‘The Lorax’ (Jan. 6)
If you talk to a parent of young children, you will likely not hear much affection for Illumination Studios, the purveyors of some of the laziest, sloppiest and most obnoxious children’s entertainment around. (“Sing 2,” in theaters now! New Minions movie next summer!) The studio’s two best films are most likely its adaptations of Dr. Seuss books — unsurprising, as his texts provide such fertile material for animators. This 2012 animated take on Seuss’s 1971 environmental fable gets a big boost from Danny DeVito’s robust vocal performance as the title character; this is an actor whose voice was built for cartoons, and he makes his Lorax into a showstopping creation.
‘Twilight’ (Jan. 15)
It’s not hard to make fun of “the Twilight Saga” (five films total, all leaving Netflix mid-month): Plenty of people have, from lazy film critics to hacky stand-up comics to smarmy YouTube hosts. And, to be clear, these are not great works of cinema; the plotting is silly, the tone is all over the place, and performances are uneven. But there are virtues as well: solid filmmaking (especially this first outing, from the “Thirteen” director, Catherine Hardwicke); a rare dramatization of budding female sexuality; and most of all, the power the series’ success gave its stars, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, to make whatever weird art movies they wanted afterward. Did you enjoy “The Lighthouse,” “Personal Shopper,” “Spencer,” or “Good Time”? Thank “Twilight.”
‘The Bling Ring’ (Jan. 17)
This 2013 effort from Sofia Coppola effort plays like a culmination of all of her previous work: the celebrity satire of “Lost in Translation,” the hedonism of “Marie Antoinette” and the California alienation of “Somewhere,” stirred into a soup with the real-life story of four young Hollywood hangers-on who supplemented their party lifestyle by burglarizing the homes of famous people. A lesser filmmaker could have turned this story into a broad, dumb comedy or a stern lecture about the morals of today’s fallen youth. Coppola goes in another direction, capturing the glitz and glamour of this sleek world and its shiny surfaces before exposing the emptiness underneath.
Stream it here.
‘Cloud Atlas’ (Jan. 31)
The writer David Mitchell has been a key collaborator of the Wachowski siblings in recent years, working with them on their Netflix series “Sense8” and co-writing Lana Wachowski’s recent “The Matrix Resurrections.” But they first worked together less directly, co-writing and co-directing (with the “Run Lola Run” filmmaker Tom Tykwer) this 2012 adaptation of Mitchell’s vast novel “Cloud Atlas.” It’s an ambitious piece of work, combining multiple narratives across time and space and placing its main cast (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant) in multiple roles. It doesn’t all work, but it’s such a big swing that it’s hard not to fall under its spell.
‘Mystic River’ (Jan. 31)
Clint Eastwood was in a rough spot as a filmmaker in the early 2000s after several years of turning forgotten best-sellers like “True Crime” and “Blood Work” into forgettable movies. But he struck gold in 2003 with his adaptation of “Mystic River,” a Boston crime novel by Dennis Lehane, which netted Oscars for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. They star, along with Kevin Bacon, as friends since childhood who have dealt with a shared trauma in wildly different ways, and “Mystic River” expertly folds together its present-day and flashback timelines to reveal how the pain of the past is never far away.