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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All 4 Indiana Jones Movies (January 1)
CInema’s greatest archaeologist arrives on Netflix to take viewers on world-spanning adventures in search of ancient and powerful relics like the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. And to punch Nazis. Don’t forget about the punching of Nazis.
Pan’s Labyrinth (January 1)
Arguably Guillermo del Toro’s best film to date, Pan’s Labyrinth is a stunning fairy tale set in 1940s Spain, in which a young girl finds herself drawn to a secret underworld even as the horrors of war encroach on the real world. Featuring incredible visuals and powerful performances, Pan’s Labyrinth is a reminder that fairy tales are just as dark and mysterious as they are enchanting.
The Dark Knight (January 1)
The best DC film of all time (sorry Wonder Woman). The second film in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy finds the Caped Crusader coming into conflict with his arch-nemesis the Joker, played by Heath Ledger. Sadly, this would be one of Ledger’s final roles — he died in 2008 as a result of an accidental overdose — but his bravura performance was one for the ages, and earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (January 2)
I still remember the first time I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail; I was in high school and it was almost a transcendental experience. Afterwards, lines from the movie crept into many conversations between my friends and I. This homage/parody/deconstruction of Arthurian lore by the legendary comedy troupe is one of the great film comedies of all time.
Godzilla: The Planet Eater (January 9)
This is it, the final film in Netflix’s Godzilla anime trilogy, in which the surviving human race must battle Godzilla for control of the Earth in the far future. At the end of the previous film, the remaining humans had lost of their allies, with Godzilla now more powerful than ever. The Planet Eater brings the Big G face to face which his greatest foe, King Ghidorah, with the fate of the planet in the balance.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (January 9)
Set a decade before the events of A New Hope, Solo gives us a glimpse into the early life of the galaxy’s greatest smuggler and scruffy-looking nerf herder. Reactions to the film were mixed; it received generally favorable reviews but was the first Star Wars movie to bomb at the box office. But despite its flaws, it did show us some cool things — and made me yearn for a different kind of Star Wars movie.
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (January 18)
The Fyre Festival was billed as a luxury music festival in the Bahamas. Promos featured gorgeous models cavorting in crystal clear ocean waters and sterling beaches. But when festival attendees arrived on the island of Great Exuma, they found a far different reality. This looks like a fascinating documentary about fraud and social media but I suspect a lot of people are going to watch this for the schadenfreude of seeing hipsters and millennials all sad and disappointed.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (January 29)
The Ant-Man movies have always felt a bit more modest than the other Marvel movies — which is actually to their advantage. While the first Ant-Man movie was fun but forgettable, Ant-Man and the Wasp improves on it in every way. Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man is matched, step by step, by Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp, the story is both funnier and more affecting, the “villain” is compelling, and it features one of the MCU’s best mid-credits scenes.
The Incredibles 2 (January 30)
I have a confession to make: after years of anticipation, The Incredibles 2 left me feeling a bit underwhelmed when our family finally saw it in the theatre. But I suspect that’s because we watched it right after watching The Incredibles, one of my favorite movies of all time, and I was unfairly comparing the two. So I’m looking forward to seeing the sequel again, but this time, with a bit more distance from the first Incredibles film.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in January 2019.
A Simple Plan (January 1)
Before his Spider-Man movies helped launch our current fascination with big screen superheroes, Sam Raimi — who also established his cult cred with the Evil Dead movies — directed this excellent slow-burning noir about a some friends who stumble across a plane crash and a bunch of money. Of course, things soon go horribly wrong as suspicion and distrust mount, with disastrous consequences looming over everyone.
Babe (January 1)
Baa-ram-ewe! Baa-ram-ewe! The Citizen Kane of talking pig pictures, as one critic called it, will start streaming as soon as January rolls around. I plan on watching it with my kids, and all the while, I’ll try to wrap my mind around the fact that the man responsible for this charming little film is the same deranged genius who gave us Mad Max.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (January 1)
Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan have only one dream: to make it big with their rock band, Wyld Stallyns. But two things stand in their way. First, they aren’t very good musicians, and second, they need to pass their history class or else Ted will be sent off to military school. Thankfully, a time traveler from the 27th century is there to help them, enabling them to bring together a motley assortment of historical figures — and crazy time travel hijinks ensue. Excellent!
The Forgotten (January 1)
I was a bit surprised to see how many critics disliked The Forgotten because I remember it being a fairly entertaining film. Yes, the film’s storyline — a woman (played by Julianne Moore) fights to maintain her sanity as her entire life begins to unravel — gets a bit preposterous and hard to swallow, but it has some solid “What the…” moments, and Moore gives a good central performance.
Kiss of the Dragon (January 1)
Arguably Jet Li’s best non-Asian film. Here, he plays a Chinese agent that gets double-crossed while on assignment in Paris, and must battle corrupt police officers to clear his name. Thankfully, he possesses superhuman fighting skills, which come in handy when taking on, say, a room full of officers. Interesting bit of trivia: director Chris Nahon had to slow down Li’s fight scenes with martial artist Cyril Raffaelli, as both of them moved too fast to be captured at normal recording speed.
The Last Boy Scout (January 1)
On the one hand, The Last Boy Scout is a nihilistic, misanthrophic, and violent film with almost no redeeming qualities. On the other hand, it’s an awful lot of fun to watch, as Bruce Willis’ jaded private eye and Damon Wayans’ disgraced football player make for an interesting dynamic while taking on corrupt politicians. There’s something almost gleeful about the film’s cynicism, which is elevated by the atmospheric, noir-ish direction and cinematography.
Last Knights (January 1)
Kazuaki Kiriya debuted in 2004 with the visually stunning Casshern, but sadly, his subsequent films have been underwhelming. Case in point: Last Knights, a retelling of the classic tale of the 47 ronin, in which a band of warriors (led by Clive Owens in ultra-taciturn mode) plot to avenge their disgraced master. Last Knights is a fascinating failure; it has so many interesting aspects (like the ancient/future setting and some wonderful visuals) that you can’t help but watch it even as you wonder why it’s not any better than it actually is.
Annihilation (January 5)
For his followup to 2014’s Ex Machina, Alex Garland adapted Jeff VanderMeer’s acclaimed sci-fi novel about a group of women who venture into a mysterious alien zone. Although the film was one of 2018’s biggest box office bomb, it’s received widespread acclaim for its stunning visuals, twisting plot, and thought-provoking storyline. I suspect it’ll be a cult classic in years to come.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season 6 Premiere (January 11)
Ever since season one, police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been one of our favorite TV shows thanks to its colorful cast of characters and hilarious storylines. Although originally cancelled by Fox after five seasons, NBC picked up the series for a sixth season of sixteen episodes. Here’s hoping that detective Jake Peralta, Captain Raymond Holt, and the rest of the Nine-Nine have a few more seasons ahead of them. Sidenote: More trailers could benefit from Holt’s narration.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in January 2019.
Brazil (January 1)
In Terry Gilliam’s dystopic masterpiece, an insignificant government official gets pulled into a case of mistaken identity, with darkly humorous and tragic consequences. Filled with retro-futuristic visuals and humor of the bleakest variety, Brazil is a brilliant parody of bureaucracy and consumerism. Famously, the studio hated Gilliam’s original ending and re-edited Brazil to give it a happier one before its American release. They did so without Gilliam’s knowledge, leading him to organize secret screenings which essentially forced the studio to release his authorized version.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in January 2019.