by Julian Spivey
May December – Netflix – Friday, December 1
Director Todd Haynes’s latest drama “May December” is already being hailed as one of the best movies of 2023 and just yesterday took home Best Screenplay for Samy Burch and Best Supporting Actor for Charles Melton at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. The film, loosely inspired by American teacher Mary Kay Letourneau who had a relationship with a young student whom she eventually married, stars Natalie Portman as an actress who travels to Georgia to meet a controversial woman (played by Julianne Moore) she is set to play in a film, who had a long relationship with a husband, played by the aforementioned Melton, whom she first met as a minor. Portman, Moore and, especially, Melton are all receiving Oscar buzz for the film.
John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial – AppleTV+ - Wednesday, December 6
“John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial,” a three-part docuseries, that examines the murder of music icon John Lennon and the investigation and conviction of his killer Mark David Chapman debuts on AppleTV+ on Wednesday, December 6. The docuseries, narrator by Emmy-winning actor Kiefer Sutherland, is supposedly the most in-depth look into the murder and court case with interviews from witnesses of the murder, attorneys on the case and close family friends of Lennon.
Mr. Monk’s Last Case – Peacock – Friday, December 8
I’m almost embarrassed about how giddy I was when I heard Det. Adrian Monk would be returning for a TV movie earlier this year. It’s titled “Mr. Monk’s Last Case,” premiering on Peacock on Friday, December 8, but I hope if things go well it won’t necessarily be the real last case but maybe a harbinger of more specials to come. Monk is played by the exquisite Tony Shalhoub who won three Emmy Awards for his performance of the top-notch detective suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) during the original dramedy that aired on the USA Network from 2002 to 2009. The made-for-TV movie reunites the entire cast from the last few seasons of the series, including Traylor Howard, Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford. It’ll be a welcome sight to see how Monk navigates the modern world.
Maestro – Netflix – Wednesday, December 20
“Maestro” is clearly actor/director Bradley Cooper’s passion project as he’s spent years working on this biopic of legendary American composer Leonard Bernstein and his relationship with his wife Felicia Montealegre, which is the follow-up to his 2018 directorial debut and Best Picture-nominated “A Star Is Born.” Cooper takes on the role of Bernstein with Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan playing Montealegre. The film, which is produced by Netflix, will make its debut on the streamer on Wednesday, December 20 after a short run in select theaters and is sure to be one of the big awards contenders of 2023.
Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road – Disney+ - Monday, December 25
“Doctor Who” has entered its most recent era by bringing back a leader from a past era in showrunner Russell T. Davies and it’s already off to a nice start with the first of the show’s 60th anniversary specials, which also brought back familiar faces in David Tennant and Catherine Tate reprising their roles as The Doctor and Donna being a lot of fun. Two more 60th-anniversary specials are coming this month with “Wild Blue Yonder” dropping on Disney+ on Saturday, December 2 and “The Giggle” on Saturday, December 9, but it’s the return of the Christmas Special that most interests me because that will be the true start of the next era with Ncuti Gatwa taking over the role of The Doctor in “The Church on Ruby Road.” I’ve always loved the “Doctor Who” Christmas specials but we haven’t had one in quite some time as the show’s previous showrunner tried his own thing with New Year’s specials instead – I know, I know it’s only the difference of a week – but there’s just something so right about “Doctor Who” on Christmas Day. I can’t wait to see how this new era of ‘Who’ mixing a new cast with a veteran showrunner turns out.