Update: It's an all-out action fest when it comes to our new additions this week. The incomparable Mad Max: Fury Road joins our list, as does the ingenious Train To Busan – a South Korean zombie movie where most of the action is spent on a fast-moving train.
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.
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.
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.
Mad Max: Fury Road has no right to be as good as it is. The signs weren't good before release. It was stuck in development Hell for years, then lead actor Tom Hardy was quoted in saying that he was frustrated during the shoot as he didn't quite understand director George Miller's vision. But he needn't have worried. Yes, Fury Road is one big set piece, but what a set piece: it's a car chase to end all car chases, followed by another car chase to end all car chases. Miller has created a wonderful, strange movie that is a riveting watch and one that stands toe to toe with The Road Warrior as the best Mad Max film.
It seems that when it comes to movies and 'gun-fu', Keanu Reeves can do no wrong. He mastered it in The Matrix and now he's back brandishing more fire arms than an army in John Wick. The premise to the movie is ridiculous: a retired hitman gets back in the game when someone kills his dog. The dog in question, though, was a present from his dead wife so at least there's some emotional weight there. The movie is great because of its simplicity. It's a snapshot of a bigger universe, run by hitmen and women – there's a mythos hinted at throughout that is never really explained. A sequel and announced third movie will do delve more into he story but John Wick keeps things simple: it's about revenge, and lots and lots of shooting.
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.
While the original Zack Snyder film didn’t exactly lend itself to a sequel – it was about a war that was wrapped up in the movie – Rise of an Empire takes on another different battle that’s style over substance but will still keep you entertained. New director Noam Murro cut his teeth on commercials but his move to the big screen is actually a half decent one.
Welsh director Gareth Evans shot onto the scene with The Raid, one the best actions films this decade. Shot in Indonesia and using martial arts talent from the region, the setup to the move is simple: a crime lord is holed up in a tower block, 30 floors up. It's the police's job to get him out. Superb stuff. The version on Prime is the subtitled one, which is by far the best way to watch it.
A soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers and dizzying direction from Joe Wright brings to life this offbeat tale of a young child who just happens to also be a master assassin. Saoirse Ronan shines in an early role from the Oscar nominated actress and so does Eric Bana her father who just so happens to be ex-CIA.
Hard to believe that the creators of the Fast and The Furious franchise have managed to squeeze eight movies out of the concept and they are getting better and better. The fifth instalment sees the movies shift gear from street racing into heist territory – a plot twist that also freshens up the cast by adding Dwayne Johnson to proceedings. Good, if guilty, fun.
It wasn't the movie to catapult Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul from TV a-lister to movie a-lister, but Need For Speed offers old-fashioned car chases (no CGI here) and adrenaline-filled action scenes – all to service a plot so wafer-thin, it’s best served in an ice-cream sundae. Given this is a film based on a videogame, nobody should expect anything more really.
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.
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.
Quentin Tarantino goes back to his roots with Hateful Eight. The look of the film may well be wildly different from Reservoir Dogs – it’s set deep in a Wyoming winter – but it’s a similar 'movie in one room' scenario. Hateful Eight has some stunning visuals but it’s all about the dialogue. Shots are fired but it’s the verbal intercourse that takes place before the violence that’s a joy to behold.
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.
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.
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.
This is a film that you need to watch twice. There is so much going on and director PT Anderson doesn’t make it easy for you to follow what is happening, but that’s the beauty of the movie and the Thomas Pynchon novel on which it is based on. It’s a detective story that’s opaque, where the central investigation almost falls by the wayside by the end of it, thanks to being swathed in a fug of drugs – well, it is set in Los Angeles in the ‘70s after all. Joaquin Phoenix is great as Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello – a role he was born to play.
The film that sparked a thousand memes, Downfall is a harrowing, realistic look at the last days of Adolf Hitler. The film show the dictator at his most vulnerable, coming to terms with the loss of World War II and struggling to save face while his world crumbles around him – a side rarely seen in a war movies.
A young Christian Bale stars in this superb drama that charts the childhood of author J.G. Ballard. Directed by Steven Spielberg the film is a lush old-school epic that charts the journey a young boy has to go through when he is separated from his parents in China after Japan invades the country in World War II. Bale has always been a fantastic actor but here you see that even at 15 he had oodles of star quality.
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.
Yes, it’s a film that smacks of 'give me an Oscar' acting but The Imitation Game is also a great take on the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, headed up by genius Alan Turing. While there are fantastic performances by both Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, the film does skirt around some of the more controversial aspects of Turing’s life – and the horrific injustices he incurred – but this doesn’t detract from what is an engrossing film.
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.
Matthew McConaughey was on something of a role role-wise when he took on the past of an aids victim who turns to drug trafficking to make sure he and his fellow friends have the right medication to combat the disease. Superbly directed and with great acting – Jared Leto as a trans woman is standout – this is well worth a 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.
Yes, the show is getting all of the plaudits at the moment but the original movie is well worth a watch as well. Based around an AI theme park, where the hosts in the park are robots, the movie charts the robots going rogue and the humans that try and deal with this situation. Yul Brynner is superb as the murderous Terminator-like bot.
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. 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.
While Gravity is a live action film, most of what you see has been created in a computer. Yes Clooney and Sandra Bullock are in the film but their faces and hands have been painstakingly grafted onto an animation – not even the space suits are real. Not that you would know this from watching the film but that’s the brilliance of Gravity – it’s a movie so precise in its execution, you never once question how it was made. It was also a movie that gave 3D in the cinema a new lease of life, but watching the 2D version on Amazon Prime is still a thrilling cinematic ride.
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.
Vincenzo Natali has proved himself to be a very capable TV director in recent years, working on Hannibal and The Strain. But he’s also pretty decent in the movie department. Splice is about what goes wrong when you try and splice human DNA with some sort of animal. Splice has all the traits of a B-Movie, but manages to add a little bit of intelligence into the mix as well
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.
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.
Given the recent death of Martin McGuinness, the troubles Ireland faced in the ’70s is front page news again – which makes ‘71 even more of a must watch. Jack O'Connell stars as Gary Hook, a British soldier who is left stranded on the streets of Belfast after there’s rioting in the city. The film is as real as it gets, without being a documentary – thanks to superb direction by first-time director Yann Demange who cut his directing tooth on TV shows such as Top Boy and Dead Set.
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.
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.
Women can be loutish too! That’s the premise of Bridesmaids, a movie that takes the tropes of buddy bloke movies such as The Hangover and reverses them. In any other director’s hands it would be disastrous but Paul Feig manages to find the fun in a cast that’s packed with improvisations from the likes of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne. It’s just a shame Fieg couldn’t capture the same amount of fun for his disappointing Ghostbusters reboot which used much of the same cast.
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.
What do you mean you have never seen Bill? Stop what you are doing and start streaming this right now. Yes, it’s a kid’s movie, but this take on the life of William Shakespeare has been created by the folks behind Horrible Histories, which means it’s as adult a kids’ movie as you can get – packed with hilarity, warm-hearted wit and a big dollop of silly.
Frank Darabont seems to be one of the few people that can make Stephen King’s masterworks sing on the screen. While this doesn’t bode well for the upcoming Dark Tower movie, it does mean we have seen a succession of great King films from the director – from Shawshank, to the Green Mile and there’s also The Mist. This is a genuinely creepy movie that has one of the most downbeat endings ever shot in Hollywood. Which means, as we’re a dour bunch, that it’s one of the best sci-fi flicks around!
Richard Linklater gets back into Richard Linklater territory with Everybody Wants Some. It’s a bedfellow to Dazed and Confused but using ’80s as a backdrop instead of the ‘70s. From the soundtrack to the haircuts, to the videogames this is a love letter to the era and one big fun burst of nostalgia. It’s got to be said: Linklater is one of the most in-form directors at the moment, let’s hope his streak continues!
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.
Despite a last-minute voice change – Ben Whishaw replaced Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington after it was felt Firth wasn’t the right fit – Paddington is a delightful, old-school children’s film. Paddington comes to London from Peru. He’s lost and finds the city all-too much – until he meets a family that takes him under their wing. Director Paul King instills some of the fantasy elements he managed to produce so well in the Might Boosh TV show, to make a film that sparkles on the screen.
This really shouldn’t be as fun as it is. When it was first announced there would be a Lego movie, everyone suspected it would just be a cynical cash-in to sell loads of tiny bricks. Instead, the film turned out to be one of the most inventive, fun movies in a long time. This is mainly due to the fantastic script – which beefs up the simple plot that sees a construction worker picked to save the Lego world – and direction by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. As a CV entry, it managed to get them the Han Solo movie gig.
This is an easy double movie bill as both films are under 30 minutes each. The Gruffalo is one of the most loved characters in children’s literature and this CGI retelling of the tale is simple yet very effective. While it doesn’t have the best animation, it makes up in charm and is perfect fodder for your little ’uns.
Okay, we maybe put this one on the list because of its title. If you hadn’t quite figured out what’s going on, It’s Romeo and Juliet but with gnomes. While two gnome factions are at war on opposing sides of a garden fence, a love kindles between two people in the warring families. It’s all pretty throwaway stuff but the voice cast is surprisingly A/B list. James McAvoy, Jason Statham, Emily Blunt and even Michael Caine makes an appearance. And with dialogue that includes such lines as: “A weed by any other name is still a weed.” What’s not to like?
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.
Aimed squarely at younger children but packed with enough adult-orientated gags to keep adults entertained, Shaun the Sheep The Movie is a fun spin-off from the Wallace and Gromit universe. Aardman Animations have actually tried to do something inventive with the movie: although it’s not silent, there isn’t actually any dialogue. The sheep talk through bleats and baas, the voice of humans is mumbled and incoherent. This makes the movie a cut above other mediocre animations that are around.
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.
One of the all time greats, with sliver screen legends Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman at the top of their game. The classic love story revolves around Rick, a swarthy nightclub boss in Vichy-controlled Casablanca, and his former lover, Ilsa. When she comes back into his life Rick hopes to rekindle the passion they one had. But with Ilsa now associated with Czech underground resistance leader things are going to be far more complicated than Rick imagined. Here's looking at you, film fans.
Begin Again is much better than its plot implies. A singer (Keira Knightley) is dumped by her songwriting partner (Adam Levine) – down on her luck she befriends a record executive (Mark Ruffalo) going through a tough time. So far so meh, but the film is a lovely antidote to most romantic movies. Decent songs and some brilliant chemistry between the leads makes Begin Again a fun watch. Writer-director John Carney’s does get a little lost with the bigger budget, but he's found his way again with his latest film Sing Street.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s name may be tarnished because of the disastrous Alien: Resurrection but before he went to the US to take on franchise movies, he was one of the most innovative, eclectic directors in his native France – thanks to Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. Amelie is a callback to his earlier work. It’s a magic realist tale about Amelie (a wonderful Audrey Tautou) who makes it her job to make the lives of the people around her that bit better. Yeah, it’s whimsical but it’s lovely story to get wrapped in.
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.
You wouldn’t associate a title like this with Mike Leigh, the king of the kitchen sink but this is Leigh ‘trying’ to be positive, focusing on a character who finds the positives with everyone in her life, only for those people to knock her back with their pessimism. The character is Poppy, played with boundless enthusiasm by Sally Hawkins, in what was her first big role. You’ll either love or hate her portrayal of Poppy, but that’s the whole point – it all depends on how you view life.
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.
There’s no denying that Tom Hanks is one of the greatest actors of our generation but his directorial talents are quite there… yet. He does make perfectly watchable films, though and that is exactly what Larry Crowne is. He’s cast himself as Larry Crowne, the businessman who is struggling to make ends meet. Because of this he heads back to college and encounters some interesting characters. The main one of these is played by Julia Roberts – a teacher who’s lost her love for education. You can pretty much guess the rest.
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.
Louis Theroux’s documentaries are usually one-hour long affairs but this feature-length documentary sees the quirky question asker face his toughest challenge yet: the religion of Scientology. Speaking to key people who have fallen out of favour with the church of Scientology and doing his best to reenact ‘true’ stories about what goes on behind the scenes with handpicked actors, Theroux creates a pondering and slightly surreal watch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We would have called this the best Iranian horror in the last 10 years. But then Under The Shadow recently came out and took that accolade. Both films, though, show just how good Iran is at making movies in this genre. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night can only be described as vampire noir. Shot in stark black and white – and filmed pretty much all at night – it’s a movie about a vampire who roams the streets at night and the characters she meets on her wanderings. Lovely 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.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra has had a strange career. He was fresh from football farce Goal II when he made Orphan – a brooding shocker about a nine-year-old girl who is adopted and not all who she seems – then went on to make a couple of crap Liam Neeson movies. Orphan proves he can direct, though, squeezing the tension out of a well-worn subject and offering up a handful of decent scares. Isabelle Fuhrman as the adopted girl steals the film.
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.
It used to be that an Eli Roth movie would come out with huge fanfare, but The Green Inferno was very much under the radar when it was first released. This doesn’t mean to say that it’s not good – quite the opposite, it’s Roth’s most assured film. It’s a cannibal movie based in the Amazon and is centred on a group of activists that run into trouble when they happen upon a tribe. The film is one big homage to the likes of Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. While it’s never as nasty as those movies, it dives deep into the terror those films are so good at conjuring. Also, even though it’s a homage it’s different to most of the horror being churned out at the moment.
Director Corin Hardy has just been given the reigns of the Conjuring spin-off The Nun and it’s pretty much all down to his great low-budget thriller The Hallow. Shot and based in Ireland, the film is a great creature feature that uses Hardy’s past career as a FX monster maker to great effect. Despite the budget, the film also has a fantastic look – it’s hard to believe that this is Hardy’s first feature film.
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.
You can forgive GrindHouse from being a box-office failure because both Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino made this movie purely for their own enjoyment, getting a kick out of producing the schlock that got them into movies in the first place. Tarantino’s slice of GrindHouse (Death Proof) is the more intelligent, centred around serial killer Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who pursues people with his car. But the most fun to be had is with Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, a ‘don’t make them like this anymore’ sci-fi romp that features zombies and amputees with guns for legs. And then there’s the fantastic fake trailers that sews the feature together.