Romance is in the air as February is upon us. From love stories like Eat Pray Love and Sing Street to Peter Jackson’s epic Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Netflix has a nice variety of rom-coms, horror films, classics, and more to keep you cozied up on the couch all month long.
True Spirit (Available February 3)
Based on a true story, Sarah Spillane’s True Spirit is about 16-year-old Jessica Watson (Teagan Croft), who attempts to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world. The film also stars Anna Paquin as Jessica’s either incredibly trusting or totally absent mom, Julie, which is important to note because, since when is Paquin old enough to be playing the mother of a teenager? The film looks exciting and engaging as we bear witness to young Watson facing countless dangers at sea while also confronting her own issues and fears along the way.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (Available February 1)
Peter Jackson’s outstanding adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings series of books makes the jump to Netflix, who must be hoping to cash in on Prime Video’s Rings Of Power series. In this first installment of the original trilogy, we meet Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) as he begins his journey to destroy the One Ring, an artifact created by the Dark Lord Sauron to enslave all of Middle-earth. Frodo’s fellow hobbits, Samwise (Sean Astin), Pippin (Billy Boyd), and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) can’t let him go it alone so he’s joined by a fellowship of other races, including elves, dwarves, and humans. If you haven’t revisited The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring in a minute (or, gasp, never saw it) a chilly February is a great time to do so.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (Available February 1)
The difficult road to Mordor continues in The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers as Frodo and company continue their journey to destroy the One Ring and save Middle-earth. At this point, the previously established fellowship has fragmented which helps the film break into separate storylines. One plot line follows hobbits Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) as they continue their journey to Mordor. A second one follows the other members of the fellowship, who are fighting to defeat the armies of Sauron in the battles for Rohan and Gondor. Adding to the excitement is the scene-stealing Gollum (Andy Serkis) who seems to be assisting Frodo and Sam but, alas, he has other things on his troubled mind. A solid middle entry in the saga, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers is when things get real for the hobbits and their friends.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (Available February 1)
Peter Jackson’s epic Lord Of The Rings trilogy comes to a close with The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. The final battle lines have been drawn and not everyone is safe. Rich with terrific battle sequences and packing a massive emotional punch, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King also cleaned house at the 2004 Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director (Peter Jackson), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) as well as Best Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup, Score, and a probably a few more—we lost count. All this after the previous two films were seemingly snubbed by the Academy despite their rave reviews and massive box office success.
Eat Pray Love (Available February 1)
Ryan Murphy, of all people, directed the 2010 crowd-pleaser Eat Pray Love based on the hugely popular memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert. Julia Roberts stars as Liz Gilbert, a successful but depressed New York journalist, as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery following a challenging divorce. Her first stop is Italy where the “eat” part of the title takes place. From there, it’s off to India where she finds spirituality and the “pray” part of the title. Do we see where this is headed? Yes, it’s in Bali where she meets-cute with the sexy Felipe (Javier Bardem) and maybe the “love” part begins anew? The cast is rounded out by James Franco, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, and Richard Jenkins. Did someone say Valentine’s date night?
Sing Street (Available February 1)
A great hidden gem, 2016's youthful romance Sing Street is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Set in mid-’80s Dublin, Ireland, the film centers around young Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), whose parents’ rocky marriage, coupled with economic pressures, means he’s being pulled from his private school and put into the conservative Christian Academy. Culture shock follows as Conor is greeted with consternation and bullying. Yet he also lays eyes on the lovely Raphina (Lucy Boynton), a hip young lady from a girls’ home across the street (from an all-boys school, nice move). In order to strike up a relationship, Conor tells her he’s in a band and they need a model for their music video. Did we mention he’s just learning to play the guitar? And he doesn’t have a band? Sing Street is a great movie which, in large part, has to do with the stellar cast including Jack Reynor as Conor’s layabout brother who is really the heart of the story. The soundtrack is also incredible and rife with catchy tunes you’ll be humming for days.
Julie & Julia (Available February 1)
The great Nora Ephron wrote and directed the 2009 comedy-drama Julie & Julia, a lovely film showing the parallel lives of OG celebrity chef Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who are linked by their passion for cooking. Julia Child’s story takes place in the 1940s, when she and her husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) move to France, where she discovers her love for French cuisine and decides to learn how to cook. The storyline involving Powell takes place in the early 2000s when she decides to add some excitement to her boring life by cooking every recipe in Child’s classic cookbook, Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. Through it all, we see how inspiring and transformative cooking can be, as both women learn a lot about themselves during their journey. Julie & Julia is a charming way to spend a couple of hours.
It (Available February 1)
Arguably the best adaptation of a Stephen King horror novel (which disqualifies The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile), It is a fun, creepy, and ultimately touching story of how young people manage trauma through togetherness. The film kicks off as young Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) makes his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) a paper boat to sail down a gutter on a rainy afternoon. Since no good deed goes unpunished, Georgie loses the boat down a storm drain where the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) has nabbed it. Soon he’s nabbed Georgie, too, and the subsequent pain drives Bill to try and get to the bottom of what happened. Thus a ragtag group who name themselves “The Losers Club” band together to help Bill, fight bullies, and hopefully defeat Pennywise. The movie is truly great thanks to terrific direction by Andy Muschietti and an excellent cast featuring Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Olef, Chosen Jacobs, and Jack Dylan Grazer.
Bill Russell: Legend (Available February 8)
With the NBA All-Star Game approaching, Netflix has wisely decided to drop the excellent-looking doc, Bill Russell: Legend. The last three decades have seen the popularity of the NBA explode, thus newer hoops fans may not know that Bill Russell was an all-time great. Playing center for the Boston Celtics from 1956-1969, Russell helped the Celts win 11 NBA championships. He also averaged more than 22 rebounds per game five different times and he holds the all-time record for rebounds in a game with 51, a feat that’s never likely to be topped. If that’s not enough, in 1966, Russell became the first black NBA coach when he was named player-coach of his Boston Celtics. Truly incredible. Bill Russell: Legend is helmed by the great Sam Pollard who directed docs such as Sammy David Jr.: I Gotta Be Me, Mr. Soul (2018), and MLK/FBI (2020). Bill Russell: Legend looks to be an insightful and inspiring film about a late, great basketball icon.
Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal (Available February 22)
Boy, does Netflix love them some true crime/murder documentaries! And February’s Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal looks like another creepy entry into their bread-and-butter genre. Here, we meet the Murdaughs, one of South Carolina’s most prominent families. When a boating accident kills teenager Mallory Beach, their days in the sun begin to unravel. Soon Paul Murdaugh, who was supposedly driving the boat, and his mother, Maggie, are murdered and the walls start closing in on their privileged and shady existence. The story is a massive one and honestly, it’s nice to see Rich White Men get their comeuppance, as it happens so rarely.
Bad Boys (Available February 1)
The year was 1995 and a young upstart by the name of Michael Bay finally landed a gig as a feature film director. While his output has been constantly maligned ever since, there’s not much bad to say about the buddy-cop action dramedy Bad Boys. It’s a solid and entertaining film. Miami detective Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and his partner Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are the prototypical opposites-attract kind of duo. While the “frenemies” trope is nothing new, Lawrence and Smith do it to the max and the results are pretty damn funny. In Bad Boys, the pair investigate the multimillion-dollar theft of a heroin shipment from a police impound. Scary criminals and corrupt cops are just a few of the obstacles they encounter before discovering the old adage, “teamwork makes the dream work.” Obviously, Michael Bay has become ubiquitous in film, and his flashy, jump-cut style tends to grate. But it would be disingenuous to say the man has no talent and Bad Boys is example number one.
Bad Boys 2 (Available February 1)
They’re baaaack! Miami detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and his partner Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), that is, for Bad Boys 2. This time around, Burnett and Lowrey are looking to find the source of a massive amount of ecstasy being shipped into Miami. While it’s kind of weird it took eight years for Bay and his BFF producing partner Jerry Bruckheimer to make a Bad Boys sequel, it was worth the wait as Smith and Lawrence still possess hilarious onscreen chemistry. It would take almost two decades for Smith and Lawrence to turn this into a trilogy with 2020's Bad Boys For Life but Michael Bay seemingly decided he was over it and let up-and-comers Adil & Bilall direct that one.
Enough (Available February 1)
It’s kind of hard to believe the Jennifer Lopez-starrer Enough was made twenty years ago. Where does the time go? It’s also a testament to the staying power of Jenny from the Block that she’s managed to keep a vibrant career going through several different phases. In Enough, J-Lo plays Slim, a married woman whose husband Mitch (Billy Campbell) is abusive. Finally feeling as though she’s had, you guessed it, “enough,” Slim learns self-defense and begins to put her shattered life back together. But Mitch won’t get the hint and he begins to harass her. As Slim realizes that she needs to take more drastic measures since the police won’t intervene, she goes on a journey that explores the themes of domestic violence, self-empowerment, and motherhood. Enough is a solid little thriller with a powerful message and, as always, Lopez commands the screen.
Spy Kids: All The Time In The World (Available February 1)
Pop quiz, hotshot: How many Spy Kids movies are there? The answer is four, with the latest being 2011's Spy Kids: All The Time In The World. While the films certainly didn’t set the world ablaze, they were pretty solid family adventures via DIY master Robert Rodriguez. Spy Kids: All The Time In The World centers around retired spy Marissa and her spy hunter-husband Wilbur (Joel McHale) which is interesting because who knew “spy hunter” was a legit job and, also, no one is named Wilbur anymore. Since this is a movie about spy kids, Marissa is soon pressed back into action to defeat the evil Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) she enlists the help of her kids Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook), the latter of whom has hearing loss. Again, the Spy Kids franchise is not one of the greatest, but it’s solid, family fun. Spy Kids: All The Time In The World even has Ricky Gervais as the voice of Rebecca and Cecil’s robot dog.
Daddy’s Little Girls (Available February 1)
Tyler Perry flexed his cinematic muscles in the 2007 romantic drama Daddy’s Little Girls, and the result is a charming, feel-good movie for all ages. Idris Elba plays single dad Monty, a hard-working mechanic who will do anything for his three little girls. That is, until his mean and lousy ex-wife Jennifer (Tasha Smith)—who is also a drug dealer—wins custody of the kids in court. Low on funds but not on heart, Monty gets lovely and smart attorney Julia (Gabrielle Union) to help him and, soon enough, Cupid’s arrow finds its target. Daddy’s Little Girls also stars all-time great Louis Gossett Jr. as Monty’s boss and confidante. Another solid but modest success for the ever-busy Tyler Perry, the film is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, even if some of the plotlines don’t totally make sense.