Best Movies and TV (Dec. 15-17)

Best Movies and TV (Dec. 15-17)

Clockwise from top: Wonka, The Taste of Things, The Crown, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.
Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos: Jaap Buittendijk/Warner Bros., Netflix, Justin Downing/Netflix, IFC Films

A few months from now, when there’s nothing new in theaters or good on TV, remember weekends like this. Mid-December is when everything comes out all at once, as the holiday season and awards consideration leads to a bounty of new movie and TV releases. This weekend we’ve got a surprising number of food-focused movies, some comedy specials, royals, and cozy Christmas vibes. It’s a smorgasbord. —James Grebey

Paddington director Paul King delivers a great holiday treat in Wonka that’s as sweet and delightful as the chocolatier’s wares. A prequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, King’s film stars Timothée Chalamet as the confectioner who tries to open a chocolate shop at the Galeries Gourmet, but of course, he has to deal with the city’s residing chocolate cartel, the chief of police (Keegan-Michael Key), and Olivia Colman’s devious Mrs. Scrubbit. Also, did we mention there are musical numbers in this? —Savannah Salazar

France’s official entry for this year’s Oscar for Best International Feature follows two master chefs in the late 1800s as they navigate a lifetime in the kitchen — and, possibly, with each other, as their relationship deepens. It would be hackneyed writing to call this movie “delicious” or some other food-related pun … but not inaccurate. —J.G.

➽ American Fiction, which stars Jeffrey Wright as an author who finds unexpected success when he writes an over-the-top parody of a “Black” book, is in limited release before going wide next weekend.

A Nazi S.S. officer’s family lives next to the Auschwitz concentration camp and they want to have a perfect little house just out of sight of a horrible place of mass death — though you can still hear what’s happening inside. The movie, directed by Jonathan Glazer, is as challenging, uncomfortable, and critically acclaimed as you might expect from that synopsis. —J.G.

After watching the first part of The Crown’s final season, my big question is, will the ghosts of Diana and Dodi reappear? —Jen Chaney

Hard to believe this will be the end of stories about the Royal Family getting upset about The Crown. End of an era.

The big guy is back. —J.G.

A24 brings over this British series from creator and writer Kat Sadler about a mother, her two 20-something daughters, and their messy romantic relationships. The dark comedy, in which the women joke “Trauma’s all we’ve got,” evokes the dryness of The End of the F***ing World and the emotion of I May Destroy You, two other works from the U.K. that hit big with American audiences. —Roxana Hadadi

Netflix’s live-action One Piece adaptation was, surprisingly, not terrible and might in fact have been pretty good! Will that trend continue for this adaptation of another Shōnen Jump series? Yu Yu Hakusho follows a teenage delinquent named Yusuke Urameshi who becomes a “spirit detective” after he’s resurrected following a car accident where he saved a child’s life. —J.G.

The members of the U.S. women’s soccer team did not have the kind of World Cup experience they were hoping for in 2023. Still, fans will be interested in this four-episode documentary about their experience as they try and fail to dominate once again —J.C.

It’s been nearly a quarter-century since Ginger and Rocky escaped from Tweedy’s farm, but the claymation poultry are back for a new mission on Netflix: breaking into a strange new sort of farm in order to rescue their daughter. The Netflix sequel trades the original’s World War II pastiche for more of a 1960s James Bond–esque spy aesthetic. It also trades the voice of Mel Gibson for Zachary Levi. —J.G.

In a way, this is also a food movie, just like The Taste of Things and Wonka.

For 14 seasons, Adam Reed’s series about superspy Sterling Archer dipped into neo-noir and sci-fi and gave an emotional send-off to cast member Jessica Walter, who died in 2021. Can spies ever do good? This three-episode finale event ponders that question with H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell, Amber Nash, Lucky Yates, and Reed himself voicing their characters for the last time. —R.H.

It’s a slow month for TV, but a great month for comedy! Leo Reich’s is a notable special from a newcomer, a Gen-Z Brit with a bone-dry sense of sarcasm and a habit of yelling at his audiences if they seem too primed to break into applause. —Kathryn VanArendonk

Maria Bamford is one of the greatest comedians of our time, and her book Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult is a best seller; you must buy this new special directly from her website or a video purveyor. Hard to imagine money better spent! —K.V.A.

If The Taste of Things and Wonka are making you hungry, feast on Ang Lee’s lovely ’90s drama about an old master chef in Taipei and his three adult daughters. It’s a charming, funny story that will touch children and parents alike, and it opens with the preparation of maybe the most amazing, elaborate meal you’ll ever see. —J.G.

Streaming for free on Tubi

If you’re a celebrity, whether you can cook or not is irrelevant to your chances of getting a cooking show. The Veronica Mars villain Harry Hamlin joins a long list of actors who’ve hopped into the kitchen. His niece and classically trained chef Renee Guilbault and other family members, including Lisa Rinna, help whip up festive dishes. —R.H.

Why is this weekend so tasty!?

In honor of her birthday, Taylor Swift decided to release The Eras Tour on digital platforms with three extra songs — “Long Live,” “Wildest Dreams,” and “The Archer” — tacked on to the end. So if you didn’t have the time (or energy) to join the hordes of excited fans in theaters, now’s your chance to have the best and cheapest seats of The Eras Tour. —S.S.

Seems only fitting to pull a double feature of Eras Tour and Barbie, now on Max!

Want more? Read our recommendations from the weekend of December 8.

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