With millions of people staying at home because of Covid-19, it’s been the year of sitting down in front of the box… or laptop.
A study released by Ofcom in August revealed that UK viewers spent 40% of their waking hours watching TV at the height of the coronavirus pandemic and 12m Brits had signed up to a subscription streaming service during lockdown.
Netflix leads the way as the most popular streaming service in the UK. With originals like The Old Guard to classics such as Clueless, there’s so many films and series to binge-watch.
We pick out ten of the best movies available to stream right now on the platform.
The Old Guard
This is one of the streaming service’s most watched original films ever, Wired reports. The Old Guard is breaking records fast and reached 72 million households worldwide in its first four weeks. Starring Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne and Marwan Kenzari, the story follows four undying warriors who’ve secretly protected humanity for centuries. They become a target for their mysterious powers just as they discover a new immortal.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
With Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams and Dan Stevens leading an all-star cast, Eurovision is a story of two small-town singers chasing their pop star dreams at a global music competition. While The Guardian says Eurovision “hit all the wrong notes” and was given “nul points”, Esquire’s writers are most definitely fans of the film. Describing it as “frivolous and fun and escapist and stupid”, the magazine adds: “Do you want weird European singalongs? Do you want murderous elves? Do you want Ferrell in a flowing blonde wig with a bad Scandinavian accent making fun of Americans? Right now, you absolutely do.”
Chris Hemsworth stars as a hardened mercenary whose mission becomes a soul-searching race to survive when he’s sent into Bangladesh to rescue a drug lord’s kidnapped son. Released in April, this Netflix action film proved so popular that a second instalment is already in the works, Radio Times reports. “It’s tense, well paced, a solid star vehicle for Hemsworth.”
Legendary director Martin Scorsese teams up with Netflix for an epic gangster drama with an even more epic cast. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel star in a film that has a running time of 3hrs 29 minutes. Although The Irishman may not have the instant electricity of Goodfellas or even Casino, it’s a “throwback to Scorsese’s golden age”, says the Independent.
Viggo Mortensen leads an “outstanding” cast as a grizzled, eccentric single father attempting to raise his six children off the grid, says The Guardian. Living self-sufficiently in the woods, his brood hunts for food and scales rocky cliffs by day, and reads The Brothers Karamazov and discusses Noam Chomsky by night. Matt Ross’s unusual film deals with what happens when the family’s lifestyle starts to come apart and they have to be introduced to the world the rest of us inhabit. George MacKay, who later starred in 1917, gives a striking performance as the eldest of the children in what is a “thrilling and poignant” film.
Noah Baumbach’s latest hit was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress. The powerful film explores the “protracted and heartbreaking” divorce of a theatre director (Adam Driver) and his actor wife (Scarlett Johansson) as they try to care for their son, said Wired. Driver and Johansson put on “a masterclass in emotionally honest acting”, but it was Laura Dern who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Johansson’s indefatigable lawyer.
“More 90s than tamagotchis, Sunny-D and pogs all rolled into one”, Clueless is a snapshot of another time that kick-started the teen movie revival. Loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, but set in a Los Angeles high school, it’s a “smart take on wealth and privilege in the US”, said the London Evening Standard. Alicia Silverstone is spot on as Cher, the matchmaking teen, and the film remains witty and relevant today. It definitely “deserves its reputation as one of the most-loved cult favourites of the decade”.
Although it’s a remake of the 1932 original, Scarface is considered “one of the best crime films ever made”, said The Daily Telegraph. The 1983 classic starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer tells the story of Tony Montana who arrived in Miami from Cuba as a child, and climbed his way to the top of a drugs empire. However, “as Tony’s power grows, so does his ego and his paranoia” – a Mafia tale as old as time.
No Country for Old Men
The Coen brothers were at their best since Fargo in this tense and violent thriller with a “dusty Texan ambience and a melancholy tone”, said The Sunday Times. Faithfully adapted from a Cormac McCarthy novel, the story involves the theft of a large amount of money and the violent consequences that ensue. Javier Bardem gives a “menacing” and particularly memorable performance as the villain who carries a terrifying weapon – a device designed to kill cattle that uses high-pressure air to blast a steel bolt into the skull.
When Harry Met Sally
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal deliver “some of the most convincing chemistry in move history” in this “perfect romcom” penned by Nora Ephron, says the London Evening Standard. Over the course of 12 years, the pair come in and out of each others’ lives as they try to answer the question: “can men and women ever truly be friends?” Filled with razor-sharp wit and great performances, When Harry Met Sally is “light-hearted”, but has “something honest to say about the messiness of love and relationships”.