Films to stream
1. The King of Staten Island
Saturday Night Live breakout star Pete Davidson gets his first lead role, in a Judd Apatow-directed comedy that he helped co-write. It’s clearly inspired by details of Davidson’s own life: he plays a twentysomething whose life has been upended by the death of his firefighter dad; his mother’s new relationship forces him out of his slump.
Digital platforms, out now
2. Da 5 Bloods
Timing is everything: Spike Lee’s latest is a welcome addition to the Black Lives Matter cause, a Vietnam war film exploring the experience of African-American soldiers in the conflict, as four veterans return decades later to search for the remains of their squad leader. Delroy Lindo and Jonathan Majors star.
Netflix, out now
3. Joan of Arc
France’s national heroine, who saw off the English during the hundred years war before being captured and burned at the stake in 1431, is a hardy perennial of French cinema. This is Dumont’s second go at the subject, much more straightforward than his rock music version from 2017, though it has the same teenage star, Lise Leplat Prudhomme.
Curzon Home Cinema, 19 June
4. Wasp Network
Olivier Assayas is the French director who gave us the mammoth Carlos, about the celebrated spy/assassin. Here he returns to not dissimilar territory, with Carlos’s Édgar Ramirez as a Cuban pilot who is charged with infiltrating anti-Castro exiles in Miami, Florida – much to the consternation of his wife (Penélope Cruz), who is unaware of the realities of his mission.
Netflix, 19 June
5. Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo
Trejo is the instantly recognisable hatchet-faced actor best known for a string of badass roles in films such as Desperado and Machete. This doc chronicles his tumultuous life story, which included several prison spells in California before he got into acting (and, later, restaurant-owning).
Digital platforms, 22 June
6. Athlete A
(Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk)
Another in Netflix’s impressive string of hard-hitting documentaries, this follows the exposé (by reporters from the Indianapolis Star) of the sex abuse scandal in US gymnastics. It centres on national team doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to hundreds of years in prison on multiple charges of sexual assault.
Netflix, 24 June
7. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Hollywood, it seems, has cottoned on to the rich absurdity of Eurovision, and Will Ferrell is spearheading this comedy from Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin. Its title alludes slyly to Game of Thrones; not surprising, then, that it focuses on Iceland’s entry into the competition, with Ferrell and Rachel McAdams giving it their all.
Netflix, 26 June
US satirist and chatshow paragon Jon Stewart makes his second foray into film directing. In contrast to his debut, Rosewater, this takes aim squarely at the right-left political confrontation of the Trump era. Steve Carell is the Democrat political strategist who thinks he can upset the conservative certainties of a small town; Rose Byrne is the Republican rival who takes him on.
Digital platforms, 26 June
9. The Old Guard
Charlize Theron leads a strong cast (which includes Beale Street’s KiKi Layne and Rust and Bone’s Matthias Schoenaerts) in a comic book-based superhero yarn: she plays an immortal soldier once known as Andromache of Syria, but now the head of a group of mercenaries of similar vintage who are tasked with defending humanity.
Netflix, 10 July
10. Boyz in the Wood
An unexpected homegrown success from Scotland: a horror-comedy about a bunch of city-raised teens who are stuck in the Highlands on a Duke of Edinburgh award scheme – where they are stalked by sinister mask-wearing poshos. “Trainspotting meets The League of Gentlemen” is how it’s being described.
Amazon Prime Video, 7 August
11. Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher
Since 2017’s intimate Stranger in the Alps, 25-year-old LA singer-songwriter Bridgers has started two new bands (Boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center) and appeared all over the 1975’s latest opus. Here she pulls the focus back in striking fashion, expanding on her alt-rock sound while continuing her knack for transforming melancholia into something beautiful.
12. Jessie Ware: What’s Your Pleasure?
While 2017’s beige Glasshouse was the perfect musical accompaniment to her successful food podcast, Table Manners, this sweatier, sexier fourth album finds Ware channelling her inner dancefloor diva. Excellent recent single Ooh La La references pop outlier Róisín Murphy, while the house-y Mirage (Don’t Stop) could soundtrack any socially distanced BBQ.
13. Arca: KiCk i
Björk, Rosalía and Sophie guest on this fourth album from the pioneering Venezuelan producer Alejandra Ghersi. While her previous efforts sounded as twisted as their disturbing visuals, the more inviting KiCk i (there are apparently three more volumes to come) finds her dabbling in trap, reggaeton and dreamy electro-pop.
14. Haim: Women in Music Pt III
Everyone’s favourite Californian sisters return with their pointedly titled third album. Looser and more experimental than their previous collections, the six singles (!) to emerge so far range from I Know Alone’s UK garage-dabbling, sun-kissed confection (complete with viral dance routine) to the rock sheen of the Sheryl Crow-esque The Steps.
15. Brandy: B7
In the eight years since her last album, the rightfully nicknamed “vocal Bible” has seen her influence underlined by the likes of Solange, Kehlani and Frank Ocean. After years of being the muse for songwriters and producers including Timbaland and Rodney Jerkins, the luxuriant, experimental R&B of B7 finds her co-writing and co-producing on every song.
16. Fontaines DC: A Hero’s Death
Fifteen months since the release of their Mercury-nominated debut, Dogrel, the Irish post-punkers return with a more expansive follow-up. Recorded quickly with producer Dan Carey (Black Midi, La Roux), A Hero’s Death apparently draws inspiration from the likes of Suicide, Broadcast and, as hinted at by its title track, the Beach Boys.
17. Biffy Clyro: A Celebration of Endings
The T-shirt averse Scottish rockers continue their journey from cult concern with a woeful name to X Factor-adjacent chart-toppers on their eighth album, co-produced once again by Muse collaborator Rich Costey. Expect more meaty rock, more stadium-ready ballads and even more chances to see male nipples.
18. Disclosure: Energy
After a five-year hiatus following second album Caracal, UK dance producers Guy and Howard Lawrence are back with a clutch of summer-ready bangers. Kelis, Fatoumata Diawara and Slowthai are among the vocalists, while the pulsating title track, which features motivational speaker Eric Thomas, suggests the title is 100% apt.
19. Kelly Lee Owens: Inner Song
Originally scheduled for May, dance experimentalist Lee Owens’s second album now arrives in time for sticky, late summer nights. Touching on the personal – tactile banger Night focuses on strength in solitude – and the political via the climate crisis-citing Melt!, it’s a dancefloor-ready album for the head and heart.
20. Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over the Country Club
This follow-up to 2019’s gorgeous Norman Fucking Rockwell! is already controversial, with its announcement tacked on to the end of a much-critiqued Instagram post that undermined legitimate views on female agency by critiquing mainly black female artists. The album will be joined by two books of poetry, so brace yourselves.
21. Slow Burn
Slate’s ever-gripping anthology podcast – previous seasons of which have delved into the Watergate scandal, the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the death of Tupac Shakur – moves into timely territory with a series on white supremacist leader David Duke. Exploring Duke’s manoeuvres into politics and his mainstreaming of far-right ideology, journalist Josh Levin examines the links between organisations including the Ku Klux Klan and the powers that be in the United States.
Slate, out now
22. The Special Relationship
This mockumentary pod from duo Alex Owen and Ben Ashenden, AKA The Pin, is sure to be an anarchic listen, as we follow two hopeless British comics trying to make it in the US. Exploring “the hilariously unhealthy co-dependence of the delusional pair”, it also boasts a cast of comic talents from both sides of the Atlantic, including Lolly Adefope, Jamie Demetriou, Kate Berlant and Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong.
Audible, expected July
23. Rise of the Iron Men
Journalist and McMafia author Misha Glenny follows up his audio series Putin: Prisoner of Power with another podcast, this time charting the rise of other “Iron Man” political leaders, who espouse the cause of free speech while keeping the firmest of grips on their respective nations. From Erdo?an in Turkey to India’s Modi and Bolsonaro in Brazil, Glenny aims to craft a “thriller-esque narrative” around each of these formidable, populist leaders with nationalist aims.
Audible, expected August
24. Sex, Lies and DM Slides
Cook-turned-media personality Gizzi Erskine teams up with multi-hyphenate model, DJ and writer Sydney Lima for a new podcast covering online dating to sex pests, dick pics to porn, which is sure to appeal to fans of The Receipts, The Hotbed and maybe even the New York Times’s more earnest Modern Love. With guests ranging from celebrities to sex workers, dominatrixes to comedians, expect a show that’s as frank and insightful as it is accessible.
Spotify, summer TBC
25. Hear to Slay
Author and cultural commentator Roxane Gay – known for her frank dissection of race, body image and feminism – and writer and sociology professor Tressie McMillan Cottom are set to return with another series of the “black feminist podcast of your dreams”. Taking an intelligent, intersectional look at everything from sexual abuse in Hollywood to black women in rap, this is a totally brilliant show that always fizzes with black girl magic.
Luminary, summer TBC
26. The Great
Tony McNamara, co-writer of The Favourite, brings some of the same courtly nincompoopery to a freestyle bio of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning), who becomes empress of Russia when she marries bonehead ruler Peter (Nicholas Hoult). Presenting a battle against grotesque misogyny as a clever but absurd comedy is a gamble that pays off.
Starzplay, 18 June
Season four of HBO’s emotionally intelligent dramedy finds Issa (Issa Rae) still stumbling towards adulthood, as she and best mate Molly (Yvonne Orji) again threaten to grow apart, and Issa’s ex continues to live in her head. In its subtle, introspective way, it’s still TV’s sharpest document of the black/millennial/LA experience.
Sky Comedy/Now TV, 23 June
28. Celebrity Snoop Dogs
Celebrity property shows reach a new low – just above floor level, in fact – in a series that straps GoPro cameras to stars’ best friends. As the mutts nose around, we guess who owns them and the house, in a format that raises the happy possibility of Keith Lemon one day being replaced on Through the Keyhole by a labrador.
Channel 4, 26 June
The off-the-chain German sci-fi twister roars back, following a shock season two ending that added parallel worlds to Dark’s already confusing time loops. Can the forces of evil, or that big wobbly sphere thing, be defeated? It’s the final season so the story ends, or begins, or implodes into a humanity-erasing void, here.
Netflix, 27 June
30. Dead Still
Focused on crime drama, Acorn TV is a strong new niche streaming player, rich in rights ownership (Foyle’s War, anything Agatha Christie) and original shows. This droll black comedy stars Michael Smiley as a 19th-century Irish photographer who specialises in snapping the deceased, but ends up having to investigate a serial killer.
Acorn TV, 29 June
31. The Luminaries
Eleanor Catton dismantles her own 2013 Booker-winning novel across six episodes, with Eve Hewson (The Knick) as the adventurous young Brit trying to make a new life in New Zealand in the 1860s. Its visual opulence, thwarted romance and layers of cliffhanging mystery should make for a sultry, escapist summer hit.
BBC One, June/July TBC
Season two of a thriller that has successfully spun the 2011 movie – about a teen girl raised to be an elite killer spy – out into episodic format, while maintaining a sparse efficiency of storytelling as well as a careful balance of tension and action. Esme Creed-Miles is strong as the enigmatic, almost superhero-like lead character, originally played in the film by Saoirse Ronan.
Amazon Prime Video, 3 July
33. Little Voice
Not a remake of the 1998 Jane Horrocks Britflick, although the theme of deriving hope from music is similar. Writer-director Jessie Nelson and songwriter Sara Bareilles – the team behind the stage musical Waitress – team up with JJ Abrams for this love letter to the NYC music scene, starring Brittany O’Grady as one of many young hopefuls hoping to sing their way out of obscurity – and find themselves while they’re at it.
Apple TV+, 10 July
34. Muppets Now
Having lived off The Mandalorian for perhaps too long, Disney+ heralds a new wave of original content by dusting down Kermit and co. As has become the norm with modern Muppets, it’s well meta: the “unscripted” show centres on Scooter’s efforts to deliver the new Muppets TV show so it can be streamed.
Disney+, 31 July
35. Mrs America
This nuanced, resonant biographical miniseries has a golden supporting cast – Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba, John Slattery, Melanie Lynskey, Sarah Paulson, Tracey Ullman – backing Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of 1970s US conservative Phyllis Schlafly, whose successful efforts to prevent sex-discrimination legislation defined what second-wave feminism was up against.
BBC Two, July
Looking for the next Fortnite? This may well be it. Valorant is attracting huge interest from esports and streaming stars and their millions of young followers. It hinges on characters with different abilities like Overwatch and accurate sharpshooting like Counter-Strike but, happily, it’s still fun even if you’re not the most accurate shot, especially with friends on your team.
PC, out now
37. The Sims: Eco Lifestyle
Love The Sims, but find that its ultra-capitalism grates on your leftie sensibilities? To appease today’s eco-conscious Gen Z audience, Maxis is giving its long-running, ludicrously compelling life-simulation game a green update. Your little computer people will soon be able to live zero-waste, upcycling, solar-powered, vegan virtual lives, transforming a grimy rundown port town into a futuristic eco-oasis.
PC, PS4, XBox One, out now
38. The Last of Us Part II
A tense, terrifying post-apocalyptic drama about a deadly contagion might sound like the last thing you want to play right now, but The Last of Us Part II is an undisputed event in the world of gaming. A horror-tinged action game about a gay 19-year-old and the people around her, it explores some heavy stuff about relationships, revenge and what humans are capable of doing for and to each other in extreme circumstances.
PS4, 19 June
39. Ghost of Tsushima
A stunning-looking tribute to 50s and 60s samurai action movies, this takes us to 13th-century Japan – to grassy fields, feudal villages and shining blades crashing under falling cherry blossoms. The story plays with themes of honour and responsibility, and is a real showcase for the technical and artistic talents of developer Sucker Punch.
PS4, 17 July
40. Paper Mario: The Origami King
If some of the other games sound a bit dark, how about wholesome, lovely Super Mario? Here, everything is made of paper, including Mario and his various cutesy foes. Slapstick humour, applause-worthy puns and a touch of endearing weirdness always make these games worth playing, and you don’t need to be overly familiar with Nintendo to enjoy the jokes and the whimsy.
Nintendo Switch, 17 July
41. BBC Culture in Quarantine
The BBC is debuting 25 new lockdown-themed works, embracing visual, sonic and performance arts. Premieres include an exploration of African and Caribbean dance, an all-star Swan Lake bath ballet experience and plenty of beat-boxing, puppetry and drama for theatre fans. MG
bbc.co.uk/arts, out now
42. Future Threads
This programme of talks, music and multimedia projects will explore how artists across the Arab world are reacting to the crisis. Tune in via Zoom for conversation with Tehran collective New Media Society on the challenges facing Iran’s art scene, or kick back to live music from Syrian sound artist Hello Psychaleppo. SS
mosaicrooms.org, June to September
43. I Should Be Doing Something Else Right Now
This online programme has themed strands, such as Sleep Mode, offering respite from switched-on lives, with performance art and a riff on the Guardian’s Country Diary column. Plus, for the podcast Coping Mechanisms, artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard talk to friends including Carol Morley. SS
somersethouse.org, June and July
44. Live from Covent Garden
The Royal Opera House opens its doors for its first live concerts since March – but only for the socially distanced performers; the rest of us can watch online. The first concert is free and it’s a gala of opera and dance, including a world premiere by Wayne McGregor. LW
YouTube, 13 June, 7.30pm
45. BBC Proms
So far the Proms have given more of a statement of intent than a full programme. We know they kick off with a “new” work: Iain Farrington’s Beethoven mash-up featuring all the BBC orchestras, with archive concerts on subsequent evenings. For the final fortnight there are hopes for live concerts, performed in an empty Albert Hall. AC
Radio 3 and online, 17 July to 12 September
46. Always Be Comedy
“The most wonderful comedy night in the world,” according to Katherine Ryan, ABC has been a thriving online presence in lockdown, combining big names and new talent. Upcoming shows will include the likes of Mark Steel, Isy Suttie and Ahir Shah, as well as mystery guests. KB
alwaysbecomedy.com, June and July
47. Up My Street: Online!
This festival embodies that community spirit we’ve all located in lockdown, featuring dancers from teens to pensioners, and choreographers such as Temujin Gill. Four episodes feature dance pieces created using Zoom, WhatsApp and gaming techniques. LW
facebook.com/greenwichdance, weekly from 25 June
48. Live at the Village Vanguard
New York’s Village Vanguard, the world’s oldest continuously operated jazz club, starts live-streamed Sat and Sun gigs from today – opening with former Herbie Hancock drummer Billy Hart’s quartet, plus global-jazz pianist Vijay Iyer later in the month. JF
villagevanguard.com, from 13 June
49. Old Vic: In Camera
The Old Vic is staging socially distanced performances and play readings streamed live from the theatre. The season kicks off with Claire Foy and Matt Smith reviving Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs. Tickets will be available for a limited audience of 1,000. MG
oldvictheatre.com, 26 June to 4 July
The hip-hop musical hit has finally made it online. Filmed over three Broadway performances in 2016, this features the stellar original cast, including Lin-Manuel Miranda as founding father Alexander Hamilton and Leslie Odom Jr as Aaron Burr. MG
Disney +, 3 July
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