Happy new year, Polygon readers!
We’re excited to be back in the swing of things after the holidays and ready to share with you the very best movies now available to stream on Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Shudder, and Hulu. Our list this month includes Andrzej Żuławski’s 1981 cult classic horror film Possession starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani, 2004’s The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kathryn Bigelow’s 1995 cyberpunk thriller Strange Days, and more. Here’s what to watch this month based on everything new across the platforms:
Possession on Shudder
Genre: Psychological horror
Run time: 2h 4m
Director: Andrzej Żuławski
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Heinz Bennent
Outside of the most ardent of cinephile circles, Andrzej Żuławski isn’t a name that inspires enthusiastic recognition in the United States. Known for his transgressive brand of arthouse cinema, Żuławski’s career was stymied by Communist authorities in his homeland of Poland, with many of his early films being either heavily censored, banned, or in one instance, nearly destroyed upon release. It also doesn’t help that the few films of his that have been released in the States have since gone out of print — though that appears to be changing soon.
If you do know Żuławski’s name, it’s likely for his 1981 psychological horror film Possession, a film whose cult status among horror connoisseurs has only been amplified in the decades since its release by its difficulty to obtain on physical media, let alone to view online. Fortunately for everyone, that’s no longer the case — Possession is now finally available to stream courtesy of Shudder.
Set in Cold War-era West Berlin, Żuławski’s film stars Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill as Mark, a Russian spy who returns home to find that his wife, Anna (Isabelle Adjani), has left him and wants a divorce. When Anna refuses to divulge why, only saying that she has not left him for someone else, Mark grows suspicious and has her tailed. What he eventually discovers is a horrifying secret beyond his comprehension, one which awakens a long-dormant wellspring of anxiety, resentment, and despair between the two that threatens to tear apart not only their small family, but their very sanity as well.
Inspired by Żuławski’s own tumultuous divorce in 1976 and his subsequent struggles with suicidal ideation, Possession blurs the line between the autobiographical and the phantasmagorical, with hysterical performances by Neill and Adjani that vacillate between disturbing, comical, and disquietingly sympathetic. An inspiration for everything from Ari Aster’s Midsommar to the 2016 music video for Massive Attack’s “Voodoo in My Blood,” Possession is an essential must-watch for any serious horror fan. —Toussaint Egan
Possession is available to stream on Shudder.
New on Netflix
Genre: Biographical drama
Run time: 2h 50m
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
Martin Scorsese’s 2004 biopic on the life of eccentric aviation mogul Howard Hughes is one of the best movies to land on Netflix this month. So much so, we made it our editor’s pick for the platform this week! Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a captivating performance as Hughes, one which marries the man’s legendary public reputation for bravado and outrageous business decisions with his personal struggles with undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder and hypochondria. It’s a breathtaking film, both in the scale of its story and the exquisite craft evident in its majestic production. —TE
The Aviator is available to stream on Netflix.
The Raid 2
Run time: 2h 30m
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara
The follow-up to the 2011 smash (and we do mean smash) hit The Raid, Gareth Evans’ 2014 sequel packs a heavy punch as well (and some hammers). Set just after the events of the first movie, Rama (Iko Uwais, reprising his lead role) is sent undercover to expose corruption in Jakarta’s police. This involves getting himself sent to prison, surviving a prison riot, and ingratiating himself with members of the Jakarta underworld. Filled with high-octane action sequences, plenty of gore, and jaw-dropping displays of the Indonesian martial art pencak silat, fans of The Raid should also check out the ante-upping sequel. —Pete Volk
The Raid 2 is available to stream on Netflix.
New on HBO Max
Run time: 2h 25m
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis
Like Żuławski’s aforementioned Possession, Kathryn Bigelow’s 1995 cyberpunk film starring Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett is another cult classic whose reputation is defined in no small part by its relative inaccessibility to watch online. That too has changed, however, as HBO Max has recently added the movie to the service, and in HD no less.
Set in a futuristic Los Angeles just two days before the end of the 20th century, Strange Days follows Lenny Nero (Fiennes), a black-market broker dealing in an illicit technology that allows the user to record their own memories and physical sensations and experience them after the fact. When Lenny comes across a recording that threatens to implicate the LAPD in a high-profile murder, he’s forced to turn to his old friend Lornette “Mace” Mason (Bassett) in order to uncover the origins behind the recording while staying one step ahead of a mysterious killer that wants him dead.
Conceived by producer James Cameron and inspired by the 1992 LA riots that erupted in the wake of the infamous Rodney King trial, Strange Days is a pitch-black sci-fi thriller that touches on institutional racism, voyeurism, societal collapse, and sexual violence, the latter of which is focused primarily on women and Black people. It’s a hard watch — but nevertheless a worthwhile one that rewards its audience with a trio of terrific performances and a strikingly original vision of a bygone alternate future. —TE
Strange Days is available to stream on HBO Max.
New on Hulu
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Genre: Biographical drama
Run time: 1h 48m
Director: Angela Robinson
Cast: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote
You may be familiar with the story of the DC Comics superhero Wonder Woman, also known as Princess Diana of Themyscira. But do you know the real-life origins behind of the leotard-clad, tiara-wearing, and golden-lasso-wielding demigoddess? Angela Robinson’s 2017 biographical drama follows the story of William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), the psychologist turned comic author behind the creation of Wonder Woman, whose polyamorous relationship between his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), and his mistress, Olive (Bella Heathcote), served as the inspiration behind the character’s earliest adventures and depiction. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a fascinating film, not just for its recounting of an extraordinary real-life story, but for its sensitive and sympathetic depiction of a committed polyamorous couple and the BDSM community at large. You’ll never look at the character of Wonder Woman the same way again after watching this, and I mean that emphatically as a compliment. —TE
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is available to stream on Hulu.
New on Amazon Prime Video
The Indiana Jones series
Year: 1981 (Raiders of the Lost Ark); 1984 (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom); 1989 (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade); 2008 (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
Run time: 1h 55m (Raiders of the Lost Ark); 1h 58m (Temple of Doom); 2h 7m (Last Crusade); 2h 2m (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth entry in the iconic action-adventure series and the first since 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is set to arrive in theaters this June. What better time to reacquaint or familiarize yourself with the intrepid death-defying exploits of Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones Jr.? The entire series has been added to Prime Video this month, and you really can’t go wrong with watching them all (yes— that includes Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). The first film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, is an undisputed classic and requisite watch for anyone who loves globetrotting adventures and watching Nazis get punched into plane propellers. However, I feel especially compelled to recommend 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which sees series star Harrison Ford team up alongside Sean Connery as an estranged father-son duo embarking on a race to find the Holy Grail and prevent an unscrupulous businessman allied with the Nazis from achieving immortality. —TE
The Indiana Jones series is available to stream on Prime Video.
The best of the rest
The Day After Trinity
Run time: 1h 28m
Director: Jon Else
Christopher Nolan returns this July with Oppenheimer, a biographical drama based on the life of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer starring Cillian Murphy. If you, like us, are waiting with bated breath for Nolan’s latest, you might be curious enough to brush up on the history of Oppenheimer’s key role as the “father of the atomic bomb.” Luckily for you, the 1981 documentary The Day After Trinity has been added to streaming. Else’s film charts Oppenheimer’s life from his days as a schoolboy up to the creation of what would simultaneously become his greatest contribution to human history and his deepest life-defining regret. —TE
The Day After Trinity is available to stream on Criterion Channel.
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The best movies new to streaming on Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, and Hulu (January 2023)
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