While February can be a tough month for premieres, given that all eyes are on the films vying for Oscars in March, there are still plenty of new titles brave enough to compete for attention on streaming platforms and in theaters. This year, that set includes a slate of theatrical releases that cover the spectrum from art films to commercial crowd-pleasers. In the world of small screen productions, a new spinoff series and a cult revival are among this month’s most noteworthy offerings.
So, whether you’re taking a break from devising Academy Awards predictions, celebrating some iteration of Valentine’s Day, or just looking for a way to pass the slowly shortening nights, there are plenty of new offerings to catch in the cinema or on the sofa this month.
The creators of the Netflix teen series “On My Block” return with a spinoff about four friends coming of age in a South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. Building on the formula of the original series, “Freeridge” follows the friends as they navigate the normal, and sometimes paranormal, hurdles of young adulthood. In season one, that means — on top of breakups, makeups and potentially disastrous hookups — the group finds itself contending with the cursed keepsake of a neighbor who keeps popping up to claim it, despite apparently being dead.
“Freeridge” season one premieres on Netflix Feb. 2.
'80 for Brady'
With roots in a sweet, real-life story of friendship and an ensemble cast headlined by screen legends Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field, “80 for Brady” is a shoo-in for Galentine’s Day itineraries this year. In the film, which also stars queer icons Billy Porter and Sarah Gilbert, four best friends who share a love of the New England Patriots make a pilgrimage to Houston for the 2017 Super Bowl. Once there, they face the small issue of getting tickets to the biggest game in sports and, of course, hijinks ensue. Based on the trailer, which features the four leads doing game day-style introductions in Patriots jerseys, the film will deliver an over-the-top dose of camp.
“80 for Brady” opens in U.S. theaters Feb. 3.
Season one of Tracy Oliver’s “Harlem” offered up plenty of humor, early adulthood trauma and sweet scenes of friendship. But in the sophomore season, the show and the women of New York’s historical neighborhood really come into their own thanks to a fresh set of personal, professional and romantic developments that put the four best friends to the test. Anthropology professor Camille (Meagan Good) is under pressure to take advantage of second chances with her first love (Tyler Lepley) and the new boss she’s previously failed to impress (Whoopi Goldberg). Tye (Jerrie Johnson), the founder of a successful queer dating app, is once again facing the fallout of her questionable romantic choices. And inseparable duo Quinn (Grace Byers) and Angie (Shoniqua Shandai) are dealing with a new phase in their friendship, as the put-together fashion designer (Byers) struggles with no longer being more successful or self-assured than her singer friend (Shandai).
“Harlem” season two premieres on Amazon Prime Video Feb. 3.
'Knock at the Cabin'
Fresh off starring in the holiday tearjerker “Spoiler Alert,” actor Kit Cowan plays opposite Jonathan Groff (“Mindhunter”) in M. Night Shyamalan’s latest twisty thriller, “Knock at the Cabin.” In the film, adapted from the 2018 novel “The Cabin at the End of the World,” Andrew (Cowan), Eric (Groff) and their young daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), are held hostage by members of an apocalyptic cult, who interrupt the family’s vacation in the woods with a daunting request. The group, armed with sharp-edged farm equipment and led by the imposing Leonard (Dave Bautista), demands that the small family choose one of their members to sacrifice in order to halt the end of the world — not exactly a father-daughter bonding experience.
“Knock at the Cabin” opens in U.S. theaters Feb. 3.
Director Gabriel Bier Gislason puts a sapphic, folkloric twist on possession in her feature debut, “Attachment.” The horror film stars Josephine Park (“Baby Fever”) as Maja, a Danish actress whose life has lost meaning amid her career fizzling out and the loss of her mother. But the former child star finds new purpose when she falls for Leah (Ellie Kendrick of “Game of Thrones”), an academic from London who is forced to return home to her overbearing mother (Sofie Gråbøl) after injuring her leg in a bizarre, body-horror-inflected accident. Although Maja is dead set on assimilating to life in Ellie’s Hasidic neighborhood when she accompanies her new girlfriend back home, she’ll have to contend with much more than culture shock and a standoffish, religious mother to make her new relationship work.
“Attachment” premieres on Shudder Feb. 9.
Moroccan filmmaker Maryam Touzani’s sophomore feature, “Blue Caftan,” centers on an unconventional love story among a Moroccan dressmaker; his wife, who is dying of cancer; and a handsome, young apprentice who enters their lives at a crucial moment. The young man, Youssef, joins Halim and Mina at their struggling caftan shop and reawakens something in the closeted tailor, who as a result finds new appreciation for the woman who has stood by his side for decades. The film, which has been praised as an intelligent, unexpected defense of marriage, premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and was Morocco’s official selection for the 2023 Oscars. While it didn’t earn an Academy Award nomination after being shortlisted in January, its popularity among critics has been a boon for the emerging filmmaker.
“Blue Caftan” opens in U.S. theaters Feb. 10.
Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra’s new offering, “Pacifiction,” pairs political intrigue with sweaty, tropical nights in a colonial thriller set in contemporary French Polynesia. In addition to Benoît Magimel, who stars as a French politician acting as a liaison between power players in Paris and the islands, the film features a scene-stealing performance by Pahoa Mahagafanau, who identifies as the Polynesian third gender (RaeRae or Mahu), as a local dancer who becomes embroiled in the foreigner’s dealings after having caught his eye.
“Pacifiction” opens in U.S. theaters Feb. 17.
'Of An Age'
Australian writer and director Goran Stolevski’s second feature, “Of An Age,” is a measured, touching ode to formative relationships. The film, which is divided into two chapters set in 1999 and 2010, begins with one fateful day when Kol meets the brother of his high school best friend and ballroom dance partner, Ebony. Overnight, the attentions of the older and openly gay Adam awaken Kol to the possibilities of life outside suburban Melbourne and away from his conservative Serbian family. And when the three meet a decade later at Ebony’s wedding, the effects of that day, and the feelings it ignited, remain as strong as ever.
“Of An Age” opens in U.S. theaters Feb. 17.
After more than a decade, the beloved cult comedy series “Party Down” returns to air for its third season, boasting a lineup of original cast members that includes Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch and Megan Mullally. In the new season, a party to celebrate one of the old gang’s few success stories, Kyle (Ryan Hansen), brings the band of weathered L.A. actors back together, 10 years after they first met moonlighting as cater-waiters. Predictably, the evening ends in disaster, leading some of the group to re-don the catering company’s signature pink bow ties — a responsibility taken very seriously by some, including Lynch’s iconic, unhinged Constance. Joining the veteran cast members for a new round of poorly managed parties, existential crises and slapstick antics are Jennifer Garner and Zoë Chao. And true to the original series, which was always a popular destination for guest appearances, the new season will feature drop-in performances from the likes of Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”), Liv Hewson (“Yellowjackets”) and Judy Reyes (“Claws”), among others.
“Party Down” season three premieres on STARZ Feb. 24.
In case you missed it …
“Close,” the sophomore feature from Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont, centers on two inseparable 13-year-old boys who find their bond tested with the start of a new school year. When the film opens, the best friends, Leo and Remi, live an idyllic existence, spending afternoons biking between each other’s homes and nights whispering under the covers. But those halcyon summer days soon come to an end when the new term begins and a group of unfamiliar classmates begin to question their closeness. At next month’s Academy Awards ceremony, the film, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, will face heavy competition in the best international feature category, in hopes of earning Dhont his first Oscar.
“Close” is playing in U.S. theaters.
'The Last of Us'
Episode three of HBO’s video game-based series, “The Last of Us,” nearly broke the internet when it aired on Jan. 29 and introduced partners Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) to unsuspecting audiences everywhere. The episode charts the couple’s 20-year romance, during which they carve out a sense of normalcy even as the world is ending at the hands of a mass fungal infection that turns humans into zombies.
“The Last of Us” is playing on HBO Max.