Need a hand with film recommendations for October? Look no further! With autumn well and truly arrived, our movie man James King is back with his must-see picks for the darker days. And with Halloween on the horizon, expect a sprinkling of creepy classics in there too…
MORE: 15 books that are being made into TV shows in 2021
Attack of the Hollywood Clichés (2021)
Laugh-packed - and surprisingly insightful - look at all those movie stereotypes we love to hate (think maverick cops, cultured villains and token best friends). Presented by a twinkle-eyed Rob Lowe and with a guest list including Richard E Grant, Andie MacDowell, Andrew Garfield, Florence Pugh and a certain James King.
Charlie’s Angels (2019)
This latest reboot of the seventies TV show might not have set the box-office alight but there’s still a lot to enjoy, especially with Pitch Perfect’s Elizabeth Banks behind the camera and Kristen Stewart starring. A Bond-style plot sees the Angels on the trail of evil entrepreneur Alexander Brok (Sam Claflin), with fellow Brits Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska also starring.
Queen & Slim (2019)
Slick, shocking and seriously sexy, Queen & Slim is a lovers-on-the-run tale that expertly mixes social commentary with a growing romance between the two title characters as they drive across America. Young British talents Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya star.
Britney Vs Spears (2021)
It might not be the only Britney documentary available right now (Sky Documentaries has both Framing Britney Spears and Controlling Britney Spears whilst the BBC iPlayer has The Battle for Britney) but with a story so complex, there’s alway room for another angle. Expect more enlightening yet uncomfortable viewing.
This look at the life of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the immediate aftermath of the death of her husband John is no ordinary biopic. Quiet, cool and extraordinarily intimate, it’s a chilling study of grief when the world’s eyes are on you. An Oscar-nominated Natalie Portman stars.
MORE: A Little Life author Hanya Yanagihara announces new novel and it sounds heartbreaking
This award-winning and heart-breaking story of a tragic, romantic misunderstanding features Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as star-crossed lovers in WW2-era England. The big name cast are all superb (Benedict Cumberbatch, Saoirse Ronan, Juno Temple, Vanessa Redgrave) but it’s a devastating set-piece at Dunkirk that really lingers in the memory.
V for Vendetta (2005)
Another blistering performance from Natalie Portman leads this cult sci-fi thriller set in a dystopian future, where she plays Evey - a young TV employee rescued from secret police by freedom fighters. With a script by the team behind The Matrix movies, you know this will pack a serious - and brainy - punch.
Due Date (2010)
In-between Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes movies, Robert Downey Jr squeezed in this charmingly daft - if rather familiar - road movie about a man rushing to get to LA in time for the birth of his child. The twist? He has to car share with eccentric Ethan (Zach Galifianakis) for the whole journey.
MORE: David Furnish on working with 'amazing leader' Meghan Markle on Netflix’s Pearl
Sweet and fluffy romance starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack about a potential couple who let fate decide whether they should be together or not. Add in a soundtrack full of emo ballads and you’ve got a cute and cosy story perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.
The Guilty (2021)
Jake Gyllenhaal’s latest drops straight onto Netflix, telling the high-tension story of 911 phone operator Joe and the mysterious call he answers from a kidnap victim. It’s now up to Joe to do what he can from the confines of his office. Another explosive performance from Gyllenhaal makes this brilliantly claustrophobic drama a must-see.
Knight & Day (2010)
It’s a pity that this action-packed comedy-drama starring Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise has been slightly forgotten about since it's full of their trademark charm, glamorous locations and a fun, escapist story about an everyday woman caught up with a spy on the run. Viola Davis co-stars, with a small role for future Wonder Woman Gal Gadot too.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
If you’re in the market for some ridiculously fun zombie thrills for spooky season, look no further than this turbo-charged tale of apocalyptic survivors hiding out from the undead at the local shopping mall. A blast!
Love & Other Drugs (2010)
Former Brokeback Mountain co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway reunite for this offbeat, oddly enjoyable romance set in the world of pharmaceutical reps vying for sales. It might not have been a blockbuster but both Jake and Anne were Golden Globe nominated for their turns. It’s refreshing to a see a grown-up love story unafraid to take a few risks too.
My Little Pony: A New Generation (2021)
Vanessa Hudgens voices Sunny Starscout, an optimistic young pony who just wants everyone to get along in this bright, uplifting and big-hearted reboot of the classic children’s series, ideal for younger viewers. Listen out for James Marsden, Jane Krakowski, Ken Jeong and Orange is the New Black’s Kimiko Glenn as well.
The Truman Show (1998)
The classic story of a man unknowingly starring in his own reality TV show seemed fanciful back in the nineties but now, if anything, it’s all too familiar. Luckily a career best performance by Jim Carrey - by turns hilarious and sad - plus eerily stylish direction and music continue to make this a must-see… and a spot-on predictor of things to come.
The original - and still awesome - chiller pic about a dangerous patient on the loose arrives on Netflix, alongside its many sequels. Hollywood legend Jamie Lee Curtis (in her debut) stars as babysitter Laurie Strode and all these years later is due to reprise the role yet again in Halloween Kills, hitting cinemas in late October.
It’s nearly twenty years since nerdy Tobey Maguire brought his take on web-slinging Peter Parker to the big screen, alongside Kirsten Dunst as love interest Mary Jane (resulting in a very famous, still great, upside down kissing scene). With strong support from Willem Dafoe and J.K. Simmons, plus a wicked sense of humour, this is the movie that really made comic book movies what they are today.
Body of Lies (2008)
Old-school spy drama starring heavyweights Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe as bickering CIA operatives on the trail of a terrorist across the Middle East. Plenty of style and substance, plus another sparkling turn from Mark Strong, here playing an embattled Jordanian intelligence chief. Gritty and gripping.
The Farewell (2019)
‘Nora from Queens’ star Awkwafina shows a more serious side in this gently powerful film about an Asian American woman called Billi who travels back to China to be with her ailing grandmother. The twist? No one’s actually told granny that she’s seriously ill. Family gathering movies are always ripe for drama and comedy and Billi is someone stuck between being utterly dedicated to her relatives and being utterly frustrated by them. The result is a bittersweet gem.
Ben is Back (2018)
Top drawer acting from Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges keeps this gripping, here playing a mother and son dealing with the latter’s drug addiction during a Christmas holiday break from rehab. It’s harrowing, yes - but with characters this strong and likeable there’s plenty to be enjoyed too.
Puss in Boots (2011)
Antonio Banderas is at his most swashbuckling and silly voicing the loveable rogue feline in this Shrek spin-off, also featuring Salma Hayek - who else? - purring her way through the film as Puss’s love interest Kitty Softpaws. The good news is, there’s a belated sequel on its way next year.
Really Love (2020)
An aspiring painter and an ambitious law student in Washington try to balance their personal and professional lives in this beautifully mellow - and occasionally steamy - romantic drama with a gorgeously laidback soundtrack. Kofi Siriboe and Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing star.
MORE: Young Royals: Netflix confirms future of fan favourite drama
Django Unchained (2012)
Another slice of crazy genius from writer/director Quentin Tarantino, this one starring Jamie Foxx as a nineteenth-century freed slave in America’s south, travelling the states to track down his lost wife (Kerry Washington). Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson and an especially slimy Leonardo DiCaprio co-star.
Cast Away (2000)
Classic Tom Hanks action drama that sees The Nicest Guy in Hollywood play a Fed Ex employee stranded for four years on a remote island after his plane crashes in the South Pacific. Tom’s performance is, of course, flawless although even he is almost upstaged by co-star Wilson the Volleyball.
Thirty years after he started in Formula 1, the legendary racing drive Michael ‘the Red Baron’ Schumacher is celebrated in this archive-packed look at his life and career, authorised by his family and sprinkled with tension, warmth and insight.
Along Came a Spider (2001)
Morgan Freeman made a couple of films back in the noughties where he starred as detective Alex Cross, based on the character created by mega-selling thriller writer James Patterson. This outing sees a retired Cross lured back to work when the daughter of a senator is kidnapped… and an enjoyably twisty story follows.
Fascinating and fearless look at the capture of orca whale Tilikum and his subsequent, highly controversial, life at various SeaWorld resorts in the US. Whilst there’s since been some debate about the way the story is presented, Blackfish nevertheless went on to be nominated for a BAFTA and radically change many people’s opinion of marine parks.
MORE: Where is the cast of Twilight now?
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.
WATCH: Settle down with the ultimate comfort film
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.
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!)
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.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.