The cinemas might have temporarily shut their doors, but you can still stream these very recent and very good films at home
With everything that's happening in the world right now, going to an actual cinema to catch the latest releases isn't really an option. But whilst the spread of the coronavirus has put a stop to cinema-going in the literal sense, the world is thankfully still equipped with a whole host of alternate ways to take in movies.
Video-on-demand means there's never been a better time to catch up on the best films you might have missed this year, many of which are already available on a number of streaming platforms. We've gathered up our favourites (according to UK release dates) to form this handy list, from Netflix Originals to unmissable indies and brilliant blockbusters. Happy streaming, everyone, and stay safe!
*we'll update this list as more great 2020 films become available on VOD
Where to stream it: Netflix
Adam Sandler gives the performance of his career as a scrappy Jewish jeweller whose acquisition of some shiny uncut opals lands him in way over his head. Writing-directing duo the Safdie brothers excel in a particular type of anxiety inducing cinema (this one's not for the faint-hearted); this is their best film yet.
What we said: “The final stretch of Uncut Gems is almost unbearable to sit through, the definition of forget-to-breathe filmmaking, and an uncompromising reminder of cinema’s power to shred your nerves in unexpected ways (read our full review).”
A relationship between an uncle and his niece blossoms out of a terrible tragedy in this charming film from French filmmaker Mikhail Hers. Surprisingly breezy, given its terrorist-themed plot, it boasts fine performances and great chemistry from Vincent Lacoste and Isaure Multrier.
What we said: “The film is an enjoyable coming-of-age tale, the cinematic equivalent of a relaxing stroll (read our full review).”
Where to stream it: Netflix
This very watchable doc charts the build-up to Taylor Swift's decision to reveal her political stance, as well as working as a career retrospective, charting the pop singer's highs and lows. Swift has never exposed herself to the extent that she does here, nor has she ever seemed so relatable (even if we learn she has never eaten a burrito).
Supernaturally prolific Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike's 103rd film (!) tells the story of a terminally ill boxer out to rescue a young woman from the Yakuza. As with his best work, it's creative in its violence and unashamedly madcap, but this film has an uncharacteristic sweet side, too.
What we said: “A likeable and gleefully violent thriller that refuses to descend into the gory depravity that has defined some of Miike's more infamous work, it mashes together genres for a fun – if somewhat shallow – underworld yarn (read our full review).”
End of the Century
Two strangers, played by Juan Barberini and Ramon Pujol, meet whilst visiting Barcelona; sparks fly, romance seems inevitable. But wait… have this pair met before, twenty years previously? Lucio Castro's dreamy love story is intelligent and easy-going, but it's also a tricksy mediation on what could have been.
What we said: “Long, meaningful conversations are held in single, static takes, showing off the easy naturalism of the performances, whilst Castro’s script cleverly shows how people’s priorities and outlooks shift as their experiences grow (read our full review).”
This gripping documentary, filmed entirely using smartphones, chronicles filmmaker Hassan Fazili and his family's terrifying and perilous journey out of Afghanistan and across Europe after they're targeted by the Taliban. Inspiring for its raw intimacy and also remarkable in its depiction of the unbeatable human spirit.
Writer-director Agnieszka Holland's true-life drama Mr. Jones has James Norton playing real life reporter Gareth Jones, who travelled from his native Wales to the Soviet Union in the 1930s and uncovered Stalin's plan to engineer famine in the Ukraine. Uplifting? No. Important? Absolutely.
This timely documentary hones in on the institutional failure within Mexico's healthcare system, following a family who run a privatised ambulance service on the streets of Mexico City. It's terrifying, moving, and totally gripping. Their present, our future?
What we said: “It’s a cautionary tale that plays like a thriller, with a vision of a potential future that should terrify British and American viewers alike (read our full review here).”
Escape from Pretoria
Daniel Radcliffe has transformed himself (again), this time in order to play real life anti-apartheid campaigner Tim Jenkin, who was imprisoned in Pretoria prison in the 70s before mounting a daring escape using a set of makeshift keys. This film is a B-movie delight – inventive and unbearably tense, it'd be completely unbelievable if it weren't true.
What we said: “This is a clever and old-fashioned slice of pulp that does what films with far bigger budgets and huge stars are often unable to do: sustain a palpable sense of tension from beginning to end. It’s Radcliffe’s best post-Potter movie yet (read our full review).”
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Where to stream it: Curzon Home Cinema
A new classic of queer cinema, French writer-director Céline Sciamma's latest tells the story of an achingly romantic – and very forbidden – affair between a painter (Noémie Merlant) and her subject (Adèle Haenel), set in 18th century Brittany. It's a gorgeous film that plays out in glances and looks, burning with passion and imbued with an unmistakable Hitchcockian flavour.
What we said: “It’s hard to imagine a modern period drama that finds such a balance of the past and the present without compromising either era. This is a love story that will age as gracefully as Marianne’s portraits (read full review).”
And Then We Danced
Where to stream it: Curzon Home Cinema
Traditional culture and sexual expression are aligned in this sensitive coming-of-age drama from filmmaker Levan Akin, which is set in the world of Georgian dance. Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is a talented dancer whose rivalry with newcomer Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) soon turns to romance.
What we said: “This film is a fine example of the overlapping realms of queer art and activism, in which every heartfelt moment is underscored with an anger towards the stolen freedoms of queer people today. Essential viewing (read our full review).”
Welcome to Bacurau, a small town in a remote region of Brazil, where weird events – and a UFO! – are causing havoc for the locals. Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho, co-writing and directing alongside Juliano Dornelles, helms this strange siege thriller about a community fighting for their lives against foreign invaders.
What we said: “A disorientating but beautifully shot film that’s part political drama, part horror, and a whole lotta western. At times it feels like a documentary, or even a telenovela. Later, a schlocky B-movie. And there are sci-fi elements, too, suggesting this is a story of the not-too-distant future (read our full review).”
The Invisible Man
Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious) writes and directs this modern take on HG Wells' iconic sci-fi story, this time exposing the horrors of gaslighting as Elisabeth Moss battles a sociopathic ex-partner who may or may not be haunting her from beyond the grave. Moss is fantastic; the movie, inventive and clever.
What we said: “Using the suggestive powers of framing and montage – particularly the circumstantial difference between omniscient and point-of-view shots – Whannell progressively brings his invisible man to life (read our full review).”