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The first two months of 2021 have brought no shortage of compelling, even great, movies and TV series but in March we’re getting some full-on events. A big, new animated Disney movie! Eddie Murphy returns to one of his most famous roles! Godzilla fights King Kong! Zack Snyder fights the limitations of a theatrical running time! It’s madness in the month of March! (If only there was some kind of pithy phrase that could be used to describe such a thing).
March will also see the departure of a great sitcom and a new Marvel series. There’s no shortage of intriguing-looking things to watch, in other words, starting with a promising-looking first film from a familiar name.
Debris (NBC, March 1st)
What would it take to make a brash CIA agent (Jonathan Tucker) and a buttoned-up MI6 operative (Riann Steele) to work together? How about a bunch of weird space junk falling out of the sky? That’s the intriguing premise of this new science fiction series created by J.H. Wyman, who previously worked on Fringe and Almost Human, a track record that suggests anyone looking for a slow-unravelling mystery should give this a look. Watch for free on Peacock.
The World to Come (VOD, March 2nd)
Set across a year in the life in the unforgiving country of 19th-century upstate New York, the latest film from Mona Fastvold (The Sleepwalker) stars Vanessa Kirby and Katherine Waterston as two wives who fall into an unexpected, but undeniable, romance. Casey Affleck and Christopher Abbott co-star.
Moxie (Netflix, March 3rd)
What do you do if you’re a 16-year-old trying to survive a high school thick with harassment and toxic masculinity? If you’re Vivian Carter (Hadley Robinson) your solution is to keep a low-profile and try to survive it — until, that is, Vivian finds the feminist zine her mom (Amy Poehler) put out in the ninetis and decides to get radical. Following up Wine Country with a second trip behind the camera, Poehler also directs, adapting a popular 2015 novel by Jennifer Mathieu. Watch on Netflix.com.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (VOD and Paramount+, March 4th)
Elsewhere in the animated world, the third SpongeBob Squarepants feature film will finally make its U.S. debut, premiering simultaneously on VOD services and as one of the premiere titles when CBS All Access becomes Paramount+. The first fully computer-animated entry in the series finds SpongeBob and pals searching for Gary the Snail. It also features Keanu Reeves’ head as a talking sage brush, so what’s not to like? Watch with a free trial to Paramount+ here.
Raya and the Last Dragon (Theaters and Disney+, March 5th)
This pandemic year has been especially hard on animation. Where the appearance of a new Disney or Pixar movie used to feel like an event — both for animation fans and parents used to turning them into family outings — they can now feel like just another streaming option among many, no matter how good they are. Still, that didn’t make, say, Soul any less notable and it shouldn’t dim the appeal of Raya and the Last Dragon, a gorgeous-looking new animated family in which Kelly Marie Tran voices Raya, a warrior princess charged with finding the last dragon — only to have her expectations dashed when she meets the underachieving water dragon Sisu (Awkwafina). Watch here on Disney+.
Stray (Theaters, March 5th)
The 2016 documentary Kedi shone a spotlight on the stray cats of Istanbul. With Stray, Istanbul’s dogs get their turn via the feature debut of documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Lo. Turkey’s anti-euthanasia, anti-capture policy has helped create a world in which over 100,000 stray dogs coexist with humans, a world the film explores through the eyes of a soulful dog named Zeytin as she wanders from place to place offering a dog’s eye perspective on the world. See showtimes and tickets on Fandango.
My Salinger Year (Theaters, March 5th)
Novelist Joanna Rakoff spent a year in the nineties working at a literary agency. That, in itself, wouldn’t be that extraordinary if it weren’t for one of the agency’s clients: J.D. Salinger. Working alongside Sigourney Weaver in the role of her old-school, technology-hating boss, Margaret Qualley plays Rakoff in this adaptation of her year reading Salinger’s fan mail and attempting to arrange for the publication of a short story that had previously only appeared in The New Yorker. See showtimes and tickets on Fandango.
Boogie (Theaters, March 5th)
Eddie Huang’s memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, helped raise the profile of the chef, restaurateur and all-around renaissance man, especially after it was adapted into a long-running sitcom. Huang makes his directorial debut with this film, a different sort of coming-of-age-story starring newcomer Taylor Takahashi as a New York kid who struggles with a difficult home life and runs into racial stereotyping as he tries to become a basketball star. See showtimes and tickets on Fandango.
Truffle Hunters (Theaters, March 5th)
It takes patience, skill, and a good dog to find truffles the old fashioned way. And doing things the old-fashioned way has become a dying tradition, one captured by documentarians Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw’s festival-favorite look at some aging Italian foragers (and their canine companions) still keeping the tradition alive. See showtimes and tickets on Fandango.
Boss Level (Hulu, March 5th)
If nothing else, Joe Carnahan’s time loop action movie features one of the year’s oddest casts, one that includes Mel Gibson, Namoi Watts Michelle Yeoh and Rob Gronkowski. Frank Grillo stars as a hero who discovers that no matter what choices he makes, he ends the day by dying — day after day after day. Watch with a free trial to Hulu here.
Chaos Walking (Theaters, March 5th)
An adaptation of The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first in an acclaimed series of dark young adult novels by Patrick Ness, the latest film from Doug Liman takes place in a grim world in which women have vanished and men suffer from an affliction that involuntarily puts their thoughts on display. Daisy Ridley co-stars as a woman whose crash-landing threatens to change everything. See showtimes and tickets on Fandango.
Coming 2 America (Amazon Prime, March 5th)
It’s been 33 years since Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem left Zamunda for America but this sequel gives him a compelling reason to return: a son (Jermaine Fowler) he didn’t know existed. Craig Brewer, who directed Murphy in the terrific Dolemite is My Name, steps in for John Landis but the cast is filled with familiar faces, including Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, and some of the characters Murphy and Hall played under layers of makeup the first time around. Watch with a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime here.
Genera+ion (HBO Max, March 11th)
There’s no shortage of series exploring the complicated sexual morés of modern teen characters to be found on HBO and HBO Max, but that doesn’t mean there’s not room for one more. Set in a drama-filled California high school, Genera+ion comes from the father/daughter producing duo of Daniel and the 19-year-old Zelda Barnz, who learned the ropes of TV production by interning with Lena Dunham (who serves as an executive producer). Watch here on HBO Max.
Kid 90 (Hulu, March 12th)
Soleil Moon-Frye first found stardom as the title character of the eighties sitcom Punky Brewster, then spent the nineties trying to figure out what to do next. That sort of searching restlessness is typical of teenagers, but most teenagers didn’t hang around Hollywood with a circle of former child stars similarly trying to make the transition to adulthood or keep a video camera running to document the experience. With Kid 90, Moon-Frye revisits her adolescence via clips from those tapes and interviews with friends like Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Stephen Dorff. Watch with a free trial to Hulu here.
Cherry (Apple TV+, March 12th)
Tom Holland can also be seen in a film that re-teams him with MCU-favorite directors Joe and Anthony Russo but playing a role no one could mistake for Peter Parker. In this adaptation of Nico Walker’s 2018 novel, Holland stars as an Iraq War veteran-turned-addict-turned bank robber struggling to maintain his sanity in a series of insane situations. Watch on AppleTV.com.
Genius: Aretha (Nat Geo, March 12th)
After taking on the lives of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso’s Nat Geo’s biodrama series switches over to the world of music to retell the life of Aretha Franklin. Finding someone with the voice and the presence to play the Queen of Soul requires some savvy casting, but it’s hard to argue with the choice of Cynthia Erivo, the Academy Award-nominated actress with musical bona fides to match her dramatic chops.
Operation Varsity Blues (Netflix, March 17th)
Documentarian Chris Smith (American Movie) has consistently turned out compelling documentaries for Netflix over the last couple of years, whether tackling Jim Carrey’s intense efforts to get into character as Andy Kaufman (Jim & Andy) or the Fyre Festival debacle (Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened). With Operation Varsity Blues, he explores the college admissions scandal that found the wealthy and privileged (including Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin) attempting to game the system to secure prime college slots for their less-than-deserving kids. Watch on Netflix.com.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (HBO Max, March 18th)
A project willed into existence by a fervent online fan movement, Zack Snyder’s Justice League finds the director returning to the world of DC Comics for a second pass at Justice League, a film finished (with some controversy) by Joss Whedon when a family tragedy forced Snyder to leave the film. Rather than cobble together a film from existing footage, Snyder shot new scenes and reworked it as a four-hour epic — a dream come true for Snyder true believers (but maybe not for those who didn’t enjoy his previous takes on the DC heroes). Watch here on HBO Max.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+, March 19th)
Since January, WandaVision has proven that the world of the MCU could work just fine when dropped into a weekly series (and even go places weirder than the movies have ventured). The Falcon and the Winter Soldier hopes to keep that streak going by, like WandaVision, picking up where Avengers: Endgame left off. With Captain America out of the picture, his pals Sam Wilson (a.k.a. The Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (a.k.a. The Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan) are left to pick up his slack and carry on his legacy. Will one of them end up wielding Cap’s shield? We might find out by the end of its six-episode run. Watch here on Disney+.
Superstore – Series Finale (NBC, March 25th)
One of the most reliably entertaining, timely, and emotionally rich sitcoms of recent closes up shop after six seasons. The hour-long finale caps a shortened final season that’s found the show deftly navigating the departure of a lead character (America Ferrara’s Amy) and adjusting to what a workplace sitcom looks like during a pandemic. Ferrara’s departure left some unfinished business, though it’s unclear if she’ll return to say one last goodbye. Watch for free on Peacock.
The Father (VOD, March 26th)
Anthony Hopkins is famous for marking up unchallenging scenes in his scripts with the letters “N.A.R.,” short for “no acting required.” He probably didn’t need that shorthand for playwright-turned-director Florian Zeller’s feature debut, an adaptation of his own play that casts Hopkins as a man succumbing to dementia and the daughter (Olivia Colman) doing her best to care for him as his condition worsens. The film won acclaim at this January’s Sundance and seems likely to challenge Hopkins in ways that, say, Transformers: The Last Knight probably did not. (This film is coming to VOD after a theatrical run last month.)
Invincible (Amazon Prime, March 26th)
Comics writer Robert Kirkman has enjoyed tremendous success on television thanks to The Walking Dead, but will he find it again with, Invincible, an animated adaptation of the long-running superhero drama he co-created with artist Cory Walker? In a bit of a Walking Dead reunion, Steven Yeun provides the voice of Mark Grayson, a teenaged kid struggling with the fact that his father is the ultra-powerful extraterrestrial hero Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons) — and that he’s inherited his powers. The supporting cast includes Sandra Oh, Walton Goggins, Seth Rogen, and Mark Hamill (and that’s always a good sign when talking about animated superhero shows). Watch with a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime here.
Tina (HBO, March 27th)
Seemingly in a kind of arms race with Showtime to see who can deliver the best music docs, HBO follows up The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart with a look at the life and career of Tina Turner. Simply titled Tina (because Turner needs no further explanation) the film follows Turner from her early days through today, hitting ups and downs in between and drawing on interviews with the legend herself. Watch here on HBO Max.
Godzilla vs. Kong (Theaters and HBO Max, March 31st)
What happens when King Kong, last seen in Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla, last seen in Godzilla: King of the Monsters meet each other? Do they sit down, talk over any differences they might have, then agree to become friends? Apparently, they do not. Based on the trailers to this new Adam Wingard film they do quite the opposite. The big monsters aren’t the only attraction here, however. The human cast includes everyone from Alexander Skarsgard to Rebecca Hall to Demián Bichir (who can also be found menacing the heroes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier). Watch here on HBO Max.