The last days of 2022 will feature some of the best content streaming services have to offer. Amazon Prime’s Being the Ricardos, along with Netflix’s Don’t Look Up and The Lost Daughter are all primary award season contenders. Mixed in with Oscar-worthy content is Jim Gaffigan’s ninth stand-up comedy special - Jim Gaffigan: Comedy Monster on Netflix, an HBO Max documentary about New York's "Shakespeare in the Park" and Disney Plus’ hotly anticipated The Book of Boba Fett. Here's what's coming up in the next week:
Reopening Night (HBO Max, Dec. 20)
The return of "Shakespeare in the Park" to New York’s Central Park in the summer of 2021 following its closure due to COVID-19 is the subject of Rudy Valdez’s latest documentary. The film follows the cast, crew and staff of New York’s Public Theater as they prepare to mount an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives in spite of the ongoing pandemic and a rainy July. The modern retelling of Shakespeare’s play features an all-Black cast and is set in South Harlem’s eclectic community of West African immigrants. The doc tells not only the 12-week journey to get Merry Wives to the stage, but it also examines the Black experience in theater.
Being the Ricardos (Amazon Prime, Dec. 21)
Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, two-hour biopic Being the Ricardos focuses on one significant production week of I Love Lucy, the hit sitcom that ran from 1951 to 1957. A week in which the show’s star Lucille Ball (played by Nicole Kidman) is accused of being a member of the communist party. Being the Ricardos also delves into Ball’s strained marriage to co-star Desi Arnaz (played by Javier Bardem) as well as the announcement of her second pregnancy. The fictional sitcom couple’s best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz are played by Nina Arianda and J.K. Simmons. Rotten Tomatoes aggregated Being the Ricardos at 72% among 155 critics review, with RogerEbert.com’s Tomris Laffly calling it "an imperfect yet vigorous and thoroughly entertaining quasi-biopic.”
Jim Gaffigan: Comedy Monster (Netflix, Dec. 21)
Just in time for Christmas, comedian Jim Gaffigan returns to Netflix with his ninth stand-up comedy special. Written, directed and performed by Gaffigan, Comedy Monster marks the Emmy winner’s sixth special currently available to watch on Netflix. The five others available for Netflix viewing include King Baby, Beyond the Pale, Mr. Universe Obsessed and Cinco. Gaffigan’s new material will touch on “the hot mess that was 2021,” marching bands and billionaires in space.
The Matrix Resurrections (HBO Max ad-free subscribers, Dec. 22)
In the fourth installment in the Warner Bros. sci-fi film franchise, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their respective roles as Neo and Trinity. Neither remembers each other or their pasts. The latest film in the 22-year-old "Matrix" franchise is directed by Lana Wachowski, who co-wrote the script with David Mitchell and Aleksander Hemon. Sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski created “The Matrix” franchise and wrote and directed the first three "Matrix" movies, which collectively grossed over $1 billion globally. The Matrix Resurrections also stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jessica Henwick.
Hawkeye: Season Finale (Disney Plus, Dec. 22)
Like Loki and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye is the latest Disney Plus Marvel series to feature six installments. Hawkeye arrived on the streaming service on Nov. 24 and takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Jeremy Renner stars at Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye). In the first season, he partners with Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) to confront enemies from the past in order to return to his family for the Christmas holiday. Rotten Tomatoes aggregated Hawkeye at 92% among 85 critics review, with Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times saying “thanks to the crisp writing and the easy chemistry between Renner and Steinfeld, Hawkeye could have the wings to fly for a long time.”
Dragons: The Nine Realms (Hulu and Peacock, Dec. 23)
The animated, six-episode How to Train Your Dragon spinoff series is set 1,300 years into the future, when dragons are now nothing more than legends to the modern world. When a geological anomaly opens up a miles-deep fissure in the Earth’s surface, scientists from all over the world gather at a new research facility to study the phenomenon. Soon, a group of misfit kids brought to the site by their parents, uncover the truth about dragons and where they’ve been hiding, which they must keep secret to protect what they’ve discovered. Jeremy Shada stars as Tom Kullersen. Julia Stiles, Marcus Scribner, Aimee Garcia, Ashley Liao, Lauren Tom, Keston John, Justina Machado and D’Arcy Carde also lend their voices to the Dreamworks Animation series.
Yearly Departed (Amazon Prime, Dec. 22)
The second installment of the Amazon comedy special will put a cap on 2021. The all-female lineup includes host and comedian Yvonne Orji, Jane Fonda, Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Meg Stalter (Hacks), Dulcé Sloan (The Daily Show), Aparna Nancherla (The Great North), X Mayo (The Daily Show) and Alessia Cara, who will deliver a musical send-off. Ignoring the climate crisis, Zoom and hermit life will be issues explored by this year’s “eulogists.” The inaugural Yearly Departed, which eulogized 2020, received a WGA Award nomination in the Comedy/Variety Specials category and won a Gracie Award.
Don’t Look Up (Netflix, Dec. 24)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play two astronomers who discover a planet-killing comet that’s hurtling toward Earth. When they warn government officials, including the President herself (played by Meryl Streep), nobody really seems to care. Indeed, sounds vaguely familiar to the government’s age-old response to climate change, doesn't it? It was actually climate change studies that made director Adam McKay want to make Don’t Look Up. He told The Guardian that the studies were “so stark and so terrifying that I realized, 'I have to do something addressing this.' So I wrote five different premises for movies, trying to find the best one ... I was just trying to find a way into, 'How do we communicate how insane this moment is?' So finally, I was having a conversation with my friend [journalist and Bernie Sanders adviser] David Sirota, and he offhandedly said something to the effect of, 'It’s like the comet’s coming and no one cares.' And I thought: 'Oh, I think that’s it.'" The film also features Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance, Jonah Hill and Ariana Grande.
The Book of Boba Fett (Disney Plus, Dec. 29)
In December 2020, following the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian, a new spinoff about the legendary "Star Wars" bounty hunter Boba Fett was teased. In the post-credits scene, Boba Fett (actor Temuera Morrison) visits the palace of infamous, corpulent, slug-like crime boss Jabba the Hutt, now overseen by his greasy sidekick, Bib Fortuna. Boba shoots all the inhabitants, then assumes Jabba’s throne, with sidekick bounty hunter Fennec Shand (actor Ming-Na Wen) by his side. Well, now the venerable “Beskar”-clad bounty hunter series is finally here. Morrison reprises his role as Fett and together with Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) they return to Tatooine, taking over the territory that once belonged to Jabba the Hutt. The Book of Boba Fett arrives just over two years after Disney unveiled ambitious plans to premiere 10 new Marvel series, 10 new "Star Wars" series, 15 series from Disney, Disney Animation and Pixar and 15 features from Disney, Disney Animation and Pixar.
Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer (Netflix, Dec. 29)
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger returns to direct Season 2 of Netflix’s Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer. The three-part docuseries follows Berlinger’s Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel, which was prominent on Netflix's daily top 10 lists when it premiered back in February. This time around, Berlinger investigates another seedy hotel in Manhattan’s Time Square in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The series follows the authorities as they hunt for a vicious serial killer who preyed upon sex workers operating within Times Square’s then-booming sex industry.
Cobra Kai Season 4 (Netflix, Dec. 31)
Before being a hit series on Netflix, Cobra Kai was YouTube original series that continued the story of the Karate Kid film franchise. In Season 4, Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang dojos join forces to take down the now totally-committed-to-evil Cobra Kai dojo at the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament. Whoever loses must hang up their gi. The first three seasons of the show have been a hit with fans and critics alike. Rotten Tomatoes aggregated the third season of Cobra Kai at 90% among 51 critics reviews. In February, the Washington Post’s Daniel W. Drezner wrote, “I’m still not convinced Cobra Kai is good. But it is awesome … What does Cobra Kai do so well? As near as I can figure, the show represents a rare alchemy of solid retconning and generational satire.” In August, Cobra Kai was renewed for fifth season.
The Lost Daughter (Netflix, Dec. 31)
Maggie Gyllenhaal wrote, directed and produced the drama, based on Elena Ferrante’s eponymous novel. The film stars Olivia Colman as Leda, a middle-aged woman vacationing alone and having flashbacks to her days as a young wife and mother. Both Gyllenhaal and Colman picked up Gotham awards for their work on the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September. Time Magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek said “To call The Lost Daughter an assured debut is to do it a slight disservice — assurance suggests that a filmmaker knows everything going in. What we see in The Lost Daughter is something greater: the act of discovery — of the gifts actors can bring to a story, of how to hold a complex narrative together — in progress. That’s what makes this movie so effective, so occasionally troubling, and so alive. Gyllenhaal lets us ride the learning curve with her.”
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