Movie guide: ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ and 15 more critics’ picks to watch at home


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“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” — Reviewing this a few weeks ago, I noted the exceptional timeliness of one of the most honest and empathetic American movies about abortion rights in recent memory. And yet Eliza Hittman’s beautifully observed independent drama — a big prizewinner at the recent Sundance and Berlin film festivals — couldn’t have been the victim of worse timing: The Focus Features release opened March 13, just days before movie theaters were ordered to close in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

If “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” didn’t get the theatrical attention it deserved, it’s wonderful that the movie will be available for on-demand viewing starting Friday. Starring a revelatory Sidney Flanigan as a 17-year-old who embarks on an extraordinarily difficult journey with her cousin (Talia Ryder), it’s a poignant, quietly lacerating drama about, among other things, the consolations of friendship and the labyrinthine complexities of the American health care system. It’s also a bracing reminder that the political is always personal. Talk about timely.

— Justin Chang


More movie recommendations from Los Angeles Times critics Justin Chang (J.C.) and Kenneth Turan (K.T.). Titles are available on video-on-demand (VOD) platforms or streaming services as noted.


“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” — A deeply moving companion piece to last year’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Marielle Heller’s subtly directed drama casts an excellent Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers and Matthew Rhys as a cynical journalist who is transformed by their encounter. (J.C.) PG. VOD

“Clemency” — Chinonye Chukwu’s gripping movie, starring Alfre Woodard as a death-row prison warden, is a sterling piece of American realism, powered by the transfixing spectacle of a great actor at the peak of her powers. (J.C.) R. VOD

“Dark Waters” — If this story of a whistleblower attorney, who worked for more than 20 years to expose decades of heedless environmental contamination, sounds familiar, to a certain extent it is. But this film is not business as usual, with the presence of director Todd Haynes and star Mark Ruffalo the key reasons why. (K.T.) PG-13. VOD

“Emma” — A very satisfying new version of Jane Austen’s sprightly novel has been directed in high style by Autumn de Wilde, making her feature debut, with a shrewd selection of gifted young performers, starting with Anya Taylor-Joy, very different than in her breakthrough role in Robert Eggers’ “The Witch,” in the title role. (K.T.) PG. VOD

“Ford v Ferrari” — A barnburner of a motion picture that mainlines heart-in-mouth excitement and tug-at-the-heart emotion in a career-defining effort by director James Mangold, this glorious throwback combines a smart, modern sensibility with the best of traditional storytelling, plus sterling acting by stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale and a tip-top supporting cast. (K.T.) PG-13. VOD

“Hustlers” — A movie about the seductions of the flesh and the satisfactions of a well-executed con, it reconfigures Jennifer Lopez’s cinematic image with brazen intelligence and purpose as she gives her most electrifying screen performance since “Out of Sight.” Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria. (J.C.) R. VOD

“The Invisible Man” — Led by a superb Elisabeth Moss, this Universal reboot of a classic horror title is a gas-lighting thriller expertly retooled by writer-director Leigh Whannell for the era of #MeToo. (J.C.) VOD

“Invisible Life” — Directed by the gifted Karim Aïnouz and set in 1950s Rio de Janeiro, it’s a drama of resilient women, thoughtless men and crushingly unrealized dreams, told with supple grace, deep feeling and an empathy that extends in every direction. (J.C.) R. Amazon Prime

“Knives Out” — Rian Johnson’s deliriously entertaining country-house murder mystery brings together a splendid cast (led by Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas), an ingenious script and a razor-sharp indictment of class inequality and moral rot in contemporary America. (J.C.) PG-13. VOD

“Little Women” — As written and directed by Greta Gerwig and starring a transcendent Saoirse Ronan, the seventh and latest big-screen version of Louisa May Alcott’s novel is here and it’s a pip, with its strong, unmistakable message and even stronger emotions reinforcing each other to splendid effect. (K.T.) PG. VOD

“The Lighthouse” — Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe give towering performances as a pair of feuding 19th century lightkeepers in this mad, magnificently crafted New England gothic from “The Witch” writer-director Robert Eggers. (J.C.) R. VOD

“Parasite” — Winner of the best picture Oscar and Cannes’ Palme d’Or, Bong Joon Ho’s deviously entertaining thriller about two very different families is an ingenious weave of domestic dark comedy, class allegory and, ultimately, devastating tragedy. (J.C.) R. VOD

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” — Looking and seeing become quietly radical acts in Céline Sciamma’s rapturously intelligent love story, starring Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel as an 18th century portrait painter and her subject. (J.C.) R. Hulu

“Uncut Gems” — Adam Sandler gives the performance of his career as a Manhattan jewelry dealer and gambling addict pinballing from one bad decision to the next in Josh and Benny Safdie’s relentlessly tense thriller. (J.C.) R. VOD

“Waves” — Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown and Renée Elise Goldsberry play a South Florida family weathering tragedy in this emotionally turbulent, formally astonishing drama from writer-director Trey Edward Shults (“Krisha”). (J.C.) R. VOD