Going out: Cinema
Based on the short film The Heart Still Hums by Savanah Leaf and Taylor Russell, this drama, written and directed by Leaf, explores the realities of single motherhood through the eyes of Gia (Tia Nomore), a pregnant woman in San Francisco’s Bay Area attempting to regain custody of her two children, who have been placed in foster care.
Dreamboat du jour Timothée Chalamet stars as Roald Dahl’s eccentric chocolatier – but as with previous hit Paddington, director Paul King has laden this adaptation of a beloved British book with a tasty feast of UK comedy talent, including Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson and Olivia Colman.
The Red Shoes
This spectacular tale of ambition, jealousy and romance, starring Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook and Marius Goring, has been restored as part of the BFI’s season dedicated to the film-making partnership of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, which produced so many of the UK’s very best films of the 1940s. A must-see.
Director Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) shot in 3D and at 6K resolution to create this extraordinary portrait of the German artist Anselm Kiefer, which takes you deep inside both the process and psyche of a fascinating contemporary talent. Whether you’re new to Kiefer’s work or a longterm fan, the result is a gripping documentary. Catherine Bray
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Going out: Gigs
Roundhouse, London, 12 December
Following in the footsteps of Robbie Williams and Years and Years, Rick Astley will usher in the new year with this one-off gig (airing on TV on 31 December, obviously). Rickrolling anthem Never Gonna Give You Up will surely appear at some point. Michael Cragg
Barbican Hall, London, 15 December
The BBC Symphony Orchestra and its chorus close their year of concerts at the Barbican with the London premiere of conductor Ryan Wigglesworth’s joyful setting of the Magnificat, composed for his wife, the soprano Sophie Bevan, who is the soloist here. Andrew Clements
9 to 12 December; tour starts Leeds
After a nine-year hiatus, fuelled by infighting and illness, New York-based alt-rock trio Blonde Redhead returned this year with 10th album Sit Down for Dinner. It’s as anxious and jittery as their best work, so expect songs like Snowman and Kiss Her Kiss Her to slot alongside the rest of their catalogue. MC
Tomorrow’s Warriors Winter Showcase
Royal Festival Hall: Clore Ballroom, London, 10 December
Ezra Collective’s Mercury prize win in September was recognition for the 31-year-old Tomorrow’s Warriors music-education organisation that had shown them the way. An exciting new Warriors generation and guests play this free South Bank gig. John Fordham
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Going out: Art
Marlborough Gallery, London, to 27 January
Yiddish poetry and puppetry inspire this powerful figurative artist. In her first solo show, Tchiprout exhibits prints and paintings in which melancholy female characters move as if under the control of outside forces. In fact they are portraits of the artist’s puppets.
Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 9 December to 21 January
Artists have been warning of the climate crisis for a long time. In a 1974 event in Edinburgh organised by radical curator Richard Demarco, the German visionary Joseph Beuys addressed the dangers of exploiting North Sea oil. Footage of this conference is used by Wood in an installation about utopian hope.
Leda and the Swan
Victoria Miro Gallery, London, to 13 January
In ancient Greek mythology, Zeus took the shape of a swan to make love to the mortal Leda. This unlikely coupling posed an irresistible challenge to Renaissance artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Tintoretto. Here today’s artists including Mark Wallinger, Alison Watt and Kiki Smith take it on.
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, to 31 December
Mr and Mrs William Atherton, an arresting painting by Arthur Devis in the Walker’s excellent collection of 18th century British art, shows a surprisingly bare interior, brown and muted except for the brilliant silver of Mrs Atherton’s dress. Here it is picked apart in a provocative ceramic remake by Partington. Jonathan Jones
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Going out: Stage
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, 13 to 16 December
A new family show for National Dance Company Wales by Lea Anderson, known for her accessible, humorous and visually striking dance. It’s inspired by the zoetrope and the Victorian circus, with dancers leaping around as lizards, monkeys and skeletons. Lyndsey Winship
Riverside Studios, London, to 27 January
David Ireland’s critically acclaimed comedy is about an American actor, English director and Northern Irish playwright rehearsing a new play – and clashing spectacularly. Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis and Louisa Harland star. Miriam Gillinson
Manchester Academy, 14 December; Eventim Apollo, London, 15 December
In his homeland, Indian standup Vir Das isn’t simply a superstar, he’s a trailblazer and a headline grabber: the 44 year-old’s Two Indias routine, about his nation’s divisions, attracted complaints to police from politicians. Now British audiences can get up to speed. Rachel Aroesti
The Rock’n’Roll Panto Cinderella
Liverpool Everyman, to 20 January
Written by Luke Barnes, whose work is always passionate and entertaining, this revamped take on Cinderella will be packed with rock and pop hits from a cast led by local panto favourite Adam Keast. MG
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Staying in: Streaming
BBC One & iPlayer, 10 December, 9pm
Having survived her nuclear submarine mission, Suranne Jones’s DCI Amy Silva is thrust into an ostensibly less claustrophobic – but still insular – world for the high-octane police procedural’s return. Alongside ex-girlfriend DS Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie), she must infiltrate an air force base after a suspicious weapons test.
ITVX, 14 December
Podcasters haven’t just revolutionised true crime; they’re fast taking over its fictional counterpart, too. This spooky Canadian thriller is the latest drama to centre on a podcast about a cold case, as couple Jo and Farid are torn apart by their investigation into an 80s massacre – as well as a tragedy closer to home.
Killing Sherlock: Lucy Worsley on the Case of Conan Doyle
BBC Two & iPlayer, 10 December, 9pm
Sherlock Holmes is one of the most beloved and enduring fictional characters, but one person truly detested him: his creator Arthur Conan Doyle. Historian Lucy Worsley digs into the riveting life of an unusually complicated Victorian.
Amazon Prime, 15 December
Hulkingly huge, incredibly clever and quietly unruffleable: the eponymous vigilante hero of Lee Child’s thriller novels is a one-off. So well done to Amazon for finding Alan Ritchson, an actor with the talent (and biceps) to do him justice. Now Jack is back for a second season, an adaptation of the 11th book in the series. RA
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Staying in: Games
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
Out now, PC, PS5, Xbox Series S/X
Embody a Na’vi in Ubisoft’s take on James Cameron’s blockbuster, with suitably high-end graphics.
House Flipper 2
Out 14 December, PC
The fun house-design part of The Sims made into a whole game. Buy and renovate houses before selling them for a profit in this work of millennial high-fantasy. Keza MacDonald
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Staying in: Albums
Neil Young – Before and After
For his 45th album, Young has selected 13 songs from his back catalogue and reworked them, mainly acoustically. The collection spans his career, from 1966’s Burned to the recent Don’t Forget Love, from 2021, plus the previously unreleased If You Got Love.
Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday 2
In between collaborating with the likes of Ice Spice and Meghan Trainor, Minaj has spent most of the five years since last album Queen bigging up this sequel to her 2010 debut. Pink Friday 2 flits between so-called street tracks (Red Ruby Da Sleeze) and pop moments like Last Time I Saw You.
Tate McRae – Think Later
Hot on the heels of global smash Greedy, which recalls 00s Timbaland, Canadian 20-year-old pop sensation McRae unveils her second album of sleek pop-R&B. With production from Ryan Tedder, it includes recent single Exes, as well as Grave, which she recently performed on Saturday Night Live.
Alison Goldfrapp – The Love Reinvention
Six months after its release, Alison Goldfrapp hands debut solo album, The Love Invention, over to Richard X and Ghost Culture for a dancefloor retwizzle. So tender original album closer SLoFLo is now techno stomper Every Little Drop, while Dubterfuge ups the BPM of the original Subterfuge. MC
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Staying in: Brain food
Have You Heard This One?
Writers uncover lesser-known stories of obsessive music fandoms and creative pioneers in this anthology series. Topics include everything from a Nashville lesbian country star to an undiscovered electronic pioneer.
The Children’s Poetry Archive
An invaluable resource to help kids of all ages understand the beauty of poetry, this archive features poets reading their own work, as well as simple analysis and search options by theme or age range.
Integrating Mississippi’s Schools: The Harvest
PBS America, 10 December, 8.35pm
Douglas A Blackmon fronts this intimate and emotive film, charting the history of desegregation in Mississippi’s school system and his own experience as a child in one of the state’s first racially mixed classes. Ammar Kalia