The 5 best new movies to watch this February
Teenage FaceTime detectives, talking shells and a donkey: February is an eclectic, not to mention eccentric, month for cinema.
Throughout the year, there is a near-constant deluge of new releases arriving – on the big screen and small – and it’s hard to know which to prioritise. This new column will pick out the five best films for you to move to the top of your watch list each month.
In February, there are plenty of surefire blockbusters on the way – from acclaimed Puss in Boots sequel The Last Wish and new M Night Shyamalan thriller Knock at the Cabin, to Marvel’s wordily titled Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Smaller indies, like Blue Jean and Joyland, will also be arriving.
Meanwhile, James Cameron will engage in a box office battle with himself after Avatar: The Way of Water became the fourth highest-grossing film of all time. In a bizarre twist, the sequel will duke it out with the director’s very own third-placed Titanic, which is getting a 25th anniversary re-release on 10 February.
Over on streaming, Apple TV Plus film Sharper, released 17 February, is well worth a watch. The con artist thriller, featuring Sebastian Stan, Julianne Moore and a star-making performance from Briana Middleton, is entertaining if extremely farfetched. Regardless, its many rug-pulls will keep you guessing to the end.
But these aren’t even the best of the new films coming our way. Below are the five top movies to have on your radar this month…
Release date: 3 February
It’s been a good few months for donkeys. Not only did Jenny, the donkey from Banshees of Inisherin, get a shout-out during Colin Farrell’s Best Actor acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, but new film EO, following the journey of a circus donkey as he’s passed from owner to owner, was nominated for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars. EO, which was lovingly labelled “the donkey film” following its premiere at Cannes in May 2022, comes from veteran director Jerzy Skolimowski, and is inspired by Robert Bresson’s 1966 classic Au Hasard Balthazar. The result may not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying EO is oddly engrossing, unexpectedy epic and a cinematic experience worth taking.
Release date: 10 February
Fresh from its well-deserved Best Picture nomination, Sarah Polley’s Women Talking arrives in the UK a month after its US release. The intensely moving adaptation of Miriam Towes’s 2018 novel is centred on female members of an isolated religious community who come together to – you guessed it, talk – about a divisive subject: whether they should break free from the constraints of the brutal, restricted world they’re stuck in.
The nuances surrounding each character’s motivation are brilliantly scripted by Polley and Towes, whose words are delivered by Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy – all on astonishing form – and two actors whose names deserved to be mentioned this awards season: Judith Ivey and Sheila McCarthy. Out of all of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture this year, Women Talking is the best.
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Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Release date: 10 February
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is based on a trilogy of shorts that became a viral hit upon their release in 2010. But those who were previously unaware of Marcel’s existence should not be wary about seeking out the anthropomorphic shoe-wearing shell’s big screen adventure. In fact, you should be very excited. The film, co-written by director Dean Fleischer Camp, Jenny Slate and Nick Paley, is a mockumentary for the ages, and one that will have you both howling with laughter and bawling with tears. In its own irreverent way, Marcel is a guidebook on friendship, grief, and loneliness that will make you want to squeeze your loved ones a little bit tighter next time you see them.
Release date: 24 February
We’re only one month into 2023 and it’s already been a great year for fans of Hirokazu Kore-eda. The Japanese maestro, behind gems like Our Little Sister and Shoplifters, released his heartwarming manga adaptation The Makanai: Cooking for the Makai House on Netflix in Jaunary, and now, in February, his latest film is making it to UK cinemas. Parasite actor Song Kang-ho leads the film as a debt-ridden launderette owner who steals unwanted babies from a South Korean “baby box” so he can sell them on the black market.
Despite the dubious intentions of the film’s main character, Kore-eda ensures his usual dose of tenderness is present. Broker might be the filmmaker at his most challenging but, in essence, it’s a road movie about abandonment and the family you make along the way, in places you least expect. It’s a welcome addition to his remarkable filmography.
Release date: 24 February
Technophobes might baulk at the idea of Missing, but they’d be wrong to. The mystery thriller sees teenager June (Storm Reid) forced to play detective when her mum (Nia Long) goes missing while on holiday with her new boyfriend (Industry’s Ken Leung). Like Searching, its predecessor released in 2018, Missing’s story is inventively told via the computer and phone screens June uses; fortunately, she has decent Wi-Fi. There are genuine thrills to the film’s surprises, which are doled out practically every 15 seconds, and if you sit back and get swept up in its format, you’ll have a fun ride – even if you shudder every time June’s iPhone alarm blares.
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