TV, US, 2023 – out 1 January
Creator Eric Garcia’s Ridley Scott-produced anthology series has an interesting gimmick: Netflix will present episodes randomly, each viewer experiencing them in a different order (other than the finale, which is the same for all). Loosely inspired by a real-life heist that occurred in Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy, in which bonds worth billions went missing, the characters are a familiar lineup of shady professionals including a weapons specialist (Paz Vega), a safe cracker (Jai Courtney), a driver (Jordan Mendoza) and a mastermind pulling the shots (Giancarlo Esposito, AKA Gus Fring from Breaking Bad).
The Pale Blue Eye
Film, US, 2022 – out 6 January
Murder mysteries are more fun when they’re based before the dawn of advanced forensics. Nobody wants to hear “I think it was Miss Peacock in the library with the rope – but let’s check with the lab first.”
The Pale Blue Eyes takes place in the 1830s, with Christian Bale as a renowned detective recruited by an American military academy to solve a case involving a corpse that’s had its heart removed. He recruits a young cadet to help, though it’s not just anyone: this cadet is fond of poetry and is named Edgar Allen Poe (Harry Melling). The film is based on Louis Bayard’s novel of the same name, which was described by the New York Times as “shockingly clever and devoutly unsentimental”.
TV, Denmark, 2023 – out 5 January
Nicolas Winding Refn is known for brutal violence and blindingly bright neon-glazed images. The director of Drive, Only God Forgives and Too Old to Die Young returns to his motherland for (his words) a “poetic neo-noir”, marking his first Danish language production since 2005. Copenhagen Cowboy follows a young woman, Miu (Angela Bundalovic), who navigates Copenhagen’s criminal underbelly and is joined by her nemesis for – according to the official synopsis – “an odyssey through the natural and the supernatural”. Expect saturated colours and long, lingering shots.
Honourable mentions: Lady Voyeur (TV, 1 January), Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street (TV, 4 January), Break Point (TV, 13 January), A Quiet Place Part II (film, 14 January), Khallat+ (film, 19 January), You People (film, 27 January), Pamela, A Love Story (TV, 31 January), Cunk On Earth (TV, 31 January), Jung_E (film, date TBC).
TV, Australia, 2023 – out 1 January
Creator Lucas Taylor’s Queensland-set murder mystery has a morbidly entertaining premise: what if the opening of a long-buried time capsule contained a clue to an unsolved murder? Travis Fimmel’s sleepy-eyed detective James Cormack dusts off an old case involving the death of 17-year-old Isabel (Talijah Blackman-Corowa), who is also one of the lead characters – the show alternating between her story (set in the 90s) and Cormac’s investigation many years later, in 2019. After a strong start Black Snow’s screenwriters struggle to maintain tension across its six-episode arc – but those partial to a good ol‘ small-town mystery will probably find enough to satisfy.
Film, Australia, 2023 – out 20 January
Sam Worthington is currently on cinema screens, frolicking around on Pandora as the tall blue protagonist of Avatar: Way of the Water. You can see him sans motion capture suit in this new Australian thriller, playing a PTSD-suffering former member of the Australian army’s Special Air Service regiment. In a plotline that sounds a bit Liam Neeson-esque, Worthington’s protagonist must venture into the criminal underworld to save his young son (Edward Friday Carmody). The synopsis sounds a little macho; let’s hope director Matt Nable brings something interesting to the table.
Honourable mentions: every Harry Potter movie (film, 15 January), 10 Cloverfield Lane (film, 21 January), Farewell, Mr Haffmann (film, 22 January), Youth (film, 23 January), The Pretend One (film, 25 January), Poker Face (TV, 27 January), Slam (film, 31 January).
Crazy Fun Park
TV, Australia, 2023 – out 1 January
Every once in a while the ABC produces smart and energetic YA productions that resonate with their target audiences – among them The PM’s Daughter and Nowhere Boys. This new series created by Nicholas Verso (director of Boys in the Trees) begins inside its eerie titular location – a disused amusement park – where a young man observes a bunch of mask-wearing ghosts then gets out of there, toot suite. The narrative revolves around Chester (Henry Strand), a high school student whose best friend (Stacy Clausen) dies but lives on as an apparition at Crazy Fun Park. The Paul Jennings-esque tone is playfully creepy.
Honourable mentions: Camilla’s Country Life (film, 6 January), Bradman and Tendulkar (TV, 23 January), Australia’s Wild Odyssey (TV, 24 January).
SBS on Demand
Not Quite Hollywood
Film, Australia, 2008 – out 1 January
Mark Hartley’s riotously entertaining documentary about the Ozploitation movement captures the explosive, tyre-streaked, bullet-marked, nudity-filled energy of an exhilarating trash-and-treasure period of Australian cinema. It’s pacey and pulpy, like many of the films it explores. After watching Not Quite Hollywood, why not gorge on some Ozploitation classics that land on the platform on 6 January – including Razorback, Road Games, Mad Dog Morgan, The Man from Hong Kong, Long Weekend and Patrick.
Honourable mentions: Cosi (film, 1 January), Good Night, and Good Luck (film, 1 January), Somewhere Boy (TV, 5 January), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (film, 6 January), Bird of Passage (film, 6 January), Am I Being Unreasonable? (TV, 12 January), Enemy of the People (TV, 12 January), Fenris (TV, 19 January), Pandore (TV, 19 January), Blackport (TV, 26 January), The Ambassador (TV, 26 January), Top End Wedding (film, 26 January), Project Nim (film, 27 January).
Amazon Prime Video
TV, Scotland, 2023 – out 6 January
This supernatural thriller created by David Macpherson and directed by John Strickland (whose credits include Line of Duty and Bodyguard) follows a crew working on an oil rig off the Scottish coast who are hit by a thick mysterious fog that covers the rig and summons eerie happenings. “Since the fog came in, some of our crew have had psychological difficulty,” says one character in the trailer, which sounds like a bit of an understatement given all those creepy visuals and talk about how the crew have encountered “something old” that’s “waking up”. Oooooo.
Lots of Rocky movies
Rocky Balboa is the most recognisable boxer in movie history – played with sweaty aplomb by Sylvester Stallone. His movies (as well as baton-passing spinoffs Creed and Creed 2) are landing on Prime Video in January, allowing fans and potential fans to launch an epic binge session. Rocky 1-3 arrive on 6 January; Rocky 4, 5 and Rocky Balboa on 13 January; and Creed and Creed 2 on 20 January.
Honourable mentions: Jurassic Park (film, 1 January), Jurassic Park: The Lost World (film, 1 January), Gasoline Alley (film, 6 January), Shotgun Wedding (film, 27 January), Where The Crawdads Sing (film, 28 January).
TV, UK, 2023 – out 25 January
Creator and lead writer Emma Moran’s comedy series is the latest “superhero with a twist” story, finding a marketable point of difference in a well-flogged genre by depicting a world in which everyone over 18 has a superpower – except the protagonist. Twenty-five-year-old Jen (Máiréad Tyers) feels understandably shafted, moaning about being a plain old unremarkable human. The concept has lots of potential for comedy and zany world-building.
Honourable mentions: Koala Man (film, 9 January), Chasing Waves (TV, 11 January), If These Walls Could Sing (film, 6 January), Darby and the Dead (film, 27 January).
The Last of Us
TV, US, 2023 – out 16 January
Much anticipation surrounds this adaptation of the masterful, hard-hitting video game of the same name, originally released in 2013 and with an even more confronting sequel landing in 2020. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey star as Joel and Ellie – a stoic man and teenage girl respectively, who navigate a post-apocalyptic America where hideous zombie-like creatures monster the landscape. I love how the time-ravaged aesthetic of both games combines dilapidated settings with visions of nature reclaiming city spaces, mixing natural beauty and potential rebirth with a constant reminder that the world can never return to what it was. Creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have their work cut out for them.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Film, US, 2017 – out 12 January
David Soren’s gloriously zany animation doesn’t take a moment for granted, constantly shifting realities, mixing up its aesthetic and embracing a mood of kiddish chaos. Two young pranksters – George (voice of Kevin Hart) and Harold (voice of Thomas Middleditch) – are delighted by their newfound ability to mind-control their school principal, who turns on their command into a subservient blubbering idiot and quasi-superhero. There’s loads of funny gags, sometimes delightfully childish and sometimes utterly audacious.
Honourable mentions: Labyrinth (film, 1 January), Mulholland Drive (film, 1 January), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (film, 2 January), Boiler Room (film, 3 January), Brooklyn (film, 7 January), Calvary (film, 7 January), Carol (film, 7 January), Velma (TV, 12 January), Forrest Gump (film, 15 January), Top Gun: Maverick (film, 19 January), The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (film, 20 January), Where the Drawdads Sing (film, 28 January).
TV, US, 2023 – out 27 January
What if a shrink snapped and started telling clients what they really think? That’s the premise of Shrinking, a 10-part comedy co-created by and starring Jason Segel as a therapist who breaks conventions, breaches ethical boundaries and (according to the official synopsis) starts “making huge changes to people’s lives”. The underwhelming teaser trailer doesn’t give away much, but it does briefly show co-star Harrison Ford, whose performance marks one of his first TV roles. Old mate Hazza finally got the TV memo, also recently starring in the Yellowstone origin story 1923.
Honourable mentions: Servant season 4 (TV, 13 January), Super League: The War For Football (TV, January 13), Truth Be Told season 3 (TV, 27 January).
Art & Krimes by Krimes
Film, US, 2021 – out 5 January
“When you go into prison you quickly come to realise that there are a few things that no one can take from you – your dignity and your ability to create,” says artist Jesse Krimes told Deadline, reflecting on his artistic ideals and his time in a federal prison. During a six-year stint, Krimes – who was found guilty of cocaine possession – continued to create art, clandestinely piecing together contraband creations using materials such as bedsheets and hair gel. His works include a 40-foot mural, constructed piecemeal, different parts of it smuggled out of the penitentiary.
Director Alysa Nahmias captures his story in Art & Krimes by Krimes, which played on the festival circuit (including at Sundance and Telluride) before being acquired by Paramount+.
Honourable mentions: Sometimes When We Touch (TV, 4 January), Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices from a Plantation Prison (film, 5 January), Last Flight Home (film, 5 January), As Far as They Can Run (film, 17 January), Favourite Daughter (film, 17 January), Teen Wolf: The Movie (film, 27 January), Wolf Pack (TV, 27 January).
This article was amended on 3 January 2023, to correct the title and period-setting of The Pale Blue Eye.