If you found January’s cinematic offerings not to your tastes, then February is bound to bring you everything you could want and more. Kicking things off is Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren in the biography-horror Winchester, followed by the final tale in the Fifty Shades series a week later. Demons and bondage not your thing? How about Marvel Studio’s latest (and if early response is true, triumphant) Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, which feels ready to set the globe on fire. Not in the mood for a theater visit? Two Netflix films – The Ritual and Mute – are headed to your box-tops for your visual delight. This short-list of thirteen films is really just the tip of the iceberg for February.
Personally, we’re really looking forward to Black Panther, The Party, Annihilation, Game Night, and Mute.
Did we miss any you’re looking forward to seeing? Are there any on this list you hadn’t heard of before? Any you might recommend to others? Let us know and we’ll spread the word.
Director: Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig.
Cast: Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Jason Clarke, and Angus Sampson.
Inspired by true events. On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester (Mirren), heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness. But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece (Snook) or for the troubled Doctor Eric Price (Clarke) whom she has summoned to the house. She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters. (Official summary courtesy of CBS Films YouTube channel.)
The Female Brain
Director: Whitney Cummings.
Cast: Whitney Cummings, Cecily Strong, Blake Griffin, Sofia Vergara, Deon Cole, Lucy Punch, James Marsden, and Toby Kebbell.
What makes a woman swipe right for Mr. Wrong and left for Mr. Right? This simultaneously entertaining and enlightening comedy is a fresh, witty, and all-too-relatable look at the real-life science behind our (often regrettable) romantic impulses. Writer-director Whitney Cummings (2 Broke Girls) stars as no-nonsense neuroscientist Julia, whose research into the biochemistry of the female brain is illustrated by three couples: newlyweds Zoe (Strong) and Greg (Griffin), whose career troubles seep into their relationship; Lisa (Sofia Vergara) and Steven (Cole), who are looking to spice up their stuck-in-a-rut marriage; and Lexi (Punch) who can’t help trying to change her boyfriend Adam (Marsden). Meanwhile, the straight-laced Julia’s own synapses start to fire when a handsome new subject (Kebbell) joins her study. (Official synopsis courtesy of the IFC Films YouTube channel.)
Fifty Shades Freed
Director: James Foley.
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Arielle Kebbel, and Kim Basinger.
Believing they have left behind shadowy figures from their past, newlyweds Christian and Ana fully embrace an inextricable connection and shared life of luxury. But just as she steps into her role as Mrs. Grey and he relaxes into an unfamiliar stability, new threats could jeopardize their happy ending before it even begins. (Official summary courtesy of the Fifty Shades YouTube channel.)
Director: David Bruckner.
Cast: Rafe Spall, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton, Arsher Ali, Paul Reid, Kerri McLean, and Marla Erwolter.
Streaming on Netflix: Reuniting after the tragic death of their best mate, four old friends from university set out to hike through the Scandinavian wilderness. But a wrong turn leads them into the dark and mysterious forests of Norse legend, where an ancient evil still exists and stalks them at every turn. (Official synopsis courtesy of Netflix.)
Add The Ritual to your list here.
Director: Will Gluck.
Cast: James Corden, Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, Sia, Elizabeth Debicki, Rose Byrne, and Sam Neill.
Peter Rabbit, the mischievous and adventurous hero who has captivated generations of readers, now takes on the starring role of his own irreverent, contemporary comedy with attitude. In the film, Peter’s feud with Mr. McGregor (Gleeson) escalates to greater heights than ever before as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door (Byrne). (Official synopsis courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment YouTube channel.)
Director: Ryan Coogler.
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.
Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life. (Official synopsis courtesy of Marvel Studios.)
Director: Sarah Potter.
Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Timothy Spall.
Janet (Thomas) has just been appointed to a key ministerial position in the shadow cabinet – the crowning achievement of her political career. She and her husband Bill (Spall) plan to celebrate this with a few close friends. As the guests arrive at their home in London the party takes an unexpected turn when Bill suddenly makes some explosive revelations that take everyone present by surprise. Love, friendships and political convictions are soon called into question in this hilarious comedy of tragic proportions. (Official summary courtesy of Madman Films YouTube channel.)
Director: Nick Park.
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Maise Williams, Eddie Redmayne, and Timothy Spall.
Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of courageous caveman hero Dug (Redmayne) and his best friend Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth (Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age City to save their home. (Official summary courtesy of Aardman Animations YouTube channel.)
Director: Derek Nguyen.
Cast: Kate Nhung, Jean-Michel Richaud, Kim Xuan, Svitlana Kovalenko, and Rosie Fellner.
A forbidden passion awakens vengeful spirits within a haunted mansion in this bloodcurdling, erotic tour-de-force. Vietnam, 1953: Linh (Nhung), a poor, orphaned young woman, finds employment as a housemaid in a crumbling rubber plantation presided over by the emotionally fragile French officer Sebastien Laurent (Richaud). Soon, a torrid love affair develops between the two – a taboo romance that rouses the ghost of Laurent’s dead wife, who won’t rest until blood flows. Submerged in moody Gothic atmosphere, this stylish supernatural saga confronts the dark shadows of Vietnam’s colonial past while delivering heart-stopping scares. (Official synopsis courtesy of the IFC Films YouTube channel.)
Director: Alex Garland.
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Oscar Isaac.
The first in the “Southern Reach Trilogy” written by Jeff VanderMeer, Annhilation tells the story of a four-woman team of scientists sent into an area that’s been cut off from the rest of humanity. They are the twelfth expedition to explore the isolated region and the first to have someone return.
Director: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Lamorne Morris, Billy Magnussen, and Kylie Bunbury.
Bateman and McAdams star as Max and Annie, whose weekly couples game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s charismatic brother, Brooks (Chandler), arranges a murder mystery party, complete with fake thugs and faux federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it’s all part of the game…right? But as the six uber-competitive gamers set out to solve the case and win, they begin to discover that neither this “game”—nor Brooks—are what they seem to be. Over the course of one chaotic night, the friends find themselves increasingly in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn. With no rules, no points, and no idea who all the players are, this could turn out to be the most fun they’ve ever had…or game over. (Official summary courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures YouTube channel.)
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux.
Streaming on Netflix: Berlin, the future, but close enough to feel familiar: In this loud, often brutal city, Leo (Skarsgård) – unable to speak from a childhood accident – searches for his missing girlfriend, the love of his life, his salvation, through dark streets, frenzied plazas, and the full spectrum of the cities shadow-dwellers. As he seeks answers, Leo finds himself mixed up with Cactus Bill (Rudd) and Duck Theroux), a pair of irreverent US army surgeons on a mission all their own.
Add Mute to your list here.
Director: David Freyne.
Cast: Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor & Paula Malcomson.
What happens when the undead return to life? In a world ravaged for years by a virus that turns the infected into zombie-like cannibals, a cure is at last found and the wrenching process of reintegrating the survivors back into society begins. Among the formerly afflicted is Senan (Sam Keeley), a young man haunted by the horrific acts he committed while infected. Welcomed back into the family of his widowed sister-in-law (Ellen Page), Senan attempts to restart his life—but is society ready to forgive him and those like him? Or will fear and prejudice once again tear the world apart? Pulsing with provocative parallels to our troubled times, The Cured is a smart, scary, and hauntingly human tale of guilt and redemption. (Official synopsis courtesy of the IFC Films YouTube channel.)