If you’re a movie buff, you may not have thought of turning to Apple TV+. But the streaming service’s focus on wholly original content has upped its status in the filmmaking world. Although only two of its commissioned movies are currently available, Apple has a long list of titles in the production process.
Right now, you can journey through the African landscape with a herd of elephants, or join a 17-year-old as she balances coming of age with the religious and cultural expectations of her family.
But in the coming year, expect gripping dramas, teen novel adaptations and true tales of equality and musical mayhem. Plus, there’s plenty of award-winning talent attached, from Samuel L. Jackson and Sofia Coppola to Mahershala Ali and Spike Jonze.
Here’s a rundown of the Apple TV+ movies to watch right now and the ones to keep an eye out for later in 2020.
Current Apple TV+ movies
Follow Pakistani-American teenager Hala as she treads the line between the values of her traditional Muslim childhood and her newfound teen desires. Finding herself, however, involves dealing with a secret that could upend not only her life but also the lives of her entire family.
Director Minhal Baig weaved her own personal experiences into the story. Despite initial criticism that the movie portrayed stereotypical Muslim oppression, Baig told The Hollywood Reporter: “It was always this coming-of-age story about a girl that happens to have these identities. It’s not society telling her she can’t wear the hijab, and no one tells her to do that in the movie. I don’t want to portray a character who’s constantly sitting in her otherness, because I don’t sit in my otherness every day.”
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
- Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 57%
- Genre: Drama
- Length: 93 minutes
- Rating: R
- Featured actors: Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer and Gabriel Luna
The Elephant Queen
Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor narrates this hard-hitting nature documentary. Athena, matriarch of a herd of elephants, leads her family across the African terrain and faces plenty of threats in the process. Although you won’t see a glimpse of issues like poaching, The Elephant Queen offers a view into the emotional depth of these majestic creatures.
Filmmakers Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble spent 4 years creating the documentary — they searched for the right elephant to follow for 18 months. “Our ambition was to make a film that would reach the broadest possible audience and inspire people to fall in love with elephants and to make a difference for them on the ground in Africa,” Stone explained to The Times. “Why wouldn’t there be hope? It just takes enough people caring to create hope.”
- Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
- Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 92%
- Genre: Documentary
- Length: 96 minutes
- Rating: PG
- Featured actors: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Upcoming Apple TV+ movies
Premiering on March 20, The Banker features an all-star cast. Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie and Nicholas Hoult all appear in this drama inspired by true events. Set in the 1960s, the tale centers on two men who dream up a clever business plan. Their aim? To push for housing integration and give everyone an equal chance of living the American Dream.
Beastie Boys Story
Beastie Boys members Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz team up with legendary director Spike Jonze for a non-fiction take on the band’s journey and personal friendships. Airing on Apple TV+ on April 24, expect a candid look at the ups and downs of four decades of music-making.
Bryce Dallas Howard’s new documentary feature dives into the world of modern dads. Combining celebrity anecdotes from the likes of Will Smith and Jimmy Fallon with the stories of non-famous dads from across the globe, explore what it really means to be a father in the modern age.
The only animated film scheduled to appear on Apple TV+, Wolfwalkers will take viewers to Ireland where the last pack of wolves faces extinction. A young hunter named Robyn has been taught to view the creatures as evil, but a new friendship takes her into the realm of the Wolfwalkers. Suddenly, she becomes the thing her father seeks to kill. Its release date is still under wraps.
On The Rocks
Another mysterious title. All we know is that Sofia Coppola will direct this comedy-drama about a young mom who goes on a trip to remember through New York with her playboy father.
The Sky is Everywhere
Fans of YA novel The Sky is Everywhere will be happy to hear that Apple has commissioned a feature-length adaptation of the work. For those unfamiliar with the book, the story follows an introverted teen as she deals with unexpected love and the loss of her older sister. There’s no word yet on when the movie will be released.
Documentary Boys State was one of the most talked-about releases at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. A tale of democracy, it follows a group of 1,000 teen boys from Texas who take part in an annual political challenge. Their mission? To build a representative government from scratch. Expect to see it on Apple TV+ sometime in 2020.
The most recent movie announcement from Apple TV+, Swan Song, is set to star two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. We don’t know much about the plot just yet. But Apple said it’s a “genre-bending drama” that will explore how far a person will go and how much they’re willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of happiness for their loved ones.
The current Apple TV+ movie catalog may be pretty sparse, but the streaming service’s upcoming titles are well worth the wait. Thankfully, with many expected to release in the coming months (including a rumored Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds Christmas musical), you won’t have to be too patient.
In the meantime, why not sign up for a free Apple TV+ trial and soak up the drama of Hala and The Elephant Queen.