Header image courtesy of Netflix
In what looks like will be the start of an extended stay-home season, Paul Hsiao, chart maker and film enthusiast at Movieconomist, lists his most-anticipated releases arriving on Netflix Hong Kong in February.
Localiiz has written about it earlier in what truly is a momentous event: Legendary Studio Ghibli, responsible for generations’ worth of dreams and nostalgia, has generally eschewed from releasing their catalogue for public consumption, making digital purchases—never mind streaming rights—for its legions of fans around the world very difficult to procure. Not anymore.
Starting from February, 21 titles will be available to stream on Netflix, each month bringing seven releases from Hayao Miyazaki’s extensive collection. While the entire catalogue is worth binging, highlights include My Neighbour Totoro, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Available now
Another Netflix exclusive for markets outside the US. Adam Sandler delivers an electric performance (ultimately unceremoniously snubbed the Oscars) as a New York City hustler who gets in over his head when he comes into possession of the eponymous precious stone that was mined by Ethiopian Jews. The film also features supporting roles from an unlikely cast of characters: NBA’s Kevin Garnett, The Weeknd, and Frozen’s Idina Menzel (a.k.a. “Adeel Dazeem”). Available now
Based on the popular graphic novel series, Locke & Key follows three siblings who move into their ancestral home after the murder of their father, only to find out that the house hides secrets beyond imagination. Think A Series of Unfortunate Events meets The Haunting of Hill House with a healthy sprinkling of Stranger Things, all Netflix originals. Available 7 February
After watching the trailer, one would be forgiven to think that Horse Girl is a different take on Joker. Community’s Alison Brie plays a misfit young woman who is increasingly losing her grip on reality as she learns more about a hereditary mental illness. Sound familiar? Available 7 February
My Holo Love answers the question I never knew I had: “What if Black Mirror was a K-drama?” Yoon Hyun-min stars as a lovelorn thirty-something in Seoul who inadvertently falls in love with a seemingly sentient hologram that looks exactly like its cold and unsociable creator, played by Ko Sung-hee. Available 7 February
As someone who is addicted to late-night talk shows, I feel like this movie was made for me. Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapur from The Office) writes and stars as a young female writer tasked to turn around the direction of late-night talk show while butting heads with an all-male writers’ room. Available 7 February
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You is the sequel to the surprise hit To All the Boys I Loved Before, arguably Netflix’s strongest romantic comedy offering that perfectly captures high school puppy love. Despite what some may consider to be a fluffy premise, the film series is notable for being one of the few franchises that feature a character of mixed-Asian heritage and is a technical powerhouse with beautiful shots that rival anything the Oscars may feature. In the sequel, Lara Jean struggles with her feelings for Peter Kavinsky when another rival for her affection, Josh Ambrose, unexpectedly enters her life. Available 12 February
Straddling the lines between gripping crime drama and Spanish language immersion class, season two of Narcos: Mexico follows the rise of the Guadalajara crime family in the 1980s as violence escalates when the Reagan administration steps up its effort on the war on drugs. Available 13 February
The Altered Carbon series may be Netflix’s best-kept secret. In a world where death has become obsolete for the rich, Anthony Mackie (The Falcon from the Marvel Cinematic Universe) plays Takeshi Kovacs, a mercenary who wakes up in the year 2384 in a different body after the explosive events of season one.
Based on the sprawling sci-fi book series, plot details of season two have been kept under wraps, but we can be sure that the show will deliver head-spinning sci-fi conundrums, bombastic action sequences, and neon-streaked visuals that made the first season unlike anything else on the streaming service. Available 27 February
As we head into a new year and a new decade, sometimes it’s best to look back at hidden gems. Begin Again is a charming, music-filled film starring Keira Knightley and Mark “The Hulk” Ruffalo as a down-on-her-luck songwriter meeting an equally down-on-his-luck music producer. The actors are equally as charming as the music; in fact, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song in 2014. Available now
I have watched a lot of films. So I can say with some degree of confidence that Before Sunrise is the most romantic film of all-time. Director Richard Linklater captures the essence of puppy love through Jesse and Celine, two strangers who meet on a train while travelling to Paris. Available now
What if Jesus was real in modern times? How would society react? Those are the central questions behind Messiah, a new Netflix original. Led by Michelle Monaghan, who plays a CIA agent trying to make sense of a mysterious and charming figure whose followers believe he can perform miracles, the provocative show mixes themes of The Leftovers with the procedural nature of Mindhunter. Available now
I really think there was a missed opportunity to call this series Sex-plained. In any case, the latest edition of the Vox and Netflix joint seeks to dispel myths and educate viewers on topics like attraction, fetishes, and childbirth. No doubt, teachers and parents across the world will find solace that Netflix is there to help give “the talk”. Available now
The latest rendition of the Spiderman franchise from the MCU is by far the most charming. Leaving his home of New York for an extended stay in Europe, Peter Parker struggles to live up to Tony Stark’s legacy as he encounters elemental foes, secret agents, and Jake Gyllenhaal. An easy, breezy watch that serves as a delightful epilogue to Avengers: Endgame. Available 3 January
Dracula is a gory, stylized take on the horror classic from the creative minds behind Sherlock. The good news for completists is that the series is just three episodes long, perfect for that return flight back from the holidays. Available 4 January
Anchored in the world of competitive cheerleading, Cheer is one of the latest docuseries from Netflix that combines the drama of Friday Night Lights with the acrobatic feats from Bring it On. Expect tears, triumph, and stunning athleticism. Available 8 January
Meaning “duty/shame” in Japanese, the modern-noir series from BBC is a fresh take on the detective genre combining the grittiness of the yakuza culture with the grittiness of London’s underbelly. In the show, detective Kenzo Mori travels to London when news of recently deceased brother is accused of killing a member of the yakuza. Available 10 January
The sprawling South Korean drama makes its debut on Netflix! Starring Lee Jun-ho, member of the boyband 2PM, as a disgraced young chef, the series is a humorous commentary on class, fine dining, and Korean gangster culture. Available 10 January
For those looking for stand-up in the new decade, a great way to start is SNL alum’s Leslie Jone’s first Netflix special, Time Machine. Fun fact: the raunchy stand-up special is directed by Game of Thrones showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff, so expect the wit of Tyrion with perhaps fewer dragons. Available 14 January