Welcome to our list of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video UK. As we are TechRadar we don’t do things by half, so what you have over the course of this gallery is almost 100 movies that are now available to stream on Amazon Video – the movies and TV streaming section of Amazon Prime.
[Update: One of the best comedies of the year has arrived on Amazon Prime – the fantastic Mindhorn. A pastiche of ’80s cops shows, the film is a little British gem. And if you fancy matching it with something else, the definitely check our Free Fire, too – both of which earn a place in our best movies on Amazon Prime list].
To help you make the best selection, we have put everything into categories so if you are a horror fan, love a bit of romance or want a tense thriller, you will find the perfect movie for you.
Having gone through the entire Amazon Prime Video catalogue in the UK we have to admit that the movie selection is – whisper it – better than what you find on Netflix.
There are a few gems on here that have only just come off of their cinema run and are already ready to stream. Couple this with a brilliant array of stone-cold classics and you have an impressive and varied list of films.
It’s great to see Amazon embrace movies in this way, so dive in and we hope you find something you like!
And if you don’t, then maybe our Best Amazon TV shows list is for you.
- Here’s our
- Rival check: These are our best movies on Netflix UK
- And here are the best shows on Netflix
- Want to know the ? The check out Not On My Watch
- The you can stream right now
- The you can scare yourself silly with
Kathryn Bigelow is one of the best action directors around, so it’s no surprise that The Hurt Locker won her the Best Director award at the Oscars – the first time a women has won the accolade. What is surprising, though, is just how nuanced the film is. Given it’s about disposing of bombs, the tension is in the quiet moments, rather that when the explosions start.
Set in Boston in the late ’70s, Free Fire is a fantastic, inventive film that mostly takes place in a warehouse. Because of the limited scenario, it’s thanks to Ben Wheatley’s effortless and stylish direction and the superb ensemble cast – and lots and lots of gun play – that Free Fire never becomes boring.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E is by no means a faithful adaption of the TV show of the same name (the characters remain but everything else has changed) but it is a super-stylish crime caper from Guy Ritchie. It looks great, thanks to its ’60s setting, and the cast are superb. Henry Cavill (a Brit playing an American CIA agent) finally shows the world the charisma he lacks as Superman, while Armie Hammer (an American playing a Russian) is fantastic as Cavill’s KGB opposite. Alicia Vikander (a swede playing a German) shows off her funny side, while Elizabeth Debicki (a french woman playing someone who is not French) is great as the villain of the piece. It’s a tad overlong and convoluted but a great, underrated watch.
Edge of Tomorrow – or Live Die Repeat, the name the posters seemed to take to calling it – is one of the best sci-fi movies in recent years. Tom Cruise is on top form as Lt. Col. Bill Cage, a soldier stuck in a time loop that forces him to live the same suicide mission over and over again. Cruise forgoes his usual confident swagger to portray a man way out of his depth, while Emily Blunt is the biggest badass in a film that’s full of them.
Before David Ayer was assembling a Suicide Squad and creating one of the most abysmal comic-book movies ever, he made this highly original film that’s shot documentary style and focuses on a couple of cops whose job it is to patrol South Central LA and keep the peace. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are superb as the pair who risk life and limb to do their job. Given Ayer grew up on streets not dissimilar to what’s being portrayed in the movie, End of Watch is a searing and honest portrayal of an area of America few would dare venture.
Norway isn’t renowned for its disaster movies, but with The Wave and Troll Hunter it is making a decent name for itself. The Wave is about a tsunami that hits the country when a Norwegian fjord collapses. Given the relatively low budget, not much disaster is actually seen. Instead we are let to deal with the individuals who are trying to survive the wave. As disaster movies go, this is one of the more interesting to watch.
Some will see Dead Man as a monochrome meditative masterpiece about death and the journey you go on once things end, others will find it a pretentious load of old twaddle. We are definitely in the former camp. Jim Jarmusch’s oddest film – in a group of frankly odd films – sees Johnny Depp as William Blake, an accountant on the run after murdering a man. The plot is based around a series of people Blake meets and the changes we see in Blake the further he goes on his journey. The film is full of second guesses and open to interpretation but Jarmusch also piles on the humour, especially when things looks as if they are getting a bit too dark.
Once again, Daniel Radcliffe proves he’s more than Harry Potter in this off the wall film where he stars alongside Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood). Emotional, humorous and more than a little weird, this film tells the story of Hank (Dano) who has become stranded on a deserted island. Just as he’s giving up hope of ever leaving a corpse named Manny (Radcliffe) washes up on shore, befriends him and takes him on a wild adventure.
Nicolas Winding Refn makes it hard for you to love his films. While he won new followers with the sublime Drive, he tries to shake a few of them away with the follow up, Only God Forgives. This monosyllabic slice of machismo and revenge looks amazing but is a tough watch. Its scenes are slow, almost meandering. The dialogue is sparse and curt, and the violence when it comes is sudden and extreme. Give it your time and patience, though, and you’ll be rewarded with an unnerving, slick and sinister movie.
After proving himself as one of the greatest music video directors – making videos for Daft Punk, Bjork and Massive Attack – Michel Gondry also showed himself as a fantastic feature filmmaker, with Eternal Sunshine. The plot is light sci-fi – a couple who have fallen out of love go to get their memories of each other erased. By losing these memories, the former lovers, played beautifully by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet start to remember why they loved each other. Visually, the film is highly original but it’s the romance of the movie that endures.
Helmed by two visionary French directors Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Delicatessen is a surreal black comedy that’s based in a strange post apocalypse where food is scarce. The story surrounds a mysterious delicatessen on the bottom floor of a run-down apartment block. Delicatessen is full of larger than life, grotesque characters, a Gilliam-esque feel and some brilliant humour and romance. Jeunet went on to reach global success with Amelie.
Ben Wheatley is a great British director. His films are always off-kilter, so it made sense that he would try to adapt High Rise, an ‘unfilmable’ book by JG Ballard. Tom Hiddleston stars as Laing, the newest occupant of a tower block that’s a microcosm of society as a whole. There’s plenty of drugs, sex and a smattering of murder. As for the plot – try not to understand it too much and just enjoy the rambunctious ride.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s most accessible film is also his best. Ryan Gosling is the silent stunt driver turned getaway driver who ends up getting embroiled in a violent gangland dispute. The film oozes cool, from its garish visuals to its electronic soundtrack and is a feast for the eyes and ears – it’s also punctuated by some stunning, visceral violence.
Todd Solondz is one director that doesn’t mind tackling some of the most controversial, degrading and downright embarrassing situations humans can find themselves in. He continues this theme with Wiener-Dog – a movie dipped in dysfunction that’s split into four parts – each part telling the story of the owner of a wiener-dog. It’ll make you laugh, and some characters from Welcome To The Dollhouse make a welcome return, but you’ll feel uncomfortable throughout.
Jim Jarmusch has always been eclectic in his film choices. Whether it’s meditations on death (Dead Man), Eastern philosophy (Ghost Dog) or, er, vampirism (Only Lovers Left Alive), his take on the storytelling is always unique. In Paterson he has created a heartwarming movie about a day in someone’s life. That someone happens to be called Paterson and lives in Paterson. Adam Driver is great as the central character – his slow burn acting style suits a film that’s almost laid back in its storytelling.
Tobey Maguire plays American chess legend Bobby Fischer in this dramatic biographical film. It follows the true story of the 1972 World Chess Championship when the troubled genius Fischer battled Soviet Grandmaster Boris Spassky, played by Liev Schreiber. Perfect if you’re looking for a gripping Cold War drama.
Jackie is all about Natalie Portman. Her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy, days after the assassination of her husband and president of the United States John F Kennedy, is a masterclass of acting. She has studied footage of Jackie and got her mannerisms and speech imprint spot on. The film is a stark and intimate look and the former First Lady and is a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s endlessly watchable and it’s all because of Portman who earned (and subsequently missed out on) a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Martin Scorsese has been in the movie business long enough to do whatever he wants. Silence is his him at his most uncompromising. A difficult sell after the fleeting fun that was Wolf of Wall Street, Silence is a meditative, hard-to-watch movie about pilgrimage. Starring Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two monks who go on a journey to find a place where Christians are put to extremes to prove their love for god. It’s a trying movie and one that takes the utmost concentration. It’s not quite the masterpiece Scorsese was seeking, given he’s been mulling the story for decades but it’s a worthy, if meandering watch.
Moonlight is stunning film. Split into three parts, the movie charts the life of Chiron, a black man growing up in Miami. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure and just so happens to be the lowest-ever budgeted movie that has won the Best Picture Oscar. While the acting is superb in all three of the sections – it’s the storytelling that really shines and shimmers here. It’s captivating, brooding stuff.
It’s hard not to write about Manchester By The Sea without stepping into spoiler territory so here’s the broad strokes: Casey Affleck stars as a Boston janitor who has to take care of his brother’s son after his brother dies. What ensues is a heartbreaking movie. Its backdrop is a snowy Manchester in Massachusetts, something that echoes the characters in the movie. This isn’t a film that wraps up neatly in a bow in the end – it’s much more closer to fractured, complicated business that is real life.
Lion sounds like a movie that’s been manufactured for awards season but it’s much cleverer than that. It’s based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, a child from India separated from his family when he was just five years old and adopted by a couple from Tasmania. The story follows Saroo in his younger years then flips to him as an adult on the lookout for his real parents. Dev Patel is brilliant as the adult who goes on a journey to find out his true heritage. While it all sounds a little melodramatic, it really isn’t – director Garth Davis of Top Of The Lake fame manages to make a movie that’s not too overly dramatic but really rather moving.
Some 40 films into his career, you would expect director Ken Loach’s talents to be on the wane but I, Daniel Blake may well be his masterpiece. It’s a superb study of the class system in the UK, and what happens when someone tries to be a better person despite bureaucracy stopping them from doing just that. Yes, it’s political but Loach doesn’t play this part of it up – it just naturally seeps through because of the frustrations the film presents. Essential stuff.
The Impossible is what Tom Holland was doing before he became Spider-Man, starring in a true tale about the devastating tsunami in Thailand. He is one of three sons of Naomi Watts and Ewen McGregor’s characters and part of a compelling character study of what happens to people with natural disasters strike. Director JA Bayona proved he is a talent to look out for with The Impossible. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which he is helming in 2018, should cement that fact.
Brie Larson stars in this heartfelt study of human endurance. Larson is Ma. She has been imprisoned in a small shed for years, having to bring up her little boy Jack (a great Jacob Tremblay) in isolation. The film follows their story to the bittersweet end. For a film that’s mostly shot within the confines of a small room, director Lenny Abrahamson manages to eek out pathos in the mundane but it’s the acting of the two leads that’s the real reason to watch the heart-rending movie.
Apocalypse Now is a rare gem of a movie. Born out of chaos, where leading actors had to be replaced, medical problems blighted the shoot and Marlon Brando went somewhat off piste, it’s a miracle there was any film at all to show for the shoot, let alone one of the greatest movies ever made. Based loosely on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, the film follows a soldier’s descent into hell as he tries to track down the elusive Colonel Kurtz, a decorated war veteran who has seemingly gone mad. From the amazing visuals, to the sweeping score, to the acting chops of the main cast, Apocalypse Now is a terrifying masterclass in filmmaking.
John LeCarre’s superb spy novel is given a decent adaptation, thanks to Let Me In director Tomas Alfredson’s measured, careful take on the source material. Gary Oldman is superb as George Smiley, the veteran spy catcher brought out of retirement to find an Russian mole in the ranks of the MI6. Even if you know who the mole is, the way the film unfurls this information is utterly captivating.
A deserved winner of the Best Film Oscar, Spotlight is a searing look at investigative journalism at its finest – trying to uncover the truth of child abuse within the Roman church. The film is a true testament to real journalism and throws shade at online clickbait and its erosion of proper investigative news gathering. Oh.
Another Oscar winner seemingly grown in a petri dish for the sole purpose to win awards, The King’s Speech is one man’s struggle to get over a speech impediment and subsequent fear of public speech – it just so happens this man is also the king of England. For all its faults, it tugs on the right strings and is very watchable.
The Russian roulette scene may be what most people think of when someone chats about Deer Hunter but the movie has so much more to offer. It shows the horrors of war during and after the Vietnam conflict, shining a light on what a situation like that does to a person and their relationships. It’s a gruelling but sometimes beautiful watch.
What started off as a failed TV pilot ended up being one of David Lynch’s most accomplished films. As with any Lynch movie describing the plot won’t do Mulholland Drive justice. What starts off as a portrayal of a woman seeking fame in Hollywood ends up being a nightmarish look at the duality of personality and what happens when reality turns into a fever dream.
It’s great to see Viggo Mortensen back as a leading man and Captain Fantastic suits his eclectic sensibilities down to the ground. It’s a film about a family of homeschooled children who have lived off-grid with their eccentric parents. When their mother dies, they come back to civilisation with a bump. Mortensen is superb as the grizzled patriarch and the casting of the kids is spot on. In a film full of surprises, perhaps the most surprising thing about Captain Fantastic is its writer-director Matt Ross. He plays Gavin Belson in Silicon Valley!
Even when Christopher Nolan missteps, he still manages to hide the stumble with a highly orchestrated dance routine. Interstellar is overblown and weighed down by its own importance but, boy, is it an epic watch. Matthew McConaughey stars as Cooper, a farmer and former test pilot who helps on a mission to save the people of Earth, which is ravaged by lack of land resource. The mission involves going to space and entering a wormhole and exploring a new planet that may have the means for sustaining human life. The film falls in on itself as it nears its conclusion but it’s a bold, measured ride into the unknown with some of the best visuals Nolan has created. Just don’t go expecting a masterpiece, however.
We know you know Gremlins. This is the film that tells the story of a young man who receives a Furby-like creature as a pet and fails to follow every instruction with regards to its care. What results is an army of destructive, evil Gremlins set on destroying a small town at Christmas. It’s a festive classic.
Like aliens and whiteboards? Get you a movie that can do both. Arrival was an astonishing science fiction film, released towards the end of 2016, and making its way to Amazon Prime Video before it’s even landed on cable or satellite TV in the UK.
Based on the novella ‘Stories of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang, and directed by Sicario director Denis Villeneuve (whose next task will be the long-awaited sequel to Blade Runner), it’s a fantastic film exploring love, loss, communication and the lengths we should all be prepared to go to in order to understand, accept and value the differences between us.
One of the more interesting sci-fi movies of the past decade and a huge reason why director Rian Johnson got the Star Wars: Episode VIII gig. Looper focuses on the timey wimey tale of a bunch of hitmen, whose job it is to send people from the future into the past to kill them. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are superb in the film, which manages to take complex ideas and boil them down into an entertaining popcorn thriller.
Star Wars alumni John Boyega got his first break on this great UK indie, as did newly instated Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker. Attack The Block is the first movie by Joe Cornish – of Adam and Joe fame – and it’s an absolute corker. Aliens have come to earth to wreak havoc and it’s down to a South London gang to make sure their neighbourhood doesn’t become a disaster zone. Full of warm wit and fantastic humour – not to mention some startling special effects – the movie mashes together a number of genres together and has a whole lot of fun doing it.
They Live sees John Carpenter at his most political and fiendish. On the face of it, it’s a film about a drifter who finds a pair of sunglasses that, when worn, shows him that aliens have taken over the world’s population and the government is trying to control everyone with subliminal messaging. But it’s all allegory. An allegory that holds strong today, with the current situation in US politics and fake news – that people’s views are being manipulated even if they don’t think they are. Carpenter took a big gamble casting wrestler Roddy Piper in the movie but it pays off.
You wait years for a sci-fi movie that’s influenced by Groundhog Day to come along and then two appear at once. Yes, Source Code has a similar time-repeating plot to Edge of Tomorrow but it’s less bombastic and more thoughtful in its approach. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the soldier who only has eight minutes to stop a bomber on a busy train, before time resets and he has to do the whole thing again. Duncan Jones does well in the director seat, managing to make a plot device that could grow old rather quick really work.
Gareth Evans has had a such a meteoric rise in Hollywood, it’s a wonder he doesn’t start the day with altitude sickness. After his no-budget movie Monsters was a modest hit, he was chosen to reboot Godzilla and rid the world of the sour taste of the ’90s film. He does well to add the sense of dread and menace that is in the original Japanese films but there’s just not enough of the monster here to make the movie into a classic. It’s still well worth a watch, though.
It’s by no means a perfect movie, but Legend has two fantastic central performances… both played by Tom Hardy. Hardy is both Ronald and Reggie Kray, the notorious twins that ruled half of London’s underworld in the Sixties. Legend is about their rise and subsequent fall, shot through the lens of Reggie’s relationship with Frances Shea, the ever-brilliant Emily Browning. While Legend doesn’t offer anything different to the, er, legend of the Krays it’s still a brutal and occasionally funny watch.
Describe a movie as erotic and it usually conjures up something that’s utterly not sexy like 50 Shades of Grey or the Lego Movie. The Handmaiden, though, is erotic and shimmers as a result. Directed by South Korean’s finest, Park Chan-wook, the movie is masterful in its suspense and when sex is shown – and it’s a lot of the time – it’s used to bolster the characters and the story, rather than for pure titillation. The Handmaiden is yet another new release that’s headed to Amazon Prime Video – we’re not sure why it keeps getting all these ‘just released on Blu-ray’ movies but we’re happy that it’s happening.
Nothing is as it seems in Martin Scorsese’s chilling Shutter Island. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a marshal who investigates the disappearance of a patient at Boston’s Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. The hospital is one renowned for bizarre experiments on its inmates which ups the freaky ante somewhat. Then things get really scary and a lot more obscure when a hurricane cuts the island off from the mainland. This is definitely a film you will want to watch again, probably straight after you watch it the first time.
Stephen Spielberg ratchets up the tension to near breaking point in Munich – a wonderful movies that charts the Black September aftermath. The movie follows the assassin’s whose job it was to rid the world of those who created the atrocities that saw a number of Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
It’s difficult to talk about Girl On The Train without giving a twisty plot point or two away. So, let’s just say that Emma Blunt is great in this tense thriller that does justice to the hugely successful book. The only issue we have is the whole plot has been transposed to an American town. We prefer the distinctly British setting. Other than that, prepared to be both shocked and entertained.
Taylor Sheridan is a man of many talents. Not only has he starred in hit shows such as Sons of Anarchy and Veronica Mars, he’s also penned some of the finest thrillers in recent years. First there was the superb Sicario and now Hell Or High Water, for which he was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar. It’s easy to see why, this is a taut, tense film about two brothers who turn to bank robbery to help their family. Starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges, the film is a fast-paced modern take on the Western.
It might be a terrible name, but Eye in The Sky manages to bring kudos back to director Gavin Hood, after his forgettable stab at a superhero movie in Wolverine. Helen Mirren is Colonel Katherine Powell, in charge of a drone operation that has serious implications when innocents become involved in the warfare. Given the film is centred on drone warfare, it’s one of the most pertinent thrillers around at the moment.
Director Atom Egoyan is not one to take the conventional route when telling his tales – and Chloe is no different. Starring Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson, it’s about a seemingly normal couple who resort to using a sex worker to test the trust in their relationship. This turns out to be a very bad decision. The film is a remake of the superior French drama Nathalie but it’s a decent thriller that manages to walk the line between gratuity and maturity well.
This is a devastating film. Based on the true events of what is still a recent economic disaster in the US, 99 Homes is about Andrew Garfield’s Dennis Nash, someone whose home faces foreclosure. To make ends meet he starts working for the real estate company – and the villainous Michael Shannon – that caused him and his family to lose his home. It’s a convoluted but brazen look at what can happen to a person when they are on the brink of losing everything.
The original Swedish language version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a faithful adaptation of the book of the same name, even if it does sometimes fall into TV movie territory. Noomi Rapace is brilliant as Lisbeth Salander, the alt-hacker who finds herself in the middle of a 40-year-old missing person’s case. It’s a role that pushed into the Hollywood a-list, and for good reason. Another bonus is that this is the subtitled version – the dubbed version is terrible and been hacked in the edit suite.
Andrea Arnold’s second movie was the one that cemented her as one of the UK’s best filmmakers. Fish Tank stars Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender as a teenager and the boyfriend of her mother. An uneasy relationship is struck between them both that goes from bad to worse. This is one of Fassbender’s first starring roles and watching it back, it’s easy to see why he’s such a big star now.
This is most definitely a movie of two halves – in that something significant happens midway through that changes both the pace and tone of the movie considerably. For some, the shift is too much but it really does work. Ryan Gosling plays Luke, a fantastic stunt motorcyclist turned bank robber who’s trying to do the best for his family. Eva Mendes is his estranged partner, while Bradley Cooper crops up as Avery, a good cop that’s trying to make the best out of some terrible situations. Brilliantly acted and expertly told, The Place Beyond The Pines is a powerful movie watching experience.
Richard Ayoade has proved over two feature films that he is a director to watch. While The Double was a fascinating Gilliam-esque comedy thriller, his first movie was much more in keeping with the French New Wave, despite being set in the depths of Wales. It’s set in 1980s Swansea and focuses on the relationship between a teenage loner and a girl who seems to share his passion for doom and gloom. Craig Roberts is fantastic as the loner – a role that won him plaudits and the starring role in Amazon Prime’s fantastic TV show Red Oaks.
While the first Addams Family was a fun but flawed reboot of the old TV show, Addams Family Values is a subversive gem. Comedy sequels are rarely better than the first movie but what Barry Sonnenfeld did with Values was make it far more twisted than anyone expecting. Whether it’s cooking strippers alive (Lurch), various attempts by Wednesday and Pugsley to kill their newly born brethren or the constant references to Morticia and Gomez’s sex life it’s a whole lot of ooky fun.
A once-famous actor in the ’80s tries to resurrect his career in Mindhorn, a superb pastiche of cop shows of old. Julian Barrett is on top form as the titular Mindhorn, whose desperate attempt to become relevant again means he unwittingly finds himself in a murder investigation on the Richard Thorncroft
As underrated movies go, Goon is pretty much on top of the list. Wrongly brushed aside as another farcical American Pie style movie, because it’s got Seann William Scott in it, Goon is much more than that. It’s funny, yes, but it’s also an affectionate look at the underdog, filled with some pretty big scenes of violence and a number of tender moments too. There’s a sequel in the works, which is fantastic news, as Goon is a little-watched gem.
This shouldn’t work. Jack Black as a high school teacher teaching kids to play music sounds like it has ‘straight to video’ written all over it but School of Rock is a whole lot of fun. Director Richard Linklater and writer Mike White take most of the sickly sweet moments out of the movie and leave a fun, riotous movie that is a brilliant showcase of Jack Black’s talents. The film has been a big hit since its launch and has recently been turned into a stage production, sans Jack Black though – he’s still raking it in through his movies.
This is a superb movie. It’s so good that a US remake has already been announced. Toni Erdmann is about an estranged father trying to reconnect with his daughter in a rather bizarre way: by pretending to be her boss’s life coach. It’s a surreal movie, packed with embarrassing moments and some surprising empathy.
Ted shouldn’t work. It’s a comedy about a man and his childhood toy, which just happens to be alive. That man is the normally dour Mark Whalberg, the toy is voiced by Seth McFarlane and sounds strangely like Peter Griffin in Family Guy. But it does work – it’s occasionally laugh out loud, funny throughout and proves that Whalberg does comedy best when he’s just playing a more earnest version of himself. Unfortunately all of this come untangled in its disappointing sequel, but the original Ted is well worth a watch.
It’s a shame that Chris Morris doesn’t do more stuff as when his new projects come along they always change the game in some way. Four Lions finds humour in one of the most serious subjects: terrorism. For a film shot in 2010, it’s still surprisingly current. It follows docu-style British jihadists who are trying to conjure up a terror plot. The problem is, they’re idiots. Starring, among others, Riz Ahmed, Four Lions is funny, frank and endlessly controversial. But it’s done in such a way that you can’t help but admire the movie.
Wes Anderson’s style is so unique that he’s following some of his director heroes – David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick etc – and becoming an adjective. If a film is Wes-like, then it’s filled with childhood wonder, symmetry and quirk. Moonrise Kingdom is packed with all of this and is about two children who escape from a town in the US, only to be tracked down by a search party. It’s a wonderfully innocent movie drenched in melancholy but funny with it. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Bill Murray all star but its real stars are the children – played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.
It’s a shame that The Thick Of It never hit the big screen. What with Brexit madness and the UK government a mess of contradictions, a movie starring Malcolm Tucker swearing them all into shape is sorely needed. In The Loop is the closest thing we’ve got. It’s a strange movie as it takes strands from The Thick Of It and ports it to the US. This means the film is a hybrid of The Thick of It and the US show Veep. What we do get though is Malcolm Tucker (a never-bettered Peter Capaldi), full of vim and vigor, spinning his way through the choppy waters that is US politics. It’s not perfect, but as satires go it’s one of the most searing.
It is perhaps fitting that David Brent: Life on the Road isn’t a patch on The Office. Given the utter success of the TV show, this movie charts Brent after his stint at the Wernham Hogg Paper Company in Slough. While it lacks the charm of the show, it is still great to see Gervais as Brent once more. It’s just a shame that Stephen Merchant didn’t have a hand in writing the script – his penmanship is sorely missed.
For a children’s story, A Monster Calls is dark stuff. The story is about a small boy whose mother is ill, and father lives away, so he goes to live with his grandmother who he doesn’t get on with. The only person he does get on with is a monster that appears at his bedroom window one night. Liam Neeson is great as the voice of the monster but its Lewis MacDougall as Conor, the little boy who has to deal head-on with loss, that’s standout here. As is director JA Bayona who has created a beautiful-looking film that’s wrought with sadness.
The BFG is a beautiful movie. It’s also a slow movie so even though it’s meant to be for children, smaller ones may get a bit bored. Big kids, though, and their parents will love Spielberg’s take on one of Roald Dahl’s most-loved characters. Using the latest CG techniques it’s a wonder to watch- much of this is also to do with the acting talents of Mark Rylance, who plays the titular friendly giant.
When Gore Verbinski set sail for The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise everyone thought we would never see him make an indie film again but then came Rango. A brilliant, subversive animation, Rango is an LSD-tinged Western where all the characters are animals or lizards. Johnny Depp plays Rango, a chameleon who leaves his family home and ends up in the strange town of Dirt. Brilliantly, nutty stuff.
Everyone loves it when Batman meets the Joker but this movie does it with a twist. The Batman that meets the joker here is Terry McGinnis, a new Batman mentored by an ageing Bruce Wayne. McGinnis is equipped with new-fangled tech to make sure the Joker and his gang don’t end up running the city, but it also takes some old-school advice from Bruce Wayne to save the day.
Based on the controversial Death of Superman storyline, this animated movie is all about Doomsday – the hideous creature that puts an end to Superman. Although it’s faithful to the comic-book series from which it is adapted, it is all a little rushed. But great animation and voice talent – Adam Baldwin is superb as Supes and James Marsters is menacing as Lex Luthor – make this film a must watch, especially if you are annoyed with the treatment of Superman in the recent DC movie universe.
When people argue about the best Batman, Kevin Conroy’s name never comes up. But it really really should. He’s been voice acting as Batman for a number of years and one of the best ways to hear his dark, dulcet tones is by watching Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. This animated movie pitched Batman against another masked vigilante – one that wants to bring Gotham City to justice. If that wasn’t enough, The Joker makes an appearance too. The film is a must for those who grew up on Burton’s Batman and had their faith restored with Chris Nolan’s interpretation. If it wasn’t animated, Mask of the Phantasm would be hailed as one of the best Batman movies. It’s certainly the best Batman animated movie.
This isn’t the film that was advertised but it is still a great children’s movie. When it was promoted back in 2007, you would be forgiven that this is a fantasy epic. While there are those elements, they only make for a section of the movie. The rest is a sad, gripping tale about the relationship between two school friends who deal with the darkness in their lives by creating the imaginary world of Terabithia.
One of the most endearing coming-of-age movies you are likely to see, Son of Rambow is about two children growing up in the ’80s who are obsessed with Rambo. So much, they decide to make their own version of the movie with the help of their friends. What ensues is a fun, inventive film about the magic of childhood friendship and imagination. Directed by music video supremo Garth Jennings, Son of Rambow is a trio of love letters: one to the Eighties, one to home videos and the other to the cartoon violence that was born out of an era where Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis ruled the box office.
Lost in Translation is a superb, dreamlike movie that wonderfully captures feeling of alienation and loneliness you can feel in a city you don’t belong in. The city in question is Tokyo, the lonely people are Bill Murray as an ageing actor and Scarlett Johansson as a college graduate left to her own devices by her photographer husband. The chemistry between Murray and Johansson is electric, both endearing and hilarious, as is the soundtrack and the way the film slowly creeps up on you in an wonderful way.
Woody Allen managed to assemble a cracking ensemble for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The film is a fun look at friends Vicky Cristina (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) as they travel to Barcelona and meet a mysterious artist, played by Javier Bardem. It’s all sex and sultriness until his unhinged ex-wife appears. She’s played by Penelope Cruz with such magnetism that you are drawn to her and kind of forget the rest of the characters. It’s not Allen at his best but even his ‘good enough’ films are a cut above most.
There’s a deep, maddening love portrayed in Blue Valentine that is so powerful it ends up being destructive. With that in mind, this isn’t the movie to put on if you don’t want you and your loved one to question your own relationship. It’s a brutal, raw movie that focuses on the relationship between married couple Dean and Cindy, played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams respectively. They are two people in love, pushed apart by circumstance. The story flits back and forth in time, so with each tender moment you get anguish. Powerful stuff.
Todd Haynes is one of the world’s most fascinating directors, who loves to mine different eras for inspiration. While he courted the ’70s with Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not There, it is perhaps the ’50s where he has managed to use the tensions of the era to create superb character dramas. Carol is just that, a romantic tale between two women – Rooney Mara is the clerk that falls in love with Cate Blanchett’s character who is unhappy in a marriage of convenience. The anxieties and problems Haynes highlights in his earlier movie Safe are back with Carol. In this movie, though, everything has been given a more sumptuous sheen.
Thank goodness we live in an era where Terrence Malick is back and making movies on a regular basis. Knight of Cups is as dreamlike and fractured as you have come to expect from the revered director. As with all his movies, it’s clear he shot way more footage and didn’t decide on what film he was making until he hit the edit suite, but that’s part of its charm. Here we see Christian Bale as Rick, a writer who flits between Vegas and LA with six different women. Vegas is perfect Territory for Malick, a desert of neon suits his filmmaking style. While the supporting cast Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Freida Pinto all add gravitas to the film.
Writer-director John Carney’s debut is a low-budget joy that’s since been turned into a very successful play. The plot is slight: a busker and immigrant spend a week in Dublin falling in love and making music together. But it’s the songs that make the movie. Each one is a gem, sprinkled throughout the movie to give it a musical quality. Carney’s latest Sing Street is well worth a watch, too.
The best way to tell the story of Oasis is to use the band. The group were so enigmatic, so cocksure of themselves that they come across brilliantly on camera. Their interviews are backed by some fantastic archive footage that threads a narrative about a band that solidified the idea of Britpop and proved that the UK still has some rock’n’roll swagger. It’s just a shame that the Gallagher Brothers no longer speak to each other, as they are at their best when they are together.
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.
It’s a harrowing watch, but Grizzly Man is veteran filmmaker Werner Herzog at his best. Following the (somewhat naive) work of amatuer environmentalist Timothy Treadwell, Herzog examines what sort of man would choose to live, unprotected, among a family of grizzly bears across 13 summers.
At times difficult, Herzog’s deeply respectful telling of this unique tale is thought-provoking and wonderfully compiled.
The Amy documentary is a hard watch, one that will have you fighting back tears. The talent on show is blighted by the talent that is thrown away. The doc showcases Amy Winehouse in her early years, using archive footage of the star that shows just how much of a talent she was. There are talking heads with her family – including her husband – as well as good friends of hers.
Jim Jarmusch uses music in his movies to fine effect, so it makes complete sense that he is the one to helm a documentary about The Stooges and their enigmatic frontman, Iggy Pop. The Stooges may not have hit the heights of, say, The Rolling Stones but they’re an important piece of the rock puzzle. This doc does well to uncover what made the band tick, complete with recent talking heads with members of the band.
A-list director Ron Howard took a break from feature-filmmaking to direct this documentary about the most famous band ever. It’s a slick production, meshing old interviews, archive footage and new interviews with the surviving members together to create a vivid look at a band in their pomp to their rather sour end.
Sometimes it’s the smaller stories that pack the most power. That’s certainly the case with Dreams of a Life. This dramatised documentary focuses on Joyce Vincent, someone who died in her bedsit and wasn’t found for three years. It’s a story of isolation, dreams and detective work – as filmmaker Carol Morley joins the dots of Vincent’s life.
Forget the rather disappointing 3D movie and instead focus on this riveting documentary about a French high-wire artist who decides to one day scale one of the towers World Trade Center and walk across to the other one using just a tightrope. It’s utterly absorbing Man on Wire features an in-depth interview with the person that did the stunt, Philippe Petit. The way he tells the story of how he got past security to walk the Twin Towers is as engrossing as any heist movie.
Nick Cave’s unmistakable timber is all over 20,000 Days on Earth, a documentary about Cave’s life so far. As it’s Cave, he takes a rather unique approach to things. Set over a 24-hour period, his real life and a fictional version of his life combine (where celebrities join him on a car journey) to produce a meditation on the process of making music. The best bits are when we see Cave in the studio – watching a music genius at work is mesmerising.
Bob Marley’s music is as strong today as when it was released back in the ‘70s. His politics are as strong as they are now, his protest songs have lost none of their vibrancy. Which is why Marley is such a brilliant watch. It tells the tale of how Marley brought his music to the masses, his love of football and his life living in both London and Jamaica – all of which are brought brilliantly to life by interviews with friends and family and archive footage.
If you enjoyed the recent remake of Stephen King classic IT, then you’re probably not against seeing the cinematic adaptions of the rest of his works. The Shining should be at the top of your list. Directed by Stanley Kubrik with Jack Nicholson in the starring role, this is an iconic horror about a man who takes his family to an isolated Colorado hotel in a desperate attempt to cure his writer’s block.
If you don’t know the film you almost certainly recognize its villain’s theme song. Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller about a man-eating giant white shark that’s terrorizing the residents of a New England town and the team looking to stop it has become a timeless horror classic.
Director Ben Wheatley adds the right amount of realism and menace to Kill List – a film that is never quite what it seems. On the face of it, it’s a kitchen sink drama about a hitman and his latest assignment to kill three people but as the story unravels so does the hitman’s life (played in earnest by the brilliant Neil Maskell). It flirts at being a family drama, teases you that it’s a crime saga then hits you with the most relentless horror that you’ll be watching the end behind your hands. Great stuff.
South Korea has slowly but surely marked itself out as a country that’s producing some fantastic filmmakers. Interestingly, two of the best movies from South Korean directors of recent times have been based on trains – Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer (which criminally never got a UK release) and Sang-ho Yeon’s Train To Busan.
Train To Busan is a brilliant zombie horror movie. By having most of the action take place on a train, we see what it’s like when a zombie epidemic takes hold in close confines, complete with cloying claustrophobia. It’s part action movie, part love story, all character study, showing that a situation such as a freaking zombie outbreak can bring out the best and the very worst in people.
Well this was unexpected. The name Hell House LLC doesn’t exactly scream ‘must watch’ but despite its rather Grindhouse-esque title, this is a brilliant slice of horror. The plot is simple: a group of friends who create haunted house experiences for Halloween find a house to convert that’s seemingly filled with real-life ghosts. The movie is their footage spliced together, with police reports and the like. The found footage genre is rather stagnant now but Hell House manages to breathe new life into it, mustering up some genuine scares that will have even the most hardened horror fans watching from behind their fingers. Its final scenes don’t quite match what went before it (or make much sense) but this is one of the best horror films to come out in years.
Sinister is that rare horror film: it has brains, A-listers and is still really scary. Ethan Hawke is a true crime writer. After finding a box of what he thinks is footage of murders committed by a serial killer, things start to go very bad in his life. Director Scott Derrickson may have recently made the more family friendly Doctor Strange, but with Sinister he proves that he is just as adept at garnering scares as he is guiding the Marvel universe.
Martyrs is a tough, tough movie to watch. You shouldn’t watch it to be entertained, but to be shocked and tested. The first half of the movie is fine. It plays out like any home invasion thriller. Two girls break into the house of a seemingly normal family to get revenge for being kidnapped and tortured when they were younger. The second half of the movies, though, is an onslaught to the senses. It is like nothing you have ever seen, and maybe like nothing you ever want to see again. This is a film for those with a strong stomach. It’s a clever movie that uses extreme blood, gore and torture to hold a mirror up to the perverse nature of ‘torture porn’ movies.
A low-budget chiller that takes place in a small town in Ontario, Canada (bet you can’t guess its name) and follows the exploits of a talk radio team who are reporting on strange goings on in the town. It’s essentially a movie about zombies but distilled through the eyes of a small, yet vocal, group of people. Its budget may well be small but its ambition is big and that’s what makes Pontypool such a fun watch.
This serial killer cat-and-mouse movie is one of the most visceral around. Starring Old Boy’s Min-Sik Choy as the killer, the film is graphic in its content – Its tale of revenge is uncompromising – but is a fantastic watch. It’s also one of the best movies from director Jee-woon Kim who has a platinum line-up of films, including A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life and to a lesser extent his sole US movie, The Last Stand.
One of the cleverest things Wolf Creek did was cast John Jarratt in its lead. Outside of Australia this probably didn’t mean much but Jaratt was the good guy in McLeod’s Daughters. This made his portrayal of serial killer Mick Taylor harder to watch. Wolf Creek is a slow burn of a movie but once Taylor is on the screen, his menace means it’s a must watch – how quickly he changes from helper to hindrance is impressive, as is his gruesome acts of killing.