It’s a basic fact of movie-going that January is a rough month. The studios have already unloaded their awards fodder, and summer blockbuster season doesn’t start until March.
That being the case, you’re going to have to find some way to make it to the warmer days. To lighten the burden of slumming it through January, we’ve come up with a handy viewing guide for the bleakest movie season.
If you look for things to watch in the right places, the month will be over before you know it.
» Just because the great film year of 2013 is over, that doesn’t mean you don’t get to reap the benefits. Some of the 2013’s best movies have yet to expand beyond a limited release. Chief among them is Spike Jonze’s achingly beautiful “Her,” a sci-fi romance with a bizarre premise and a sense of humor that will win over even the most cynical of skeptics.
» One of the rare joys of January is that occasionally good movies get pushed out of November and December release dates due to overcrowding by the awards crowd. This year, that was “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” and “Monuments Men.” You’ll have to wait until February to see George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, but the newest take on Tom Clancy’s recurring hero has a prime January 17 release date as an action-packed reprieve from the cold.
» Another perk of it being the first year of the month is that a lot of the awards contenders from earlier in 2013 are hitting Blu-ray just in time for Academy voters to see them. This month, you can catch up on “Captain Phillips” and “Rush,” two great films that deserve to be seen if you haven’t already.
»Two of the year’s best independent films are finally hitting home video in January. You’ll be able to watch Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller start a boozy young love in “The Spectacular Now,” which hits shelves January 14, and you can also see their co-star Brie Larson in “Short Term 12,” the story of a home for troubled youth that’s way more heartwarming than it sounds.
» PBS is starting to roll out its share of the BBC’s programming over the next couple weeks. Season four of “Downton Abbey,” which already aired across the pond, will premiere Sunday, so if you haven’t been spoiled a million times over, now’s the time to catch up on the beloved upstairs/downstairs drama. On January 19, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return in “Sherlock,” which will be back for three new 90-minute episodes.
» In addition to January 12 being a big night for Hollywood thanks to the Golden Globe Awards, that Sunday also brings the premiere of “True Detective,” a limited series event starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The eight-episode run was directed by the great Cary Fukunaga and is already earning some high praise from TV critics. Afterward, stick around for the first two new episodes of “Girls.”
What entertainment will get you through January? Share your picks in the comments!