In many ways, March is the true beginning of the pop culture year. January is all about catching up on the December films you missed during the holiday season, and February is the dreary dumping ground for bad movies that couldn’t hack it any other month. (The fact that “Cocaine Bear” was awesome complicates that thesis a bit, but it’s the exception that proves the rule).
But March brings the Oscars and SXSW and March Madness, and suddenly it starts to feel like we’re out of our collective funk and actually living in a new year. So if you’re all caught up on your Oscar movies (or are just sick of hearing about the Oscars), it’s a great time to dive into the latest slate of new releases and classic films being added to Netflix this month. Keep reading for seven of our favorites.
“Magic Mike XXL” (Now Streaming)
When the original “Magic Mike” came out in 2012, many were surprised to find out that Channing Tatum’s semi-autobiographical film about his life as a male stripper was more of a personal drama than a male version of “Showgirls.” Then, when the sequel hit theaters three years later, many were surprised that it was… just a male version of “Showgirls,” but in a good way. The road trip comedy turned up the beefcake campiness to produce a ridiculously fun, sex-positive sequel that continued to build on the positive strip club vibes of the original film. Whether you’re trying to catch up before watching “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” or trying to wash the taste of the disappointing threequel out of your mouth, watching “Magic Mike XXL” is never a bad idea.
“Sleepless in Seattle” (Now Streaming)
The Nora Ephron-Meg Ryan collaboration in the late 1980s and early 1990s was the rom-com genre at its absolute peak (so far). From charismatic casts and quippy dialogue to picturesque portrayals of cities and cozy sets “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and “You’ve Got Mail” nailed everything the genre is supposed to excel at. The two women hit three consecutive home runs, and “Sleepless in Seattle” remains one of the definitive “longshot chance meeting” romances. It’s always worthy of a rewatch.
“Rango” (Now Streaming)
In between directing the abysmal “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and the abysmal “The Lone Ranger,” Gore Verbinski found time to make one of the best animated films of the century. Johnny Depp stars as the eponymous domesticated chameleon who is forced to adapt to wildlife after his terrarium is lost in the Mojave Desert. Verbinski brilliantly riffs on Western tropes (both American and Italian) to craft a story that can amuse dedicated cinephiles while entertaining newcomers at the same time.
“Chris Rock: Selective Outrage” (Streaming March 4)
We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of The Slap, and Chris Rock is finally ready to share his unfiltered thoughts on the incident. After performing a standup tour comprised primarily of old material (and declining an offer to host the Oscars), Rock is set to headline Netflix’s first-ever live comedy special, “Selective Outrage.” The event, which will stream live on Saturday night before becoming a part of the Netflix library, could dominate The Discourse during the final week of award season. Even if you’re not a Chris Rock fan, it’s worth watching to see how Netflix’s first foray into live-streaming goes. And if you are a Chris Rock fan, it’s an absolute no-brainer.
“Luther: The Fallen Sun” (Streaming March 10)
Even as he became an A-list movie star, Idris Elba always maintained an admirable loyalty to the “Luther” franchise. The BBC crime series, which saw Elba solving crimes as the brilliant Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, was the perfect vehicle for Elba’s suaveness. He continued to star in new episodes as recently as 2019, before shifting his focus to ending the series with a feature film. Now he’s finally made good on that promise, and “Luther: The Fallen Son” promises to deliver a fitting conclusion to the show when it streams on Netflix this month. Early reviews have been mixed, but if nothing else it’s worth seeing the film that made him turn down James Bond.
“Carol” (Streaming March 20)
If Cate Blanchett doesn’t bring home an Academy Award next weekend, her fans can console themselves by revisiting one of her best performances. By now, virtually everything that could have been said about Todd Hayne’s “Carol” has been — but that doesn’t change the fact that it remains one of the best love stories of the 21st century. The stunning portrayal of forbidden love against the backdrop of a repressive 1950s America is Blanchett at her absolute best — which means it’s better than virtually anyone else’s best too.
“Murder Mystery 2” (Streaming March 31)
Who says Hollywood doesn’t make comedies anymore? Netflix’s highest profile new scripted release this month might be “Murder Mystery 2,” Adam Sandler’s sequel to his much-maligned 2019 whodunnit. At this point, everyone probably knows whether or not they’re the target audience for a film like this — and if it’s your thing, have at it. And if not, just remember that it pays the bills so Sandler can keep making Sadfie brothers movies.
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