Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss bring Sherlock Holmes into the present day, in slick, stylish fashion. Benedict Cumberbatch shot to fame on the strength of the title role – but Martin Freeman's performance as the down-to-earth John Watson is just as important to the show's success, with a thousand Tumblrs now dedicated to capturing their interplay in GIF form.
Netflix has the first two series available to view – they may be short at just three episodes each, but those episodes are just as long (and packed with twisty-turny plotting) as any movie. Pace yourself and space them out for maximum enjoyment.
A terrorism and spy thriller with a cracking twist (at least in the first season): we don’t know if the terrorist really is a terrorist – or if he even knows whether or not he’s one.
Homeland gets its hooks into you very quickly, and while the premise and plot have a tendency to stretch the bounds of believability at times, there’s always something that’ll keep you watching. At first it’s that is-he-or-isn’t-he hook, but soon it’s the performances from a great cast, with Claire Danes’ portrayal of bipolar CIA officer the clear standout. Currently, the first two seasons are available to stream on Netflix.
– Sam Kieldsen
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This taut psychological thriller gave Ellen Page her breakout role; as a teenager who turns the tables on a child molester who's grooming her, she makes for a brilliantly intense vengeful crusader. Director David Slade starts with a simple premise – what if the hunted was suddenly revealed as the hunter? – and piles twist upon twist.
If the plotting gets a little bit hokey, the film's rescued by Page and her co-star Patrick Wilson – it's essentially a two-hander, and could play out equally well on the stage.
As JJ Abrams gears up to direct the new Star Wars film, it's worth revisiting his homage to the 1970s cinema that was defined by film-makers like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. A love letter to the era – and to the director's youthful exploits as a film-maker – it follows a gang of kids who inadvertently catch an alien monster on film while they're making a creature feature movie.
Mashing up the wonder of The Goonies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. with the scares of Jaws, it's no mere pastiche – this is an exciting adventure story in its own right, and is compelling proof that Abrams is the best choice to take the helm of the Millennium Falcon.
Captain America: The First Avenger
With Captain America: The Winter Soldier hitting cinemas, it's a good opportunity to revisit the original film – a WW2 action-adventure that has more in common with Indiana Jones than Saving Private Ryan. Weedy Steve Rogers is determined to make the grade and fight the Nazi menace – but he's hamstrung by his 4F physique. When he's given the chance of enlisting in the US Army's Super Soldier program, he becomes Captain America – the Star-Spangled Man, taking the fight to the German deep science division, HYDRA.
Director Joe Johnston has a flair for comic-book adventure, having previously directed The Rocketeer – and here, he pays tribute to the derring-do of wartime serials. Hugo Weaving camps it up as hissable villain the Red Skull (complete with Werner Herzog accent), while Chris Evans brings layers to Captain America, making him more than just a flag-waving steroidal freak. This is a more nuanced portrait of heroism than you'd expect, playing on themes of self-sacrifice; in wartime, there are no happy endings.