This week, a prestigious lineup of movies — new and old — are available to stream at home.
From Oscar-winning dramas and award-worthy adaptations, to the latest Marvel offering, there really is something for everyone this coming weekend.
Here's our pick of the best.
The Tragedy of Macbeth - Apple TV+
By some dark magic — perhaps forged in unison with the witches three — Joel Coen has made Shakespeare’s leanest play even leaner in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Running even shorter than many of the quickest readthroughs, it's an efficient re-staging of a story long considered the Bard’s most cinematic, without losing any of its evocative lustre nor its grim comedy.
In that sense it recognises audience familiarity with the text, not just as a play, but as a cinematic adaptation. So Coen leans into building a Macbeth adaptation that acts both as a new spin on the tale that also reflects on its cinematic past. It sets itself apart by having fairly older actors play the leading parts. With Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as the Macbeths, their doomed pursuit of power is now framed as a last gasp attempt to save an ailing marriage where the passion has long since died.
Watch a trailer for The Tragedy of Macbeth
With its boxy, academy ratio framing and digital black-and-white photography, viewers may immediately think of Orson Welles' 1948 Macbeth, something reinforced by McDormand’s steely performance as Lady Macbeth. The visual presentation of the witches as a single entity at first — in part — recalls Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood.
But it also distinguishes itself from its peers with incredible production design, with stark and minimalistic sets framed through German expressionist angles, conjuring a claustrophobic air that runs in opposition to the operatic sweep of Justin Kurzel’s 2015 adaptation. Coen’s version feels in conversation with a broad history but also feels wholly his own, the doomed ambitions of its protagonists and dark comedy feeling perfectly in step with his filmography. You could almost place this Macbeth in Burn After Reading.
Also on Apple TV+: Swan Song
The Father - Prime Video
Florian Zeller’s Oscar-winning debut feature The Father ia a sombre psychological drama that feels horrifyingly accurate in its depiction of dementia. Anthony (Sir Anthony Hopkins, who won Best Actor for his performance) is an ageing man who has driven away his carers, and refuses all assistance from his daughter as he deteriorates.
Read more: Everything coming to Prime Video in January
Anthony belligerently attempts to make sense of his changing circumstances, as he begins to doubt his loved ones (Olivia Colman was also Oscar-nominated as his daughter Anne) and his own mind. Zeller’s adaptation of his own play is terrifying in how information can be zapped away in a single cut. Time and reality is constantly slipping through Anthony’s fingers, and in turn ours, as Zeller shows the film through his subjective — and terrifyingly disorientating — perspective.
It’s tempting to dismiss something such as this as simplistic ‘Oscar bait’, but The Father is anything but.
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Prime Video
Though his films have become increasingly remembered for a supposed ‘tweeness’, Wes Anderson’s precisely choreographed works have only become darker with time. This is especially true of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a weary historical fiction that laments the scourge of fascism in 20th century Europe and its destruction of people and places.
That being said, it’s hardly dour, as it also stands among Anderson’s funniest. This is thanks, in part, to a supremely funny lead performance from Ralph Fiennes as Gustave H., the legendary concierge of the eponymous Grand Budapest Hotel. Gustave brings along a Lobby Boy (Spider-Man's Tony Revolori, a revelation) in a caper that involves a battle over an enormous family fortune, left to Gustave by a recently deceased lover.
The relationship between Gustave and the Lobby Boy that evolves over the course of the film is as amusing as it is genuinely heartwarming, and it's just one of many graceful notes that Anderson threads throughout his multilayered recounting of a fictional history.
It’s possibly his best work, and begins a trend of his films examining authoritarianism in fictional places around the world, of a piece with his most recent film The French Dispatch.
Also on Prime Video: Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, High Fidelity, Minimata (via IMDb TV)
Eternals - Disney+
In its better moments the action in the early stages of Eternals, directed by Nomadland's Chloé Zhao can resemble the work of Zack Snyder, when he focused on using the digital imagery to display Herculean feats of strength without forgetting the strain they require.
But like the other Marvel films that came before it, its CGI rendering frequently feels weightless. The writing of the characters fine, with some interesting angles hidden within, such as Sprite's (Lia McHugh) anger at being stuck in a perpetual childhood, or Kumail Nanjiani's Kingo and his Bollywood dance number.
Read more: Everything coming to Disney+ in January
Even with its impressive cosmic mythology, the film often tempers its more daring impulses with beats that have become cliché. Most of the Eternals’ action sequences seem to end with them heroically standing in a line, for example. The rest of the time the characters spend justifying their own existence within the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, explaining why they weren’t around to fight Thanos. For all that explaining though, the film struggles to actually embody the emotional weight of existing for such an unimaginable stretch of time, it only tells us about it.
There’s a love triangle at its centre (and Marvel’s first actual sex scene) but it lacks the warmth or heart of something like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, or the superheroic fetishism of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. This might be because the actors are all made to speak with the same subdued affectation, making a genuinely excellent cast feel like they’re bringing nothing to the table.
The posturing from the studio in the lead up to the film’s release suggested that they had brought in Zhao — best known for her Oscar winner Nomadland and her excellent drama The Rider — to make some kind of arthouse superhero movie. That absolutely isn’t the case here. This is still a superhero movie, albeit one with foundations built from Jack Kirby’s weirdest and arguably most uninteresting set of characters ripped from religious myth.
Zhao’s input is noticeable in that Eternals actually has some interesting textures to it and a use of actual location shooting over another Atlanta backlot, but it ends up being restricted to a series of empty landscapes to allow for more CG slugfests. That’s just one way in which a frustrating push-and-pull displays itself between Marvel’s house style and Zhao’s naturalistic aesthetic and anthropological narrative interests. It’s a shame to not see a film that feels entirely in Zhao’s hands, because that tension between her interests and Marvel’s leaves the film stranded, and ultimately, is prevented from doing enough to make the Eternals interesting to watch for this long a running time.
Also on Disney+: Gifted, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Watch: Kumail Nanjiana talks to Yahoo about his Eternals dance number