Fifteen 2023 Golden Globe-Winning Films and TV Shows You Can (and Should) Watch Right Now
Plan your viewing around these award-winning movies and television shows — from big-screen standouts like 'Elvis' through to television hits such as 'House of the Dragon'.
January 11, 2023
When you're trying to settling on viewing plans for an evening — any evening — there are almost as many ways to pick what to watch as there are movies and television series vying for your attention. One of the easiest options? Working your way through award-winners, whether you know you've already seen and loved plenty of them, you've been meaning to catch up with a heap or you just want to discover what all the fuss has been about.
2023's first excuse to pack your streaming queue and stack your cinema visits based on a Hollywood organisation is the Golden Globes, aka the Hollywood gongs that always kick off each year — and honour both films and TV series. Taking place on Wednesday, January 11 New Zealand time, the 2023 awards handed out trophies to many of 2022's absolute best on the big and small screens, giving you quite the list of things to watch and/or rewatch.
Whether you're keen to hit the silver screen to catch a filmic gem, stream a stellar flick or binge your way through an excellent series or two, here are 15 of the Globes' best winners that you can check out immediately.
(And if you're wondering what else won, you can read through the full list, too.)
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Imagine living in a universe where Michelle Yeoh isn't the wuxia superstar she is. No, no one should want to dwell in that reality. Now, envisage a world where everyone has hot dogs for fingers, including the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon icon. Next, picture another where Ratatouille is real, but with raccoons. Then, conjure up a sparse realm where life only exists in sentient rocks. An alternative to this onslaught of pondering: watching Everything Everywhere All At Once, which throws all of the above at the screen and a helluva lot more. Yes, its title is marvellously appropriate. Written and directed by the Daniels, aka Swiss Army Man's Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, this multiverse-hopping wonder is a funhouse of a film that just keeps spinning through wild and wacky ideas. Instead of asking "what if Daniel Radcliffe was a farting corpse that could be used as a jet ski?" as their also-surreal debut flick did, the pair now muses on Yeoh, her place in the universe, and everyone else's along with her.
Although Yeoh doesn't play herself in Everything Everywhere All At Once, she is seen as herself; keep an eye out for red-carpet footage from her Crazy Rich Asians days. Such glitz and glamour isn't the norm for middle-aged Chinese American woman Evelyn Wang, her laundromat-owning character in the movie's main timeline, but it might've been if life had turned out differently. That's such a familiar train of thought — a resigned sigh we've all emitted, even if only when alone — and the Daniels use it as their foundation. Their film starts with Evelyn, her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom's Short Round and The Goonies' Data) and a hectic time. Evelyn's dad (James Hong, Turning Red) is visiting from China, the Wangs' daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) brings her girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel, The Carnivores) home, and IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween Ends) is conducting a punishing audit. Then Evelyn learns she's the only one who can save, well, everything, everywhere and everyone.
Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy (Michelle Yeoh), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Ke Huy Quan).
Where to watch it: Everything Everywhere All At Once streams via Neon, Google Play and iTunes.
Read our full review.
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever isn't the movie it was initially going to be, the sequel to 2018's electrifying and dynamic Black Panther that anyone behind it originally wanted it to be, or the chapter in the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe that it first aimed to be — this, the world already knows. The reason why is equally familiar, after Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer in 2020 aged 43. At its best, this direct followup to the MCU's debut trip to its powerful African nation doesn't just know this, too, but scorches that awareness deep into its frames. King T'Challa's death starts the feature, a loss that filmmaking trickery doesn't reverse, no matter how meaningless mortality frequently proves when on-screen resurrections are usually a matter of mere plot twists. Wakanda Forever begins with heartbreak and pain, in fact, and with facing the hard truth that life ends and, in ways both big and small, that nothing is ever the same.
Directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler (Creed) like its predecessor — co-scripting again with Joe Robert Cole (All Day and a Night) — Wakanda Forever's emotional tributes to T'Challa and Boseman hit swiftly, after the former's tech-wiz sister Shuri (Letitia Wright, Death on the Nile) agonises over not being able to save him. In a swirl of song, dance, colour, movement, rhythm and feeling on par with the first instalment, but also solemn, Wakanda erupts in mourning, and the film makes plain that the Black Panther audiences knew is gone forever. A year later, sorrow lingers, but global courtesy wanes — now that the world knows about the previously secret country and its metal vibranium, everyone wants a piece. Such searching incites a new threat to the planet, courtesy of Mesoamerican underwater kingdom Talokan and its leader-slash-deity Namor (Tenoch Huerta, Narcos: Mexico). The Atlantis-esque ocean realm has vibranium as well, and it's not keen on anywhere else but Wakanda doing the same. If Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett, Gunpowder Milkshake), Shuri and their compatriots don't join Namor to fight back, Namor will wage war against them instead.
Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Angela Bassett).
Where to watch it: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently screening in NZ cinemas.
Read our full review.
The letters in RRR's title are short for Rise Roar Revolt. They could also stand for riveting, rollicking and relentless. They link in with the Indian action movie's three main forces, too — writer/director SS Rajamouli (Baahubali: The Beginning), plus stars NT Rama Rao Jr (Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava) and Ram Charan (Vinaya Vidheya Rama) — and could describe the sound of some of its standout moments. What noise echoes when a motorcycle is used in a bridge-jumping rescue plot, as aided by a horse and the Indian flag, amid a crashing train? Or when a truck full of wild animals is driven into a decadent British colonialist shindig and its caged menagerie unleashed? What racket resounds when a motorbike figures again, this time tossed around by hand (yes, really) to knock out those imperialists, and then an arrow is kicked through a tree into someone's head? Or, when the movie's two leads fight, shoot, leap over walls and get acrobatic, all while one is sat on the other's shoulders?
RRR isn't subtle. Instead, it's big, bright, boisterous, boldly energetic, and brazenly unapologetic about how OTT and hyperactive it is. The 187-minute Tollywood action epic — complete with huge musical numbers, of course — is also a vastly captivating pleasure to watch. Narrative-wise, it follows the impact of the British Raj (aka England's rule over the subcontinent between 1858–1947), especially upon two men. In the 1920s, Bheem (Jr NTR, as Rao is known) is determined to rescue young fellow villager Malli (first-timer Twinkle Sharma), after she's forcibly taken by Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson, Vikings) and his wife Catherine (Alison Doody, Beaver Falls) for no reason but they're powerful and they can. Officer Raju (Charan) is tasked by the crown with making sure Bheem doesn't succeed in rescuing the girl, and also keeping India's population in their place because their oppressors couldn't be more prejudiced.
Won: Best Original Song (for 'Naatu Naatu' by Kala Bhairava, M.M. Keeravani, Kala Bhairava, Rahul Sipligunj).
Where to watch it: RRR streams via Netflix.
Read our full review.
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
In The Banshees of Inisherin, the rolling hills and clifftop fields look like they could stretch on forever, even on a fictional small island perched off the Irish mainland. For years, conversation between Padraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell, After Yang) and Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth) has been similarly sprawling — and leisurely, too — especially during the pair's daily sojourn to the village pub for chats over pints. But when the latter calls time on their camaraderie suddenly, his demeanour turns brusque and his explanation, only given after much pestering, is curt. Uttered beneath a stern, no-nonsense stare by Gleeson to his In Bruges co-star Farrell, both reuniting with that darkly comic gem's writer/director Martin McDonagh for another black, contemplative and cracking comedy, Colm is as blunt as can be: "I just don't like you no more."
In the elder character's defence, he wanted to ghost his pal without hurtful words. Making an Irish exit from a lifelong friendship is a wee bit difficult on a tiny isle, though, as Colm quickly realises. It's even trickier when the mate he's trying to put behind him is understandably upset and confused, there's been no signs of feud or fray beforehand, and anything beyond the norm echoes through the town faster than a folk ballad. So springs McDonagh's smallest-scale and tightest feature since initially leaping from the stage to the screen, and a wonderful companion piece to that first effort. Following the hitman-focused In Bruges, he's gone broader with Seven Psychopaths, then guided Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell to Oscars with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but he's at his best when his lens is trained at Farrell and Gleeson as they bicker in close confines.
Won: Best Motion Picture — Comedy, Best Screenplay — Motion Picture (Martin McDonagh), Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy (Colin Farrell).
Where to watch it: The Banshees of Inisherin is currently screening in NZ cinemas.
Read our full review.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S PINOCCHIO
Guillermo del Toro hasn't yet directed a version of Frankenstein, except that he now has in a way. Officially, he's chosen another much-adapted, widely beloved story — one usually considered less dark — but there's no missing the similarities between the Nightmare Alley and The Shape of Water filmmaker's stop-motion Pinocchio and Mary Shelley's ever-influential horror masterpiece. Both carve out tales about creations made by grief-stricken men consumed by loss. Both see those tinkerers help give life to things that don't usually have it, gifting existence to the inanimate because they can't cope with mortality's reality. Both notch up the fallout when those central humans struggles with the results of their handiwork, even though all that the beings that spring from their efforts want is pure and simple love and acceptance. Del Toro's take on Pinocchio still has a talking cricket, a blue-hued source of magic and songs, too, but it clearly and definitely isn't a Disney movie.
Instead, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio is an enchanting iteration of a story that everyone knows, and that's graced screens so many times that this is the third flick in 2022 alone. Yes, the director's name is officially in the film's title. Yes, it's likely there to stop the movie getting confused with that array of other page-to-screen adaptations, all springing from Carlo Collodi's 19th-century Italian children's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio. That said, even if the list of features about the timber puppet wasn't longer than said critter's nose when he's lying, del Toro would earn the possessory credit anyway. No matter which narrative he's unfurling — including this one about a boy fashioned out of pine (voiced by Gregory Mann, Victoria) by master woodcarver Geppetto (David Bradley, Catherine Called Birdy) after the death of his son — the Mexican Oscar-winner's distinctive fingerprints are always as welcomely apparent as his gothic-loving sensibilities.
Won: Best Motion Picture — Animated.
Where to watch it: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio streams via Netflix.
Read our full review.
Making a biopic about the king of rock 'n' roll, trust Baz Luhrmann to take his subject's words to heart: a little less conversation, a little more action. The Australian filmmaker's Elvis, his first feature since 2013's The Great Gatsby, isn't short on chatter. It's even narrated by Tom Hanks (Finch) as Colonel Tom Parker, the carnival barker who thrust Presley to fame (and, as Luhrmann likes to say, the man who was never a Colonel, never a Tom and never a Parker). But this chronology of an icon's life is at its best when it's showing rather than telling. That's when it sparkles brighter than a rhinestone on all-white attire, and gleams with more shine than all the lights in Las Vegas. That's when Elvis is electrifying, due to its treasure trove of recreated concert scenes — where Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) slides into Presley's blue suede shoes and lifetime's supply of jumpsuits like he's the man himself.
Butler is that hypnotic as Presley. Elvis is his biggest role to-date after starting out on Hannah Montana, sliding through other TV shows including Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries, and also featuring in Yoga Hosers and The Dead Don't Die — and he's exceptional. Thanks to his blistering on-stage performance, shaken hips and all, the movie's gig sequences feel like Elvis hasn't ever left the building. Close your eyes and you'll think you were listening to the real thing. (In some cases, you are: the film's songs span Butler's vocals, Presley's and sometimes a mix of both). And yet it's how the concert footage looks, feels, lives, breathes, and places viewers in those excited and seduced crowds that's Elvis' true gem. It's meant to make movie-goers understand what it was like to be there, and why Presley became such a sensation. Aided by dazzling cinematography, editing and just all-round visual choreography, these parts of the picture — of which there's many, understandably — leave audiences as all shook up as a 1950s teenager or 1970s Vegas visitor.
Won: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama (Austin Butler).
Where to watch it: Elvis streams via Google Play and iTunes.
Read our full review.
"Movies are dreams that you never forget," says Mitzi Fabelman (Michelle Williams, Venom: Let There Be Carnage) early in Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans. Have truer words ever been spoken in any of the director's flicks? Uttered to her eight-year-old son Sammy (feature debutant Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord), Mitzi's statement lingers, providing the film's beating heart even when the coming-of-age tale it spins isn't always idyllic. Individual pictures can come and go, of course. Only some — only some on the Jaws, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and West Side Story filmmaker's own resume, in fact — truly stand the test of time. But as former concert pianist Mitzi understands, and imparts to her wide-eyed on-screen Spielberg boyhood surrogate, movies as an art form are a dream that keeps shining in our heads. We return to theatres again and again for more. We glue our eyes to films at home, too. We lap up the worlds they visit, stories they relay and fantasies they inspire, and we also add our own.
To everyone that's ever stared at the silver screen in awe, The Fabelmans pays tribute far more than it basks in the glow of its director. Because everyone is crafting cinematic memoirs of late, Spielberg adds this tender yet clear-eyed look at his childhood to a growing list of self-reflective flicks; however, he's as fascinated with cinema as a dream-sparking and -making force as is he with fictionalising his own tale. Slot The Fabelmans in alongside James Gray's Armageddon Time, Kenneth Branagh's Belfast, Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza and Alejandro González Iñárritu's Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths from the past year or so, then, but don't merely consider it Spielberg jumping on a trend. Focusing on Sammy's film fixation, including as a teen (played by Gabriel LaBelle, The Predator) and as his fragile family hops around the US following his computer-engineer dad Burt's (Paul Dano, The Batman) work, this is a heartfelt, perceptive and potent movie about how movies act as a mirror — a vividly shot and engagingly performed one, too, complete with a pitch-perfect late cameo — whether we're watching or creating them.
Won: Best Motion Picture — Drama, Best Director — Motion Picture (Steven Spielberg).
Where to watch it: The Fabelmans is currently screening in NZ cinemas.
Read our full review.
The Office did it, in both the UK and US versions. Parks and Recreation did so, too. What We Do in the Shadows still does it — and, yes, there's more where they all came from. By now, the mockumentary format is a well-established part of the sitcom realm. Indeed, it's so common that additional shows deciding to give it a whirl aren't noteworthy for that alone. But in Emmy-winner Abbott Elementary, which is currently streaming its second season, the faux doco gimmick is also deployed as an outlet for the series' characters. They're all public school elementary teachers in Philadelphia, and the chats to-camera help convey the stresses and tolls of doing what they're devoted to. In a wonderfully warm and also clear-eyed gem created by, co-written by and starring triple-threat Quinta Brunson (Miracle Workers), that'd be teaching young hearts and minds no matter the everyday obstacles, the utter lack of resources and funding, or the absence of interest from the bureaucracy above them.
Brunson plays perennially perky 25-year-old teacher Janine Teagues, who loves her gig and her second-grade class. She also adores her colleague Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph, Ray Donovan), the kindergarten teacher that she sees as a mentor and work mum. Actually, Janine isn't just fond of all of the above — she's so devoted to her job that she'll let nothing stand in her way. But that isn't easy or straightforward in a system that's short on cash and care from the powers-that-be to make school better for its predominantly Black student populace. Also featuring Everybody Hates Chris' Tyler James Williams (also The United States vs Billie Holiday) as an apathetic substitute teacher, Lisa Ann Walter (The Right Mom) and Chris Perfetti (Sound of Metal) as Abbott faculty mainstays, and Janelle James (Black Monday) as the incompetent principal who only scored her position via blackmail, everything about Abbott Elementary is smart, kindhearted, funny and also honest. That remains the case in season two, where Janine is newly single and grappling with being on her own, sparks are flying with Williams' Gregory and James' Ava can't keep bluffing her way through her days.
Won: Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy (Quinta Brunson), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical or Comedy or Drama Television Series (Tyler James Williams).
Where to watch it: Abbott Elementary streams via Disney+.
First, an important piece of advice: eating either before or while watching The Bear is highly recommended, and near close to essential. Now, two more crucial slices of wisdom: prepare to feel stressed throughout every second of this riveting, always-tense, and exceptionally written and acted culinary series, and also to want to tuck into The Original Beef of Chicagoland's famous sandwiches immediately. The eatery is purely fictional, but its signature dish looks phenomenal. Most of what's cooked up in Carmen 'Carmy' Berzatto's (Jeremy Allen White, Shameless) kitchen does. But he has taken over the family business following his brother's suicide, arriving back home after wowing the world in fine dining's top restaurants, and nothing is easy. Well, coveting The Bear's edible wares is across the show's eight-episode first season — but making them, keeping the shop afloat, coping with grief and ensuring that the diner's staff work harmoniously is a pressure cooker of chaos.
That anxious mood is inescapable from the outset; the best way to start any meal is just to bite right in, and The Bear's creator Christopher Storer (who also directs five episodes, and has Ramy, Dickinson and Bo Burnham: Make Happy on his resume) takes the same approach. He also throws all of his ingredients together with precision — the balance of drama and comedy, the relentlessness that marks every second in The Original Beef's kitchen, and the non-stop mouthing off by Richie, aka Cousin, aka Carmy's brother's best friend (Ebon Moss-Bachrach, The Dropout), all included. Carmy has bills to pay, debts to settle, eerie dreams and sleepwalking episodes to navigate, new sous chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri, Dickinson) mixing up the place and long-standing employees (such as Hap and Leonard's Lionel Boyce, In Treatment's Liza Colón-Zayas and Fargo's Edwin Lee Gibson) to keep happy. Every glimpse at the resulting hustle and bustle is as gripping as it is appetising — and yes, binging is inevitable.
Won: Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy (Jeremy Allen White).
Where to watch it: The Bear streams via Disney+.
Read our full review.
From the very first frames of its debut episode back in June 2019, when just-out-of-rehab 17-year-old Rue Bennett (Zendaya, Spider-Man: No Way Home) gave viewers the lowdown on her life, mindset, baggage, friends, family and everyday chaos, Euphoria has courted attention — or, mirroring the tumultuous teens at the centre of its dramas, the Emmy-winning HBO series just knew that eyeballs would come its way no matter what it did. The brainchild of filmmaker Sam Levinson (Malcolm & Marie), adapted from an Israeli series by the same name, and featuring phenomenal work by its entire cast, it's flashy, gritty, tense, raw, stark and wild, and manages to be both hyper-stylised to visually striking degree and deeply empathetic. In other words, if teen dramas reflect the times they're made — and from Degrassi, Press Gang and Beverly Hills 90210 through to The OC, Friday Night Lights and Skins, they repeatedly have — Euphoria has always been a glittery eyeshadow-strewn sign of today's times.
That hasn't changed in the show's second season. Almost two and a half years might've elapsed between Euphoria's first and second batch of episodes — a pair of out-of-season instalments in late 2020 and early 2021 aside — but it's still as potent, intense and addictive as ever. And, as dark, as Rue's life and those of her pals (with the cast including Hunter Schafer, The King of Staten Island's Maude Apatow, The Kissing Booth franchise's Jacob Elordi, The White Lotus' Sydney Sweeney, The Afterparty's Barbie Ferreira, North Hollywood's Angus Cloud and Waves' Alexa Demie) bobs and weaves through everything from suicidal despair, Russian Roulette, bloody genitals, unforgettable school plays, raucous parties and just garden-variety 2022-era teen angst. The list always goes on; in fact, as once again relayed in Levinson's non-stop, hyper-pop style, the relentlessness that is being a teenager today, trying to work out who you are and navigating all that the world throws at you is Euphoria's point.
Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama (Zendaya).
Where to watch it: Euphoria streams via Neon.
In 2022, Julia Garner schemed her away into New York's upper echelons in the instantly addictive Inventing Anna, playing IRL faux socialite Anna Delvey — and won the unofficial award for wildest accent on TV, too. She didn't end up nabbing a Golden Globe for her part, despite being nominated; however, the acclaimed actress hasn't been going home empty-handed at awards ceremonies. The reason? Fellow Netflix series Ozark. The Assistant keeps picking up Supporting Actress gongs for the crime drama, for her blistering performance as Ruth Langmore. When the show started back in 2017, Garner wasn't in its top-two biggest names, thanks to Jason Bateman (The Outsider) and Laura Linney (Tales of the City), but she's turned her part into an absolute powerhouse.
Ozark's focus: a financial advisor, Marty Byrde (Bateman), who moves from Chicago to a quiet Missouri town — yes, in the titular Ozarks region — after a money-laundering scheme goes wrong in a big way. That's a significant shift for his wife Wendy (Linney) and kids Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz, What Breaks the Ice) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner, Daredevil), but it doesn't see Marty change his ways. Instead, more laundering is in his future, as well as crossing paths with Ruth, who hails from a criminal family. Across its four-season run, Ozark has always been lifted by its performances, which is unsurprising given that Bateman, Linney and Garner are all at the top of their games. It's a masterclass in tension, too, and in conveying a relentless feeling of dread.
Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical or Comedy or Drama Television Series (Julia Garner).
Where to watch it: Ozark streams via Netflix.
2022 marks a decade since Taron Egerton's first on-screen credit as a then-23 year old. Thanks to the Kingsman movies, Eddie the Eagle, Robin Hood and Rocketman, he's rarely been out of the cinematic spotlight since — but miniseries Black Bird feels like his most mature performance yet. The latest based-on-a-true-crime tale to get the twisty TV treatment, it adapts autobiographical novel In with the Devil: a Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption. It also has Dennis Lehane, author of Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and Shutter Island, bringing it to streaming. The focus: Jimmy Keene, a former star high-school footballer turned drug dealer, who finds his narcotics-financed life crumbling when he's arrested in a sting, offered a plea bargain with the promise of a five-year sentence (four with parole), but ends up getting ten. Seven months afterwards, he's given the chance to go free, but only if he agrees to transfer to a different prison to befriend suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser, Cruella), and get him to reveal where he's buried his victims' bodies.
Even with new shows based on various IRL crimes hitting queues every week, or thereabouts — 2022 has seen plenty, including Inventing Anna, The Dropout, The Girl From Plainville and The Staircase, to name a mere few — Black Bird boasts an immediately compelling premise. The first instalment in its six-episode run is instantly gripping, too, charting Keene's downfall, the out-of-ordinary situation posed by Agent Lauren McCauley (Sepideh Moafi, The Killing of Two Lovers), and the police investigation by Brian Miller (Greg Kinnear, Crisis) to net Hall. It keeps up the intrigue and tension from there; in fact, the wild and riveting details just keep on coming. Fantastic performances all round prove pivotal as well. Again, Egerton is excellent, while Hauser's menace-dripping efforts rank among the great on-screen serial killer portrayals. And, although bittersweet to watch after his sudden passing in May, Ray Liotta (The Many Saints of Newark) makes a firm imprint as Keene's father.
Won: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Paul Walter Hauser).
Where to watch it: Black Bird streams via Apple TV+.
Read our full review.
THE WHITE LOTUS
Lives of extravagant luxury. Globe-hopping getaways. Whiling away cocktail-soaked days in gorgeous beachy locales. Throw in the level of wealth and comfort needed to make those three things an easy, breezy everyday reality, and the world's sweetest dreams are supposedly made of this. On TV since 2021, HBO's hit dramedy The White Lotus has been, too. Indeed, in its Emmy-winning first season, the series was a phenomenon of a biting satire, scorching the one percent, colonialism and class divides in a twisty, astute, savage and hilarious fashion. It struck such a chord, in fact, that what was meant to be a one-and-done limited season was renewed for a second go-around, sparking an anthology. That Sicily-set second effort once again examines sex, status, staring head-on at mortality and accepting the unshakeable fact that life is short for everyone but truly sweet for oh-so-few regardless of bank balance — and with writer/director/creator Mike White (Brad's Status) still overseeing proceedings, the several suitcase loads of smart, scathing, sunnily shot chaos that The White Lotus brings to screens this time around are well worth unpacking again.
Here, another group of well-off holidaymakers slip into another splashy, flashy White Lotus property and work through their jumbled existences. Another death lingers over their trip, with The White Lotus again starting with an unnamed body — bodies, actually — then jumping back seven days to tell its tale from the beginning. Running the Taormina outpost of the high-end resort chain, Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore, Across the River and Into the Trees) is barely surprised by the corpse that kicks off season two. She's barely surprised about much beforehand, either. That includes her dealings with the returning Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (Jennifer Coolidge, The Watcher), her husband Greg (Jon Gries, Dream Corp LLC) and assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson, After Yang); three generations of Di Grasso men, aka Bert (F Murray Abraham, Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities), Hollywood hotshot Dominic (Michael Imperioli, The Many Saints of Newark) and the Stanford-educated Albie (Adam DiMarco, The Order); and tech whiz Ethan (Will Sharpe, Defending the Guilty) and his wife Harper (Aubrey Plaza, Best Sellers), plus his finance-bro college roommate Cameron (Theo James, The Time Traveller's Wife) and his stay-at-home wife Daphne (Meghann Fahy, The Bold Type).
Won: Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Jennifer Coolidge).
Where to watch it: The White Lotus streams via Neon.
Read our full review of season two.
Dramatising the Theranos scandal, eight-part miniseries The Dropout is one of several high-profile releases this year to relive a wild true-crime tale — including the Anna Delvey-focused Inventing Anna, about the fake German heiress who conned her way through New York City's elite, and also documentary The Tinder Swindler, which steps through defrauding via dating app at the hands of Israeli imposter Simon Leviev. It also dives into the horror-inducing Dr Death-esque realm, because when a grift doesn't just mess with money and hearts, but with health and lives, it's pure nightmare fuel. And, it's the most gripping of the bunch, even though we're clearly living in peak scandal-to-screen times. Scam culture might be here to stay as Inventing Anna told us in a telling line of dialogue, but it isn't enough to just gawk its way — and The Dropout and its powerful take truly understands this.
To tell the story of Theranos, The Dropout has to tell the story of Elizabeth Holmes, the Silicon Valley biotech outfit's founder and CEO from the age of 19. Played by a captivating, career-best Amanda Seyfried — on par with her Oscar-nominated work in Mank, but clearly in a vastly dissimilar role — the Steve Jobs-worshipping Holmes is seen explaining her company's name early in its first episode. It's derived from the words "therapy" and "diagnosis", she stresses, although history already dictates that it offered little of either. Spawned from Holmes' idea to make taking blood simpler and easier, using just one drop from a small finger prick, it failed to deliver, lied about it copiously and still launched to everyday consumers, putting important medical test results in jeopardy.
Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.
Where to watch it: The Dropout streams Disney+.
Read our full review.
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON
In its very first moments, House of the Dragon's opening episode delivers exactly what its name promises: here be dragons indeed. Within ten minutes, the Iron Throne, that sprawling metal seat that all of Westeros loves fighting about, also makes its initial appearance. By the time the 20-minute mark arrives, bloody violence of the appendage-, limb- and head-lopping kind fills the show's frames as well. And, before the debut instalment of this Game of Thrones prequel about House Targaryen's history even hits its halfway mark, a brothel scene with nudity and sex is sighted, too. Between all of the above, the usual GoT family dramas, squabbles over successors and power struggles pop up. Of course they do. House of the Dragon was always going to check all of the above boxes. None of this can constitute spoilers, either, because none of it can come as a surprise. Game of Thrones' fame and influence have become that pervasive, as have its hallmarks and trademarks. Everyone knows what GoT is known for, even if you've somehow never seen this page-to-screen franchise yet or read the George RR Martin-penned books that it's based on.
After green-lighting a different prequel to pilot stage, scrapping it, then picking this one to run with instead — and also making plans to bring novella series Tales of Dunk and Egg to TV, working on an animated GoT show, exploring other potential prequels and forging ahead a Jon Snow-focused sequel series — House of the Dragon is the first Game of Thrones successor to arrive in streaming queues, and it doesn't mess with a formula that HBO doesn't consider broken. Its focus: the Targaryen crew 172 years before the birth of Daenerys and her whole dragon-flying, nephew-dating, power-seeking story. Cue silky silver locks aplenty, including cascading from King Viserys I's (Paddy Considine, The Third Day) head as he takes to the Iron Throne over his cousin Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best, Nurse Jackie). She had a better claim to the spiky chair, but gets passed over because she's a woman. Years later, the same scenario springs up over whether the king's dragon-riding daughter Princess Rhaenyra (Upright's Milly Alcock, then Mothering Sunday's Emma D'Arcy) becomes his heir, or the future son he's desperate to have, or his headstrong and shady younger brother Prince Daemon (Matt Smith, Morbius).
Won: Best Television Series — Drama.
Where to watch it: House of the Dragon streams via Neon.
Read our full review.
Top image: HBO.
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