Welcome to 2022! It’s the start of a brand new year, filled with exciting possibilities and new hopes, not mention a whole slew of films to look forward to. Between Scream 5 and Morbius, not to mention other highly anticipated releases such as Matt Reeves’ The Batman and Pixar’s Turning Red, the first quarter of the year promises to one filled with fantastic movies worth getting excited for. The same could be said for streaming as well, as the first month of the new year boasts several critically-acclaimed classics and memorable new additions to stream from home.
From Christopher Nolan’s cerebral neo-noir revenge thriller Memento to David Fincher’s Panic Room, Rob Reiner’s classic coming-of-age drama Stand By Me to Neil Jordan’s gothic horror film Interview with the Vampire, there’s no shortage of great films to stream and watch on Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Criterion Channel, and more.
Read on for 12 of the best movies new to streaming services in January.
Jean-Luc Godard’s sci-fi noir Alphaville stars Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution, a secret agent and saboteur sent into the heart of a dystopian metropolis where free will, love, poetry, and emotion have all been outlawed in order to uncover the dark secrets of the city’s founder, Professor von Braun. Against his better judgement Caution falls in love with Natacha, von Braun’s daughter, and is forced to destroy the malevolent artificial intelligence governing Alphaville before his own individuality is stripped away. Filmed entirely in and around Paris with no special sets or props, Alphaville is a stylish, inscrutable, and fascinating film that abounds with philosophical flourish. —TE
Alphaville is available to stream on Criterion Channel.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
2012’s Beasts of the Southern Wild stars Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy, an inquisitive 6-year-old girl living with her father in a small community on an island in the Louisiana bayou called “the Bathtub.” When nature is suddenly thrown into disarray, causing mammoth prehistoric beasts known as aurochs to reawaken as the ice caps melt, Hushpuppy’s father falls ill. In an effort to restore balance to the universe and bring her father back from the brink of death, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother for answers and respite. A whimsical coming-of-age drama with beautiful cinematography, Beasts of the Southern Wild is an eccentric premise made memorable and beautiful through the power of Wallis’ stirring lead performance, which earned her an Academy Award nomination at the age of 9. —TE
Beasts of the Southern Wild is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Interview with the Vampire
Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise star in Interview with the Vampire as Louis de Pointe du Lac, an 18th century vampire weary of his immortal life of loneliness and hunger and Lestat de Lioncourt, the elder vampire who sires him. Relating his life story to a reporter with his own personal agenda, Louis recounts the long decades of love, betrayal, and death that have plagued his existence, from the adoption and siring of a young vampire named Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) to Lestat and Louis’ dramatic (and deadly) falling out. Dark, erotic, and entertaining, both Anne Rice’s original novel and the film rejuvenated the subgenre of vampire horror fiction and spawned a generation of countless imitations in its likeness. —TE
Interview with the Vampire is available to stream on Netflix.
Christopher Nolan’s Memento stands the test of time as one of the most thoroughly fascinating films he has ever produced. Starring Guy Pearce, the film centers on the story of Leonard Shelby, a former insurance investigator who embarks on a mission of revenge following the rape and death of his wife Catherine. Having developed as anterograde amnesia, a condition which impairs his mind from creating and storing new memories, Leonard relies on a polaroid camera along with tattoo notes to himself in order to continue his search for his wife’s killer. The structure of the film is its most enduring achievement, placing audiences into the unique point of view of Leonard’s mind by presented two opposite sequence of events playing in linear and reverse chronological order, with the climax of the film technically taking place where two sequences meet in the middle. Far from a mere quirk of presentation, the effect of is uniquely memorable and devastating; a story of loss and revenge where obsession and deception preclude any hope of true redemption or a brighter future. —TE
Memento is available to stream on HBO Max.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the best Mission Impossible movie? That’s debatable. But is it the funniest Mission Impossible movie? No question. The 2011 entry from director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) finds Tom Cruise’s super spy Ethan Hunt and his IMF colleagues disavowed in the wake of a horrific attack on the Kremlin. Tasked with clearing their names and bringing the true culprits to justice, Hunt and IMF technician-turned-field operative Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) are joined by intelligence analyst William Brandt (Avengers star Jeremy Renner) and handler Jane Carter (Paula Patton) as they globetrot from Moscow to Dubai and Mumbai on the trail of a rogue nuclear terrorist known only as “Cobalt.” The big set-piece scene of Ethan scaling the side of a skyscraper is an exquisitely nail-biting performance of mounting tension and hilarious comedic timing. —TE
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart star in David Fincher’s Panic Room as a recently divorced mother and her asthmatic teenage daughter who have recently moved into a brownstone home in New York City’s Upper West Side. When a trio of armed robbers invade their home during their first night after moving in, the pair retreat into the building’s built-in panic room, sparking a deadly contest of wills as the robbers attempt to make off with their ill-gotten gains … with no witnesses. Though nowhere near as complex or cerebral as Fincher’s prior thrillers such as The Game or Seven, Panic Room is nonetheless a terrific film elevated by the chemistry between Foster and Stewart and a fantastic score by Howard Shore. —TE
Panic Room is available to stream on Hulu.
Wes Craven’s 2005 Red Eye stars Rachel McAdams as Lisa Reisert, a hotel manager who meets a charming man named Jack Rippner (Cillian Murphy) just before embarking on a flight to her home in Miami following the funeral of her grandmother. What at first appears to be the sort of meet-cute one would typically expect of a late ’90s rom-com however quickly reveals itself to be a product of malicious calculation, as Lisa inadvertently finds herself caught in a sinister plot whose failure would result in the death of her father Joe (Brian Cox). McAdams and Murphy’s performances are the driving force of the film, as prey and predator clash amid dozens of other passengers essentially trapped in a plane mid-flight. Talk about high-stakes horror. —TE
Red Eye is available to stream on Hulu.
Scary Stories: To Tell In The Dark
Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series is a classic of children’s horror literature, each installment chock full of spine-tingling stories paired with the dark, unnerving, and iconic illustrations of artist Stephen Gammel. Trollhunter director André Øvredal’s 2019 film adaptation weaves Schwartz’s short stories into a narrative centered on a group of teenage friends in the rural town of Mill Valley who are stalked night after night by ghoulish creatures conjured from out of the notebook of a vengeful, long-dead woman. Co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, the film does an admirable enough job of emulating the characteristic horror of the original series, but the real stars of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark are the monster designs which uncannily resemble the surreal eeriness of Gammel’s remarkable artwork. Watch out for the pale lady. —TE
Scary Stories: To Tell In The Dark is available to stream on Netflix.
Stand by Me
Based on the Stephen King novella, “The Body,” Stand by Me is a coming-of-age film about four 12-year-old boys who set out to find the body of a missing kid. The boys trek across the Oregon forests, running into local hoodlums and speeding trains. But despite the dangers, the real thrill of the movie comes from the transformative power of childhood friendships. The main character closes the movie with a line that basically sums it all up: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?” —Petrana Radulovic
Stand by Me is available to stream on Netflix.
Robert De Niro delivers one of the defining performances of his entire career in Martin Scorsese’s 1979 film Taxi Driver as Travis Bickle, a Vietnam War veteran-turned-taxi driver suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Sleep-deprived and increasingly isolated, Travis’ idle observations on the corruption and vice of New York City quickly manifest into violent ideation, prompting him to become a vigilante as he grasps for power and uncertainty in an uncertain world. Even apart from the film’s tangential role in John Hinckley Jr.’s attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981, Taxi Driver earns its distinction as a culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant film on the strength of De Niro’s aforementioned performance, Paul Schrader’s sharp and sorrowful script, and Michael Chapman’s beautiful cinematography. —TE
Taxi Driver is available to stream on Netflix.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing is a heist film par excellence, a labyrinthine drama composed of expert performances interlocking with one another like the tumblers of a lock before culminating in a frantic, engrossing conclusion. Sterling Hayden stars as Johnny Clay, an ex-convict who assembles a gang to pull off a $2 million hold-up of a racecourse. Supported by a cast of performances including Elisha Cook Jr., Joe Sawyer, Jay C. Flippen, and more, The Killing was touted by no less than Kubrick himself as his first mature feature. Today, it’s a film whose influence can be felt and seen in everything from Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs to 2008’s The Dark Knight. —TE
The Killing is available to stream on Criterion Channel.
When Harry Met Sally
Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally is considered an unassailable classic among romantic comedies. Starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the film follows the story of the title characters’ blossoming friendship and eventual romance through 12 years of chance encounters. More than just a question of “will they or won’t they,” the drama, humor, and heart of When Harry Met Sally is rooted in the question of whether men and women can ever be friends? In search of that answer, Harry and Sally find both that and so much more. They find each other. –TE
When Harry Met Sally is available to stream on HBO Max.