West Side Story
Steven Spielberg takes on the classic musical (above), pitting Sharks against Jets in 1950s New York. His star-crossed lovers are played by Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, but the real appeal here is the lavish, push-the-boat-out musical entertainment.
Being the Ricardos
A biopic of I Love Lucy actor Lucille Ball seem like offbeat territory for the politically minded writer-director Aaron Sorkin, but when we recall Ball was investigated for her supposed Communist party membership, it all begins to make sense. Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star.
Clifford the Big Red Dog
A family adventure treading similar thematic ground to Being the Ricardos in some ways, as gigantic hound Clifford is subjected to a witch-hunt by nebulous authority figures.
Here’s an unconventional trip to the cinema for anyone sighing that the three films above aren’t doing much to advance originality in the seventh art. Noomi Rapace stars as an Icelandic woman who adopts a part-human, part-lamb hybrid in this peculiar thriller. Catherine Bray
Bat for Lashes
batforlashes.veeps.com, 17 Dec
Natasha Khan, AKA alt-pop star Bat for Lashes (below), is hosting her very own Christmas party. The livestream promises renditions of her songs performed with a string quartet, as well as special guests. There will also be “original costumes” on show, so dig out your naffest Christmas jumper. MC
Tim Garland’s Lighthouse Trio
Pizza Express Jazz Club, London, 11 Dec, 7pm, 10pm
Jazz, folk and classically fluent reeds player Tim Garland formed the Lighthouse Trio in the 2000s with future UK contemporary jazz luminaries pianist Gwilym Simcock and eclectic drummer Asaf Sirkis. Garland reconvenes this supergroup for a one-off celebration of those adventures. John Fordham
Barbican x Boiler Room
Barbican Hall, London, 12 Dec
Mercury-nommed singer-songwriter Berwyn is joined on this lineup of rising UK talent by the likes of multi-instrumentalist Mansur Brown and 90s R&B-inspired newcomer Ojerime. Keep an eye out for genre-destroying rapper Nayana Iz, too. Michael Cragg
Vespers of 1610
Barbican Hall, London, 14 Dec
There are myriad ways to perform Monteverdi’s choral masterpiece, but few match the freewheeling energy and originality of Christina Pluhar and her group L’Arpeggiata. Now they bring their unique interpretation of the Vespers to the Barbican, using just one singer to each part, and improvisation an essential part of their realisation. Andrew Clements
V&A, London, 16 Dec to 9 Jan
As the climate crisis intensifies, this global prize for photography appositely takes “Fire” for its theme. But this is not solely an exhibition of disaster reportage – or conventional photojournalism. Christian Marclay, Sally Mann, Brent Stirton (work above) and more mix reality and imagination.
Modern Art Bury Street, London, to 22 Jan
Powerful monochrome photographs of gay life around the ruinous Hudson River piers in 1970s and 80s New York. Baltrop captures casual sexual encounters against a backdrop of rusting metal and decaying warehouses. His funny, lyrical pictures are only now, after his death, getting their due.
2021 Open Exhibition
Gallagher and Turner gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, to 22 Jan
Lockdown led many people to take up art, so this is a chance to see the creativity it uncovered in north-east England. It’s got everything from a clay creature called Ugly Bird by the sculptor Julia Roxburgh to Steve Dales’s intriguing painting of toes poking out from a blue silk sheet. Jonathan Jones
Best of Enemies
Young Vic, London, to 22 Jan
No panto here! Instead, a new play from political powerhouse James Graham. Set in 1960s America, it focuses on an electric series of televised debates between conservative William F Buckley Jr and liberal Gore Vidal. Charles Edwards and David Harewood star.
She Loves Me
Crucible theatre, Sheffield, to 15 Jan
This Christmas musical from the songwriters of Fiddler on the Roof is directed by musical maestro Robert Hastie. The story unfolds in a parfumerie in a Hungarian town: is that the whiff of romance in the air? Miriam Gillinson
Live at Christmas
Birmingham Town Hall, 14 Dec; The Forum, Bath, 15 Dec
For standup fans and lovers of efficient cultural consumption, a festive show featuring four of the country’s best comics. David O’Doherty and Lou Sanders provide inimitable oddness, Phil Wang fuses the cerebral with the scatological, while John Robins mines uncomfortable emotions for laughs. Rachel Aroesti
Edinburgh International Conference Centre, 17 Dec & 18 Dec
The brilliant and surprising ballerina Natalia Osipova takes on the lead role in a contemporary version of Carmen by the choreographer Didy Veldman, joined by Jason Kittelberger and Isaac Hernández. Lyndsey Winship
Available now, Sky Go and Now
Olivia Colman and David Thewlis have spent the past 16 years getting away with murder in this darkly comic drama (above), inspired by a real double killing long concealed in a Mansfield garden. Directed by the multitalented Will Sharpe, expect more than just a grisly true-crime caper.
David Baddiel: Social Media, Anger and Us
13 Dec, 9pm, BBC Two
Having focused on unsavoury internet interactions in his recent tour, Trolls: Not the Dolls, Baddiel deep-dives into online hate, cancel culture and the real-world repercussions of social media discourse. He doesn’t get many answers, but the comic is certainly asking the right questions.
I Literally Just Told You
16 Dec, 10pm, Channel 4
Masterminded by Richard Bacon and presented by Jimmy Carr, this new gameshow will not rely on the same old tired general knowledge questions; to win, the contestants will also be quizzed on events that have occurred since the show began filming, from banter to celebrity cameos.
17 Dec, Netflix
Streaming platforms seem fixated on fantasy adaptations – and that’s partly due to the phenomenal success of The Witcher. Henry Cavill’s titular monster-hunter returns for more questing in this drama based on Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski’s books. RA
Out Thur, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
You and a few friends try to keep a ramshackle raft afloat while madcap things happen in this hand-drawn sailing game (above). Potentially a real friendship-ruiner, just like actual sailing.
Out now, PC, Android, iOS
It’s nearly a new year! Quit your job, be your own boss and start a company from your bedroom! It’s all good until the global tech CEOs start sabotaging you in this absorbing wee sim game. Keza MacDonald
Jlin – Embryo
Electronic music contortionist Jlin (above) has had a busy 18 months or so. She recorded a set for the Met museum in New York, worked with Martin Gore, and remixed Beethoven. While work continues on her third album, she’s created this four-track EP.
Juice WRLD – Fighting Demons
Released alongside Juice WRLD: Into the Abyss, a documentary charting the life and tragic death of the Chicago rapper (below) in 2019, Fighting Demons marks his estate’s second posthumous release and offers an uncomfortable insight into his life.
Angèle – Nonante-Cinq
Huge in her native Belgium and in France, singer-songwriter Angèle came to global attention last year due to Fever, her sleek single with Dua Lipa. She returns with her second album, led by the sophisticated synthpop of Bruxelles Je T’Aime.
Green Day – The BBC Sessions
The evergreen pop-punkers have raided the BBC’s archives for this 16-track run-through of their live sessions at Maida Vale Studios. It spans their early career from 1994’s Dookie to 2000’s more experimental Warning. MC
Deck the Hallmark
Christmas is nearly upon us and that means bingeing straight-to-TV Christmas films. This zany podcast sees its three hosts reviewing trashy holiday movies to reveal their inner wisdom – such as the ethics of time travel in A Christmas Treasure.
Why Movies Tilt the Camera Like This
Beloved of film noir and, for some reason, the first Thor film, the wonky Dutch camera angle used to portray jeopardy is the focus of this fascinating explainer from Vox. We learn how it originated from expressionist art.
Welcome to Earth
Available now, Disney+
Will Smith leaves the film studio behind and does his best Bear Grylls impression in this travelogue, produced by Darren Aronofsky. He journeys to some of the most extreme landscapes on earth, from volcanic terrain to the tropics. Ammar Kalia