The Winter 2024 Entertainment Guide!
Mean Girls, Avatar: The Last Airbender, J. Lo... and way more!
Let’s get comfy, grab a snack and a drink, and become such colossal couch potatoes that we start tasting amazing slathered in ketchup. (I already do, though. Wink.) So ready your remote, playlists, queues and controllers. We’ve got all the go-tos for your escapist pleasure: TV. Movies. Video games. VR. Streaming specials. New albums from your favorite artists. Honestly, there’s SO much coming out, it’s advantageous to have a guide like me! (Of course, it’s more figurative guidance than physical guidance. ‘Cause, again, y’know, the whole couch potato thing. I’m hella comfortable here.) -NPH
It’s been 20 years since the original Mean Girls came out back in 2004. Twen. Tee. Years. And, I regret to inform you that “fetch” still hasn’t become a thing. I need to stop trying to make that happen. (According to Gen Z, “bet” and “bussin’” somehow have become things, though. I’m still not fully sure what those even mean, so how can there be no room for fetch? Justice for fetch!) At any rate, a brand-new musical reimagining of the now-classic comedy of high school social-climbing and clique dynamics hits theaters today, with a full release Friday, with Tina Fey and Tim Meadows reprising their roles from the original film. Could be awesome. But perhaps the cafeteria is too banal a stage for you, and you prefer something more out of this world. Literally. Well, luckily for you, there’s I.S.S. (January 19th), which is sure to be a stellar thriller. (You’re welcome.) When war breaks out on Earth in the future, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station receive their marching orders from conflict-torn terra firma: take over the vessel in the name of your country at all costs. (And I thought Gravity was stressful.)
Then, on February 14th, here’s a counterprogramming Valentine’s date idea for you: Forget restaurants and their overpriced prix fixe menus and take your significant other (or yourself!) to the local megaplex to see Madame Web, a superhero movie based on a Marvel comic that was spun off from Spider-Man. In it, Dakota Johnson stars as Madame Web, a psychic spider lady who first appeared in print back in 1980. (Sure, I’m an actor and I’m biased, but popcorn and soda can be every bit as sexy as oysters and champagne. Okay not really, but they’re far less expensive.) Cap off your wintry cinematic escapades this season with a doozy: the ultra-epic Dune: Part Two (March 1st). Timothée Chalamet is back as hero Paul in the second installment of Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel. Oscar winner Christopher Walken and Oscar nominees Florence Pugh and Austin Butler all join the cast. Me = SEATED. (It’s kinda hard to stand when I spend time watching Timothée Chalamet.)
Okay, I get it. Halloween was only, like, two months ago. But when spooky season is your favorite season, you’re never not jonesing for a good scary TV show. And since it’s never too early to dabble in the macabre, consider watching The Woman in the Wall (January 19th, Paramount+ with Showtime). It’s a 6-part BBC mystery that debuted in the U.K. last year, and comes stateside this winter. This is a double dose of enjoyment for my inner Anglo-horrorphile (whoops, made up another word — my newsletter, my rules tho). It’s the tale of a sleepwalker who wakes up to find a dead woman in her house. Horror doesn’t not ensue, it’s (un)safe to say.
For decidedly lighter fare, and something way less scary (well…depends on how critter-phobic you are), check out Disney’s A Real Bug’s Life (January 24th, Disney+). It’s a collab with National Geographic and hosted by the superbly hilarious Awkwafina. In this series, you’ll get up close (like, REALLY up close) and personal with, well, bugs! And when you see every neon blue strand of thorax fur and every segmented eyeball, you’ll wonder why we take the complex beauty of these tiny guys for granted. Apparently, you even follow along with an orchid bee in Costa Rica through his “first day on the job” of making perfume. I mean…adorb!! The double exclamation points were very intentional, which is how excited I am to watch this. (Also curious how a bee makes perfume.)
There’s also the new show Sexy Beast (January 25th, Paramount+), which is about British gangsters and a prequel to the phenomenal movie from 2000. (That one is also streaming on Paramount+; nice synergy.) And speaking of beasts, the animal-themed titles roll on with The Tiger’s Apprentice (February 2nd, Paramount+), an animated film that looks completely stunning, based on Laurence Yep’s 2003 YA novel. It’s got a stacked cast that includes Michelle Yeoh, Sandra Oh, Henry Golding, Lucy Liu, Bowen Yang and many more. Brandon Soo Hoo plays a young Chinese American boy living in San Francisco who must protect a phoenix egg from otherworldly evildoers. No presh, just an unborn mythical bird to keep safe from dangerous villains at all costs. Finally, the live-action version of one of the most beloved and acclaimed cartoons of the decade, Avatar: The Last Airbender, comes out on February 22nd on Netflix. It follows a young boy training to harness his element-augmenting powers to save a war-torn world. (Critics have long named the original show one of the greatest of all time, in case you didn’t know, FYI.)
Green Day is back with their 14th studio album, Saviors, on January 19th. (Also, you better channel your Swiftie button-mashing fingers to secure tickets for Green Day’s album tour in May with the likes of the Smashing Pumpkins, the Hives and other legends.) Next, check out the amazing work of Grammy-winning Alabama Shakes member Brittany Howard, whose second solo album, What Now, comes out February 2nd. The brilliant multi-instrumentalist is known for her experimental, bluesy, synth-rock sounds, which are sure to appear and delight on her sophomore outing.
Then, on February 11th, R&B legend Usher is headlining the biggest concert of the year — that one sandwiched between two halves of football, AKA the Super Bowl Halftime Show. And as coincidence would have it, his new album Coming Home drops the very same day. (Nice work, record label marketing team!) Word on the street is that his 9th studio album will…wait for it…keep waiting…usher in a new era! (Dad jokes. Water-tight and ready to be used anytime, baby. I know you like dad jokes, too — click here to read some of the best you emailed to me.) Less than a week later, on February 16th, Jennifer Lopez releases her first new album in a decade: This Is Me… Now. There’s a track called “Dear Ben Pt. II,” which I’m especially keen to listen to given Bennifer’s triumphant reunion. (J.Lo’s also putting out a special on Prime Video as a companion piece to the album…so much cross-platform promotion this season!) Finally, 29-year-old English multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier is back with his fourth album, Djesse Vol. 4, on February 29th, featuring appearances by the likes of John Mayer, Brandi Carlile, Michael McDonald and Shawn Mendes. (Sadly, no cross-platform rollout for Jacob. The streak in this little blurb is broken.)
VIDEO GAMES AND VR
If you were obsessed with building those plastic race-car tracks all over your parents’ living room as a kid, then prepare to channel your inner 9-year-old and bring those hijinks into the virtual world with this brand-new game: Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem (Meta Quest, out now). Not only can you race those beloved miniature cars in a VR living room, you can go between virtual and IRL space with AR, too: Create portals in the walls for your car to jump in and out of; there are also virtual ghosts for you to race away from. Then, later in the month, there’s the 9th entry in Sega’s super-popular Yakuza line of role-playing games, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, January 26th). This game drops you in the shoes of two gang members — one who’s a struggling underdog in the seedy underbelly, the other in the final days of a cancer battle — in an engrossing story set in stunning locations from Japan to Hawaii.
Speaking of the ‘80s, on February 16th, the greatest rivalry on the original Nintendo is back in glorious 3D: Mario vs. Donkey Kong (Nintendo Switch) reimagines Mario’s ladder-climbing and D.K.’s barrel-chucking battles with beautiful updated graphics and music, and with gameplay completely rehauled for a modern platform. There’s more in the remake department, too: Final Fantasy VII, arguably the greatest role-playing game ever made, is back in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth (PS5, February 29th), the second installment in the trilogy remaking the 1997 all-timer (always thought Cloud was overcompensating for something with that huge-ass broadsword). Finally, the Upside Down goes virtual in Stranger Things VR (Meta Quest, February), which sounds terrifying, and very well could be. But bring on Vecna, baby.
FORESHADOW ALERT! Next week we’ll have a deep dive on the season’s best books from our old friend The Bookstorian. (They’re a longtime pal; we’re not age-shaming.) What new titles are you most excited about? Wondering about? Let us know here, on our Instagram, and maybe The Bookstorian will include YOUR recommendations and queries in their Winter Reading Guide.
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