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Latest Netflix movies: Which new releases to watch right now (January 2021)

New on Netflix
Cool Hand Luke and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Pic credit: Warner Bros / Netflix

Every month, Netflix makes significant changes. Several movies leave the service, while the streaming giant adds several others to its library.

The good news is that Netflix is always adding original movies to its service, meaning they are building a library that will never leave.

However, at the same time, they are also adding classics and newer releases for at least a limited time that fans can enjoy watching anything they want.

Here at Monsters & Critics, we will keep track of the latest movies added to Netflix, both originals and the best older movies, and let you know our picks for what you should find to watch each month.

Updated on January 2, 2021: These movies were all added to Netflix in the past four months and will be updated monthly, with the best new titles to watch. This list is for those films released in August through November 2020.

The Departed (Jan. 1)

The Departed
Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson in The Departed. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

In 2006, Martin Scorsese won an Oscar for his remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, which he renamed The Departed.

The movie stars Leonard DiCaprio as a Boston cop who goes undercover as part of the mafia, working directly under the mob boss himself, portrayed by Jack Nicholson.

Meanwhile, Matt Damon is a member of the mob sent to the police academy and has gone deep as a mole inside the police. This movie shows both stories, as the two men get very deep into their respective undercover jobs, and both know they might not make it out in one piece.

Bonnie and Clyde (Jan. 1)

Bonnie and Clyde
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde. Pic credit: Warner Bros

Bonnie and Clyde is one of the movies that helped change how Hollywood was run.

Released in 1967, the movie was one of the more independently made movies, along with films like Easy Rider that convinced Hollywood that film auteurs should be given leeway to go off the beaten path.

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway starred as the legendary outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, as they rode through towns, robbing banks, and becoming folk heroes to the poor people who saw them as heroes.

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Cool Hand Luke (Jan. 1)

Cool Hand Luke
Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Paul Newman was one of the biggest stars of the ’60s and one look at Cool Hand Luke will show anyone why he was the man.

In the movie, Newman starred as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp who refuses to submit to the system.

Much like Bonnie and Clyde, Cool Hand Luke was a movie that was firmly anti-establishment and was a great example of the new style of filmmaking that took the world by storm.

The movie picked up four Oscar nominations, winning one, and was added to the United States Library of Congress in its National Film Registry in 2005.

Goodfellas (Jan. 1)

The cast of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

In 1990, Martin Scorsese made one of his best movies with the mob picture, Goodfellas.

In the movie, Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill, a low-level member of the mafia who has strong ties to everyone he works with but then finds himself on the rails when the police bust him and force him to turn over evidence on the men he calls his family.

The movie is based on a true story, as told in the non-fiction novel Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, which tells the story of Henry Hill, from his days as a mobster to his entry into witness protection years later.

The Midnight Sky (Dec. 23)

Midnight Sky review
George Clooney and Caoilinn Springall in Midnight Sky. Pic credit: Netflix

The Midnight Sky is George Clooney’s latest movie, which he both directed and stars in.

The movie tells the story of an Earth that has fallen to a catastrophic end, with most humans dying to an unexplained incident. Clooney is a scientist in the Arctic and one of the last survivors.

He knows a space exploration to a moon of Jupiter is returning and he is in a hurry to contact them to warn them to head back because all is lost here. However, his plans are interrupted when a young girl shows up in his lab and he has to care for her as well.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Dec. 18)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Pic credit: Netflix

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will be known as the final movie in the career of Chadwick Boseman before his untimely passing.

However, it deserves to also be known as one of the best movies of 2020 and Viola Davis deserves all the praise in the world for her performance.

Davis is Ma Rainey and she gathers her band players (of which Boseman is one) together to record a new album in Chicago. However, due to rising tensions, the recording is halted and tempers boil over.

Mank (Dec. 4)

Gary Oldman in Mank. Pic credit: Netflix

David Fincher is back with his new movie, and it is a Netflix original.

In Mank, Fincher creates a black and white movie that tells the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his life as he works on the script for Orson Welle’s Citizen Kane.

Since Citizen Kane was an unflattering look at real-life media mogul William Randolph Hearst, this was a job that almost ruined Mank’s life.

In December on Netflix, the movie premiered and was one of the top new releases of the month for the streaming giant.

A Clockwork Orange (Nov. 1)

A Clockwork Orange
Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. Pic credit: Warner Bros

In 1971, Stanley Kubrick directed the dystopian film A Clockwork Orange, starring Malcolm McDowell.

The film takes place in a future where Britain has become engulfed in depravity and debauchery. McDowell is Alex, who leads his own gang of friends who assaults people with no abandon.

However, when Alex is arrested, he is subjected to therapy where he is tamed, and all his evil impulses are removed.

However, when he is released back into the world, cured, he finds himself unable to defend himself when the sins of his past catch up with him.

Boyz N the Hood (Nov. 1)

Boyz in the Hood
Cuba Gooding Jr and Ice Cube in Boyz in the Hood. Pic credit: Columbia

Boyz N the Hood was the directorial debut for John Singleton and might be one of the best movies of its kind.

Ice Cube makes his film debut here, and Cuba Gooding Jr. is the lead, as a young man sent to live with his dad in South Central Los Angeles. When he arrives, he starts to integrate into the growing gang culture of the era.

The film is a harsh look at life on the streets and how hard it is to get out of the teenage years alive. The film was added to the National Film Registry in 2002 as culturally relevant.

Fruitvale Station (Nov. 12)

Fruitvale Station
Michael B. Jordan and Kevin Durand in Fruitvale Station. Pic credit: The Weinstein Company

Fruitvale Station is the directorial debut by Ryan Coogler and stars Michael B. Jordan.

The film tells the true-life story of Oscar Grant, who was murdered in 2009 by a BART police officer. Chad Michael Murray stars as the officer who shot Grant in the back.

The movie takes place on the last day of Oscar’s life before his murder.

It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and it picked up Best First Film at Cannes.

Coogler and Jordan enjoyed great success in Creed and Black Panther, but they might not have a more important movie than Fruitvale Station.

Stranger Than Fiction (Oct. 1)

Stranger Than Fiction
Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

Will Ferrell took a step back in Stranger Than Fiction, a 2006 film that was not a typical Farrell comedy but instead played more like a Michel Gondry movie.

Stranger Than Fiction is a dark comedy playing on the idea of existentialism and identity, as Ferrell learns over the course of the movie that he is not a real person.

Instead, he is a fictional character named Harold Crick, an IRS worker in a novel by author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson). She is known for killing her protagonists, but when Harold starts to hear a voice narrating his story and realizes he is going to die, he sets out to stop it.

Fargo (Oct. 1)

Frances McDormand in Fargo. Pic credit: Focus Features

The Coen Brothers brought the world Fargo in 1996, a black comedy taking place in the snowy North Dakota countryside.

Frances McDormand stars as Marge Gunderson, a pregnant Minnesota police chief who is investigating a series of roadside murders. These might end up tying in with the kidnapping of a car salesman’s wife.

Two hapless criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) kidnapped her and there is more to the crime than anyone knows.

Keeping the Coen Brothers darkly comic sensibilities, Fargo picked up seven Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. It won for Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Original Screenplay.

Cape Fear (Oct. 1)

Cape Fear
Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. Pic credit: Universal

In 1992, one of the scariest movies of that era arrived with Martin Scorsese’s thriller remake of Cape Fear.

Scorsese remade the film and cast his long-time collaborator Robert De Niro as the crazed former prisoner who sets his sights on Nick Nolte’s attorney and his family, trying to find someone to blame for his prison time.

The movie also featured an early appearance by Juliette Lewis as Nolte’s young daughter. Both De Niro and Lewis picked up Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for their roles in the movie.

WarGames (Oct. 1)

Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy in WarGames. Pic credit: United Artists

In 1983, Matthew Broderick starred in the sci-fi action movie WarGames, where he plays David, a young hacker who accidentally breaks into the U.S. War Operation Plan Response.

Thinking it is a game that runs the simulation, but then he accidentally makes the nuclear weapons control system believe a nuclear war is imminent and it begins preparation to start World War III.

When he is arrested and accused of espionage and being a Soviet agent, David has to escape and find a way to prove his innocence.

Shawn S. Lealos

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