What To Watch In July: 'Ted Lasso,' 'Black Widow,' Olympics And A Whole Lot More
Figuring out what to watch this summer is going to be more complicated than usual for one simple reason: COVID has accelerated the blurring of the line between television and film.
While some movies are arriving at home at the same time as in theaters only because of temporary conditions that seem unlikely to recur — say, Black Widow or Space Jam: A New Legacy — others are more of a mixed bag. Should you think of the new Soderbergh film as a movie movie, given that he's been making films that went directly to streaming for a couple of years now?
Should we think of an already acclaimed documentary like Summer of Soul, about the Harlem Cultural Festival, as television (since it's coming to Hulu) or as a movie (since it's coming to theaters)? In other words, how much of the collapse of this boundary that once seemed so sharp is happening because of COVID, and how much is just ... happening?
There will be time to analyze awards eligibility and to read — or ignore — arguments about what should be, or must be, or deserves to be watched in what setting. But here are some of the things you can watch at home, and the skinny on what constellation of streaming services and cable subscriptions and on-demand availability you might need in order to watch them.
The necessary disclaimer: This isn't a comprehensive list, but it will give you an idea of what we've got our eyes on.
No Sudden Move
Steven Soderbergh directed this 1950s-set crime drama about a team of thieves whose job goes wrong, sending them on a whole new mission. The big draw, aside from Soderbergh, is the cast: Benicio del Toro, Don Cheadle, Brendan Fraser, Jon Hamm, and David Harbour are all on board. Watch the trailer. (HBO MAX, July 1)
Summer of Soul (...Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Questlove directed this documentary drawing on archival footage of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, an event that deserves to be celebrated as the remarkable gathering of talent that it was. Featuring performances from Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, the Fifth Dimension, Nina Simone, and Sly and the Family Stone (among many others), it's a celebration of music and history you absolutely shouldn't miss. Watch the trailer. (Hulu and in theaters, July 2)
The wisdom of attempting to update the story of a bunch of spoiled New York kids with the stories of a more diverse bunch of spoiled New York kids remains to be seen. But if you're curious about what a slick series about hot people looks like as broadcast TV gives way to streaming, you might get your answer here. Watch the trailer. (HBO MAX, July 8.)
What we know about the first Marvel movie in two years is that it features Scarlett Johansson, but also Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz. Given the events of Avengers: Endgame, we also know it's earlier in the Marvel timeline than where we've been for the last few films, but much of the rest of it is largely under wraps. Watch the trailer. (Theaters July 9, Disney+ on that date for subscribers, but requires an additional fee)
The White Lotus
The last time Mike White made a show for HBO, it was Enlightened, one of the network's most admired series. This time, he's back with a satire about a resort in Hawaii. Watch the trailer. (HBO, July 11)
One of the biggest names in tennis, Osaka has been in the news recently for speaking out about mental health and the choices she makes to protect hers. Now, a limited Netflix series looks at her life. (Netflix, July 13)
A group of female assassins and an ensemble cast including Karen Gillan, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Paul Giamatti, Lena Headey and Carla Gugino? Sounds like summer. Watch the trailer. (Netflix, July 14)
Never Have I Ever
The second season of the excellent coming-of-age series will be welcomed by the many fans of its first outing. Watch the trailer. (Netflix, July 15)
The Magnolia Network
In 2022, the existing DIY Network on cable will become the Magnolia Network, the fiefdom of megahosts Chip and Joanna Gaines, who have ridden their Fixer Upper fame to higher and higher levels of influence and now, their own channel. There's already a preview hub for their shows on the Discovery+ service that already hosts content from places like the Food Network and HGTV. And on July 15, their full digital launch will be complete. So if you like shiplap or frowning at your floors, your life might be about to get a lot more exciting. (Discovery+ and the Magnolia app, July 15)
Starring Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong as a couple that accidentally wanders into a town that exists in a mid-20th century musical, this comedy features plenty of singing and dancing, some sharp parodies of The Music Man and Oklahoma!, and good lead performances. Watch the trailer. (Apple TV+, July 16)
Space Jam: A New Legacy
The original Space Jam is one of those films that sometimes seems to have sharp generational boundaries, where it is beloved by people who were born in one week and totally forgotten by people who were born the next week. But LeBron James is stepping into Michael Jordan's animated shoes to bring it back, and I refuse to make a "slam dunk" joke of any kind. Watch the trailer. (Theaters and HBO MAX, July 16)
Power Book III: Raising Kanan. Starz had big success with its crime drama Power, and now that it's over, the network has moved on to spin-offs. One launched last fall, and now it's time for the next, a prequel that tells the story of Kanan, who was played on Power by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. Watch the trailer. (Starz, July 18)
The Summer Olympics
Every couple of years, we lament the way the Olympics are televised: delayed, condensed, talked about on social media no matter how often people try to have them reframed as a prime-time television show that should not be "spoiled." But after a year of COVID delays, the summer Olympics in Tokyo are finally happening, for better and for worse, and there will be plenty to watch. (NBC and its family of outlets, beginning July 23)
The Apple TV+ comedy about an American football coach (played by Jason Sudeikis) who heads to the UK to become a football (soccer) coach became a beloved pandemic balm last summer. It's back for a second season, as Ted and his team deal with personnel changes and new relationships. Watch the trailer. (Apple TV+, July 23)
The Pursuit Of Love
Actress Emily Mortimer co-stars with a cast including Lily James, Dominic West and Andrew "Hot Priest" Scott in this three-part adaptation of Nancy Mitford's novel. It aired on the BBC in May to a generally positive reception, and now it arrives on streaming in the US. Watch the trailer. (Amazon Prime, July 30)
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