In many ways, March is the true start of the pop culture year. January is all about catching up on the December movies you missed out on during the holiday season, and February is a bleak dump of bad movies that couldn’t break even in other months. (The fact that “Cocaine Bear” was awesome complicates the matter a bit, but this exception proves the rule).
But March brings the Oscars, SXSW, and March Madness, and suddenly it feels like we’ve stepped out of the funk and are actually living in a new year. So, if you’re all caught up on your Oscar movies (or just sick of hearing about the Oscars), it’s time to dive into the latest list of new and classic movies coming to Netflix this month. Read on for seven of our favorites.
“Magic Mike XXL” (streaming now)
When the original “Magic Mike” was released in 2012, many were surprised to find that Channing Tatum’s semi-autobiographical film about his life as a male stripper was more of a personal drama than a male version of “Showgirls.” Then, when the sequel hit theaters three years later, many were surprised that it was… just a male version of “Showgirls,” but in a good way. The road trip comedy upended beefcake camping and spawned a ridiculously fun, sex-positive sequel that continues to build on the upbeat strip-club vibe of the original film. Whether you’re trying to catch up before watching “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” or trying to wash off the taste of the disappointing threequel, watching “Magic Mike XXL” is never a bad idea.
“Sleepless in Seattle” (streaming now)
The Nora Ephron-Meg Ryan collaboration was at the absolute pinnacle of the rom-com genre in the late 1980s and early 1990s (until now). From the charismatic cast and sophisticated dialogue to the picturesque cityscapes and atmospheric sets, “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” exemplify everything the genre should excel at. The two women hit three consecutive home runs, and “Sleepless in Seattle” remains one of the “long chance meeting” romances. Always worth revisiting.
“Rango” (streaming now)
Between directing “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and the profound “The Lone Ranger,” Gore Verbinski found time to make one of the best animated films of the century. Johnny Depp stars as the eponymous domesticated chameleon who is forced to adapt to the wild after his terrarium is lost in the Mojave Desert. Verbinski brilliantly riffs on Western tropes (both American and Italian) to create a story that entertains moviegoers while also entertaining newcomers.
“Chris Rock: Selective Outrage” (streaming March 4)
The one-year anniversary of The Slap is coming up, and Chris Rock is finally ready to share his unfiltered thoughts on the incident. After performing a standup tour of mostly old material (and turning down an offer to host the Oscars), Rock is set to headline Netflix’s first live comedy, “Selective Outrage.” The event, which will be broadcast live on Saturday night before becoming part of the Netflix library, could dominate The Discourse in the final week of awards season. Even if you’re not a Chris Rock fan, it’s worth checking out how Netflix’s first foray into live streaming is going. And if you’re a Chris Rock fan, it’s a no-brainer.
“Luther: Fallen Sun” (streaming March 10)
Even as he became an A-list movie star, Idris Elba has always maintained an admirable loyalty to the “Luther” franchise. The BBC crime series, in which Elba solved crimes as the brilliant Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, was the perfect vehicle for Elba’s cunning. He continued to star in new episodes until 2019, before ending the series with a feature film. Now, he’s finally made good on that promise, and “Luther: The Fallen Son” promises to give the show a fitting closure when it hits Netflix this month. Early reviews are mixed, but if nothing else, the movie that turned James Bond down is worth seeing.
“Carol” (streaming March 20)
If Cate Blanchett doesn’t take home the Oscar next weekend, her fans can console themselves by rewatching one of her best performances. By now, practically everything has been said about Todd Hayne’s “Carol” – but that doesn’t change the fact that it remains one of the best love stories of the 21st century. This stunning portrayal of forbidden love against the backdrop of repressive 1950s America is Blanchett’s absolute best — which is to say, better than virtually anyone else’s.
“Murder Mystery 2” (streaming March 31)
Who said Hollywood doesn’t make comedies anymore? Netflix’s highest-profile new scripted release this month may be “Murder Mystery 2,” the sequel to Adam Sandler’s much-maligned 2019 film. At this point, everyone probably knows whether or not they’re the target audience for a movie like this—and if that’s your thing, go for it. And if not, remember that it pays the bills so Sandler can keep making Sadfie brothers movies.