7 Best New Movies to Watch on Amazon Prime in January 2021


Cloverfield

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Image via Paramount Pictures

Available: January 1

Writer: Drew Goddard

Cast: Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Annable, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller

While audiences had soured on the found footage format a bit by the time Cloverfield hit theaters, time has favored the film. The homegrown American Kaiju thriller is a keen, cleverly executed genre piece with enduring 9/11 allegory and a flourish of drive-in sci-fi antics that create a constantly surprising verité experience of a giant monster attack. Reeves went on to helm the fantastic Planet of the Apes reboot sequels and is on deck for The Batman, but he made his clever knack for fantastical action known early and Cloverfield brings the escapist, fantastical thrills to the forefront with a big-budget to back up the shaky cam. Ultimately, Cloverfield’s found-footage works because it’s not just a gimmick or a flashy show of technique, it’s the format that’s best suited to the story and one that makes for a refreshing spin on the giant monster subgenre. — Haleigh Foutch

Eve’s Bayou

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Image via Trimark

Available: January 1

Director/Writer: Kasi Lemmons

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Meagan Good,

Jurnee Smollett, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Branford Marsalis, Lisa Nicole Carson

A Southern Gothic melodrama with a hearty splash of magical realism, Eve’s Bayou is a special movie about guilt, memory, and family. Written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, perhaps best known for her role in Silence of the Lambs, Eve’s Bayou stars Jurnee Smollett and Meagan Good as young sisters living in 1960s Louisianna. The daughters of an affluent doctor (Samuel L. Jackson), their lives take a turn after they discover his affair with a local woman. An accidental discovery, it upends their lives, tangled up in Voodoo, curses, and the rash decisions of a child’s impressionable mind. I always forget how much I love Eve’s Bayou until I’m somehow sucked halfway through the film again, rapt in the interlacing tragedies of the Batiste family and Lemmons’ lush portrait of the otherworldy and uncanny. – Haleigh Foutch

Face/Off

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Image via Paramount Pictures

Available: January 1

Director: John Woo

Writers: Mike Werb and Michael Colleary

Cast: John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, Alessandro Nivola

Nobody does cinematic excess in action quite like John Woo, and never more than during his run of American studio films in the 90s. Face/Off is among the most beloved and definitely the most excessive of those films, starring Nicolas Cage as a psychotic criminal and John Travolta as the dogged FBI agent on his case – until they switch faces. Face/Off is easily one of Woo’s best American pictures and I think part of that is because the film’s plot is every bit as over-the-top and playful as Woo’s filmmaking approach. Plus, Cage and Travolta are just having a damn blast hamming it up on both ends of the Hollywood hero spectrum. Some of the most out-and-out camp we’ve had in a contemporary Hollywood blockbuster, from epic explosions to Travolta dance scenes, Face/Off is an all-around blast. – Haleigh Foutch

Gretel & Hansel

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Image via Orion

Available: January 7

Director: Oz Perkins

Writer: Rob Hayes

Cast: Sophia Lillis, Sam Leakey, Charles Babalola, Jessica De Gouw, Alice Krige

Oz Perkins is a filmmaker who makes movies that are Extremely My Shit, but I also completely understand why they’re not for everyone. Drenched in mood and nightmare logic, Perkins first to films The Blackcoat’s Daughter and I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House were stylish, meditative reinventions of familiar genres (satanism and ghosts, respectively) that sneak up on you and settle in. With Gretel & Hansel, Perkins revisits one of the best-known stories of all time, tapping into a tale that has terrified children for generations with a keen eye and intelligent homage to the bleakness of the original Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Perkins wanted to make a PG-13 horror movie that was almost too scary for kids, and while there’s a part of me who wishes this was hard-R and ditched the requisite YA voiceover, there’s something incredibly charming about going Extreme Aesthetic on a horror movie for kids. And yeah, this movie would have wrecked me in my youth, just as Perkins’ first two movies wrecked me as an adult. If you skipped Gretel & Hansel over the initial wave of subpar reviews but you’re a big fan of ambient chills, lush visuals, and the ageless horrors of temptation, transgression, and punishment of fairy tales, you should give it a shot because this is one of those under-the-radar gems that feels destined for cult classic status — or at the very least, Halloween favorite status. And Alice Krige makes one creepy-ass witch. – Haleigh Foutch

Herself

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Image via Amazon Studios

Available: January 8

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Writers: Malcolm Campbell and Clare Dunne

Cast: Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Conleth Hill, Ian Lloyd Anderson

Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady director Phyllida Lloyd delves into something  quieter, more contained, and ultimately more effective with Herself, a charming Irish drama about escaping abuse and building a new life on the other side. Co-writer Claire Dunne stars as Sandra, a mother of two young girls who makes a life-or-death escape from her monstrous husband and only to discover that the process of actually getting away from him is a lot harder when you have nowhere to go. That’s when she decides to make her own home – literally, by investing in a self-build with the help of some friends and a few good samaritans. Herself is unafraid to embrace the moments of cruelty it needs to keep a grip on Claire’s stakes – both human and systemic – but it’s not melodramatic or exploitative, making for a heck of a feel-good fable of new beginnings and self-fulfillment. – Haleigh Foutch

One Night in Miami

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Image via Amazon Studios

Available: January 15

Director: Regina King

Writer: Kemp Powers

Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr.

Regina King makes a commanding directorial debut with One Night in Miami, an understated historical drama set during a meeting of extraordinary minds, when Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay, Eli Goree), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) spent a night in a quiet Florida hotel room. Based on Kemp Powers’ play of the same name, King’s film digs deep into an imagined discourse spun from those historical events, a celebration of the young black men who carved a space in all avenues of public life during the civil rights movement and an intellectual investigation into their individual methods of activism. The performances are stunners, especially from Ben-Adir and Odom, whose conflicting approaches to their shared ideologies make for the film’s most moving dramatic heights. And King, who would know a thing or two about great performances, just directs the hell out of all of it. – Haleigh Foutch

Alone

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Image via Magnet Releasing

Available: January 18

Director: John Hyams

Writer: Mattias Olsson

Stars: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald

If you’re a fan of a good, old-fashioned survival movie, you can’t really go wrong with last year’s lean, mean thriller Alone. Filmmaker John Hyams already had an interesting resume between the surprisingly ass-whooping Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning and Netflix’s thrilling zombie series Black Summer, and with Alone, he’s got another impressive piece of blood-pumping B-thriller that knows exactly what it is (and earned a spot on our Best Thrillers of 2020. It’s the kind of thriller that named its main antagonist only “Man”. Because that’s really all you need for a no-frills survival thriller. Jules Wilcox stars as a recently widowed woman who realizes there’s a man following her and winds up on the run from a straight-up psychopath (Marc Menchaca, effectively unnerving throughout), lost in the woods, left to the elements, and well… alone. – Haleigh Foutch

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Exclusive: Sam Esmail on What to Expect from the New ‘Battlestar Galactica’, Including an Experimental Release Strategy

The ‘Mr. Robot’ creator is executive producing the new take on the franchise for Peacock.


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