A new year is here! With 2018 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward to the new TV and movies streaming in 2019. First, catch up on old releases in time for awards season; watch Beautiful Boy and Eighth Grade on Amazon as nominees Timothée Chalamet and Elsie Fisher head to the Golden Globes in January.
And if you haven’t watched Roma on Netflix yet, well, you can do that now. Some of the year’s biggest blockbusters are also headed to your screens in the coming month, including Incredibles 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
To break down everything available on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, here is The Ringer’s streaming guide to January, featuring new programming worth checking out, some recent additions you might’ve missed, and random recommendations that staffers recently got hooked on. Happy New Year!
What’s New to Streaming in January
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
Beautiful Boy (coming to Amazon Prime on January 4)
Miles Surrey: Based on a pair of memoirs from real-life father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy sees Chalamet and prestige-leaning Steve Carell playing off one another. Chalamet, playing Nic, toils with a meth addiction, devastating not only Carell’s David, but anyone with a modicum of empathy.
Lodge 49 (Hulu, January 7)
Surrey: Lodge 49, AMC’s latest drama, doesn’t lend itself to a succinct logline. There are ruminations on alchemy and whether some unseen force is aligning the destinies of the series’ protagonists. There is a secret library with a mummified corpse laying on a cot in its center. There are ancient, long-missing scrolls from Egypt, suspected to be somewhere in Mexico. There are loan sharks, and also a literal shark. At one point, when a character is delivering a speech, a tapeworm begins crawling out of his nose. Watching Lodge 49 can be jarring, but you also get the impression that every minuscule detail, no matter how eccentric or mundane, was planted there for a reason by creator Jim Gavin. Scant threads slowly begin weaving together in the first season to ask a question that just so happens to repeatedly appear on the show in a string of billboards: “Is there another way to live?”
Solo: A Star Wars Story (Netflix, January 9)
Ben Lindbergh: With the caveat that I left the last Stars Wars title to feature Ray Park playing Maul thinking that the movie was better than it was — in my defense, I was 12, and that lightsaber battle was wizard — I was pleasantly surprised. Solo doesn’t soil the series’ legacy, besmirch an iconic character, or snap Disney’s undefeated streak. It’s a great time at the movies, and that it doesn’t aspire to be much more than that marks it as a letdown for the franchise only if we pretend that Star Wars stopped after Empire Strikes Back. We may not need Solo, but we should be happy to have it.
Eighth Grade (Amazon Prime, January 13)
Alyssa Bereznak: Eighth Grade, a new comedy about growing up with social media, is a refreshingly thoughtful exploration of adolescent online and offline identity, and how the two intersect, or don’t. It tells the story of Kayla (Elsie Fisher), an awkward eighth grader who lives in the suburbs with her single dad. At home, she’s a vlogger who specializes in self-help tips. At school, she struggles to speak in complete sentences to her more confident peers. As the next stage of her life approaches, she navigates the standard teenage hurdles—independence, sexuality, friendship—through the filter of platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and especially YouTube.
American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (Netflix, January 17)
Alison Herman: Many true-crime stories start with a well-known event and purport to uncover some new angle. Versace is working with events much of its demographic isn’t aware happened in the first place, assuming the mantle of educating as well as storytelling. In bringing the [Andrew] Cunanan victims into focus at Cunanan’s own expense, [Tom Rob] Smith and [Ryan] Murphy have made a trade-off between moral clarity and entertainment value. I’ve found their gamble has paid off, even if the swap isn’t one every viewer has been willing to make. Taking on a sociopath’s point of view may put a series in a compromised position as an adaptation of true events. It may also be essential for a show to succeed as entertainment.
Fahrenheit 11/9 (Amazon Prime, January 19)
Sean Fennessey: Fahrenheit 11/9 is about the major political disaster of the present day, the Donald J. Trump presidential administration, the myriad factors that led us to this moment, and what can happen in the future. It is an unsparing, funny, deeply committed political act releasing six weeks before the midterm elections. It is also a return to form for [Michael] Moore, who spent the Barack Obama era resembling the doomsayer in Times Square who squeals about the end-time while laughing children gallivant through M&M’s World. As usual, Moore was right while we were relaxing, squawking about a coming crisis as we kicked back and celebrated a new dawn. He warned of a likely Donald Trump win and begged Democrats to look to Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio—his turf. They didn’t.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (Netflix, January 29)
Surrey: Infinity War was an apocalyptic inflection point in the Marvel narrative, and while some fans might wish they could just fast-forward to its sequel and see how everything plays out, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a worthy salve. What it lacks in clear-cut, Thanos-related solutions, it makes up for with unabashed silliness. It is the ideal summer blockbuster to clear your head, and a sneaky good setup for what’s to come. Because in the Infinity War interim, the best thing the MCU can do is let the mystery be.
Incredibles 2 (Netflix, January 30)
Fennessey: Commensurate with the rules of expansion that all sequels must abide by, Incredibles 2 is bigger and bolder than its predecessor, but what makes it such a major and useful sequel is the way it completely redefines what it means to make an action movie.
Some New-ish Things You Might’ve Missed
Because it’s hard to keep up with everything, here are a few things that have premiered somewhat recently that may be worth catching up on.
Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour (on Netflix)
Kate Halliwell: I, like many people, was disappointed by Taylor Swift’s latest album, Reputation. I cringed at the edgy imagery, sighed at all the mediocre songs, and was utterly baffled by all those snakes. So when Taylor went on tour and the raves started to roll in, I was intrigued. How did her worst album turn into what Rolling Stone called her best tour yet? Thanks to Netflix, now we get to see for ourselves. (For the record, there are still too many snakes.)
Hereditary (Amazon Prime)
Adam Nayman: This juxtaposition between a woman cloistered claustrophobically in her own head and unseen forces massing around her (including in her workshop and at the foot of her bed) gives Hereditary its initial tension and mystery. Generally speaking, effective and enduring horror movies keep multiple pathways of interpretation open for as long as possible, often by having their characters reject or deny the (sur)reality of their situations: think Mia Farrow warding off paranoia in Rosemary’s Baby, or Jack Nicholson refusing to believe his eyes in The Shining, or the student filmmakers insisting that they’re lost rather than cursed in The Blair Witch Project.
Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable (Netflix)
Herman: Relatable is the work of an entertainer who has given herself permission: to admit just how awful it felt to be rejected by people she loves because of who she is; to complain about being asked to dance wherever she goes; to not be relatable. This is not a special that will suddenly win converts out of the snobs, myself included, who roll their eyes at cutesy viral animal videos, which DeGeneres deploys here as readily as she does on her show. It may, however, prompt a grudging respect from them, and maybe even a consideration. Ellen DeGeneres is spikier, and angrier, and maybe even more vulnerable than you thought. Just don’t call her humble.
Fennessey: Roma is a movie history first. It exceeded even my wildest expectations with its depth, sensitivity, and specificity; its interweaving stories of loss and perseverance are deeply realized even while they represent the undocumented memories of the [now-57]-year-old director. But the very powers that allowed its existence also defy its historical antecedents. It is not unreasonable to compare [Alfonso] Cuarón to Fellini, Kurosawa, Scorsese, Bergman — international titans of the form always seeking new ways to use the empathic tools of their medium to explore the way they see the world. This is one of the most exciting things that can possibly happen — a masterpiece.
Sunderland ’Til I Die (Netflix)
Surrey: In the first scene of Netflix’s eight-part docuseries, a priest in Sunderland, England, is leading a prayer … for the good fortunes of Sunderland Football Club. It only gets wilder from there. Sunderland ‘Til I Die focuses on Sunderland FC the season after the team was relegated from the top division of English soccer—but more than anything, it’s a compelling, heartbreaking portrait of a team’s intimate relationship with its community. Sunderland is a working-class town under economic hardship; for its citizens, the soccer club and its success is the lifeblood of the community. A cursory Google search will tell you all you need to know about Sunderland FC’s fortunes last season—spoiler: it’s bad—and watching Sunderland ‘Til I Die is often like witnessing a car wreck in slow-motion. It’s not the first soccer docuseries released on Netflix, but in focusing on a flailing team rather than a sporting superpower, Sunderland ‘Til I Die is a refreshing change of pace. Just don’t expect a happy ending.
Surrey: Viewers who check Mowgli out on Netflix aren’t getting a thematic and narrative retread of Disney’s Jungle Book—they’re getting something far different, and far grittier, for better or worse. Unlike Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book, Mowgli is rated PG-13—something made apparent a few minutes into the movie when Mowgli’s parents are mauled and presumably eaten by the tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). The disturbing, visceral opening sequence establishes the darker tone and bloody aesthetic of Andy Serkis’s Mowgli, which repeatedly insists that the jungle is, indeed, a scary place—especially for a human.
A random collection of movies and TV shows available to stream that Ringer staffers can’t get enough of, for when you’re in a certain kind of mood.
Netflix Christmas Specials, If You Can’t Let Go of the Holiday Season
Herman: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina released a so-called “Solstice Special,” an epilogue of sorts to the 10-episode season that premiered just a couple of months prior. (In Sabrina’s campy, comic book universe, the Church of Satan is an actual church, meaning that witches have their own, pagan winter celebration to mirror the mortal, Christian kind.) About a week prior, Ezra Koenig’s meme-fluent anime homage Neo Yokio returned more than a year after its six-episode first season with “Pink Christmas,” a supersized tale of demonic possession and conspicuous consumption. And on the same day as “Pink Christmas,” beloved baking showcase Nailed It! dropped a capsule mini-season dedicated to misshapen turkey cakes and Hanukkah treats—as did its obvious inspiration, The Great British Baking Show, on November 30, though the latter is only distributed internationally by Netflix, not produced by it. Even children’s multi-cam comedy Prince of Peoria has “A Christmas Moose Miracle.”
What to Watch Before Finalizing That “Best of 2018” List
Nayman: There hasn’t been a more decent and selfless movie hero this year than the title character of Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro, a sublime new Italian movie released directly to Netflix last month. As with Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma and Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the film’s broadly mainstream digital platform is at once at odds with, and hopefully supportive and nurturing of, its utterly distinctive and original artistic vision. ’Tis the season for ranking things, and although it’s arriving late, Happy as Lazzaro is absolutely one of the year’s major new works—don’t make a list without it.
What to Watch If The Favourite Gave You Olivia Colman Fever
Halliwell: Broadchurch is one of those shows that seems to have lived in the Netflix “British Murder Mysteries” category since the beginning of time. It took me months of scrolling past it to see the light and actually give it a shot, and thank god I did. The show is three compact, tense seasons of Olivia Colman and David Tennant starring as detectives in a tightly knit, murder-prone seaside town, and it’s exactly as good as that description would lead you to believe. With The Favourite featuring heavily in awards season and the new cast of The Crown on its way, 2019 will be the year of Olivia Colman. Broadchurch is the perfect pregame.