(Martin McDonagh, 2017, UK/US) 115 mins
Frances McDormand in her best role since Fargo as a defiant woman who declares war on her small town – and Woody Harrelson’s police chief in particular – for not solving her daughter’s murder. Things don’t play out as you’d expect in this occasionally hilarious morality play. Aside from its disappointing blind spot over race, it’s a beautifully balanced story.
(Joe Wright, 2017, UK) 125 mins
Second world war fatigue might have set in after Dunkirk, Churchill and Their Finest, but this stylish thriller affords Gary Oldman the performance of his late career, so who can grumble? This is Churchill at his most vulnerable and isolated, circa 1940, when he was a new prime minister with enemies both at home and abroad.
(Aaron Sorkin, 2017, US) 140 mins
Jessica Chastain brings her A-game to Sorkin’s pacy story of a real-life poker queen. Her tables attract (and exploit) a host of powerful men, including movie stars and Russian gangsters. Idris Elba, Kevin Costner and Michael Cera also star.
(Ridley Scott, 2017, US) 133 mins
Christopher Plummer is the best thing in this classy 1970s thriller: the genteel face of obscene wealth, who refuses to take much of an interest when his grandson is kidnapped. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg do most of the running around Italy, New York and Britain, but Plummer steals the show.
(Stéphane Brizé, 2016, Fra/Bel) 116 mins
A delicate but damning indictment of the patriarchy, based on a Guy de Maupassant story of a 19th-century French woman whose romantic flowering is no indication of the disappointments and betrayals to come. The treatment is quietly intense, anchored by Judith Chemla, who was nominated for last year’s best actress César.
Hair experimentalists Starcrawler sound like a fight between the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Alice Cooper and, in 18-year-old lead vocalist Arrow de Wilde, have one of the most arresting performers working today. Their Ryan Adams-produced debut album is out on Friday, just in time for this short UK visit.
The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 17 January; Omeara, SE1, 18 January; touring to 20 January
These Brighton-based indie pop merchants and perennial live favourites release their fifth album, Semicircle, this week. To celebrate, they’re doing some instores around the UK before heading out on a proper tour starting on 9 February.
Banquet Records, Kingston, 18 January; Rough Trade East, E1, 19 January; touring to 23 January
Fusing swing and jazz with hip-hop and electro, Alice Francis, who performs alongside producer Goldielocks and one-man-choir Sir Chul-Min Yoo, has built a live reputation on a relentless touring schedule. She finds the time for a quick pitstop in London this week.
PizzaExpress Jazz Club Soho, W1, 19 January
Memorably described in this paper as sounding like “a bunch of geordie serial killers drunk at their Christmas AGM”, the porcine-friendly Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs conjure up an ear-bleeding, unvarnished cacophony. These aren’t short, sharp shocks either; last year’s Feed the Rats album spread three songs over 40 minutes.
The Lexington, N1, 19 January
With his father’s Mexican heritage on his mind, Austin-based David Ramirez’s current album of rootsy Americana comes with a political bent. It’s there in the title, We’re Not Going Anywhere, and on the highlight Stone Age, which touches on Trump’s planned border wall.
Brighton, 13 January; Sheffield, 14 January; Bristol, 15 January; Nottingham, 16 January; Leicester, 17 January; Manchester, 18 January; touring to 21 January
The latest of the BBC SSO’s Hear and Now programmes focuses on the music of one of the most intriguing and little known of American experimentalists. Ilan Volkov conducts two of James Tenney’s works, Diapason and Clang, both receiving their first UK performances, alongside Distemperament, by the Filipino composer and musicologist José Maceda.
City Halls, Glasgow, 13 January
Simon Rattle and the LSO revive a rarely performed curiosity from the 1940s, this suite of short pieces for narrator, chorus and orchestra commissioned from seven composers and based on episodes from the Old Testament. The sequence begins with a prelude by Schoenberg and ends with Stravinsky’s depiction of Babel; other composers involved include Milhaud and Tansman.
Barbican Hall, EC2, 13 January
Neglected piano music frequently sits alongside repertory pieces in Marc-André Hamelin’s recitals. Here, a second half of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata and Schumann’s C Major Fantasy is preceded by two sonatas by the nearly forgotten Samuil Feinberg, a Soviet follower of Rachmaninov and Scriabin.
Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton, 16 January
Two of the finest ensemble pieces of the last 100 years are paired by the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is established in the repertory now, but Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee, a transfixing, glinting web of intricate canons from 2008 will surely achieve equal status soon.
The Sage Gateshead, 17 January
Is William Blake the greatest British artist? His imagination has penetrated more deeply into modern culture than any other candidate. Blake’s visions echo from 1960s psychedelia to 21st-century protest. His gloriously illustrated, prophetic books are unique aesthetic treasures. This exhibition focuses on his years living in West Sussex and his dream of Britain as a druidic battleground of good and evil.
National Trust: Petworth House and Park, 13 January to 25 March
The French Renaissance began when artists from Italy were drawn to the lavish chateaux of the Loire valley. Homegrown French art rapidly developed its own sensualist style in which myth, allegory and classicism were mixed with echoes of medieval chivalry. Caron’s drawings, done for Catherine de’ Medici, 16th-century queen of France, take you to the heart of this ornate culture in their depictions of stupendous festivals, tournaments and mock battles.
The Courtauld Institute of Art, WC2, 18 January to 15 April
The dreamlike intensity of Doig’s latest works prove he is maturing into a modern master. Visions of the Caribbean and memories of friends fill these poetically coloured paintings with a glitter of feeling. A colossal male nude shows off on the beach; a camouflaged ice-hockey player brings a note of sinister violence to a seaside pastoral. Time strangely stops, yet this mythic world is full of compassionate commentary on our age.
Michael Werner Gallery, W1 to 17 February
The shipwreck of French navy frigate the Medusa off Senegal in 1816 led to 150 people trying to survive on a ramshackle raft. Only 10 survived. Three years later, Géricault exhibited a colossal painting of this story in which the dark eyes of maddened castaways and the horror of half-eaten human remains bear witness to extremes of suffering. Cecily Brown reinterprets The Raft of the Medusa in drawings that evoke our age of equally desperate voyages by refugees.
The Whitworth, Manchester, to 15 April
Don’t miss this exhibition as it enters its final weeks. The intelligence, boldness, profundity and inner tension of Cézanne are all but unrivalled in art. He is the father of modernism and at the same time a classical master who rivals Rembrandt and Poussin. These tough, provocative yet ultimately beguiling portraits capture his essence.
National Portrait Gallery, WC2, to 11 Feb
It was chance that sealed the fates of Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, so it is no gimmick that in Robert Icke’s revival of Friedrich Schiller’s play the spin of a coin will decides which of Lia Williams and Juliet Stevenson will play which role on a nightly basis. Both are so good that you might well be tempted to return in the hope of seeing the other in an evening that offers Icke’s customary intelligence mixed with a potent theatricality.
The Duke of York’s, WC2, 15 January to 31 March
Emma Rice and Kneehigh have already reinvented Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, a moralising fable that punishes its heroine for her covetousness of a pair of red shoes. Now, Nancy Harris offers another in a fleet-footed retelling that transposes the story to contemporary Dublin with darkly delicious results.
Gate Theatre, Dublin, to 27 January
Gecko’s latest was made and began previewing just as the UK’s divorce proceedings with the EU began, but to read it as a show about Brexit would be a mistake. Amit Lahav always makes work that is multilayered and textured rather than based on issues, and this lushly haunting show offers a tightly choreographed meditation on what it means to enter into a contract with the state.
Bristol Old Vic, 17 to 20 January
Sophie is an actor with a medical condition that baffles the doctors and brings her close to breakdown. But even if doctors don’t know how to label your ailment, that doesn’t mean that you are not ill. And when they do give it a name, does that always help? Developed through research with both doctors and patients with functional neurological disorder, Kandinsky’s show, first seen at this address in 2016, is a terrific piece of theatre that subtly explores our relationship with body and mind.
The New Diorama Theatre, NW1, 16 to 27 January
First it was cancelled by the Royal Court in the wake of the sexual harassment revelations about director Max Stafford-Clark. Then, in a brave volte face, Out of Joint’s production of Andrea Dunbar’s 1980s comedy – about two Bradford schoolgirls and the seedy married man with whom they have a three-in-the-back-of-the-car fling – was reinstated by Royal Court artistic director, Vicky Featherstone. It’s a good call, because there are far too few plays about female working-class experience and Dunbar’s play, written in the shadow of Thatcherism, is as authentic as they come.
Jerwood Theatres at the Royal Court, SW1, to 27 January
Some impressive casting for this revival of Peter Wright’s pitch-perfect staging of the Romantic classic, including the fast-developing partnership of Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov, and David Hallberg guesting with Natalia Osipova.
Royal Opera House, WC2, 19 January to 9 March
The superb juggling troupe, in collaboration with bharatanatyam choreographer Seeta Patel, continues its fascinating exploration of the links between dance and circus.
The Lilian Baylis Studio, EC1, 15 & 16 January
Giant kites, coloured balloons and gloriously choreographed slapstick animate this mix of circus and dance theatre.
Oxford Playhouse, 13 January; The Lowry, Salford, 19 & 20 January; touring to 25 January