NEXT’s Winter 2023 Movies, Festivals and Streaming Guide

What to watch as 2023 comes to an end

The Gilded Age

Where: Crave
What: Series, Season 2, 8 episodes, 55 mins.
When: Now, new episodes Sundays
Genre: Drama
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: Downton Abby’s Julian Fellowes brings his soap-opera energy for another look at the upstairs/downstairs world of the bourgeoisie, this time in 1890s New York City. It’s packed with great performances, enough historical detail to feel semi-educational and enough melodramatic plot lines to fuel 15 Harlequin romance novels. Season 2 is even more action-packed than the first, with satisfying development of the roles of many treasured characters.

Milli Vanilli

Where: Paramount+
What: Movie, 106 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Documentary
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: Surprisingly honest depiction of one of greatest scams in music history. It’s the story of how a couple of broke DJ/dancers became Milli Vanilli and tricked the world — for a while — into giving them superstar status and a Grammy they had to return. All for performing songs they didn’t sing. Riveting, revealing and ultimately sympathetic to the band. Surviving member Fab Morvan doesn’t run away from his role in the scam, just seeks to hold others accountable and his recovery and abiding love of music offer some hope in this sad tale.

Next Goal Wins

Where: In theatres
What: Movie, 103 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Comedy
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: New Zealand superstar writer/director Taika Waititi brings a new look to the underdog-makes-good stories pioneered by Bad News Bears, Cool Runnings and, even more recently, Ted Lasso. Like Lasso, this is a soccer story, but Michael Fassbender, as the down-on-his-luck American coach forced to try to help an inept team from American Samoa plays it more like Walter Matthau (Bad News Bears) than Lasso. Refreshing to have story told from an Indigenous perspective, with lots of marvelling at the habits of “white people.” Will Arnett is great as the dickish American rooting against the “good guys.”

For All Mankind

Where: Apple TV+
What: Series, Season 4, 10 episodes, 55 mins.
When: Now, new episodes Fridays
Genre: Drama
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: Not just for Boomers anymore, this space race-based historical fiction which started with the ’60s race to the moon makes it into the 2000s in its fourth season. It reimagines a world where the Soviet Union never collapsed and John Lennon lived to play the Super Bowl, among other juicy historical twists. It’s a jumble of truths mixed with “what ifs,” so we get Gorbachev struggling to stay in power, flip phones and joint Soviet/American colonies on the moon and Mars, all with private sector partners. Crew members rock out to The Strokes as they land on the Red Planet and Gorillaz are on the playlist on the moon. Over-acted, sometimes over-wrought but ultimately, the premise is cool enough to be satisfying.

Trolls Band Together

Where: In theatres
What: Movie, 91 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Animation
Rating: NNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: If you have any kids in your life under 10, they’ve probably told you about this animated series which sees this latest sequel unleashed in theatres. Trolls playfully riffs on the boy band world with legendary boy band refugee, Justin Timberlake, behind the scenes on a beautifully, brightly animated piece of inoffensive fluff. Some might argue that Timberlake is using the series to “fluff” his reputation after the justifiable fallout from his less-than-honourable life with Brittney Spears. The latest release, Trolls Band Together checks all the boxes celebrating teamwork, loyalty as the team tries to get the group back together with enough humourous winks to the adults to keep even post-adolescents entertained.

Priscilla

Where: In theatres
What: Movie, 110 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Drama
Rating: NNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: Sofia Coppola’s latest film paints a portrait of Priscilla Presley trapped by her own dream life: married to the most famous and desired man on earth, living in the lap of luxury, but deeply lonely. Coppola doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable aspects of their marriage (their age gap, Elvis’s anger and regressive beliefs about sex and marriage) and the film is pitch-perfect in its attention to period detail, use of music and cinematography. But as an evocation of Priscilla’s tedious life, it is almost too successful, and the film’s repetitive structure can leave viewers a little bored.

The Marvels

Where: In theatres
What: Movie, 105 mins.
When: Now
Genre: MCU
Rating: NNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: An over-used, convoluted plot device can’t take away from the fun of Captain Marvel’s (Brie Larson) genre-flipping superhero flick packed with plenty of action, amusing asides and virtually all major roles — along with most major ass-kicking — performed by women. Superfan Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) gains superpowers — don’t ask — earns Ms. Marvel status and is a steady source of amusing riffs on her, “How the fuck am I hanging with Captain Marvel?” marvelling.  Decent girl-power fun.

Quiz Lady

Where: Disney+
What: Movie, 100 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Rating: NNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: In Quiz Lady, directed by Jessica Yu and written by Jen D’Angelo, sisters Anne (Awkwafina) and Jenny (Sandra Oh) reunite for the ridiculous road trip of a lifetime to save Anne’s beloved pet pug and pay off their mother’s gambling debt. It’s unserious and predictable, which makes it easy to watch. The jokes rummage around the shallow end of the young Asian-American experience, and while they attempt to reject the common stereotype of a complacent Asian woman, the movie never really goes far enough with its ridiculousness.

Fallen Leaves

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Now
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: It’s not every year we get a new film by Aki Kaurismäki, the deadpan Finnish director of Le Havre and Drifting Clouds, so when we do, it’s a must-see. A favourite at this year’s TIFF, Kaurismäki’s Fallen Leaves is a touching, gentle drama about finding connection in unexpected places. And there’s a dog named Chaplin!

May/December

What: Movie
Where: In theatres & Netflix
When: In theatres now, Fri., Dec. 1 (Netflix)
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: One of the year’s most hotly anticipated films is Todd Haynes’s new drama, May/December. The director of Far From Heaven and Carol is in his element here, with an unsettling story of a woman at the centre of a national scandal and the actress who has been hired to play her. With an incredible set of stars (Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore), a dash of All About Eve-style rivalry and a ripped-from-the-headlines subject that is deeply relevant today, May/December is shaping up to be the most talked-about film of the season.

Six Women

What: Series
Where: CBC Gen
When: Now
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: If you’re in the mood for something inspiring, this new CBC Gem series should scratch that itch. It follows a group of six women who have bonded over their shared experiences with cancer and decide to take on a challenging hike up the French Alps together.

Blood in the Snow Film Festival

What: Film Festival
Where: Isabel Bader Theatre
When: Now through Sat., Dec.. 2
Genre: Horror
Why you should watch: If you have a taste for horror and a passion for Canadian cinema, then you won’t want to miss this year’s Blood in the Snow Festival. The festival celebrates the best in Canadian-made horror with short film programs, feature presentations, industry events and parties. From hardened private detectives and haunted scotch casques to killer smart homes and queer werewolves, there’s something for every horror fan.

Saltburn

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Now
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: After her searing, award-winning debut, Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell returns with Saltburn, a thriller that doubles as an examination of class and belonging. Barry Keoghan (Banshees of Inisherin) stars as Oliver, a misfit who gets drawn into the hedonistic world of his extremely wealthy classmate, Felix (Jacob Elordi, Priscilla) while spending the summer at his family’s estate. Expect wild parties and dark deeds in picturesque castles.

Napoleon

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Now
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Coming off last year’s underrated Last Duel (and over-the-top, House of Gucci), Ridley Scott returns with another historical drama, the long-awaited Napoleon. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon and Vanessa Kirby (Mission Impossible: Fallout) as Empress Josephine. The film charts the emperor’s rise to power in France and his power plays with his ambitious wife. It’s unclear if Napoleon will have a better box-office fate than Last Duel but certainly has the advantage of featuring Phoenix in a role he seems destined to play.

Leave the World Behind

What: Movie
Where: Netflix
When: Now
Genre: Thriller
Why you should watch: Leave the World Behind is not the first Airbnb-themed horror to hit our screens, but with Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and Mahershala Ali, it’s certainly the most star-studded. Directed by Sam Esmai, creator of Mr. Robot, the film follows a family whose idyllic stay at a rental home is interrupted when the owners unexpectedly return. But this is only the beginning of their trouble as the world’s technological systems start to collapse and the family has to fight to survive (there seem to be a few M. Night Shyamalan-style twists in store).

Swan Song

What: Miniseries
Where: CBC Gem
When: Now
Genre: Documentary
Why you should watch: A follow-up to Chelsea McMullan’s documentary film of the same name, this four-part documentary series chronicles the National Ballet of Canada’s 2022 production of Swan Lake. The series takes an intimate look at the company’s process, from an institution working to keep itself afloat in the new days of COVID, to the choreographers and customers behind the scenes and, most poignantly, to the dancers who endure gruelling physical and psychological challenges to perform the legendary ballet. The series is also a portrait of Canadian icon Karen Cain, the internationally renowned dancer, during her last year as the NBC’s creative director.

Phantom of the Paradise

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Nov. 24
Genre: Musical/horror
Why you should watch: The film that bombed everywhere except Paris and, of all places, Winnipeg, MB, Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise is a strange and entertaining rock opera romp that has been lovingly reclaimed by cult cinema fans. And what better place to watch the film than Toronto’s own Paradise Theatre? Drag Me to the Movies, a regular series that brings the campiest horror and sci-fi to Toronto is hosting an interactive screening of De Palma’s unhinged epic about a rock and roll composer who seeks revenge on the producer who stole his masterpiece. Drag yourself to the movies for this unforgettable film.

The Adults

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Thurs., Nov. 30
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Toronto’s MDFF screening series screens the best of international, independent and arthouse cinema — essentially films you likely won’t get to see otherwise. This month, it’s presenting The Adults, by Dustin Guy Defa. It stars Michael Cera, Hannah Gross and Sophia Lillis as adult siblings forced to confront their long-dormant issues during a visit home. The Adults is a sensitive, thoughtful and funny dissection of the difficulties of growing up and moving on.

RENAISSANCE: A Film by Beyoncé

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Dec. 1
Genre: Concert
Why you should watch: Now that the furore over Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour film has died down a bit (to the relief of moviegoers in adjacent cinemas), get ready for another in-theatre pop spectacle. One of the greatest entertainers alive, Beyoncé has live shows that set a new bar for artistic excellence (remember the Coachella performances?). But this is the definition of a fans-only experience: expect singing out loud, and lots of excited talking and dancing in the aisles. Time will tell if these in-theatre concert experiences are a passing fad or another stop on a pop star’s world tour, but the theatres are likely grateful for the patronage.

The Bikeriders

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Dec. 1
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: If The Bikeriders seems like a throwback, that’s certainly by design. The new film from Jeff Nichols, the director of Take Shelter and Mud, will give the grease-stained excitement of the biker genre a Hollywood sheen. Starring Austin Butler, Tom Hardy and Jodie Comer, the film follows Benny (Butler) as he rises through the ranks of a fictional Chicago biker gang. Inspired by a photography book by Danny Lyon, The Bikeriders mines our seemingly endless fascination with mid-century American culture (Butler is fresh off his star-making turn in the hit film Elvis). And if that’s your kind of thing, this looks like a roaring good time.

Eileen

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Dec. 1
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Based on the first novel by the provocative author Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen follows the titular, lonely young woman (played by Thomasin McKenzie) working at a prison who is dazzled by Rebecca (Anne Hathaway), the charismatic new educator. But Rebecca’s devotion to helping the prisoners takes a dark turn. Love them or hate them, Moshfegh’s novels (which include My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Lapvona) tend to be the most talked about books of the year, and maybe William Oldroyd’s adaptation will get tongues wagging as well.

Poor Things

Where: In theatres
What: Movie, 141 min.
When: Fri., Dec. 1
Genre: Drama
Rating: NN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: Provocateur Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest film is a lush but ultimately simplistic reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The story is less one of man’s folly and society’s intolerance and more one of a woman’s journey to self-discovery as she gains knowledge and independence. Emma Stone is impressively committed to the role of Bella, and the costumes and lush production design are a treat, but much of the film is difficult to watch (it is not for the faint of heart) and the payoff is ultimately underwhelming.

Age of Innocence: High Tea Cinema

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Sun., Dec. 3
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Travel back to an age of refinement and repression with the Fox Theatre’s High Tea Cinema screening of 1993’s Age of Innocence. Martin Scorsese faithfully adapts Edith Wharton’s classic tale of lust and keeping up appearances in 19th century high society. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder and featuring incredible period sets and costumes, Age of Innocence is about as ravishing as it gets. To complete the experience, your ticket to High Tea Cinema includes a cup of tea and a scone.

The Boy and the Heron

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Dec. 8
Genre: Family/Animation
Why you should watch: A new Hayao Miyazaki film is a true cinematic event. The director’s works (from Spirited Away to Princess Mononoke) are some of the most imaginative, visually stunning and emotional animated films ever made. His latest, The Boy and the Heron follows a lonely young boy who has moved to the countryside following his father’s remarriage. There, he finds himself stalked by a strange grey heron who may know something about the boy’s late mother. Beautiful, complex and unexpected, The Boy and the Heron is an existentialist fantasy about family and discovering your place in the world.

Origin

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Dec. 8
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Based on Isabel Wilkerson’s nonfiction book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Ava Duvernay’s new film is a sprawling examination of the roots of oppression, finding links between Nazi Germany, India’s caste system and racial discrimination (and beyond) in America. Origin dramatizes Wilkerson’s deeply personal process of researching the book, from her own personal tragedy to her explorations of the world around her and human history. Adapting a nonfiction book to the screen is a compelling premise, and the themes, as always with Duvernay, are deeply resonant today.

Love Actually: Holiday slumber party

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Thurs., Dec. 14
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Why you should watch: For better or worse, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Love Actually. The Fox Theatre is taking this beloved comfort watch up a notch by hosting a screening and slumber party. You’re invited to wear your pyjamas and enjoy a themed cocktail while you take in the meet-cutes, high-school recitals, romantic cue cards and a myriad of British thespians.

Wonka

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Dec. 15
Genre: Family
Why you should watch: It’s not clear whether anyone asked for a Willy Wonka origin story, but this holiday season, that’s exactly what we’re getting. Starring Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Coleman and Hugh Grant, Wonka tells the story of how Willy became the greatest (and quirkiest) inventor and chocolatier on earth.

American Fiction

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Dec. 15
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Winner of the People’s Choice Award at this year’s TIFF (which, until recently, was a good barometer for Oscar night), American Fiction is a cutting satire of the publishing world. Jeffrey Wright stars as Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, an author whose star is fading, who decides to manipulate the industry’s fetishization of Black identity in his favour. The film also features a stellar supporting cast with Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., Dec. 22
Genre: Action
Why you should watch: If you’re looking for something big and loud this holiday season, you’ll be glad to know that Aquaman is finally getting his sequel. The 2018 Aquaman was DC’s biggest standalone superhero film, but the sequel’s release has been plagued by delays and controversies. In Aquamam the Lost Kingdom, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) must protect Atlantis from an ancient foe, the Black Manta, with the help of Meera (Amber Heard) and his long-lost brother.

Scrooge Night at The Revue

What: Movie Series
Where: In theatres
When: Sat., Dec. 23
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: The Revue is hosting a double bill celebrating everyone’s favourite Christmas curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. First is a screening of 1938’s A Christmas Carol, with Reginald Owen and Gene Lockhart, followed by Scrooged, the 1988 modernization starring Bill Murray. So, leave your Christmas spirit at home and get ready to confront your past sins at The Revue.

Ferrari

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Mon., Dec. 25
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice) returns to screens with his first film in eight years: Ferrari, a biopic about the founder of the luxury sports car empire. Starring Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari (reprising his House of Gucci Italian accent) who, desperate to get his company out of a financial crisis, enters his driver in a famously gruelling race. The star-studded film (it also features Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley and Canada’s Sara Gadon) should appeal to lovers of cinema and Formula 1 alike.

The Colour Purple

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Mon., Dec. 25
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Alice Walker’s classic novel The Colour Purple has had many lives. From the 1995 film adaptation to the 2005 stage musical adaptation and, now, a film adaptation of the stage play. If you aren’t dizzy yet, maybe you’ll love this reimaging of Walker’s heartbreaking and inspirational coming-of-age story. The film is produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey and stars Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks and Colman Domingo.

Griselda

What: Series
Where: Netflix
When: Thurs., Jan. 25
Genre: Crime
Why you should watch: If you’re a fan of Narcos (or the numerous shows like it), then be sure to catch the new series, Griselda. Inspired by the life of Griselda Blanco (played by Sofia Vergara) a ruthless Colombian drug lord, who started her criminal career as a child and went on to lead one of the most profitable rackets in Colombian history.

Silent Revue presents The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

What: Movie
Where: In theatres
When: Sun., Jan. 28
Genre: Thriller
Why you should watch: The Revue’s regular series of silent films returns with Alfred Hitchcock’s most well-known silent film, The Lodger. In the thriller, London is being terrorized by a brutal, unidentified killer. Meanwhile, a mysterious lodger has moved in. Featuring an informative introduction by the series curator and live piano accompaniment, this is the best way to experience one of the great eras of cinema.

Sort Of

Where: CBC Gem
What: Series, Season 3, 8 episodes, 22 mins.
When: Now, two episodes weekly
Genre: Dramedy
Rating: NNNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: One of the best shows on CBC — ever. Sort Of manages to be understated yet stunning with co-creator/writer/actor Bilal Baig leading an incredible cast that tackles major issues gently and powerfully. Baig plays a trans nanny in a show where gender identity is a coincidental, not defining, part of the story. Brilliant television that packs an astounding amount into a sitcom-length show.

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