20 Great 2020 Films You Can Stream Right Now in the UK

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 the movies.

Video-on-demand means there's never been a better time to catch up on the best films you might have missed already this year, many of which are already available on a number of streaming platforms. We've gathered up our favourites from 2020 (according to their 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

 

Uncut Gems

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).”

 

Amanda

Where to stream it: Amazon, Curzon Home Video

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).”

 

Just Mercy

Where to stream it: Amazon Prime Video

This gripping, timely drama stars Michael B. Jordan of Black Panther fame as a young Harvard graduate who sets out to help a man (Jamie Foxx) accused of killing a white woman in 1986 Alabama. It's based on the work of real life attorney Bryan Stevenson, who offered frequent free legal advice to those he felt had fallen prey to an unjust and racist justice system.

 

Miss Americana

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).

 

First Love

Where to stream it: Amazon, iTunes, Curzon Home Cinema, Sky Store

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

Where to stream it: BFI Player, Curzon Home Cinema

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).”

 

Midnight Traveler

Where to stream it: Amazon, iTunes, Curzon Home Cinema, Sky Store

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.

 

Mr. Jones

Where to stream it: Amazon, iTunes, Curzon Home Cinema, Sky Store

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.

Midnight Family

Where to stream it: Amazon, iTunes, Curzon Home Cinema, Sky Store

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

Where to stream it: Amazon, iTunes, Curzon Home Cinema, Sky Store

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 our 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).”

 

Bacurau

Where to stream it: Curzon Home Cinema, MUBI

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

Where to stream it: Amazon, iTunes

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).”

 

System Crasher

Where to stream it: Curzon Home Cinema

Nine-year-old Benni, brilliant but difficult, is shipped from one foster home to the next, earning her the title of “system crasher.” Nora Fingscheidt's frantic drama, set in Germany, is a vastly uncompromising debut, featuring a brilliant lead performance from Helena Zengel, and an aptly energetic score from composer John Gürtler.

What we said: Sometimes System Crasher is fun, and sometimes it makes you feel sick. The film operates on a constant seesaw of extremes, as Benni crosses lines with horrific brutality at one turn, before retreating to comfort a crying carer at the next (read our full review).”

 

Fire Will Come

Where to stream it: Curzon Home Cinema

Oliver Laxe’s unusual, wandering drama centres on a former fire-starter, played by Amador Arias, who moves back home to the Spanish countryside after a two-year stint in prison. There, he's hassled by the community and suspected of giving in to his old ways. But is he responsible? Fire Will Come isn't always easy viewing, but it's beautiful to look at, intelligent, and complex.

 

Standing Up, Falling Down

Where to stream it: Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play

Alternately working as a showcase for comedian/actor Ben Schwartz and as a mini comeback vehicle for legendary comedian Billy Crystal, Standing Up, Falling Down is by no means ambitious. In telling the story of a failed comedian returning to his home town only to befriend his drunk of a dermatologist (?), it settles as a hodgepodge of things we've seen countless times in other films – but charmingly so. Sort of impossible to hate?

What we said: It's a film as aimless as its main character, but there's a warmness to the material, and to the characters, both central and secondary, that makes watching not unlike tuning into an episode of your favourite sitcom (read our full review).”

 

Elephant

Where to stream it: Disney+

One for the entire family, this exclusive Disney+ documentary follows a herd of elephants as they make their way across the Kalahari Desert. It's purposely unchallenging, the very definition of easy viewing, and features an amicable narration from the Duchess of Sussex herself, Meghan Markle. She's no Attenborough, but her bedtime story-esque voiceover will do.

What we said: “There’s ample existentialism used as both education and distraction, guided along by a sugary-sweet narrator – a balance of harmless and important documentary work is found with grace (read our full review here).”

 

Who You Think I Am

Where to stream it: Curzon Home Video

The inimitable Juliette Binoche stars in this twisty thriller about a 50-something who, fed up with her lot in love, decides to go online and pose as a much younger woman. Directed by French filmmaker Safy Nebbout, Who You Think I Am offers a timely look at the ways in which we conduct our romantic lives today – and Binoche is as good as she's ever been.

What we said:The narrative bends and breaks in unusual places, pushing the limits of credible storytelling within the high-stakes genre without ever veering into delirium (read our full review).”

Other Features

10 Wuxia Films You Should Watch Instead of Mulan

As Disney's live-action remake fails to capture the essence of wuxia cinema, these movies provide a far better introduction to the genre

Billy Elliot at 20: Still Feels Like Electricity

Stephen Daldry's low-budget drama was an unexpected box office smash, earning Oscar nominations and even spawning a musical. Two decades later, Ella Kemp looks back on the British classic

Best Films to Watch in London and Stream This Week

From cinema releases to streaming gems, including a family-friendly spin on Sherlock Holmes and Ethan Hawke as an infamous "mad" scientist

In Five Films: Ethan Hawke

Extremely prolific, always interesting, we rundown five essential performances to coincide with the release of his latest film Tesla

Reviews

The Great Buster: A Celebration review – icon of silent film is still the pinnacle

Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary on Buster Keaton is a decent portrait of an early cinema hero – but you’ll learn more from Keaton’s own, uproarious work

76 Days review – eerie look at the start of the pandemic

This brave chronicle of four Wuhan hospitals battling the first cases of COVID-19 makes for bleak but essential viewing

Time review – two decades of love intercut by an unjust America

This deeply moving documentary maps the failings of the prison-industrial complex through one woman’s journey to reunite with her husband

Monsoon review – quiet and contemplative journey to Vietnam

Henry Golding stars as a man returning to his country of birth in this thoughtful, entrancing travelogue from filmmaker Hong Khaou