It’s the end of the month, so you know what that means, Polygon readers: A new group of movies leaving their respective streaming services.
After the flurry of typical arrivals and departures when the calendar turned to 2023, there is once again plenty of good movies leaving streaming services at the end of January. The entertainment team at Polygon has highlighted the best of the best on each streaming service, and will do so again next week to tell you the best of what’s new in February.
Without further ado, here’s the list. We’ve got comedies on Netflix, dramas on Hulu, sci-fi actioners on HBO Max, and much more to fill your heart’s delight and your weekend plans.
The Addams Family
Genre: Black comedy/fantasyRun time: 1h 39mDirector: Barry SonnenfeldCast: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd
If watching Wednesday sparked your interest, but you wanted some more family out of the spooky, kooky Addams family, why not visit one of the older incarnations? The 1990s movies have an electric cast, with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston leading the family as Gomez and Morticia. Christina Ricci’s Wednesday is still perhaps the most iconic. (Sorry, Jenna Ortega!! There’s a reason she was also in the Netflix show!) It’s funny and delights in the macabre without ever being too scary for young viewers. The movie follows the family reconnecting with long-lost Uncle Fester (played here by Christopher Lloyd) — but is it really Fester, or the adopted son of a con artist looking to scam the Addams family out of their fortune? The intrigue! —Petrana Radulovic
The Addams Family leaves Netflix on Feb. 1.
The Paper Tigers
Genre: Action/comedyRun time: 1h 48mDirector: Tran Quoc BaoCast: Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, Mykel Shannon Jenkins
A heartfelt comedy about former martial arts prodigies who have grown into listless middle-aged men but are now thrown back together after the death of their former master, The Paper Tigers hits all the notes you want. It’s funny, it’s sweet, the action scenes kick ass (choreographed by the YouTube sensations The Martial Club, who also appear in the movie and choreographed the fights in Everything Everywhere All at Once) — it’s the charming kind of low-budget action comedy we get far too few of these days. Make sure you check it out when you have the chance. —Pete Volk
The Paper Tigers leaves Netflix on Feb. 1.
Ernest & Celestine
Genre: Comedy/adventureRun time: 1h 20mDirectors: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner Cast: Lambert Wilson, Pauline Brunner (original); Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy (dub)
A cozy little hidden gem of a movie, Ernest & Celestine came out in the U.S. the same year as Frozen and thus was doomed to be lost in the “Let It Go” fanfare. Animated just like a storybook, Ernest & Celestine tells the story of a precocious orphan mouse who befriends a reluctant bear named Ernest. At first it seems like a simple tale of “gruff man becomes a dad figure to a small child,” but the movie dives into the interspecies conflicts with more nuance than Zootopia would a few years later. Ernest and Celestine both stand by one another when they are put on trial by their respective governments for potentially betraying their species (like I said — it gets deep!). The story is thought-provoking and the animation feels like a warm cup of tea. —PR
Ernest & Celestine leaves Hulu on Jan. 28.
Genre: Musical romanceRun time: 1h 48mDirector: Phyllida LloydCast: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried
Mamma Mia! is the perfect antidote to dreary winter days — look at those warm, sunny beaches, the aquamarine ocean waters, the ABBA! Most of the cast was drunk on ouzo (a strong Greek liquor) during filming, and you can absolutely tell that they’re just having the time of their lives. Can Pierce Brosnan sing? Not really! But he and Meryl Streep are just so damn charming together that we’ll forgive it. Everyone loves the dads, but Mamma Mia! at its core is a celebration of womanhood — with Sophie, Donna, Tanya, and Rosie leading the charge, and the three dads (and Sky) just sitting around and looking pretty. Sit back, relax, and let the isle of Kalokairi sweep you away to the sweet serenade of “Dancing Queen.” —PR
Mamma Mia! leaves Hulu on Jan. 31.
The Age of Innocence
Genre: Historical drama/romanceRun time: 2h 19mDirector: Martin ScorseseCast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder
Genteel, 19th-century drawing-room drama might not seem like Martin Scorsese’s usual bag, although what he finds in this adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel about a tortuous love triangle in New York high society — betrayal, repression and emotional violence as individuals strain to find their place in a tightly codified, strictly hierarchical social world — maybe isn’t that different from Goodfellas after all. It’s just that it’s all about frocks, swooning, and party invitations. Where it does differ from most of his filmography is in its interest in the relationship between men and women, rather than men and other men. The costumes, cinematography, and sets create a fantastically detailed, claustrophobically ornate stage for the film’s intense romantic drama, and even the great Daniel Day-Lewis is all but blown off the screen by a brilliant Michelle Pfeiffer in perhaps her greatest role. —Oli Welsh
Age of Innocence leaves Hulu on Jan. 31.
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
Genre: Kaiju/horrorRun time: 1h 45mDirector: Shusuke KanekoCast: Chiharu Niiyama, Ryudo Uzaki, Masahiro Kobayashi
Few movie franchises have a consistent level of quality like the Godzilla movies (most American entries excluded). The original 1954 Godzilla is a stone-cold masterpiece, and nearly all of the movies that followed in the early era strike a perfect balance of popcorn entertainment and trenchant social commentary.
2001’s Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is a throwback to that early era of Godzilla movies, in tone and style. GMK uses miniatures to brilliant effect just like in the original movies, and eschews a CG Godzilla for the classic “man in a suit” approach. There’s one breathtaking moment where the camera zooms out from a man in a bathroom to Godzilla crushing the house he’s in with his foot, moving from a full-size set to miniatures without breaking the shot. The movie does this multiple times, transitioning to miniatures with clever masking techniques for maximum impact and jaw-dropping scale, and the joy in the movie’s formal approach energizes it.
Like many of the best Godzilla movies, it balances tones very well. It’s able to be funny — in the first 90 seconds, it references both the original movie and Roland Emmerich’s 1998 entry (humorously dismissing the latter’s potential status as canonical) — and very tense in the destruction sequences. There are few guaranteed good times out there like a quality Godzilla movie, and GMK certainly fits that bill. A note: Hulu only carries the dubbed version, because Toho had the movie dubbed for international release. The dub is very solid, though, with the voice actors leaning into the sincere (and at times silly) tone of the project. —PV
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack leaves Hulu on Jan. 31.
Leaving HBO Max
Genre: Sci-fi/actionRun time: 2h 7mDirector: Steven SpielbergCast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur adventure hardly needs introduction — but did you know that Spielberg ran postproduction on Jurassic Park at the same time he was shooting Schindler’s List in Poland, returning from a traumatic set staging the Holocaust every day to supervise digital effects shots of dinosaur hijinks? He was effectively putting the prestige cap on his career with one hand while reinventing the form of popular movies (for at least the second time) with the other. It’s an almost offensive display of mastery from one director, but any consideration of that melts away when you sit down and watch the spellbinding movies — especially this one, a populist marvel that’s exciting, scary, and more sophisticated and self-aware than you think. Check out the director surrogate John Hammond (played by actual director Richard Attenborough), a circus-born entertainer with the world’s most dangerous case of imposter syndrome, sitting amid his ruined park, lamenting, “I wanted to show them something that was real.” As the critic Adam Nayman put it: “an authentically thoughtful blockbuster with something interesting to say about itself and the contradictions of trying to use state-of-the-art technology to re-create the past.” —OW
Jurassic Park leaves HBO Max on Jan. 31.
Genre: Sci-fi/actionRun time: 1h 59mDirector: David TwohyCast: Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable
Richard B. Riddick, the antihero protagonist of the Chronicles of Riddick series, is basically Vin Diesel’s answer to “Mad” Max Rockatansky: a sci-fi action role intended as a star vehicle for its leading man. David Twohy’s 2013 film picks up five years after the events of 2004’s Chronicles of Riddick, with its eponymous main character waking up stranded on a desolate alien planet after being betrayed by the Necromongers, the omnicidal antagonists of the previous film.
Riddick is essentially a reprise of 2000’s Pitch Black, the first film in the series, and a soft reboot in the mold of Mad Max: Fury Road, with Diesel’s character forced once again to team up with unlikely allies — in this case, a band of mercenaries led by the father of his onetime nemesis William J. Johns, as they fend off a horde of murderous mud creatures to escape the planet alive. It’s got great special effects, better cinematography, and more interesting action choreography than Pitch Black, but is nonetheless a film that benefits from having watched the prior two live-action installments in the series. If you haven’t seen the prior films, though, Riddick is as good a place as any to start before working your way backward at your own leisure. —Toussaint Egan
Riddick leaves HBO Max on Jan. 31.
Leaving Prime Video
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Genre: Sci-fi dramaRun time: 2h 26mDirector: Steven SpielbergCast: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor
There’s a growing chorus on Film Twitter and Letterboxd that acclaims A.I. as Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece and one of the greatest films of all time. Its reception on release in 2001 was much more mixed, and some may still find it structurally overworked and tonally unstable. Either way, it’s a fascinating, singular artifact — a sort of asynchronous, posthumous collaboration between two of the all-time great filmmakers, Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick, in which their distinct styles clash interestingly, but never quite harmonize.
A.I. — a story about an android child (Haley Joel Osment) who is abandoned by his human family, and goes on a quixotic quest to become a “real boy” — was Kubrick’s baby, but he turned it over to Spielberg a few years before his death, after years of development hell. Spielberg eventually made it as a kind of memorial to his friend, and it’s astonishing the degree to which it feels like the ghost of a Stanley Kubrick film wearing the mask of a Spielberg one. It’s alternately chilly and sentimental, brooding and wide-eyed, but never quite in a way you would associate with either director. It’s also fair to say its take on the AI singularity has since been surpassed by more modern and nuanced movies, like Her.
You’ve got to see it, though. Whether in the stark Kubrickian sets and tableaux of millennial alienation, or in Spielberg’s peerless effects shots and radiant lighting, or John Williams’ unusually unsettled score, this is an arresting and memorable movie — a sci-fi epic of huge ideas, raw personal feeling, and the awestruck grief of one great filmmaker for another. —OW
A.I. Artificial Intelligence leaves Prime Video on Jan. 31.
The Color of Money
Genre: Sports/dramaRun time: 1h 59mDirector: Martin ScorseseCast: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
In the mid-1980s, Martin Scorsese was mostly kicking around picking up work-for-hire jobs as he tried to get The Last Temptation of Christ off the ground. They weren’t passion projects of his, but yuppie nightmare After Hours and classical sports drama The Color of Money are still some of his most pleasurable movies: well-crafted studio pictures helmed by a ridiculously overqualified director who gave them his signature fidgety urgency. The Color of Money is a sequel to ’60s classic The Hustler, with Paul Newman reprising the role of pool-hall hustler Fast Eddie. It’s a slow but satisfying tale, smoothly told.
The real show here is the passing of the torch from one authentic screen idol to another: Newman, aging with preternatural grace and silvery charm, and Tom Cruise as Eddie’s protege Vincent, in the days when he was still comfortable channeling his asshole energy. (The film was released after Cruise went supernova with Top Gun, but shot before.) Newman won an Oscar, but Cruise nearly steals the whole film in one astonishing sequence of him dancing around the pool table to angular, howling ’80s rock, posing as he rips off trick shots. Scorsese’s camera, completely seduced by his arrogant strutting and explosive sense of self, glides and dances with him. It’s impossible to look away. —OW
The Color of Money leaves Prime Video on Jan. 31.
In the Heat of the Night
Genre: Mystery/dramaRun time: 1h 50mDirector: Norman JewisonCast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates
The late, great Sidney Poitier delivers a calm, charismatic, and career-defining performance in Norman Jewison’s 1967 neo-noir mystery drama as Virgil (“They call me Mr. Tibbs!”) Tibbs, a Philadelphia police detective who is wrongly arrested on suspicion of murdering a prominent local businessman while traveling through Mississippi to visit his elderly mother. When Virgil’s identity and innocence is verified, police chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger) begrudgingly asks him for his help in solving the murder.
The significance of In the Heat of the Night, both with regard to its subject matter and the timing of its release, cannot be overstated. The story of a white policeman in the American South having to reckon with Virgil’s deductive prowess and studious intelligence and ultimately accept him as an equal resonated deeply with audiences during the peak of the civil rights movement, and feels just as radical and important viewed in 2023 as it did back then. The scene between Poitier and the genteel racist Eric Endicott (Larry Gates) in the latter’s greenhouse is literally one for the history books. —TE
In the Heat of the Night leaves Prime Video on Jan. 31.
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