4K tellies aren't nearly as rare as they once were, and there's a very good chance you've already got one.
But finding things to watch on it in that lovely 4K resolution (you can call it UHD if you prefer) can still be somewhat tricky. There's a fair bit out there if you know where to look, though, and the even better news is that we've done the looking for you.
So with no further ado, here are the 40 very best TV shows and movies that are currently available in 4K. We've even included a direct link to buy or stream each one from Amazon, Netflix or Sky. You're welcome!
And if you've not yet boarded the 4K train, here are the best cheap 4K TVs available right now.
Saving Private Ryan
Recently remastered in UHD by Paramount, Steven Spielberg’s 1998 World War II’s epic has never looked better than on this disc, where the full 4K resolution and HDR treatment breathes new life – and tons of detail – into this brutal, bloody journey through northern France. The film’s muted, desaturated colour palette suits HDR surprisingly well, while its brilliantly reworked Dolby Atmos soundtrack will stretch your surround sound system to its limits. One of the best 4K treatments of an older movie out there.
With true crime documentaries like Making a Murderer enjoying a purple patch of late, it was only a matter of time until someone started poking fun at the genre – we just didn’t expect it to involve phallic graffiti.
American Vandal follows Peter Maldonado’s attempts to prove Dylan Maxwell’s innocence after the renowned prankster is accused of defacing 27 faculty cars at an American high school. With more twists than a Thorpe Park rollercoaster and all the drama you’d expect from a show centred on American teenagers, it’s near-impossible not to get obsessed with trying to suss out the penis-drawing culprit – and it’s all rendered in gorgeous 4K, to boot.
Don’t let Paramount’s decision to dump this movie straight to Netflix rather than give it a cinema release put you off watching it, because Annihilation is one of the most accomplished and intriguing science fiction films of recent years. Not only is it visually outstanding – presented here both in 4K and HDR – and packed with tension, it’s a brain-twister that’ll leave you with more questions than answers (but enough clues to work everything out, too).
When an unexplained “shimmer” engulfs a tract of land in the southeastern United States, then starts expanding, the government doesn’t know how to act. Everything and everybody they send inside disappears, never to return – with one exception. When Natalie Portman’s biologist finds herself personally drawn into the mystery, she joins a team venturing into the Shimmer and uncovers the shocking truth at its centre.
The Grand Tour
Clarkson and co’s Top Gear-topper is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of deal. If you’re a greasy-fingered petrolhead, or simply into following middle-aged boy-men on their banter-fuelled road trips, you’re going to enjoy this series a lot.
If you can’t stand this brand of overbearing laddishness, The Grand Tour isn’t likely to transform you into a believer – but for anybody looking for some beautifully shot, mindless entertainment to grace that new Ultra HD telly, this impeccably-produced show fits the bill.
A comedy-drama about the trials and tribulations of romantic relationships may not sound like the ideal showcase for Ultra HD but, like a lot of Netflix’s original series, Love is presented in deliciously detailed 4K for subscribers on the “4 screens + Ultra HD” plan.
While the on-screen action is mostly limited to dialogue, Love’s Los Angeles setting and strong production values make it a somewhat unexpected visual treat – and it doesn’t hurt that it’s an enjoyably frank look at dating focussing on two delightfully flawed characters. There are three full seasons to tuck into.
It might be an homage to all things 80s (think E.T. meets The Goonies meets The Thing), but other than the scratchy, retro opening title, everything about Stranger Things’ production is cutting edge. It was actually shot in 6K, but even on our backwards 4K TVs the picture is stunning. Gruesomely so at the more horror-tinged points of the series. But whether you’re an AV nerd or not, this demands to be seen – it’s two seasons of truly stunning, surprising, unique television.
A mud-caked classic. DiCaprio’s bear-wrestling trials and wintery tribulations might not be the way to warm up for a karaoke night, but the filmmaking and cinematography are as beautiful as the action is brutal.
Yes, Leo deserved the Oscar, but it’s the The Revenant’s bleak, frozen world that make it worthy of being high on your new telly’s watch list.
The first season of this magnificent Netflix original drama is all about the rise of drug baron Pablo Escobar, the second captures the true story of his downfall after years on the run, and the third concerns the Colombian kingpins who suceed him. You can expect a mix of tense action sequences, real news footage and superb moustaches – and it's worth watching in 4K for the extra detail on Escobar’s superb selection of sweaters alone.
Altered Carbon is set in the kind of neon-soaked cyberpunk hellhole – created via dizzyingly expensive special effects – that positively demands to be delivered in 4K and HDR. And, thankfully for us, it is!
This glossy, gory cyber-noir takes us 300-odd years into the future, where Earth has become an overpopulated, dirty, decadent mess – but outright death is a rarity. That’s because your consciousness, digitally backed up on a device called a “stack”, can be transported between bodies – if, of course, you can afford to pay the exorbitant fee such an operation entails.
Into this terrifying new world drops hard-boiled anti-hero Takeshi Kovacs, released from prison and dropped into a snazzy, buffed-up Joel Kinnaman-shaped sleeve after a couple of centuries on ice. Why has Kovacs been brought back after so long? In order to solve a murder, of course – a mystery that the insanely wealthy victim (who’s now reincarnated in a fresh cloned sleeve, natch) believes only Kovacs’ unique skills can unwrap.
Blade Runner 2049
The long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s eye-popping cyberpunk classic manages to outdo its predecessor on the visual stylistics, arguably being one of the most stunningly beautiful films ever made. Big ups to director Denis Villeneuve and Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, then, who’ve produced a rare treat for the eyes that owners of 4K televisions shouldn’t pass up. Pick it up on 4K Blu-ray for the ultimate in image quality, but those who baulk at the cost can stream it for much less.
Better Call Saul
No one really likes lawyers. They don’t have millions of adoring fans on Instagram, and their spirit animals are sharks – cold, grey killers, with dead, soulless eyes. But they’re not all bad. Take the slick and lovable Saul Goodman, aka Slippin’ Jimmy – a slick, rule-bending practitioner of justice who won our hearts in Breaking Bad, a show with incredible cinematography that has transitioned into this equally spectacular spin-off.
When hotshot FBI agent Kate Macer (the no-nonsense Emily Blunt) is headhunted by the CIA to take the fight to the cartels over into Mexico, she discovers a team of loose cannons with morals more flexible than a gymnast squeezing into a KFC boneless bucket. Sicario is a taut and urgent thriller, with all the drama of a whole series of Homeland crammed into 121 minutes.
The Man In The High Castle
What if the Allies had lost the Second World War and America was currently ruled by Germany in its eastern half and Japan in its western half? You’d have a damn good plot for a novel, said Philip K. Dick. And, said Amazon over 50 years later, a fairly daring basis for one of its original TV series.
Knowing the scrutiny its first moves as a studio would receive, Amazon pumped a load of dug-up gold into the production. Which is good, because now that it’s available in 4K (with HDR) you can amuse yourself picking up the alt-history references in the newspapers and shop signs as the characters go about their captivating plot-based business in classy period sets.
Black Mirror’s move from Channel 4 to Netflix has meant a bigger budget, giving Charlie Brooker’s series of dark, self-contained cautionary tales a grander scope. It’s also meant an image quality upgrade to 4K and HDR which, given the show’s cynical view of chasing the latest tech trend, feels somewhat ironic – but when it looks this good, we’ll take it regardless.
Morality isn’t high on your priorities list when you’re card-hustling grifter Marius – so stepping into the life of your former prison cellmate is a no-brainer when the alternative is having your fingers snipped off by Bryan Cranston’s angry mob boss. It’s a good job those extra pixels don’t make it easier for his new ‘family’ to tell that Marius isn’t quite who he says he is.
Life of Pi
Ang Lee won an Oscar for his direction of this extraordinary film about a boy stranded on a lifeboat with only a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a huge Bengal tiger named Richard Parker for company. Adapted from Yann Martel's bestselling novel, Pi’s story meditates on faith after his zookeeping family drowns in the Pacific Ocean.
The incredible visual effects of the CGI animals and terrifying weather systems are only enhanced in 4K, which adds to the sense of exposure, powerlessness and isolation of the teenage protagonist. As unlikely as the scenario is, this is an unmissable spectacle.
Sidestepping the traditional studio distribution model – it was released on Netflix and in selected theatres simultaneously – got this animal rights drama booed by cinematic purists at the start of its Cannes Film Festival premiere. By the end of the screening, that same audience was giving it a four-minute standing ovation.
It takes a lot to get us up off the sofa at the end of a movie, especially for 240 full seconds of applause, but this tale of a huge genetically-modified pig, her devoted teenage companion, big business and animal rights is a delight, benefitting from a great cast (Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton and Paul Dano among them), brisk pace and fantastic visual effects – in both 4K and HDR here – that bring Okja herself convincingly to life.
Be warned: it’ll put you off sausages for a very, very long time.
No doubt you already know that Daredevil is one of the best things Marvel has created since its cinematic universe first came to fruition. Brooding, bold and bloody, it sees blind lawyer turned martial arts master Matt Murdock attempt to cleanse the crime-ridden streets of Hell’s Kitchen while battling his own myriad demons.
So how does 4K make this show even better? Well, this visceral spectaculaire is dark in both tone and visuals, so Ultra HD’s added resolution makes for better-defined fight scenes in near pitch black locations. And when the red stuff begins to flow, you’ll really feel it.
Mad Max: Fury Road
If ever a film was made for 4K (and HDR if you can get it) it’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Director George Miller takes what could’ve been a largely bland desert landscape and throws in splashes of colour like cinematic fireworks, with stacks of intricate detail in the characters’ grotesque masks and nightmarish modes of transport.
But it’s not just a treat for the eyes. The plot might be simpler than a sloth’s to-do list but the incredible stunts, superbly realised and totally bonkers world, plus a stonking performance from Charlize Theron make it a 4K journey that’s more than worth hitching a ride on.
Based on the celebrated Neil Gaiman novel, this big budget series from Bryan Fuller (previously producer of Hannibal) weaves together cords of ancient mythology, modern mythology, Americana and pop culture to create a modern fantasy fable – a magical realist tale about immigration, above other things. The cast includes the classy likes of Ian McShane, Peter Stormare and Gillian Anderson, but British viewers might be tickled to see former Hollyoaks hunk Ricky Whittle in the leading role – and doing a very decent job along with it.
American Gods has a distinctive, stylish look that benefits from its Ultra HD rendering - but given the series' clever use of colour and contrast, we're a tad disappointed that HDR isn't on the menu.
The Lego Movie
"Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when it's in Ultra HD." OK that's not quite how The LEGO Movie's theme song goes, but this brick-a-brack classic looks even better when you quadruple the amount of pixels it’s rendered in.
Emmet looks radiant in yellow, Batman’s ultra-serious demeanor is as dark as his blackened spandex, and the laughs come thick and fast, as ever. So forget those superhero romps and your Netflix specials, if you want a film to show off just how vibrant 4K can be, then pick up Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s bombastic ode to the power of your own imagination.
Yes, Breaking Bad had some memorable supporting characters – Los Pollos Hermanos kingpin Gus Fring, psychopath Tuco Salamanca and, of course, 'Better Call Saul' Goodman. But one of its more subtle stars is the Albuquerque landscape, shot beautifully on 35mm film and the main reason why the series has the distinctive look of a modern spaghetti western.
The money Breaking Bad saved by shooting in New Mexico (rather than California, as Vince Gilligan had originally planned) was pumped into its cinematic visual production, ensuring that its 4K version bursts from your screen like a Tuco-bothering chemical explosion.
Loosely based on real-life events in 2009, when Somali pirates hijacked a US cargo ship and took Captain Richard Phillips hostage, this thriller is now available in 4K. So you’ll be able to see every sweaty pore on Tom Hanks’ face as he attempts to negotiate with the hijackers and save his crew hidden below deck.
As a logical viewer you know the American hero will likely survive, especially when the US Navy turns up, but even so, watching Captain Phillips is still an exercise in coping with stress. The tension zigzags throughout, so keep on holding your cushion.