Matt writes: The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping us all at home to “flatten the curve” while protecting those among us most susceptible to the virus. Movie theaters have been closed and festivals around the world (including our own Ebertfest) have been cancelled for this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still turn to cinema for comfort, guidance and escapism during these difficult days. At RogerEbert.com, we are continuing to cover the latest releases, all of which (as you’ll see below) are on television, streaming platforms or online. We are showing readers where they can stream the titles selected for Roger’s Great Movies essays as well as all the new releases that have dropped early on VOD. Our writers have offered their choices for what to watch during the quarantine (my choice was easy: “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix), while Jana Monji has listed her own binge-watching recommendations and Robert Daniels has penned an insightful essay on the newfound relevance of 2012’s “Cloud Atlas,” an audacious epic cherished by Roger. We will get through this together and look forward to seeing you all at the movies again soon!
Selah and the Spades (2020). Written and directed by Tayarisha Poe. Starring Lovie Simone, Jharrel Jerome, Celeste O’Connor. Synopsis: In the 1920s a group of factory workers advocate for safer work conditions after some of their colleagues become ill from radium exposure. Debuts on Prime Video on April 17th, 2020.
Bad Education (2020). Directed by Cory Finley. Written by Mike Makowsky. Starring Hugh Jackman, Alex Wolff, Allison Janney. Synopsis: The unfolding of the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in history. Debuts on HBO on April 25th, 2020.
True History of the Kelly Gang (2020). Directed by Justin Kurzel. Written by Shaun Grant (based on the novel by Peter Carey). Starring George MacKay, Essie Davis, Nicholas Hoult. Synopsis: The story of Australian bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang as they flee from authorities during the 1870s. Debuts online on April 24th, 2020.
Defending Jacob (2020). Written by Mark Bomback (based on the novel by William Landay). Starring Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Betty Gabriel. Synopsis: An assistant DA’s world is shattered when his beloved son gets charged with murder. Debuts on Apple TV on April 24th, 2020.
#FreeRayshawn (2020). Directed by Seith Mann. Written by Marc Maurino. Starring Rico E. Anderson, Alyshia Ochse, Thomas Blake Jr.. Synopsis: A young, black Iraq War veteran finds himself in a showdown with a New Orleans SWAT team and tries to talk his way out of the situation with the help of a sympathetic officer. Debuts on Quibi on April 6th, 2020.
It Started as a Joke (2020). Directed by Julie Smith Clem and Ken Druckerman. Synopsis: A look at the decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in Brooklyn, the alternative comedy scene in New York, and Eugene’s personal life. US release date is TBA.
The Great (2020). Directed by Geeta Patel and Matt Shakman. Written by Tony McNamara. Starring Phill Webster, Christophe Tek, Charlie Price. Synopsis: A royal woman living in rural Austria during the seventeenth century is forced to choose between her own personal happiness and the future of Russia, when she marries an Emperor. Debuts on Hulu on May 15th, 2020.
The Lost Husband (2020). Written and directed by Vicky Wight (based on the novel by Katherine Center). Starring Leslie Bibb, Josh Duhamel, Sharon Lawrence. Synopsis: Trying to put her life back together after the death of her husband, Libby and her children move to her estranged Aunt’s goat farm in central Texas. US release date is TBA.
Guest of Honor (2020). Written and directed by Atom Egoyan. Starring Laysla De Oliveira, David Thewlis, Luke Wilson. Synopsis: Veronica wants to remain in jail for a sexual assault she knows she’s been wrongfully indicted for. She and her father, Jim, find themselves acting out of the bounds of good behavior as the past haunts them. US release date is TBA.
Tigertail (2020). Written and directed by Alan Yang. Starring Christine Ko, Fiona Fu, Tzi Ma. Synopsis: A Taiwanese factory worker leaves his homeland to seek opportunity in America, where he struggles to find connection while balancing family and newfound responsibilities in this multi-generational drama. Debuts on Netflix on April 10th, 2020.
1BR (2020). Written and directed by David Marmor. Starring Naomi Grossman, Giles Matthey, Alan Blumenfeld. Synopsis: Sarah tries to start anew in LA, but her neighbours are not what they seem. US release date is TBA.
The Legion (2020). Directed by Jose Magan. Written by Carmen Ballesteros, Pedro Santamaría, Alberto Vázquez Figueroa and C.J. Wells. Starring Mickey Rourke, Bai Ling, Joaquim de Almeida. Synopsis: Noreno, a half-Roman, is entrusted with the mission of crossing the snowy mountains of Armenia, swarming with Parthian patrols, to seek help for his slowly dying men. US release date is TBA.
We Summon the Darkness (2020). Directed by Marc Meyers. Written by Alan Trezza. Starring Alexandra Daddario, Keean Johnson, Johnny Knoxville. Synopsis: The darkness is summoned, I suppose. US release date is TBA.
Behind You (2020). Written and directed by Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon. Starring Addy Miller, Elizabeth Birkner, Jan Broberg. Synopsis: Two young sisters find that all the mirrors in their estranged aunt’s house are covered or hidden. When one of them happens upon a mirror in the basement, she unknowingly releases a malicious demon. US release date is TBA.
Inheritance (2020). Directed by Vaughn Stein. Written by Matthew Kennedy. Starring Lily Collins, Connie Nielsen, Simon Pegg. Synopsis: A patriarch of a wealthy and powerful family suddenly passes away, leaving his wife and daughter with a shocking secret inheritance that threatens to unravel and destroy their lives. US release date is TBA.
Coffee & Kareem (2020). Directed by Michael Dowse. Written by Shane Mack. Starring Betty Gilpin, Taraji P. Henson, Ed Helms. Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Kareem Manning hires a criminal to scare his mom’s new boyfriend -police officer James Coffee – but it backfires, forcing Coffee and Kareem to team up in order to save themselves from Detroit’s most ruthless drug kingpin. Debuts on Netflix on April 3rd, 2020.
Bad Therapy (2020). Directed by William Teitler. Written by Nancy Doyne. Starring Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry, Alicia Silverstone. Synopsis: A couple seeks Judy Small, a marriage counselor, but the counselor is more than what meets the eye. US release date is TBA.
The Willoughbys (2020). Directed by Kris Pearn, Cory Evans and Rob Lodermeier. Written by Mark Stanleigh and Kris Pearn (based on the book by Lois Lowry). Starring Will Forte, Martin Short, Alessia Cara. Synopsis: Convinced they’d be better off raising themselves, the Willoughby children hatch a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation. The siblings then embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family. Debuts on Netflix on April 22nd, 2020.
The SXSW That Never Was
Matt writes: Brian Tallerico reviews the feature films and documentaries that he pre-screened for his SXSW coverage prior to the festival’s cancellation, including Mary Mazzio’s “A Most Beautiful Thing” (pictured above).
How We Choose Our Favorite Film
Matt writes: Times such as these are a great opportunity for us to revisit our favorite movies, and in this lovely essay penned by our contributor Collin Souter, he explains why the 1990 cult classic and former Ebertfest selection “Joe Versus the Volcano” will always be his #1.
The War Zone (1999). Directed by Tim Roth. Written by Alexander Stuart. Starring Ray Winstone, Annabelle Apsion, Kate Ashfield. Synopsis: An alienated teenager, saddened that he has moved away from London, must find a way to deal with a dark family secret.
Nate & Margaret (2012). Directed by Nathan Adloff. Written by Justin D.M. Palmer and Nathan Adloff. Starring Natalie West, Tyler Ross, Conor McCahill. Synopsis: Nate is nineteen. Margaret is fifty-two. Their odd, quirky, totally working friendship gets rattled when Nate gets his first boyfriend, who drives him away from Margaret as she tries to pursue a life as a stand-up comedian.
Vanishing Waves (2012). Directed by Kristina Buozyte. Written by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper. Starring Marius Jampolskis, Jurga Jutaite, Rudolfas Jansonas. Synopsis: A neuron-transfer scientist experiments with the thoughts of a comatose young woman.