February 2018’s Best Streaming Titles: GoodFellas, Men in Black, Altered Carbon, Amélie, Blazing Saddles, The Expanse & more

Coming soon: Scorsese gangsters, Will Smith and aliens, cyberpunk, Audrey Tautou, Mel Brooks and the Old West, and gritty space opera.
Men in Black, Barry Sonnenfeld
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are Men in Black

As Netflix et al. add more content, it’s difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So at the start of every month, I publish a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.

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Aeon Flux (February 1)

This live action adaptation of Peter Chung’s cult cartoon was roundly criticized when it came out in 2005; Chung eventually called it a “travesty.” But when I watched it a few years ago, I discovered it wasn’t all bad. Sure, Charlize Theron often sleepwalks her way through the movie, but the movie’s aesthetic and style are fascinating, the languid pacing can be hypnotic, and some of the film’s sci-fi concepts are as weirdly cool as anything you’d see in the original Aeon Flux.

GoodFellas (February 1)

Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic is based on the true story of Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta), a mob associate who eventually became an FBI informant. The film follows Hill’s introduction to the mob life, and his rise and fall in the gang through the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. The film was nominated for multiple Oscars, eventually winning “Best Supporting Actor” for Joe Pesci’s performance as the unhinged Tommy DeVito.

Kill Bill, Volume 1 and 2 (February 1)

As an ode to classic kung fu and ’70s exploitation movies, Kill Bill is arguably Quentin Tarantino’s most stylized and fantastical movie to date. Both Kill Bill volumes are coming to Netflix, so if you’re in the mood for a blood-soaked, rip-roarin’ tale of revenge, you’ve got your evening all lined up.

Men in Black (February 1)

Last month, Netflix started streaming Bright, their urban fantasy starring Will Smith. But if orc cops aren’t your thing, there’s Men in Black, which stars Smith as a street smart cop who begins working for a clandestine organization overseeing alien activity on Earth. I won’t deny it, Men in Black is a total guilty pleasure for me, due in large part to the chemistry between Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, who plays his cranky mentor.

Ocean’s Eleven (February 1)

Ocean’s Eleven is about as slick as heist movies come, as Danny Ocean (George Clooney at his most charming) assembles a team to knock over three Las Vegas casinos in one night. Directed with all assurance by Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s Eleven is just a joy to watch, as the twists keep coming and the stakes keep getting higher. The film’s two sequels — Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen — will also be available on Netflix.

Altered Carbon (February 2)

One of Netflix’s biggest and most expensive titles to date, Altered Carbon is set centuries in the future, where it’s now possible to move your consciousness into new bodies, ensuring virtual immortality. This one has a definite Blade Runner vibe, and centers around an ex-soldier who is given a new body (and lease on life) after 250 years to solve a murder.

The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale (February 18)

Comedian Joel McHale — best known as Jeff Winger on Community — is coming to Netflix. He’ll be hosting his own show that “takes a sharp, absurdist look at pop culture and news from across the globe” while featuring “celebrity guests, comedy sketches, and insane video clips from the worldwide realms of TV, sports, politics, celebrity culture, and every corner of the internet.” If, like me, you were a fan of McHale’s snark on The Soup, then this one’s a no-brainer.

Mute (February 23)

Duncan Jones’ Mute has been in development for years, and as such, might be one of the most anticipated genre titles to arrive on Netflix. Mute is a spiritual sequel to Jones’ excellent debut, Moon (2009), and is set in the same universe. Set 40 years from now, Mute follows a mute bartender searching for his missing girlfriend in a city full of immigrants. No teaser has been released to date, but Jones touts the influence of Blade Runner.

Here’s a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in February 2018.


Amélie (February 1)

Films rarely get more charming than Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie. The titular character is a shy young woman who, after a strange discovery, decides to improve the lives of everyone around her — and finds herself falling for a mysterious man. Audrey Tautou’s charming performance, beautiful cinematography, clever special effects, Yann Tiersen’s playful soundtrack… it all adds up to something truly magical.

Blazing Saddles (February 1)

Mel Brook’s satire of the Western film is a comedy classic — though its treatment of racism (and flatulence) may be jarring for modern audiences. When a new sheriff rides into the small town of Rock Ridge, its citizens are shocked to learn that he’s black. However, he may just be their best hope when a greedy lawyer wants to destroy their town to make way for a new railroad.

The Good The Bad And The Ugly (February 1)

Now this would make for an interesting double-feature with Blazing Saddles. After watching Mel Brooks’ send-up of the Western, why not watch one of the greatest Westerns of all time? The final installment in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” The Good The Bad And The Ugly is marked by brilliant directing and gorgeous cinematography, as well as Ennio Morricone’s legendary theme.

Red Dawn (February 1)

Wolverines! Ah, the Cold War. What else explains Red Dawn, in which the sleepy little town of Calumet, Colorado becomes the site of a Soviet invasion? Originally an anti-war, Lord of the Flies-esque picture, Red Dawn was retooled in light of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan to become the anti-Commie film you know and love (and liberals love to hate) — though writer/director John Milius insists it’s still anti-war.

The Warriors (February 1)

After they’re falsely accused of murdering the leader of the city’s most powerful gang, the Warriors must make the long journey back to their home base while fending off the rest of New York’s gangs. This simple premise makes for one of the great cult movies, as the Warriors make their way through a nightmarish, dystopic New York as imagined by director Walter Hill (The Driver, Streets of Fire).

Star Trek (February 14)

If you’re looking for a rollicking space adventure, then J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the venerable Star Trek franchise will more than fit the bill. But if you’re looking for a film that pays homage to the series’ emphasis on science and exploration, look elsewhere. I fall squarely in the former (read my review). Yes, Abrams’ reliance on lens flares verges on silly, but the film is a lot of fun, with plenty of derring do, an impression bolstered by a solid cast. (Karl Urban is exceptionally good as the irascible Dr. Leonard McCoy.)

The Villainess (February 21)

After The Villainess screened at the Cannes Film Festival, it received a four-minute standing ovation — and it’s not hard to see why. Though containing a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters, The Villainess (read my review) is still filled with some of the most mind-blowing action sequences of the last year. Example: the film’s bravura opening sequence, in which an assassin takes out a building of bad guys, is mostly seen through her eyes, first person shooter style.

Here’s a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in February 2018.

Amazon Prime

The Expanse, Season 2 (February 7)

Based on James S. A. Corey’s acclaimed novels, The Expanse is epic sci-fi of the finest sort. 200 years in the future, tensions between Earth and Mars are at a boiling point when a shocking discovery reveals a new threat to the solar system. I was instantly hooked on the first season (also streaming on Amazon) thanks to its gritty, realistic aesthetic and well-plotted storylines.

The Tick, Season 1B (February 23)

The Tick returns to Amazon for the second half of its first season. Ben Edlund’s original comic is a true cult classic, a satirical send-up of superheroes featuring the titular superhero, who has no idea who he is — but is super-strong, nigh-invincible, and takes being a superhero very seriously… to great comedic effect.

Thunderbirds Are Go!, Season 4 (February 23)

Thunderbirds Are Go! is an excellent update of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s classic Thunderbirds series. But instead of marionettes, Thunderbirds Are Go! uses a clever blend of CGI and physical sets to depict the Tracy family’s adventures, as they travel the globe saving people in danger while battling the mysterious Hood. In this latest season, they face a new adversary: The Mechanic, who may be even deadlier and crazier than the Hood.

Here’s a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in February 2018. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.

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