February 2023’s Best Streaming Titles: Shaft, Black Panther, The Terminator, Lord of the Rings
As Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. add more content, it can be difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. Every month, I compile a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
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Amazon Prime Video
Children of Heaven (Feb 1)
In this deeply charming Iranian film, a young boy accidentally loses his sister’s only pair of shoes. As they try to hide this from their parents, the boy searches the city for her footwear. This may sound like a very slight plot, but director Majid Majidi turns it into a delightful and heartwarming story filled with naturalistic performances.
Inside Man (Feb 1)
In this wonderfully executed heist movie by Spike Lee, an unorthodox hostage negotiator (Denzel Washington) finds himself squaring off against an equally unorthodox thief (Clive Owen) in a bank robbery where nothing is what it seems. The film’s star-studded cast also includes Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Shaft (Feb 1)
I hope that this is the original Shaft from 1971, directed by Gordon Parks and starring Richard Roundtree as the “the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks.” With its gritty urban tale involving gangsters and kidnappings, Roundtree’s charismatic performance, and of course, Isaac Hayes’ legendary soundtrack, Shaft has become a cult favorite over the years, and is considered one of the greatest blaxploitation films of all time.
Three Thousand Years of Longing (Feb 17)
George Miller took a break from his long-gestating Furiosa — the followup to 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road — to direct this fantastical story about a British professor (Tilda Swinton) and the djinn (Idris Elba) that she unwittingly releases, and who promises her three wishes. But what does a djinn do when no one wants to make any wishes? Although a box office bomb, Three Thousand Years of Longing was widely praised for its visuals (as you might expect from Miller) and the lead performances.
Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in February 2023.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Feb 1)
The sequel to 2018’s Black Panther had the unenviable challenge of addressing the death of its lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 from cancer. Writer/director Ryan Coogler opted to address Boseman’s death head-on. When the movie opens, Wakanda is mourning the loss of their beloved king, only to be confronted by a new threat: the underwater kingdom of Talokan, led by the mutant Namor.
Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in February 2023.
Casino Royale (Feb 1)
Daniel Craig started off his tenure as James Bond with a bang in this reboot of the venerable spy movie franchise. As a newly minted “00” agent, Bond is assigned to track down a wealth financier who has been helping terrorists. Throw in a femme fatale or two, some excellent tailoring, and a slew of clever gadgets — not to mention Craig’s icy-yet-sympathetic portrayal of Bond — and you have a 007 film par excellence.(Read my review.)
Girl with a Pearl Earring (Feb 1)
Based on Tracy Chevalier’s novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring explores the story behind Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting. Scarlett Johansson stars as the titular girl, a young servant in Vermeer’s household who must navigate the household politics even as she’s drawn to the reclusive painter, played by Colin Firth. The film, which also stars Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy, is a wonderful period piece blessed with painterly cinematography. Upon its release, it was critically acclaimed, and nominated for numerous awards, including three Oscars.
Swiss Army Man (Feb 1)
Given that Everything Everywhere All at Once is dominating the Oscar nominations, now’s a perfect time to revisit the Daniels’ directorial debut, about a suicidal man who comes to terms with his life with the help of a… wait for it… farting corpse. And even better, the corpse is played by Mr. Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.
The Terminator (Feb 1)
One of the all-time great sci-fi action movies, The Terminator stars Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role he was born to play: an unstoppable killing machine from the future. His mission? Killing the mother of the child who will grow up to lead humanity in the war against the machines. With its ground-breaking special effects and intense storyline, The Terminator has influenced countless films, and has even been added to the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Wayne’s World (Feb 1)
Arguably the best Saturday Night Live-inspired film, Wayne’s World follows the adventures of Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) as they bring to their public access TV show to the big time. It’s basically an opportunity for Myers and Carvey to do their schtick, but what a schtick it is. Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth. Sha-wing!
Edge of Tomorrow (Feb 7)
In this time twisty sci-fi actioner, Tom Cruise plays a disgraced soldier who’s quickly killed while trying to defend Earth from mysterious alien invaders — only to discover that he now relives the same day over and over again. Not only does this allow him to become a super-soldier Groundhog Day-style, but it might also be the key to defeating the aliens once and for all. In the hands of a lesser cast and crew, Edge of Tomorrow’s premise could be ridiculous and boring, but that is most certainly not the case here.
Here’s everything arriving on HBO Max in February 2023.
2012 (Feb 1)
When you want big, dumb movies, they don’t get much better than the films of Roland Emmerich. Remember when people thought the world would end in 2012 because of some Mayan prophecy? Emmerich spins that into nearly three hours of ridiculous apocalyptic scenarios glossed over with a bunch of really expensive visual effects. And somewhere in the spectacle is a cast that includes John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandiwe Newton, Danny Glover, and Woody Harrelson.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Feb 1)
The How To Train Your Dragon series is better than it has any right to be, creating a fully fleshed out world of Vikings and dragons and other fantastical threats. In this 2014 sequel, the Vikings of Berk are living peacefully with their dragon neighbors. But this cozy relationship is threatened by the arrival of a vicious trapper who wants to use dragons to conquer the world.
Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday (Feb 17)
Scott Adkins is one of cinema’s best action stars, and also one of the prolific, starring in three or four films a year. The Accident Man films are based on one of his original stories, in which he plays a deadly hitman whose killer skills come in handy when he takes on the world’s deadliest assassins.
Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in February 2023.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Feb 1)
Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy trilogy — which is arguably the fantasy trilogy — deserves all of the praise that it’s received over the years (like my review of the first film). With its incredible production values, astounding special effects, solid casting, and a script that knows when to remain faithful to the source and when to depart from it, the Lord of the Rings movies are just about as good as literary adaptations get.
A Girl and an Astronaut, Season One (Feb 17)
In this Polish TV series, an astronaut returns to Earth after disappearing 30 years ago. As he tries to reconnect with people from his past, he lands in the sights of a shadowy corporation that wants to know why he didn’t age during his absence.
We Have a Ghost (Feb 24)
In this supernatural comedy, a family discovers that their house is haunted. So naturally, they post the ghost’s existence on social media to get rich. But things get complicated when the ghost and their son go missing, and the CIA gets involved. Based on a short story by Geoff Manaugh, We Have a Ghost stars Anthony Mackie and David Harbour.
Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in February 2023.