— Michael O'Sullivan
The documentary “Born to Be” follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting, a surgeon at Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, as well as the stories if several of the medical center’s patients. Through these stories, the New York Times writes, “Ting is an anchor, a presence of compassion and good sense. Anyone confused about transgender people will certainly benefit from a viewing of this picture.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com and sunscinema.com. 92 minutes.
The directorial debut of actor Josh Duhamel, “Buddy Games” tells the story of six lifelong friends who, after a falling out, reunite for an absurd competition involving physical and mental challenges. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the film — which stars Dax Shepard, Olivia Munn and Kevin Dillon, in addition to Duhamel — “feels like it could have been a movie within the movie that was ‘Idiocracy,’ a posited example of just how stupid we would become if we didn’t begin to shun the path we’d started down.” R. Available on various streaming platforms. Contains strong crude sexual material and coarse language throughout, some graphic nudity, drug use and brief violence. 96 minutes.
Kurt Russell reprises his role as Santa Claus — now joined by Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus — in the sequel “The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2.” Variety calls the film a “harmless piece of hokum,” where the plots ruptures are all “healed by Christmas, and you get to hang out with a Santa who’s traditional but nearly cool.” PG. Available on Netflix. Contains mild action, violence, and brief strong language. 115 minutes.
Produced by Shonda Rhimes’s Shondaland, the documentary “Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” goes behind the scenes at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy to offer a peek at preparations for Allen’s annual award-winning holiday version of “The Nutcracker.” TV-G. Available on Netflix. 80 minutes.
Kristen Stewart plays a woman who has decided to propose to her girlfriend (Mackenzie Davis) at her girlfriend’s traditional Christmas dinner with her family — only to discover the family doesn’t know she’s gay in the rom-com “Happiest Season.” PG-13. Available on Hulu. Contains some strong language. 102 minutes.
The thriller “Mosul” tells the story of the campaign to reclaim the titular Iraqi city from ISIS. Variety calls the film “a well-made but troublingly generic war-is-hell pulse-pounder that inevitably prompts the question: How recent is too recent when it comes to turning a theater of war into pure theater, pure Hollywood spectacle?” TV-MA. Available on Netflix. 102 minutes.
“The Mystery of D.B. Cooper” explores the myth that has arisen around Cooper, a hijacker who is believed to have parachuted from a plane with $200,000 before disappearing in 1971. According to IndieWire, somewhere beneath the surface of the film is an “illuminating meditation on the relationship between the banality of modern living and the fantasies that people sell to the masses to help them cope with it.” TV-14. Available on HBO. 87 minutes.
The documentary “Saul & Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band” tells the story of two Florida retirees who formed a klezmer band to honor a fellow musician and Holocaust survivor. According to the Austin Chronicle, the story of the titular musicians is “such a remarkable and yet immediately recognizable story that it’s a true shame that it never feels like we get to know them.” Unrated. Available on various streaming platforms. 81 minutes.
Set over a series of three consecutive Christmas holidays (which in Brazil take place during the summer), “Three Summers” is a dramedy about a housekeeper trying to overcome social barriers. The Hollywood Reporter writes that “the film is cleverly structured, asking the viewer to fill in the wide gaps between each narrative ellipsis, as if we’re watching a TV series where half the episodes have been cut out.” Unrated. Available at virtualavalon.org. In Portuguese with subtitles. 94 minutes.