We know you're probably busy rolling pie dough and basting various meats, so we've rounded up our picks for the best movies streaming this week through local theaters and nationwide platforms to save you a little time. See them all below, from the new music documentary Zappa to Fruit Chan's post-Handover indie film Made in Hong Kong, and from Scarecrow and Grand Illusion's Best of VHSMAS to the new K-Stew holiday rom-com Happiest Season. Plus, if you haven't heard, The Stranger's amateur porn film festival HUMP! is accepting submissions through January 8, as is the stoner short film fest SPLIFF, through March 5! Plus, don't forget to check out the first installment of The Stranger's Film Club, a new biweekly video series entering Black films with Stranger film experts Jasmyne Keimig and Charles Mudede.
Streaming: Local Connection
What happens when a Black child in a majority-white German town is told that her dark skin is simply a genetic coincidence? She'll invariably find out the truth, and, in director Ines Johnson-Spain's case, she'll make a film about it. See a limited screening of Becoming Black as part of Goethe Pop Up's German Cinema Now series.
Northwest Film Forum
The Best of VHSMAS
Blast your brain with clips from all three volumes of VHSMAS, Grand Illusion's annual compilation of Scarecrow's treasure trove of bonkers holiday videos.
Everything is Terrible!: The Holiday Edition
The found footage collective Everything is Terrible! (who pride themselves on having collected 15,000 Jerry Maguire VHS tapes and having remade The Holy Mountain out of dog footage) present a melange of fist fights over toys for tots, erotic Santas, Nazi elves, and an endless parade of singing children.
Made in Hong Kong
Shot on leftover 35mm short ends on a shoe-string budget in Hong Kong's crowded subsidized housing projects just after the UK returned the control of the city to China, Fruit Chan's pessimistic character study follows a high-school dropout named Autumn Moon (Sam Lee) who sees little hope for his future. It claims to be the first independent film made in Hong Kong.
Northwest Film Forum
Famous for betting against the Bank of England in the early '90s and making literally billions of dollars in one day, Holocaust survivor and philanthropist George Soros—who hails from authoritarian-ruled Hungary—was criticized by ideologues on both sides of the aisle, despite his public activism for good causes like free elections, freedom of the press, and civil rights for minorities. This documentary follows Soros around the globe, giving insight into his personal history and sustained mission to combat hate (which has, unsurprisingly, made him an enemy of Hungary's authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán).
If 2016's Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words didn't quell your obsession with the zany, occasionally cringy, ultimately very talented late rocker Frank Zappa, bust open a jar of peanut butter (Zappa's favorite tour snack) and catch this new documentary from Alex Winter, aka the guy who stars alongside Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
Northwest Film Forum, Grand Cinema, and various streaming platforms
HUMP! Greatest Hits, Volume 2
The HUMP! team is bringing back some fan-favorite amateur porn shorts from years past in the second volume of streamable compilations.
Travessias Brazilian Film Festival
UW Center for Brazilian Studies and curator Emanuella Leite Rodrigues de Moraes will co-present this mini-festival of contemporary women filmmakers from the largest South American country. The films—short, feature-length, animated, documentary, and narrative—explore urgent issues of race, gender, and sexuality.
Per the classic story by Anna Sewell (with a few gender flips), an orphaned girl forges a strong bond with a wild mustang (whose internal monologues are voiced by none other than Kate Winslet) that endures even when the horse gets sold to a string of ruthless new owners.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
A change.org petition made A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (and A Charlie Brown Christmas) viewable for free on PBS last week, but now it's back to Apple TV+ only. Make like Snoopy and prepare a feast of popcorn and toast if you like, but don't ignore the fact that the special's only Black character is seen sitting alone at a separate table during dinner.
Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker
Actress and producer Debbie Allen brings a heartwarming family-friendly documentary to Netflix this holiday season, all about the behind-the-scenes prep work that goes into the biggest production of the year for the young performers of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.
The Flight Attendant
The simple sight of an airplane at full occupancy, which would be a literal death trap in these times, may add some extra chills to this playfully self-aware thriller series about a flight attendant (Kaley Cuoco) who goes home with a swarthy passenger and wakes up next to his dead body. Think The Night Of (both protagonists don't remember the events of the night before and they both inexplicably decide to clean up the crime scene before fleeing, even though they're not sure they're guilty) but more cheeky.
As an accompaniment to her live album recorded with Jack Antonoff and the National's Aaron Dessner, Taylor Swift's Disney+ film set in the National’s Hudson Valley studio Long Pond sees the three artists reflecting on folklore and performing a stripped-down version of the record.
A quiet Thanksgiving for two erupts into a full-blown reunion among a gaggle of friends, lovers, and past acquaintances in Nicol Paone's holiday comedy starring Malin Akerman, Aisha Tyler, and Kat Dennings.
'Tis the season for a star-studded holiday rom-com that looks...actually very fun. Kristen Stewart plays Abby, a woman who's meeting her girlfriend Harper's (Mackenzie Davis) parents over Christmas, only to find out that her girlfriend is not yet out to her family. Alison Brie, Victor Garber, Dan Levy, and Mary Steenburgen fill out the supporting cast.
Pieces of April
Late Dawson's Creek's-era Katie Holmes plays a rebellious teen who, upon finding out that her mother is dying of cancer, prepares a Thanksgiving feast for her estranged family.
Saved by the Bell
The '80s/'90s high-school sitcom is getting a modern reboot wherein Zack Morris, one of the former teens of Bayside High, is the governor of California.
Small Axe: Lovers Rock
Steve McQueen, the Oscar-winning director of 12 Years a Slave, is hitting Amazon Prime with an ambitious anthology of five films, released every Friday, that center London’s West Indian community over the course of two decades. The debut feature, Mangrove, tells the true story of the Mangrove Nine, a group of Black British activists arrested at a 1970 protest against racist police harassment. The second, Lovers Rock, is set in 1980 (when Black people still weren't welcome at white London nightclubs) and follows a night of music, racial tensions, and young love.
It's not the mid-2000s fantasy starring Michelle Pfeiffer as an evil witch; it's a biopic about David Bowie's first tour in America and the birth of his most recognizable alter ego, Ziggy Stardust! Played by actor and folk-rock musician Johnny Flynn, the film shows the late, great Thin White Duke as he struggles to find his place in a changing industry. Marc Maron plays his publicist.
Available to rent on various platforms
Set here in Seattle, this new Melissa McCarthy-helmed comedy arrives just in time for your tryptophan coma. She plays Carol Peters, a regular lady who's randomly chosen by an artificial intelligence entity to give a convincing argument outlining why the human race shouldn't be destroyed. Much silliness and panic ensues.
Even with its killer cast (Stephen Root plays an abusive patriarch of a wealthy South Carolina family; Margo Martindale plays the warm-hearted wife and mother; Lois Smith plays a devout aunt; Steve Zahn plays the favored son; and Judy Greer plays a sister-in-law), NPR calls Alan Ball's '70s-set melodrama about a closeted New York college professor who's forced to travel home and come out to his family "undercooked and over-seasoned." But you can decide for yourself, obviously!