January is, by and large, a pretty miserablemonth.
Ordinarily, once the shiny newness wears off, things become a little dull. But between Brexit, the pandemic and the ever-increasing uncertainty, 2021 is taking it to the next level, and the only thing that seems in any way guaranteed is a hefty dose of boredom.
Still, help is at hand for those of us who already mainlined every boxset out there during 2020’s repeated lockdowns. January sees a host of hyped new series, documentaries and movies vying for our attention across a host of different platforms – and some of them look pretty damn exciting.
We’ve trawled the listings, and these are our top ten must-watches to help get us all through to spring.
The Headspace Guide to Meditation
If ever there’s been a time period in which we could all benefit from a little headspace, it’s been the last nine months. For those of us who are naturally pretty guff at meditation though, it can be hard to come by.
Enter Netflix’s collab with meditation app Headspace, aimed at making rest and rejuvenation a bingeworthy experience. Narrated by Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe, this series promises to make building a meditation practice that actually works for you, easier than ever before. We’re in…
On Netflix now
The Minimalists: Less Is Now
If the pandemic has caused a collective shift in what we all see as important – space, human contact, comfort – this documentary arrives just in time.
If you spent previous lockdowns fighting for space on the kitchen table, trying to work out where to fit a second desk, or wondering just how you came to have so much damn stuff, longtime friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are on hand to help. They argue life can actually be better with less clutter – looking around at the post-Christmas chaos that is our own living rooms, we’d struggle to disagree – and, apparently, this hour-long documentary will help us get there. We live in hope.
On Netflix now
The History of Swear Words
We didn’t intend this rundown to have a pandemic theme, but swearing also feels pretty pertinent right now – it’s almost like our schedulers have done it deliberately. After all, who hasn’t spent the past year cursing, well… everything?
The joys of swearing, then, are laid clear in this documentary series, helmed by none-other than Nicholas Cage, and featuring a host of potty-mouthed celebrity guests discussing their favourite curses. From the origins of our favourite expletives, to who actually decides what words are bad, early indications are that this is as hysterically funny as it is informative. Also, it says swearing is A Good Thing. And we’re fucking here for that shit.
On Netflix from January 4
One Night in Miami
You know that parlour game where you name the guests at your fantasy dinner party? Well, imagine that in movie form, with bells on, and you’re some way to understanding the premise of this critically-acclaimed new movie from Oscar, Golden Globe, and Emmy-winning actress Regina King.
Her directorial debut, set on one night in 1964, imagines a meetup between Malcom X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke – a meeting of legends that actually took place behind closed doors. Based on the play of the same name by Kemp Powers, it’s a compelling, theatrical and brilliant look at a pivotal time in Black American history, that resonates every bit as strongly today.
On Amazon Prime from January 15
The first of a consistently-delayed series of Marvel spin-off TV shows, WandaVision finds two of the Marvel Universe’s most intriguing superheroes, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda and Paul Bettany’s Vision, engaged in a seemingly-perfect, All-American suburban life.
When the couple realise that not everything is as rosy as it seems, the veneer slips into mind-bending territory, skewering a host of sitcom tropes from the ‘50s through to the ‘90s in the process. You might not be a superhero fan, but with big names, big budgets and some major special effects, this one might just win over some converts…
On Disney Plus from January 15
Back in the 1920s, radium was marketed to American audiences as a wonder-element, used in everything from watchmaking to impotence elixirs – despite its known radioactive qualities.
For the young women staffing the country’s US Radium Factory, the health impacts of working with the element were catastrophic. Starring Joey King and Abby Quinn, this blockbuster movie delves into their working lives, licking the paintbrushes they used to paint glow-in-the-dark watch faces with little recognition of the dangers, and highlights a little-known labour scandal that feels relevant even today.
On Netlix from January 16
The White Tiger
Based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Man Booker-winning debut novel of the same name, the darkly-comic The White Tiger follows the servant to master journey of Balram Halwai, played by newcomer Adarsh Gourav.
At first, his job working for Ashok and Pinky, a rich couple newly returned from America – played by Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra Jonas – seems like a great opportunity. But as his star rises, Halwai begins to consider the realities of his country’s glass ceiling, and the downsides of success in modern India. The result is a highly engaging and entertaining exploration of not only class struggle but also globalisation, individualism, and what it really means to be free.
On Netflix from January 22
Starring Academy Award-winner Anna Paquin as a ruthless celebrity publicist with a messy personal life, Flackcentres on the trials and tribulations of PR in a world where anyone can go viral.
Part drama, part comedy, behind the high-octane glamour of the series lies a deeper exploration of success in our social media age, with a focus on spin and subterfuge that’ll have you gasping in horror. While Paquin’s Robyn takes self-sabotage to the next level, you’ll find yourself rooting for her anyway – and perhaps taking your foot off the accelerator a little bit yourself as a result…
On Amazon Prime from January 22
Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce)
If you were one of the many people touched by last year’s Marriage Story on Netflix, this is one new release you’ll want to take note off.
Centred on three successful women working on a radio show, this series follows the slow and unexpected unravelling of a trio of seemingly happy marriages, exploring what does – and does not, in this case – make love endure. With divorce rates rising in the wake of the pandemic, this sensitive look at the realities of modern coupledom has never felt more timely…
On Netflix from January 23
In the wake of The Crown and Bridgerton, period dramas are having a moment – and they don’t come much more star-studded than.
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James, this Simon Stone directed movie follows the discovery of a burial site on the grounds of a wealthy widow (Mulligan), and the events that transpire after she hires an amateur archaeologist (Fiennes) to investigate. Inspired by the real-life evacuation of Sutton Hoo shortly before World War II, that this was initially due for cinematic release is no surprise. Beautifully shot and impeccably acted, this is a movie to get completely lost in.
On Netflix from January 29