Two huge movies hit multiplexes this areek: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge and the big screen Baywatch reboot. But don’t worry if salty sea dogs and super-fit lifeguards aren’t really your thing, because we’ve rounded up 10 pretty varied alternatives.
1. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU APPRECIATE COSTUME DRAMA WITH A TOP-CLASS CAST
After opening in U.K. theaters two years ago, this adaptation of Irène Némirovsky‘s best-selling novel finally premieres in the U.S. tonight on Lifetime. Set during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, Suite Française follows an improbable and potentially dangerous romance between a married French villager (Michelle Williams) and the German soldier who hijacks her home (The Danish Girl‘s Matthias Schoenaerts). It’s an elegant and restrained drama elevated by memorable performances from Luther‘s Ruth Wilson, a pre-Suicide Squad Margot Robbie, and venerable British thesps Kristin Scott Thomas, Eileen Atkins, and Harriet Walter.
2. WHAT TO WATCH EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU’VE SEEN IT ALREADY
British viewers have already enjoyed a 10-minute mini-sequel to Love Actually. But the tweaked American version airing Thursday as part of NBC’s Red Nose Day Live telecast features previously unseen footage: Laura Linney reprises her role as lonely graphic designer Sarah, while Patrick Dempsey pops up as a brand new character. Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Liam Neeson are all back too, of course. Don’t pretend you’ve never really “got” the whole Love Actually thing; at this stage, trying to resist Richard Curtis‘ enduringly popular rom-com is futile.
3. WHAT TO WATCH TO BANISH THOSE MONDAY BLUES
Carpool Karaoke has become an undeniable pop culture phenomenon: how many late-night skits get their own hour-long spin-offs? After last year’s Primetime Special collected an Emmy, CBS has lined up an equally exciting sequel featuring Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, and the promise of a big musical opening number from James Corden. Airing tonight, it sounds like a blast, and part of the fun will be seeing it in real-time before the best bits go viral afterward.
4. WHAT TO LISTEN TO IF YOU COULD USE SOME WEST COAST SUNSHINE IN YOUR LIFE
The L.A. band comprising sisters Alana, Este and Danielle Haim enticed us with 2013’s excellent debut album, Days Are Gone. “Want You Back,” the first track released from this summer’s follow-up set Something to Tell You, continues their charm offensive. Featuring shimmering vocal harmonies and a soaring chorus, it’s another instantly catchy slab of sun-dappled pop-rock. Fleetwood Mac is a definite influence, but this feels both fresh and familiar, a winning combination.
5. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU WANT A PROPER HOLLYWOOD MOVIE EXPERIENCE AT HOME
If industry rumors are to be believed, this satirical war film premiering Friday could be Netflix’s most expensive title yet. Based on a true story exposed by journalist Michael Hastings, War Machine stars Brad Pitt as a Four-Star General who makes a calamitous (and rather arrogant) mistake while trying to end America’s war in Afghanistan. Animal Kingdom‘s David Michôd directs a formidable ensemble cast which also includes Oscar winners Ben Kingsley and Tilda Swinton. It certainly sounds fancier than Netflix’s Adam Sandler movies, but will the hefty investment pay off?
6. WHICH BRIGHT YOUNG THING TO ADD TO YOUR TWITTER FEED
If you don’t know the name Awkwafina yet, it’s safe to presume you will do. The difficult-to-pigeonhole New Yorker — she raps, she acts, and she’s really funny — has landed a plum role opposite Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock in next year’s heist spin-off Ocean’s Eight. She’s also due to star alongside Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘s Michelle Yeoh in the upcoming comedy film Crazy Rich Asians. Follow her now, while she’s rising to the top, for lots of pithy observations on pop culture, politics, and the contradictions of modern life.
7. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH OF BRYAN CRANSTON
Despite pairing Bryan Cranston with Jennifer Garner, this intriguing film is getting a low-key release Friday through video on demand. The Breaking Bad actor plays Howard Wakefield, a man with a seemingly idyllic lifestyle who inexplicably vanishes one day, leaving his wife (Garner) and family behind. While they fret for his safety, he’s actually building a secret existence in the attic above their garage, scavenging food by night and watching over his loved ones by day. Featuring a typically fine-tuned performance from Cranston, this is a strange and bracing meditation on the human need to escape.
8. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU’VE OVERLOOKED IT IN THE PAST
Despite lots of positive reviews and Emmy nominations for stars Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline has never become one of Netflix’s buzziest shows. That’s a shame, because the Florida-set drama about a tight-knit but duplicitous family is a slow-burning treat: its complex characters and clever plot twists eventually grip you like a clenched fist. Premiering Friday, this 10-episode third season is confirmed to be the last, so a binge-watch of the whole thing is very manageable. If you’re looking for a new TV project, Bloodline could be the one.
9. WHAT TO LISTEN TO IF YOU’VE NEVER YET MADE IT TO COACHELLA
Last month, Lana Del Rey shared a snippet of a new song she “felt compelled” to write on her way back from Coachella, the annual music and arts festival in southern California. Now she’s released a finished version of the song, which turns out to be a low-key beauty. As with most Lana tunes, it moves at a glacial pace, but her wistful melodies and ruminative lyrics referencing Led Zeppelin and Woodstock are gently but assuredly intoxicating.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO WATCH AS YOU FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER
The original Dirty Dancing starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey remains incredibly beloved, so ABC’s three-hour remake premiering Wednesday faces an uphill struggle. Abigail Breslin slips on her dancing shoes to play Baby Houseman, the shy 17-year-old who falls for a charismatic dance instructor (rising star Colt Prattes) while enduring a dull family vacation in the Catskills. Debra Messing, Nicole Scherzinger, and Katey Sagal add star power in supporting roles — and we’ll hear new versions of classic tunes like “Do You Love Me” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” But if viewers don’t have the times of their lives, you can bet they’ll (hate) tweet about it.
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