The 15 best things to watch in 4K on Sky Q

Stuff’s pick of Sky’s best Ultra HD bits, updated for August

Got Sky Q but no 4K telly to plug your box into? Have you any idea how many pixels you’re missing out on?

Ultra HD comes as standard with your Sky Q subscription and while it doesn’t extend to everything available, the catalogue is steadily growing all the time. Here’s Stuff’s pick of Sky’s 4K menu...

The Handmaid's Tale

Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, this dystopian series set in a world where women have their basic human rights gradually torn away from them is pretty timely considering America’s idiot-in-chief has a less-than-perfect record when it comes to his behaviour towards the opposite sex.

While that might not sound like your idea of escapism, this brutal 10-part first season is stuffed with outstanding performances, particularly from Elisabeth Moss in the lead role. With season two just coming to an end in the UK, now’s the perfect time to get up to speed.

Alien Covenant

With 2012's Prometheus a little heavy on the philosophising and light on the indiscriminate slaughter of stupid humans, Alien fans will be pleased to hear that Covenant combines the two more evenly than Ridley Scott’s previous prequel.

While it takes a while to get going, and some clunky dialogue and slightly ropey special effects hamper the first half, Covenant ramps up the fear, spills more than its fair share of guts, and introduces an android that looks like Iggy Pop (played with careful nuance by the always excellent Michael Fassbender). What’s not to like?

The Bourne Trilogy

Is a Bourne film really a Bourne film without Matt Damon? While 2012’s Damon-free The Bourne Legacy is also part of Sky’s Ultra HD offering, we’d recommended ignoring all but the original trilogy of films that had Paul Greengrass at the helm.

Paired with a 007-shaming Damon, Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum have a grit and brutality that was in stark contrast to the invisible cars and absurd levels of product placement that Bond was dabbling in at the time - and they're all the better for it.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Proof that not all alien invasions are about enslaving the human race and turning every city back into building materials, Spielberg’s sci-fi classic tells the story of a group of people who start to experience unexplained visions after odd encounters with unidentified forces.

A bit like E.T. for hipsters, its pace feels particularly slow compared to modern blockbusters, but it has a sense of curiosity and wide-eyed wonder that’s often lacking in the apocalypse-obsessed movies of today. If you liked Arrival, Close Encounters is its spiritual ancestor.

Baby Driver

Edgar Wright’s most recent films tend to be fairly Marmite but Baby Driver’s pedal-to-the-metal capers make for one of the most purely entertaining blockbusters in years.

Starting with a car chase that’s propelled by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Bellbottoms, all of the film’s main set pieces are thrillingly choreographed to the music that soundtracks them. It sounds gimmicky but with some smart writing, bags of style and larger-than-life performances from Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, Baby Driver is ridiculously watchable. Its story might be straight off the pages of a comic book but there’s not a cape or superpower in sight. Phew.

RoboCop

No, obviously not the 2014 remake, Paul Verhoeven's scarily prescient original.

On the surface RoboCop is a fairly straightforward action movie, but, like the man himself, there’s something more complex going on under the surface. Long before Facebook, Google et al were founded, RoboCop was playing with ideas of corporate responsibility and the role of the media, and it did it with the help of a massive autonomous robot that malfunctions and goes on the rampage. Something for everyone, then.

Gomorrah

Only the third season of this gritty Italian mafia drama is available in Ultra HD on Sky Q, so as long as you’ve watched the first two, treat yourself to some extra pixels for the most recent one.

If you’re unfamiliar with Gomorrah, it follows the lives of various faces in Naples’ organised crime scene, but pretty much everything can be traced back to either Ciro or Gennaro, the two friendly looking chaps picture above. The allegiance between the pair is as on-off as Ross and Rachel in Friends (although with slightly more firearms) but the addition of young upstart Enzo proves that three really is a crowd.

Blade Runner 2049

Forget whether it even needed to be made in the first place, this sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic is pretty much what 4K was invented for.

But that’s not a nice way of saying there’s nothing going on upstairs. It picks up Deckard’s story neatly while adding a new narrative of its own, and while there are certainly some aspects of it that don’t quite hit home, you can always use those moments to admire the scenery. Just make sure you’ve stocked up on snacks before it starts - this is one seriously long film

The Godfather

Here’s an offer you can’t refuse: the greatest film of all time in 4K. Only the first part of Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia trilogy is available on Sky Q, but don’t listen to the people who say Part II is better: they’re wrong.

Despite being the best part of 50 years old, the Ultra HD version of The Godfather practically looks like it was shot yesterday, with post-war New York and Sicily really brought to life. Life, of course, is not something that every character in The Godfather gets to enjoy, but you can make the most of this bona fide classic from the safety of your sofa.

Patrick Melrose

Patrick Melrose sounds like the name of the guy who’s in charge of accounts at your office but even Benedict Cumberbatch would probably struggle to make his life interesting.

Each of the five episodes is based on a different book from Edward St Aubyn’s series of semi-autobiographical novels, in which the titular character battles grief, abuse and various addictions across cities and eras. It’s superbly written, masterfully acted and brilliantly directed, with the various settings making it an excellent work out for your telly.

Dunkirk

If you’ve seen any of Chris Nolan’s last few films you’ll probably settle in to watch Dunkirk prepared for the long haul, but it’s refreshingly lean, partly due to the fact that there’s very little dialogue.

But then there’s not a lot to talk about when you’re busy either trying to escape or rescue others from the beaches of Dunkirk during World War 2. Nolan’s film portrays the evacuation from land, sea and the air, but there’s one thing that’ll stick with you after the credits have rolled: the clinging sense of dread that’s created by the music and sound design. Got a surround sound system? This is a film to plug it in for.

Lawrence of Arabia

At 7GB and three-and-a-half hours long, give your Wi-Fi a workout by downloading Lawrence of Arabia to your Sky Q box.

David Lean’s biopic, which tells the story of T.E. Lawrence’s role in the Arab Revolt during World War I, is a genuine epic. With a truly iconic soundtrack and some excellent supporting roles from the camels, its shimmering desert scenes look so good in 4K you’ll be worried about scorching the sofa.

Billions

Now into its third series (with all three available in Ultra HD), Billions is about a grumpy US Attorney (Paul Giamatti’s Chuck) and his nemesis: a charitable-but-devious hedge fund manager called Axe, played by Homeland’s Damian Lewis.

But wait! Come back! It’s not all spreadsheets and interest rates. Yes, there’s a fair amount of baffling finance talk but it’s much funnier than you’d imagine, with the drama coming from the power struggle between these two big-bucks heavyweights. It’s classic cat ‘n’ mouse stuff, but on this occasion both animals are so rich they’re almost untouchable. Almost…

War for the Planet of the Apes

With each new Planet of the Apes film it feels like there are fewer and fewer human characters involved, so before Andy Serkis mo-caps his way through every single character in the next one, enjoy the most OTT film in the series so far.

Quick recap: the apes are divided, with Caesar's tribe camped out in the woods, and Koba’s crew teaming up with a Colonel Kurtz-esque warlord played by Woody Harrelson. Two hours of ape-on-ape-on-human action follows as Caesar and his band of monkey brothers fight for their right to find a new home. We’re still not sure how we feel about apes riding horses though. Do hedgehogs ride badgers?

T2 Trainspotting

Last time we saw Ewan McGregor’s Renton he was running away from his friends with a sports bag stuffed full of their stolen cash. He was also 20 years younger and had his whole, heroin-free life ahead of him. What happened next?

T2 sees a 46-year-old Renton returning to Edinburgh to face up to what he did. But does it make for compelling viewing? Or just remind everyone how old they are? A bit of both to be honest, but no legacys are spoiled here, and it’s worth watching for the scam he and Sickboy pull on the Protestant club alone.