February 2016 brings tales of love, treachery, and time travel to your favorite streaming services. And though it may be the shortest month of the year, it's positively packed with great new titles worth watching. Netflix adds the last seven episodes of one of the greatest TV shows ever made, and Amazon offers the best season yet of one of the few shows currently running with a claim to that title. Also, everywhere you look, everywhere you go, Fuller House is coming.
Here are five top picks for each of the four top streaming services.
New in February on Netflix
Better Call Saul, season one (available Feb. 1)
Somewhat impressively, this Breaking Bad prequel, which might have seemed wholly unnecessary when it was first announced, ends up holding its own as a seriocomic precursor to that tremendous TV show. Bob Odenkirk is terrific as young lawyer Jimmy McGill, who will evolve into the ambulance-chasing Saul Goodman but hasn't quite completed that transition when this series begins.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (available Feb. 1)
Director Adam McKay's The Big Short has every chance of winning the Oscar for Best Picture later in the month. And if that happens, you should definitely fire up this film to observe the way he tinges his broad comedies (often starring Will Ferrell) with buried political messages. This one is about the rise of the South as a dominant political force and the corporatization of America! Also race cars.
Mad Men, season seven, part two (available Feb. 5)
The final seven episodes of Mad Men combined to form one of the show's strongest stretches ever. Though some quibbled with the early ones, due to Don's deep malaise and the threat that the series might slowly fizzle out, those first few episodes now play much better in the context of where everything ended up. And the series finale is one for the ages.
Atonement (available Feb. 16)
In the press release Netflix sent out to announce its upcoming debuts, the company labeled Atonement as a love story. That's technically accurate, but it still feels a little misleading, given how much more this movie has on its mind. Based on Ian McEwan's novel of the same name, the film is one of those where it's best to reveal as little as possible. Suffice to say, it's about the divide between fiction and reality.
Fuller House, season one (available Feb. 26)
You're going to watch this Full House spinoff/sequel anyway, so I went ahead and put it on the list. But, be forewarned: You are in for a rough ride.
New in February on Hulu
Blood Simple (available Feb. 1)
The Coen brothers are among the country's best, most idiosyncratic filmmakers. If you want to see how they got their start, check out this nasty little crime movie from the mid-'80s.
UnReal, season one (available Feb. 3)
Few shows surprised as many people as this new Lifetime drama did when it premiered last summer. A darkly satirical soap set in the world of reality TV, UnReal follows the return of a producer named Rachel (Shiri Appleby) to the set of the Bachelor-esque reality show that previously caused her to suffer a nervous breakdown. Between Appleby and Constance Zimmer (who plays Rachel's boss), the show boasts two of TV's strongest performances.
11.22.63 (available Feb. 15)
If Hulu has its way, 2016 will be the year when you finally start to think of it as a home for great original series as well as a place for watching reruns of your favorite shows from traditional TV networks. (Yes, it has produced a bunch of original comedies in the past few years, but none of them have really broken through.) The site's new drama initiative begins with this Stephen King adaptation, a miniseries in which James Franco travels through time to prevent the assassination of JFK.
Blue Is the Warmest Color (available Feb. 25)
This romantic coming-of-age story won the Cannes Film Festival's highest honor, not just for the film but also for its two lead actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. The film courted some controversy both for its sex scenes and for how its director treated the two actresses, but the film itself is often lovely and striking, a terrific portrayal of young love in full bloom.
Jerry Maguire (available Feb. 29)
If you were alive at all in 1996 and 1997, you don't need me to tell you what this movie is about; it permeated the cultural ether as much as any other movie of the era. But if you haven't seen it in a long time, it's worth a revisit for its well-told tale of a sports agent who leaves his job but finds his soul.
New in February on Amazon Prime
Amy (available Feb. 1)
This mesmerizing documentary is a biography of late singer Amy Winehouse, told entirely through footage of the star. It's filled with terrific moments that will make you miss her all over again, and it will leave you fuming about how nobody stepped in to help her when she most needed it.
Lost in Translation (available Feb. 1)
Director Sofia Coppola enjoyed huge acclaim and won an Oscar for the screenplay for Lost in Translation, her second feature. The plot centers on an actor (played by Bill Murray) who finds himself feeling adrift when shooting a commercial in Tokyo. He starts hanging out with a young woman (played by Scarlett Johansson), and though the film never quite tips over into romance, it very well could have.
Chi-Raq (available Feb. 5)
Spike Lee's latest film is also Amazon Studios' first original movie. However, instead of streaming it concurrently while the movie was in theaters, the way Netflix did with Beasts of No Nation, Amazon opted to hold Chi-Raq for a few months and follow a more traditional, DVD-like model. Anyway, the movie — about a woman who leads a sex strike to end gang violence in Chicago — is all over the place, but it's also frequently terrific and well worth checking out.
The Americans, season three (available Feb. 15)
The excellent third season of TV's best show sends married Soviet spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings deeper and deeper into early '80s American society. And at the heart of its story is their daughter, Paige, who is on the cusp of discovering her parents' secret. Will she? And what will happen if she does?
The New Yorker Presents, season one (available Feb. 16)
Is this show going to work? How do you transform a magazine into a TV show? Is Amazon, which has traditionally released entire seasons of television at once, set up to do a weekly release (as this show is planned to be)? All of these questions are intriguing enough that I'm looking forward to seeing them answered.
New in February on HBO Now
Get Shorty (available Feb. 1)
Elmore Leonard's terrific crime novels haven't always translated well to the big screen, which is weird. With their terse style and twisty plots, they should make for natural films. This adaptation of one of Leonard's books isn't perfect, but by sending mobsters to Hollywood, it captures a little of the author's charm.
Kung Fu Panda (available Feb. 1)
If you want to watch a movie about a panda who does kung fu, Kung Fu Panda is one of your better options. (And that might sound dismissive, but it's really not. This is a fun little movie.)
The Piano (available Feb. 1)
Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin won Academy Awards for their performances in this feminist classic, about a mute woman (Hunter) whose love for playing the piano leads her down several unexpected paths when she must find a way to get her beloved instrument back after it is sold.
Furious 7 (available Feb. 7)
This movie is the exact opposite of The Piano. And also worth watching.
Togetherness, season two (available Feb. 21)
The first season of Togetherness took some time to get its hooks into viewers, but by the end it was a tremendous examination of modern relationships. Season two appears likely to deepen those ideas, thanks to the richness of the season one cliffhanger. If nothing else, the series is worth watching for Melanie Lynskey's stunning performance.