Twelve New Movies You Can Watch in January That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming
Including the spectacular latest 'Bond' instalment, Marvel superheroes and an attention-grabbing horror flick.
January 14, 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 12 you can watch right now at home.
NO TIME TO DIE
James Bond might famously prefer his martinis shaken, not stirred, but No Time to Die doesn't quite take that advice. While the enterprising spy hasn't changed his drink order, the latest film he's in — the 25th official feature in the franchise across six decades, and the fifth and last that'll star Daniel Craig — gives its regular ingredients both a mix and a jiggle. The action is dazzlingly choreographed, a menacing criminal has an evil scheme and the world is in peril, naturally. Still, there's more weight in Craig's performance, more emotion all round, and a greater willingness to contemplate the stakes and repercussions that come with Bond's globe-trotting, bed-hopping, villain-dispensing existence. There's also an eagerness to shake up parts of the character and Bond template that rarely get a nudge. Together, even following a 19-month pandemic delay, it all makes for a satisfying blockbuster cocktail.
For Craig, the actor who first gave Bond a 21st-century flavour back in 2006's Casino Royale (something Pierce Brosnan couldn't manage in 2002's Die Another Day), No Time to Die also provides a fulfilling swansong. That wasn't assured; as much as he's made the tuxedo, gadgets and espionage intrigue his own, the Knives Out and Logan Lucky actor's tenure has charted a seesawing trajectory. His first stint in the role was stellar and franchise-redefining, but 2008's Quantum of Solace made it look like a one-off. Then Skyfall triumphed spectacularly in 2012, before Spectre proved all too standard in 2015. Ups and downs have long been part of this franchise, depending on who's in the suit, who's behind the lens, the era and how far the tone skews towards comedy — but at its best, Craig's run has felt like it's building new levels rather than traipsing through the same old framework.
It's the only Marvel movie by an Oscar-winning director. Focusing on a superhero squad isn't new, even if everyone here is a Marvel Cinematic Universe newcomer, but it's the lone instalment in the franchise that's about a team led by women of colour. It's home to the MCU's only caped crusader who is deaf, and its first openly gay superhero — and it doesn't just mention his sexuality, but also shows his relationship. It happens to be the first Marvel flick with a sex scene, too. Eternals is also the only film in the hefty saga with a title describing how long the series will probably continue. And, it's the sole MCU entry that features two ex-Game of Thrones stars — Kit Harington and Richard Madden, two of the show's Winterfell-dwelling brothers — and tasks them both with loving a woman called Sersi. (The name isn't spelled the same way, but it'll still recalls Westeros.)
As opening text explains, Eternals' central immortal aliens were sent to earth 7000 years ago to battle intergalactic beasts, dispatched by a Celestial — a space god, really — called Arishem. With the monstrous Deviants, another alien race, wreaking havoc, the Eternals were tasked with fighting the good fight — and were forbidden to interfere otherwise, which is why they've been absent in the last 25 movies. But now, a new Deviant attacks Sersi (Gemma Chan, Raya and the Last Dragon), her human boyfriend Dane Whitman (Harington) and fellow Eternal Sprite (Lia McHugh, The Lodge). That gets the gang back together swiftly, including the flying, laser-eyed Ikaris (Madden), the maternal Ajak (Salma Hayek, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard), Bollywood star Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani, The Lovebirds), the super-strong Gilgamesh (Don Lee, Ashfall), warrior Thena (Angelia Jolie, Those Who Wish Me Dead), the super-speedy Makkari (Lauren Ridloff, Sound of Metal), tech wiz Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry, Godzilla vs Kong) and the mind-manipulating Druig (Barry Keoghan, The Green Knight).
A spice-war space opera about feuding houses on far-flung planets, Dune has long been a pop-culture building block. Before Frank Herbert's 1965 novel was adapted into a wrongly reviled David Lynch-directed film — a gloriously 80s epic led by Kyle MacLachlan and laced with surreal touches — it unmistakably inspired Star Wars, and also cast a shadow over Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Game of Thrones has since taken cues from it. The Riddick franchise owes it a debt, too. The list goes on and, thanks to the new version bringing its sandy deserts to cinemas, will only keep growing. As he did with Blade Runner 2049, writer/director Denis Villeneuve has once again grasped something already enormously influential, peered at it with astute eyes and built it anew — and created an instant sci-fi classic.
This time, Villeneuve isn't asking viewers to ponder whether androids dream of electric sheep, but if humanity can ever overcome one of our worst urges and all that it brings. With an exceptional cast that spans Timothée Chalamet (The French Dispatch), Oscar Isaac (The Card Counter), Rebecca Ferguson (Reminiscence), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Josh Brolin (Avengers: Endgame), Javier Bardem (Everybody Knows), Zendaya (Spider-Man: No Way Home) and more, Dune tells of birthrights, prophesied messiahs, secret sisterhood sects that underpin the galaxy and phallic-looking giant sandworms, and of the primal lust for power that's as old as time — and, in Herbert's story, echoes well into the future's future. Its unpacking of dominance and command piles on colonial oppression, authoritarianism, greed, ecological calamity and religious fervour, like it is building a sandcastle out of power's nastiest ramifications. And, amid that weightiness — plus those spectacularly shot visuals and Hans Zimmer's throbbing score — it's also a tale of a moody teen with mind-control abilities struggling with what's expected versus what's right.
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
Bringing Shakespeare to the big screen is no longer just about doing the material justice, or even about letting a new batch of the medium's standout talents bring their best to the Bard's immortal words. For anyone and everyone attempting the feat (a list that just keeps growing), it's also about gifting the playwright's material with the finest touches that cinema allows. It's never enough to simply film Macbeth like a theatre production, for instance, even if all that dialogue first penned four centuries ago still ripples with power — while riffing about power — without any extra adornments. No Shakespeare adaptation really needs to explain or legitimise its existence more than any other feature, but the great ones bubble not only with toil and trouble, but with all the reasons why this tale needed to be captured on camera and projected large anew.
Joel Coen knows all of the above. Indeed, his take on the Scottish play — which he's called The Tragedy of Macbeth, taking Shakespeare's full original title — justifies its existence as a movie in every single frame. His is a film of exacting intimacy, with every shot peering far closer at its main figures than anyone could ever see on a stage, and conveying more insight into their emotions, machinations and motivations in the process. And, he makes a phenomenal solo debut with this up-close approach. His choice of cast, with Denzel Washington (The Little Things) as powerful as he's ever been on-screen and Frances McDormand (The French Dispatch) showing why she has three Best Actress Oscars, also helps considerably. The former plays Macbeth, the latter Lady Macbeth, and both find new reserves and depths in the pair's fateful lust for glory.
It isn't the first movie about the Tham Luang Nang Non cave incident to reach screens, thanks to the underwhelming The Cave. It won't be the last project to focus on the 12 Thai schoolboys and their soccer coach who were trapped in the Chiang Rai Province spot for 18 days back in 2018, either. Ron Howard (Hillbilly Elegy)-directed dramatisation Thirteen Lives hits cinemas next year, a Netflix limited series executive produced by In the Heights filmmaker John M Chu is also set to debut in 2022 and, to the surprise of no one, more are bound to follow. Still, The Rescue earns another worthy honour. The documentary isn't just an inspirational recounting of a miraculous effort that thwarted a potential tragedy, as told by the brave people who pulled off the feat, although it's certainly that. In addition, this gripping film falls into a genre that always needs more entries: celebrations of skilled people doing difficult things with precision, passion, persistence and prowess.
If documentarians Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin have a niche, it's this. As co-directors, the married couple has now made three films, all valuing hard work, expertise and when the former leads not only to the latter, but to extraordinary achievements. With 2015 Sundance award-winner Meru, they documented Chin's efforts with two other climbers to scale Meru Peak in the Indian Himalayas. Then came Oscar-winner Free Solo, the exceptional doco about Alex Honnold's quest to free-climb Yosemite National Park's El Capitan. The Rescue swaps clambering up for diving deep, and hones in on an event that captured international headlines as it happened, but still belongs in the same company as the duo's past two releases. Here, viewers start the film with an understanding of what happened thanks to all that non-stop news coverage, but finish it in profound awe of the talent, smarts, dedication and unflinching competence involved.
The latest film from Australian Insidious and The Conjuring director James Wan, Malignant takes plenty of time in its first half — and, when that's the case, the audience feels every drawn-out second. But after Wan shifts from slow setup mode to embracing quite the outrageous and entertainingly handled twist, his movie swiftly becomes a devilish delight. Heavily indebted to the 70s-era works of giallo master Dario Argento, David Cronenberg's body-horror greats and 80s scary movies in general, Malignant uses its influences as fuel for big-swinging, batshit-level outlandishness. Most flicks can't segue from a slog to a B-movie gem. Most films can't be saved by going so berserk, either. Wan's tenth stint behind the lens can and does, and leaves a limb-thrashing, blood-splattering, gleefully chaotic imprint.
Perhaps it's a case of like name, like approach; tumours can grow gradually, then make their havoc felt. Regardless, it doesn't take long within Malignant for Dr Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears) to proclaim that "it's time to cut out the cancer" while treating a locked-up patient in the film's 1992-set prologue. This is a horror movie, so that whole event doesn't turn out well, naturally. Jump forward a few decades, and the feature's focus is now Seattle resident Madison Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis, Boss Level), who is hoping to carry her latest pregnancy with her abusive husband to term. But then his violent temper erupts again, she receives a head injury, and childhood memories start mixing with visions of gruesome killings linked to Dr Weaver's eerie hospital — visions that Madison sees as the murders occur.
Five years after Lin-Manuel Miranda and Disney first teamed up on an animated musical with the catchiest of tunes, aka Moana, they're back at it again with Encanto. To viewers eager for another colourful, thoughtful and engaging film — and another that embraces a particular culture with the heartiest of hugs, and is all the better for it — what can the past decade's most influential composer and biggest entertainment behemoth say except you're welcome? Both the Hamilton mastermind and the Mouse House do what they do best here. The songs are infectious, as well as diverse in style; the storyline follows a spirited heroine challenging the status quo; and the imagery sparkles. Miranda and Disney are both in comfortable territory, in fact — formulaic, sometimes — but Encanto never feels like they're monotonously beating the same old drum.
Instruments are struck, shaken and otherwise played in the film's soundtrack, of course, which resounds with energetic earworms; the salsa beats of 'We Don't Talk About Bruno' are especially irresistible, and the Miranda-penned hip hop wordplay that peppers the movie's tunes is impossible to mentally let go. Spanning pop, ballads and more, all those songs help tell the tale of the Madrigals, a close-knit Colombian family who've turned generational trauma into magic. This is still an all-ages-friendly Disney flick, so there are limits to how dark it's willing to get; however, that Encanto fills its frames with a joyous celebration of Latin America and simultaneously recognises its setting's history of conflict is hugely significant. It also marks Walt Disney Animation Studios' 60th feature — dating back to 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — but its cultural specificity (depictions of Indigenous, Afro Latino and Colombian characters of other ethnicities included) is its bigger achievement.
THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK
So much about The Many Saints of Newark is a matter of when, not if: when familiar characters will show up looking younger, when well-known New Jersey locations will be sighted and when someone will eat ziti. This all occurs because it must; it wouldn't be a prequel to The Sopranos otherwise. Servicing fans is a key reason the movie exists, and it's far more resonant if you've already spent 86 episodes with Tony Soprano and his mafia and blood families while watching one of the best TV shows ever made. This is a film with a potent air of inevitability, clearly. Thankfully, that feeling reaches beyond all the obligatory nods and winks. That some things are unavoidable — that giving people what they want doesn't always turn out as planned, and that constantly seeking more will never fix all of life's woes, too — pulsates through this origin story like a thumping bass line. And yes, on that topic, Alabama 3's 'Woke Up This Morning' obviously gets a spin.
The first detail that Sopranos fans should've picked up when this flick first got a title: in Italian, many saints translates as moltisanti. While The Many Saints of Newark spends time with young Tony as a pre-teen in the late 60s (played by feature first-timer William Ludwig) and a teen in the early 70s (when The Deuce's Michael Gandolfini, son of the late, great James Gandolfini, steps into the character's shoes), its protagonist is Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola, The Art of Self-Defense). He's seen as an uncle and mentor by Tony, who'll eventually hold the same roles for Dickie's son. The Sopranos mainstay Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli, One Night in Miami) turns narrator here, in fact, offering knowing voiceover that occasionally channels the show's dark humour — calling out Christopher's death at Tony's hands, for instance.
VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE
What's more ludicrous in Venom: Let There Be Carnage: an alien invasion of one man's body that turns into a parasite-host odd-couple show, or a prologue that thinks Woody Harrelson could've been a 90s teen? Kudos to this sequel to 2018's Venom for starting how it means to go on, at least. With its opening, set in 1996 in a home for unwanted children, the film doubles down on silliness, overblown theatrics and packaging itself as a cartoonish lark. The goofiness of the original box-office hit was among its best traits, and worked because that ridiculousness rattled against the movie's gritty superhero setup. Venom adopted all the stylistic markers that've become the serious-minded caped-crusader formula, then let Tom Hardy bounce around like he was in a comedy. But this time, everyone's gone more than a little vaudeville, as has the movie — and the outcome is right there in the title.
Carnage isn't just an apt term to describe the film, which has actor-turned-director Andy Serkis (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) behind the lens; it's also the name of its second symbiote, aka a flesh-munching extra-terrestrial who inhabits a bag of bones, then brings out its basest urges. Mercifully, Let There Be Carnage isn't big on rehashing the mechanics established in the initial flick, but Venom fits the bill, too, after the creature took up residence inside San Francisco journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy, Capone), then unleashed the franchise's one-body, two-personality double act. Carnage, the red-hued parasite, is the spawn of Venom, albeit bursting forth from condemned serial killer Cletus Kasady (Harrelson, Zombieland: Double Tap) after a scuffle with Brock. And yes, this is the kind of feature that has the scenery-chewing Harrelson proclaim its subtitle with glee. He bellows "let there be carnage!" with winking jokiness, but resembles a ringmaster announcing the next act in a big top.
They can't all be treats. That's true each time October 31 hits, sending children scurrying around the streets in search of sweets, and it's true of the film franchise that owns the spookiest time of year. Since debuting 43 years ago, the Halloween series has delivered both gems and garbage — and off-kilter delights such as Halloween III: Season of the Witch — but its latest and 12th entry carves a space firmly in the middle. Halloween Kills ticks plenty of boxes that a memorable Halloween movie should, and is also a horror sequel on autopilot. Somehow, it's also a Halloween movie lacking purpose and shape. It has The Shape, of course, as Michael Myers is also known. But it's more an exercise in spending extra time in Haddonfield, in its boogeyman's presence and in world inhabited by franchise heroine Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, Knives Out) than a compelling slasher flick on its own.
After giving the Halloween realm its second-best chapter in 2018, it's easy to see why returning writer/director David Gordon Green (Stronger) and his frequent collaborator Danny McBride (The Righteous Gemstones) have taken this approach. When you've just made a classic follow-up to a stone-cold classic — again, only John Carpenter's iconic franchise-starter is better — you keep on keeping on. That's not quite how Halloween Kills turns out, though. It picks up immediately where its predecessor left off, lets Michael stab his way through small-town Illinois again, and brings back Laurie's daughter Karen (Judy Greer, Where'd You Go, Bernadette) and teenage granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak, Son) from the last spin. It also pads things out with a vengeance storyline that endeavours to get political, yet proves about as piercing as a butter knife.
When daylight nightmares infiltrate the horror genre and expose humanity's fears to the sun — in 2019's Midsommar, for instance — viewers tend to take notice. That isn't the case with Antlers, a film that's as gloomy in appearance and mood as an unsettling movie can be, whether it's finding darkness in mining shafts, neglected homes or the memories that haunt teacher Julia Meadows (Keri Russell, The Americans) upon returning to her home town after fleeing as a teen decades earlier. This is a grim and bleak feature in every way it can be, in fact, but it also throws sunlight upon troubles that too often go unmentioned. Writer/director Scott Cooper (Black Mass) uses Antlers' brooding hues and tones to lurk in the realm of myth, to confront domestic abuse, and to muse on the persecution of and violence against America's First Peoples and their land — and, as grey as this creature feature always proves, it wields its colour palette like a spotlight.
Antlers can be blunt and blatant, traits that don't bode well for a film about a ravenous beast out of Indigenous American folklore that's biting back at its oppressors. It can be delicate and savvy as well, though, especially when it explores how Julia and her student Lucas Weaver (feature debutant Jeremy T Thomas) both grapple with childhoods no one could ever dream of. Julia has only come back to live with her brother Paul (Jesse Plemons, Jungle Cruise), who is now the town's sheriff, after their father's death. She still sees her younger self cowering in fear wherever she looks, and she can't help but gaze with yearning at bottles of liquor in the local store. Lucas, a slip of a boy, is nervy, jittery and defensive. He looks at the ice cream parlour with the same desire, wanting to lose himself in something fleeting but soothing — a sugar rush, in his case.
Clint Eastwood has already had his animal phase, thanks to 1978's Every Which Way but Loose and 1980's Any Which Way You Can. At the age of 91, he's already had almost every phase in his career he's going to both in front of and behind the lens. Still, with Cry Macho, he takes the road already well-travelled by seemingly every other on-screen action star and tough guy. Eastwood has been far more than that across his filmography, but he's now buddying up with a child as everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vin Diesel to Dwayne Johnson and Liam Neeson have before him. Indeed, Cry Macho overtly resembles one of the latter's most recent movies, The Marksman, which only hit cinemas earlier in 2021. It stemmed from a former Eastwood collaborator, in fact, and felt like it should've starred him — which leaves his latest following in its footsteps.
A rodeo star whose life changed via injury (his own) and tragedy (losing his wife and son), Mike Milo (Eastwood) is content enough with his quiet twilight years. Alas, his old boss Howard (country singer Dwight Yoakam) now says that the cowboy owes him a favour. The rancher's teenage son Rafo (Eduardo Minett, La rosa de Guadalupe) apparently needs rescuing from his mother (Fernanda Urrejola, Party of Five), and Mike is the man reluctantly tasked with travelling to Mexico City to carry out the job. Unsurprisingly, the situation isn't as clearcut as Howard contends, with corrupt Federales, car thieves and other unhappy strangers on their path all muddying the road home even further. But a forced stopover in a small town, where cantina owner Marta (Natalia Traven, Soulmates) becomes the new female influence in their lives, helps forge a rapport.
Looking for more at-home viewing options? Take a look at our monthly streaming recommendations across new straight-to-digital films and TV shows.