4 Best Movies to Watch by James Cromwell

Staff & contributors
While the dual lead performance concept can easily be a recipe for disaster at times (cf. Gemini Man), the always amazing J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) shows everybody how it's done in this tense sci-fi thriller. When the risk pays off, it pays off big time! Set in a counterfactual 1980s East Berlin, Counterpart unfolds in two parallel worlds that were bridged by East German scientists. When a flu pandemic kills millions in the first world, the two worlds enter a Cold War-like state. Both Simmons' characters (Simmonses?) work in the institution (“interface”) that oversee this bridge between earths: Howard Silk, a low-level employee who transmits messages he doesn't understand, and Howard Silk Prime, a clandestine agent working for the parallel world's interface institution. While this may seem like an overly complicated plot, don't fret. To be sure, Counterpart is complex, twisted, and raises some big questions, but it's also a gripping political thriller where everyone tries to kill somebody somewhere, like Bourne. It's the best of both worlds – pun intended. But if you're into the philosophical aspects of sci-fi, screenwriter Justin Marks does not disappoint, offering some new answers to the age-old question of what makes us who we are: nature or nurture.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Betty Gabriel, Harry Lloyd, J.K. Simmons, James Cromwell, Nazanin Boniadi, Nicholas Pinnock, Olivia Williams, Sara Serraiocco

Director: Alik Sakharov, Jennifer Getzinger, Stephen Williams

Rating: TV-MA

A slice-of-life true-story-based film on growing old and in love. When on his own land, Craig Morrison (played by James Cromwell) starts building a more convenient house for his ailing wife Irene (Geneviève Bujold), he is faced with crippling bureaucracy. The state gives him the choice between stopping the construction or going to jail, while he is witnessing his wife's health deteriorating even further. The act of going against the system brings out both how beautiful his relationship with his wife is, as well as his own resilience in this moving, insightful drama.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Barbara Gordon, Campbell Scott, Chris Farquhar, Chuck Shamata, Geneviève Bujold, George R. Robertson, James Cromwell, Joe Pingue, Jonathan Potts, Julie Stewart, Kiva Mary Golden Carlson, Lewis Hodgson, Ray Landry, Rick Roberts, Ronan Rees, Zachary Bennett

Director: Michael McGowan

Rating: PG-13

While it might not be the most inspired story featuring the titular caped crusader—nor is it a particularly Christmas-y tale—Merry Little Batman still stands out just for how bright and warm its versions of these characters are. In this Gotham, crime is literally pushed aside for once, and that odd sense of holiday isolation takes over for the heroes and villains of the city. It's all pretty silly when you give it more thought, but the film wholeheartedly embraces its tone, resulting in a Home Alone-esque adventure that moves briskly and is loaded with great visual gags and throwaways zingers. It could stand to have a more substantial emotional center, but for what it is, this is consistently entertaining holiday viewing for all ages.

Genre: Action, Animation, Comedy, Family

Actor: Brian George, Bumper Robinson, Chris Sullivan, Courtenay Taylor, Cynthia Kaye McWilliams, David Hornsby, Dolph Adomian, Fred Tatasciore, James Cromwell, Keith Ferguson, Luke Wilson, Michael Fielding, Natalie Palamides, Reid Scott, Roger Craig Smith, Yonas Kibreab

Director: Mike Roth