Emily St. John Mandel’s award-winning 2014 novel about a global pandemic and its far-reaching aftermath experienced a bit of a resurgence in popularity in 2020—go figure. Now, HBO Max is premiering the first three episodes of its 10-episode adaptation. The series centers on survivor Kirsten (played as a child by Matilda Lawler and as an adult by Mackenzie Davis), as she witnesses the early days of the plague and, 20 years later, travels the post-apocalyptic country with a rag-tag band of Shakespearean actors. Early buzz suggests Station Eleven may be a late contender for one of the best shows of the year, thanks in part to direction by Hiro Murai (Atlanta) and its focus on resilience and hope. Premieres Dec. 16 on HBO Max.
Finding Magic Mike
Interestingly—in the broadest sense of that word—this docuseries executive produced by Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh set in the world of the real-life Las Vegas strip show based on the Magic Mike film franchise isn’t so much a salacious reality competition as a…portrait of men who want to change their lives? And get their groove back? By stripping? Ok, sure! Streaming Dec. 16 on HBO Max
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Tom Holland and Zendaya and Benedict Cumberbatch enter the Spider-Verse—or is it the multiverse now? The latest Spider-Man flick is sure to be a big loud flashy epic crowd pleaser, pulling in villains from most of the franchise’s previous iterations—and possibly some former Spider-Men as well? In theaters Dec. 17
Director Guillermo del Toro’s latest is a creepy noir drama set against the backdrop of a 1940s traveling carnival. Bradley Cooper stars as Stanton Carlisle, a con artist who manages to transition from the seedy world of sideshow performers to the upper echelons of New York society, where he meets a formidable psychiatrist (Cate Blanchette). Del Toro is a master of the magically macabre, and while there may not be any fish-men in Nightmare Alley, it’s sure to be a visual and atmospheric tour de force. In theaters Dec. 17
The Lost Daughter
For her feature directorial debut, Maggie Gyllenhaal has assembled a tremendous cast. Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Paul Mescal, Ed Harris and Peter Sarsgaard bring Elena Ferrante’s unflinching 2006 novel of maternal ambivalence to life. Colman stars as Leda, a divorced mother of two who becomes obsessed with a young mother (Johnson) and her family while on vacation, bringing up uncomfortable memories of her past. The film received a four-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival and has gotten near-universal critical acclaim. In select theaters Dec. 17; streaming Dec. 31 on Netflix.