First and foremost, I hope everyone reading this enjoyed a safe and restful Thanksgiving weekend. We’re now in that very short period of time before end-of-year madness, which I call “the holiday crush,” completely takes over.

If you find yourself with some precious downtime this week or next, give yourself the gift of a little relaxation with one of these 2021 movies:  

Respect – While I still think they should’ve named this biopic R-E-S-P-E-C-T (because then people would immediately know it’s about Aretha Franklin… am I wrong?), I have no complaints about the experience of watching Jennifer Hudson play the Queen of Soul and learning more about how Franklin become a global phenomenon.

Candyman – This fresh take on the urban legend stars Emmy winner Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Jordan Peele is one of the co-writers, which should be enough to intrigue you. Rest assured you will not be brave enough to whisper “Candyman” in front of a mirror even one time after watching this.

Cruella – I went to Disneyland a few weeks ago and saw no shortage of theme park visitors (of all ages) with the black and white ‘do that Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil brought into vogue via this film earlier this year. You don’t want to miss finding out how 101 Dalmatians’ villain got her start. (By the way, we have a Bundle and Save deal going right now if you want to watch both the live-action prequel and Disney’s animated original!)

Jungle Cruise – Speaking of Disneyland, you can bet I rode the ride that inspired this movie, in which Dwayne Johnson plays a cocky riverboat captain who agrees to take Emily Blunt’s adventurer deep into the Amazon in search of the Tree of Life … while cracking horrible jokes along the way.

Stillwater – What would you do if your daughter was serving a multi-year jail sentence in France for murder, but you knew she was innocent? That’s the horrible situation Matt Damon’s character finds himself in. But even more horrible is when he gets to Marseilles and starts to wonder whether his daughter (Abigail Breslin) really is responsible for taking someone else’s life.

Old – If you feel like you’ve aged at least a decade since March 2020, this M. Night Shyamalan thriller about a beach that seems to cause people to grow old rapidly might hit a little too close to home. But you’ll likely still enjoy its twists.

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