Streamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and InterviewsStreamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and Interviews

The best movies to watch from now until the end of the year

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The year is winding down but there is no end in sight when it comes to movie options in theaters between now and the end of the year. In this week's episode of Streamed & Screened, Bruce Miller highlights more than a dozen films that range from family-friendly to other that will compete with "Oppenheimer," "Killers of the Flower Moon" and others for Oscar consideration.

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About the show

Streamed & Screened is a podcast about movies and TV hosted by Bruce Miller, a longtime entertainment reporter who is now the editor of the Sioux City Journal in Iowa and Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer for Lee Enterprises based in Madison, Wisconsin.

Episode transcript

Note: The following transcript was created by Headliner and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:

Terry Lipshetz: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Streamed & Screened, an entertainment podcast about movies and TV from Lee Enterprises. I'm Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer at Lee and co-host of the program with Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal, a longtime entertainment reporter, and hopefully well rested after our little Thanksgiving break.

Bruce Miller: Well rested? What do you mean well rested? I was watching movies during the whole break. They are stacking up like, uh, wood in my house. That's how many new movies we've got coming. And if you thought the year was done, you are absolutely wrong. There are so many new movies that are coming, I can't keep up with it. Even though I would like to say that we've seen the Best Picture so far this year, I think that could be wrong. I think we could be seeing one that could slip in there, and it'll be Best Picture.

Terry Lipshetz: Wow. Could the operative word.

Bruce Miller: That is the operative word.

Disney’s latest animated film ‘Wish’ underwhelms

Bruce Miller: I got to tell you, though, I went to the theater to see Wish, okay? And I was all ready. Yeah, I like cartoons. I really do. I like them, too. And I am all in with all that stuff. And when I saw this, I was so disappointed. It tries to be a tribute to all hundred years of the Disney Company. So it brings back concepts, kind of characters. Peter Pan floats through there somewhere, and there's, uh, just a sensibility of, how can we make another buck off this stuff? That's what I think wish is. Um, and you'll see characters that remind you of other characters. But I was disappointed because Christmas, you look forward to the big Disney movie that they put out there, and this isn't it. Even the songs are lame, really. So let it know.

Terry Lipshetz: I've seen the trailer and the first time I always get excited because I love Disney movies. I love classic animated Disney movies, and also the Pixar movies as well. I saw the trailer for Wish, and my first reaction was that this looks just there was nothing about it that grabbed me, and it felt old. I don't know. There was something about it. I don't know what it was, but I looked at it and know, I feel like I've seen this story a hundred times before. Maybe I haven't, but I don't just that's just the initial reaction I had.

Bruce Miller: It takes place on the Mediterranean, and the castle looks vaguely like the one from The Little Mermaid, but, you know, they had trouble with that because, uh, some disgruntled animator drew something that wasn't exactly a seashell, shall we say. And so the idea that they would reference that somehow visually with this is just a real oh, okay. And the part that Chris Pine plays, he's the kind of the king of this odd world, and he is the keeper of Wishes.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay?

Bruce Miller: And the guy can sing. That's the thing we learned from this is that Chris Pine can sing. So good news. But the songs that he's singing are like, really? Is this really what you want to be singing about? And he's got an apprentice, Asha, who is voiced by Ariana DeBose, and she wants to push the agenda for her grandfather, who's turning 100. And she wants his wish to be approved. But this king decides that he doesn't want to grant all the wishes. He wants to keep the power to himself. Now, there's a political message in this somehow. Um, and I wouldn't doubt that there was a hidden Disney versus Ron DeSantis message lurking somewhere in there too, but it's just I don't know. And when you see these friends who are the seven dwarves, you think, well, what was that all about? Why are they doing those kind of stupid things? So wish was not what I was wishing for. Wish didn't come up to the level, and I don't dare talk too much about it, but at Christmas time, there are going to be some other family films that I think are much more appropriate, more fun, and dad and mom won't have to worry about, oh, uh, what are they trying to say with this thing? And how do we unpack it more there to be seen.

‘May December’ is a fascinating look at family dynamics over the holidays

Bruce Miller: The other odd thing I noticed over the holidays in looking at, I swear, I must have seen ten or 15 movies, is there's a lot of kind of worry about families and what does family mean? May December? Is this kind of based on the Mary Kay Letourneau case where she married a younger, uh, he was a student.

Terry Lipshetz: Her student, right? Yeah.

Bruce Miller: But this is not their story. It's just kind of inspired by, if you will, and it shows what the relationship is like much later in their lives. And a woman comes to their home because she's doing a, ah, role based on this, and she wants to see what the relationship is all about. Natalie Portman plays the actress, and Juliana Moore, um, is the Mary Kay Letourneau part, but the one to watch for, and he won a Gotham Award, is Charlie Melton, who plays the young man in an older age and, um, what he's like with his wife and his children. And it's fascinating. It's fascinating. You understand that maybe he was the one who suffered the most in the situation. But it's May December, and that's an interesting thing about family dynamics. All of us Strangers is another interesting kind of unpacking. And this is a bunch of, oh, what do I want to call it? Uh, it's a fantasy of sorts. Because you're wondering what happens or what happened that this man is talking to his parents who are dead. It's very Sixth Sense in that respect. And he asks them questions about things and it's can you talk to your parents? Or somebody that's important to you in your life is gone? And can they advise you about your life. Very, very fascinating. But I don't know that it'll catch on with everybody.

‘Saltburn’ is a film that explores family dynamics

Bruce Miller: Paul Mescal is in there as a romantic interest for Andrew Strong, I believe it is. Andrew Strong is the guy whose parents are there. And Claire Foy and Jamie Bell play the parents. Now, they're younger than Andrew, but you see he has a relationship with this guy and he's going to talk to his parents about this relationship. And it's fascinating to see how that is unpacked. Saltburn is another family relationship thing. Have you heard about Saltburn?

Terry Lipshetz: No, I haven't.

Bruce Miller: Emerald Fennell or fennel or however you want to pronounce it, uh, who won an Oscar for promising young woman shows. This young man going to Oxford and he's from not a wealthy family. And he goes to Oxford and he sees that there really is a clannishness there to all of the people who go to Oxford. And this rich kid, played by Jacob O'Lordy, is nice to him. But then he returns the favor and lets him borrow his bike when Jacob's bike breaks down. And that gets them talking and becoming friends. And the rich kid invites the poor kid to come and spend the summer at his house because, ah, his dad is supposedly dead and his mother know she has problems, issues. And so he said, well, come and spend the summer with us. We'll have lots of fun at Saltburn. That's the name of their house. Well, the house is incredible. It's like something you'd see out of Downton Abbey or whatever. And the people who are there are crazy. His family crazy, the hangars on crazy. And it all kind of comes together about what does family mean? How do you create a family? Is there a family? What do you do if your family is against you? And what if you lie? It's very fascinating film that I think is going to get a lot of attention in this follow up during um, the Christmas season.

Several big family films coming out on Christmas Day

Bruce Miller: And then the other one that's a big family film is The Color Purple. That's coming out on Christmas Day. And that's a musical version of Color Purple. Um, it was a big musical a number of years ago and didn't really go anywhere. And then they brought it back to Broadway by stripping it down. Instead of having huge sets and lots of costumes, they did it with chairs. And Cynthia Rebo was in it. And she wanted Tony. The Thing won a Tony for best revival. And now they've taken all of that and decided to turn that into a movie. Oprah, who was in the original Color Purple movie, is one of the producers. Steven Spielberg is a producer. Quincy Jones is a producer. And Fantasia Barino, who was, um, an American Idol winner, she was in the original musical version of Color Purple. I know this is confusing and she's now starring in this and obviously can be an Oscar nominee but it shows how she warmed to her family and how her love for her sister kept her going during some very dark times. So family becomes a real interesting kind of thing. But those aren't the films that people are talking about for Best Picture. Maestro. Maestro is the thing you've got to look out for with Bradley Cooper and Carrie Mulligan. And, um, this is about Leonard Bernstein and his career. And it just takes a couple of small moments in his life that are kind of focused and you get to see what he was like and what the family dynamic was all about. And that is getting more buzz than you can imagine. I mean, I keep hearing about it all the time. Poor Things is another interesting one with Emma Stone, who they say is possibly going to be best actress. Um, and it's a Frankenstein kind of film where she is brought back to life and then she has to deal with all the things that happened as a result of that. Interesting, Willem Dafoe plays the doctor who brings her back to life. Oh, nice. Uh, Ruffalo is the man who marries her and brings her into the know American. Um, fiction is another one that's getting a lot of buzz. Jeffrey Wright is in that. And this is about a black writer who writes a book with all of these kind of clichés, for lack of a better term, anti-black stuff. And it becomes a huge hit. And he has to reconcile, how do I deal with this when I'm doing something that's against my own best interests? Um, and that's another one that people are talking about. There's one that I think grandma will love called The Boys in the Boat. And there's one of those ones that either, uh, Clint Eastwood comes up with or somebody in the background that you say, really, what was this all about? But it's one where you think, ah, I might like that. It's green book all over. But this is about a 1936, uh, rowing team.

Terry Lipshetz: Oh, right, yeah.

Bruce Miller: And directed by George Clooney. And it's their kind of story. And it's very simple. It isn't one that you're going to go, oh, and then the Nazis were right there. It isn't like that. It's just can they do it? And it's a Rocky story come from. And Rocky, if you may remember, was one of those Christmas films that people thought, uh, this is not going to win anything. This isn't anything. And it beat all the films that they were talking about for the whole year. All the President's Men network. Those were all the big kind of buzzwords during that period. And Rocky came out at Christmas and blew. Everybody.

Terry Lipshetz: Saw because I just went with my family. We saw, uh, the Hunger Games prequel, um, right before Thanksgiving. And one of the trailers they showed was Boys in the Boat. And I'm sitting there watching this trailer and thinking, like, I really want to see this because I love inspirational sports movies to begin with. But as you said, the comparison of Rocky, it felt like kind of a Rockyish type story where you've got this group, they are the underdogs. They're going up against heavyweights in collegiate rowing. And then of course, you've got, uh, the Nazi Germany of the time and the Olympic competition. So it seems like a real fascinating one and one that I definitely would like to get out and see.

Bruce Miller: There's a documentary out about it that's been around, but this is a fictionalized version and I think those are more accessible for most people. They're ones that you can really kind of latch onto and say, ah, that's interesting. So I would tend to think it'll do well at Christmas. I m don't know that it'll necessarily be nominated for best picture, but I do think it's one that Grandma is going to say, I'd like to see that boat that looks like, uh, a good movie for me. I get a lot of stuff in the mail and it's like reminders that you should look at this one more time. Creed three.

Movies released earlier in the year getting some additional Oscar buzz

Bruce Miller: Speaking of Rocky, they're pushing like crazy and I didn't is that on my list? No. The Margaret movie. Uh, is it you? God. It's me, Margaret, something like that. Long title that's coming back with a vengeance. And you'll see that, uh, Rachel McAdams is clearly being talked about as a best supporting actress candidate. But they're pulling those things into the Spider verse or, uh, what is it out of? What's the correct name for the new version? Across the spider.

Terry Lipshetz: Across the Spider-Verse. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Spider-Verse, yes.

Bruce Miller: Um, is also getting a huge push. Air is back with a vengeance. In fact, I think I got a cassette player from them that know if you want to listen to the music from Air, here you go. Barbie, uh, is back with a vengeance. There are a lot of things that are Barbie, um, Oppenheimer.

Terry Lipshetz: Oppenheimer is on streaming now, I think, or just about to be. Yeah.

Bruce Miller: Uh, they are doing a big push too. So those are all ones that are making, um, an impact. The iron claw. I think it's called the iron claw. The wrestling movie that is going to be a surprise because it's got great performances in it. And you go Zac Efron. Really hold your breath because you'll be ready for something that's real interesting. And it's got Jeremy White.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah.

Bruce Miller: So come on.

Terry Lipshetz: From the bear.

Bruce Miller: From the bear. If you're in the bear, you got to be good.

Terry Lipshetz: He's cooking up something new, right?

Bruce Miller: Easy. He is cooking up something new. Is that a wrestling term? I think it is. There are screen, uh, biographies. Priscilla, which is about Priscilla Presley. That'll be big. Rustin, which is about the civil rights leader. That'll be big. So it's a lot of stuff that I'm looking at that thinking, hmm, m. And I haven't even scratched surface of the foreign language films. There's, uh, a ton of ones from Asia. A ton. And they could actually factor, uh, into the final round of you know, I started out at the beginning of the year with a list of the best films that I thought would be in the mic. And as I go along, there are so many new films that are coming in at the last minute that start bumping something off the list, and you go, wow, I didn't realize that. But what I did do was I had relatives, and I said to the relatives, okay, you need to go to the movies while I look at other things. And so I want you to go see something in the theater where you can really experience what this is all about. And I push them off to the holdovers because I think that really holds up, and it's something that I dare tell them about, and they don't go, oh, that was just terrible. You pick the worst movies if you like a movie. I know I'm going to hate the movie. So I had to have something that worked with it, and they loved it. They were raving about the holdovers, and maybe that's got the legs to hang in there for the rest of the year, I don't know. But I think what we're learning at this time, it ain't over till it's over.

Terry Lipshetz: It sounds like a lot of really good options here. Now, how many of these have you been able to screen so far?

Bruce Miller: Well, it was between ten or 15.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: And I sit at night, uh, and it's so unfair, because all year long you wait for something good, and this is like, good, good, great, incredibly good. And you've gone the whole year without seeing something that really trips some kind of trigger in you to make you want to see it, and you want to see it again. You want to see it a second time. But it depends on how I might see it. I might see it in theater, I might see it on my big screen TV. I might see it on my laptop. I have even watched things on my phone because that's how they send you the thing. Uh, so you get different in different ways, but it's like a quick run to see how good it is, and then if it's really good, you'll watch it a second time just to make sure that you've got all of the ducks in a row.

Terry Lipshetz: So did you get a chance to see poor things? Is that one of the ones that you have been able to screen yet?

Bruce Miller: I haven't. And it's one of those you know how you have it's like a, uh, carrot at the end of a yeah. And if you get through this, you can see that. And I haven't gotten to that okay.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. Because I'm curious because you mentioned Mark Ruffalo is in it. I love him. He's just a tremendous actor. But I always feel like he's always yelling. He's always getting worked up about something and yelling at I just I was curious if he's yelling at all the movie, because he always seems agitated.

Bruce Miller: Well, he's the Hulk.

Terry Lipshetz: That's right.

Bruce Miller: Exactly. But I'll watch it before next week. I'll make sure do that so that then I can tell you if it's happening. And Christmas movies. There's Christmas movies all over the place. Eddie Murphy's got one. Tim Allen is back as Santa Claus in that TV series. Yeah. Beyonce is back in her concert, uh, tour.

Terry Lipshetz: That's right.

Bruce Miller: Taylor Swift's thing has added more to the three plus hours that they had. So if you go on her birthday, you'll be able to see an even longer Taylor Swift concert movie.

Terry Lipshetz: Oh, boy.

Will ‘Wonka’ be a big hit movie to finish the year?

Terry Lipshetz: So the one that I'm curious about and my family's curious about is Wonka. Is that going to be any good?

Bruce Miller: How much can I tell you? Because technically, I can't review it yet.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: It isn't time. But it is a visual treat in terms of, like, the sets, the costumes, all of that kind of stuff. The people who did Paddington Two are behind this. Um, and Timothy Chalamet, I think, will surprise you as Willy Wonka.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: I don't know. Personally, I would cast him as Willy Wonka, but you find what his origin story is and how did he get this? Chocolate factory? Maybe.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. Well, maybe that's one, since you can't quite review it yet, maybe as we get closer, once you can, we can talk about that one in relation to the original, the one with Gene Wilder, uh, as well as the reboot that was done with, uh, Johnny Depp a number of years ago. Because I think both of those movies, they're so opposite of each other in so many different ways, but they're fascinating.

Bruce Miller: Yeah. This is, uh, a better fit for the Gene Wilder one.

Terry Lipshetz: That's kind of what I thought it felt. Know, visually, it's updated because you have the benefit of improved filmmaking techniques. But it felt like and they have the song. Yeah.

Bruce Miller: They get to have the song in. I hope that's not a spoiler alert. But the song is there, so you'll get to enjoy, um I sang a lot. Who doesn't? It's a great song. But I'm, uh, sure you've seen the ads where Hugh Grant is an Oompa Loompa.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: And you find that origin story, too, which is okay.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay. All right. Well, I'm looking forward to that one.

Bruce Miller: I think, um, Wonka could be one of those ones that at Christmas time, it will be seen over and over and over and over.

Terry Lipshetz: Wow. Perfect.

Some of these Disney animated movies are not living up to the past

Terry Lipshetz: Kind of going back to the top of this episode when we're talking about Disney movies, and there's been a lot and this is in relation to Wish, which is out. It did come out this past weekend, it did not do well at the theater at all. And I kind of mentioned it just looked like one where uh, do I even want to see it? And I'm going back through the list of recent Disney movies and I'm looking at it and you know, like Zootopia I enjoyed it. Finding dory. I enjoyed it. Moana, I enjoyed it. Coco, I enjoyed it. And I liked incredibles too. But kind of after that it really starts taking a turn. Some of them are okay. I didn't mind Toy Story Four. Frozen Two was fine, but Onward was okay. Luca was okay. Ryan the Last Dragon was like, they were okay. But none of them felt like classics in my just even know I know a lot of people talked about it because of the song. It was one of those where I remember watching it and I kind of fell asleep while watching it. So I don't know, I really feel like some of these Disney animated movies are not living up to the past.

Bruce Miller: I think they kind of are searching for they did have people in place who were very well versed at doing this kind of stuff and they would stop somebody and say, no, we're not going to do that. And I think now they're so eager to find something that they greenlight stuff that shouldn't be.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah.

Bruce Miller: Ah, they have been using, um, short subjects as their way to test the market to kind of see if a concept works. And they have done well with that. But they're already talking frozen. Three, four and five.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah.

Bruce Miller: Do we need that many? I don't think we do, no.

Terry Lipshetz: But now it's a franchise so you can go back to it. I heard something about like a Toy Story Five is on tap now. It's like, do we really need another Toy Story? Especially after Lightyear kind of tanked.

Bruce Miller: But it's probably the, um, Marvel influence. Where Marvel? How many do they have?

Terry Lipshetz: Right?

Bruce Miller: And they're struggling. They don't know where they're headed. But I think when you go back to the well too many times the well dries up.

Terry Lipshetz: It does. Absolutely.

Bruce Miller: And in this come on, at the end of it, there's fireworks.

Terry Lipshetz: Spoiler.

Bruce Miller: Um alert. I'm telling you right now, there are fireworks at the end of the movie.

Terry Lipshetz: Mhm.

Bruce Miller: And what do the fireworks create? The head of Mickey Mouse. Uh, now is this something we should be seeing? No, it should not be in there. I'm sorry. Those are hidden Mickeys that you should find, not crash into. And I get that it's a hundredth anniversary of the Disney Company, but you don't have to do a retrospective where everything is and it's too bad because Ariana DeBose is a great talent and she should have been a Disney princess. And I don't know that this is the best Disney princess for her to be. There's a cute goat in this named Valentino oh, yeah. And he's worth, um, a stuffed animal. But the star the Star, have you seen it? It looks like Pokemon.

Terry Lipshetz: It's very disturbing. Yeah.

Bruce Miller: Right. And you go, what is this bit in this? I'm not up for that. Uh, or like the star that was in the More, you know, do you remember those from morning cartoons where the star would be like yes, and it would be and that's what it is. And I think you could do a little better on the star. I think I could. The Star.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: So that's what you learn over the holidays is that there are a lot of movies out there that underperform and some that you never heard of that are going to be big, over performers. So be ready, because now you're going to see instead of one movie and ten screens, you're going to see probably ten different movies on those ten screens. And I think you need to be a savvy consumer, knowing what you're getting into before you just jump into it. Just because it's from a company that you've trusted in the past doesn't mean necessarily they'll have things like from the people who sat you in the seats for whatever.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: That's an usher. Yeah, somebody who ushered me into the theater. I should but that's that's about how thin it is from one of the producers, uh, or from a second, uh, tier. Yeah. I don't know. Where is Alan Menken? Is he not writing songs anymore? Come on, get out there. Write a song for us. It's there, but I think after the holidays, we've had this kind of like, okay, now what? Now what is good? I promise there are good movies that are coming that you will want to see. So carve out some time between now and Christmas, because you're going to get them each week. They'll be dropping into your theaters and be ready for them because they're remarkable. And, Saltburn, if you consider yourself a film buff and you want to see something that's different and interesting, it is very much on par with something like Psycho.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: Uh huh. You go, this is not at all what I thought this was going to be. And it surprises you. And so I would get to something like that before everybody knows what the secret is.

Terry Lipshetz: Perfect. Yeah, no, that sounds good. I mean, like a 6th sense, almost, where you don't want the cat out of the bag. Exactly.

Terry Lipshetz: All right, well, on that note, a lot of good options here. Saltburn. You got the color purple, maestro. Poor things. Boys in the boat. The Iron Claw. A lot of options here. So get out to the theater and check something out. A lot of good stuff to do in the next few weeks as the temperatures turn and you need to get.

Bruce Miller: Out of the house. Next week, we're going to turn to TV. I'm going to talk about some things that are kind of interesting now because they're ramping up the TV. People are going to be in full force by January, and you'll start seeing new shows in February, and there's some that they're bringing back to try and remind you of how good they really were. So I have an interview for you next week, and we're, um, turning to TV next week, so get ready. No more shopping.

Terry Lipshetz: No more shopping. All right, thanks again for listening to another episode of streamed and screened.

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