Welcome to our new and constantly updated list of the best Netflix movies in the UK right now, charting the best movies on Netflix to watch, so you don’t have to endlessly search for something new.
Netflix may have taken the world by storm with its TV output but, as you will see from the following list, there’s plenty of movies on Netflix to devour once you have got all that binge-watching out of your system.
Netflix has had its regular purge of titles, ridding itself of a number of movies for 2017, but it’s also added some fantastic ones too, as you will see in this comprehensive list.
Our Best Netflix Movies list has been broken up into categories to make it easier for you to navigate. To make things neat and tidy we have chosen 10 movies to watch in each category – with further recommendations listed at the bottom.
In all there’s around 150 movies to choose from here, all chosen because they are, simply, the best films on Netflix to watch right now.
From comedy to indie, to horror and kids, there’s a movie category for everyone – so read on and let us help you get the best out of your Netflix subscription.
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Yipee Ki-yay! The action film that created the blueprint for most action films that came after it, Die Hard is a masterpiece. Bruce Willis’ John McClane is the perfect antidote to the almost-invincible muscle men action heroes of the time – he’s equipped with one-liners, but you feel every bit of pain he does throughout the movie because he is shown as fallible. Couple this with a brilliant turn from Alan Rickman as the big bad and what you have is an endlessly watchable movie.
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
With a script by word genius William Goldman and George Roy Hill at the helm, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid is a wonderful watch. Paul Newman and Robert Redford ooze screen chemistry as the titular pair and the soundtrack by Burt Bacharach is lovely on the ears. It’s funny too – mixing both buddy movie and Western tropes with fantastic results.
Focused around a turf war between rival street gangs, The Warriors is an achingly cool cult film. It showcases ’70s New York in all its filth and fury and while its focus is on gang fighting, the film never comes across as an exploitation flick. This is because it’s shot with such style and flourish by director Walter Hill that 37 years on, it’s still as pertinent as ever.
Released at a time when Mel Gibson found his popularity on the wane for various reasons, Apocalypto is one of the actor-director’s finest movies. Shot on digital, Apocalypto rattles on at a furious pace, mixing old-fashioned storytelling (about Mayan culture) with huge smatterings of violence.
Donnie Yen may have a starring role in Star Wars: Rogue One, but it’s in Ip Man where he truly shines. The story revolves around the retelling of the grand master who created the Wing Chin style kung fu and also happened to teach Bruce Lee. The film is frenetic, the action impressive and there’s also a strange Mike Tyson cameo. Great stuff.
Predator sees Arnold Schwarzenegger in his pomp as special forces fighter Dutch. He leads a gaggle of soldiers into the deep forests of Central America to fight a foe that just so happens to be a predator from another planet. Filled with cartoon violence and ridiculous machismo, the movie is big and dumb but that won’t stop you from having a smile on your face for the most part.
The Last Stand
Although one of Arnie’s latter movies, The Last Stand plays out like an old-school Schwarzenegger romp, complete with big guns and a ‘one person can save a town’ plotline. Marking the English-speaking debut of the superb South Korean director Jee-woon Kim, the movie eschews high art and instead does a decent job in bringing pleasure to the guilty.
Kids are the worst. Well, they are when you put them on an island and make them fight to the death until there is only one winner. This Japanese cult classic is a hard watch but it’s worth it. It also pretty much inspired the Hunger Games, albeit in a very watered down way.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
You can understand why the Wu-tang Clan loved this movie so much they used it as the basis of the name of their first album. It’s a Shaw Bros classic that sees a Ching Dynasty rebel fight through battle after battle and eventually reach the hallowed 36th Chamber. Lovely stuff.
Under The Skin
Jonathan Glazer may make movies at a glacial speed, but they are always worth the wait. Under The Skin is an unnerving, brilliant piece of cinema that starts off as realist moviemaking and ends up being utterly surreal. The plot, though, sci-fi is slight: Scarlett Johansson is an alien who spends its days driving the roads of Scotland to pick up prey, until one day it starts questioning what it is really doing. But the way Glazer tells the story is nothing short of a masterpiece.
If you can look beyond Steve Carell’s fake nose, Foxcatcher is a decent drama to watch. Based on the true story of two wrestling brothers who go to the darkside thanks to an overbearing coach, the film is constantly grappling for an Oscar-winning performance but while there isn’t one here it’s great to watch.
Son of Saul
This study of the Holocaust is something we haven’t seen before. It’s from the point of view of someone who was forced to burn the bodies in Auschwitz who comes across a boy that, he believes, deserves a proper burial. Son of Saul is a hard watch. It’s about a time that’s filled with despair, but director László Nemes tells the tale so well that it makes for utterly compelling viewing.
Once Upon a Time In America
Sergio Leone’s masterpiece is on a par with The Godfather – a movie Leone turned down to direct – as the greatest gangster film of all time. It may be nearly four hours long, but you wouldn’t want it any other way as you watch the rise and fall of Robert De Niro’s Noodles, James Woods’ Max and many others in a cast that’s rich with talent. The film turned out to be Leone’s last – what a way to bow out.
Adapted from Stephen King’s novella, Shawshank Redemption is a film that tissues were invented for. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to life in prison for two murders he didn’t commit. There he befriends Red (Morgan Freeman) and embarks on both serving his sentence and trying to clear his name. Heartwarming and gut-wrenching in equal measure, Shawshank is a modern classic.
City of God
Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles recently showed the world his talent by directing the Rio Olympics opening ceremony but it’s City of God where you will see the true skill of the filmmaker. Shot in and around the favelas of Brazil, the movie is a beautifully shot eye-opening look at the violent neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro and the people who are trying to make a living within them.
Not only did Network spawn one of the greatest lines shouted in a movie – “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” – it also shone a light on US network television and its constant push for higher ratings. The plot is great: longtime anchor Howard Beale finds out that he is about to get fired, so to drive ratings he announces he will commit suicide on air. What ensues is a harsh look at TV that’s still prescient today.
The Lives of Others
The Lives Of Others is a tragic film both on and off screen. Starring Ulrich Mühe (who passed away soon after the film was released) the movie focuses on a sympathetic Stasi officer who becomes obsessed with spying on a playwright who is a member of the Communist Party.
To Kill A Mockingbird
It may leave a lot of the book out and switch the point of view from Harper Lee’s classic novel somewhat, but To Kill A Mockingbird is a fantastic film that’s anchored by one of the very best acting performances you will see. Gregory Peck shines as Atticus Finch, a lawyer who takes on a case that shocks a whole town.
The Big Short
Eyebrows were raised when Anchorman director Adam McKay’s next project was a deep dive into the US subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, but The Big Shot is a fun and frivolous look at the people who betted against the housing market and made a lot of money.
Brad Pitt, Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling are all superb, playing varying degrees of slime balls with charisma, while the script – which won an Oscar – is whip smart.
Before Alejandro González Iñárritu became a stick-on for Best Director at the Oscars, he made some brutal but beautiful movies with his writing partner Guillermo Arriaga. 21 Grams was his first English-speaking film and it’s fantastic. Myriad storyline threads – centred on a freak accident – bring together an ensemble cast that includes Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro.
David O Russell has had a career resurgence of late that began with The Fighter – about Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) a boxer who is trained by his loser brother, Christian Bale, in fine form. Although it doesn’t quite pack the punch that Warrior does, it still puts up a great fight.
Also consider: A Single Man | Love Is Strange | Mean Creek | Good Will Hunting | Cinema Paradiso | Still Alice | Into The Wild | Babel | 12 Angry Men | Moneyball
One of the stranger movies you will ever see, The Lobster is set in some sort of strange dystopian future where people who are not in love go to a retreat to find love. If they don’t find love after 45 days, they are turned into an animal of their choice. Far funnier than it should be and littered with symbolism about fighting against the norm, this is one of the most original movies around.
One of the most gripping and gruelling studies of human determination put to film, Whiplash may be about becoming a student training to be a jazz drummer, but the pain and agony he is put through by JK Simmons Abusive instructor is both a masterclass in acting and a fantastic look into endurance.
Kevin Smith has never bettered his debut film, Clerks. Shot on a shoestring, after hours in the convenience store Smith was working in at the time, Clerks is a brilliant look at what happens when the mundanity of life is punctuated with something quite profound. Both Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) are fantastic in the movie but it’s Smith’s pop culture obsessed script that makes the film what it is.
Harold and Maude
One of the darker dark comedies you will see, Harold and Maude is a brilliant buddy movie – where the two buddies are a death-obsessed 20-something, played by Bud Cort and a fearless 80 year old lady, a superb Ruth Gordon. Directed by Hal Ashby and with a score by Cat Stevens, the film is twisted but its heart is definitely in the right place.
Boyhood is fantastic cinema. Shot over 12 years, with the cast maturing in that time, the film is another that shows off Richard Linklater’s innate ability to understand just what growing up means. There’s star turns from Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the parents of Mason but it’s Ellar Coltrane as Mason who utterly shines as the boy that grows up in front of our misty eyes.
Dazed and Confused
“Alright, alright, alright.” Dazed and Confused is wonderful filmmaking that proved way back when Richard Linklater is one of the very best moviemakers of his generation. Centred around the last day of high school for a group of teenagers in 1976, the movie has more fun and pathos in it than most films of its ilk. It also stars a gaggle of future stars, including Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey and Milla Jovovich.
With the title Antichrist, Lars Von Trier was always up for a bit of controversy with this movie, like he always is. Starring a very game Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the movie charts a couple’s life after the terrible death of their son. While not all of it works – what’s with the talking fox? – Antichrist is a thought-provoking and worthy watch, as long as you aren’t easily offended.
Django may not be on a par with Pulp Fiction but it’s a film that shows how fast Quentin Tarantino has come from the pop-trivia infused movies of his youth to the epic Leone-inspired landscapes of Django Unchained. The plot is great: Django (Jamie Foxx) is a freed slave-cum-bounty hunter who is on a mission to find out what happened to his wife.
Before Guardians of the Galaxy catapulted director James Gunn’s career into the stratosphere he had worked on another superhero movie, albeit one that’s about as far from the mainstream as you can get. Super sees Rainn Wilson as a chef who decides to turn into a vigilante after his wife leaves him. What ensues is the blackest of black comedy, with Wilson fighting through bad guy after bad guy, splattering graphic violence all over the shop. Think Deadpool but that bit ruder and you are halfway there – Super is a devilish delight.
Requiem For a Dream
Requiem For a Dream is a hard, hard watch. Based on Hubert Selby Jr’s novel about addicts in New York, director Darren Aronofsky doesn’t shirk on showing what drugs do to even the best people. The film is intense to watch but stick with it and you will be rewarded with some of the best visuals seen in a movie as well as some superb acting from Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto and the incomparable Ellen Burstyn.
Also consider: Half Nelson | Filth | Alpha Dog | Robot And Frank | Young Adult | Love | Jackie Brown | The Rules Of Attraction
Kung Fu Hustle
Shaolin Soccer may be the movie that proved director Stephen Chow was the master of fantasy and slapstick movie making but it’s Kung Fu Hustle that’s his masterpiece. The movie brilliantly blends cartoon-like violence with kung-fu, adds in some crazy special effects and a smattering of musical moments to create a goofy, great film.
Eddie The Eagle
Feel-good fun oozes from this movie, which is loosely based on the life of English ski jumping underdog Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. While Hugh Jackman is the star power that got this film off the ground, it’s Taron Egerton as the titular character that steals the show. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, he manages to find enough story and sprinkle in some fantasy to create a wonderfully warm watch.
Sing Street’s John Carney plays a familiar tune with his movies: they are essentially musicals that are fine to watch if you’re not into musicals. But while Once was great but maudlin and Begin Again was okay and maudlin, Sing Street is fantastic. Centred round a bunch of Irish kids in the 80s who want to start a band, it’s a brilliant and fun movie.
Christopher Guest has been mining the mockumentary format for decades now, offering up classics such as Spinal Tap and Best In Show. Mascots, a Netflix exclusive, is his latest comedy and is centred around the mascots that parade around the big sports games – as they all compete for the ultimate mascot accolade, then Gold Fluffy. While not quite up their with Guest’s best work, this is still a great slab of improvised fun.
Alexander Payne proves once again that he is one of the best directors around with Nebraska, a film that follows elderly Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) who embarks on a 750-mile journey to Nebraska to cash in the supposed winnings of a sweepstake. Nebraska is full of heart but also home truths when Woody arrives back in his hometown after years away.
Taking a (cannabis) leaf out of Cheech and Chong’s book. Pineapple Express is a hilarious stoner comedy that sees Seth Rogen and James Franco go in search of the ultimate high. Mostly improvised with an ending that’s goes way too far, Pineapple Express isn’t perfect but you’ll have a lot of fun watching it.
One of the funniest movies ever made, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a masterpiece by director Stanley Kubrick. Endlessly quotable – “No fighting in the war room” – with a stellar cast headed up by Peter Sellers, the film is a biting satire that still resonates today.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the perfect ’80s movie. It’s got teenagers rebelling, budding romance, a great soundtrack and a huge ‘stick it to the man’ storyline. It’s also got Matthew Broderick at his finest (as Bueller) and some great direction and writing by the legend that is John Hughes. Great stuff.
A film that continued John Travolta’s Hollywood resurgence post Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty is a fantastic look at what happens when the world of gangsters and Hollywood combine. Penned by Elmore Leonard, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and with a cast that includes Travolta, Danny DeVito and Gene Hackman, Get Shorty is good, sharp fun.
Clueless is the best teenage-centred movie to come out of the ’90s, which is no mean feat considering how many there were in that decade. The exploits of Cher (Alicia Silverstone) at a Beverly Hills high school spawned a whole host of real-life fashion faux pas, as well as a new line of dialogue that was, well, “totally buggin”.
There are so many one liners and sight gags in Airplane that it really doesn’t matter when a few of them don’t work. The film skewers the many disaster movies of the ’70s with a spoof so funny that it hasn’t really been bettered. The stars of the movie are Leslie Nielsen as Dr Rumack and Lloyd Bridges, chosen not just because of his comedy chops but because he had starred in many of the films that the movie was sending up.
One of the most controversial comedies ever is actually pretty tame. But because the subject matter mocked the leader of North Korea and nearly caused a diplomatic disaster, it was pulled by Sony and only shown on VoD. It’s now available on Netflix UK and it’s actually a lot of fun, if you are a fan of Seth Rogan’s anarchic stoner humour.
Also consider: Black Dynamite | Charlie Bartlett | Adventureland | Wet Hot American Summer | Coming To America | Raising Arizona | Look Who’s Back
Let Me In / Let The Right One In
Both remake of the (frankly superior) Swedish movie Let The Right One In and the original are on Netflix and make a worthy double bill. Let Me In is an admirable horror film in its own right. Matt Reeves directs a young Chloë Grace Moretz, who stars as a vampire who just wants to be friends with a local boy. The film is sinister and cold, but there’s warmth in the relationship between the two children, as well as a lot of bloodshed.
The original is a stone-cold masterpiece. Enjoy. Endure.
This ultra low budget movie comes from the Duplass Brothers and is one of the most inventive chillers in years. The plot is slight, focussing on a man who answers a Craiglist ad to film what he thinks is a video for the person’s unborn son. And that’s all we will say about the plot as it twists and turns in on itself, terrifying the viewer repeatedly in the process.
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House
This Netflix exclusive landed just before Halloween but while it offers chills, don’t come here expecting conventional scares. I Am The Pretty thing is much more brooding than to offer cheap thrills – instead it’s a ghost story hidden within a ghost story, focusing on carer Ruth Wilson who slowly realises the house she is working in may be haunted.
From Dusk Till Dawn
For the first hour of From Dusk Till Dawn, you’d be forgiven in thinking that there’s no horror to be seen at all, other than the fact no one clearly wants to go on holiday in a camper van. But when the film finally lands in the Titty Twister, all hell breaks loose. Given this is a Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez joint venture, there’s plenty of black comedy to go with the hordes of vampires that eventually turn up and wreak havoc in the movie. Dumb fun.
Women In Black
Daniel Radcliffe has done well to rid himself of his Harry Potter persona and it’s all thanks to choosing roles in movies such as Women In Black. Based on the celebrated novel of the same name and in turn the stage play, the film is a gothic delight, harking back to the good ol’ days when horror was implied rather than rammed down a watcher’s throat. Well, until the final act at least. Prepare to feel your spine tingle.
Insidious is a film that proves, if you want mainstream horror done right, then you have to call up director James Wan. He brings a menacing atmosphere to this film about a family that moves into a house that’s not what it seems. While it doesn’t quite match up to the scares seen in Sinister – another film produced by Jason Blum – Wan does enough to make sure there’s plenty of shocks to go around.
While the cast may err on the side of mainstream – Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox all star – the plot of Bone Tomahawk does not. Without giving too much away, it’s essentially cannibals versus grizzled men of the Wild West. Russell is superb in this tale that is absolutely relentless and all the better for it.
Hush has a brilliant premise. Directed by Mike Flanagan it revolves around a killer who tries to get the best of a girl in the house on her own. So far so ‘every horror movie ever made’, but the girl who is being stalked happens to be deaf. Yes, the home invasion genre is getting tired, but Hush manages to quietly breathe new life into it.
Let’s Scare Jessica To Death
A forgotten ’70s gem of a horror movie, Let’s Scare Jessica To Death is all soft focus and maudlin music as we follow the exploits of a woman who has just gotten out of a psychiatric hospital. While staying in a country house to recuperate, she befriends a strange visitor. It’s worth watching just for John D Hancock’s dreamy direction.
Would You Rather
One of the more high-concept horrors on the list, Would You Rather is about a group of seven people who are invited to a millionaire’s house to play a game of ‘Would You Rather’. The game turns out to be one of the most sadistic around.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy was a big risk for Marvel, taking relatively unknown characters from the Marvel universe and handing them over to a director who was steeped in indie and cult status. The result: the best Marvel movie to date and one of the most hilarious CGI raccoon-like creatures you will ever see on screen.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Splitting the last book in the series was a mistake as instead of having one fantastic movie, you instead have two good ones. Mockingjay – Part 2 is by far the darkest Hunger Games movie but it’s well made and a fitting end to the franchise. While there’s not enough Hunger Games style action scenes, the end showdown is worth the wait and elevates the movie above its YA fiction leanings.
Guillermo del Toro’s back catalogue is wonderful bag of strangeness. He’s delved into the superhero genre with both Blade II and Hellboy, wrote a fan letter to Japanese culture with Pacific Rim, tackled horror with both Chronos and Devil’s Backbone but his masterpiece has to be Pan’s Labyrinth. An adult fairytale that has peculiar characters and a sad story set among the Spanish Civil War, it masterfully blends child and adult fantasy. It’s a must watch.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Although a lot darker – in theme and look – than other X-Men movies before it, Days of Future Past is a nice addition to the franchise and one that tries to tidy up the messy timelines left by the previous movies. As always, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is a highlight but it’s Evan Peters that steals the show as Quicksilver.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A sequel to a remake that decided to forget the other Tim Burton remake, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a great addition to the Apes franchise. Matt Reeves packs a whole heap of emotion and intelligence into his movie, which focuses on the apes getting smarter and the humans, well, dumber. The whole thing is topped off with some of the best special effects you will see.
The film that pretty much got Rian Johnson the job to helm Star Wars: Episode VIII, Looper is a timey wimey tale that is set in 2074, when time travel has been invented but subsequently banned. This doesn’t stop a band of outlaws (called Loopers) using the technology to assassinate people in the past for payment. Yes it’s convoluted but it’s also a gripping film that doesn’t let up until its twist ending.
The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies
Alright, we know, The Hobbit should not have been split into three movies. But it happened and if you can see beyond your fury, the films aren’t that bad *ducks*. The Battle of the Five Armies tries its best to wrap the story up, but ends up being just one big battle sequence. This is no bad thing, though, as Peter Jackson has helped create one of the best looking battles ever seen, even if the end result is far removed from the Hobbit book.
Another found footage movie, but this one is about the hunting of trolls so we will let it off. Troll Hunter is a mockumentary played straight. A bunch of filmmakers follow an elusive troll hunter around Norway, even though they don’t truly believe in trolls – something that changes pretty fast. Despite some rather low-budget effects the film is a fantastic fantastical watch.
Ghost In The Shell
Rightly heralded as one of the best anime films around – a live-action remake is in the works – Ghost in the Shell mixes cyberpunk, postmodernism and a whole heap of Japanese Culture into a story about a policewoman chasing a hacker. If that all sounds familiar, it’s because a whole host of movies (including The Matrix) have begged, borrowed and stole from this epic film.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Philip Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of the best rehashes ever as it takes the theme of the original – communist paranoia – and updates it for a time when fear and loathing of the US government was at its highest, thanks to the debacle of the Vietnam war. Donald Sutherland is superb in the film and his pointing to the camera, shouting “you’re next” is one of the creepiest things ever put to film.
The Look Of Silence
The Look of Silence is a hard watch. A sequel of sorts to The Act of Killing – which is sadly not on Netflix – it was created by Joshua Oppenheimer and focuses on a man who confronts the men who killed during the 1965 ‘purge of communists’ in Indonesia in the 60s. He confronts them while giving them eye exams – a ruse to get them to speak. It all makes for uneasy but riveting viewing.
One of the most important documentaries of the decade, Blackfish charts the life of killer whale Tilikum. Kept in captivity as a ‘performance mammal’ at SeaWorld, the doc explores the unsightly side of why keeping whales in captivity is a terrible idea. Blackfish had such an impact that SeaWorld decided to phase out its orca shows and rebrand itself. Powerful stuff.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
This Netflix exclusive documentary is a heart-wrenching look at one of the greatest singers of all time. While the highlights are definitely seeing Simone sing live – there’s a huge amount of never-before-seen archive footage – it’s the eye-opening truths about her troubled life that hit home hardest.
Cartel Land works great as a companion piece to Sicario – found in our Best Thriller list. It’s a documentary focused on the bloody and brutal battle between drug runners on the US/Mexican border and a vigilante group of civilians who have had enough and fight back. Produced by Kathryn Bigelow, Cartel Land is a despairing watch punctuated by some stunning cinematography and a fantastic score.
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Don’t go watching Exit Through The Gift Shop thinking you will understand celebrated graffiti artist Banksy, as you will come out knowing less about the man. But that’s not to say this doc isn’t brilliant. It is. It begins by following a French artist who tries to befriend Banksy and ends up being a documentary on this artist. No one really knows what is real, what is artifice or if the whole thing is one big pisstake. Whatever it is, it’s a great watch.
Searching for Sugar Man
Searching for Sugar Man is a superb true tale of two filmmakers looking for answers about the apparent death of American musician Sixto Rodriguez. Rodriguez, at the time, wasn’t really known outside of the US but in South Africa he was something of a cult figure. As the documentary unfolds, it becomes apparent that the movie will have one hell of a surprise ending.
Bobby Fischer Against The World
A movie about chess shouldn’t be this riveting but Bobby Fischer Against The World is a stunning portrait of a man who was one of the best chess players in the world. Featuring interviews from other chess luminaries, such as Garry Kasparov, the documentary looks into the tumultuous life of Fischer who won everything going in the 60s, only to disappear into obscurity for some 20 years.
This documentary may have gained prominence thanks to its DJ Shadow soundtrack, but it’s the subject matter that makes Dark Days such a must watch. Shot and directed by Marc Singer, Dark Days shines a light on those who live in underground tunnels under New York. Criminally, this was Singer’s only foray into documentary filmmaking but at least he created a classic.
At nearly three hours’ long, Hoop Dreams is an exhaustive and very personal look at two teenagers trying to make it big in professional basketball. The two kids in question – William Gates and Arthur Agee – are from poor backgrounds which makes the push to basketball superstardom even more effective. The film won Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and for good reason – it’s one of the best sports movies ever made.
The Queen Of Versailles
The Queen Of Versailles is a documentary with a difference. It starts off being about the Siegel family, one of the richest in America, who are building the most expensive house in the US. During filming, however, the Great Recession of 2008 hits and David Siegel’s timeshare business is hit badly, leaving the building work halted. As his wealth slowly evaporates, the cameras continue to roll.
Also consider: Amanda Knox | Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon | Hot Girls Wanted | Keith Richards Under The Influence | Kurt & Courtney | Catfish | Iris | Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer | The Square | Tabloid
Emily Blunt is sensational in Sicario, a film that’s centred around the drug cartels of Mexico and the government agents tasked to stop the drug running. Alongside Blunt as a new FBI agent assigned to the case is Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin, two agents who are well versed in dealing with drug lords and the devastation they cause. The film was so good, its director Denis Villeneuve was picked to helm the sequel to Blade Runner off the back of it.
Tragically, Green Room is now earmarked as one of the final final films of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin. He is fantastic in this tale about a band being trapped in a club with a group of skinheads after they witness a horrific murder. It starts off slow but once the events happen, the film ratchets up the tension to almost breaking point.
Back before Jennifer Lawrence was a superstar Oscar-winning actress, she made a film that arguably houses her best role. Winter’s Bone is bleak. Set around the harsh Ozark Mountain landscape of the US, the film sees Lawrence on the hunt for her meth-making father. On the way, she unravels a conspiracy that involves much of her untrustworthy neighbours. This is Lawrence at her understated best.
The Coen Brothers again, this time in a period piece that’s set in the Prohibition times and focuses on Tom Regan (Gabriel Byrne), a go-between that tries his hardest to keep the peace between warring mob bosses. Although this movie is never muttered in the same breath as The Godfather or Once Upon A Time In America, it deserves to be up there as one of the best gangster movies of all time. It should even be on some Best Movies Ever lists.
Beasts of No Nation
One of the first movies to be made under the Netflix banner, Beasts of No Nation sees Idris Elba on fine form as a commandant fighting in a civil war. But the biggest praise has to go to Abraham Attah’s Agu – a boy soldier caught in the fighting. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga – who made the first season of True Detective the masterpiece it was – this is a harrowing but great watch.
James Stewart is at his finest here in Alfred Hitchcock’s ultimate suspense film. Named by the BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine in 2012 as the greatest film ever made (and for good reason), it is the story of a police detective’s obsession (Stewart) with a married woman (Kim Novak). Full of double meaning and double vision, it’s a must for any suspense fan.
Painfully ignored on its original release, Slow West is a brilliant western by former Beta Band member John Maclean. It stars Michael Fassbender as a bounty hunter who acts as a bodyguard to a teenager in 1800s Colorado. Despite its name, this is a well-paced, tense, twisty thriller.
This is film noir at its absolute best. Centred on an insurance salesmen Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) who is mixed up in a tale that sees a woman (the brilliant Barbara Stanwyc) intent on murdering her husband, Double Indemnity is gripping to watch and, ultimately, heartbreaking. Written by Raymond Chandler with help from director Billy Wilder, this rival’s Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard for being Wilder’s best film.
Gillian Flynn’s twisty novel is perfect fodder for director David Fincher. It’s dark, almost without a moral compass and probes into the dark recesses of the human condition. Ben Affleck is superb as Nick Dunne, the grieving husband whose wife has disappeared. But it is Rosamund Pike who deserves all the accolades – her portrayal of ‘Amazing’ Amy is something of a roller coaster.
Fargo is the perfect Coen Brothers film. Funny enough to make you chuckle, it’s also filled with some ridiculously dark moments, most of which involve Steve Buscemi’s bumbling hitman and William H Macy as the cowardly corrupt Jerry Lundegaard. The star of the film, however, has to be Frances McDormand’s heavily pregnant, inquisitive and just darn tootin’ nice detective.
Brian De Palma is a magpie filmmaker. His style apes that of his hero, Alfred Hitchcock, and he loves to make remakes. Blow Out is one of his best. A re-imagining of the seminal ’60s film Blow-Up, De Palma moves the action from London to the US and focuses on sound not photography as Travolta stars as a sound effects producer who believes he has caught a real murder on tape.
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No, not a film about the Beckham’s model son but a sweeping tale of young love in New York in the 50s. Saoirse Ronan – easily one of the best actresses around at the moment – stars as the Irish immigrant who moves from a small Irish town to Brooklyn in search of work. Adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby, the story flits along at a great pace but its the acting that really shines.
Labor Day wasn’t a success in the UK but you can put that down to the very US centric title. That aside, it’s another great film from Juno’s Jason Reitman, who is rivalling his dad Ivan for classics. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin are Adele and Frank, a single mum and convict who kindle an unlikely romance. Full of beautiful imagery and lingering shots, Labor Day is an under-appreciated gem.
The Fault In Our Stars
What’s that? No, I’m not crying, I’ve just got something in my eye. Have the tissues at the ready for The Fault In Our Stars, as it’s one of the weepiest weepies around. Shailene Woodley is superb as Hazel, a cancer patient who falls for someone in her support group. Ably directed by relative newcomer Josh Boone – who is attached to a number of Stephen King properties – this movie is an assured adaptation of the number one bestseller.
Woody Allen won an Oscar for Best Direction, Diane Keaton for Best Actress and Annie Hall won for Best Film in 1977… it’s fair to say this movie has critical clout. Even if it didn’t win these awards, it would still be known as one of the very best movies about love, and certainly one of the best movies Woody Allen has made. The titular Annie Hall is ‘the one who got away’, as Allen’s comedian character Alvy Singer tries to figure out what went wrong in their relationship.
As much a love letter to New York as it is a romantic film, Manhattan is a brilliant look at love, through those who are in love and have lost love. Woody Allen plays, well, Woody Allen, someone who is already twice divorced when we meet him, then follow him through a string of affairs throughout the film. Although it could do without the rather sombre third act, the movie is a delight.
Who said romance films had to just be about love? 45 Years is about falling out of love, after many years of marriage, and is an absolutely devastating watch. Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling are the couple trying to figure out what the future holds, when Courtenay’s character drops a truth bombshell that puts a strain on a relationship that has lasted 45 years and beyond.
Charlie Kaufman does it again with Anomalisa, offering up an adult take on relationships using one of the most childlike forms – puppetry. David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh lend their exquisite voices to the movie but it’s the animation and the heartbreaking story of a man that experiences something out of the ordinary that shines through.
If you can forgive the ending – there was definitely room for Jack on that raft – Titanic is one of the best, and certainly most epic love stories. The sinking of the Titanic plays second fiddle to the romance of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet), two lovers from different social groups that end up on the illustrious liner, the Titanic. Yes, it’s overwrought and melodramatic, but it’s still one helluva watch.
Diary of a Teenage Girl
It’s the ’70s in SanFrancisco. Minnie Goets (a fantastic Bel Powley) is 15 and falls for her mother’s boyfriend. What ensues is a refreshingly honest, funny, unflinching portrayal of unrequited young love. Although there is a lot of sex shown, the movie doesn’t sugarcoat it but tells you as it is and because of that it’s a much better film than the title implies.
Chasing Amy is of its time – ’90s, slacker, indie – but still manages to say something profound about relationships that rings true today. Amy is a comic-book artist who happens to be a lesbian. She becomes the object of desire of Ben Affleck’s Holden who falls for her in a big way. Chasing Amy is Kevin Smith at his near best.
Laika is a little-known production company that is taking the world by storm with its animation delights. Its latest movie Kubo and the Two Strings is being heralded a classic – as should The Boxtrolls. This stop-motion animation delight centres on a community of trolls who live among the trash of the city of Cheesebridge and come to the aid of a human orphan. The Boxtrolls is a beautifully made movie that shows there’s still a lot of love in stop-motion animation. If you don’t believe us, try and watch the end credits of this movie without a tear in your eye. Superb stuff.
One of the most ’80s movies you will ever see, The Explorers is directed by the legend that is Joe Dante and follows a bunch of kids who decide to make their very own (working) space ship in their bedroom and then decide to explore space. It’s barmy but it’s also brilliant.
Into The Woods
Those who watched the trailer for Into The Woods may have been surprised that this movie is a musical, and a rather good one at that. Based on a handful of Brothers Grimm fairy tales and written by Stephen Sondheim, the film looks amazing and has a stellar cast lead by the always watchable Anna Kendrick.
Disney is on a roll at the moment with its Marvel movies and Star Wars: The Force Awakens breaking all records, but when it remembers and reimagines its own back catalogue it also excels. Angelina Jolie is magnificent as Maleficent, the antagonist of Sleeping Beauty. The movie portrays her point of view of the fairy tale and it’s expertly told.
You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power. What power? The Power of voodoo. Who do? You do. Do what? Remind me of the babe. Ah, Labyrinth – a superb, strange movie that reminds us all what legends both David Bowie and Jim Henson were.
While not as ground-breaking or as funny as the first Shrek film, there’s still a lot to love in Shrek 2. Much of that love goes to Antonio Banderas as the brilliant Puss in Boots, a voiceover performace so good it bagged him a spin-off movie. Mike Myers returns as Shrek, as does Eddie Murphy as Donkey – surely an animated double act that’s up there with Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t do too much anymore – probably busy counting his billions from Seinfeld – but when he does, the world needs to take notice. Bee Movie is a lovely animated movie that follows a bee worker (Seinfeld) who finds out that humans have been stealing and eating honey for years. The film generated enough ‘buzz’ back in 2007, that there’s now rumours of a sequel.
The Dark Crystal
Muppet madness ensues in The Dark Crystal – yet another classic brought to life by the majesty of Jim Henson and his puppet creations. It may not be as loved as Labyrinth but it’s still a brilliant children’s tale about the search for a crystal that once brought balance to the world.
Puss In Boots
A spin-off of the mega successful Shrek franchise, Puss In Boots has enough charm to make it feel like part of the Shrek family. The plot is slight – Puss (Banderas) is outcasted after he is accused of a bank robbery, even though it was actually Humpty Dumpty. Yes, it’s childish but it’s also damn good fun.
Monsters Vs Aliens
DreamWorks may not be able to dish out the hits as well as Disney but it has still has released a number of fun animated films in recent years. One of the better ones is Monsters Vs Aliens. Using the voice talents of Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Laurie, the movie sees a team of monsters help save the world from, well, aliens.
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