January often gets a bad rap for being a dumping ground for terrible movies that Hollywood just doesn’t know what to do with. And certainly, that’s been true for some years like 2003, which gave the world such gems as Kangaroo Jack and Biker Boyz. Yet January can also be ground zero for pop culture sensations like American Sniper, which became the highest-grossing movie in 2014, or M3GAN, which dominated Twitter and multiplexes last year.
While January 2024 doesn’t have a movie as big as those, it does have an interesting lineup of dramas, Oscar hopefuls, and genre pictures that could appeal to just about every demographic out there. The following is a brief list of the three movies you should check out next month.
Society of the Snow (January 4)
You may have heard about Society of the Snow‘s plot even if you haven’t heard of the movie itself. That’s because it’s based on a true story, and has already been adapted into a movie, Alive, all the way back in 1993. Unlike that film, which starred Ethan Hawke (The Black Phone) and a primarily Caucasian cast, Society of the Snow employs Uruguayan and Argentine actors to portray the real-life subjects of the 1972 Andes flight disaster, which is infamous for its spectacular airplane crash and the cannibalism that occurred among its stranded, starved survivors.
The movie is directed by J.A. Bayona, who showed he knows how to handle depicting a historical catastrophe with one of his previous films, The Impossible, which chronicled the 2004 Indian tsunami tragedy. Society of the Snow has already received a generous helping of praise from critics, and is Spain’s official entry for Best International Film at the 96th Academy Awards.
Society of the Snow will stream on Netflix on January 4.
Good Grief (January 5)
In the mood for a good, therapeutic ugly cry to ring in the new year? Then Dan Levy’s Good Grief should do the trick. The movie stars Levy (you might remember him as David from Schitt’s Creek) as Marc, an American expat in London who still hasn’t gotten over the death of his husband, Oliver (Luke Evans). To shake him out of his doldrums, Marc’s two best friends, Sophie (Ruth Negga) and Thomas (Himesh Patel), force Dan on an impromptu trip to Paris, where they hope Marc can come to terms with his grief and find a way to live with it.
While on paper the plot sounds a little too much like a Lifetime special, the movie’s trailer shows Levy, who also wrote and directed, avoiding most of the sentimental traps these kinds of films usually fall into and instead reveals a bittersweet sense of humor that’s disarming. Plus, it’s always good to see Negga onscreen again, and the scenic Paris locales are easy on the eyes.
Good Grief will stream on Netflix on January 5.
I.S.S. (January 19)
The first two entries on this list are a little heavy, so this recommendation promises to be a little bit more fun. I.S.S. is a sci-fi thriller with a killer logline: “Tensions flare on the International Space Station (or I.S.S.) as a worldwide conflict breaks out on Earth. Reeling from this event, the astronauts receive orders from the ground: take control of the station by any means necessary.” Cool, right?
Usually, a movie like this has a B-grade cast that either involves Eric Roberts or one of the Baldwin brothers not named Alec, but not this time. Heading the cast is Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, taking a break from singing and dancing. Supporting her are two of the most reliable character actors around: John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom, 10 Cloverfield Lane) and Chis Messina (Birds of Prey, The Boogeyman). The movie is helmed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who made the excellent documentary Blackfish a decade ago, so hopes are a bit high that this will turn out to be a surprisingly good genre picture and not a January movie reject like Biker Boyz.
I.S.S. will play in theaters starting on January 19.
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