1. “The Dig” (Netflix, January 15): If “Promising Young Woman” wasn’t enough to get Carey Mulligan on the ballot, this truth-based tale set right before World War II directed by Simon Stone will likely at least get her an extra boost. She plays Edith Pretty, an English widow in Suffolk who hires a self-made archaeologist the reveal what is inside the multiple mounds of dirt on her property. The self-described local excavator Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) unearths a burial ground of sorts. But factors like the upcoming war, bad weather, and an interloping, stuffy archaeologist tread on Brown’s discovery. It turns out that archaeology is more about the living than the dead.
2. “Penguin Bloom” (Netflix, January 27): This Australian tear-jerker based on a fact-based best-seller stars Naomi Watts as Sam Bloom, a mother who was left paralyzed after a near-fatal accident. Her husband (Andrew Lincoln), her mother (Jacki Weaver), and her three young sons struggle to deal with Sam’s situation. But matters take a turn for the better when an injured baby magpie they call Penguin enters the movie, and causes Sam to piece her life together again.
3. “The Little Things” (In theaters on January 29, while simultaneously having a month-long run on HBO Max): Any movie with a trio of Oscar winning actors in the form of Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto sounds like a must-see to me. This dark crime yarn set in 1990 about a suspected serial killer pits Washington’s Kern County deputy sheriff against Malek’s strait-laced L.A. detective, with Leto as a possible suspect who forms a strange relationship with Malek’s law enforcer.
4. “Cinderella” (In theaters on February 5): This musical romantic-comedy is directed by Kay Cannon, who is best known for writing and producing the three “Pitch Perfect” films. It stars Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello in the title role and Idina Menzel as Cinderella’s mean stepmother. Meanwhile, Billy Porter plays Fab G., a genderless fairy godparent. The cast also features Pierce Brosnan as a king, Minnie Driver as his queen, and Missy Elliott as the Town Cryer, while both James Corden and John Mulaney play footmen and mice. The best news is that “Frozen” belter Menzel and Cabello will sing original songs.
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