9 Films To Watch In February: 'Birds Of Prey,' 'Portrait Of A Lady,' 'Invisible Man' & More

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival has come to a close, the upcoming Oscars are either going to leave us uniformly happy (if “Parasite” wins and makes history) or enrage us (please, no surprise “Joker” Best Picture win), and then we’ll have a mild break before the Berlin Film Festival and SXSW adds to our “must-see” lists. It’s nice to take the very brief down period amidst the Oscar buzz and such to either play catch up or to see films that might not normally be on your immediate list—especially in a month like February, where there are more than usual offerings for films directed by women, ones that range the spectrum from superhero fare to romance and thrillers. 

READ MORE: ‘Birds Of Prey’: Harley Quinn Is Emancipated In A Violent, Messy Pop-Art Spectacle [Review]

So, let’s take a look at what this month brings film fans looking to spend some time at the cinema!

Birds of Prey
Cast: Margo Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor
Synopsis: When Gotham’s most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis, and his zealous right-hand, Zsasz, put a target on a young girl named Cass, the city is turned upside down looking for her. Harley, Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya’s paths collide, and the unlikely foursome has no choice but to team up to take Roman down.
What You Need to Know: Despite the general superhero fatigue we’ve all been sitting with over the last few years, it’s difficult not to get excited when an adaptation looks as balls to the walls bonkers as the upcoming “Birds of Prey.” Directed by Cathy Yan (“Dead Pigs”), the film marks one of the still very few superhero properties to be directed by a woman. From the reactions so far, along with the energy the trailers and promotional material has shown, it would seem that “Birds of Prey” is falling in line with the stronger DC output such as “Wonder Woman” and “Shazam!” which remembers to include the element of fun. Margot Robbie seems to have a fantastic time getting to play Harley Quinn as she was always meant to (we can all collectively forget “Suicide Squad” now) and the entire cast looks primed for breakout moments. 
Release Date: February 7

The Lodge
Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Armitage
Synopsis: During a family retreat to a remote winter cabin over the holidays, the father is forced to abruptly depart for work, leaving his two children in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace. Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past.
What You Need to Know: Looking at a release date about a year after its Sundance debut, “The Lodge” has run into some scheduling delays, originally slated to hit theaters back in November 2019. Regardless, the film has garnered relatively strong reactions thus far. Directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (“Goodnight Mommy”), “The Lodge” marks a welcome return to the pair who stunned and disgusted in their prior work. Better still is leading lady Riley Keough who can guarantee us to watch nearly anything she appears in these days. Our critic sang its praises, calling it “… a meditative plumbing of the darkest parts of the human psyche, our vulnerabilities, and self-doubts and it’s these personal fears that resonate loudly.”
Release Date: February 7

Sonic the Hedgehog” 
Cast: Ben Schwartz James Marsden, Jim Carrey
Synopsis: The film follows the (mis)adventures of Sonic as he navigates the complexities of life on Earth with his newfound—human—best friend Tom Wachowski (James Marsden). Sonic and Tom join forces to try and stop the villainous Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) from capturing Sonic and using his immense powers for world domination.
What You Need to Know: What on earth should we know at this point beyond the absolute disaster the post-production drama for this film has been? After a trailer dropped that left fans (and anyone with eyes) in hysterics over the Sonic character’s oddly human teeth and overall monstrous animation, the studio decided to push back the release of the film to get the character “just right.” Despite that encouragement from director Jeff Fowler, one can’t help but feel bad for the VFX team. Video game adaptations don’t have the best track record but if there’s anything that could be the film’s saving grace it’s Jim Carrey’s commitment to the film’s antagonist, Dr. Robotnik.
Release Date: February 14 

Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adele Haenel 
Synopsis: France, 1760. Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Because she is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. 
What You Need to Know: It would be fair to say that, with the inclusion of Celine Sciamma’s (“Girlhood,” “Tomboy”) dreamy and sensual “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” no other film being released in February really matters. One of the best films of 2019, it solidifies Sciamma as one of the greatest directors working today and we’re still agitated that it wasn’t picked as France’s entry for the 2020 Oscars, instead going with the serviceable “Les Miserables.” Our critic wrote, “Like the feeling of new love itself, the film derives freshness from its execution, rather than its conceit.”
Release Date: February 14 

The Photograph
Cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Issa Rae
Synopsis: When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, she leaves her estranged daughter Mae Morton hurt, angry and full of questions. When a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box is found, Mae finds herself on a journey delving into her mother’s early life.
What You Need to Know: If you are the type to be inclined to celebrate Valentine’s Day, February has no shortage of romance films. One of them being released is the Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield-starring “The Photograph.” Directed by Stella Meghie (“Everything, Everything”) the story seems to look to balance both drama and romance and while Rae is always a winsome presence onscreen, Stanfield can do no wrong in our eyes. Personally, this writer has been waiting for another romantic lead turn from him since his underseen performance in 2019’s charming “Someone Great.” 
Release Date: February 14 

To All the Boys P.S. I Still Love You
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Jordan Fisher
Synopsis: It’s a new year and Lara Jean and Pete are no longer pretending to be a couple. They ARE a couple. And, as Lara Jean navigates a trove of official firsts with Peter—her first real kiss, her first real date, her first Valentine’s Day. But when John Ambrose, another recipient of one of Lara Jean’s old love letters, enters her life again she must rely on herself more than ever as she’s confronted with her first real dilemma: can she love two boys at the same time?
What You Need to Know: Mileage will vary when it comes to the sequel for the Netflix hit “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and the level of excitement will be determined by two factors: the first, how much you actually enjoyed the first and, the second, how much star Noah Centino has fallen in your favor since he charmed in the 2018 flick. However, while Centino played a big part in the popularity of the first, it wouldn’t have had the heart without its star Lana Condor whose career we hope to see lift-off similarly this time around. Book fans should be excited though to continue exploring the love life of the warm-hearted Lara Jean. 
Release Date: February 14 on Netflix 

The Invisible Man
Cast: Elizabeth Moss, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Oliver JacksonCohen
Synopsis: Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister, their childhood friend, and his teenage daughter. But when Cecilia’s abusive ex commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. 
What You Need to Know: It seems as if we write some variable of “Elizabeth Moss is having a moment” so often that we should just assume that Moss will never stop impressing us with her arresting presence and versatility. The upcoming “The Invisible Man” will again allow Moss to demonstrate her strengths. Directed by Leigh Whannell (“Insidious Chapter 3,” “Upgrade”) the film is a loose adaptation of the novel by H.G. Wells.
Release Date: February 28 

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth
Synopsis: Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.
What You Need to Know: There is no shortage of Jane Austen adaptations but that doesn’t make us any less intrigued and excited by the upcoming release for the Anya Taylor-Joy-led “Emma.” Directed by Autumn de Wilde who is best known for her work photographing musical acts such as The White Stripes and Beck, the film takes on the lush feeling of the novel with a wonderful potential romantic interest in Johnny Flynn (“Lovesick”.) The trailer looks playful and energized, just the right components to further update Austen’s work. 
Release Date: February 28 

All the Bright Places
Cast:  Elle Fanning, Justice Smith
Synopsis: the story of Violet Markey and Theodore Finch, who meet and change each other’s lives forever. As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they come together, discovering that even the smallest places and moments can mean something. 
What You Need to Know: Netflix is going all-in on popular YA adaptations in the month of February with both the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” series as “All the Bright Places” having a strong following. That being said, it will be interesting to see how the reactions to the latter play out and whether the film will smooth out some of the novel’s flaws and missteps in how it handled mental illness. Elle Fanning stars in the Brett Haley (“Hearts Beat Loud”) directed film and adapted by Liz Hannah (“The Post,” “Long Shot”.) There are ways to thread coming to age storylines with romance and mental illness that doesn’t feel grossly romanticized like it did in Jennifer Niven’s novel so here’s hoping that Haley and Hannah manage to play the themes with greater delicacy. 
Release Date: February 28