Film, USA/Australia, 2022 – out 21 March
Tom Hanks’ outrageously odd performance as Elvis’ evil manager Colonel Tom Parker would derail virtually any movie. But nobody derails a Baz Luhrmann movie other than Baz Luhrmann. The rockstar auteur, responsible for consuming at least half the world’s glitter supply, helms a characteristically exuberant biopic of the king of rock’n’roll, following Elvis Presley’s meteoric rise to superstardom – full of thumping tunes, fawning fans and pelvic gyrations.
Then comes the downward spiral, with old mate Elvis looking terribly haggard and long-faced by the end of it. Austin Butler is spectacular in the main role – but again, nobody is more spectacular than Baz, whose intoxicatingly rich style creates an exhaustingly impressive energy, sustained across a 159-minute runtime.
Film, USA, 2022 – out 9 March
Jordan Peele’s Spielbergian hybrid of horror, sci-fi and neo-western is one of those films where the viewer spends a considerable portion of time just trying to establish what kind of story they’re watching. One understands it’s about UFOs, following an early death-by-fallen-object and later the sight of a flying saucer observed by OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer), siblings who run a business providing horses for film and TV productions.
You won’t forget the ranch where most of Nope takes place: a stomping ground for slow, stretched out, impressively executed set pieces that gain tension as they inch forward. Nor will you forget the ending, with Peele elevating his knack for conjuring vivid, gargantuan atmosphere.
TV, Australia, 2023 – out 29 March
Adapted from a book by the wonderful Brigid Delaney, who wrote a long-running column for this very masthead, this Netflix original series stars Celeste Barber as Liv, a food blogger who decides to improve her life by partaking in a “wellness journey”. Delaney herself is on board as a co-creator (with Benjamin Law). Her book was described by the Sydney Morning Herald as an “entertaining romp” – let’s hope the series is too.
Honourable mentions: Babyteeth (film, out now), MH370: The Plane That Disappeared (TV, 8 March), Luther: The Fallen Sun (film, 10 March), Noise (film, 17 March), We Lost Our Human (TV, 21 March), Waco: American Apocalypse (TV, 22 March), Murder Mystery 2 (film, 31 March).
TV, 2023, USA – out 20 March
Bob Odenkirk reunites with the executive producer of Breaking Bad in this comedy series, getting cranky and curmudgeonly as William Henry “Hank” Devereaux Jr., an English professor who doesn’t seem to have the highest regard for the college where he teaches. “The fact that you’re here means you show very little promise!” he hollers at one student in a clip featured in the trailer. He picks a fight with a goose a couple of scenes later.
Does this guy do children’s parties? And will the show – adapting Richard Russo’s 1997 novel Straight Man, inspired by the author’s experiences at various universities – be as amusing as the trailer? Time will tell.
Stories We Tell
Film, 2012, Canada – out 23 March
Sarah Polley’s debut documentary opens with a voiceover of a Margaret Atwood quote: “When you’re in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all, it’s a confusion.” We learn the elderly man voicing that quote is Polley’s father, the British actor Michael Polley. Then comes the confusion: Polley’s mother, Diane, had multiple sexual partners, causing the director to wonder whether Michael is her biological father.
Polley – whose film Women Talking is up for best picture at this year’s Oscars – searches for answers in a quest that holds personal significance. But it also has profound implications for the medium she’s crafting – triggering questions around the unreliability of memories and the documentary form’s capacity for sleight of hand. It’s a vivid, compassionate, tricky work, cerebral but with a big heart.
Honourable mentions: The Dry (film, out now), Shaun the Sheep – Farmageddon (film, out now), Promising Young Woman (film, out now), Rams (film, out now), Dawn of the Dolphins (TV, 6 March), Revealed: Trafficked (TV, 12 March), Gasland (film, 19 March), Father of My Children (film, 25 March).
In Our Blood
TV, Australia, 2023 – out 19 March
The use of direct address in this mini-series about the LGBTQIA+ community’s response to the Aids outbreak in Australia feels less like breaking the fourth wall than a warm embrace, drawing viewers into the narrative world. The show begins by declaring Sydney a “big and bold” place where “you can get lost … and reinvent yourself”. Patches nightclub on Oxford Street is full of celebration, with Bob Hawke’s newly elected government offering new hope for gay rights.
The Aids crisis is looming, however, and newly appointed federal health minister David Westford (Tim Draxl) resolves to act quickly. The series highlights revolting instances of homophobia (one White House employee, for instance, describes Aids as “the will of god”) but ultimately this is a story about a community coming together for a common purpose. Songs laced throughout the series imbue it with an appealing theatricality; some of the music sent tingles down my spine.
Honourable mentions: Black Mirror season 3 (TV, out now), Women of Steel (film, out now), Under the Vines (TV, 11 March), Close to Me (TV, 17 March), Knowing the Score (film, 28 March).
SBS on Demand
Reframed: Marilyn Monroe
TV, USA, 2022 – out 8 March
The great Marilyn Monroe became a Rorschach blot a long time ago, the legacy of this complex and hugely influential person repurposed by every generation. The actor was recently the subject of Andrew Dominik’s biopic Blonde: a gross, watch-through-the-slits-of-your-fingers experience presenting one of the 20th century’s most famous women as nothing more than a victim. In the terrible hangover from that film, it’s a fitting time to, indeed, reframe the subject. This new documentary – narrated by Jessica Chastain – purports to do that, exploring Monroe’s impact on Hollywood and taking on misogyny in America.
Honourable mentions: Vigil (TV, out now), Fragrance of the First Flower (TV, out now), The Swap (TV, 8 March), Mayflies (TV, 15 March), Inside The Manson Cult: The Lost Tapes (TV, 18 March), The Shelter (TV, 23 March), Watergate: High Crimes in the White House (film, 26 March), The Elon Musk Show (TV, 30 March).
Amazon Prime Video
Daisy Jones & The Six
TV, USA, 2023 – out now
The band that plays together, stays together – said nobody ever. This new series, adapted from Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bestselling novel of the same name, embraces the hard truth that every great band must experience an acrimonious split (hey Rolling Stones, there’s still time!). The show jumps between the present – where characters appear before the camera, documentary-style, reflecting on their mega-successful past – and the 1970s, in pockets of drama illustrating their journey from enthusiastic nobodies to bona fide stars.
Bodies Bodies Bodies
Film, USA, 2022 – out 30 March
Director Halina Reijn’s tense and twitchy addition to the ever-popular murder mystery genre transpires during a booze and drug-filled bender, where a party game styled on murder in the dark precedes an actual death – the obnoxious David (Pete Davidson) found with his throat slashed. The title implies his body will not be the only one – but who is killing who, and why? It’s a tough genre to surprise in, but rest assured, you won’t see the ending coming.
Honourable mentions: Men (film, out now), The Invitation (film, 9 March), The O.C. seasons 1-4 (TV, 15 March), Swarm season 1 (TV, 17 March), Oceans 11, 12 and 13 (film, 24 March), The Power (TV, 31 March).
TV, UK/USA, 2023 – out 7 March
Tired of watching all those British police procedurals and period dramas? Time to mess up the palette with this wild comedy-drama created and written by Cash Carraway. It’s fiendishly bold, with an attitude that hits you like a blast of hot air from the oven. The story revolves around Costello (Daisy May Cooper), a lower-class single mother living in London, plus her young daughter Iris (Fleur Tashjian) and best friend Selby (Jack Farthing), who’s just been released from prison.
It’s the sort of show where you don’t blink twice when the protagonist is asked how she’s doing and responds, “Tired, I’ve got a gushing case of the thrush.” The script has a frisky, cheeky wit and the performances feel eye-poppingly genuine.
TV, USA, 2023 – out 15 March
Batman fans are accustomed to seeing the Dark Knight recast and reinvented, sporting various changes in costume, voice and temperament. They’re not used to seeing him lying dead face down on the pavement. This vision unfolds in the opening minutes of Gotham Knights, in which the adopted son of Bruce Wayne – Turner Hayes (Oscar Morgan) – is framed for the murder of his father, along with several children of Batman’s enemies, including the daughter of The Joker (Olivia Rose Keegan). The show has a Riverdale-esque energy, with a thick, gluggy atmosphere and self-consciously sombre performances – a little stagey, but not terribly so.
Succession season four
TV USA, 2023 – out 27 March
The fourth season of Jesse Armstrong’s very popular and well-loved drama – memorably described by Lucy Mangan as “exquisite agony” – will be its last. We once again follow the Murdoch-inspired Roy family, who are known for their scheming, power plays, and general ratbaggery. According to the official synopsis, the prospect of a possible upcoming sale of their company “provokes existential angst and familial division”, the Roys being forced to “anticipate what their lives will look like once the deal is complete”.
Honourable mentions: Beyond Paradise (TV, out now), Bullet Train (film, 9 March), Hope (film, 9 March), Elvis (film, 21 March), Jane Fonda: In Five Acts (film, 30 March), Beast (film, 21 March).
Film, UK/USA, 2023 – out 31 March
Adapted from the hugely successful video game, Tetris the movie stars one square block, one straight line, one T-shaped element … you get the joke. Rather than dramatising the game itself, which would be weird, Jon S. Baird’s film follows Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton), a Dutch entrepreneur determined to secure the game’s global distribution rights, which involves traveling to the Soviet Union to meet its inventor (Nikita Efremov) and getting caught up in the battle between communism and capitalism. Which is also weird, but apparently true.
Ted Lasso season three
TV, USA, 2023 – out 15 March
Wholesome, hopeful and optimistic, the writers of Ted Lasso are obviously deranged individuals who need to take a good hard look at themselves, and become bitter and jaded just like the rest of us. They do know something, however, about not stretching things out too long, and the third season of the popular show – which follows the titular soccer coach (Jason Sudeikis) and the fictitious AFC Richmond team – is reportedly its last. Despite its sickeningly positive outlook, Ted Lasso makes time for meaty topics, such as mental health issues and the right (arguably the responsibility) for athletes to take a stand against problematic sponsors.
Honourable mentions: The Problem with Jon Stewart season 2, part 2 (TV, 3 March), Extrapolations (TV, 17 March), My Kind of Country (TV, 24 March), The Big Door Prize (TV, 29 March).
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Film, USA, 2022 – out 2 March
Daniel Radcliffe’s career certainly got a bit weird, his roles in the last decade including a gaseous corpse, a game developer with guns bolted to his hands, and a dude who gets lost in the Amazon and experiences hardcore hallucinations. Now he’s getting weirder, Al Yankovic style. Weird Al himself co-wrote and produced the film – a parody of biopics sledged by Peter Bradshaw for being “laboriously unfunny and pointless”. Wendy Ide liked it a smidge more, describing it as “extravagantly offbeat” and “mildly amusing”.
Honourable mentions: Corpo Libero (TV, 9 March), School Spirits (TV, 10 March), Unwelcome (TV, 17 March), Yellowjackets season 2 (TV, 24 March), Rabbit Hole (TV, 27 March).
This article was amended on 6 March 2023. In an earlier version an actor in In Our Blood was misidentified as Matt Nable.