Essential watches to de-stress
As midterms approach and the freedom of spring break nears, here’s everything that’s new and noteworthy to catch up on your favorite streaming services.
Between fascinating psychological thrillers dealing with murderous vacations and deadly affairs, new Pixar animation confronting teenagehood, a soapy twist on true crime and more, there’s about everything for lovers of media to excitably consume this month. Among the highlights this month are two Academy Award Best Picture contenders which will take place near the end of March.
“The Weekend Away” — Mar. 3
Adapted from Sarah Alderson’s 2020 novel of the same name, “The Weekend Away” is a deep psychological thriller directed by Kim Farrant. The film stars Leighton Meester as a woman accused of horrifically murdering her best friend while on vacation in Croatia. Disturbing revelations are continuously unearthed as she attempts to absolve herself of her alleged culpability.
The film marks an exciting return to action for the beloved Leighton Meester, who has remained quiet on several fronts since her culturally revolutionary performance as Blair Waldorf in the beloved “Gossip Girl,” in addition to a little-known, yet critical, stint in pop music. “The Weekend Away” provides spring breakers something seriously hair-raising to enjoy while soaking up in the sunshine poolside.
“Bridgerton” Season 2 — Mar. 25
Take a much needed break from the salacious, yet exhausting, world of college drama and be transported back into a fictional wonderland this month. First debuting to instantaneous success in late 2020, USC alumna Shonda Rhimes’s smash-hit period drama television series “Bridgerton” finally returns for a second season at the end of March. Currently standing as Netflix’s second-most streamed series on the platform, the show takes us back to the cutthroat world of Regency-era high society and debutantes. Only this time, the season’s focus will be on newcomer Simone Ashley’s (of “Sex Education” fame) courtship with Anthony Bridgerton. So, expect Lady Bridgerton to pop up in all of your feeds this month.
“Drive My Car” — Mar. 2
One of last year’s biggest awards season upsets, “Drive My Car” struggled to find significant mainstream audiences despite wide critical acclaim.
Quietly nabbing four nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, it became the first Japanese film nominated for Best Picture. Adapted from a 2014 collection of short stories titled “Men Without Women,” Hamaguchi’s film centers on the relationship between a play director grieving the recent passing of his wife and his new driver and their increasing familiarity with one another.
Contending with love, loss and acceptance, the film is sure to make emotional shockwaves among viewers. As if real-life wasn’t already jarring enough, this sprawling, subdued emotional epic is sure to find its home with those willing to engage with its emotional core. So, run away from the rollercoaster that is the final months of the school year to instead be transported into Hamaguchi’s world for a night.
“West Side Story” — Mar. 2
The iconic 1957 musical of the same name has once again been adapted for the silver screen (by legendary auteur Steven Spielberg, no less) after its first film adaptation in 1961. Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation has received a whopping seven nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and a celebratory Best Supporting Actress nod for the wonderful Ariana DeBose.
In development for approximately 8 years before the release, the film remains incredibly faithful to the spirit of its predecessors in its story, characterizations and, most importantly, the late Steven Sondheim’s iconic music. The film stays true to what made “West Side Story” an artistic phenomenon both on the stage and on the screen for more than 50 years while maximizing the scope of the story for a modern-day context.
“The Dropout” — Mar. 3
From the creator of the super popular, long-running sitcom “New Girl,” Elizabeth Meriwether, comes a new miniseries based on the 2019 podcast of the same name. “The Dropout” chronicles the trajectory of notorious biotech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes and her doomed health technology company Theranos.
Starring Amanda Seyfried as Holmes, the series rolled out the first three episodes upon release and is expected to release new episodes weekly through early April. The show not only serves as another gripping showcase of Seyfried’s incredible talent, it is a valid case study for why we shouldn’t drop out of college, but provides a fascinating dramatization of one of our century’s biggest media frenzies yet.
“Deep Water” — Mar. 18
Adapted from the 1957 novel of the same name, “Deep Water” is a psychological thriller directed by Adrian Lyne and written by Zach Helm and “Euphoria” showrunner Sam Levinson. Starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as a couple whose marriage is failing, the mind games they play with each other begin to have fatal consequences on those around them. In development for nearly a decade, the film was originally scheduled for release in late 2020 before experiencing several delays. The film additionally sees Levinson once again teaming up with “Euphoria” star Jacob Elordi. This all-star cast in combination with “Euphoria’s” highly-coveted heartthrob and showrunner is sure to provide the thrilling spiritual successor to “Gone Girl” we’ve been craving for years.
“Turning Red” — Mar. 11
Everyone’s favorite animation studio, Pixar, returns with a delightfully absurd coming-of-age tale about a 13-year-old girl who wakes up one morning to discover that she has turned into a gigantic red panda. The film is an impressive addition to Pixar’s large catalog, being the first film solely directed by a woman, the first film to focus on characters in Canada and the second to feature an Asian lead character.
Domee Shi’s directorial debut, who was responsible for creating Pixar’s Academy Award-winning short “Bao” in 2018, the film has already sent ripples through film circles for its candid portrayal of girlhood and puberty. Already setting itself apart from many other films, “Turning Red” is sure to win viewers over with the incredibly heartfelt territory it’s charting alongside one of the most seemingly vibrant visual palettes of any of the company’s films.