New year, fresh start, and the same movie list we never got around to watching. Even though we’re still catching up on the best films of 2022, Hollywood is already gearing up for 2023. Luckily, Netflix is taking it easy in January 2023, only dropping five original movies. There’s something for everyone, including a new spooky film with Christian Bale. With a quieter month ahead, maybe it’s the perfect time to tackle our movie backlog and finally see the ones we missed last year. As we gear up for another year of exciting releases, here’s a look at the top original movies hitting Netflix in January 2023.
1. The Pale Blue Eye
Inspired by the life of the renowned writer Edgar Allan Poe, Scott Cooper’s “The Pale Blue Eye” delves into the idea of how genuine horrors can transform into enduring tales. The story follows a private investigator (played by Christian Bale) tasked with unraveling a grisly murder that must stay concealed no matter what. In order to crack the case, the detective teams up with Allan Poe (portrayed by Harry Melling), an eccentric poet known for his fascination with all things dark and gloomy. This cinematic tale is adapted from Louis Bayard’s novel of the identical title.
2. The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker
Netflix’s inaugural documentary for the year unfolds the true tale of Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, a wanderer who gained internet fame after a viral video showcased him using a hatchet to rescue a woman from a violent assault. Initially hailed as a hero, “Kai” attracted attention from profit-seeking producers, eager to capitalize on his story. However, the viral video triggered an investigation that ultimately resulted in his conviction for another man’s murder.
In Colette Camden’s “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” the unsettling intricacies of the entire episode are laid bare. The documentary aims to shed light on how viral videos can lead people to romanticize violence without comprehending the circumstances in which such actions unfold.
Drawing inspiration from a surge in missing person cases in Mexico, “Noise” narrates the story of Julia (played by Julieta Egurrola), a mother on a relentless search for her 20-year-old daughter. Throughout her journey for answers, Julia encounters other women grappling with the same heart-wrenching quest, unraveling the harrowing experiences of those coping with the sudden disappearance of a family member.
The film “Noise” also sheds light on the disturbing connection between drug cartels, criminal organizations, and politics in Mexico. It exposes the facilitation of heinous crimes, including sex trafficking, resulting from this entanglement, while denouncing the pervasive impact on families caught in the crossfire of such dark forces.
Netflix continues its substantial investment in fresh Korean content, and come January 2023, the streaming platform will unveil a captivating South Korean sci-fi film. Titled “JUNG_E,” the story unfolds in the not-so-distant future, where the impacts of climate change compel humanity to abandon Earth permanently. In the vast emptiness of space, various shelters vie for resources, igniting a war for survival. To gain the upper hand, a team of scientists takes a bold step, cloning the mind of a military strategist with the aim of creating the ultimate combat AI.
“JUNG_E” holds the promise of being an exciting addition to Netflix’s lineup, particularly catering to enthusiasts of action films. Get ready for a thrilling journey into the realms of futuristic warfare and artificial intelligence.
5. Pamela, a Love Story
“Pamela, a Love Story” is a fresh Netflix documentary delving into the life of Pamela Anderson. This documentary promises to unveil the facets of Anderson’s illustrious acting and modeling journey, showcasing her resilience in overcoming sex scandals to evolve into a mother and an activist. A highlight of our January 2023 watchlist, the film aims to unravel the narrative of how a small-town girl could ascend to international stardom, leaving an indelible mark on generations and influencing countless individuals. Get ready for an intimate exploration of Pamela Anderson’s life, spanning her multifaceted roles as an artist, a mother, and a force for change.
6. Fair Play
Chloe Domont’s underappreciated Netflix original of 2023, the erotic psychological thriller “Fair Play,” takes center stage. Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor lead the cast as Luke and Emily, analysts at a competitive Manhattan hedge fund. As Emily secures a coveted promotion, their relationship spirals into deterioration, marked by ambition, deception, and betrayal.
In an era distanced from the golden age of erotic thrillers featuring gems like “9 1/2 Weeks,” “Basic Instinct,” and “Disclosure,” Domont’s “Fair Play” pays homage to those times. It stands as a seductive yet unsettling thriller skillfully blending thought-provoking nuances with the allure of classic suspense. More than a mere guilty pleasure, “Fair Play” exudes intelligence and sophistication while retaining its captivating and addictive qualities. Striking a delicate balance between modern progressiveness and traditional charm, it achieves a feat attempted by many but mastered by very few in contemporary cinema.
7. El Conde
Hailing from the acclaimed Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, “El Conde” emerges as a bitingly funny black comedy/horror movie. This satirical film takes a wickedly humorous angle on one of history’s most notorious figures, dictator Augusto Pinochet, presenting him as a centuries-old vampire. Weary of his immortal existence and haunted by regrets, Pinochet seeks the release of death.
In a masterful fusion of sociopolitical commentary and wild humor, “El Conde” showcases a fresh and invigorating side of Larraín’s filmmaking. Guided by the comedic prowess of Jaime Vadell, the movie is a treasure trove of witty humor and unexpected twists that set it apart in the realm of horror comedies. Astute viewers will uncover Larraín’s shrewd observations on Pinochet beneath the surface, adding a layer of complexity to the film’s irreverent tone. “El Conde” stands out as one of the best horror movies on Netflix, delivering a twisted and absurdist perspective on the life of the notoriously cruel dictator.
Bradley Cooper, a nine-time Oscar nominee, takes on the dual roles of director and star in the biopic “Maestro,” alongside two-time Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan. The film portrays the legendary composer Leonard Bernstein and his wife, Chilean actress Felicia Montealegre, chronicling their relationship from their meeting in 1943 to her passing in 1978.
“Maestro” is an ambitious, imperfect, and somewhat uneven endeavor, yet it proves to be undeniably rewarding. While it adheres somewhat to a conventional narrative for what could be a gripping tale of uncertainty and passion, the film thrives on the compelling performances of Mulligan and Cooper. Together, they present a commanding, if not entirely electrifying, portrayal, with their strongest moments occurring individually. Cooper, though at times doing a bit too much, stands out in his reenactment of Bernstein’s iconic performance at Ely Cathedral, poised to be a widely discussed sequence and potential Oscar highlight. However, Mulligan shines even brighter, drawing strength from Felicia’s silent moments and delivering a quietly heartbreaking performance that effortlessly rises above the noise created by Cooper’s character.
9. Extraction 2
In the realm of streaming, the action genre has found a secure haven, with Netflix and Prime Video in fierce competition for dominance. Netflix, however, holds a slight advantage, thanks to standout films like Sam Hargrave’s “Extraction,” which not only delivered on expectations but also spawned a highly anticipated sequel in the current year. “Extraction 2” features the return of Chris Hemsworth in the role of Tyler Rake, embarking on a mission to rescue the family of a crime lord from a foreign prison.
The original “Extraction” stands among the elite action movies on Netflix, and its 2023 sequel proves to be a fitting continuation. Chris Hemsworth excels as Rake, a contemporary action icon who could easily shine on the big screen. Despite the streaming format, “Extraction 2” boasts bombastic and thrilling set pieces, showcasing ambitious and often jaw-dropping action sequences under Hargrave’s confident direction. As is common with sequels, “Extraction 2” aspires to be grander and more resounding, yet its larger-than-life approach is balanced by a healthy dose of inspired narrative choices, making it a sequel that goes beyond mere spectacle.
10. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah
While Adam Sandler’s collaboration with Netflix has yielded mixed results, ranging from mediocre comedies like “Murder Mystery” to less-than-impressive ventures like “The Ridiculous 6,” 2023 brings forth a change in perception. Amidst the animated comedy “Leo” and the coming-of-age dramedy “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah,” it becomes apparent that the comedian proves to be a valuable asset to the streaming platform. In particular, “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” stands out as a sweet and surprisingly clever narrative, focusing on two best friends whose Bat Mitzvah plans take an unexpected turn when they vie for the attention of the same boy.
Navigating the crowded coming-of-age genre, the film distinguishes itself with a clever and refreshing twist, largely owing to the confident and buoyant performance by Sunny Sandler. The presence of her father, Adam Sandler, contributes to the film’s charm, with his role enhancing her performance rather than overshadowing it. This gamble pays off, resulting in a delightful and charming film that is sure to leave viewers with smiles from ear to ear.
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