There’s no way around it: January is a very depressing time of year. It’s cold out, the sun’s brightness is but a distant memory, and you’re back to work after a two-week fantasia of family time and time-away-from-family time. Perhaps worst of all, though, January is the time when studios often dump some of their least promising flicks in a post-Oscar contention malaise. But there’s a silver lining to that cloud (not to be confused with the cloud that is hovering right over your apartment for the entirety of the month): mid-season starts on TV, there’s plenty of counter-programming in every other medium, and yes, not all January films are leftover turkeys. Have a look at Co.Create’s extensive guide to the most promising movies, shows, albums, and other fun stuff coming your way this month, sure to help you fight away the SADs until the sun comes back.
MOVIES IN THEATERS
- The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death, opens January 2nd. Daniel Radcliffe does not return for this sequel to the 2012 horror hit, a fact which counts as a spoiler about the fate of Daniel Radcliffe’s character in the original movie.
- Taken 3, opens January 9th. Your afternoon will have a particular set of chills, probably, if you spend it watching the latest film in which Liam Neeson lays waste to all the Eastern Europeans he can get his hands on. This one’s set in America, however, so now there’s 100% fewer Eastern Europeans.
- Mortdecai, opens January 23rd. You’re not hallucinating: Johnny Depp has in fact made a new movie that doesn’t involve Tim Burton or a pirate of the Caribbean. Here, Depp plays art dealer Charles Mortdecai who is searching for a stolen painting that may or not be linked to Nazi gold.
- Mommy, opens January 23rd. This Belgium film centers on a widowed single mother who meets a mysterious neighbor. Not to be confused with Mama, the Jessica Chastain horror movie from two January’s ago.
- Black Sea, opens January 23rd. It’s been a while since we’ve seen any serious submarine action. Directed by Kevin MacDonald of Last King of Scotland fame,Black Sea is about a sub captain embarking on a shady journey through the Black Sea to find a submarine rumored to be loaded with gold. The same Nazi gold Mortdecai is looking for? Perhaps!
- The Humbling, opens January 23rd. It’s weird that this Al Pacino film is calledThe Humbling, and it’s not about the time Al Pacino starred in the Adam Sandler film Jack and Jill. Instead, this Philip Roth adaptation has Pacino playing an aging actor (believable!) who has an affair with a much younger lesbian.
- Black or White, opens January 30th. Writer/director Mike Binder reteams with Kevin Costner for the first time since 2005’s The Upside Of Anger for this story about a grieving widower’s custody battle over his granddaughter.
- Wild Card, opens January 30th. Picture every Jason Statham movie ever. Okay, now throw in Jason Alexander, Stanley Tucci, Anne Heche, and Sofia Vergara. What is even happening? Find out on January 30th, I guess!
MOVIES TO WATCH AT HOME
- The Search for General Tso, January 2. Finally an answer to the question that Chinese food fanatics have long asked themselves—what act of bravery madeone general more closely associated with chicken than any other ever?
- Predestination, January 9. Ethan Hawke continues his masterful balancing act of highbrow and lowbrow fare by following up his lauded performance in 2014’sBoyhood with this tale of a time traveling cop’s final assignment.
- Escobar: Paradise Lost, released late December. The only man who could portray both Che Guevara and Pablo Escobar is Benicio del Toro, and thanks to this film—which finds the Colombian drug lord overseeing his niece’s romantic relationship—he’s finally done it.
- Son of a Gun, released late December. Ewan McGregor is Australia’s toughest criminal, mentoring a young newbie through the prison system. Does he have an ulterior motive? It would be pretty boring if he didn’t!
- Iliza Shlesinger – Freezing Hot, January 23rd. The rising comedian is releasing her second special on Netflix, continuing the streaming service’s ongoing quest to be a huge stand-up destination.
ALBUMS YOU SHOULD HEAR
- Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, out on January 13th. The Brian Wilson-like harmonies of Animal Collective singer Panda Bear are back on an album whose title sounds like the best crossover episode ever.
- Justin Townes Earle – Absent Fathers, out on January 13th. The roots-rocker’s latest is the very swift follow-up to last Septembers connectively titled Single Mothers.
- Belle & Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance, out on January 20th. New music from Belle & Sebastian qualifies as an event. Stuart Murdoch’s large, Glaswegian collective—and the apparent whitest band in the world—returns for the first time in five years, probably with more songs that are light as a soufflé but stick to your ribs.
- Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Psycho, out on January 20th. After taking a long hiatus, Fall Out Boy are following up their 2013 comeback with a new batch of muscular pop-punk jams.
- Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$, out on January 20th. Upstart rapper Joey Bada$$ is very proud of the way he grammatically reconfigured his name into a three-word sentence with his new album title—as he should be. May the wordplay on the album itself be equally clever.
- Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love, out on January 20th. As prophesied last fall, Sleater-Kinney has reunited and all is right with the world. This album kicks off the band’s first tour in a decade, a time during which Carrie Brownstein’spopularity has perhaps exceeded that of the band itself.
- The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, out on January 20th. Literary-leaning, old-timey instrument-loving folkateers The Decemberists may have taken a few years off, but they are back and primed to conquer the Mumford-ian world they helped wreak.
- Doomtree – All Hands, out on January 27th. Although All Hands is only the Minnesota-based hip-hop collective’s second official album, Doomtree has been around for a long time, lead by several releases from breakout member P.O.S.
- Mark Ronson – Uptown Special, out on January 27th. The uber-producer’s team-up with Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk,” was a big hit when the two served as musical guests on SNL recently. Let’s see if that magic extends across an entire album the song hails from.
THINGS TO WATCH ON YOUR TV (OR YOUR COMPUTER)
- Worst Cooks In America, premieres January 4th on Food Network. The long-running show lead by chefs Tyler Florence and Anne Burrell continues educating us on who is way better at cooking than any of us will ever be—yet still terrible.
- Hindsight, premieres January 7th on VH1. Destined to be known as “the magic elevator show,” this ultra-rare scripted series from VH1 follows a bride who reconnects with her 20 years earlier self after a ride on the aforementioned enchanted conveyance.
- Portlandia, premieres January 8th on IFC. As they enter their show’s new season, creator/stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein continue to flesh out their array of recurring characters, along with the achingly hip setting around them.
- Togetherness, premieres January 11th on HBO. The Duplass brothers have teamed up with HBO to draw out their cinematic slice-of-life magic to series length. The resulting show—costarring Mark Duplass and the magnetic Melanie Lynskey—follows two couples living under one roof, and if it’s anything like the Duplass’ filmwork, it will make you laugh and also feel stuff.
- 72nd Golden Globe Awards, airs January 11th on Fox. It’s like the Oscars and Emmys except both at once, everyone’s drinking, and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are hosting again. Watch it on two TVs at once!
- Kroll Show, premieres January 13th on Comedy Central. The most sitcom-like sketch series returns for a final season on the back of Kroll’s assurance that the show is going out in its prime.
- Man Seeking Woman, premieres January 14 on FXX. It’s not as if we really need another show about bros hitting on ladies to varying degrees of success, but when those bros are Jay Baruchel and Eric Andre, and the show was created bycomedic genius Simon Rich, then yes, we do need it.
- Broad City, premieres January 14th on Comedy Central. The surprise comedy hit of 2014 is back, and at this point the show is so well known for its incisive look at modern female friendship by now that the fact that it was adapted from a web series seems like a footnote.
- 12 Monkeys, premieres January 16th on Syfy. If last year’s TV-fication of the movie Fargo is any hint, this new adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s 1996 time travel mindscrew might be legit.
- Whitney, premieres January 17th on Lifetime. Directed by Angela Bassett, who played Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It, this Whitney Houston biopic will hopefully focus more on the singer’s Bodyguard soundtrack glory years, rather than the steady decline that lead to her tragic end. RIP Whitney!
- The Nightly Show, premieres January 19th on Comedy Central. Senior Black Correspondent on The Daily Show, Larry Wilmore, starts a new companion series called The Nightly Show. If it’s anywhere near as funny as its predecessor,The Colbert Report, our fake news will generate plenty of real laughs.
- Backstrom, premieres January 22nd on Fox. Go ahead and stare at the name of the series all you like; the letters will never morph into the much more satisfying configuration, “Backstorm.” This new series follows The Office’s Rainn Wilson as a dysfunctional detective who still manages to get results. Not an original idea, obviously, but the Swedish novels the series is based on invites the tantalizing prospect of a hilarious version of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
- The Americans, premieres January 28th on FX. Your friends have yet to stop recommending the second season of this show about Cold War-era KGB officers posing as American marrieds, and you have only a few weeks to catch up before the third season begins. Hurry! third season
BOOKS TO READ
- Patton Oswalt – Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From An Addition to Film, out on January 6. In addition to being one of the top stand-up comedians working today, Patton Oswalt is also a burgeoning character actor and an author. The multi-hyphenate combines the latter two passions for his latest project: a book about movies!
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today, out on January 6th. In case you couldn’t tell what this book is about from that subtitle, there’s also a helpful second subtitle: “The Gang Writes a Self-Help Book.” Now you know. What will you do with this knowledge!
- Miranda July – The First Bad Man: A Novel, out on January 13th. Although she’s had several other projects of the literary, cinematic, artistic, and app-based variety, Miranda July has somehow never written a novel before this tome about an unlikely female friendship. How can that even be?
- Rachel Cusk – Outline: A Novel, out on January 13th. The latest from Cusk is a deep-thinker. It’s a a novel in ten conversations that interrogates our need to tell stories and the many ways and reasons we do so.
- Emma Hooper – Etta and Otto and Russell and James, out on January 20th. Publishers bid a lot for this first debut novel, whose 83-year old protagonist goes on a 2,000-mile walk accompanied by a magical coyote. Think: Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, but way more surreal.
- Joyce Carol Oates – The Sacrifice, out on January 27th. Oates may not be very good at Twitter, but she is indeed very good at novels. Her latest is a very timely (unfortunately!) look at the tense aftermath of a shocking act of racial violence.
PLACES TO GO
- Whether you knit or not, you might enjoy Vogue Knitting LIVE!. JUST KIDDING, NON-KNITTER’S NEED NOT APPLY. This year’s NYC event will be held January 16-18, one of the highlights being a demonstration by Swedish knitting sensations Arne & Carlos who love to knit balls.
- Future Islands is closing out its tour, which definitely got an extension after the band’s post-Letterman bump.
- Sufjan Stevens takes on the rodeo lifestyle (?!?!) in his latest residency at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Round-Up.
- Stand-up star and TV svengali, Whitney Cummings, is on tour. Expect something edgier than her show, 2 Broke Girls, though!
- Your favorite 1990s Nic Cage comedy is coming to the Great White Way. opens on Broadway January 15th, with Tony Danza in the James Caan role. Now if only we can get James Caan to do a musical based on Who’s the Boss…
- If you feel guilty about not giving enough money to street performers lately, you can give money to a ton of them at once at the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch, New Zealand on January 16th.
- “Tracy Had a Hard Sunday” is the new exhibit by Dutch artist Parra at Jonathan Levine Gallery starting January 8th. Expect human/bird hybrids and exuberant sexuality!
- Sundance Film Festival ’15 runs January 22nd through February 1st. Find out about some early contenders for Oscar season 2016!
- How are you fixed for cowboy poetry at the moment? All set? A little low? Either way, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is headed to Elko, Nevada on January 26th. Lasso yourself some feelings!
- Carnival de Quebec is an annual winter celebration that is now in its 60th year. The whimsical frostiness begins on January 30th.
WEIRD HOLIDAYS TO CELEBRATE
- Fruitcake Toss Day, January 3rd. Grab a fruitcake and toss the hell out of it!
- Step In a Puddle And Splash Your Friends Day, January 11th. Embrace your younger self, who loved getting dirty and inconveniencing others. They say getting splashed by a puddle is a sign of good luck, so really it’s like you’re doing everyone a favor. (“They” = “Co.Create”)
- Penguin Awareness Day, January 20. You think you know, but you have no idea. Beware, here be penguins.