June 23rd, 2020

7 of the best films currently on streaming services

Lockdown has been the perfect time to catch up on all those films and TV box sets you’ve missed over the last few years. Indeed, The Guardian reports that there have been an estimated 4.6 million new sign-ups to subscription video-on-demand services since lockdown began.

With a huge choice of viewing available, knowing where to start can be daunting. So, to help you, here are seven great films that you can stream in the UK right now.

The Vast of Night (Amazon Prime)

A 2019 film festival favourite, this little-known science fiction film debuted on Amazon Prime in May.

Set in 1950s New Mexico over one night, The Vast of Night sees two teenage friends – switchboard operator Fay and radio DJ Everett – investigate a strange sound coming through the town’s communication systems.

Framed as a Twilight Zone-esque episode, Andrew Patterson’s film manages to breathe fresh life into the well-worn ‘lights in the sky UFO’ genre, and features some excellent lead performances from Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz, as well as exceptional cinematography from Miguel Littin Menz.

Leave No Trace (Netflix)

Back in 2010, Debra Granik’s excellent film Winter’s Bone secured a young Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar nomination.

Her 2018 film Leave No Trace is a new arrival on Netflix and could do for newcomer Thomasin Mckenzie what Winter’s Bone did for Lawrence.

The film tells the story of a father (Ben Foster) and daughter who survive ‘off-grid’, illegally living on government land. When discovered by the authorities, they are forced to adapt to more traditional living in mainstream life which proves a challenge for both of them – albeit for different reasons.

Leave No Trace is a beautiful and heart-breaking film that examines ideas of self-reliance and community, and is universally adored by critics. With a 100% score on aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the BBC’s film critic Mark Kermode named it his favourite film of 2018.

Mary Poppins/Mary Poppins Returns (Disney+)

If you’re looking for a few hours of perfect entertainment for the family, the Disney+ back catalogue of classic movies is a treat for young and old alike.

While you could spend days watching animated gems, including The Lion King, Frozen and Toy Story 4 the story of the magical British nanny is hard to beat.

The original 1964 Mary Poppins needs no introduction and has become such a treasured favourite that there were many nerves ahead of the belated sequel in 2018. However, director Rob Marshall gets pretty much everything right in Mary Poppins Returns with Emily Blunt taking on the iconic role, joined by Lin-Manuel Miranda to sing the songs of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Sequences such as the incredible A Cover Is Not The Book routine are every bit as magical as Robert Stevenson’s original, making it the perfect afternoon double bill for the entire family.

The Hate U Give (Now TV)

If you’re looking for movies that provide insight into the struggles faced by the Black Lives Matter movement, then there are plenty available on streaming services. From Ava DuVernay’s The 13th to the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave you can access a range of incredibly powerful films.

Based on Angie Thomas’ 2017’s bestselling book, The Hate U Give follows 16-year-old Starr Carter (a terrific Amandla Stenberg) who witnesses the killing of her unarmed friend Khalil by a local policeman. When the story becomes national news, the teenager becomes an increasingly vocal advocate for minority rights, even as doing so brings a focus on her family and friends.

While tackling some important subjects, the film has a 12 rating in the UK. This makes it a timely and important choice for watching with teenage children or grandchildren.

Citizen Kane (BBC iPlayer)

The BBC recently acquired 27 classic films from RKO Pictures, one of the ‘big five’ studios of Hollywood’s golden age.

In addition to timeless gems, including Top Hat, Bringing Up Baby, the original 1933 King Kong and John Ford’s classic western She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, sits a film which is consistently voted one of the greatest of all time.

It’s easy to forget that Citizen Kane was Orson Welles’ first motion picture. The quasi-biographical film examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a character based in part upon the American newspaper magnates of the time.

Told primarily in flashback, the 1941 drama never plays out like a conventional biopic as it tells its story through multiple narrators and from multiple perspectives.

In Sight & Sound magazine’s once-a-decade critics’ and directors’ poll, it was voted the greatest film of all time between 1962 to 2002 (it was finally dislodged by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo in 2012). It has also been chosen as the greatest American film ever in a BBC Culture critics’ poll.

The Breakfast Club (Netflix)

If you’re looking for an old school 1980s classic to transport you back to your younger years, then the John Hughes teen classic has finally found its way to Netflix.

Following the gang of Sherman High School misfits in a Saturday morning detention, The Breakfast Club is a film which reminds us that we have more in common than we realise.

Starring a (very young) Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall and Paul Gleason, it shows just what magic can happen when you bring together ‘a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal’.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Amazon Prime)

Long before director Taika Waititi was helming Thor films for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was making funny and touching coming of age films in his native New Zealand.

Hunt For The Wilderpeople features the unlikely pairing of teenage foster kid Ricky (Julian Dennison) and grumpy farmer Hec (Sam Neill). When Ricky disappears into the forest with his dog Tupac, Hec goes in search…which prompts a nationwide manhunt.

Hilarious, moving and beautifully written, this is an original and funny film which Empire named as their best film of 2016.

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