January 2016 is a bit of a slow month for new content on streaming services, as it is in movie theaters. (There will be more than enough new TV to make up for it.) Still, Netflix has a great food travelogue, and HBO Now has the only film that matters — Mad Max: Fury Road. Get ready, people. January lives. January dies. January lives again.
New in January on Netflix
Pride & Prejudice (2005) (available Jan. 1)
All due respect to my treasured colleagues, but this is my favorite version of this oft-filmed tale. I know that's heresy to many — it largely eschews the novel's comedic aspects in favor of swooning romanticism — but, dammit, I love a good swoon. Plus, Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen are perfect as the central couple. Perfect. I won't hear otherwise.
I'll Have What Phil's Having (available Jan. 2)
Phil Rosenthal is the co-creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, and if you've ever watched that show, you'll know that his production company — Where's Lunch? — has a logo that, after every episode of Raymond, featured a new, delicious-looking plate of food. Now Rosenthal has launched this scrumptious food-themed travelogue, sending him around the world in search of great eats with the help of celebrity friends. It's a light confection, perfect for a winter weekend.
Parks and Recreation, the final season (available Jan. 13)
If you've been watching this show on Netflix, the final 13 episodes will finally become available nearly a year after the series finale first aired. It's as good a final slate of sitcom episodes as you're likely to see, filled with warmth, heart, and big laughs. And it's got a sweet finale that will leave you with a smile on your face.
Chelsea Does (available Jan. 23)
How does a service like Netflix — which prides itself on having a library of shows that will be almost as relevant in 2115 as it is in 2015 — do a show with a topical comedian like Chelsea Handler? By stepping back and going big picture. Rather than joke about the headlines of the day, Handler will be looking at wider, broader topics ... and then presumably joking about them. We're curious to see how it will turn out.
Frozen Planet (available Jan. 28)
The BBC's line of nature documentaries that kicked off with Planet Earth always makes for jaw-dropping footage and compelling storytelling. As you can probably guess from the title, this one checks out what's going on at the world's two poles, with penguins and polar bears and all your cute, cuddly, endangered-by-climate-change friends.
Available on Hulu in January
Breakfast at Tiffany's (available Jan. 1)
Is this Audrey Hepburn's most iconic role? If you're picturing her, you're probably pictured her in her black dress and sunglasses from this film, so we're going to say the answer is, "Most likely." Breakfast at Tiffany's is also a fine, old-fashioned romance, from a novel by Truman Capote. Be forewarned that Mickey Rooney, uh, plays an Asian man. So there's that. (Also available on Amazon.)
The Thin Blue Line (available Jan. 7)
If you're on board with the recent true crime wave, then you might as well check out one of the most important true crime documentaries ever made. This mesmerizing film, directed by the great Errol Morris, was successful in exonerating an innocent man. But even knowing that, you'll find Morris's use of cinematic techniques to tell the man's story well worth checking out.
The X-Files (available Jan. 25)
Mulder and Scully are back! Mulder and Scully are back. For six episodes, they're going to be solving more crimes of the paranormal, and we can hardly wait. Pity the episodes aren't all standalones, though. Who cares about the alien mythology anymore?
Mommy (available Jan. 26)
Xavier Dolan is one of the world's most exciting new directors, turning in big, bold movies that play with the most rigidly defined elements of cinema in audacious ways. (You also might know him as the director of the video for Adele's "Hello.") Most of this film is shot in a 1:1 aspect ratio — meaning it's roughly the shape of a Polaroid picture or an Instagram image.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever (available Jan. 30)
With the arrival of the final season of this weird, hugely influential animated series, the complete run of Aqua Teen will be available on Hulu — albeit with several of the later seasons under different titles. Definitely make a point to watch it; the adventures of walking, talking fast-food items are often brilliantly funny and helped kick start the whole Adult Swim phenomenon.
Available on Amazon Prime in January
An Affair to Remember (available Jan. 1)
Though for a while this film was most famous for being "the movie that inspired the final scenes of Sleepless in Seattle," it's a terrific screen romance, full of big, melodramatic moments that Hollywood can't seem to make any more. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr play seemingly star-crossed lovers, and you'll spend the whole thing wishing they would just be together already.
Bone Tomahawk (available Jan. 1)
Or you could watch this movie, about cannibals in the Old West. What better way to spend New Year's Day? Kurt Russell and Patrick Wilson star, but really, do you need to hear more than "cannibals in the Old West"?
Dazed and Confused (available Jan. 1)
Richard Linklater — the genius director behind the Before Sunrise trilogy and the Oscar-winning Boyhood — says his next film is a "spiritual sequel" to this one, his second film. Since that new film is out in the spring, you'll want to check out (or rewatch) Dazed and Confused before then. Set in a Texas high school in the 1970s, it's a perfect encapsulation of the way aimless teenage nights can feel as if they mean so much more than they really do. Also it's the movie where Matthew McConaughey says, "Alright, alright, alright."
Serpico (available Jan. 4)
In the 1970s, Al Pacino could do seemingly no wrong, to the degree that this movie, in which he plays a real-life police officer who went undercover to root out corruption in his department, is actually one of his less heralded roles from the period. (Then again, considering Pacino's "other" roles of the decade include the first two Godfather movies and Dog Day Afternoon, you can see why.) Serpico is directed by Sidney Lumet, who's also the guy behind Network, among others.
Goodnight Mommy (available Jan. 9)
Two boys start to suspect that their mother — who's now under a heavy layer of bandages after a surgery — isn't their mother anymore, and try to devise ways to get her to reveal her true nature. This Austrian horror film has a twist you'll see coming from a mile away (though maybe that's the point), but it's still a beautifully eerie tale.
Available on HBO Now in January
Malcolm X (available Jan. 1)
Spike Lee's grand, sweeping tale of the 1960s civil rights leader is the kind of gigantic biopic that's rarely made this well. That's thanks to Denzel Washington, who always keeps the man in the title front and center. But it's also thanks to Lee, who's never been given a budget of this size to work with since (and more's the pity).
Mad Max: Fury Road (available Jan. 9)
Of all the movies to become one of the consensus critical hits of 2015, Fury Road was absolutely the unlikeliest. But it turned out to be tremendously made, impressively mounted, action-packed fun. It's one long car chase, hurtling forward through the post-apocalyptic Australian outback, complete with a guy playing an electric guitar that shoots flame. This is all you need in life.
Sesame Street (available Jan. 16)
The children's TV institution moves to its new network, and while it should be much the same, there's something a little weird about it not being on PBS (at least for first-run purposes; episodes will air on PBS after a few months' delay).
Unfriended (available Jan. 16)
This is not a great horror film, but it's an impressive one nonetheless. Unfolding entirely on one girl's computer screen, it manages to tell a ghost story that turns the tools of our modern technology against us. You've never seen a movie that looks or acts quite like it, even if the story's a little slim.
The Godfather Epic (available Jan. 17)
The first two Godfather movies are among the finest films ever made, and this little-seen version edits them together in chronological order, along with scenes that weren't in the theatrical cuts. (It was first aired on television in the late '70s.) This might not be the best way to see the movies for the first time, but if you're already familiar, it's a fun way to see them again.