What to Watch

What to Watch This Week: Wonka, Percy Jackson, and More

This week's recommendations (which extend into next week) also include Bradley Cooper's Leonard Bernstein biopic, a satire starring Jeffrey Wright, and the return of a popular action series.

by | December 14, 2023 | Comments


The return of Oompa Loompas into your life is only one of five great picks this week, but what more do you really need?

Along with a prequel to a childhood classic about, well, chocolate; we’ve got the return of Percy Jackson (now in series form), a very Bradley Cooper moviea a dramedy starring the highly underrated Jeffrey Wright, and season 2 of one of one of Prime’s best shows – and that’s not a reach.

Bringing the oompa and loompa to theaters is the musical fantasy film Wonka.

The first reason to check this one out is that it serves as a prequel to the 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and features Wonka’s early days as an eccentric chocolatier. Hey, isn’t Eccentric Chocolatier going on tour next spring?

Another reason is that this film stars Timothée Chalamet, who was director Paul King’s only choice after seeing Chalamet’s high school singing and dancing performances on YouTube. He’s joined by a supporting cast that includes Olivia Colman, Keegan-Michael Key, and Hugh Grant as — wait for it — an Oompa-Loompa.

Thirdly, director King is actually well-suited for this gig, considering he has the family-friendly Paddington and Paddington 2 on his resume, the latter of which was the best-reviewed movie on Rotten Tomatoes ever for a time. That is no small feat.

Where to Watch: In theaters

Premiering on Disney+ this week is the new series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The main reason to give this show a chance is that it comes from a series of very popular fantasy novels first published in 2005, with a sixth installment that came this year and another one coming in 2024. There’s also two prequel book series and some other related short stories as well, so if this new show is popular, you know there’s more where that came from.

Of course, you may remember the Percy Jackson movies that came in 2010 and 2013 starring Logan Lerman and Alexandra Daddario, which are both Rotten on the Tomatometer, mostly due to deviations from the source material. But unlike those movies, this series will have the books’ author, Rick Riordan, heavily involved to make sure things stay true to his work.

The third reason to watch this show is the cast, which is a mix of newbies — led by Walker Scobell as Percy — and veterans like Megan Mullally, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the late Lance Reddick, who fittingly plays Zeus in his final TV appearance.

Where to Watch: Disney+ on Wednesday, December 20

Crescendoing its way onto Netflix this week is the biopic Maestro. And perhaps the main reason to orchestrate a way to see this is that it’s based on American composer Leonard Bernstein and his relationship with wife Felicia Montealegre. So you’ll learn a thing or two — of course, through the lens of Hollywood, that is.

A second big reason to watch Maestro is Bradley Cooper. Sure, he stars in it as Bernstein, but he also directed the movie and co-wrote it with Josh Singer, who, by the way, won an Oscar for writing Spotlight. The cast also includes Carey Mulligan as Montealegre and Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, and Sarah Silverman.

The third reason to take the time to enjoy this film is that after premiering at the Venice Film Festival in September, it’s already very Certified Fresh with a high Audience Score to go with it. It’s like when the brass and woodwinds blend perfectly together.

Where to Watch: Netflix on Wednesday, December 20

Opening in theaters this week is the dramedy film American Fiction. The first thing that jumps out with this one is the equally fun and thought-provoking story, about a frustrated Black novelist who jokingly writes an overly stereotypical “Black” book out of spite, only for it to unexpectedly become a hit.

Secondly, the cast is stacked, led by Jeffrey Wright in the lead role and folks like Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae, and Sterling K. Brown also along for the ride. So good.

The third reason you’ll want to stay true to seeing American Fiction is that it’s already a Certified Fresh hit with critics, with much praise going to Wright and his “committed approach to the pointedly humorous and insightful material.”

Where to Watch: In theaters

And coming back for a highly anticipated second season is the Prime Video show Reacher. This series made a huge splash when it debuted in 2022, becoming the first Amazon production to be the “most streamed series” for its first week, according to the Nielsen streaming rankings. Not to mention it’s Certified Fresh with critics.

If that’s not reason enough to reach for the remote, it’s worth noting that this show is, of course, based on the popular book series by Lee Child, which began back in 1997 and is still going strong today. Reading is good.

And speaking of the book series, the third reason to check this one out is the show’s star, Alan Ritchson, who fits the books’ profile of Jack Reacher perfectly, and much more so than the movies did. In other words, Ritchson is big and bulky while Tom Cruise, well, isn’t either of those things.

Where to Watch: Prime Video

Hopefully our recommendations helped you fill up your entertainment calendar this weekend. Be sure to let us know in the comments what you watched, whether it was on this list or not!

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