Ten New Movies You Can Watch in March That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming
Including a Bradley Cooper-starring carnival thriller, the latest 'Scream' and 'Ghostbusters' flicks, and Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana.
March 22, 2022
Before the pandemic, when a new-release movie started playing in cinemas, audiences couldn't watch it on streaming, video on demand, DVD or blu-ray for a few months. But with the past few years forcing film industry to make quite a few changes — widespread movie theatre closures and plenty of people staying home in iso will do that — that's no longer always the case.
Maybe you've had a close-contact run-in. Perhaps you haven't had time to make it to your local cinema lately. Given the hefty amount of films now releasing each week, maybe you simply missed something. Film distributors have been fast-tracking some of their new releases from cinemas to streaming recently — movies that might still be playing in theatres in some parts of the country, too. In preparation for your next couch session, here's ten you can watch right now at home.
Don't mistake the blaze that starts the exceptional Nightmare Alley for warmth; in his 11th film, Guillermo del Toro gets chillier than he ever has. A lover of gothic tales told with empathy and curiosity, the Mexican The Shape of Water filmmaker has always understood that escapism and agony go hand in hand — and here, in a carnival noir that springs from William Lindsay Gresham's 1946 novel and previously reached cinemas in 1947, he runs headfirst into cold, unrelenting darkness. That burning house, once home to the skulking Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza), is surrounded by America's stark midwestern landscape circa 1939. Still, the terrain of its now-former occupant's insides is even grimmer, as Nightmare Alley's opening image of Stan dropping a body into a hole in the abode's floor, then striking a match, shows. From there, he descends into the carny world after being given a job by barker Clem Hoatley (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man: No Way Home) and doing whatever's asked, including helping clean up after the geek act — although, even with his ambiguities evident from the outset, stomaching a cage-dwelling man biting the heads off live chickens to entertain braying crowds isn't initially easy.
While set in an already-despondent US where the Depression is only just waning, the shadows of the First World War linger and more are soon to fall via World War II, Nightmare Alley still gives Stan flickers of hope. Adapted from the novel by del Toro with feature debutant Kim Morgan, and filled to the brim with outstanding performances, the movie doesn't ever promise light or virtue, but kindness repeatedly comes its protagonist's way in its first half. In fortune-teller Zeena the Seer (Toni Collette, Dream Horse) and her oft-sauced husband and assistant Pete (David Strathairn, Nomadland), Stan gains friends and mentors. He takes to mentalism like he was born to it, and his gift for manipulating audiences — and his eagerness to keep pushing the spiritualism further — is firmly a sign. Soon, it's 1941 and he's rebadged himself as 'The Great Stanton' in city clubs, claiming to speak to the dead in the pursuit of bigger paydays, with fellow ex-carny Molly Cahill (Rooney Mara, Mary Magdalene) as his romantic and professional partner beyond the dustbowl. But then that scam attracts the attention of Dr Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett, Don't Look Up), and this drifter-turned-grifter gets caught in someone else's plan.
In King Richard, Will Smith does more acting than expected with his back to the on-screen action. He does more acting in general — while the Ali and Concussion star can be a transformative performer, here he feels like he's overtly playing a part rather than disappearing into a role — but the way his eponymous figure handles his daughters' matches instantly stands out. Richard Williams is a tennis parent who despises the usual tennis parent histrionics. At the time the film is set, in the early 90s, he has also coached Venus (Saniyya Sidney, Fences) and Serena (Demi Singleton, Godfather of Harlem) since they were four years old, and penned a 78-page plan mapping out their futures before they were born. He's dedicated his life to their success, alongside family matriarch Oracene (Aunjanue Ellis, Lovecraft Country); however, he's so restless when they're volleying and backhanding that he can't bring himself to watch.
These scenes in King Richard are among Smith's best. As directed by Joe Bell helmer Reinaldo Marcus Green — making another movie about a real-life person that makes his male eponymous figure the centre of someone else's story — he's anxious yet determined, and lives the feeling like he's breathing it. They're some of the movie's least blatantly showy and most quietly complex scenes as well. The Williams patriarch has wisdom for all occasions, forged from a tough childhood in America's south, plus the hard work and hustle of turning Venus and Serena into budding champions, so he'd likely have something to say about the insights gleaned here: that you can tell oh-so-much about a person when they're under pressure but nobody's watching. If he was actively imparting this lesson to his daughters — five of them, not just the two that now have 30 Grand Slam singles titles between them — and they didn't glean it, he'd make them watch again. When they see Cinderella in the film, that's exactly what happens. But his courtside demeanour is teachable anyway, recognising how all the preparation and effort in the world will still see you tested over and over.
With two-plus decades as an actor to her name, Kristen Stewart hasn't spent her career as a candle in the wind. Her flame has both blazed and flickered since her first uncredited big-screen role in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas but, by Elton John's definition, she's always known where to cling to. After jumping from child star to Twilight heroine and then one of the savviest talents of her generation, she's gleaned where to let her haunting gaze stare so piercingly that it lights up celluloid again and again, too. Spencer joins Stewart's resume after weighty parts in Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper, Certain Women and Seberg, and has her do something she's long done magnificently: let a world of pain and uncertainty seep quietly from her entire being. The new regal drama should do just that, of course, given its subject — but saying that director Pablo Larraín (Jackie, Ema) has cast his Diana well, pitch-perfect head tilt and all, is a royal understatement.
The year is 1991, the time is Christmas and the place is the Queen's (Stella Gonet, Breeders) Sandringham Estate, where the Windsors converge for the holidays (yes, Spencer is now prime seasonal viewing). As scripted by Peaky Blinders and Locked Down's Steven Knight, the choice of period puts Diana in one of the most precarious situations of her then decade-long married life, with her nuptials to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing, The Lost Daughter) turning into an "amicable separation" within 12 months. Spencer's focus is on three days, not all that defined the People's Princess' existence before or after, but she can't stop contemplating her past and future. The Sandringham grounds include the house where Diana was born, and those happier recollections — and time spent now with her children (debutants Jack Nielen and Freddie Spry) — give her a glow. Alas, all the monarchical scrutiny simmers her joy to ashes, unsurprisingly.
WEST SIDE STORY
Tonight, tonight, there's only Steven Spielberg's lavish and dynamic version of West Side Story tonight — not to detract from or forget the 1961 movie of the same name. Six decades ago, an all-singing, all-dancing, New York City-set, gang war-focused spin on Romeo and Juliet leapt from stage to screen, becoming one of cinema's all-time classic musicals; however, remaking that hit is a task that Spielberg dazzlingly proves up to. It's his first sashay into the genre, despite making his initial amateur feature just three years after the original West Side Story debuted. It's also his first film since 2018's obnoxiously awful Ready Player One, which doubled as a how-to guide to crafting one of the worst, flimsiest and most bloated pieces of soulless pop-culture worship possible. But with this swooning, socially aware story of star-crossed lovers, Spielberg pirouettes back from his atrocious last flick by embracing something he clearly adores, and being unafraid to give it rhythmic swirls and thematic twirls.
Shakespeare's own tale of tempestuous romance still looms large over West Side Story, as it always has — in fair NYC and its rubble-strewn titular neighbourhood where it lays its 1950s-era scene. The Jets and the Sharks aren't quite two households both alike in dignity, though. Led by the swaggering and dogged Riff (Mike Faist, a Tony-nominee for the Broadway production of Dear Evan Hansen), the Jets are young, scrappy, angry and full of resentment for anyone they fear is encroaching on their terrain. Meanwhile, with boxer Bernardo (David Alvarez, a Tony-winner for Billy Elliot) at the helm, the Sharks have tried to establish new lives outside of their native Puerto Rico through study, jobs and their own businesses. Both gangs refuse to coexist peacefully in the only part of New York where either feels at home — but it's a night at a dance, and the love-at-first-sight connection that blooms between Riff's best friend Tony (Ansel Elgort, The Goldfinch) and Bernardo's younger sister María (feature debutant Rachel Zegler), that sparks a showdown.
HOUSE OF GUCCI
For the second time in as many movies, Lady Gaga is caught in a bad romance in House of Gucci. Yes, she's already sung the song to match. The pop diva doesn't belt out ballads or croon upbeat tunes in this true-crime drama, unlike in her Oscar-nominated role in A Star Is Born, but she does shimmy into a tale about love and revenge, horror and design, and wanting someone's everything as long as it's free. Eschewing the earthy naturalism of her last film performance and tapping into her famed on-stage theatricality instead, she's perfect for the part of Patrizia Reggiani, aka Lady Gucci, aka the daughter of a trucking entrepreneur who wed into one of the world's most prestigious fashion families, helped unstitch its hold on its couture empire, then went to prison for murder. She's exceptional because she goes big and lavish, and because she knows that's the type of feature she's meant to be in: a soapy spectacle about money and power that uses its depiction of excess as an interrogation technique.
Complimenting Gaga for nailing the brief — for acing it so dazzlingly that she's sauntering down her own catwalk as most of her co-stars virtually watch from the floor — gives House of Gucci a tad too much credit, though. Ridley Scott's second film in mere months following The Last Duel, and his third in a row to examine wealth and influence after 2017's All the Money in the World, this fashion-world saga skews large, lush and luxe with each choice, too, but doesn't land every sashay with quite the outsized lustre of its crown jewel. If House of Gucci's veteran director was picking an outfit instead, he would've chosen a killer gown, then wavered on the accessories. Some of his other decisions gleam, as seen in the movie's knowingly maximalist and melodramatic air, and in Adam Driver's (Annette) casting as Patrizia's ill-fated husband Maurizio Gucci. Others prove fine, like its jukebox-style soundtrack of 70s and 80s bangers. A few moves are so cartoonish — Jared Leto's ridiculousness, and the Super Mario-style accents sported by almost everyone on-screen — that they play like cheap knockoffs.
Twenty-six years ago, "do you like scary movies?" stopped being just an ordinary question. Posed by a wrong-number caller who happened to be a ghostface-masked killer with a fondness for kitchen knives, it was the snappiest and savviest line in one of the 90s' biggest horror films, and it's now one of cinema's iconic pieces of dialogue. It gets another whirl in the Scream franchise's fifth movie, which is also called Scream — and you'd really best answer it now with the heartiest yes possible. Taking over from the late, great Wes Craven, who also directed 1997's Scream 2, 2000's Scream 3 and 2011's Scream 4 but died in 2015, Ready or Not's Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett task their next generation of slasher fodder with showing their devotion to horror with all the subtlety of a masked murderer who can't stop taunting their prey. That'd be a new Ghostface, who terrorises today's Woodsboro high schoolers, because the fictional spot is up there with Sunnydale and Twin Peaks on the list of places that are flat-out hellish for teens. The same happened in Scream 4, but the first new attack by the saga's killer is designed to lure home someone who's left town. Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera, In the Heights) hightailed it the moment she was old enough, fleeing a family secret, but is beckoned back when her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega, You) receives the feature's opening "do you like scary movies?" call.
Soon, bodies are piling up, Ghostface gives Woodsboro that grim sense of deja vu again, and Tara's friends — including the horror film-obsessed Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown, Yellowjackets), her twin Chad (Mason Gooding, Love, Victor), his girlfriend Liv (Sonia Ammar, Jappeloup), and other pals Wes (Dylan Minnette, 13 Reasons Why) and Amber (Mikey Madison, Better Things) — are trying to both survive while basically cycling through the OG feature again, complete with a crucial location, and sleuth out the culprit using their scary movie knowledge. Everyone's a suspect, including Sam herself and her out-of-towner boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid, The Boys), and also the begrudging resident expert on this exact situation: ex-sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette, Spree). The latter is the reason that morning show host Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox, Cougar Town) and initial Ghostface target Sidney Prescott (Skyscraper) make the trip back to Woodsboro again as well.
THE KING'S MAN
When something shows you its true colours, believe it. The Kingsman franchise certainly did when it debuted in 2014, as viewers have been witnessing ever since. That initial entry, Kingsman: The Secret Service, gave the espionage genre an irreverent and energetic spin, and landed partway between update and parody. But, while making Taron Egerton a star and proving engaging-enough, it didn't know when to call it quits, serving up one of the most ill-judged closing moments that spy flicks have ever seen. Since then, all things Kingsman haven't known when to end either, which is why subpar sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle arrived in 2017, and now unnecessary mostly World War I-centric prequel The King's Man — all from filmmaker Matthew Vaughn, Another year, another dull origin story. Another year, another stretched Bond knockoff, too.
It's in a prologue in 1902 that Ralph Fiennes (No Time to Die) makes his first appearance as Orlando Oxford, a duke travelling to South Africa during the Boer War — and soon made a widower, because The King's Man starts with the tiresome dead wife trope. Twelve years later, Oxford is staunchly a pacifist, so much so that he forbids his now-teenage son Conrad (Harris Dickinson, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) from enlisting when WWI breaks out. But the duke hasn't completely given away serving his country himself, overseeing an off-the-books intelligence network with the help of his servants Shola (Djimon Hounsou, A Quiet Place Part II) and Polly (Gemma Arterton, Summerland). That comes in handy when a nefarious Scottish figure known only as The Shepherd interferes in world affairs, with King George V of England, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (all cousins, and all played by Bohemian Rhapsody's Tom Hollander) his targets.
After more than a few pandemic delays, Ghostbusters: Afterlife has finally reached screens — and it floats into a world that's made worshipping previous glories one of the biggest cash-spinners show business could've ever dreamed up. The fourth feature to bear the Ghostbusters name, but a new legacy sequel to the original 1984 film, this reanimated franchise entry certainly sports a fitting subtitle; treating its source material like it's nirvana is firmly filmmaker Jason Reitman's approach. To him, it might've been. Although he established his career with indie comedies such as Thank You for Smoking and Juno, he's the son of director Ivan Reitman, who helmed the OG Ghostbusters and its 1989 follow-up Ghostbusters II. To plenty of fans, those two initial comedy-horror flicks were something special as well; however, acknowledging that fact — and trying to recreate the feeling of being a kid or teen watching the first Ghostbusters nearly four decades ago — isn't enough to fuel a new film.
To be fair, the younger Reitman isn't particularly interested in making a new movie; Be Kind Rewind's "sweded" Ghostbusters clips are more original than Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Instead, he directs a homage that sprinkles in links to its predecessor so heartily that it's probably easier to name the scenes and details that don't scream "hey, this is Ghostbusters!" as loudly as possible. The focus: Phoebe (Mckenna Grace, Malignant), a new inhabitant of the cringingly titled Summerville, Oklahoma. With her mother Callie (Carrie Coon, The Nest) and brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard, The Goldfinch), she's made the move because the granddad she never knew just passed away, leaving a dilapidated rural property to his estranged family. The townsfolk speak his nickname, "dirt farmer", with mocking and intrigue, but his actual moniker — and all that equipment he's left behind — brings big changes Phoebe's way. While being Dr Egon Spengler's granddaughter doesn't initially mean too much to her, other than giving her love for science a genetic basis, she's soon segueing from testing out ghost traps with local teacher Mr Grooberson (Paul Rudd, The Shrink Next Door) to cracking Egon's secret efforts to stop a world-shattering supernatural event.
In most movies, Liam Neeson's Blacklight character wouldn't be the protagonist. Secret FBI fixer Travis Block likely wouldn't even be given a name. Instead, he'd merely be a brief presence who popped up to help other on-screen figures — the federal agents he gets out of tricky situations, for instance — as they went about their business and connected the script's necessary plot points. Turning someone who'd usually be seen as disposable into its lead is this action-thriller's one good idea, but the flattened henchman scene in Austin Powers gave the notion more thought than the entirety of Blacklight demonstrates. There's a difference between thrusting a character to the fore and fleshing them out, especially when a film is happy to define them solely by the actor in their shoes. Here, Travis Block is another prosaic entry on Neeson's action resume first and foremost. The film he's in is directed by Neeson's Honest Thief writer/director Mark Williams, too, who doesn't stretch himself or his star in their second collaboration.
When Blacklight begins, Block has spent his career doing whatever FBI Director Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn, Elementary) has asked. Typically, that's assisting on-the-books operatives struggling with off-the-books missions — and Block is great at his job. But when he's tasked with aiding the suddenly erratic Dusty Crane (Taylor John Smith, Shadow in the Cloud), he begins to see more in the rogue agent's story than his old Vietnam War pal Robinson wants to share. Crane has quite the wild tale to tell, tied to the assassination of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-style politician Sofia Flores (Mel Jarnson, Mortal Kombat) and filled with dark government secrets, and he's eager to share it with scoop-chasing reporter Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman, The Umbrella Academy). That's exactly what Block is supposed to stop, with his new crisis of conscience putting his daughter Amanda (Claire van der Bloom, Palm Beach) and granddaughter Natalie (debutant Gabriella Sengos) in peril.
Star voices, a jukebox worth of songs, anthropomorphic animated critters, cheesy sentiments: that's the formula fuelling far too many all-ages-friendly films of late. Back in 2016, Sing used it to box office-smashing success by doing little more than spinning a colourful version of American Idol but with zoo animals doing the singing. It wasn't the worst example of this kind of flick, but perhaps the most interesting thing about it was the skew of its soundtrack, which favoured songs that the adults in its audience would like more than the pint-sized viewers entranced by its bright hues, talking lions and koalas, and frenetic pacing. It should come as no surprise, then, that Sing 2 doubles down on that idea by not only mining the discography of U2, but by also casting Bono as a reclusive ex-rockstar. For the Irish frontman, the double payday must've been nice.
Returning writer/director Garth Jennings begins Sing 2 with a saccharine rendition of Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy', but that song choice isn't instructional or descriptive; nothing here departs from the expected. This time around, after already gathering a gang of music-loving animals via a singing contest in the first flick, koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey, The Gentlemen) has a hit show filling his theatre — but he still wants to make it big in the bigger smoke. Alas, Suki (Chelsea Peretti, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), a dog and a talent scout, advises that Buster's ragtag crew don't have what it takes. He's determined to prove otherwise, taking pigs Rosita (Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show) and Gunter (Nick Kroll, Big Mouth), gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton, Rocketman), porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow), and elephant Meena (singer Tori Kelly) to Redshore City to pitch directly to wolf and media mogul Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Canavale, Nine Perfect Strangers).
Looking for more at-home viewing options? Take a look at our monthly streaming recommendations across new straight-to-digital films and TV shows.
Introducing Concrete Playground Trips
Book unique getaways and adventures dreamed up by our editors