeCointe) to Red, White and Blue (featuring Star Wars actor John Boyega as policeman Leroy Logan), each film is heart-breaking in its depiction of discrimination, as well as a joyful celebration of friendship, family and culture. Available now on BBC One and iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video from November 20 in the US

Hillbilly Elegy

Based on the book by J.D. Vance about his upbringing in America’s Rust Belt, Ron Howard’s adaptation steers clear of political and cultural commentary and sticks with the family narrative. Glenn Close gives the performance of a lifetime (no small accolade, considering her body of work) as foul-mouthed family matriarch Mamaw, while Amy Adams meets her head on as her volatile, struggling daughter. At times poignant, often sentimental, both women give towering performances that will stay with you long after the film ends. Available on Netflix from November 24

Mank

A David Fincher release is always a milestone in the movie calendar, and this latest film from the Gone Girl director is no exception. Racking up five stars left, right and center, Mank reimagines the true story of Tinseltown enigma Herman J. Mankiewicz – the overlooked co-writer of Citizen Kane – as he wrangles recognition for his role in one of the most famous films of all time. It is pure Golden-age, monochromatic magic, with cameos from Amanda Seyfried, Tuppence Middleton and Charles Dance, to boot. Available on Netflix from December 4

Amanda Seyfried plays a young actor trying to make a name for herself in Hollywood, in David Fincher’s Mank

Wander Darkly

Imagine Sliding Doors meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a dose of Ghost and you’ll get Wander Darkly. Sienna Miller is a revelation in this psychological thriller directed by buzzy newcomer Tara Miele. Recovering from a traumatic accident, Adrienne (Miller) sees her life and the path not taken unfold as an out-of-body experience – with chilling consequences. This gripping drama twists and turns more than a rollercoaster and will have you second-guessing every scene. Available from December as a multi-platform release

Sienna Miller and Diego Luna star in Tara Miele’s gripping psychological thriller, Wander Darkly

The Prom

Ryan Murphy is back doing what Ryan Murphy does best: directing a glorious technicolor musical celebration of difference. This one, based on the Broadway hit, stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and James Corden as self-absorbed thespians in need of image rejuvenation, who descend on small-town Indiana to support a girl who wants to attend prom with her girlfriend. Kerry Washington takes them on as the head of the PTA. What it lacks in subtlety, it makes up in feel-good festive fun. Available on Netflix from December 11

Sylvie’s Love

This is the coming-of-age romance we all desperately need now. Tessa Thompson plays young Sylvie, working dead-end shifts in her father’s Harlem record store when an aspiring saxophonist (Nnamdi Asomugha) arrives and changes everything… Both actors are glorious as a star-crossed couple whose love stands the tests of time, fame and family. Director Eugene Ashe was a former musician, signed to Sony, so watch out for a great jazz score – not to mention the breathtakingly beautiful 1950s fashion. Available on Amazon Prime from December 25

Meryl Streep and James Corden are in celebratory mood in Ryan Murphy’s technicolor adaptation of Broadway hit The Prom

I am Greta

This documentary film about the prolific climate-change activist Greta Thunberg is equal parts revelatory and harrowing. This is a deep-dive not only into the teenager’s phenomenal journey – from her solo protest outside Swedish Parliament to speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York – but also a look at the potentially irreversible footprint we are leaving on the environment for future generations to inherit. Available on Hulu now

I Am Greta documents the incredible journey of prolific climate-change activist Greta Thunberg
Tiffany Boone stars as flight engineer Maya in George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky

The Midnight Sky

George Clooney’s latest directorial stint feels like it’s been on the boil for years, but it’s finally here and eerily topical, presenting a post-apocalyptic universe in which the earth has perished and space is the final frontier of freedom. The film follows Augustine (Clooney), a lonely scientist, as he tries to stop a group of astronauts, including Felicity Jones and Tiffany Boone (who recently played a young Mia in Little Fires Everywhere), from venturing back to a perilous earth. Expect an edge-of-your-seat, sci-fi spectacle that feels very close to home. Available on Netflix from December 23

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