I usually write my first column of the year bemoaning the fact that it’s going to be a long wait until spring, when anything of real interest comes to theaters, and recommending that you stay in and stream some recent releases you missed. But this year is different! Why? We don’t have to wait until spring for something exciting, because “Black Panther” has a release date of Feb. 16.
Everything else is the same, though. So here come the recommendations.
If you choose only one 2017 release to stream, it must be — MUST be — “Mudbound,” on Netflix. The story of two families — one black, one white — in Mississippi just after WWII is brutal at times, beautiful at others. It remains to be seen if the unorthodox business behind the film — which no other studio bid on despite an enthusiastic reception at Sundance — will affect its awards-season chances, but even in your living room, “Mudbound’s” power is undeniable.
“Dunkirk” is meant to be seen as big and loud as possible, but if you don’t have an Imax-equipped TV, it still deserves to be seen. Make sure the kids are in bed, the dishes are done and the popcorn is made, because Christopher Nolan’s film demands all of your attention for its breathless 107 minutes.
If you’re not in the mood for seriousness, you’ve got two solid choices: “The Big Sick” and “Girls Trip.” “The Big Sick” is a rom-com that surpasses its genre by showing that love stories aren’t nice and neat, but messy and meandering. I’m glad I saw “Girls Trip” at home because it meant I could pause it when I laughed so hard I started coughing and coughed so hard I nearly threw up. Tiffany Haddish in particular is a comedic revelation — every one of her lines works and every one of her jokes lands. She is funnier than Melissa McCarthy was in “Bridesmaids,” and McCarthy got an Oscar nomination. If Haddish doesn’t, we’re going to have to ask ourselves why (raise your hand if you know why!).
There are plenty of other 2017 movies to help you wait out January: “Blade Runner 2049,” “Atomic Blonde,” “Battle of the Sexes,” “Baby Driver,” “Get Out” and “War for the Planet of the Apes” are solid choices for nearly any movie night. There’s “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “Mother!” if you want to get weird (do not watch either of these movies in any sort of altered state of consciousness). Want an easygoing documentary? “Kedi” is about the kitty cats that run around — and run — Istanbul.
So don’t despair. There are options out there, and plenty of them. It’s just they’re not at the theater right now — but there is hope.
And only six weeks until “Black Panther.”