Movies Worth Streaming


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Since the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way movies are released and distributed these days, it’s important to remember that not all movies of note are in the local cineplex. Several films with serious Oscar aspirations are currently featured on various streaming services and worth your consideration.

•Leave the World Behind (R) is young auteur Sam Esmail’s adaptation of Rumaan Alam’s disturbing 2020 novel about an apocalyptic event that thrusts two families together to face their ugliest prejudices and fears. Those two families are the Sandfords (Clay and Amanda and their two kids, Archie and Rose) and the Scotts (father G.H. and daughter Ruth). The Sandfords are wealthy, privileged, and white, played by Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts, Charlie Evans and Farrah Mackenzie. They’ve rented a deluxe Airbnb on a Long Island beach for a relaxing weekend getaway. The Scotts are wealthy, accomplished and black, played by Mahershala Ali and Myha’la. They happen to own that deluxe beach house the Sandfords have rented. When something happens (A terrorist attack? A power grid failure? An invasion from space?) that suddenly destroys the everyday expectations of life as these people know it and they have to face who they really are underneath all their social pretensions – and it ain’t pretty. Netflix 

•Maestro (R) is Bradley Cooper’s biopic of famous composer Leonard Bernstein, the guy who wrote the iconic score to West Side Story among other notable theatrical productions. Like Oppenheimer, this is an impressionistic biography that attempts to give us a sense of the man rather than a conventional life story – and like Oppenheimer, Maestro grabbed a nomination for Best Picture (among several others). An Oscar nomination for Best Actress also went to Carey Mulligan in the role of Bernstein’s wife, Felicia, and a Best Actor nomination for Cooper, who gives us a wildly exuberant depiction and/or his inventive direction. And the music is, of course, classic. Netflix

May December (R). Director Todd Haynes is an Indie auteur with serious cred, so you can expect this dry, droll dramedy starring two powerhouse actresses (Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore) to be in discussion for awards consideration. Moore plays a woman patterned after tabloid sensation Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher who threw her career away to pursue a sexual affair with one of her junior high students. Portman is an actress who wants to “study” Moore in preparation for playing her in an upcoming movie about the scandal. Charles Melton is Moore’s erstwhile boy-toy-turned-husband, who seems trapped forever as a 13-year-old kid, despite being a father now himself. What happens between these three people is unexpected, twisted, and very Todd Haynes. Netflix

•Rustin (R) tells the story behind Martin Luther King’s historic 1963 March on Washington D.C., the one where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Production Company (they also produced Leave the World Behind, so they seem to be serious about the movie business), the story focuses on Bayard Rustin, a Civil Rights activist who was considered too dangerous and radical for many of the powers that were in the movement at that time because he was openly gay. Rustin is played by veteran character actor Colman Domingo, and to call this a career-defining performance might be underselling it – no surprise he earned a Best Actor nomination for the role. The supporting cast includes an A-list roster of Chris Rock, Audra McDonald, Jeffrey Wright, CCH Pounder, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Aml Ameen as MLK. Solidly directed by George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) from a screenplay by Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk). Netflix

•Society of the Snow (R) is a Spanish film that tells the story of the Uruguayan soccer team that crashed in the Andes in 1972. The lengths to which the survivors went to stay alive in brutal conditions was graphically depicted in the 1993 film Alive, which made the cannibalism the main course of the story. This telling focuses more on the characters and the sacrifices friends make for friends in extreme situations of life and death. This is grueling and harsh material, but it is handled with intelligence and compassion. Society earned an Oscar nom for Best International Feature. Netflix

Saltburn (R). Actress-director Emerald Fennel’s follow-up to her debut feature Promising Young Woman, which was an Oscar hit in 2020, earning five nominations, including Best Picture, and winning Fennel the award for Original Screenplay, is as dark a comedy as you are likely to see this side of a Monty Python skit – one of those from Meaning of Life, which really rubs our noses in the outrageous obscenity of the English aristocracy. Barry Keoghan, an Oscar nominee himself for last year’s The Banshees on Inisherin, stars as a conniving young hustler who worms his way into the manor of a family of blue-blooded twits. Think Downtown Abbey, rewritten by Stephen King. In a word, weird. Amazon Prime
In another lifetime, Mike Orlock wrote film reviews for the Reporter/Progress newspapers in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has also taught high school English, coached basketball and authored three books of poetry. He finished his two-year term as Door County’s poet laureate in early 2023.