Why can't all teen comedies 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?
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 nerdy school friend with an ID that reads "McLovin" will do); you’ve got to impress the girls (Jonah Hill’s Seth realises 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 co-writer Seth Rogen.
Quentin Tarantino’s comic book-style take on World War II is typically brash, bold and bloody, packed with the filmmaker’s trademarks of bravura camera work, sizzling dialogue, memorable characters and copious violence.
With Brad Pitt and his band of Jewish-American guerrilla fighters hunting down Nazis in occupied France while a French girl plots her revenge on the sadistic German colonel that slaughtered her family (Christoph Waltz in his Oscar-winning breakout role), the plot is heavy on twists, even if it has a fairly conventional structure. At over two and a half hours, it feels a bit bloated, but hey, you’re streaming it – so taking the occasional bathroom break is no biggie.
“If it bleeds, it leads,” is the mantra of Los Angeles’ increasingly ghoulish TV networks - and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is ready and willing to dish up the gore. Video camera in hand, he roams the streets of the city in the dead of night, chasing ambulances and combing crime scenes for footage that’ll give middle-class families a frisson of fear as they watch the morning news.
Director Dan Gilroy’s film is a pitch-black satire of the American Dream – with Lou’s dead-eyed sociopathy and his willingness to do what others would balk at as his ticket to success. As he rattles off motivational business-speak with absolute sincerity, it’s infinitely more chilling than any of the footage he captures.
Titus Welliver returns for his fifth season as gruff Hollywood detective Harry Bosch, embroiled in a fresh homicide case while fighting an official investigation into his unorthodox policing methods during a decades-old murder trial.
On paper, Bosch sounds like another cliche-ridden cop series, but it’s actually one of Amazon’s best original shows, blessed with a fantastic ensemble cast, relatable characters and a rare ability to weave together multiple episode-spanning plot lines into a satisfying, novelistic whole. Easy to binge-watch, it’s a perfect homage to LA’s strange blend of grit and glamour and an intriguing insight into the world of policing.
Inspired by Joe Wright’s 2011 movie of the same name, this Amazon original drama is a coming-of-age story with a twist: the titular teenage girl happens to be a deadly assassin, trained and conditioned from childhood by her special agent foster father (Joel Kinnaman), and now hunted by a ruthless CIA operative (Mireille Enos).
With action, drama and touching character moments in equal measure, the show’s also notable for reuniting The Killing’s Enos and Kinnaman – albeit this time as enemies, not partners.
It might be tempting, but don’t call Creed the seventh Rocky movie. Despite having Sylvester Stallone reprise his most famous role, the real star here is Michael B Jordan as the son of Rocky’s old ring rival and friend Apollo Creed.
Jordan’s outstanding in the role – all muscle-aching physicality in the boxing sequences, but no less impressive in the dramatic scenes as a man struggling with the idea of following in the footsteps of a father he never knew – while Stallone provides superb support as the ageing, lonely former champ.
American Gods (S2)
After a lengthy hiatus and an inordinate amount of behind-the-scenes strife – the studio replaced the original showrunners, and then replaced the showrunner brought in to replace them – this astonishing-looking, mind-expanding modern fantasy series based on Neil Gaiman’s novel is back for a long-anticipated second season.
Concerning the war brewing between the deities of the ancient and the modern worlds, American Gods is like a Technicolor fever dream – and hey, it’s even got Lovejoy playing Odin.
The Secret of Marrowbone
A well-crafted haunted house tale set in the 1960s, The Secret of Marrowbone ticks off a whole bunch of genre tropes: creepy mirrors, a huge decrepit house emitting weird noises, helpless children left to their own devices. Despite all that, it still manages to deliver some shocks and surprises by its final reel.
While it doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its first act, the cast of mostly young Brits, including Anya Taylor Joy (The Witch), George MacKay (Captain Fantastic), Mia Goth (Suspiria) and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things) does an admirable job of portraying a group of people plagued by dark secrets, troubled pasts and frighteningly present dangers.
The Usual Suspects
A bone fide 1990s indie classic, this twisting, turning thriller about a bunch of career criminals being forced into one last job is well worth rewatching if you haven’t had the pleasure recently (you’ll pick up a lot of stuff that’ll make you feel clever for paying attention) and certainly deserves a first viewers for anyone too young or too contrary to see it at some point during the 20-plus years since it was made.
Told almost entirely in flashback as Kevin Spacey’s conman “Verbal” Kint is interrogated by a US Customs agent in the wake of a bloody attempted heist, the movie winds towards its unforgettable conclusion in slick, gritty neo-noir fashion.
Las Vegas was pulled up out of the desert to feed partygoers everything they want… until all they want is darkness, sleep and a bucketload of Alka Seltzer. And The Hangover is the movie incarnation of that attitude of unbridled hedonism, a film in which a four-man stag party in Sin City careers outrageously off the rails. With, need it be said, hilarious consequences.
If you’re hungry for more, the two sequels are also available on Amazon Prime – but personally we feel like the first instalment is comfortably the best.