Cozy up on your couch and grab some popcorn — these movie and TV shows will make for good entertainment right at home.
In our January 2022 issue, we rounded up some of the movies and TV shows that have delivered some divine diversions in our lives lately. Below, see our recommendations for westerns, star-studded comedies, dramatic series, and more.
(Available now on streaming platforms)
Maybe you remember him best as Delmat O’Donnell, one of three chain-gang escapees who — along with fellow fugitives played by George Clooney and John Turturro — become Depression Era radio sensations in Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? Or perhaps the mention of his name is more likely to conjure memories of his acting — and singing — as the title character in another Coen Brothers movie, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
But take it from us: As awards season ramps up, and Oscar buzz builds to deafening levels, you’ll be hearing a lot more about veteran character actor Tim Blake Nelson for his impressive portrayal of another title character in one of this past year’s very best movies, Potsy Ponciroli’s Old Henry.
Nelson — who, not incidentally, is a nominee for Best Actor in the fifth annual C&I Movie Awards — gives the performance of his career in Ponciroli’s slow-burning, straight-shooting western as an aging farmer with dark secrets he’s desperate to hide from his son, and a violent past he finds he can’t outrun.
“My favorite westerns — and my way into westerns, the western genre — were the Sergio Leone movies, which I watched on television in Oklahoma while growing up,” Nelson told C&I. But he didn’t reference those or any other classics while preparing to play Henry McCardy.
“I was confident that Potsy was going to take care of the genre aspects of the movie, and that the best way I could serve that was to give him a three-dimensional human being inside of this very difficult character, who turns out to have a historical basis. So, I really didn’t want to get lost in the kind of iconographic portrait that might have been a distraction in this movie.
“So, I really did try to make him a three-dimensional human being — and, most of all, a dad wanting to protect his son.”
We agree with the critics: He succeeded.
Photography: courtesy Paramount+
(Paramount+ — Scheduled at press time to premiere in December 2021)
The latest series from producer Taylor Sheridan is the eagerly awaited prequel to his smash hit Yellowstone, starring country music power couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as pioneering ancestors of that show’s John Dutton (Kevin Costner), and C&I reader favorite Sam Elliott as the rough-hewn cowboy tasked with leading the Duttons and others on an arduous journey from Texas to the promised land of Montana.
(Platform and Premiere Date TBA)
Bass Reeves, the legendary slave-turned-lawman many believe was the real-life inspiration for the fictional Lone Ranger, will soon be riding tall as the focus of a limited-run series starring and produced by David Oyelowo (Selma). Delroy Lindo robustly played Reeves recently in The Harder They Fall, but this project — which has the ubiquitous Taylor Sheridan on board as an executive producer — will mark the first time the storied deputy U.S. marshal has been the protagonist of a scripted TV series.
The Comeback Trail
(Cloudburst Entertainment — December 2021)
Director George Gallo’s riotous star-studded comedy is tentatively scheduled for a winter release on DVD/Blu-Ray and streaming services. In 1974 Hollywood, a disreputable producer (Robert De Niro) is running out of time to repay a massive debt to a mobster (Morgan Freeman) who’s running out of patience. Desperate to avoid severe penalties for bad credit, he concocts a scam to cast aging cowboy star Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones) in a fake western — and then collect on the insurance when the actor “accidentally” dies during production.
The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson
(Samuel Goldwyn Films — Release TBA)
Australian multihyphenate Leah Purcell serves as director, writer and star of this compelling Outback Western, originally set for release in 2021. During long absences by her husband, Molly (Purcell) must fend for herself and their children at their isolated shanty in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales. But when an escaped Aboriginal convict (Rob Collins) shows up at her doorstep, they forge a wary friendship based on their shared memories of abuse and marginalization.
Killers of the Flower Moon
(Apple Films — Release TBA)
Iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese reteams with two of his muses, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, for a lavish filmization of David Grann’s nonfiction best-seller Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. “We think it’s a Western,” Scorsese told Premiere Magazine. “It happened in 1921-1922 in Oklahoma. There are certainly cowboys, but they have cars and also horses.” The drama depicts an investigation by the newly formed FBI into the murders of wealthy Osage people in Oklahoma after the discovery of oil on their land.
(Fox TV — Jan. 30, 2022)
If there’s still an empty place in your heart after the cancellation of Nashville, here’s another series about dreaming and scheming in the world of country music. Trace Adkins — yes, that Trace Adkins — plays Albie Roman (a.k.a. Texas Truthteller), reigning King of Country Music and husband of Dottie Cantrell Roman (Susan Sarandon), the tough-as-nails Queen of Country Music. When their reign as country royalty is jeopardized by the possible exposure of long-closeted skeletons, their daughter Nicolette “Nicky” Roman (Anna Friel) will stop at nothing to protect her family’s legacy.
The Old Way
(Skipstone Pictures — Release TBA)
It’s hard to believe, but after decades of working in a multitude of genres, Oscar winner Nicolas Cage has never made a western — until now. In director Brett Donowho’s drama, he plays Colton Briggs, a gunslinger turned storekeeper who straps on his shooting irons again as he goes hunting for the varmints who killed his wife. Also along for the ride: Briggs’ 12-year-old daughter. Cage evidently enjoyed his time in the saddle: He’s playing a grizzled buffalo hunter in his next film, Butcher’s Crossing, based on the 1960 novel by John Williams.
(Amazon Prime — Premiere TBA)
In a new series that sounds a lot like a spookier version of Yellowstone, Josh Brolin stars as Royal Abbott, a rancher fighting for his land and family, who discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming’s wilderness. Lili Taylor plays his wife, Cecilia, described as “a woman of deep faith, which she finds tested as never before,” and Will Patton, the manipulative Garrett Randall of Yellowstone, pops up here as another Note of Discord: Wayne Tillerson, a longtime adversary of Royal.
Terror on the Prairie
(The Daily Wire — Release TBA)
MMA champ turned actor Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6, The Mandalorian) joins forces with director Michael Polish (90 Minutes in Heaven, Force of Nature) for this independently produced western about a pioneer family in Montana beset by a vicious outlaw gang. Nick Searcy of TV’s Justified co-stars.
Also around the bend:
The second season premieres of Rutherford Falls (starring Michael Greyeyes) on Peacock and Reservation Dogs on FX on Hulu, and the third season premiere of the highly addictive Space Western The Mandalorian on Disney+.
Photography: courtesy Shane Brown/FX
From our January 2022 issue
Photography: (Cover image) courtesy Shane Brown/FX