TORONTO — Here's a look at some of the standout TV series and films debuting on subscription streaming platforms in February:
When the young founder of app-based gaming company CompWare is assassinated in his office, his employees are rattled, to say the least. But things get even stranger when the mysterious Regus Patoff, played by two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, strolls into the workplace saying he's been hired to turn around the struggling business. Nobody has heard of him before. His past seems sketchy. And yet two of CompWare's most valuable employees find themselves dragged into Patoff's series of character tests and twisted games as they slowly pull back the layers of his identity. Brittany O'Grady of "The White Lotus" season one and Nat Wolff of the teen rom-com "Paper Towns" co-star in this eight-episode tale of tech intrigue and modern-day manipulation. (Prime Video, Feb. 24)
Black History Month
An extensive selection of films from Black creators and stars roll out on streaming services in recognition of Black History Month. The Canadian-made documentary "Black Ice," which debuts Feb. 2 on Crave, explores the untold history of Black hockey players, while the streaming platform also adds Viola Davis-led historical epic "The Woman King" on Feb. 17. Over on CBC Gem, the acclaimed gentrification art-house drama "The Last Black Man in San Francisco” arrives on Feb. 10. And a new superhero dawns in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," which picks up after the unexpected death of its lead actor Chadwick Boseman, who had cancer. The Marvel adventure is already available on Disney Plus.
Dive deeper into film history with Criterion Channel's annual “Celebrate Black History” collection which this year includes 20 films, including such classics as 1972's “Sounder,” 1990's “Paris Is Burning,” and “The Inheritance,” a politically charged 2020 drama about a group of Black activists who attempt to live together under one roof.
Oscar’s Best Picture Race
Secure a lead in your office Oscar pool streaming the extensive list of awards contenders available on subscription streaming services. Half of this year’s 10 best picture nominees are already available to watch. Netflix has German war drama “All Quiet on the Western Front,” while Paramount Plus hosts Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick.” Disney Plus offers Irish dramedy “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Crave has got Baz Luhrmann’s musical epic “Elvis” and Prime Video holds the multiverse of madness that is “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” If you’re looking to dig deeper, seek out two of the documentary feature nominees. “Fire of Love,” about a volcano-chasing couple, is on Disney Plus while “Navalny,” which follows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as he recovers from being poisoned, is on Crave.
"All That Breathes"
Two New Delhi brothers and their associate are the centre of this Oscar-nominated documentary that tracks the trio's dedication to rehabilitating injured black kites — mid-sized birds of prey ignored by local avian hospitals. From their workshop deep in the city, their organization Wildlife Rescue cares for the birds in one corner and manufactures soap dispensers in another. It's those small details that sew together the poetic visuals of filmmaker Shaunak Sen's project, a feature-length production that captures the fragility and perseverance of nature and a city that often feels on the edge of tumult. (Crave, Feb. 7)
ALSO THIS MONTH:
"Girls5Eva" - A one-hit-wonder girl group from the '90s reunites for a second swing at fame. The comedy series debuted on U.S. streaming Peacock, and on W Network in Canada, but Netflix recently acquired the rights with plans to produce new seasons. (Netflix, Now Streaming)
"Skinamarink" - Edmonton director Kyle Edward Ball's buzzworthy horror film, which was shot in his childhood home, is about two kids who find themselves trapped and alone. (Shudder, Now Streaming)
"Empire of Light" - Olivia Colman plays the manager of a small English coastal town cinema in the early 1980s where cinephiles and staff gather for magic and drama. From "1917" director Sam Mendes. (Disney Plus, Feb. 8)
"Thunder Bay" - A four-part docuseries that digs into the hidden truths behind the many unsolved deaths and disappearances of Indigenous youth in the Ontario city. Based on the Canadaland podcast. (Crave, Feb. 17, episodes weekly)
“Pokémon” – A swath of past favourites from the popular Japanese animation franchise arrive on streaming, including “Pokémon The Series,” “Pokémon The Series: XYZ,” and “Pokémon: The First Movie.” (Crave, Feb. 18)
"The Reluctant Traveler" - Eugene Levy jets from Costa Rica to Japan in a travel series looking for the world's most remarkable hot spots. (Apple TV Plus, Feb. 24, episodes weekly) "Liaison" - Espionage, terrorism and high-stakes backroom negotiations propel this six-episode international thriller that peels back the layers of political choices and unintended consequences that can follow. Starring Vincent Cassel and Eva Green. (Apple TV Plus, Feb. 24, episodes weekly)
RETURNING SERIES: Netflix pushes ahead with new plot twists on two of its most popular shows. Stalker drama "You" returns with the first half of its fourth season on Feb. 9 while a recent turn of events on "Outer Banks" puts its characters in unanticipated peril when season three kicks off on Feb. 23.
Meanwhile, Crave says farewell to "Star Trek" series "Picard" when new episodes of its final season begin weekly on Feb. 16 while "Party Down" is resurrected of Crave's Starz tier for a third season, more than a decade after the cult comedy about Los Angeles caterers originally finished its run.
And Prime Video's "Carnival Row," starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, wraps up with a second season on Feb. 17 that starts with a series of mysterious murders within the carnival community.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023.
David Friend, The Canadian Press