The It List: 'Breach' finds Bruce Willis back in space fighting aliens, Chadwick Boseman is riveting in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,' '9 to 5' turns 40 and the best in pop culture the week of Dec. 14, 2020

Yahoo Entertainment Staff
·19 min read

The It List is Yahoo’s weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. During the coronavirus pandemic, when most of us are staying at home, we’re going to spotlight things you can enjoy from your couch, whether solo or in small groups, and leave out the rest. With that in mind, here are our picks for Dec. 14-20, including the best deals we could find for each.(Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)

WATCH IT: It’s Die Hard on a spaceship as Bruce Willis battles aliens in the sci-fi shoot ‘em up Breach

The jury’s still out on whether Die Hard counts as a Christmas movie, but Bruce Willis is gifting his fans with a new action flick this holiday season anyway. Directed by John Suits — who previously revived Willis’s Die Hard alter ego for a popular car battery commercialBreach features the former John McClane getting his Ellen Ripley on as a passenger on a spaceship that has an unfriendly alien visitor aboard. This time, at least, Willis doesn’t have to fight solo, bringing in Rachel Nichols, Timothy V. Murphy and Cody Kearsley for additional firepower. But it’s still Bruce who calls the shots: In this exclusive clip, Willis comes thisclose to quoting Hamilton while describing what they’re up against. “We are outmatched, outgunned and we need reinforcements,” he says, as the group prepares to make an all-out stand. Here comes the general, indeed. — Ethan Alter

Breach premieres Friday, Dec. 18 in theaters (check Fandango for ticket and showtime information), on digital and VOD services including FandangoNOW and Redbox.

STREAM IT: Chadwick Boseman delivers a stunning final performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

We would’ve been talking about Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom anyway, from now until Oscars night and beyond. But the riveting drama — an adaptation of the stage play by August Wilson (Fences) about the titular “Mother of Blues” (Viola Davis) and her fight for R-E-S-P-E-C-T while recording with her band in 1927 Chicago — takes on substantial more meaning as it marks the final film performance of Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in August at only 43. And what a gift Boseman left us with: As the trumpeter Levee, the Black Panther star delivers a transcendent, electric performance that pivots from sharply comedic to unspeakably tragic and includes a pair of monologues so powerful they practically jump off the Netflix screen. Davis is no slouch, either, in the understatement of the year, completely disappearing underneath the force of nature that is Ma Rainey. Emotionally prepare yourselves for this one. — Kevin Polowy

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom premieres Friday, Dec. 18 on Netflix.

STREAM IT: Catch up with Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, now streaming on Acorn TV

Celebrated Indian filmmaker Mira Nair — whose previous films include Mississippi Masala and The Namesake — makes her streaming debut with this six-part adaptation of Vikram Seth’s 1993 bestseller. Like the novel, the series unfolds in post-British Raj India and features a sprawling cast of characters who are trying to find their way forward in the newly independent nation. Bollywood superstars Tabu and Ram Kapoor are among the ensemble, and Nair’s attention to historical detail offers an immersive experience in 1950s India, as evidenced in this exclusive clip from the show’s third episode, which highlights the larger social and political tensions that existed during that period. The first three episodes of A Suitable Boy are streaming on the Acorn TV streaming service now; new episodes drop every Monday. — E.A.

A Suitable Boy is currently streaming on Acorn TV.

DRINK IT: Highland Park 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is the pinnacle of whisky craftsmanship

Highland Park 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is the whisky that other whiskies look up to. A father-figure in the whisky community, the 21-year-old is not to be wasted on an unrefined palate. Its deep golden color is earned from the time spent in sherry seasoned oak casks.

Highland Park 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch is the pinnacle of whisky craftsmanship
Highland Park 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch (Photo courtesy of Highland Park, Graphic design by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Entertainment)

A collector’s item among connoisseurs of Scotch, Highland Park 21 Year Old made landfall in America just one year ago. It’s exclusivity paired with its impeccably rich taste make it the crowned jewel of any liquor cabinet.

Take your first sip of this whisky neat, admire the taste as a work of art rather than a beverage or liquor. At first sip you may experience fresh vanilla notes or a spicy nutmeg depending on the cask it was housed in; regardless of cask, the mango and pear will shine through as you drink.

After your initial tasting, a dash of cold water or a modest couple ice cubes will open up the flavors, allowing the taste of fruit to present itself. This is a whisky to toast with. Gift this Scotch as a wedding present, retirement gift or a Christmas gift to someone you respect.

A Scotch of this stature is something you won’t want to squander. Taste the harmonized elegance for yourself. — Jason Peters

Shop Highland Park 21 Year Whisky at drizly.com.

HEAR IT: Paul McCartney proves good things come in threes

Taylor Swift wasn’t the only artist who found inspiration in isolation this year — now Sir Paul has also recorded a fantastic quarantine album, containing what The Guardian describes as his “best songs in years.” While McCartney III is obviously a Zeitgeist-capturing work for 2020, it also completes an ahead-of-its-time DIY trilogy that started 50 years ago, with the prolific Beatle’s self-titled debut solo album, and continued a decade later with 1980’s McCartney II. As was the case with those two landmark records, McCartney III, which was recorded at McCartney's Sussex home while in lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, features Paul playing all of the instruments himself. — Lyndsey Parker

McCartney III by Paul McCartney arrives Friday, Dec. 18; download/stream it on Apple Music.

WATCH IT: Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is finally available for everyone to attempt to unpack

We were once naïve enough to think that Christopher Nolan’s newest mindbender Tenet could save Hollywood — or at least movie theaters. Of course at that point (early May, to be specific) we didn’t think we’d still be in lockdown seven months later. The Dark Knight filmmaker was determined to give financially struggling big screens a boost with his highly anticipated time traveling thriller starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, but by the time the film opened, huge markets like New York and Los Angeles were still largely closed down, and Tenet stumbled to only $56 million at the U.S. box office. The new Blu-ray release of the film, then, carries loaded significance since it will be giving many viewers their first chance to screen (and subsequently try to make sense of) the reliably stylish and complex web Nolan weaves. The release’s lone bonus feature is a dandy: an hour-long making-of doc with Nolan and cast. — K.P.

Tenet is available Tuesday, Dec. 15 on Blu-ray, DVD or digital on Amazon.

WATCH IT: Families come together in the 22nd Annual A Home for the Holidays special

Get ready for some heartwarming moments, as viewers see four Los Angeles families with their newly adopted children, including parents Gerry and Kristi Salmeron-Meneses. They welcomed 13-year-old Cierra and her 8-year-old brother, Anthony, in 2018, after the siblings had been living apart in various foster care homes for about five years. This is the first Christmas they will all have together. “My family means everything to me,” Cierra said in a network press release. “Never in a million years did I think we would be with this family — and now we’ll have more happiness to come.” Along with these poignant stories, the special will feature families adopting children in virtual ceremonies, plus performances by Miranda Lambert, Leslie Odom Jr., Meghan Trainor, Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli. Gayle King hosts. — Raechal Shewfelt

The 22nd Annual A Home for the Holidays airs Sunday, Dec. 20 at 9:30 p.m. on CBS and CBS All Access.

WATCH IT: The iHeartRadio Jingle Ball is a virtual holiday house party

COVID-19 prevented the regular iHeartRadio Jingle Ball from taking place this year, but that can’t stop superstars like Billie Eilish, Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Sam Smith, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd, BTS, Lil Nas X and Mariah Carey from getting in the spirit with a virtual celebration. Holiday highlights from the show include Eilish’s “Silver Bells,” Smith’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Dua Lipa’s cover of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” Doja Cat’s “Santa Baby” and a Santa-suited Capaldi crooning Wham!’s “Last Christmas.” — L.P.

The 2020 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball airs Monday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

STREAM IT: Peek inside a world-famous ballet school with the Disney+ reality series On Pointe

If your only exposure to ballet is via Black Swan and/or Bunheads, On Pointe is here to provide a more realistic take on dance school. Premiering on Dec. 18, the six-episode Disney+ series invites viewers into New York’s School of American Ballet, where the next generation of dancers is hard at work training to take center stage. Director Larissa Bills follows a diverse cross-section of SAB’s student body, profiling both the older teenagers that are working towards repertory companies, and young kids who will have their first taste of the spotlight in the annual performance of The Nutcracker. Don’t expect to see any borderline exploitative Dance Moms-style drama here: On Pointe is strictly focused on uplifting these bright-eyed students, who hope to one day have the dance world at their slipper-covered feet. — E.A.

On Pointe premieres Friday, Dec. 18 on Disney+.

STREAM IT: Heat still sizzles on its 25th anniversary

American actor Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley in 'Heat', directed by Michael Mann, 1995. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley in Heat, directed by Michael Mann, 1995. (Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

With all due respect to The Godfather Part II — in which they didn’t share any scenes — and last year’s The Irishman, Michael Mann’s Heat is considered to be not only the ultimate Al Pacino-Robert De Niro collaboration, but also a masterclass in crime dramas. Marking its 25th anniversary on Dec. 15, the 1995 hit has a lot going in its favor: an all-star cast (Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Diane Venora, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore and a 14-year-old Natalie Portman, to name but a few); a moody psychological bent that elevates it from the traditional heist flick; and top-notch performances from the two leads in their respective roles as a troubled LAPD robbery-homicide detective (Pacino) and a cunning career criminal (De Niro) caught up in an intense game of cat-and-mouse. It all culminates in arguably the most gripping — and certainly one of the longest — shootouts ever to light up the big screen. — Erin Donnelly

Heat is currently streaming on Amazon.

WATCH IT: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood give the gift of music

Following the smash success of their feel-good fan-request special just as the pandemic was starting this past spring, America’s favorite country power couple returns to CBS eight months later to spread some more much-needed cheer. A true gift for Brooks and Yearwood’s devoted fans, Garth & Trisha Live! A Holiday Concert Event will feature the country superstars once again performing live by request from their home’s Studio G, this time singing songs of the season. — L.P.

Garth & Trisha Live! A Holiday Concert Event airs Sunday, Dec. 20 at 8:30 p.m. on CBS and CBS All Access.

WATCH IT: Audrey looks to uncover the style icon’s true essence

Oscar-winning actress Audrey Hepburn made her mark as the epitome of elegance in movies such as Roman Holiday, Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and she created a lasting legacy, too, as a humanitarian. This documentary examines the real woman behind that image of perfection, courtesy of unseen home video footage from her family and interviews with those close to her. Son Sean Hepburn Ferrer describes his mother’s struggles while growing up in war-torn Holland, and Clare Waight Keller, who once worked at Givenchy, opens up about Hepburn’s long relationship with designer Hubert de Givenchy. In an ode to Hepburn’s lifelong love of dance, Audrey also includes ballet performances choreographed just for the film. — R.S.

Audrey is available Tuesday, Dec. 15 on Blu-ray and DVD on Amazon.

STREAM IT: 35 years after its release, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil remains a unique head trip

Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce on the set of Brazil, written and directed by Terry Gilliam. (Photo by Embassy International Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jonathan Pryce on the set of Brazil, written and directed by Terry Gilliam. (Photo: Embassy International Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Terry Gilliam’s long history of troubled film productions began 35 years ago with Brazil, a wildly creative dystopian satire that plays like a Monty Python sketch written by George Orwell. While the actual shoot went smoothly, the problems started when the eccentric director delivered his final cut to Universal… and the studio wanted to give it a complete overhaul, shortening the runtime and tacking on a happier ending. Gilliam took the editing room battle public, and eventually he and the studio agreed upon the version that premiered in U.S. theaters on Dec. 18, 1985. (All three cuts are available in the movie’s Criterion Collection edition.) Even in its compromised form, Brazil remains one of the most influential and imaginative movies of the 1980s, expertly lampooning worker bee bureaucracy, encroaching fascism and a society driven to distraction by bread and circus entertainments. Gilliam has made a number of great movies in the face of great odds over the ensuing years, but Brazil stands tall as his masterpiece. — E.A.

Brazil is available to rent or purchase on Amazon, iTunes and Redbox.

PLAY IT: Kill time and lots of aliens in Space Invaders Forever

Casual gamers and retro enthusiasts alike will dig this new collection based on one of the all-timer arcade franchises. Space Invaders Forever features spiffed-up versions of Space Invaders Extreme (think the classic game on steroids), the multiplayer Space Invaders Gigamex 4 SE, and the mash-up Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders (where players need to break blocks and defeat descending E.T.s.) — all with sleeker graphics and sound effects. Stuff a little space invasion into a stocking this holiday season. — Marcus Errico

Space Invaders Forever is compatible with the Switch and PS4 and available for digitally on the Nintendo and PlayStation stores and physically from Amazon and other retailers.

BUY IT: Pay an early visit to Arrakis with McFarlane Toys’ line of Dune action figures

(Image: McFarlane Toys)
(Image: McFarlane Toys)

Had 2020 been a normal year, moviegoers would be preparing to travel to Frank Herbert’s desert planet, Arrakis, when the new movie version of Dune debuted in theaters on Dec. 18. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, though, that spice run has been postponed until next October. While they wait, fans of the classic sci-fi novel can re-enact their favorite scenes from the book with McFarlane Toys’ line of Dune action figures modeled after their appearance in Denis Villeneuve’s feature. Collect 7-inch versions of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson’s Lady Jessica and Jason Momoa’s Duncan Idaho, and send them into battle against a 12-inch replica of Stellan Skarsgard’s villainous Baron Harkonnen. He may look ugly, but don’t fear him… because fear is the mind-killer. — E.A.

McFarlane Toys’ Dune action figures are available at Amazon and Entertainment Earth.

STREAM IT: The Color Purple, still a cultural touchstone for African American women today, turns 35

This 1985 adaptation of the classic Alice Walker novel is a Steven Spielberg gem, depicting love between women — sisters, lovers — and the easily broken power of men, all through the lens of early 20th-century African-Americans living in the South. Watching Celia (Whoopi Goldberg) transform into someone who loves herself and sees her own strength and worth never gets old — nor does seeing the acting strengths of Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey and the rest of the stellar cast. Traumatic and ultimately healing, the film, on its 35th anniversary, really holds up. — Beth Greenfield

The Color Purple is currently streaming on Amazon and iTunes.

STREAM IT: Break It All: The History of Rock in Latin America celebrates the unbroken spirit of rock ‘n’ roll

Through new interviews and archival footage featuring artists like Soda Stereo, Café Tacvba and Aterciopelados, Netflix’s Break It All: The History of Rock in Latin America explores the 50-year history of Latin American rock ‘n’ roll and youth culture. Focusing on times of dictatorship, disaster and dissent when rock bands overcame incredible obstacles to find ways to make music and be heard, the documentary is an inspiring and intriguing look at an important but sometimes sadly overlooked scene. — L.P.

Break It All: The History of Rock in Latin America airs Wednesday, Dec. 16 on Netflix.

STREAM IT: Cher’s unexpected mother-daughter story Mermaids deserves another viewing

Winona Ryder, Cher, Christina Ricci in publicity portrait for the film 'Mermaids', 1990. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Winona Ryder, Cher, Christina Ricci in publicity portrait for the film Mermaids, 1990. (Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)

Thirty years after it debuted in movie theaters, on Dec. 14, 1990, this dramedy about a single mother who uproots her two daughters — played by Winona Ryder and, in her first movie role, Christina Ricci — every time she goes through a breakup, continues to shine, mostly because of the big three’s chemistry. That scene of the trio dancing together in their kitchen to Jimmy Soul’s “If You Wanna Be Happy” at the end feels so natural and happy. Ryder’s thoughtful, anxious Charlotte — who wants desperately to become a nun, despite her attraction to Michael Schoeffling, in one his final acting gigs before retiring — is refreshing to see amid the hordes of uninspired teenage girl characters. Same for Cher, whose Rachel Flax focuses on her daughters as much as on her own life. — R.S.

Mermaids is currently streaming for free on Amazon Prime.

WATCH IT: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon looking better in high definition

Some films are just made to be consumed in the most dynamic means possible. Ang Lee’s breathtaking, sword-swinging epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the perfect example, and the film celebrates its 20th birthday with a new 4K Ultra HD Steelbook offering. The new release for Lee’s 2000 wuxia masterpiece comes with a treasure chest of extras, including six deleted scenes, in-depth retrospective interviews, commentary tracks, a music video and more. — K.P.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is available on 4K Ultra HD on Amazon.

WATCH IT: Diana Ross’s discography gets turned upside down and inside out

Diana Ross performs onstage during the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo December 11, 2008. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins (NORWAY)
Diana Ross performs onstage during the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo December 11, 2008. (Photo: REUTERS/Ints Kalnins NORWAY)

All hail the Supreme! Reelz’s Diana Ross: Story of Her Songs focuses on three very different tracks spanning the soul queen’s career — 1964’s “Baby Love,” 1975’s Oscar-nominated “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” and the 1985 Bee Gees collaboration “Chain Reaction” — through in-depth interviews with the legendary Motown songwriters and session musicians, video directors, choreographers, arrangers, film composers and journalists who witnessed music history being made. — L.P.

Diana Ross: Story of Her Songs airs Sunday, Dec. 20 at 10 p.m. on Reelz.

WATCH IT: Go undercover with Mission: Impossible: The Original TV Series Blu-ray box set

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 23: Peter Graves as James Phelps, Martin Landau as Rollin Hand and Greg Morris as Barney Collier in the Mission Impossible episode, "Live Bait"  Original airdate, February 23, 1969.  Image is a frame grab.  (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Peter Graves as James Phelps, Martin Landau as Rollin Hand and Greg Morris as Barney Collier in the Mission Impossible episode, "Live Bait." (Photo: CBS via Getty Images)

Before it became a movie franchise where Tom Cruise does increasingly dangerous stunts, Mission: Impossible was a hit CBS TV series that offered weekly espionage-laced action stories with a rotating cast of IMF agents that included Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy and Sam Elliot. The show’s complete seven-season run is now available in a Blu-ray set that features high-def versions of all 171 episodes. Face masks not included. — E.A.

The Mission: Impossible: The Original TV Series Blu-ray set is available on Amazon.

STREAM IT: 9 to 5 sustains its radical impact over the last 40 years

I saw 9 to 5 as a kid, and while it was likely inappropriate, my takeaway was a wonderful burst of feminist power and realization. The film’s impact lasted — not only in the days after I watched it, but, impossibly, over the decades, until last year, when I watched it with my daughter of the age I was then and she couldn't get enough. The holy trinity of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton is a hoot and a marvel to watch, and the idiocy of the sexist boss, Dabny Coleman, serves as a salient reminder of how things were — and, in many ways, still are. Settle in for its 40th anniversary and see what "stands the test of time" really means. — B.G.

9 to 5 is currently streaming on iTunes, Starz and Hulu with a Starz subscription.

STREAM IT: Song Exploder returns with a bang

The second season of Netflix’s hit music docuseries, based on the popular podcast of the same name, features Dua Lipa breaking down her Future Nostalgia track “Love Again,” the Killers talking “When You Were Young,” Trent Reznor opening up about his intense The Downward Spiral ballad “Hurt” and Mexican folk/pop/rock star Natalia Lafourcade delving into the history behind “Hasta La Raíz.” It’s an absolute must-watch for music nerds, or for anyone fascinated by the artistic process in general. — L.P.

Song Exploder Season 2 premieres Tuesday, Dec. 15 on Netflix.

— Video produced by Jon San and edited by John Santo