Welcome to February folks! With the Academy Awards about a month away (it’s in early March this year, as opposed to February, due to the Winter Olympics), we can momentarily take a breather and look at something else for the day. What is that, you might be asking? Probably not actually, since you know the drill, but we can pretend. Today is a look at what else theaters will have playing throughout this month, besides the obvious Oscar hopefuls and leftover prestige movies. I do this every single month, as you all must know by now, so of course I won’t exclude February, especially since hopefully you’ve all seen all the nominated films by now. Much like with January, this month gets a bad reputation as one of the worst for new releases, and while that’s often been well founded, if you look closely enough this month you can find some very solid cinematic options. In fact, it puts January to shame. Consider this list another public service for those of you who have seen all of the Oscar contenders and nominees already. You might even find a gem or two amongst the junk…
Here now are what I think the ten best bets for movies are during the month of February:
10. Game Night – A comedy with some action/mystery elements, this film could go one of two ways. It might end up funny and just dirty enough, or it’ll try too hard and be a chore. Odds are, it’s the latter, but Rachel McAdams in a comedy has me curious, I will say that.
9. Fifty Shades Freed – The franchise comes to an end with this third installment of the trashy romantic melodrama series. The movies have all been terrible, but like one of the characters in the flicks, I keep subjecting myself to more cruelty and pain. Alas. At least, once this ends, Dakota Johnson can move on to better things…
8. Early Man – A new bit of animation from four time Academy Award winner Nick Park, who has a solid section of fandom out there. This time around, it’s not a Wallace and Gromit adventure, but a look at prehistoric new characters. The early release date doesn’t inspire loads of confidence, but it should still be a fun one.
7. A Fantastic Woman – Nominated for Best Foreign Language Feature, this character study could be the frontrunner to win as well. Transgender performer Daniela Vega has received much acclaim for this turn, so if you’re curious, this is one of the Oscar nominees opening up for you to check out. I recommend doing so too!
6. Permission – I missed this one back at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival but recently circled back to it. The duo of Rebecca Hall and Dan Stevens as a married couple has some real interesting potential to it, so that made it a must see for me. If you’re of a similar mindset, keep an eye out for it…
5. The Boy Downstairs – I saw this romantic comedy back at the Tribeca Film Festival and found it to be pretty cute. Zosia Mamet gets a lead role and runs with it in a really delightful way. The plot itself is pretty generic, but she sells it. If you’re into Mamet, give it a shot.
4. The 15:17 to Paris – Clint Eastwood again looks to Middle America for a hit with this pseudo biopic/action drama. In his late 80’s, there’s a fascination with whatever Eastwood makes, especially with his quick turnarounds. This feels somewhat gimmicky, but who knows, maybe we’re in for a hit?
3. Annihilation – Despite word that Alex Garland’s new film is a bit of a mess, this is still something to really look forward to. The book is well regarded, Ex Machina launched Garland as a filmmaker, and the cast here is to die for. Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac help to headline the talent involved. That alone should have you hooked. I know it has me ready to rock.
2. Mute – Netflix has the latest science fiction outing from filmmaker Duncan Jones, who up until Warcraft was a star in the making. Moon alone has my loyalty for life, so between that and Source Code, there’s every reason to expect this passion project from Jones will be rather compelling. Stay tuned for more on this one soon!
1. Black Panther – Marvel could have one of their bigger hits with this launch of the character they debuted in Captain America: Civil War. The early buzz is amazing, suggesting that the Marvel Cinematic Universe should make room for their best installment yet. I’ll have more on this one in short order, so sit tight and you’ll get a heaping dose of MCU talk…
Honorable Mention: Golden Exits, Loveless, Peter Rabbit, and Winchester
Be sure to check all of these out as the month of February continues!