We list the must-watch titles on Disney Plus!
10. JOJO RABBIT
What we think: Loved this one, but then Taika Waititi is a personal favourite. He won an Oscar for Adapted Screenplay for this one. Yes, it is irreverent, but it is not meant to be taken seriously, although there are some life messages within. This is a WW II satire that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, played by Waititi, of course, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism. There’s a talented ensemble cast attached to this one, which includes Scarlett Johansson aka, to all Avenger fans, Natasha Romanoff.
Director: TAIKA WAITITI
Cast: TAIKA WAITITI, SCARLETT JOHANNSON, ROMAN GRIFFIN DAVIS, THOMASIN MCKENZIE, SAM ROCKSELL, REBEL WILSON
9. THE FAVOURITE
What we think: Olivia Colman is at her most brilliant in this historical drama, and deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar in 2019. Colman stars as frail Queen Anne, who occupies the throne in 18th century England, but her close friend Lady Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough, governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man or politics stand in her way. But there’s a saying about tangled webs and getting what you wish for, which becomes quite evident as the story unfolds. And, to add some trivia, Sarah Churchill was indeed an ancestor of Winston Churchill.
Director: YORGOS LANTHIMOS
Cast: OLIVIA COLMAN, EMMA STONE, RACHEL WEISZ, NICHOLAS HOULT, JOE ALWYN, MARK GATISS
8. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
What we think: This outstanding drama brought Best Actor Oscars for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell, and deservedly so. McDormand must be one of the most outstanding actresses of our time and she excels here as Mildred Hayes who, after months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon, with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated. Lucas Hedges, who stars as Mildred’s son, is certainly a young actor to watch.
Director: MARTIN MCDONAGH
Cast: FRANCES MCDORMAND, LUCAS HEDGES, SAM ROCKWELL, WOODY HARRELSON, JOHN HAWKES, PETER DINKLAGE, CALEB LANDRY JONES, ABBIE CORNISH
7. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
What we think: Based on a real story, this drama has two talented young women in the cast who are popping up everywhere at the moment in Elizabeth Olsen and Julia Garner. Olsen stars as Martha, a run-away from an abusive hippie-like cult where she was living as Marcy May for two years. She turns to her sister and brother-in-law who take her in and want to help her. The problem is Martha is having a hard time separating dreams from reality and when haunting memories of her past keep resurfacing, she may need more help than anyone is able to give her.
Director: SEAN DURKIN
Cast: ELIZABETH OLSEN, SARAH PAULSON, HUGH DANCY, JOHN HAWKES, JULIA GARNER, MARIA DIZZIA, CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT
What we think: Based on a true story, Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for an Oscar in 2016 for her role as Joy Mangano, who has always been fascinated by creating things, but feels that lack of practical support has led to others making fortunes on her ideas. Joy decides to make some changes in her life and expects the unquestioning practical support of her family, which she doesn’t always get. But she will also have to battle the narrow minds of business executives in marketing her product. Today, Mangano is the creator and producer of USA Network’s America’s Big Deal, a live shopping competition series. She holds more than 100 patents and has created other household products like Huggable Hangers and My Little Steamer.
Director: DAVID O. RUSSELL
Cast: JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ROBERT DE NIRO, BRADLEY COOPER, EDGAR RAMIREZ, DIANE LADD, VIRGINIA MADSEN, ISABELLA ROSSELLINI
What we think: In this 2014 Best Picture Oscar-winner, Michael Keaton stars as actor Riggan Thomson, who is most famous for his movie role from over twenty years ago of the comic book superhero Birdman in the blockbuster movie of the same name. His association with the role took over his life, where Birdman is more renowned than the actor. Now past middle age, Riggan is trying to establish himself as a true artist by writing, directing, starring in, and co-producing with his best friend Jake what is his Broadway debut. The play is fraught with problems, but the biggest one of all is Riggan’s own insecurities, which are manifested by him constantly hearing what he believes to be the truth from the voice of his Birdman character. This would have to be one of Keaton’s best performances.
Director: ALEJANDRO G. INARRITU
Cast: MICHAEL KEATON, ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, EMMA STONE, EDWARD NORTON, ANDREA RISEBOROUGH, NAOMI WATTS, AMY RYAN
4. THE FRENCH DISPATCH
What we think: This is a story by Roman Coppola, son of Francis, directed by Wes Anderson. It will not appeal to all, but it is from Wes so one must never expect the mundane. There is a lot going on here visually. In short, it is a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city, with an all-star ensemble cast attached, led by Bill Murray as editor-in-chief Arthur Howitzer Jr. Three main articles unfold, pivoting around tormented genius artists, statuesque prison officers, flamboyant critics, moody idealists, conflicted ace reporters, legendary chefs, and the police.
Director: WES ANDERSON
Cast: BILL MURRAY, BENICIO DEL TORO, ADRIEN BRODY, TILDA SWINTON, LEA SEYDOUX, FRANCES MCDORMAND, TIMOTHEE CHALAMET, MATHIEU AMALRIC, OWEN WILSON
3. IN & OF ITSELF
What we think: If the first thing you notice about this documentary is that it is about magic, and you may not be into that genre, put that aside. This is a remarkable film. Storyteller and Conceptual Magician Derek DelGaudio attempts to understand the illusory nature of identity and answer the deceptively simple question ‘Who am I?’ His one-man show enjoyed a lengthy Off-Broadway run between 2017 and 2018. There is magic, but there is also an autobiographical twist that grows more awe-inspiring as the show progresses. It is quite extraordinary.
Director: FRANK OZ
Cast: DEREK DELGAUDIO
2. NIGHTMARE ALLEY
What we think: In this excellent Oscar-nominated drama, directed by Guillermo del Toro, Bradley Cooper is at his best as hustler Stan, who burns down his home and takes a job as a carny with a traveling carnival. He also works with clairvoyant act “Madame Zeena” and her alcoholic husband, Pete. He and Zeena warn Stan not to ever use these skills otherwise people get hurt. Stan becomes attracted to fellow performer Molly and approaches her with an idea for a two-person act away from the carnival, risking everything he has worked towards. This is a disturbing film at times, but it is definitely one of the best for 2021 with a talented cast attached.
Director: GUILLERMO DEL TORO
Cast: BRADLEY COOPER, CATE BLANCHETT, ROONEY MARA, TONI COLLETTE, WILLEM DAFOE, DAVID STRATHAIRN
1. WEST SIDE STORY (2021)
What we think: There was great excitement back in 1961 surrounding that version of West Side Story as it was thought to be quite a ground-breaking musical set in Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1957. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation is a little different in that actors of South American descent are used in those roles and several of the tunes are recorded live. Against the backdrop of the decaying tenements in the San Juan Hill neighbourhood and the constant threat of the wrecking ball, two warring gangs, tough Riff’s Jets and swaggering Bernardo’s Puerto Rican Sharks, fight for supremacy. With a winner-takes-all rumble on the cards, an unexpected whirlwind romance at the high-school dance between former Jet brawler Tony and Bernardo’s delicate little sister María sets the stage for an all-out turf war. Ariana DeBose won an Oscar for her role as Anita, originally played by Rita Moreno, who also stars in this version as Valentina.
Director: STEVEN SPIELBERG
Cast: ANSEL ELGORT, RACHEL ZEGLER, DAVID ALVAREZ, ARIANA DEBOSE, MIKE FAIST, RITA MORENO, COREY STOLL