February is the shortest month of the year, blisteringly cold (depending on where you live) beyond the simple novelty of snow, and for most years, an unglamorous dead zone when it comes to flashy new releases.
That makes the winter month a perfect time to play catch up on things you can stream from home. There are tons of cool films that came out on streaming this month, from classics like Blade Runner, Shutter Island, and The Omen to new and exciting releases like Space Sweepers and Possessor. Read on for 11 of the best movies new to streaming services in February. There’s plenty to watch!
While Shaka King’s explosive new biopic is ostensibly the story of the life, death, and legacy of civil rights activist and Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton, played by Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya, the true subject is not the so-called “Black Messiah” that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover so vehemently feared, but the man who betrayed him: Former FBI informant and Black Panther bodyguard William O’Neal, portrayed by Atlanta and Knives Out star Lakeith Stanfield. A film nearly a decade in the making, Judas and the Black Messiah is the latest tentpole feature to premiere on streaming via Warner Bros. theatrical hybrid release plan via HBO Max through 2021. With effusive early impression among critics, Judas and the Black Messiah is sure to be one of the most talked-about films of the year.
Judas and the Black Messiah is streaming on HBO Max.
Martin Scorsese’s ominous psychological thriller Shutter Island proved a colossal critical and commercial success when first released back in 2010, and the appreciation for the film’s nuanced visuals and pacing has only continued to endure in the decade since. Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn as Edward “Teddy” Daniels, a U.S. Marshal whose missing persons investigation at the film’s titular psychiatric facility quickly unravels into a dark journey into the manifold darkness of his own psyche, ranks among one of the actor’s best, with the character’s final line transforming what was already an unnerving third act into one of the greatest twist endings of the past 20 years. If you’ve somehow never seen Shutter Island, there’s seldom been a better time to do so.
Shutter Island is streaming on Netflix.
Jo Sung-hee’s Space Sweepers is far more intimate and grounded than its marketing as the first South Korea’s space opera would suggest. The film’s protagonists aren’t flamboyant space captains or so-called “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but the “ordinary” everyday working-class men, women, and sentient robots trying to eke out a living in a vast and indifferent universe populated by massive starships owned by predatorial mega corporations. If that piques your interest, check out our review to learn more behind why Space Sweepers skews more “hangout comedy” than your typical sci-fi adventure.
Space Sweepers is streaming on Netflix.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
What could possibly be said of Blade Runner that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over? Ridley Scott’s 1982 future noir thriller is the definitive visual ur-text of cyberpunk , a work whose precedent and impact looms as massive and undeniable across the landscape of modern cinema as Tyrell Corp.’s own pyramid over the smog-laden expanse of the film’s alternate Los Angeles. If you somehow never got around to watching Scott’s original back when Villeneuve’s sequel first came out, find out what all the hype’s about
Blade Runner: The Final Cut is streaming on HBO Max.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
John le Carré’s 1963 novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was the third in the author’s long and venerable career of Cold War-era spy fiction which defined and subsequently redefined the genre through the early sixties and right up to the author’s passing last December at the age of 89. Tomas Alfredson’s 2011 feature-length adaptation is a masterful distillation of le Carré’s characteristic penchant for high-stakes bureaucratic sleuthing and tense cat-and-mouse intrigue. Gary Oldman’s performance as intelligence officer George Smiley, the so-called “anti–James Bond,” and the late great John Hurt’s turn as M16’s Control are more than worth the price of admission alone, and combined with the film’s robust supporting cast and its renewed availability on HBO Max, there’s no reason not to come in from the cold and give this one a watch.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is streaming on HBO Max.
Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery
It’s been over two decades since Mike Myers’ scene-stealing turn as the incorrigibly British spy Austin Powers first lovingly skewered the iconic campiness of James Bond’s early cinematic iterations and enmeshed itself into the zeitgeist of pop culture. If you had ever gone to a Halloween party (remember those?) around the turn of the century, the chances of you either crossing paths with someone adorned in one of Austin’s flamboyant costumes and shouting “Yeah baby!” was non-zero if not nigh-inevitable. Admittedly, it’s been a minute since I last sat down and rewatched it since the height of the series’ cultural apex, but its recent addition to HBO Max might be just the incentive to revisit the International Man of Mystery’s madcap escapades.
Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery is streaming on HBO Max.
Two years before defining the comic book movie with 1978’s Superman, director Richard Donner made one of the horror genre’s essential films: The Omen. Conceived in the wake of The Exorcist, the story centers on the birth of the Antichrist … and the two parents assigned by fate to raise him. Starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as two head-spinning adults trying to make sense of their morbid situation, and the young Harvey Spencer Stephens as the creepy, creepy, creepy Damian, Donner finds a way into nearly every type of horror pleasure. There’s gruesome kills, ominous supernatural danger, and a sense of cosmic unraveling — thanks in large part to Jerry Goldsmith’s legendary score — that sends an existential chill up the spine. Spirituality itself comes under fire in The Omen.
The Omen is streaming on Hulu.
Brandon Cronenberg takes a crack at his father David’s legendary run of sci-fi body-horror flicks like Scanners and Existenz and makes the genre his own with Possessor. Mandy’s Andrea Riseborough is Tasya Vos, a shadowy killer working at the behest of a shadowy organization that employs invasive brain-implant technology to “possess” the bodies of unsuspecting civilians, manipulating them to commit high-profile assassinations before forcing them to commit suicide to cover their tracks. When the strain of Tasya’s repeated assignments allows her latest target to reassert control over his body, she must engage in a psychic tug-of-war to complete her mission and return safely back to her own body.
Possessor is streaming on Hulu.
Coming to America
At the top of his game after Trading Places, two Beverly Hills Cop movies, and his legendary (if not controversial) stand-up concert film Raw, Eddie Murphy turned his eye to the story of a rich, famous young prince from the made up African nation of Zamunda who pines for a normal life. Unlike his hard-R-rated comedy, Coming to America is an unexpectedly sweet, level-headed rom-com, with the open-hearted Prince navigating the ups and downs of Queens, New York as he searches for the perfect woman. It’s also the movie that hooked Murphy on playing multiple roles in a single movie; he and Arsenio Hall slip into old-age makeup and jerry curl wigs to play a variety of side characters who bring bigger laughs than Murphy’s Prince Akeem Joffer. The comedian must be nostalgic for that experience — Coming to America arrives to Amazon just a few weeks before a long-awaited sequel, Coming 2 America, premieres on the platform.
Coming to America is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai
Jim Jarmusch’s genre mash-up features stoic code-bound assassins and contemporary samurai mythology, and premieres in a double feature on Criterion this month, alongside Jean-Pierre Melville’s equally inventive Le Samourai. Melville’s film set the template for subsequent existential antihero films such as Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional, John Woo’s The Killer, and Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition. Jarmusch’s own Ghost Dog proves a worthy successor to Melville’s film on the strength of Forest Whitaker’s iconic performance and badass score courtesy of the one and only RZA.
Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai is streaming on Criterion Channel.
Insurance salesman Jeff Gerber is a gleeful bully and unrepentant bigot who relishes his relatively privileged position in 1960s America. That is, right up until he wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a black man. Inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Melvin Van Peebles’ 1970 comedy is as unsparingly trenchant in its commentary on race in America as it is bitingly hilarious. Watermelon Man is the kind of biting social satire that feels (unfortunately) as timely today as it was over 30 years ago and is well worth a watch.
Watermelon Man is streaming on Criterion Channel.