This month's notable theatrical releases
Below, our editors have selected the most interesting films debuting in North American theaters this month, listed in alphabetical order.
Birds of Prey Watch trailer(s)
Action-adventure | February 7 | Directed by Cathy Yan
Before a second Suicide Squad movie arrives August 6, 2021 with James Gunn at the helm, the one breakout character from 2016’s Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, gets her own spinoff. Joining her from the DC universe are Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). They team up to save Cassandra “Cass” Cain (Ella Jay Basco) before Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and his henchman, Zsasz (Chris Messina), can kill her. Directed by Cathy Yan (making only her second feature) from a script by Christina Hodson (Bumblebee), the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn has good early buzz.
Buffaloed Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Comedy | February 14 | Directed by Tanya Wexler
Zoey Deutch has been the best thing in too many bad movies. Maybe this comedy from writer Brian Sacca and director Tanya Wexler (Hysteria) will live up to her on-screen charm. Deutch plays Peg Dahl, a high school senior whose hopes of going to an Ivy League school are dashed by a failed scalping scheme she’d hope would pay her tuition. After a stint in prison and a conversation with a debt collector, Peg finds her new calling. The always reliable Judy Greer plays her mother; Jai Courtney is Wizz, her competition; and Jermaine Fowler plays a possible love interest.
The Call of the Wild Watch trailer(s)
Adventure/Drama/Family | February 21 | Directed by Chris Sanders
Adapted from Jack London’s 1903 novel, this live-action/animation hybrid follows Buck, a dog living a sheltered life in California until he’s stolen and sold into service as a sled dog in the Alaskan Yukon. Harrison Ford plays John Thornton, Buck’s keeper, and Dan Stevens, Omar Sy, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford, and Colin Woodell have supporting roles. Director Chris Sanders got his start in animation with Lilo & Stitch. This is his first film to incorporate live-action, so hopefully his experience will make CGI Buck convincing. Viewers should expect plenty of deviation from the source material (it vilifies Native Americans, especially the ending) to create a more family-friendly film.
Corpus Christi Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | February 19 | Directed by Jan Komasa
A nominee for this year’s best international feature film Oscar, this Polish feature follows 20-year-old Daniel, an ex-con sent to a remote village to work as a manual laborer. While in prison, he discovers Christ and wants to spread the word, but his criminal record prevents him from joining a seminary. But when he’s mistaken for the town’s new priest, he embraces it with passion and the hope that his secret won’t get out. Bartosz Bielenia’s lead performance has earned him best actor awards from film festivals around the world.
I Was at Home, But
Foreign/Drama | February 14 | Directed by Angela Schanelec
German director Angela Schanelec won a Silver Bear award for best director at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival for this challenging film about a mother of two struggling to take care of them and herself in the wake of her husband’s death. That may seem straightforward, but don’t expect the film to adhere to expectations. It embraces the absurdity of life with a gentle humor while creating a unique picture of a small community
The Invisible Man Watch trailer(s)
Thriller/Horror/Sci-fi | February 28 | Directed by Leigh Whannell
Writer-director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade) puts an abusive-ex twist on the oft-filmed invisible man conceit (anyone remember Paul Verhoeven 2000 film Hollow Man starring Kevin Bacon?) that originated in H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel. Elisabeth Moss brings her acting skills to the horror genre to play Cecilia Kass, a woman trapped in violent relationship with a wealthy scientist. With the help of her sister (Harriet Dyer), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge), and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid), Cecilia escapes and goes into hiding until her ex commits suicide and leaves her part of his fortune. Suspecting his death was a hoax, she must prove to everyone that she is still be hunted by someone nobody can see.
The Lodge Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Thriller/Horror | February 7 | Directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
Goodnight Mommy directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala deliver another slice of psychological horror with this story of Grace (Riley Keogh), a soon-to-be stepmom who is stranded with her fiancé’s kids (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) in a remote winter cabin. When a blizzard traps them inside the lodge, specters from Grace’s dark past begin to haunt them. While some critics believe the film starts out strong before it goes off the rails, others are embracing the filmmaking skill behind the scares.
Ordinary Love Watch trailer(s)
Drama | February 14 | Directed by Glenn Leyburn and Lisa Barros D'Sa
Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson play Joan and Tom, a long-married couple in Northern Ireland who still find simple ways to express their love to one another. When Joan is diagnosed with breast cancer, it challenges them in different ways while also allowing them to bond with others who are going through the same thing. Directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn from the first screenplay by Belfast playwright Owen McCafferty, the film has earned excellent early reviews, with special notice going to Manville and Neeson’s chemistry.
The Photograph Watch trailer(s)
Drama | February 14 | Directed by Stella Meghie
Writer-director Stella Meghie (Everything, Everything, The Weekend) has cast two incredibly charismatic actors (Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield) to lead this romance about an estranged daughter (Rae) who discovers a photograph by her deceased mom, a famed photographer, that leads her to delve into her mom’s past. While she’s on this journey, she meets a journalist (Stanfield) working on a story about her mom and finds she has an instant connection with him. With a strong supporting cast (Chanté Adams, Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris, Y'lan Noel, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Morgan, Jasmine Cephas Jones), this is a love story about seeking the truth to find forgiveness.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | February 14 | Directed by Céline Sciamma
One of the best and most romantic films of 2019 gets the major release it deserves on Valentine’s Day. Set in 18th century France, the film follows Marianne (Noémie Merlant) to an isolated peninsula where she is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), a young woman who has just left the convent. As they spend time together during the day and Marianne secretly paints at night, an intimacy grows between them, allowing the portrait to become a collaborative effort. What follows leads to an unbelievably moving last scene.
Foreign/Drama | February 21 | Directed by Pedro Costa
Writer-director Pedro Costa (Horse Money) continues his singular examination of the people of Cape Verde with this story of the 55-year-old Vitalina, who arrives in Lisbon to bury the husband she hasn’t seen in more than 25 years. It’s a typically challenging and beautiful offering from Costa, featuring his Horse Money star Ventura as a struggling priest who knew Vitalina’s husband. The film won the Golden Leopard for best film and best actress at the 2019 Locarno International Film Festival.
The Whistlers Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Comedy | February 28 | Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
The latest from Corneliu Porumboiu is a slight change of pace for the director of 12:08 East of Bucharest, Police, Adjective, and The Treasure. This noir-tinged and comedic thriller takes place on the Canary Islands where a corrupt police officer must learn a secret mafia whistling language to help get a mobster out of jail. Twists and dead bodies pile up and a femme fatale named Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) enters the picture as various parties fight to get their hands on 30 million euros.
Foreign/Drama | February 21 | Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
To say that Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have been critical darlings since their first film, 1996’s The Promise, would be an understatement. Six of their first seven films have earned Metacritic Must-See status, and the one that missed, Lorna's Silence, missed by just one point. Their last film, 2017’s The Unknown Girl was considered their first disappointment by some. Their latest, the story of the radicalization of the Islamic teenager of the title, is getting a similar reception, but enough critics believe it’s a return to form that fans of gripping social realist dramas should seek it out.
Bonus pick: Streaming on Netflix
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon Watch trailer(s)
Animation/Family | February 14 | Directed by Richard Phelan and Will Becher
Delayed from January and moved to Netflix. After the success of the long-running TV series and 2015’s Shaun the Sheep Movie, it was inevitable that a second feature film would follow, but unlike many other sequels, this one is welcome. Created by Nick Park, spinning off a character introduced in his 1995 Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave, this latest Aardman stop-motion marvel finds Shaun encountering Lu-La, an alien who wants to return home. Yes, that sounds like the E.T. template, but with inventive visual gags, playful animation, and impressive, wordless storytelling, it’s another original delight for kids and adults alike.
What do you think?
Which films are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments section below. For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming film releases by date, including films arriving later in 2020 and beyond, visit our Movie Calendar.