January streaming guide: Boy Swallows Universe, Nicole Kidman in Expats and some true crime

Author Trent Dalton on set as executive producer when his adaptation began production last year.

Author Trent Dalton on set as executive producer when his adaptation began production last year. Photo: Netflix

Over the past four years, streaming giant Netflix has invested more than $1 billion on Australian-related films and shows, according to its investment reporting to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) from 2019 to 2023.

It began with its first commissioned local series Mako Mermaids in 2014 and will celebrate with the Queensland-based production of Boy Swallows Universe this month.

Netflix says it’s a milestone investment, clocking in more than 80 new films and shows, and comes as the federal government is one step closer to imposing Australian content quotas on streaming platforms.

In the past financial year alone, Netflix and the other major streaming services – Disney+, Netflix, Paramount+, Prime Video and Stan who provided their numbers to ACMA – invested in Australian-related content to the tune of $777 million.

“This is a significant and growing contribution to Australia’s screen production ecosystem,” Netflix said.

“Why are we doing this? Because we know it’s what our audience wants … P-plates, bin chooks, sprawling beaches, abbreviating bloody everything … all aspects of a uniquely Australian culture that is being seen and embraced around the world.

“Australia is not all kangaroos and koalas, and we are committed to depicting a broader definition of what it means to be Australian on screens.”

Boy Swallows Universe: Netflix, January 11

Boy Swallows Universe is a perfect example and is Netflix’s first big scripted show for 2024 with Aussie actor Joel Edgerton on board as executive producer.

It’s a coming-of-age story set in 1983 Brisbane that blends the magic and innocence of youth with the brutal reality of the adult world.

Adapted from Trent Dalton’s iconic novel, Boy Swallows Universe explores the crossroads where a boy becomes a man, good toys with evil, and the everyday meets the extraordinary.

“A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already,” reads the official synopsis.

“He’s just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer.

“But if Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.

It’s a story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships with a first-class line-up including Travis Fimmel, Phoebe Tonkin, Simon Baker, Bryan Brown and Anthony LaPaglia.

The production was expected to inject about $33 million into the Queensland economy, providing 185 jobs for cast and crew, in addition to 2500 extras.

Speaking to The New Daily late last year, Dalton, who is also an executive producer on set, said the six months of production had been “surreal, bizarre, a full-circle wondrous thing”.

“Every month my wife and I would receive an update from Hollywood about what extraordinary actor next has just signed on as the very real people in my life who inspired all the characters in the book and who I really love,” he said.

“My wife and I would high-five every time a new name would come up.

“All these beautiful stars came into my universe. It is huge to me. I am a film and TV geek, so it’s incredible to be part of pop culture in this way now.”

As for what else is to come from Netflix, there’s kids animated series Eddie’s Lil’ Homies in partnership with NITV and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), outback drama filmed in the Northern Territory Desert King, Heartbreak High is back for another series, and Tony Ayres Productions will adapt Jane Harper’s The Survivors into a series in 2024.

The story of the 1972 Andes plane crash and its survivors has inspired many books and movies, even the TV series Yellowjackets, according to Slant Magazine. Photo: Netflix

Society of the Snow: Netflix, January 4

Based on true events from 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, with a rugby team on board crashed in the remote heart of the Andes, leaving only 29 out of 45 survivors and very little hope of rescue.

A 2023 survival thriller film (Spanish) directed film by JA Bayona, Variety says in its review: “Grips with alternating waves of dread, horror and heart-swelling relief, even as it can hardly surprise”.

Foe: Prime Video, January 4

Based on bestselling author Iain Reid’s novel, award nominees Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal star in this haunting exploration of marriage and identity.

“Hen and Junior farm a secluded piece of land that has been in Junior’s family for generations, but their quiet life is thrown into turmoil when an uninvited stranger (Aaron Pierre) shows up at their door with a startling proposal,” reads the official synopsis.

Many of the A-list celebs out there list this as their secret guilty pleasure to watch on long-haul flights. Photo: Paramount+

Geordie Shore: Paramount+, January 10

Incredibly, the reality TV show following eight young men and women as they spend a summer experiencing the highs and lows of the UK’s Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s party scene, is returning for a 24th season.

Over its lifetime, there’s been 21 Geordies, five children and one pregnancy and now they’re all getting together for the ultimate family holiday.

Expect some surprise arrivals in the villa, including partners, parents and some old flames. What could go wrong?

Role Play: Prime Video, January 12

The Big Bang Theory‘s Kaley Cuoco and David Oyelowo (Lawmen: Bass Reeves) star in this comedic action spy thriller.

Cuoco plays Emma, a woman who is seemingly living the perfect life alongside her loving husband and two kids in the suburbs of New Jersey.

When the couple decides to spice up their love life by doing a little role-playing, things go haywire when her husband David finds out his wife leads a secret life as an assassin for hire.

SkyMed: Paramount+, January 12

With all nine episodes dropping at once for some serious binge viewing, SkyMed follows young medics and pilots who fly air ambulances across northern Canada.

“Weaving together intense personal journeys with jaw-dropping medical rescues in the most remote conditions, the new season thrusts the diverse group of medical responders into intense emergencies as they continue to rely on each other for survival 20,000 feet in the air,” reads the official synopsis.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix debuted the trailer during Fox Sports America’s Game of the Week between Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Photo: Netflix

Lift: Netflix, January 12

Starring Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Vincent D’Onofrio, this is an action thriller about a professional thief and his expert crew who attempt the ultimate heist of stealing $500 million in gold from a vault on a plane 12,000 metres in the air.

Is it worth watching?

“This is a change for the comedian who is stepping into a different movie vehicle that requires him to use his physicality and not just rely on his comedic charms,” writes the Philadelphia Tribune.

The Gilded Age is an impressive tale in storytelling, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Photo: Paramount+ 

The Gilded Age: Paramount+, January 14

From creator Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), the second season of the HBO Original period drama about New York socialites begins on Easter morning, 1883.

“Who hates whom, who stole someone else’s servant, who accidentally almost slept with a maid, and who’s hiding their sexuality while pursuing a marriage? Some of it matters, some of it doesn’t, but all of it will be a treat to watch as both high and low drama [the first series premiered in January 2022],” writes IndieWire.

True Detective: Night Country: Binge/Foxtel January 15

Starring Academy Award winner Jodie Foster and Kali Reis, the fourth season of this widely-acclaimed murder investigation series heads north to Alaska, where eight men who operate the Tsalal Arctic Research Station vanish without a trace.

Detectives Liz Danvers (Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Reis) will have to confront the darkness they carry in themselves, and dig into the haunted truths that lie buried under the eternal ice.

We’re used to seeing Sofia Vergara in Modern Family reruns. Here she is playing a crime lord. Photo: Netflix

Griselda: Netflix, January 25

Griselda, starring Sofia Vergara and Alberto Guerra, is inspired by the life of the ambitious Colombian Griselda Blanco, who created one of the most profitable cartels in history.

In 1970s and 1980s Miami, Blanco’s lethal blend of unsuspected savagery and charm helped her expertly navigate between business and family, leading her to become widely known as “the Godmother”.

Emun Elliott as Don Logan. Photo: Paramount+

Sexy Beast: Paramount+, January 25

A UK original drama series about London’s criminal world during the vibrant and volatile 1990s, and stars James McArdle (Mare of Easttown) as Gal Dove and Emun Elliott (The Rig, The Gold) as Don Logan.

They are besties and small-town thieves, living the good life in ’90s East London.

There’s an adult film star, a love affair in the mix, a treacherous gangster with big ambitions and a pathologically controlling and formidable older sibling.

Nicole Kidman continues to star in and produce made-for-television content with flair and originality (think Nine Perfect Strangers and Special Ops: Lioness). Photo: Prime Video

Expats: Prime Video, January 26

Hollywood A-lister and Australian acting royalty, Nicole Kidman, touched down in Sydney in December with her family (for Christmas), and for a special advance screening of Expats at the Palace Verona Cinema, which she opened in 1996 for the premiere of To Die For.

The six-part limited series co-executive produced by Kidman is based on the internationally best-selling novel The Expatriates by Janice YK Lee and is set in Hong Kong in 2014, focusing on three American women – Margaret (Kidman), Hilary (Sarayu Blue) and Mercy (Ji-young Yoo) – whose lives intersect after a sudden family tragedy.

Hollywood royalty is behind this series, and gives the lead role to multi-award-winning actor Austin Butler off the back of his Elvis success. Photo: Apple TV+

Masters of the Air: Apple TV+, Januaary 26

Starring Austin Butler (Elvis) and with Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman as executive producers, this WWII drama (nine episodes) follows the men of the 100th Bomb Group (the “Bloody Hundredth”) as they conduct bombing raids over Nazi Germany.

Portraying the psychological and emotional price paid by these young men as they helped destroy the horror of Hitler’s Third Reich, is at the heart of the series.

Some were shot down and captured; some were wounded or killed. And some were lucky enough to make it home.

“Ranging in locations from the bucolic fields and villages of south-east England to the harsh deprivations of a German prisoner-of-war camp, and depicting a unique and crucial time in world history, Masters of the Air is enormous in both scale and scope, and a genuine cinematic achievement,” reads the official synopsis.

The Underdoggs. Photo: Prime Video

The Underdoggs: Prime Video, January 26

Snoop Dogg stars as a washed-up football star, Jaycen “Two Js” Jennings, who is sentenced to community service coaching an unruly pee-wee football team The Underdoggs.

He sees it as an opportunity to rebuild his public image and turn around his life.

As Jaycen works to transform the foul-mouthed Underdoggs into top-notch champions, he reconnects with his past, including an old flame and a few of his ex-teammates, and rediscovers his love of the game.

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.