We've all been there: staring at the screen as we try to decide among hundreds of movie titles on what to watch on Netflix, Prime Video, Paramount Plus, Peacock, Max.com or any of the other popular streaming services. It can be daunting, which is why it's always nice to have a little help from someone else. So allow me to humbly offer my services in suggesting movies to stream in January.
While there are plenty of new movies to watch in movie theaters this month, December's slate of streaming offerings includes both new and classic movies for viewers to enjoy.
Here are my personal recommendations for movies launching on streaming services this month that you should watch, in alphabetical order for ease of reference:
1 & 2. 21/22 Jump Street (Hulu)
Let's start off with a two-for-one, because how can we list 21 Jump Street and not include 22 Jump Street as well? The combination of Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum turned the campy 80s TV show into a comedy movie classic, with brilliant meta jokes about TV reboots and sequels, but honestly, also just good solid stories about two friends/co-workers. If I had to pick between the two, I'm watching 22 Jump Street, but you can't really go wrong and with them both being on Hulu it is just screaming for a double feature.
3. Cinema Paradiso (Paramount Plus)
If you ever need convincing of the magic of the movies, watch Cinema Paradiso. The brilliant Italian movie depicts the relationship between a young boy and the local man who runs the movie projector for his small village. It is a coming of age story full of friendship, love, an incredible score by Ennio Morricone and what movies can mean to people. An absolutely beautiful movie and a personal favorite of mine.
4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Max)
Clint Eastwood's three most iconic Spaghetti westerns arrive on Max in January and while I love A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has to be the pick amongst them. It doesn't matter that the movie was directed by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone or shot in Italy, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is one of the greatest westerns of all time, full stop. It has an incredible score by Ennio Morricone (sensing a theme this month?), the enormous scope and one of the most iconic sequences in movie history with the climactic standoff. It's a must for any lover of the western.
5. The Ides of March (Max)
With a cast that includes Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seyour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and Jennifer Ehle, it's incredible that The Ides of March has been almost completely forgotten. But that just makes it an underrated gem to rediscover on streaming this month. This political thriller, which Clooney directed and co-wrote with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon (the creator of the US's House of Cards), is a gripping movie that we don't get to often anymore. Also, with 2024 looking to be a hectic election year, the timing is apt.
6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Netflix)
There are only three movies that have won the "big five" (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay, original or adapted) at the Oscars. One of them is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which is fully deserved. One Flew is one of the defining movies of the 1970s, a powerful drama about R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers), a criminal who gets himself transferred from prison to a mental institute thinking it'll be an easier sentence only to be confronted by the institute's strict, imposing head nurse, Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher).
7. Only Lovers Left Alive (Paramount Plus)
Admittedly, I am not the biggest Jim Jarmusch fan, but I absolutely love Only Lovers Left Alive. The director's take on the vampire movie, Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton and Mia Wasikowska all play these creatures of the night that after centuries are now roaming the Detroit music scene. There's no better way to put it than that this movie just has an air of cool about it, all while checking off all the basic vampire movie requirements you could want.
8. Self Reliance (Hulu)
One of the first new movies of 2024, Self Reliance is getting a special screening in select movie theaters on January 3 before making its way to Hulu in the US. This high-concept comedy sees Jake Johnson directing a movie for the first time, while he also stars as a man who enters into a game where assassins try to kill him, but only if he is alone. Also in the movie are Anna Kendrick, Andy Samberg and more. Hopefully a good laugh to start the year off.
9. Society of the Snow (Netflix)
There are plenty of Netflix original movies coming to the streamer this month, including the new Kevin Hart action-comedy Lift and Daniel Kaluuya making his (co) directing debut in the sci-fi actioner The Kitchen. But the new title I'm most interested in this month is Society of the Snow. This is Spain's official Oscar entry for this year and hails from The Impossible director J.A. Bayona. He tackles another harrowing true story here, recounting the plane crash of a rugby team in the Andes and what it took for them to survive the harsh wintry conditions.
10. True Grit (Peacock)
The Coen brothers have gone solo, with Joel Coen previously directing The Tragedy of Macbeth without his usual co-director and Ethan Coen set to do the same with Drive-Away Dolls. But if you're missing the dynamic duo's movies, then you can stream one on Peacock this month with True Grit. The western sees Jeff Bridges take on the role of US Marshal Rooster Cogburn (for which he earned an Oscar nomination) as he helps the young Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld in her Oscar-nominated debut role) track down and kill her father's murderer. It’s a heck of a good time but with the level of craftsmanship and depth you'd expect from a Coen brothers' movie.
11. True Lies (Peacock)
James Cameron is best known for Titanic, Terminator, Aliens and the Avatar movies, but let us not forget the fun we have with one of his more under-the-radar movies, True Lies. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a spy who hides his profession from his wife, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, but when their marriage hits a rough patch she ends up getting tangled in his latest mission. CBS tried to duplicate the movie's success with its own True Lies TV show, but it didn't work out, as there is something special about the trio of Schwarzenegger, Curtis and Cameron that makes True Lies a hit.
12. X-Men (Disney Plus)
Superhero fatigue is real (or at least it is for me), but while I am mostly resigned to what's next from Marvel and DC, I will definitely try to find time to go back to a superhero franchise that helped launch Hollywood into its spandex era, 2000's X-Men. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine has become the biggest thing to come out of these movies (which will continue with Deadpool 3 in 2024), but the original X-Men is a great movie that features superb performances from Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen and has some deeper themes than later superhero movies. But at the end of the day, it's fun to watch.
13. You Hurt My Feelings (Paramount Plus)
We know that A24 movies are heading to Max at some point in the near future, but Paramount Plus subscribers are going to be the first ones to be able to stream You Hurt My Feelings, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy that earned rave reviews in 2023. Louis-Dreyfus plays an author who happens to overhear a conversation her husband is having with a friend where he admits he didn't actually like her latest book. The reveal of this little white lie becomes a snag in their relationship, with plenty of hilarity ensuing.