……BY BILLY SUTER…..
A VERY good variety of films has been scheduled for the Showmax streaming platform this and next month, among them one of this year’s biggest successes – Top Gun: Maverick, starring Tom Cruise – which is to premiere on January 23.
After 30 years, Maverick (Cruise) is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but now must confront ghosts of his past when he leads Top Gun’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.
Nominated for the People’s Choice Award for The Movie of 2022, Top Gun: Maverick co-stars Miles Teller (The Offer), Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream), Val Kilmer (Heat) and Emmy-winner Jon Hamm (Mad Men).
Also great news is that the second season of the Emmy-winning The White Lotus is to stream on Showmax from December 12. This time, the show swaps Hawaii for Sicily, following a new group of holidaymakers jetting off to a different White Lotus resort.
Season One was the most awarded show at the 2022 Emmys, winning 10 awards, including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, Directing and Writing. It also took the award for Supporting, for Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya – who returns in season two.
The new cast includes Peabody Award-winner Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), Theo James (Divergent), F Murray Abraham (Amadeus, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) and Adam DiMarco (Todd/Elliott in The Magicians).
The Times calls this season “a whodunnit like no other” and London Evening Standard says, “As funny as ever, if slightly seedier, the second series is a brilliant rumination on desire and its destructive capability”.
Also note that Showmax is counting down the days to Christmas, advent calendar style, with a new festive film every day until Santa comes.
Alongside classics like How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Stick Man, look out for Christmas is Cancelled, streaming from December 19, which stars Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs), Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding), and Janel Parrish (Pretty Little Liars).
Christmas is Cancelled focuses on 29-year-old Emma, who finds out her widowed, 52-year-old dad has been dating her high school nemesis. Emma freaks out and embarks on a hilarious, no-holds-barred mission to break them up during their annual family Christmas festivities.
Respect, a film telling of the rise to fame of Aretha Franklin, is set to stream from December 22. South African Liesl Tommy (Mrs Fletcher, The Walking Dead, Jessica Jones) directs this movie about the Queen of Soul. It stars Jennifer Hudson, who was reportedly recommended by Aretha herself after she saw Hudson in Dreamgirls
The cast includes Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Tate Donovan, Marlon Wayans, Marc Maron and nine-time Grammy winner Mary J Blige.
Streaming from December 15 is Queen Bees, in which fiercely independent senior Helen temporarily moves into a nearby retirement community, where she encounters lusty widows, cutthroat bridge tournaments and a hotbed of bullying “mean girls”.
Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream) leads the cast, alongside Ann-Margret (Grumpy Old Men) and the late James Caan (The Godfather),as well as Jane Curtin (3rd Rock From The Sun), Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy), Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future) and Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost).
Scheduled for Showmax from January 9 is Licorice Pizza, a film nominated for three Oscars this year – Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It tells of Alana Kane, a 25-year-old photography assistant, and 15-year-old actor Gary Valentine, as they navigate first love in the 1970s.
Also of note, streaming on Showmax from January 5, is House of Gucci, for which Lady Gaga was Oscar-nominated this year.
Inspired by the shocking true story of the family behind the Italian fashion empire, House of Gucci is directed by Ridley Scott. It follows Patrizia Reggiani, an outsider from humble beginnings, who marries into the Gucci family. But her unbridled ambition begins to unravel their legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge and, ultimately, murder.
The cast includes Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek and Jack Huston.
A film described by The Telegraph as “stylish, gripping and brisk” is scheduled to stream from December 9. Titled Kimi, it stars Zoë Kravitz (Big Little Lies) who plays Angela Childs, an agoraphobic Seattle tech worker who uncovers evidence of a crime.
Directed by Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies and Videotape), Kimi was nominated for Best Streaming Movie at the 2022 Hollywood Critics Association Television Awards.
Moonfall, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Halle Berry, is scheduled to stream on Showmax form December 12. It is a sci-fi disaster romp that sees the moon hurtling on a collision course toward Earth after a mysterious force knocks it out of orbit.
Also among the cast are Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Donald Sutherland and Nigerian-American actor Eme Ikwuakor.
From January 2, Showmax followers can catch the animated The Addams Family 2, in which everyone’s favourite spooky family is back and Morticia (Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac) are distraught that their children are growing up, skipping family dinners, and are totally consumed with “scream time”.
To reclaim their bond, they decide to cram Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz), Pugsley (Javon Walton), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) and the crew into their haunted camper for one last marvellously miserable family road trip.
Theron was nominated for a Kids’ Choice Award for Favourite Voice From An Animated Movie.
James MacAvoy and Sharon Hoargan team in Together, streaming from January 30. It centres on a husband and wife whose relationship is tested by the Covid-19 lockdown.
Co-directed by three-time Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) and written by Dennis Kelly (Utopia), Together won the 2022 Bafta for Single Drama, with McAvoy taking home a Bafta Scotland Award for Best Actor (Television).
The Observer calls the film “an hour-and-a-half of cinematic fury… at once suspenseful, provocative, funny and heartbreaking”.
Streaming from January 26, Get Out has recently been named one of the top 100 films of all time in Sight & Sound’s once-a-decade critics’ poll. It follows a young African-American who visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him reaches a boiling point.
For Get Out, Jordan Peele became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, as well as the first African American to be nominated for producing, writing and directing in the same year. Get Out went on to win 150 awards internationally.
As Chris Washington, Daniel Kaluuya was nominated for an Oscar and Bafta for Best Actor.
Also look out for Peele’s similarly acclaimed horror film, Us, starring Lupita Nyong’o, back on Showmax from January 26.
Currently streaming on Showmax is a winner of six Oscars and five Baftas, Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) and based on Frank Herbert’s classic bestseller.
Dune tells of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people – as conflict grows over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence.
Rebecca Ferguson (The Greatest Showman), Oscar-winner Javier Bardem, Emmy-winner Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista co-star.
Also now streaming is Moonshot, which follows Walt (Cole Sprouse from Riverdale) and Sophie (Lana Condor from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) as they join forces to be reunited with their significant others – a journey that winds up taking them both wildly and unexpectedly off course.
A romantic comedy with a twist, Moonshot also stars Zach Braff (Scrubs), Lukas Gage (The White Lotus) and Mason Gooding (Scream).
Now streaming, too, is The Wolf of Snow Hollow, in which terror grips a small mountain town as bodies are discovered after each full moon. Losing sleep, raising a teenage daughter, and caring for his ailing father, officer Marshall struggles to remind himself there is no such thing as werewolves.
The cast includes Jim Cummings (who also wrote and directed the film), Robert Forster, Jimmy Tatro (American Vandal) and Riki Lindhome (Wednesday, Knives Out).
Downton Abbey the Movie, streaming from January 23, continues the story of the beloved, multi-award-winning historical drama series as the Crawleys and their intrepid staff prepare for the most important moment of their lives: a royal visit from the king and queen of England. But the auspicious occasion soon unleashes scandal, romance and intrigue, leaving the future of Downton hanging in the balance.
Written by series creator and Oscar winner Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), and directed by Michael Engler (The Gilded Age), the film stars Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Imelda Staunton and Maggie Smith.