Start Salivating, Film Nerds: Criterion’s January 2020 Titles Announced

     October 16, 2019


You a Blu-ray head? Obsessed with collecting as many handsome, analog odes to cinema as possible? Need a break from all the franchise-building blockbusters for fare that’s a little more “grown-up”? Then you likely already know about the Criterion Collection, a home video company that’s been releasing definitive home versions of classic films (and Armageddon) since 1984. Their releases feature gorgeous, custom artwork, beautiful liner notes with sensitive essays, state-of-the-art transfers, and an embarrassment of special features riches. Ready to ring in the New Year with their January 2020 titles?

The Criterion Collection‘s new additions, scheduled to be released in various January 2020 dates, highlight works of some of the best and most respected filmmakers across the world. We get not one, but two essentials from American maestro Sidney Lumet. We get an unimpeachable Pedro Almodovar/Penelope Cruz classic. And we get a criminally underseen Jean-Luc Godard joint. Plus, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn being the most charming humans alive.

Check out the official release dates, covers, and synopses below. For more on Criterion goodies, here’s Moonlight director Barry Jenkins living out our fantasy of plundering through the Criterion closet.

Holiday (available January 7, 2020)


Image via Criterion Collection

Two years before stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant and director George Cukor would collaborate on The Philadelphia Story, they brought their timeless talents to this delectable slice of 1930s romantic-comedy perfection, the second film adaptation of a hit 1928 play by Philip Barry. Grant is at his charismatic best as the acrobatically inclined free spirit who, following a whirlwind engagement, literally tumbles into the lives of his fiancée’s aristocratic family-setting up a clash of values with her staid father while firing the rebellious imagination of her brash, black-sheep sister (Hepburn). With a sparkling surface and an undercurrent of melancholy, Holiday is an enchanting ode to nonconformists and pie-in-the-sky dreamers everywhere, as well as a thoughtful reflection on what it truly means to live well.

* New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Holiday (1930), a previous adaptation of Philip Barry’s play, directed by Edward H. Griffith
* New conversation between filmmaker and distributor Michael Schlesinger and film critic Michael Sragow
* Audio excerpts from an American Film Institute oral history with director George Cukor, recorded in 1970 and ’71
* Costume gallery
* PLUS: An essay by critic Dana Stevens


The Fugitive Kind (available January 14, 2020)


Image via Criterion Collection

Four Oscar-winning actors-Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, and Maureen Stapleton-excel in this enthralling film, which also brings together the legendary talents of director Sidney Lumet and writer Tennessee Williams. A smoldering, snakeskin-jacketed Brando is Val Xavier, a drifter trying to go straight. He finds work and solace in a small-town southern variety store run by the married, sexually frustrated Lady Torrance (Magnani), who proves as much a temptation for Val as local wild child Carol Cutrere (Woodward). Lumet captures the intense, fearless performances and Williams’s hot-blooded storytelling and social critique with his customary restraint, resulting in a drama of uncommon sophistication and craft.

* High-definition digital restoration, approved by director Sidney Lumet, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
* Interview from 2009 with Lumet
* Three Plays by Tennessee Williams, an hour-long 1958 television presentation of one-act plays, directed by Lumet and starring Ben Gazzara and Lee Grant, among others
* Program from 2010 discussing Williams’s work in Hollywood and The Fugitive Kind
* PLUS: An essay by film critic David Thomson


Le petit soldat (available January 21, 2020)


Image via Criterion Collection

Before his convention-shattering debut, Breathless, had even premiered, Jean-Luc Godard leapt into the making of his second feature, a thriller that would tackle the most controversial subject in France: the use of torture in the Algerian War. Despite his lack of political convictions, photojournalist Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor) is roped into a paramilitary group waging a shadow war in Geneva against the Algerian independence movement. Anna Karina (in her first collaboration with Godard, whose camera is visibly besotted with her) is beguiling as the mysterious woman with whom Forestier becomes infatuated. Banned for two and a half years by French censors for its depiction of brutal tactics on the part of the French government and the Algerian fighters alike, Le petit soldat finds the young Godard already retooling cinema as a vehicle for existential inquiry, political argument, and ephemeral portraiture-in other words, as a medium for delivering “truth twenty-four times per second.”

* High-definition digital restoration, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Interview with director Jean-Luc Godard from 1965
* Interview with actor Michel Subor from 1963
* Audio interview with Godard from 1961
* New English subtitle translation
* PLUS: An essay by critic Nicholas Elliott


All About My Mother (available January 28, 2020)


Image via Criterion Collection

This Oscar-winning melodrama, one of Pedro Almodóvar’s most beloved films, provides a dizzying, moving exploration of the meaning of motherhood. In an instant, nurse Manuela (Cecilia Roth) loses the teenage son she raised on her own. Grief-stricken, she sets out to search for the boy’s long-lost father in Barcelona, where she reawakens into a new maternal role, at the head of a surrogate family that includes a pregnant, HIV-positive nun (Penélope Cruz); an illustrious star of the stage (Marisa Paredes); and a transgender sex worker (Antonia San Juan). Beautifully performed and bursting with cinematic references, All About My Mother is a vibrant tribute to female fortitude, a one-of-a-kind family portrait, and a work of boundless compassion.

* New 2K digital restoration, supervised by executive producer Agustín Almodóvar and approved by director Pedro Almodóvar, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Fifty-two-minute documentary from 2012 on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Pedro Almodóvar; Agustín Almodóvar; actors Penélope Cruz, Marisa Paredes, Cecilia Roth, and Antonia San Juan; production manager Esther García; and author Didier Eribon
* Television program from 1999 featuring Pedro Almodóvar and his mother, Francisca Caballero, along with Cruz, San Juan, Paredes, and Roth
* Forty-eight-minute post-screening Q&A in Madrid from 2019, featuring Pedro Almodóvar, Agustín Almodóvar, and Paredes
* New English subtitle translation
* PLUS: An essay by film scholar Emma Wilson, along with (Blu-ray only) an interview with Pedro Almodóvar and a tribute he wrote to his mother, both from 1999


Fail Safe (available January 28, 2020)


Image via Criterion Collection

This unnerving procedural thriller painstakingly details an all-too-plausible nightmare scenario in which a mechanical failure jams the United States military’s chain of command and sends the country hurtling toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Working from a contemporary best seller, screenwriter Walter Bernstein and director Sidney Lumet wrench harrowing suspense from the doomsday fears of the Cold War era, making the most of a modest budget and limited sets to create an atmosphere of clammy claustrophobia and astronomically high stakes. Starring Henry Fonda as a coolheaded U.S. president and Walter Matthau as a trigger-happy political theorist, Fail Safe is a long-underappreciated alarm bell of a film, sounding an urgent warning about the deadly logic of mutually assured destruction.

* New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Audio commentary from 2000 featuring director Sidney Lumet
* New interview with film critic J. Hoberman on 1960s nuclear paranoia and Cold War films
* “Fail-Safe” Revisited, a short documentary from 2000 including interviews with Lumet, screenwriter Walter Bernstein, and actor Dan O’Herlihy
* PLUS: An essay by critic Bilge Ebiri

Latest News