If you're seeking a streaming service focused on movies, it's not Amazon Prime or Netflix that deserves your attention - it's Now TV.
Sky's cord-cutter service is far better-served with newer, bigger-name films than either of its main rivals, with at least one new movie being added every day to an already-huge collection.
The sheer size of that collection means it's not always easy to immediately find something to watch though (y'know, the paralysis of choice, and so on). Which is where we come in. The Stuff team has picked out a selection of must-see cinematic masterpieces, so the next time you're settling down for an evening on the sofa, you can conserve your brainpower for picking the right snacks rather than the right movie.
In his infinite wisdom, Stephen King identified the very high creepiness potential of clowns, and chose to propagate this concept via his beloved novel It. Now adapted for the screen for a second time in Andy Muschietti’s 2017 chiller, which comes off like a cross between The Goonies and Halloween.
Rich in Kingian tropes (childhood trauma, loss of innocence, friendship, ancient evil) and a loving homage to the 1980s, It is a fine piece of crowd-pleasing supernatural horror in which seven misfit kids are stalked by a entity that takes the form of their worst fears – and yes, in some cases that’s a clown. While it doesn’t attempt to redefine the genre, it works within horror’s confines to produce a film that’s as stuffed with heart and soul as it is with scares.
Blade Runner 2049
The long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi noir, Blade Runner 2049 is among the best-looking films ever made, with Roger Deakins’ masterful cinematography bringing director Denis Villeneuve’s nightmarish vision of a future Los Angeles to glorious life.
The movie as a whole doesn’t feel quite as assured as the camerawork – at almost three hours, it’s a little too ponderous for its own good – although it retains the original Blade Runner’s spirit through a mixture of fine action sequences, philosophical pondering and memorable characters, all tied together in a riveting detective story in which new-gen replicant Ryan Gosling seeks answers to a puzzling, deadly riddle.
Call Me By Your Name
Taking place over a glorious, early 1980s northern Italian summer, Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age story about an outwardly precocious teenager (the fantastic Timothée Chalamet) who falls for an older American (Armie Hammer) that comes to stay at his family’s holiday home.
To reveal any more would spoil the joy of this wonderful movie, which drifts warmly, hazily and lazily along like the perfect summertime. Evocative, funny and bittersweet, it conveys a universality (this is one of the few popular movies about a queer relationship that doesn’t make the sexuality of its participants into a plot point) that puts it among the finest films of the past few years.
Why can't all teen comedies could be as funny, pacy and ultimately life-affirming as Superbad, which manages to juggle all the tropes of the genre (partying, sex, friendship) without feeling hackneyed or bloated?
It's ninety minutes of proof that parties are sources of never-ending angst. You need someone over the age limit to buy the booze – your high school friend with an ID that reads "McLovin" will do. You’ve got to impress the girls – Seth works out that headbutting them in the face works a charm. And in American movies, there’s always the chance the cops will show up – we just wish all of them were as warped as Bill Hader and Seth Rogen.
We know what you’re thinking: it’s yet another Spider-Man reboot. But there’s something quite refreshing about this one, which star fresh-faced Brit Tom Holland as the web-slinger’s youngest movie portrayal yet, plus skips past the radioactive arachnid bite/Uncle Ben getting shot phase to a point where Peter Parker already knows that with great power comes great yada yada.
It’s also the first Spider-Man movie that exists within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which means we get appearances from familiar faces, plus the setup for the character’s appearance in Avengers: Infinity Wars later this year. This Spidey is still very much a school kid, of course, learning what he can do with his abilities and eager to please his benefactor Tony Stark (we’ve never seen a Spider-Man suit this hi-tech in previous movies). So when he gets the chance to stop an alien tech-enhanced arms dealer (Michael Keaton, this time playing a Birdman of a different type), he puts down his textbooks and starts swinging.
With Marvel Cinematic Universe releasing a seemingly endless string of superhero movies concerning the Avengers and their mates, 20th Century Fox’s rival “other Marvel heroes” run of X-Men films has felt like a second-string franchise in comparison. But Logan proves that there’s still plenty of potential in the long-running mutant saga, featuring an ageing Wolverine and Charles Xavier confronting the passage of time and the fact that, with no mutants having been born in 25 years, the X-Men are all but finished – a weak, washed-up shadow of their former greatness.
Enter a special young girl with more than a little in common with Logan, the ruthless security forces trying to track her down – and suddenly Wolverine finds his purpose again.
Before his current role steering the James Bond series, former theatre director Sam Mendes made his big screen debut helming this unconventional drama – which went on to win no fewer than six Oscars, cement Kevin Spacey as one of the best actors of his generation, and ensure none of us ever looked at a discarded plastic bag in the same way again.
A bleakly comic examination of contemporary life, American Beauty shines its spotlight on the suburbs – a place of crushing conformity, banality and superficiality that, in certain moments, still remains capable of exhibiting the pure beauty that lies below it all.
It Comes At Night
A creeping horror-thriller with not much gore, a handful of characters and little in the way of clear explanation as to what’s going on or who’s to be feared, It Comes At Night almost certainly won’t satisfy casual viewers looking for an easy hour and a half’s entertainment.
Not only is this minimalist tale of an American family trying to survive in the wake of an unspecified pandemic almost unrelentingly bleak, it will almost certainly leave you with a sense of frustration and hopelessness – and that’s probably the point. As a lean, powerful exploration of family and paranoia, there are few modern movies that can match it.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The first Star Wars movie to come without an episode number in its title, Rogue One is a totally separate story set in the same universe – even though it can’t quite resist including some brief appearances by classic characters as fan service.
A space operatic take on the “men on a mission” war movie, Rogue One follows the efforts of a small band of Rebel Alliance troops as they attempt to steal plans to the Death Star. Anyone familiar with previous Star Wars movies will know that this mission succeeds, but the excitement here comes from finding out who – if any – of the band of outcasts will survive until the closing credits, not to mention from the spectacular action sequences. A grittier, grimmer take on Star Wars sure to please fans and newcomers alike.
One of the Coen brothers’ early and (unjustifiably) lesser-known films, Miller’s Crossing is rich with the snappy script, intricate plotting, symbolism and visual flair that characterise their later hits like Fargo, The Big Lebowski and No Country For Old Men.
Set in an unnamed American city during the Prohibition era, it’s a slick gangster tale about the nature of friendship and betrayal, and features stellar performances from Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney and frequent Coen alumnus John Turturro.
The witty, hard-boiled dialogue might be the film’s best asset, but the sequence in which Finney’s pyjama and robe-clad mob boss fights off an assassination attempt to the strains of "Danny Boy" is nothing less than one of the great moments of '90s cinema.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The swashbuckling, squabbling and swaggering crew of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket and Baby Groot returns for another space adventure and, once again, the fate of the entire galaxy rests in their hands.
In a world where there are, perhaps, a few too many Marvel movies out there, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 stands out by virtue of its humour and (despite all the aliens) humanity. But don’t worry – if you’re looking for space dogfights, exploding planets and all manner of CGI extravagance, there’s no shortage of that either.
Children of Men
When it was released back in 2006, Children of Men’s near-future British setting seemed like a particularly pessimistic take on the direction in which humanity was heading. A decade and a bit later, post-ISIS, Brexit, Trump et al, it seems eerily prescient in its deft presentation of a green and pleasant land gone grey and grim, robbed of hope by multiple crises – climate change, a huge influx of refugees fleeing wars and failed foreign countries, nuclear attacks, terrorism and, worst of all, a lack of children.
The setup here is that the human race has become completely infertile, with the last baby being born 18 years previous. But Children of Men does more than just show us a depressingly plausible dystopia – it weaves together a thrilling plot, featuring some of the best one-shot takes in modern cinema.
Christopher Nolan’s recreation of the British and French armies’ evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 is an audiovisual masterpiece, richly served with moments of both quiet grandeur and epic spectacle.
With comparatively little dialogue, barely any CGI effects and an enemy that’s barely seen, Nolan conjures up the hopelessness of the surrounded British Expeditionary Force, trapped between the sea and the German army and prey to horrifying attacks from the air, and the heroism of soldiers, sailors, pilots and civilians caught up in a desperate situation. Hans Zimmer’s score, meanwhile, remains a lesson in understated power.