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The best movies on Now (formerly Now TV) and Sky Cinema

Sky's streaming service is packed with wonderful movies - here are the ones you should watch first. Updated for August 2021

If you’re seeking a streaming service focused primarily on movies, it’s not Amazon Prime or Netflix that deserves your attention – it’s Now. Which, yes, used to be called Now TV.

Sky’s cord-cutter service is 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 bulging collection.

The sheer size of that library means it’s not always easy to immediately find something to watch though (you 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 both old and new, 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.

Tenet

Christopher Nolan is sometimes derided as “a dumb person’s idea of a smart person” and watching Tenet, his big budget “it’s not about time travel, actually” movie it’s easy to see why. The tenor is Very Serious – but break it down to its core and this is a silly but enjoyable sci-fi film with some cracking set-pieces, a mind-bending plot and a solid cast headed up by John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. With scenes in which time flows both forwards and backwards at the same time, there’s some visually impressive stuff here – even if you might be wondering what it all means by the end of it.

Tenet is undoubtedly a film built for the big screen, but watching at home has one advantage over the cinema: you might actually be able to understand the words that are coming out of the characters’ mouths. The muffled dialogue issue left many cinemagoers miffed and confused about key plot points, but at home you’ll be able to rewind (no pun intended) at your leisure.

Watch Tenet on Now

In the Loop

Before he was the twelfth Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi was the fantastically foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker, government spin-doctor extraordinaire. In this feature film – spun off from the BBC series The Thick of It – Tucker is part of a delegation sent to Washington to deal with rising tensions in the Middle East.

Writer Armando Iannucci’s take on the build-up to the Iraq War is at once farcical and bleak, as backstabbing politicos massage the evidence to create a case for intervention, and scrabble to exclude each other from committees and action groups. Capaldi’s baroque cursing is the undoubted highlight with the late James Gandolfini’s turn as an army general a close second.

Watch In the Loop on Now

Bridesmaids

Mistake this as merely another so-called chick flick at your peril. Yes, at its core it’s a romantic comedy focused on the awkward interactions between Kristen Wiig and Chris O’Dowd, but there’s so much more going on here. Masterfully executed toilet humour and offbeat distractions provided by the likes of Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson make for some genuinely hilarious moments, and the film’s gentle exploration of the themes of friendship, love and marriage are nicely handled by director Paul Feig.

Watch Bridesmaids on Now

Jurassic Park

Almost three decades after its release, Jurassic Park remains a near-perfect film. Steven Spielberg’s mastery of pacing, camera, editing and sound is on full display here, as the living attractions in a dinosaur theme park take advantage of chaos theory to turn on their captors. The dreary, uninspired sequels have shown that there’s much more to making a great movie than a great idea (what if dinosaurs and humans could interact?) and great special effects; this is a rare occasion when a mega-budgeted box office-breaking blockbuster feels full of heart.

Watch Jurassic Park on Now

The Shining

The Torrance family take up residence in a remote hotel for the off-season, with dad Jack hoping the isolation will shift his writer’s block. But his son Danny is haunted by disturbing visions, and the hotel’s old ghosts worry away at the author’s unravelling sanity. Director Stanley Kubrick transforms Stephen King’s haunted-house yarn into a study in ambiguity. Jack Nicholson’s Torrance is a mean drunk with a short temper – but is the hotel exerting a malign influence over him, or is his potential for evil there from the outset?

Kubrick’s only foray into the horror genre may feel safe and familiar at first, its iconic scenes blunted by a thousand parodies and college-dorm posters, but its unsettling qualities quickly become apparent. The Shining looks like no other horror film. Kubrick dwarfs the characters with his trademark wide, symmetrical shots of architecture, and chases them through a maze of corridors with lengthy Steadicam shots. The atmosphere is heightened by flashes of disturbing tableaux – a gore-drenched elevator, a beautiful woman who turns into a hag. The images linger long after the credits roll.

Watch The Shining on Now TV

Lethal Weapon

The buddy cop movie that spawned several sequels, dozens of imitators and propelled Mel Gibson into international superstardom (only for his off-camera behaviour to bring him back down to earth with a bump a couple of decades later), Lethal Weapon is a highly potent mix of snappy dialogue, slick action and extremely late 80s music and haircuts.

When Danny Glover’s curmudgeonly detective is forced to partner up with Gibson’s reckless live wire loose cannon, it’s clear that sparks are going to fly – but if one thing can keep the pair from each other’s throats, it’s the group of highly-trained drug smugglers currently turning Los Angeles into a war zone. The prickly dynamic between the two leads elevates Lethal Weapon beyond many of its imitators and means it’s still a diverting watch 30 years after its release.

Watch Lethal Weapon on Now

Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s postmodern spin on the classic whodunnit is a killer yarn, with Daniel Craig clearly enjoying himself as a Southern gentleman sleuth hired to investigate the death of a wealthy octogenarian crime novelist.

While initial impressions suggest suicide, it quickly becomes clear that this case is far more complicated than it first seems. Several members of his sprawling family have a motive for murder, while his young nurse seems far more distraught about the death than any of his actual relative. Johnson cleverly flips the genre on its head (don’t worry, no spoilers here), delivering a fast-moving tale of love, hate, lies, subterfuge and blackmail. And the ensemble cast? It’s to die for!

Watch Knives Out on Now

As Good as It Gets

Offering all the hallmarks of a typical 90s romantic comedy (a New York setting, an odd-couple matchup, a gay best friend and a protagonist who writes romance novels for a living), As Good as It Gets immediately sets itself apart by making its main character a truly awful person. Jack Nicholson plays a reclusive, OCD-addled writer who goes beyond grouchy.

Racist, sexist, homophobic and unnecessarily rude to anyone he encounters, he finds himself drawn to Helen Hunt’s waitress, a struggling single mother and one of the few people who pushes back against his needling. When his artist neighbour (Greg Kinnear) is viciously beaten up, he also enters his orbit – and gradually these new forces start to influence our antihero’s selfish, misanthropic worldview.

Watch As Good as It Gets on Now

Alien: The Director’s Cut

The best space-set horror movie ever made and the film that spawned a sprawling franchise based around its iconic titular “xenomorph”, Alien is a masterpiece of tension. When the crew of commercial spaceship the Nostromo (a fantastic cast of “normal”, highly relatable characters rather than exaggerated, OTT personalities) detect a transmission from a moon deep in uninhabited space, they land to investigate and discover a strange derelict craft full of large eggs. When one of these hatches, it sparks off a deadly sequence of events that we wouldn’t dream of spoiling here but, yes, involves a predatory alien stalking its prey through the corridors and vents of the ship.

It’s fantastic cat-and-mouse stuff, and – courtesy of Ridley Scott’s mastery of lighting and the stellar production design, looks so, so good for a 40 year-old movie.

Watch Alien: The Director’s Cut on Now

Training Day

Denzel Washington received a well-deserved Best Actor Academy Award for his searing, unforgettable performance as crooked narcotics cop Alonzo Harris in this tense thriller, in which (the also Oscar-nominated) Ethan Hawke’s rookie detective Jake Hoyt must endure a fraught 24 hours under the grizzled veteran’s cynical tutelage.

Harris’ law enforcement methods, naturally, can’t be found in any dusty old rulebook, and Hoyt quickly finds himself dragged not only into LA’s terrifying criminal underworld but a wide-ranging conspiracy among the cops charged with keeping the city safe.

Watch Training Day on Now

Promising Young Woman

Emerald Fennell’s Oscar-winning screenplay is just one fascinating aspect of this stylish, genre-bending movie, in which the superb Carey Mulligan plays a coffee shop worker who spends her nights teaching creeps a lesson about consent.

Is Promising Young Woman a black comedy? A rom-com? A revenge thriller? A post-Me Too polemic ? A cautionary tale about how holding onto anger and resentment can consume you? It’s all of the above, and all the more captivating for it.

Watch Promising Young Woman on Now

Total Recall

Forget the tame Colin Farrell-led remake: this is the Total Recall you should jack yourself into. Paul Verhoeven’s characteristically lurid sci-fi romp, loosely based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker who has recurring dreams of walking the red deserts of Mars, now colonised and on the verge of a civil war between exploited workers and a corporate overlord backed up by a militarised police force. The thing is: he’s never been to Mars. Or has he? When he visits a company that implants fake memories in customers’ heads – a sort of alternative vacation service – it unlocks something deep within his brain and turns his mundane life into a deadly adventure.

Beneath the ultra-violence, sex and corny one-liners Total Recall is, like most of Verhoeven’s movies, awash with interesting and subversive ideas. But even if you don’t want to think, it’s more than entertaining enough for us to recommend.

Watch Total Recall on Now

The Revenant

Emerging from a shallow (and evidently premature) grave, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass sets out on the long, cold journey towards revenge, evading marauding Native Americans, foraging for sustenance and performing gruesome self-surgery in a series of incredible sequences. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction – ever impressive, never showy – and the flawless camera work help the viewer feel every moment of Glass’ struggle to survive.

Despite uttering a mere handful of lines during the film’s nigh-on three hours of running time, DiCaprio bagged his first Best Actor Oscar for The Revenant. Watching what he goes through here, it’s not difficult to see why the Academy was so impressed. As a pure physical performance, it’s remarkable – and it’s just one notable aspect of a movie packed with them.

Watch The Revenant on Now

The Green Mile

Like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile sees Frank Darabont adapt a prison-set Stephen King tale for the screen – but here things move well into the fantasy genre thanks to the miraculous powers of enigmatic death row inmate John Coffey, a gentle giant seemingly blessed with the ability to heal the sick and infirm. Tom Hanks plays the guard who grows to respect and seek to protect his charge against not only the electric chair but the depredations of fellow inmates and cruel corrections officers. Moving stuff that’ll likely have you blubbing like a baby by the final reel.

Watch The Green Mile on Now

Almost Famous

Cameron Crowe’s paean to the early 1970s glory days of American rock and roll – based heavily on his real-life experiences as a teenaged Rolling Stone journalist – remains a diverting, funny and affecting watch almost two decades after it was released, even if the sexual politics of the time seems even more brutal and bizarre now than it did in 2000.

Focussing on the complex triangular relationship between Patrick Fugit’s naive Crowe-substitute, Billy Crudup’s mercurial lead guitarist and Oscar-nominated Kate Hudson’s free-spirited groupie, Almost Famous brilliantly conjures up the mystical, tense and crazed life of a touring band better than any other movie we can think of.

Watch Almost Famous on Now

No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men always felt like the most screen-adaptable of Cormac McCarthy’s novels, and with the Coen brothers at the helm it would have taken some kind of disaster to stop this movie from becoming an instant classic. And it is, thanks to not only the source material and its sympathetic treatment by America’s finest filmmaking pair of siblings, but due to killer performances from Josh Brolin, Kelly Macdonald, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones and, most memorably, Javier Bardem as a philosophising, seemingly unstoppable mass murderer with a criminal haircut. If you like your thrillers as contemplative and lyrical as they are nail-biting, look no further.

Watch No Country for Old Men on Now TV

The Lighthouse

Robert Eggers’ follow-up to The Witch is even more visually striking and similarly packed with rich period dialogue, as Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson play lighthouse keepers tending the lamp on a remote, fog-bound island off the coast of New England. Eggers’ tight 4:3 framing and high-contrast black-and-white cinematography gives this psychological thriller a cramped, oppressive and out-of-time feel, as the two men’s isolation starts to worry away at their nerves and strain their relationship. It’s hugely stylish and rich with imagery, but don’t go in expecting a standard chiller with all the ends neatly tied up – this film pervading feeling of dread may come easily, but answers do not.

Watch The Lighthouse on Now TV

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The first (and we think best) Indiana Jones film is a globe-trotting blockbuster that has set the standard for all Hollywood adventure movies since. A throwback to the flicks of Spielberg and producer George Lucas’ childhood, it sees Ford’s bullwhip-brandishing archaeologist travel to Egypt in an attempt to locate the Ark of the Covenant ahead of the Third Reich, who plan to use the ancient artefact’s powers to place the world under Nazi rule.

The visual effects and, er, ‘cultural depictions’ have aged noticeable since 1981, but this is mainstream filmmaking at its purest – a broadly entertaining, fast-paced and iconic movie that it’s almost impossible not to get swept up in.

Watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on Now TV

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

This masterful film by first-time director Joe Talbot tells the story of Jimmie Fails (played by Jimmie Fails, the role being based on his own early life), a young African-American man striving to reclaim his childhood home – a large, ornate Victorian house in what is now an upscale San Francisco neighbourhood. The house, which Jimmie claims was built by his grandfather, is his focus in life – one unmoving certainty in a world that’s always shifting.

Beautifully shot, unpredictable and elegiac, it’s both a compelling character study and a nuanced portrait of a city that has changed, is changing and will continue to change in the future.

Watch The Last Black Man in San Francisco on Now TV

Goodfellas

If you haven’t already seen this stupendously well directed, impeccably acted, perfectly soundtracked and unforgettably scripted gangster yarn, what on earth are you waiting for? Close this page now, fire up Now TV and get settled in for two hours and twenty-five minutes of filmmaking at its very finest.

Martin Scorsese may have claimed his first Best Director Oscar for the decent crime thriller Departed, but Goodfellas – an epic, heady plunge into the realities of life as a New York mobster in the 50s, 60s and 70s – deserved the shiny gold chap so much more. At least Joe Pesci picked up the Best Supporting Actor gong for his turn as pint-sized psychopath Tommy DeVito, one of the great characters of 90s cinema. As for Goodfellas, is it one of the best movies ever made? Fuggedaboudit.

Watch Goodfellas on Now TV

The Invisible Man

This psychological thriller stars Elizabeth Moss as a woman who believes she’s being stalked by her abusive, controlling ex-boyfriend – a tech entrepreneur who may have invented a way to make himself invisible. With friends and family dismissing her experiences as trauma-triggered delusions, she must face down her imperceptible tormentor alone. It might not have much to do with H.G. Wells’ original sci-fi tale, but this movie feels timely, taut and tense.

Watch The Invisible Man on Now TV

The Exorcist (1973)

Long considered one of the best horror films of all time (and according to critic Mark Kermode, one of the best films of all-time, full stop), The Exorcist‘s lurid depiction of a young girl’s demonic possession quickly established it as a cult classic upon its 1974 release. In fact, when it eventually came to UK home video in the 1980s, the BBFC considered it too extreme for even an 18 certificate. It’s a decision that’ll seem bizarre to modern audiences: its content seems quite tame compared even to today’s 15-rated horror films.

That’s not to diminish The Exorcist‘s tone or its atmosphere of encroaching menace – it’s a deliciously creepy movie with a fine cast, brilliantly directed by William Friedkin and rich in occult mood. If you’ve yet to experience it, we suggest you add this to your watchlist post-haste. And that you save it for a dark, quiet night…

Watch The Exorcist on Now TV

The Hunt

This action thriller is dripping with black humour of a satirical bent, as a bunch of wealthy liberal Americans hunt down “deplorables” for sport. Although his name is never mentioned, it’s a comment on Trump’s divided America, and perhaps an appeal for greater nuance and understanding – but the point doesn’t hit home all that cleanly. Luckily the movie’s brisk pace, joyful disregard for worn-out tropes and love of bloody action sequences will keep you more than entertained.

Watch The Hunt on Now TV

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Peter Jackson’s epic adaptation of the even more epic fantasy novel is not without its issues (I mean, how many endings does a film need?), but the director’s achievement in wrangling such an uneven, weighty and wide-ranging tome into three enjoyable blockbuster movies should not be overlooked.

You likely know the story already: a young hobbit must travel from his peaceful, bucolic corner of the world to the hellish realm of Mordor to destroy a powerful ring. Along the way he’ll encounter dangers, make new friends, take part in an apocalyptic war and much, much more. This trilogy is action-packed, well-acted and visually arresting – and capable of generating plenty of emotion at times, too.

Watch The Fellowship of the Ring on Now TV

Joker

Joaquin Phoenix gives a tour de force performance in this Oscar-winning origin story. How did an aspiring stand-up comedian become Gotham City’s greatest villain? Director Todd Phillips crafts a much more nuanced and tragic superhero movie than we’ve seen from recent DC Comics-derived efforts – it’s more Taxi Driver than Man of Steel, and all the better for it.

Watch Joker on Now TV

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

John Hughes’ beloved movie about a wily suburban teenager bunking off school to spend a day with his two best friends is, like Ghostbusters, one of the true must-watch 1980s comedies – a film that does its darnedest to represent a whole era.

It helps that it’s an entertaining, engaging watch packed with memorable moments and performances, from Matthew Broderick’s career-best turn as fourth wall-breaking Ferris to Alan Ruck as his hypochondriac pal Cameron, all of which invest it with a universal appeal that’ll chime with free thinkers of all ages.

Watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on Now TV

Do the Right Thing

The best-known film of Spike Lee’s early career, Do the Right Thing is the story of a hot summer’s day in Brooklyn, set on a single block of a single Bed-Stuy street. Despite its seemingly limited scope, Lee’s skill and the large cast of characters turn it into a wide-ranging and impactful metacommentary on racism and violence in America: funny, vivacious, thought-provoking and powerful – and not seeking refuge in simple platitudes or easy answers.

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Whiplash

Watching an indie movie about jazz drumming might not sound like the most riveting way to spend an evening, but trust us: Whiplash is no ordinary movie about jazz drumming.

Miles Teller plays a music college student determined to become one of the skin-bashing greats. The only problem? He’s never quite good enough to impress his insanely demanding band conductor, played in Oscar-winning form by J. K. Simmons. Simmons’ monster of an instructor dominates the film right through to the unforgettable final reel. We doubt you’ve ever seen a music movie with so much blood, sweat and tears.

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The Big Lebowski

The Coen brothers’ cult comedy hit – a louche, lackadaisical and outwardly lightweight follow-up to the multiple award-winning thriller Fargo – is packed to the gills with clever call-backs, references to other films and other oh-so-clever touches for astute viewers to pick out.

But it’s also an absolute riot, as Jeff Bridges’ middle-aged stoner The Dude sets out to right a wrong (in a case of mistaken identity, two hoodlums “soiled” his beloved rug) and ends up sucked headlong into a kidnapping case involving German nihilists, pornographers, a wealthy paraplegic, performance artists, a sullen teenage car thief, the police chief of Malibu, possibly hallucinatory cowboys… and bowling.

With an outstanding script and supporting cast including Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro and John Goodman, The Big Lebowski is a rare cinematic gift – one that keeps on giving with subsequent viewings.

Watch The Big Lebowski on Now TV

Blade Runner

Ridley Scott’s stunning vision of a future in which rogue AI-driven robots, indistinguishable from humans but faster, stronger and more deadly, are hunted down by sanctioned enforcers set the tone for an entire generation of cyberpunk fiction.

Harrison Ford plays replicant-chaser Deckard with typical understatement, but there’s so much flair, atmosphere and spectacle in this neo noir yarn that Blade Runner will stay with you for a long time.

Watch Blade Runner on Now TV

Once Upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone set aside the Dollars trilogy’s crowd-pleasing antics to create two and half hours of cinematic history with this scorched-earth homage to the gritty realities of homesteading on the new frontier.

Expertly paying homage to practically every film in the genre, Leone helps the everyman Henry Fonda find his dark side while giving Charles Bronson his own theme tune (supplied, of course, by long-term Leone sidekick Ennio Morricone). It’s beautiful, brutal and iconic stuff – and a must-watch for any would-be cinema connoisseur. This is the spaghetti Western – gourmet style.

Watch Once Upon a Time in the West on Now TV

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino’s western (or, more accurately “southern”) takes its cues both from Sergio Leone and the blaxploitation genre. Set mostly in the Deep South, Django Unchained pits Jamie Foxx’s titular freed slave against the plantation owners, traders and overseers who’ve separated him from his wife.

He’s joined on his quest by German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (an Oscar-nominated Christoph Waltz) but equally impressive are Leonardo Dicaprio as Calvin Candie, who cloaks the barbarity of his gladiatorial slave fights beneath a veneer of civilisation, and Samuel L Jackson as Candie’s house slave (and éminence grise) Stephen.

Foxx plays Django as a modern Man With No Name – though in his case his silence is more the result of tightly-wound righteous fury than stoicism, and when he eventually unleashes bloody vengeance on his oppressors it’s spectacularly cathartic.

Watch Django Unchained on Now TV

The Godfather trilogy

Look, if you haven’t seen The Godfather and The Godfather Part II by now, stop reading this and just go watch it. And then maybe watch the third one just to round things out, even though it’s a bit of a dud by comparison.

Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia epic spans a generation, weaving the tale of a Sicilian immigrant who becomes a powerful mobster and his son, who strives to turn his father’s “business” into a legitimate concern but finds it impossible to keep his two families together without getting his hands dirty. With fantastic performances all round and a true sense of scale and grandeur that no later mob movie has ever matched, the Godfather trilogy (or at least the first two thirds of it) can rightly be called one of the greatest feats in cinematic history.

Watch The Godfather on Now TV

Saving Private Ryan

Ex-schoolteacher Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) sets off across France to find Private Ryan – whose three brothers were killed during D-Day – and y’know, save him. It’s Steven Spielberg’s take on the classic "men on a mission" movie, a grand epic rich with the sort of masterful camerawork, thrilling action and touching sentimentality that tend to be associated with the director.

It’s worth watching for the intensely terrifying opening scene of the Normandy landings alone, one of the most pioneering bits of filmmaking in recent history. Spielberg deliberately aped the look of vintage newsreels during the 20-minute sequence, fiddling with the shutter timing on the cameras and treating the film to desaturate the colours.

Watch Saving Private Ryan on Now TV

The Shawshank Redemption

Banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) gets a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit – and in the grim confines of Shawshank Penitentiary, he’d be forgiven for giving in to despair. But a series of small victories against the soul-squeezing bureaucracy, the mentorship of old lag Red (Morgan Freeman in one of his career-defining roles) and an interest in geology help to chip away at the walls that threaten to crush him.

Frank Darabont’s adaptation of a lesser-known Stephen King short story failed to set the box office alight but – appropriately, given its theme of persevering against the odds – it’s since found a strong following on home video. Its story of hope in the face of impossible odds – and a slow-burning style that recalls the classics of the ‘30s and ‘40s – has won it a place at the top of countless best films lists. You owe it to yourself to watch this one.

Watch The Shawshank Redemption on Now TV

Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese’s much-lauded exploration of isolation, obsession and mania is certainly one of the best classic movies available on Netflix, and anyone who considers themselves a fan of cinema and hasn’t already watch it should drop everything, fire up their Netflix app of choice and settle down for 113 minutes of masterful moviemaking, as Scorsese’s camera follows increasingly unhinged Vietnam veteran and cabbie Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro in one of his defining roles) as he navigates the sleazy streets 1970s New York.

Watch Taxi Driver on Now TV