While the wave of this year’s awards-season movies won’t truly hit our shores until next month, there’s still plenty of viewing options for Kiwi film lovers this January.
Those keen on a trip to the cinema during the summer school holidays can choose from animated duo Big Trip 2: Special Delivery (January 5), Tad the Explorer: The Mummy Adventure (January 19) and documentaries The Subtle Art of Not Giving a #@%! (January 12) and My Old School (January 19).
Meanwhile, Prime Video has the Naomi Watts-starring climbing thriller Infinite Storm (January 6), Disney+ boasts fantasy Darby and the Dead (January 27) and Abbey Road Studios documentary If These Walls Could Sing (January 6) and Netflix’s line-up includes the Rob Lowe-starring Dog Gone (January 13).
However, after looking through the schedules, Stuff to Watch has come up with this list of the 12 movies we believe are most worth checking out (and where you can watch them), as well as one so bad, it might have to be seen to be believed.
* Netflix’s That ’90s Show, Neon’s The Last of Us, Disney+’s Alaska Daily among January’s must-see TV
* Sheryl: The seven biggest revelations from the beloved musician’s new doco
* Nanny: Why this devastating Sundance-winner is 2022’s best horror movie
The Amazing Maurice (January 12, Cinemas)
Hugh Laurie, Emilia Clarke, David Thewlis, Himesh Patel, Gemma Arteron, Hugh Bonneville, Rob Brydon and David Tennant are part of the all-star vocal ensemble assembled for this animated adventure based on the 2001 book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett.
It’s the story of a streetwise cat who comes up with a money-making scam after befriending a group of talking rats.
“Like the Cheshire cat, the last thing to fade will be your grin,” wrote Eye for Film’s Amber Wilkinson.
Armageddon Time (January 11, Rentals)
Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Chastain join forces for writer-director James Gray’s semi-autobiographical title about a young Jewish-American boy who befriends his African-American classmate and begins to struggle with expectations from his family and growing up in a world of privilege, inequality and prejudice.
“The [film’s] real nourishment comes from unflinching honesty, served with compassion, insight and a bit of sadness,” wrote Baltimore Magazine’s Max Weiss.
Babylon (January 19, Cinemas)
Damien Chazelle returns to La La Land for this 1920s-set tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess. Starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart and Olivia Wilde, it traces the rise and fall of multiple characters in Hollywood during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity.
“At its best, Chazelle’s film is a cinematic marvel, evidence enough that movies are magical,” wrote BBC.com’s Caryn James.
The Fabelmans (January 5, Cinemas)
Based on master director Steven Spielberg’s own childhood in Arizona, this drama follows young Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) as he makes films with his friends and navigates a sometimes tempestuous home life. The cast also includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Seth Rogen.
A deserved winner of the prestigious People’s Choice Award at September’s Toronto International Film Festival, this is a close encounter with Spielberg that will have you hooked from the opening frames.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (January 5, Cinemas)
Combining live-action and stop-motion animation, this endearing mockumentary dramedy (based on a series of earlier shorts) focuses on the life and times of a one-inch-tall shell who ekes out a colourful existence with his grandmother Connie and their pet lint Alan. Features the voices of Jenny Slate and Isabella Rossellini.
“An adorable little film with big life-lessons,” wrote Newsday’s Rafer Guzman.
M3gan (January 12, Cinemas)
Shot in New Zealand by Kiwi director Gerard Johnstone (Housebound, The New Legends of Monkey), this sci-fi thriller is the story of a toy company robotics engineer who builds a life-like doll that suddenly – troublingly – begins to take on a life of its own.
Girls’ Allison Williams stars.
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Garre (January 12, Cinemas)
Guy Ritchie’s latest action-comedy sees regular collaborator Jason Statham playing special agent Orson Fortune, whose team is forced to recruit one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars for an undercover mission to stop some deadly new weapons technology from disrupting the world order.
The high-profile cast also includes Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, Hugh Grant, Josh Hartnett and Eddie Marsan.
The Pale Blue Eye (January 6, Netflix)
Adapted from the 2003 novel of the same name by Louis Bayard, writer-director Scott Cooper’s 1830s-set mystery thriller stars Christian Bale as a West Point, New York detective investigating a series of murders with the assistance of a young Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling).
Gillian Anderson, Lucy Boynton, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Timothy Spall and Robert Duvall also feature.
Pamela, A Love Story (January 31, Netflix)
In her own words, via personal videos and diaries, the former Baywatch and Home Improvement star and regular model for Playboy magazine Pamela Anderson, shares the story of her rise to fame, rocky romances and THAT infamous sex tape scandal.
The documentary’s director Ryan White’s previous tales have focused on everything from sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Ask Dr. Ruth) and Nasa’s Mars Rovers (Good Night Oppy).
Shotgun Wedding (January 27, Prime Video)
Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Lopez team up for this romantic action comedy about a couple whose ultimate destination wedding goes south when everyone is taken hostage. With relations between them already strained, the couple must work together to save their loved ones – that’s if they don’t end up killing each other first.
Sonia Braga, Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz and Cheech Marin also feature.
Tar (January 26, Cinemas)
Cate Blanchett is already earning plenty of awards-season buzz for this psychological drama which follows the rise and fall of a renowned music composer and conductor. Writer-director Todd Field’s first feature since 2006’s Little Children.
“Even if you take out the timely ‘cancel culture’ bent, Tár works as a really intriguing exploration of the mostly uncharted world of classical music, as Black Swan did for ballet and Whiplash for jazz,” wrote USA Today’s Brian Truitt.
You People (January 27, Netflix)
Jonah Hill, Lauren London, Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus headline this latest comedy from Kenya Barris (Girls Trip).
It follows a new couple and those that surround them, as they find themselves examining modern love and family dynamics amid clashing cultures, societal expectations and generational differences.
The one to avoid
Frank Grillo is Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend.
Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend (January 4, Rentals)
Frank Grillo, Mira Sorvino and Gabriel Byrne star in this biopic of car manufacturer Ferrucio Lamborghini which focuses in on his relentless pursuit of the perfect machine and his intense rivalry with Enzo Ferrari.
“The period details are above par and Grillo is up for the challenge, but Lamborghini comes out as perfunctory and unenlightening as a school report from a bored teen,” wrote San Jose Mercury News’ Randy Myers.