We may be into January, a typical “dump month” in the old theatrical release calendar, but in the streaming world, a handful of the most-anticipated awards-season hopefuls are still on the way, releasing on the major platforms in dribs and drabs. Here are a few we have high hopes for, including some we’ve seen already.
Available Thursday (Jan. 7)
Pieces of a Woman
Kornél Mundruczó, director of the modern Hungarian classic “White God,” returns with this, his English-language debut, about a pregnant woman (Vanessa Kirby) who loses her baby due to a botched home birth. She is soon pressured into pursuing legal charges against her negligent midwife while navigating the emotional fallout of the tragedy. Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn and Molly Parker costar, but it’s Kirby, in a searing performance that has been earning Oscar buzz, that is the likely revelation.
Available Jan. 29
Carey Mulligan, fresh off her critical hosannas in the provocative “Promising Young Woman,” plays real-life English landowner Edith Pretty, on whose Sutton Hoo property an ancient ship was discovered during a 1939 dig. Ralph Fiennes plays Basil Brown, the archaeologist who spearheaded (literally) the unearthing, and he doubles nicely as Edith’s love interest. “The Dig” is set against the run-up to World War II, but expect sweeping romance, more than dropped bombs, to carry the day—not to mention a welcome appreciation for science, history and the wonder of discovery.
ON AMAZON PRIME
Available Jan. 8
The tribulations of single motherhood, income inequality and domestic abuse lie in the beating heart of this widely acclaimed drama co-written by and starring Clare Dunne, in the Irish stage actress’ breakthrough performance. Rejected for public housing, Dunne’s Sandra and her two daughters finally receive a plot of land through an old family connection. She begins to construct a house, and a community, until her abusive ex-husband re-enters the picture, demanding custody. “Herself” hits at empowering themes that are at once timely and timeless, and may turn up in several categories this award season.
Available Jan. 15
One Night in Miami
This title may be familiar to South Florida theatergoers: The original play version of “One Night in Miami” received a sterling, Carbonell-winning production from Miami New Drama in 2018. Writer Kemp Powers’ drama imagines an encounter between four African-American cultural bellwethers in a Miami hotel room in 1964: Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Muhammad Ali, following the latter’s title win over Sonny Liston and his pending conversion to Islam. Regina King, in her directorial debut, stays true to the source, setting most of the drama within the walls of a spartan motel, and capturing the clashes of egos and ideas, furies and dreams, with pacing that’s as riveting as a boxing match.
Available Jan. 14
“Alone” is neither a premiere nor a Hulu original—it opened in just a couple of South Florida theaters this past fall—but if you missed it, and chances are you did, this is a great time to catch up on one of 2020’s tensest, grisliest horror flicks. A marvelously executed spin on the “survivor girl” horror-cinema ethos, it stars Jules Willcox as a recently widowed woman who is moving to a new state to start life afresh. Her plans change when she realizes she is being followed by a creepily friendly older man in a truck. With echoes of “Duel” and “Room,” director John Hyams’ thriller is elemental in its single-minded purpose. It’s an eternal story, rendered with maximum unease.
Available Jan. 15
The Ultimate Playlist of Noise
The year’s first three-hanky teen romance in the John Green mold, “The Ultimate Playlist of Noise” centers on Marcus (Keean Johnson), the resident audiophile and music omnivore at his high school, who develops a rare brain cancer whose surgical removal will result in permanent hearing loss. Like last year’s extraordinary “Sound of Metal,” it’s about a sound-immersed character learning to live with a harsh new paradigm. In Marcus’ case, he copes with the pending surgery by embarking on a cross-country road trip to record all the sounds he loves and will never hear again, with help from an unexpected companion: singer-songwriter Wendy, whom he meets along the way.