1. “The Dig” (Netflix, January 15): If ‘Promising Young Woman’ weren’t enough to get Carey Mulligan involved, this truth-based tale set just before WWII directed by Simon Stone will likely give her at least a boost additional. She plays Edith Pretty, an English widow from Suffolk who hires a self-taught archaeologist to reveal what is inside the multiple mounds of earth on her property. Self-proclaimed local excavator Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) digs up some sort of cemetery. But factors like the coming war, bad weather, and an interloping, suffocating archaeologist tread on Brown’s find. It turns out that archeology is more about the living than the dead.
2. “Penguin Bloom” (Netflix, January 27): This factual bestseller-based Australian tearjerker stars Naomi Watts as Sam Bloom, a mother left paralyzed after a near-fatal accident. Her husband (Andrew Lincoln), mother (Jacki Weaver) and three young sons struggle to cope with Sam’s situation. But things improve when an injured baby magpie they call Penguin walks into the movie and forces Sam to put her life back together.
3. “The small things” (In theaters Jan. 29, while simultaneously having a month-long tour on HBO Max): Any movie with a trio of Oscar-winning actors in the form of Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto seems to me be a must. This dark crime thread set in 1990 about an alleged serial killer pits the Deputy Sheriff of Kern County in Washington against Detective Malek Strait in Los Angeles, with Leto as a potential suspect who forms an odd relationship with Malek’s cop. .
4. “Cinderella” (In theaters February 5): This romantic musical is directed by Kay Cannon, who is best known for writing and producing all three “Pitch Perfect” films. It stars Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello in the title role and Idina Menzel as Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. Meanwhile, Billy Porter plays Fab G., a sexless fairy godfather. The cast also includes Pierce Brosnan as King, Minnie Driver as Queen, and Missy Elliott as Town Cryer, while James Corden and John Mulaney both play jacks and mice. The best news is that “Frozen” belter Menzel and Cabello will be singing original songs.