Whether you’re prepping for a romantic Valentine’s Day night inside or just another day on the couch, there’s plenty to watch. We’re in store for another cold month that will see the end of football, but at least there are plenty of streaming options to fill the void.
Movies like Possessor and Inception and even new Disney+ series WandaVision are here to mess with your mind, while offerings such as Nomadland and Lupin take you to places far away, at a time when most of us can’t leave our homes. Check out everything that’s new on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and more below ...
What’s New to Streaming in February
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
60 Days In, Season 6 (Hulu, February 1)
Donnie Kwak: The ostensible goal of this 60-day experiment, as stated repeatedly throughout, is for participants to observe jail life and report back to the sheriff on ways to improve the facility. Much less noble is the real takeaway: Watching innocent schlubs get punked in jail is entertaining.
American Psycho (Hulu, February 1)
Manuela Lazic: Twenty years after its release, Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho remains ingrained in our collective memory for the extremes it explores with a helpful dose of humor (I was never actually going to ax anyone). And reality has made it difficult to forget: Our increasingly materialistic lifestyles have made us carry our brands around not simply in the form of a personalized business card or wardrobe, but also in the electronic devices we use, the diets and social media accounts we follow, and the TV shows and blockbusters we publicly praise. Patrick Bateman’s search for identity is a story that has inched closer and closer to our modern existence, even if in less overtly violent ways.
Possessor (Hulu, February 1)
Miles Surrey: In the hands of another filmmaker, Possessor would probably drown its audience in all the details of this nightmarish technological breakthrough: how exactly it works, how it’s been unleashed on the world, how many politicians and business magnates have been killed, etc. Instead, Brandon Cronenberg is more interested in creating a surreal, dread-inducing mood. While the work of Cronenberg’s father, the body horror god David Cronenberg, is a clear inspiration—like father like son!—the way that Possessor quickly becomes an orgy of bloody violence also has shades of the work from self-indulgent auteur Nicolas Winding Refn.
Inception (Netflix, February 1)
Chris Ryan: A movie audience pays however many dollars for a ticket and all they ask for in return is to feel at once safe and challenged. Inception did that—it combined the psychological thriller elements of [Christopher Nolan’s] earlier work like Memento, and rendered the action of the mind like it was a blockbuster action film in the vein of The Dark Knight. For as much as he, as a filmmaker, might owe Hitchcock, Kubrick, De Palma, and Spielberg, Nolan did something breathtaking and original with Inception.
Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Man (Amazon Prime, February 1)
Sean Fennessey: Of Mics and Men attempts to capture the inner workings of a barnstorming group that became an empire, then devolved into an internecine hive before ultimately returning to a familial détente. Wu-Tang, as an aesthetic, is even more difficult to summarize or paraphrase: Informed by Five Percenter theology, inspired by Hong Kong martial arts films, molded by soul music, raised in ciphers, born in an unlikely cluster of talent. And that barely glances at what constitutes them. For superfans, Sacha Jenkins’s film is a cornucopia of Wu, dotted with anecdotes, soundtracked by beloved songs, and revealing about the intellectual power and emotional vulnerability that made Wu-Tang such an intoxicating force. It’s blunt-force nostalgia.
The Sinner, Season 3 (Netflix, February 6)
Andrew Gruttadaro: It’s … an odd hour, to say the least. Fun, arch, at times legitimately haunting, at other times depressingly self-serious—but odd above all else. Almost every scene left me in some state of confoundment, but for totally different reasons than I expected.
The Shape of Water (Hulu, February 15)
Sean Fennessey: Guillermo Del Toro’s movie is about something quite plainly: disenfranchisement, diminution in the face of power, and the delirious influence of genre. And then the pathway to defying those things. (And sure, fish sex.)
For All Mankind, Season 2 (Apple TV, February 19)
Michael Baumann: For All Mankind’s greatest strength is its depiction of a reality close enough to our own that it’s recognizable, but different enough to inspire the viewer to take a serious look at the real world and consider whether our society couldn’t be better.
Nomadland (Hulu, February 19)
Adam Nayman: Nomadland is also filled with non-actors—a charismatic gallery of itinerant Americans crisscrossing the Midwest in mobile homes, picking up seasonal work at resorts and warehouses before moving on to the next outpost. There’s material here for a rich, probing documentary about the relationship between rugged individualism and the comforts of community, as well as a critique of the social and economic conditions that lead—or force—people to get on the road. Chloé Zhao’s journalistic curiosity and facility for location shooting (the lunar landscapes here are mostly in Nevada) are genuine strengths in this context.
The Conjuring 2 (Netflix, February 21)
K. Austin Collins: The Conjuring 2 is ostensibly a movie about a crisis of faith, but its ultimate subject might be James Wan’s own faith in his sturdy bag of tricks. No crisis there — no need to change, really. He could breathe new life, greater invention into his movies. Does he want to? Does he need to? Have I mentioned that the movie is satisfyingly cheesy and horrific enough as is? Looking ahead (and behind!) on the summer calendar, it seems the well-made, simple pleasure is the exception, not the rule. Here’s a case for not trying to reinvent the wheel; when you’re this good, why not roll with it?
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.
Jujutsu Kaisen (HBO Max)
Micah Peters: The plot isn’t what sets Gege Akutami’s Jujutsu Kaisen, the dark fantasy horror series first published in 2018, apart. There is an invisible war going on: On one side are cursed spirits, the grotesque, discolored, homicidal manifestations of humanity’s negative emotions, and on the other sorcerers who exorcise curses without exception. Consuming the rotting finger of the “King of Curses,” and becoming part curse, thus presents a problem for an aspiring sorcerer.
Tiger (HBO Max)
Lex Pryor: Like other attempts to deconstruct athletes who take on mythological status in the United States—think ESPN’s The Last Dance and the Oscar-winning O.J.: Made in America—the documentary leverages the benefits in scope and running time afforded by the streaming era to explore the intersection of Woods’s intensely private and uncommonly public lives. The film is at times an immensely intimate portrait of a figure enveloped by the pull and tug of celebrity hero worship, and a culture that projects what it wants from its heroes onto them. In Tiger, we see Woods’s legend came to mean all things to all people—and glimpse how that dynamic affected the man himself.
Bling Empire (Netflix)
Alison Herman: The clumsily named Bling Empire is a brazen lift. Netflix’s latest reality stunt features extravagant wealth in Los Angeles, making it a fitting follow-up to the slow-rolling success of Selling Sunset. But the possessors of said wealth, an eclectic group that varies by age, ethnicity, and vocation, have one thing in common: They’re all Asian or Asian American, a broad category that, on the show, ranges from glamorous expats to adoptees. Rich? Check. Asian? Check. All that’s missing is “crazy,” a word that I find insensitive but will surely come up on social media as Bling Empire’s fireworks trickle down into screenshots and GIFs.
Peters: Like Luther, which feels like a spiritual predecessor, Lupin isn’t going to win awards or even turn heads for its ability to develop tertiary or even secondary plots or characters—like Luther, that doesn’t really matter. You’re there to see a difficult hero be difficult and heroic—everyone else is there to be charmed, vexed, or eluded by them. Perhaps “effervescent” more ably describes Assane than “difficult”—where Idris Elba played DCI John Luther with vague annoyance and exquisite exhaustion, Sy’s performance bounds off the screen, and is almost musical.
Mr. Mayor (Hulu)
Herman: The new sitcom stars Ted Danson fresh from The Good Place as Neil Bremer, a Los Angeles billboard tycoon who runs a successful campaign to take over City Hall. Mr. Mayor arrives at a time when L.A. local politics are in an unusually bright national spotlight: A local city council race attracted endorsements from Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, while the county’s new district attorney is considered a leading advocate for criminal-justice reform.
Daniel Chin: With the click of a television screen, WandaVision begins, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes its first step into the world of TV. And, as expected of a sitcom starring a witch and her robot husband, the new era is off to a very strange start.
A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path.
What to watch when you’re feeling a little too grown up: Have you ever found yourself watching Curb Your Enthusiasm and thinking that, sure, Larry is rude, crude, and a liability to everyone around him—but what if he were ruder, cruder, and even more of a liability? No? Well, Sally4Ever (on HBO Max) takes the thought experiment all the way through, starring Julia Davis—also the show’s creator—as a human wrecking ball who crashes into the life of one Sally (Catherine Shepherd). Sally exists in a kind of My Year of Rest and Relaxation fog, apathetically accepting the various drudgeries and insults of her life—a bad job, a toxic boss, a fiancé she doesn’t love, a just-out-of-reach Mr. Right (the always delightful Julian Barratt, who is Davis’s real-life partner), and said human wrecking ball. Every scene is funnier, darker, weirder, and more uncomfortable than the last. I don’t know if it will make you feel any better about your own personal adulthood choices, but you can at least rejoice in watching someone make much worse ones. —Claire McNear
What to watch if the world isn’t already dark enough: After first airing in Italy in 2017, Season 3 of Gomorrah finally made it to the States courtesy of HBO Max. Then again, a long timeout from the gray, grim, hyper-violent crime saga about the unforgiving underworld in Naples was probably a necessary mood stabilizer; the show is heavier than anything this side of Amazon’s ZeroZeroZero. As we rejoin the proceedings, we find that Genny Savastano—played by Salvatore Esposito, who just did a sort of funnier and far lighter version of a similar character on the latest season of Fargo—has taken over the family business. Per usual, the season overflows with backstabbing and blood. There is no light to be found here, not in the script nor in the graffiti-lined streets and always-overcast skies of Naples. Each episode ought to come with a dose of Zoloft. It’s so great. —John Gonzalez
What to watch if you haven’t gone outside in three days: Life Below Zero can be found in the nether regions of Disney+ and it takes itself far too seriously for reality TV centered on nothing but vibes in the Arctic. I don’t know why I watch it, but I do. The show follows a cluster of loners—augmented by the occasional family—who have, through either choice or circumstance, carved out a life in what is the most inhospitable terrain available in these United States. They live in Alaska, above the Yukon, at the tip of the globe and they don’t have to; they want to. Their lives are brutal and gauche but also stunning and sometimes, oddly heartening. I think that’s why I watch—but I could be fooling myself. Maybe it’s just a distraction. If you’re in the market for something like that, you should check it out. Whatever it is, it’s quite the watch. —Lex Pryor