The magical nanny returns with her talking umbrella

What to watch with Wenlei Ma: TV and movies guide


When there are that many new TV shows and movies out every week, how are you possibly expected to keep up?

Or find the time to watch everything, let alone sort through what’s good and what’s not?

We’re hoping to take some of the indecision out of your pop culture life with this guide to the best new releases at the cinemas, on Netflix, Stan, Foxtel or on TV each week — TV and film critic Wenlei Ma has sifted through the detritus so you don’t have to.

There are even some recommendations to classics worth revisiting, or discovering for the first time.

(Don’t forget to bookmark this page or keep coming back because we’ll be updating it constantly with your next obsessions.)


It takes a lot to stand out from the mundane, been-there-done-that offerings — but the best stories enthral and move us, to heartbreak, to laughter or to enlightenment. 2018 was a bumper year for TV, especially new series breaking through.

So take a look at the 15 best shows of the year, plus a swag of honourable mentions and add them to your watchlist.

Maniac, Atlanta, The Americans and Mad as Hell are among the top shows of 2018

Maniac, Atlanta, The Americans and Mad as Hell are among the top shows of 2018Source:Supplied

BLOOM(Streaming now on Stan)

What if you had a second chance at youth? Would you make the best of it or be burdened by regret of the life you think you should’ve lived? Those are the questions at the heart of Stan’s new original series, Bloom.

With a first class cast of Australian actors including Bryan Brown, Jacki Weaver, Phoebe Tonkin and Ryan Corr, Bloom is set in a small, flood-ravaged country town where a magic plant appears — a plant with the power of making you young again.

Intriguing and well-made, Bloom is lifted by a strong concept and great performances.

What if you could be 20 again?

What if you could be 20 again?Source:Supplied

SUCCESSION (On Fox Showcase and Foxtel Now)

Imagine if you had all the riches and playthings you could ever want — private jets, expensive watches and incredible penthouse views over Manhattan. Now imagine if you were still miserable.

The Roys, a toxic media empire family, wants for nothing, except for each other’s love and respect, as they jockey and fight for power and control.

Super bingeable, Succession is deliciously venomous. The Roys may be awful to each other but they sure are fun to watch.


Billionaire family squabbles — bit different to the ones you and I have

Billionaire family squabbles — bit different to the ones you and I haveSource:Supplied


Each month we compile the hundreds of new titles that will hit all the streaming services, across Netflix, Stan, Foxtel Now, SBS On Demand, Amazon and Hayu.

And because there are that many titles, we’ve also cherry-picked some of the choicest options to help you out.


A poignant, personal astronaut story, a sassy coming-of-age tale and a 1970s-set semi-autobiographical movie top our best of 2018 list, always an impossible endeavour to decide.

Did you see all the movies you wanted to see this year? Did your favourites make the list?


When you can’t eat more leftovers and the weather is too hot, the best refuge is an airconditioned cinema. The biggest movie release day of the year, Boxing Day always throws up a few flicks to check out — though it tends to be a mixed bag.

We’ve put together a rundown of the seven movies out on Boxing Day and whether they’re worth your money.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: A fun and clever Disney movie

Ralph Breaks the Internet: A fun and clever Disney movieSource:Supplied

THE FAVOURITE (In cinemas now)

Let’s get it out of the way: The Favourite is mad. Like, wickedly insane.

Loosely based on the triangular relationship between Queen Anne and two of her ladies-in-waiting, this movie by The Lobster’s Yorgos Lanthimos is a cavalcade of vicious dialogue, malignant plotting and first-class passive-aggression.

It is, quite simply, an utter and hilarious delight.

Rating: ★★★★★

Emma Stone stars alongside Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman

Emma Stone stars alongside Rachel Weisz and Olivia ColmanSource:Supplied


It’s taken 54 years for us to get here — a Mary Poppins sequel. Emily Blunt takes on the role of the famous, magical nanny in a story that flashes forward 25 years from the Julie Andrew original.

With spectacular song and dance numbers and an earnest tale about the next generation of the Banks children, Mary Poppins Returns hews closely to the spirit of its predecessor, maybe a little too close.

Rating: ★★★

The magical nanny returns with her talking umbrella

The magical nanny returns with her talking umbrellaSource:AskMen


Seriously, who doesn’t love Matt Damon?

The Hollywood everyman can do anything — silly comedies, irreverent black comedies, action blockbusters and sombre dramas.

And he has good form in picking instant classics. So make sure you’ve seen the essential Matt Damon ouevre.




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