Our living rooms have become our movie theaters. Our desks have become our movie theaters. Our beds have become our movie theaters. Our kitchens have become our movie theaters. You get the idea. New movies are only a click away. And while we all miss the experience of seeing movies on the big screen, there are some benefits. You don’t have to sneak in snacks and you can hit pause when you have to go to the bathroom. So many movies are premiering in our home—often on platforms we are already paying for. How do you sift through the monthly deluge of new content to figure out what you want to watch? We are here to help.
Each month, we go through all the premieres to come up with five movies—either available on digital platforms, streaming, regular linear programming or otherwise watchable on your TV—that might otherwise slip under your radar. Here are the five new TV movies you can’t miss this month.
Director: Nick Bilton
Premiere Date: February 2 at 9 p.m. on HBO Max
Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. TikTok. Whatever is coming next. Social media is everywhere and it’s making more people famous—or rather “famous”—than ever before. We crave likes, followers and retweets. But what does it mean to be a social media influencer? Tech journalist Nick Bilton wondered the same thing so he conducted an experiment. After an open casting call in L.A., he set out to turn aspiring actress Dominique, fashion designer Chris and real estate assistant Wylie into internet stars. Soon the trio had thousands of fake followers and were being approached with lucrative endorsement deals. Joining Bilton on his journey are New York Times technology reporter Taylor Lorenz, Liz Eswein of @newyorkcity, Bloomberg technology reporter Sarah Frier and Justine Bateman (who many remember from Family Ties), author of Fame: The Hijacking of Reality. Together they try to unpack just what it means to be famous in 2021.
Director: Samantha Stark.
Premiere Date: February 5 at 10 p.m. on FX and FX on Hulu
When she was just 16 years old, Britney Spears burst onto the pop-culture landscape with “. . . Baby One More Time.” In the ensuing decade, we obsessed over the minutiae of her life (her quick marriages and even quicker divorces, her hair or lack thereof, her reality show). The latest installment of the documentary film series under The New York Times Presents umbrella follows fans of Britney Spears as they fight to get the global superstar from under the conservatorship of her father. Under a conservatorship since 2008 (following her very public breakdowns), Spears has had no access to the vast fortune she has earned. She was 26 then; she’s 39 now—and her devoted fans are trying to figure out what exactly their beloved popstar wants for her life. The film interviews a family friend who accompanied Spears early in her career, a lawyer working on her conservatorship and one of the marketing executives who created her early image. Who is really looking out for one of music’s biggest superstars?
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Stars: People from all over the world
Premiere Date: February 6 on YouTube
Life is extraordinary and beautiful. Every day brings new births, new losses, new challenges, new celebrations, new sadness and new joy. Executive producer Ridley Scott and director Kevin Macdonald asked people to submit footage from one day in 2020, a historic year that will be remembered long after we all are gone. They received 300,000 submissions from 192 different countries in 65 languages—all from July 25, 2020. The film, which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on February 1, will feature stories about the race to discover a vaccine for COVID-19, the Black Live Matters protest, Syrian refugees and one woman’s very personal fertility journey.
Director: Ian Samuels
Stars:Kathryn Newton, Kyle Allen, Jermaine Harris, Anna Mikami, Josh Hamilton, Cleo Fraser
Premiere Date: February 12 on Amazon Prime
From Groundhog Day to Russian Doll to last year’s Palm Springs, the idea of characters living the same day over and over is terrific fodder for both comedy and drama. Amazon Prime’s new movie gives this narrative device to the adolescent set. Mark (Kyle Allen) is happy living the same day on repeat until he meets Margaret (Kathryn Newton) who is also experiencing the same phenomenon. Can they escape their endless day? Do they even want to?
Director: Lena Khan
Stars: Matilda Lawler, Alyson Hannigan, Ben Schwartz, Anna Deavere Smith, Danny Pudi, Benjamin Evans Ainsworth, Janeane Garofolo, Kate McCucci
Premiere Date: February 19 on Disney+
I say from experience that Disney+ has been a lifesaver during these pandemic times. Practically every night is movie night. But at this point we have been to the end of Disney+ and back. Or at least it sure feels like that. So every new children’s movie is something to celebrate. Honestly, there should be a Hallmark card for it at this point. Based on the popular 2014 Newbery Award-winning book Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, the movie follows 10-year-old Flora (Matilda Lawler) who rescues a superpowered squirrel (just go with it). Alyson Hannigan and Ben Schwartz co-star as Flora’s divorced parents who don’t quite understand what’s going on. Can you blame them?
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and the Assistant TV Editor for Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).
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