Late winter and early spring are typically a dead zone for quality movies, but January gave us Brandon Cronenberg’s visceral arthouse sci-fi “Infinity Pool” and a sleeper hit in “M3GAN.” Between two high-profile thrillers, a major release from Marvel, and a buzzy indie from Australia, February looks even stronger.
The month kicks off (no pun intended) with “80 For Brady” and “Knock at the Cabin,” both of which are predicted by box-office analysts to sit atop the first weekend of the year that isn’t owned by “Avatar: The Way of Water.” When “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” drops on the 17th, 2023 will also have its first bonafide blockbuster. As for Valentine’s Day options, February is offering up a Netflix romcom with a great celebrity pairing, the third entry in the “Magic Mike” series, and an LGBTQ+ drama from the director of one of 2022’s best filmmaking debuts.
And at the very end of the month, moviegoers will finally get to see “Cocaine Bear,” an early contender for the year’s most memed movie. Scroll through our selection of 10 new titles should be added to your February watchlist, and stay tuned for March picks!
“Knock at the Cabin” (February 3)
A family vacationing in the woods (Ben Aldridge, Kristen Cui, and Jonathan Groff) is taken hostage by a group of mysterious strangers claiming to be on an apocalypse-averting mission (Nikki Amuka-Bird, Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, and Abby Quinn) in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin” (based on the 2019 Bram Stoker Award winning novel by Paul Tremblay, “The Cabin at the End of the World”). Reviews thus far have been mostly been positive, with many critics calling “Knock at the Cabin” the oft-criticized filmmaker’s “return to form.” However, that’ll register as faint praise to anyone who feels Shyamalan, between “Split” and the Apple TV+ series “Servant,” has been on his A-game for the better part of the past decade. 2000’s “Unbreakable” remains a uniquely thought-provoking superhero yarn and an excellent reason to keep betting on the singular director’s brand of grown-up fairytales.
“80 for Brady” (February 3)
“80 For Brady,” starring Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Lily Tomlin, is arriving in theaters one week before Super Bowl LVII and just days after Tom Brady announced (for the second time) that he’s retiring from the NFL. Furthermore, the adult-oriented comedy about four seniors who cash out their IRAs to see Brady’s 2017 Super Bowl appearance in Houston was financed for only $28 million and is rich with crossover appeal. With its venerated cast, strategic timing, and small price tag, is there any scenario in which “80 For Brady” doesn’t turn Paramount a massive profit?
“Magic Mike’s Last Dance” (February 10)
Channing Tatum heads to London and reunites with Steven Soderbergh for his third outing as Mike Lane in “Magic Mike’s Last Dance.” A new romance with a wealthy patron (Salma Hayek Pinault) takes Mike across the Atlantic for an exciting business venture. The film’s biggest draw, other than the introduction of Hayek Pinault’s character, is the return of the first entry’s director. Soderbergh is one of our most prolific and versatile filmmakers, and any chance to see his work on the big screen is cause for celebration.
“Your Place or Mine” (February 10)
Continuing the celebrity romcom revival that gained traction this past fall with “Ticket to Paradise” (George Clooney and Julia Roberts), “Your Place or Mine” pairs Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon for a Netflix original that mixes the best-friends-falling-in-love template with the premise of “The Holiday.” Peter (Kutcher) and Debbie (Witherspoon) live on opposite sides of the country but, despite always keeping their relationship platonic, remain incredibly close. Upon swapping zip codes for a week, however, they discover the chance for love that’s been in front of them all along. “Your Place or Mine” sounds like a quality Valentine’s Day treat.
“Marlowe” (February 15)
“Marlowe,” based on the iconic Raymond Chandler detective and penned by Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monohan (“The Departed”), is, like “80 For Brady,” a release aimed at older audiences that might appeal to members of other demographics, mainly because of action star Liam Neeson. This iteration of the character, rather than being based on one of Chandler’s stories, is adapted from an authorized 2014 novel by John Banville called “The Black-Eyed Blonde.” The LA neo-noir will follow Neeson’s Phillip Marlowe—played previously on screen by Humphrey Bogart, James Garner, Elliot Gould and Robert Mitchum, among others—as he becomes entangled in a love triangle while investigating a disappearance. “Marlowe” also stars Jessica Lange and Diane Kruger.
“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” (February 15)
In this wild reimagining of the classic A.A. Milne stories, Christopher Robin returns to Hundred Acre Wood from college and discovers that his anthropomorphic childhood pals are now bloodthirsty killers. That’s one hell of an elevator pitch. Along with another movie later in the month, “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” looks like a destined camp classic.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (February 17)
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) become trapped inside the quantum realm and face off against Kang the Conquerer (Jonathan Majors). The latest MCU villain’s arc will will reportedly have major implications across Phase 5, of which this “Ant-Man” sequel is the first entry. It’ll be followed by “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (May 5) and “The Marvels” (Jul. 28). This movie’s draw for viewers outside MCU fandom is undoubtedly Majors, who can also be seen in “Creed III” next month.
“Of an Age” (February 17)
2022 Australian Best International Feature submission “You Won’t Be Alone” is strikingly dissimilar from folk horror’s other recent examples (“The Witch,” “Lamb”), and with Goran Stolevski’s second movie, “Of an Age,” on the horizon, it’s easy to see why. As many of us probably guessed, given his debut’s use of horror archetypes to explore existential loneliness rather than engineer scares, Stolevski is not a genre filmmaker. “Of an Age,” which follows two young men as they fall in love across one fateful day in Melbourne during the late ‘90s, couldn’t be any more different in setting from that film’s 18th-century Macedonian countryside.
“Sharper” (February 17)
Apple’s “Sharper” is a Manhattan-set drama about billionaires and con artists in which nothing is the way it initially appears. The film’s cast includes John Lithgow, Briana Middleton, Julianne Moore, Justice Smith and Sebastian Stan. “Sharper” director Benjamin Caron has described the film as a descendant of “The Usual Suspects,” “The Thomas Crown Affair,” and “The Sting,” saying, “It is inspired by a long line of great films that love to keep audiences guessing up until the end.”
“Cocaine Bear” (February 24)
A bear ingests an abandoned shipment of cocaine and goes on a murderous rampage in Elizabeth Banks’ “Cocaine Bear.” Universal can pause its marketing campaign immediately and still expect to turn a profit; some movies just sell themselves. The question is whether “Cocaine Bear” is only a raucous gorefest—which genre fans and casual moviegoers alike will gladly accept—or an R-rated comedy classic in the making. We could also have an early contender for next year’s VFX Oscar on our hands. After all, “The Revenant” got a nom for much less of the CGI bear action that this movie promises by the kilo. The movie’s stacked cast includes Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Ray Liotta and Margo Martindale.