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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
Clocking in at a butt-numbing 161 minutes, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tends to elicit one of two reactions: unadulterated Tarantino worship or complaints of terminal boredom. As usual, a more considered response probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Yes, there are drawn-out scenes of seemingly inconsequential dialogue that feel needlessly indulgent, QT’s weird obsession with women’s feet is more in-your-face than ever, and you’ll need a strong constitution to stomach the violence when it comes, but when have any of these things put people off his films before? Glossy, glitzy, cool, lugubrious, gory – it’s one event movie you probably shouldn’t miss.
Come for Olivia Colman’s triumphant turn as Queen Anne, stay for Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz’ almost-as-wonderful performances as two courtiers competing for the disturbed monarch’s affections in Yorgos Lanthimos’ sumptuous black comedy.
Nominated for ten 2019 Academy Awards but winning just the one (Colman for Best Actress), it’s a strange, striking movie that’ll be viewed as a classic by future film buffs.
Will Ferrell’s patchy movie output doesn’t take away from the fact that when he’s good, he’s really good, and Step Brothers is one of his films which (perhaps a little surprisingly, given its premise) illustrates this fact. Ferrell and the superb John C. Reilly play coddled middle-aged men who still live with their respective mother and father – and are forced to live together as step brothers when said parents get married.
If it sounds like the sort of film 1990s Adam Sandler would turn down, Step Brothers actually morphs swiftly from standard slapstick fare into, well, superior slapstick buddy comedy fare as the two enemies become allies against a greater threat. It may not change your life, but it will keep you laughing for 90 minutes of it.
Shaun of the Dead
The first and arguably best film in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy (comprising this, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) sees London electrical shop worker Shaun (Pegg) attempting to rescue his girlfriend and flatmate and survive a sudden zombie outbreak.
This zom-rom-com's scares might be somewhat thin on the ground, but the laughs more than make up for it. There’s bags of heart to it too, mostly erupting from the relationship between Shaun and his slacker best mate Ed, played memorably by Nick Frost. Wright also demonstrates time and time again the tricks and quirks that have made him a Hollywood darling – with this movie’s inspired quick-fire editing proving a star in its own right.
Why can't all teen comedies could be as funny, well-paced and ultimately life-affirming as Superbad, which manages to juggle all the tropes of the genre (partying, sex, friendship) without feeling hackneyed, gross or bloated?
Co-written by Seth Rogen (who also appears in a supporting role), it stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill as high school best friends out to have the best party possible before going their separate ways and heading off to college. The chemistry between the pair sells the ludicrous events that follow, proving that there’s nothing inherently cheesy or lame about racy teen coming-of-age comedies – they just aren’t usually made with this much care.
Russell Crowe ascended to Hollywood stardom off the back of this swords-and-sandals epic, in which he plays a celebrated Roman general who, when cruelly betrayed by Joaquin Phoenix’s power-mad new emperor, is forced to fight his way to vengeance via the blood-stained pits of gladiatorial combat.
Directed with typical visual panache by Ridley Scott, Gladiator is a stirring Hollywood blockbuster of the highest order, ticking a whole range of boxes in its two and a half hours: sweeping vistas, soaring emotion, romance, bloody fight scenes and a truly despicable villain. Movies of its type don’t always age well – astonishingly, it’s 20 years old – but thanks to Scott’s mastery behind the camera and Crowe’s Oscar-nominated performance, this is one that’ll still feel fresh in another two decades.