Stuck what films to watch during September? We have the answers! As the nights draw in and the kids head back to school, our movie man James King is back with his must-see recommendations for all the family.
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This Oscar-winning First World War drama tells the story of two British soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chaplin) tasked with delivering an urgent message across the dangerous French countryside. Its style - seemingly all shot in one take - might have hit the headlines but ultimately it’s the film’s emotional punch that makes it unforgettable. Stunning.
Black and Blue (2019)
Bond star Naomie Harris continues to show us she can play pretty much any role with her latest turn as a rookie cop in this tense drama. She might have grown up in a council flat in London’s Finsbury Park but by the end credits of this, you’d be hard-pressed to believe Naomie’s not actually a tough-talking American police officer rooting out corruption in New Orleans.
Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)
A belated sequel to the fun Emma Stone horror flick from 2009, once again starring the La La Land actress alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin. It’s six years since the post-apocalyptic events of the first film, with the gang now heading to Elvis’ old home Graceland (don’t ask), picking up ditzy Madison (a scene-stealing Zoey Deutch) along the way. Enjoyably silly.
The eventful life of national treasure Sir Elton John is turned into a visual and musical triumph by actor/director Dexter Fletcher and star Taron Egerton. Don’t expect a traditional biopic - this is colourful, crazy and ultimately a love letter to those people who have helped the pop superstar to battle his well-publicised demons.
Private Life (2018)
You might have seen acting heavyweight Paul Giamatti in supporting roles in big-budget outings Jungle Cruise and Gunpowder Milkshake recently, but this is him leading something altogether more mature. Alongside the great Kathryn Hahn, he’s half of a middle-aged couple desperately looking for a way to have a child. And the result is pure class.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Can you believe Baz Lurhmann’s groundbreaking musical Moulin Rouge! has just celebrated its twentieth birthday? His follow-up films might not have been quite so iconic but this take on F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel still has plenty of his trademark passion and pizazz, not to mention an all-star cast in the form of Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Debicki.
Gemini Man (2019)
It’s fair to say that this Will Smith sci-fi pic isn’t up there with his greatest films but he’s never less than charismatic playing the dual roles of a retired hitman and the younger clone sent to destroy him. Awesome action scenes make up for the slower moments too.
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
It’s hard to not to notice the similarities between this nineties classic and the recent hit Steve Martin series Only Murders in the Building. Both see everyday folk playing detective as they investigate a mysterious death in their New York apartment block, playing the story as much for smart laughs as dramatic tension. Terrific performances from Diane Keaton and Alan Alda too.
Man on Fire (2004)
Is there a more reliable star of gutsy thrillers than Denzel Washington? I don’t think so. Man on Fire sees the Hollywood legend give another explosive turn, this time as troubled CIA officer-turned-bodyguard John Creasy, trying to save his new boss’s daughter (Dakota Fanning) from kidnappers in Mexico City.
An all-star cast including Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan and Stanley Tucci sparkle in this gripping true story of lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, the man who worked for nearly three years evaluating how much compensation victims of the September 11th attacks should receive.
Steve Coogan stars in and co-writes this award-winning real life story of Irish pensioner Philomena Lee (a pitch-perfect Judi Dench) and her struggle to track down the son forcibly taken from her fifty years earlier. The result is a seamless blend of the harrowing and the witty.
Jane Eyre (2011)
Charlotte Brontë’s classic story of a young governess and her brooding boss gets a stylish treatment courtesy of director Cary Fukunaga (who’s just made the new Bond film) and dashing leads Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Jamie Bell and Judi Dench co-star.
Wonder Woman (2017)
One of the best superhero movies of recent years this, packed with spectacular set-pieces, dramatic depth and plenty of female empowerment. The striking Gal Gadot looks as if she was born to play the role of fabled princess Diana of Themyscira, better known in the real world as Diana Prince, whilst Chris Pine is US pilot Steve Trevor, crash-landing on Diana’s mysterious island and falling head-over-heels in love.
Afterlife of the Party (2021)
The mix of broad comedy and big emotions might not entirely work in this supernatural laugher starring Victoria Justice as party girl experiencing life after death but the former Nickelodeon star still makes an appealing lead. And it’s when the story aims more at our feelings than our funny bones - as it does in the second half - that it really makes an impact.
We’re the Millers (2013)
Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis will have you in stitches alongside Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter and Emma Roberts in this hilariously wild (and wildly successful) adventure about a smuggler who asks his neighbours to pose as his family on a dodgy road trip.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
It might be a little long and a little wordy but Jerry Maguire has entered pop culture for catchphrases such as “You had me at ‘hello’” and “Show me the money!” Tom Cruise plays the title character, a sports agent dealing with a difficult client (Cuba Gooding Jr) whilst falling for his loyal co-worker Dorothy (Renée Zellweger).
Legally Blonde (2001)
The movie that turned Reese Witherspoon into a megastar is just as perfect (and pink!) as it was twenty years ago. She stars as the iconic Elle Woods, an LA It Girl who surprises everyone by heading to Harvard’s stuffy Law School. The less-successful sequel is also on Netflix with a third film due in cinemas next year.
Double Jeopardy (1999)
Ashley Judd was briefly the hottest leading lady in Hollywood and it’s easy to see why. In this tense drama about a woman wrongly convicted of murder, who then seeks revenge on the person who framed her, she’s both hugely likeable and impressively driven, ably supported by movie royalty Tommy Lee Jones.
Tomb Raider (2018)
Alicia Vikander makes a gutsier, less campy Lara Croft than Angelina Jolie in this latest version of the classic videogame, complete with globe-trotting locations, fabulous fights and an all-star supporting cast (Kristen Scott-Thomas, Dominic West, Derek Jacobi and a scene-stealing Jaime Winstone).
Juliette Binoche moves with her daughter to an uptight French village, shocking the locals with her seductive chocolate shop and liberal lifestyle. Delicious storytelling based on the book by Joanne Harris that makes for perfect, cosy autumn viewing. Just make sure to have a mug of cocoa with you.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
With Marvel’s latest blockbuster Shang Chi & The Legend of the Ten Rings clearly influenced by this jaw-dropping, Oscar-winning martial arts classic, now’s the ideal time to revisit its breathtaking visuals and sweeping story of love, loss and honour in 19th century China. Michelle Yeoh stars.
In Time (2011)
Remember when Justin Timberlake fancied being a movie star? Whilst this might not be as good as his first attempt, The Social Network, there’s still enough cool style and sleek glamour in this futuristic story of a world where time, not money, is the new currency to make it watchable. Amanda Seyfried and Olivia Wilde co-star.
Malcolm X (1992)
The true story of the legendary African American activist - and a film whose struggle to even get made is worthy of a whole documentary itself. Denzel Washington gives a powerhouse lead performance, picking up an Oscar nomination for his work, alongside the always electric Angela Bassett as Malcolm’s wife Betty.
Miss Potter (2006)
Another pitch perfect English accent from Renée Zellweger in this charming biopic of Beatrix Potter, cleverly blending live action and animation to help illustrate the inspiration behind iconic characters such as Peter Rabbit and Tom Kitten. Look out for future Bohemian Rhapsody star Lucy Boynton in her first movie role as a young Beatrix.
Gone Girl (2014)
The peerless Rosamund Pike wipes the floor with Ben Affleck in this moody, gripping and twisted take on the best-selling book about a crumbling marriage and an elaborate plan for revenge. Neil Patrick Harris provides unforgettable support.
Rush Hour (1998)
Chalk-and-cheese police partners catching criminals might not be the most original idea but it’s the casting of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker that really lifts this buddy movie (and led to two sequels). One’s from Hong Kong, the other from LA, and together they have to track down a missing diplomat’s daughter… with plenty of gags, kicks and car chases along the way.
Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed (2021)
The late artist (with amazing hair) has picked up a cult following for his eighties TV shows where he quietly and calmly explains the basics of painting. Now delve deeper into his life with this fascinating documentary which looks at how Bob’s legacy has been marketed since his sad death in 1995.
Downton Abbey (2019)
The King and Queen are coming to Downton! That’s pretty much all you need to know about this movie version of the hit TV series. Will the boiler be fixed in time? Will Queen Mary enjoy Mrs Patmore’s pavlova? A little thin on plot, maybe, but who cares when Highclere Castle looks so wonderful, when the music is so stirring and when the regular cast make it all look so easy? Expect a sequel next spring.
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The true story of the early twentieth-century fight for women’s votes in the UK, starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter and Meryl Streep. A touch predictable, maybe - but this is still a powerful and important tale of real-life civil disobedience.
He’s All That (2021)
The late nineties high-school classic gets a gender-swapping reboot, now starring Tik Tok icon Addison Rae as popular girl Padgett, challenged to give class nerd Cameron (Tanner Buchanan) a glow-up for prom. Look out for original star Rachael Leigh-Cook - so good in last year’s Netflix hit Love, Guaranteed - playing Addison’s mum.
The Loud House Movie (2021)
America’s biggest kids’ cartoon series - about the crazy everyday life of young Lincoln Loud, the middle child and only boy in a family of 11 children - gets adapted into a hilarious feature film that’s as funny, moving and brilliantly open-minded as the TV show. No wonder it’s a phenomenon.
The Iron Giant (1999)
A pre-megastardom Vin Diesel voices the title character in this flawless adaptation of Ted Hughes’ classic children’s book - the story of misunderstood (and massive) alien robot who visits a New England town at the height of American paranoia in the fifties. Also featuring the vocal talents of Jennifer Aniston and Harry Connick Jr, plus direction from animation legend Brad Bird (who went on to make The Incredibles and Ratatouille).
Count Me In (2021)
As the music world mourns the recent loss of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, there’s a chance to learn more about the art of rock percussion in this engaging documentary featuring the likes of Roger Taylor (Queen), Stewart Copeland (The Police) and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters). Altogether now… one, two… one, two, three, four!
Cemetery Junction (2010)
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant took a break from creating BAFTA-winning comedy shows to write and direct this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about four friends in seventies Reading. It’s no surprise there are plenty of laughs but there’s heartbreaking emotion too, especially in a touching love story between suburban dreamers Freddie (Christian Cooke) and Julie (Felicity Jones).
Old School (2003)
Travel back to the days of the so-called ‘Frat Pack’ with this bawdy joke-fest, starring Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn as bored pals desperate to relive their college years by starting up their own fraternity house and partying like it’s 1984. Not big or clever - but very funny.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
Hollywood legends Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson breeze through this wonderfully witty romance, playing chalk-and-cheese acquaintances forced to live together after an embarrassing accident. The love scenes are delicious, not to mention Keanu Reeves in a scene-stealing supporting role, and if you don’t like the story you can just wallow in the styling of Diane’s oh-so-chic Hamptons beach house.
The Lego Movie 2 (2019)
Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Will Ferrell return to their voice roles alongside newcomers Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph in this breezy sequel to the hit animation. This time it’s up to Emmet the Master Builder (Pratt) to save his friends from the far-off Syster System, resulting in an enjoyable mix of smart in-jokes and chaotic, crazy action.
Saint Frances (2020)
Rising star Kelly O’Sullivan wrote and stars in this funny, fresh and eye-openingly honest look at a Bridget Jones-type thirtysomething who gets a new job as a childminder. Boasting a big heart and an open mind, this was one of the best of last year.
Amy Poehler’s sparkling high-school pic really deserved more attention than it got when it hit Netflix back in March. The Parks & Recreation star directs and features in the film as middle-aged mum Lisa, a former punk who inspires her teenager Vivian (Hadley Robinson) to restart an old fanzine called Moxie that challenges her school’s outdated attitudes and opinions. Essential mother/daughter viewing.
Enola Holmes (2020)
Millie Bobby Brown wows in this engaging and empowering Netflix thriller as Sherlock Holmes’ little sister, on a mission to track down her missing mum (Helena Bonham-Carter). Based on the series of YA novels by Nancy Springer, this was such a slam-dunk that a sequel is already in the works. Sam Claflin and Henry Cavill co-star.
Enduring Love (2004)
A pre-Bond Daniel Craig stars as Joe in this dark drama about two strangers whose lives are entwined after both witnessing a tragic accident. Craig does his everyman role perfectly but it’s Rhys Ifans who really impresses as Jed, a delusional loner whose obsession pushes even Joe’s marriage to the limit.
Another impeccable Tom Hanks performance anchors this award-winner, based on the true story of pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger and the heroic emergency landing of his Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson River in January 2009. Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart co-star.
The Old Guard (2020)
Charlize Theron is talented enough to pull-off pretty much everything she does but for my money action is her real forte. And after kicking butt in Mad Max, Atomic Blonde and a couple of Fast & Furious movies she’s back in tough-as-nails mode for this engaging comic book adaptation about immortal warriors earning a living in the present day as government mercenaries.
Spirited Away (2001)
Hypnotically beautiful Alice in Wonderland-style animation from Japan, with moody ten-year-old Chihiro discovering a hidden fairytale world when she moves to a new house. Once Japan’s biggest-ever box-office hit, this might be packed with some cultural references largely unknown in the West but its story of childhood fantasies is still universal enough for all to relish. A classic
If you’ve been enjoying the jaw-dropping Netflix documentary series Cocaine Cowboys then this iconic eighties outing has plenty more of that showy - and scary - Miami lifestyle to wallow in. Al Pacino stars as Tony Montana, the hyperactive Cuban gangster ruling Florida’s crime scene with an iron fist - and a super-glam Michelle Pfeiffer on his arm.
Mr Peabody & Sherman (2014)
A brainbox dog and his child owner time-travel their way through history, learning lessons along the way. An eye-popping mix of the zany and the educational add up to 90 minutes of inspired fun, with wonderful voice turns from the likes of Modern Family’s Ty Burrell and the peerless Stanley Tucci (as Leonardo Da Vinci).
Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang (2021)
The British Malaysian stand-up comedian, star of countless TV panel shows, lets rip on hot topics such as Covid and political correctness in this laugh-a-minute Netflix special recorded at the London Palladium.
I Give It a Year (2013)
Fun wedding comedy packed with familiar faces such as Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris, Stephen Merchant and Olivia Colman. The premise? Nat (Byrne) and Josh (Spall) are an unlikely couple who plough ahead with their nuptials despite a lack of faith from family and friends. The result might not hit the heights of Richard Curtis but it’s still is an easy, chuckle-filled watch.
The Addams Family (1991)
Netflix have a reboot of this creepy classic up their sleeves (with Catherine Zeta-Jones brilliantly cast as ghoulish matriarch Morticia) but this first movie version from the early nineties still delivers some brilliantly black humour, ideal for adults and children alike. And the late, great Raul Julia as dapper dad Gomez is just a joy.
The Kissing Booth 3 (2021)
One of Netflix’s most popular movie series returns with another peek into the love life of teen Shelly "Elle" Evans (Joey King), based on the novels written by Beth Reekles. Older viewers will enjoy the casting of eighties teen idol Molly Ringwald too, now playing mum to Elle’s two suitors Lee and Noah.
Fantastic Fungi (2019)
Jaw-dropping time lapse photography and impressive CGI makes this look at the often mysterious world of fungi a thing of beauty. You’ll never look at the mushrooms in your Full English in quite the same way again. Narrated by Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson.
The Girl Next Door (2004)
Emile Hirsch stars in this saucy comedy about a high-schooler in love with his new neighbour, only to discover that she has a rather ‘unusual’ career in movies. Some of the humour may now feel a little dated but engaging performances from Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert and Timothy Olyphant at least give the story some heart too. No wonder it’s become a cult film over the years.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
As hilarious as it is shocking, Bride of Chucky gives the iconic nasty doll some arm candy in the form of tiny Tiffany (expertly voiced by Jennifer Tilly), the icing on the cake in a film chock full of nods, winks and clever gags - as well as its lovers-on-the-run storyline. The rock soundtrack really delivers too. Gloriously gothic fun.
The Firm (1993)
Fancy some classic nineties Tom Cruise? Look no further than The Firm, a glossy John Grisham adaptation about a hotshot lawyer who discovers his new bosses might be covering up some rather questionable behaviour. Tom is typically high-octane as lead character Mitch but its veterans Gene Hackman and Holly Hunter who really give this tense thriller some punch.
The Peruvian bear with a love of marmalade sandwiches (and a voice just like Ben Whishaw) heads to London for a new life with the eccentric Brown family in this flawless adaptation of Michael Bond’s legendary stories. The key to its success? So many things. Charm, humour, adventure and a unique visual style all add up to a homegrown classic. And Part 3 is on its way!
The force of nature that is Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn’t just voice the title character (a rainforest mammal called a kinkajou) but has also written the songs for this animated musical about a small animal on a big mission: to travel from Cuba to Miami and deliver an important message for his best friend. Vibrant, funny and with seriously catchy tunes, Vivo also features the voices of Zoe Saldana and Gloria Estefan.
A powerful spin-off of the legendary Rocky franchise sees Donnie Creed (Michael B Jordan) - son of Rocky’s late friend Apollo - take on a boxing career of his own, trained by Mr Balboa himself (Sylvester Stallone). Sometimes tough, sometimes tender, Creed is seriously inspiring.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Classic eighties high-school shenanigans starring Matthew Broderick as the super-cool teen who who just wants to show his friends a good time. Add in a vindictive headteacher, a bitter younger sister (Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey) and a rare red Ferrari and you’ve got the makings of one hugely eventful day playing hooky.
This recent reboot got fans of the original Bill Murray movie from 1984 majorly hot under the collar but although it’s maybe not as inventive, there’s still plenty to enjoy. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon star as the boffins making a living hunting down ghouls in New York City, seamlessly mixing laughs with great FX and big-budget action.
Primal Fear (1996)
The movie that propelled Edward Norton into the big time is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about a showy Chicago lawyer (Richard Gere) defending a young man (Norton) on a murder charge. Not everything, however, is quite what it seems. Frances McDormand and Laura Linney co-star.
Gripping stuff this one, starring Jack O’Connell as a young British soldier on the run in Belfast one night at the height of the Troubles. Political but not preachy, and with a stunning central turn, it’s no wonder Jack went on to win 2015’s BAFTA Rising Star Award.
An Oscar-winning musical with a difference, with Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová as down-at-heel Dublin musicians who form a bond through busking. Don’t expect big dance numbers - this feels so realistic it’s almost a documentary. The result? Something subtly beautiful and entirely unforgettable, later turned into a hit on the stage too.
Steven Spielberg is behind the camera for this complex but thrilling drama detailing Israel’s secret retaliation against the murder of eleven of their athletes by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. A faultless blend of breathtaking action scenes and moral debate starring Eric Bana and a pre-James Bond Daniel Craig.
The Accountant (2016)
Ben Affleck - back in the headlines thanks to his colourful love life - stars as a book-keeper for criminals, trying to deal not just with his own autism but also government agents out to bring him down. The story might be a little over-stuffed but a solid turn from Ben and co-star Anna Kendrick - plus some genuinely thrilling action - make this a decent investment.
Cute comedy animation about the giant birds, set in a world where they now deliver parcels rather than babies. Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston and Kelsey Grammar are on voice duties, providing enough laughs for undemanding young audiences.
Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Roald Dahl’s children’s classic is brought beautifully to life by eccentric film-maker Wes Anderson, using old-fashioned stop-motion techniques and a voice cast that includes George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray. The result might not be for Dahl purists but it’s refreshingly odd and always hilarious.
One of the best chillers of recent years, this one. Lupita Nyong’o is the mother on holiday who discovers doppelgängers of her family are out to hurt her. Why? The answer takes her back to her childhood and vague memories of a creepy fairground. Essential viewing.
Gosford Park (2001)
The movie that led to Downton Abbey (they share the same writer, Julian Fellowes) is another stately home drama, although this time the emphasis is more on a whodunnit plot, laced with dark and subtle humour. That might not make it quite as mainstream as the TV show it spawned but with a cast featuring Kristen Scott-Thomas, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen and Maggie Smith, there’s still plenty to enjoy.
The Duff (2015)
Underrated high-school movie about Bianca (Mae Whitman, from Netflix’s Good Girls), a so-called ‘Designated Ugly Fat Friend’ who enlists the help of her cool neighbour Wesley (Robbie Amell) to help improve her social standing. Witty gags and smart insights make this standout from the hundreds of other teen pics out there, plus there’s the ever-awesome Allison Janney as Bianca’s mom Dottie.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
Moody, Oscar-winning drama starring Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones as three men all caught up in the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong in remote 1980s Texas. Delving deep into big themes and with a stunning, heart-stopping finale, this is classic, unforgettable film-making.
A Few Good Men (2002)
Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson are all immaculate in this glossy courtroom drama about an investigation into a murder on an American naval base, based on the play by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin. Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon co-star but it’s Nicholson - of course - who steals the show as swaggering Colonel Jessup, complete with his legendary line of dialogue “You can’t handle the truth!”
9 to 5: The Story of a Movement (2021)
An eye-opening look at the National Association of Working Women, the 1970s campaign group who fought for improved working conditions for females in America and whose original name - 9 to 5 - inspired the hit film starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (which in turn inspired the song and stage musical!)
Wonder Woman (2017)
One of the best superhero pics of recent years sees warrior demigod Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot) leave her island paradise to fight the evil Dr Poison (Elena Anaya) against the backdrop of the First World War. Epic, breathtaking fun with great chemistry between Gadot and co-star Chris Pine, plus an hilarious turn from The Office star Lucy Davis as bubbly secretary Etta.
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
Meryl Streep transforms yet again, this time in the true story of eccentric heiress Florence and her dreams of operatic stardom in 1940s New York. Hugh Grant is on sparkling form as Florence’s scheming hubby St Clair but this isn’t all laughs. Its brilliance is how supremely touching it is too.
Kong: Skull Island (2016)
Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L Jackson co-star alongside the legendary gorilla in this enjoyably hokey 70s-set thriller set in the far reaches of the South Pacific which, luckily, never takes itself too seriously (whilst seriously delivering on the special effects front).
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Perfect fodder for parents and children alike, with Will Arnett reprising his Caped Crusader voice role from the The Lego Movie alongside Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes. Want in-jokes and pop culture references? You’re in for a treat.
Attack the Block (2011)
Exciting British teen sci-fi that gave future Star Wars icon John Boyega his first big-screen role. The story? Aliens are rife on a South London council estate one Bonfire Night and only an unlikely bunch of heroes can save the day. Awesome stuff (with a sequel on the way).
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann is behind this lavish take on the classic American novel, with an all-star cast featuring Leo DiCaprio as the party-loving title character and Carey Mulligan as his lost love Daisy. As you’d expect, the twenties New York ‘Jazz Age’ is spectacularly realised by Baz and his team, with a glittering soundtrack helping to create an irresistible mood of a lost era.
The Duchess (2008)
Keira Knightley slips back into a corset for this glossy true story of Georgiana Cavendish, the 18th century aristocrat who has had enough of her cold and cheating husband (Ralph Fiennes) and begins an affair with dashing politician Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), a future British Prime Minister.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
The Cold War has never been atmospheric in this all-star adaptation of the classic tale of espionage and double-crossing. Gary Oldman leads the cast as crinkly British intelligence officer George Smiley with Colin Firth, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Graham, John Hurt and Tom Hardy adding extra mystery to the proceedings.
The Matrix (1999)
All three Matrix movies are on Netflix now, ahead of a fourth film hitting big screens later this year, but it’s the first that still packs the biggest punch: an eye-popping classic that gave us Keanu Reeves as Neo, a slacker hacker who discovers the world around him is nothing more than a complex computer program. Ground-breaking.
Think Florida is all Disney World and beaches? Think again. Crawl tells the nerve-shredding story of a home hit by a hurricane, flooded, then invaded by the state’s snappiest alligators. All while father and daughter Beth and Dave (Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper) are trapped inside. Mickey Mouse it ain’t. Great fun.
Good Boys (2019)
This might be a movie about children but it’s definitely not for children. In fact the good boys in question - eleven-year-olds Max, Lucas and Thor - will make you blush with their antics involving a stolen drone, a high-school crush and… well, the rest is too rude to say. But like that cheeky noughties classic Superbad, there’s a sweetness on offer too, making Good Boys ultimately a film about lasting friendships (just with a lot of swearing).
Official Secrets (2019)
Solid drama starring an impressively downbeat Keira Knightley as real-life whistleblower Katherine Gun, a translator at the UK government’s intelligence HQ who leaked information about illegal spying. There’s a brilliant cast list too: Matthew Goode, Rhys Ifans, Ralph Fiennes and Matt Smith.
Kill Bill Vol.1 (2003)
The first instalment of Quentin Tarantino’s rip-roaring revenge thriller starring Uma Thurman. She plays The Bride, a former assassin out to destroy those who tried to destroy her, clad in her yellow and black jumpsuit and with a host of mind-blowing martial arts moves to help her. An award-winning mix of retro nods and modern attitude, this is ultimate Uma.
Wonder Boy (2021)
The enlightening true story of French fashion giant Olivier Rousteing, creative director at luxury clothing brand Balmain, and his rise from humble beginnings to being the favourite designer of A-listers such as Beyoncé, J-Lo and Rihanna.
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Two unforgettable performances from Hollywood heavyweights Johnny Depp and Al Pacino lead this smart and subtle story of an undercover FBI agent infiltrating the Mafia in 1970s New York. Based on a true story.
Eighth Grade (2019)
YouTube (and now Netflix) sensation Bo Burnham wrote and directed this heartbreaking and hilarious tale of young teen Kayla (a stunning Elsie Fisher) and her desperate bids to be accepted by the cool kids. Brilliantly poignant.
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Adam Sandler’s animated take on some of horror’s most famous characters - Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, The Mummy - might not have been an obvious contender for a franchise when it started but nearly ten years later it’s maybe easier to see why. As a stressed-out Drac, trying to run his holiday business and father a teenage daughter (voiced by Selena Gomez), here’s a story that plays to adult concerns as well as children’s funny bones. A new instalment comes out later this year.
Just Friends (2005)
Early Ryan Reynolds laugher where he plays nice guy Chris, a former high-school loser who returns to his New Jersey hometown as a successful record exec with a point to prove. It might be going over familiar territory (Reese Witherspoon’s Sweet Home Alabama springs to mind) but Ryan’s effortless charm makes this an enjoyably easy watch.
Dora & the Lost City of Gold (2019)
The classic Nickelodeon cartoon gets an energetic live-action reboot with Isabella Moner as the title character, now a 16-year-old who leaves her South American rainforest for the first time to go and stay in LA. Strong on morals but happy to send itself up too, Dora is enjoyably sprightly fun.
Fear Street (2021)
A trio of movies based on the mega-selling books by Goosebumps creator RL Stine, the Fear Street saga spans three eras (1994, 1978 and 1666), delivering on style, substance and countless nods to teen horrors from the past. Creepy and cool.
Chicken Run (2000)
The much-loved Aardman animation is finally getting a sequel (production begins next year) but this original remains a quirky and inventive joy. Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks and Imelda Staunton voice the courageous poultry determined to escape their fate and break free from Mr Tweedy’s farm.
Me Before You (2016)
Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke star in this weepy adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ hit novel, telling the heartwarming story of a happy-go-lucky carer and the cynical bachelor she looks after. Fans of Jojo’s books are in for good summer too: a movie of her book The Last Letter From Your Lover hits the big-screen in August.
The Talented Mr Ripley (1999)
Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett are on exquisite form in this dark and dramatic period piece set on the Italian coast. Damon’s Tom Ripley is a social climber with a penchant for murder but this is never gory. Full of brains and beauty, The Talented Mr Ripley is actually one of the sultriest, sexiest Summer movies ever.
Crimson Peak (2015)
Prepare for plenty of Gothic glamour in this moody thriller starring Mia Wasikowska as a turn-of-the-century author who marries into the mysterious Sharpe family, owners of the crumbling Allerdale Hall. Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston are her easy-on-the-eye co-stars.
James McAvoy is breathtaking as a kidnapper with multiple personalities in this eerie thriller from the mind of M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense). It’s an early role for Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy too, playing troubled teen Casey. Devilishly good.
The Missing (2003)
Has Cate Blanchett ever given a bad performance? She’s certainly on top form in this sadly forgotten Old West thriller about a young woman reconnecting with her nomadic father in the search for her missing daughter. Also starring the legendary Tommy Lee Jones.
Revenge is sweet for J-Lo in this patchy-but-powerful tale of a wife on-the-run, pursued by her evil husband. It’s certainly not her most glamorous role but Jenny shows she’s as nifty with punches as she is with dance moves, training like Rocky to make sure her evil ex gets his comeuppance.
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