The 60 Best Movies on Amazon Prime UK, from Comedy to Horror

Esquire Editors
·27-min read
Photo credit: Amazon Prime
Photo credit: Amazon Prime

From Esquire

You are what you watch, and by that we mean that selecting films that show you something outside your comfort zone is a great way to educate and entertain yourself.

As such, we've put in the time and sifted through Amazon Prime Video to pick out the best films you can stream without leaving home. These include critically acclaimed movies like Milk, indie gems like Knives Out and Midsommar, and foreign language masterpieces including Lion and Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

If you're only using your Amazon Prime membership to expedite a crate of loo roll to your house, you're missing out.

Best drama movies on Amazon Prime UK

Parasite

It is no understatement to say that Bong Joon Ho's satirical horror, and masterpiece of class warfare, is the best film of 2020. Winning the Korean auteur four Academy Awards, and in doing so becoming the first foreign-language film to win the 'Best Picture' Oscar, it's hard to overstate its impact. As well as being an important dissection of privilege and the precarious nature of modern life, it is also hugely entertaining for the farcical story, which just keeps ramping up. If you haven't yet seen it, it's best to go in uninformed, but the story follows two families living in South Korea – one rich, one poor – and slowly shows us the folks at the bottom invading the beautiful, sprawling home of their wealthy compatriots. Parasite is a film with such bite it leaves you feeling wounded for days.

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1917

Sam Mendes's war epic drops you into the brutal trenches of the first world war, with a claustrophobic style of shooting that has you begging to escape. The story follows two young British soldiers who are tasked with crossing enemy lines to deliver a message that will prevent the deaths of thousands of comrades. The all-star British cast includes names such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden, Mark Strong, Colin Firth and Andrew Scott, and the film is shot by revered cinematographer Roger Deakins – the Oscar-winner behind Sicario and Blade Runner 2049 – who here conjures harrowing and breathtaking visuals.

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Bombshell

Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie take the helm in this retelling of the Roger Ailes scandal which saw the Fox network boss ousted ahead of the #MeToo movement after numerous women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. Theron is especially brilliant as Megyn Kelly, with prosthetics and make-up which make her look just like the American broadcaster, and John Lithgow is repulsive as the sleazy, sagging Ailes who finally got his comeuppance. Though offering a scathing take on the rampant misogyny that was allowed to continue at Fox for so long, the film also looks at more nuanced issues, too, like the way women were pitted against each other and how left-leaning young journalists hid their true colours to get a break at the behemoth media company.

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Inglourious Basterds

Perhaps the last great Quentin Tarantino film, or, we can all agree, at least until he came back with Once upon a Time in Hollywood, Inglourious Basterds is a blood-soaked tale of revenge which spans years and countries until justice is served. The ensemble cast of Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender and Daniel Brühl are all excellent, but the prize goes to Christoph Waltz – quite literally, with the actor winning an Academy Award – for his portrayal of the reptilian SS officer Hans Landa. Waltz's performance in the opening sequence of the film gives once of the most unbearable tense moments ever committed to film.

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Queen & Slim

A young couple's first date ends in an altercation with an Ohio police officer, causing them to flee the scene and later be dubbed the "Black Bonnie and Clyde" by a family member after they go on the run. When a video of the incident goes viral, the protagonists become symbols of the grief and pain people have suffered at the hands of the police. Both Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, and his on-screen partner Jodie Turner-Smith, give remarkable performances in this story about police brutality and a divided America that is most devastating in its quietest moments. Released before the death of George Floyd at the hands of American police officers sparked protests around the world, Queen & Slim is a fictional story yet one which feels symbolic of all of the people whose names should not be forgotten.

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24 Hour Party People

Michael Winterbottom's film manages to conjure the full madness of Factory Record's semi-mythic journey from grotty punk club night to the very heart of everything that mattered in youth culture in a way no mass of BBC4 talking heads ever could. Steve Coogan plays prime mover Tony Wilson, who narrates the whole trajectory, while a ludicrously strong ensemble, including John Simm, Shirley Henderson, Paddy Considine and Andy Serkis, bring life to the gigantic characters around the label. In a meta twist, real Hacienda and Factory figures like Dave Haslam, Dave Pickering, Howard Devoto and Tony Wilson himself pop up too. "I'm being postmodern," Coogan's Wilson explains, "before it was fashionable."

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Lion

Young Saroo and his big bro Guddu spend their days in Khandwa, India, nicking coal off trains to swap for food, but one night Saroo and Guddu get separated. Not sure what to do, Saroo accidentally sends himself to Kolkata. In an alien place, he has to find his own way in the world. Lovely, lovely Dev Patel is the adult Saroo, who grew up in Hobart, Australia, having been adopted by white Aussie parents. Realising he still wants to know what happened to Guddu and his family, Saroo has a dim memory of the shape of buildings and a few key names, which isn't much to go on, but he plugs away at Google Maps anyway. This true story managed to avoid being cloying or manipulative, and lands the right side of yearning. Salman Rushdie said he cried pretty much uncontrollably throughout, which tells you something.

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The Four Year Plan

This documentary is a time capsule in a couple of ways. For one thing, Queens Park Rangers' attempts to launch themselves into the riches of the Premier League back in 2007 now seem to belong to a far less giddily inflated era. (The big masterplan is to spend £250,000 on Gavin Mahon? Look out, Europe!) For another, the advent of the glossy brand-polishing exercises for Manchester City, Juventus, Leeds United and other clubs means The Four Year Plan now stands as the last of the great fly-on-the-wall docs, a British mini-industry which brought us mud-splattered gems like Premier Passions, Chester City: An American Dream and Orient: Club For a Fiver. The Four Year Plan has that blend of wild-eyed ambition and thundering incompetence which made those docs so gripping.

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Honey Boy

After a stint in jail and attending court-ordered therapy sessions, Shia LaBeouf started to address his painful memories by writing them down. The eventual result is Honey Boy, the 2019 film directed by Alma Har'el in which LaBeouf stars. The film traces his childhood as a child star and his painful relationship with his alcoholic and abusive father over a decade. It's a tender and beautiful story about the marks which our parents leave on us and one which will make you see the controversial actor in a new light.

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A Cambodian Spring

Filmed over six years, this documentary concerns the fight over a piece of land in Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. The story follows a Buddhist monk and two mothers who have to fight against a big corporation trying to evict their community and take their homes. Irish director Chris Kelly lays bare the corruption of the government who, like other elected officials across the world, look the other way while choosing profit over protecting ordinary people.

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A Man Called Ove

Based on Fredrik Backman's 2012 book of the same name, this Swedish film is about a grumpy, lonely named Ove (Rolf Lassgård) who spends his days telling off his neighbours. It takes the energy of the young to bring him back to life, as a young family move in next door to him and a friendship begins when they accidentally flatten his mailbox. Wry and heart-warming without being mawkish, A Man Called Ove is uplifting but still wonderfully dour.

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Compliance

A fascinating, terrifying true crime thriller about how a hoax caller convinced a manager at a fast food chain to interrogate one of her employees following a theft. The story looks at the alarming ways in which we submit to authority and how this overrides our instincts, even when what we are being told to do seems to make no sense

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On the Basis of Sex

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an 87-year old member of the Supreme Court who has been an iconic figure through the many waves of the feminist movement, is the subject of this 2018 film about her early career, starring Felicity Jones as RBG herself. Ginsburg lead the fight against gender discrimination, winning six landmark legal cases before the Supreme Court. In On the Basis of Sex we learn more about the personal prejudice that punctuated her life and inspired her to fight for the rights of all women.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

The level of craft that goes into making some of the world's best sushi becomes almost ASMR porn in this charming documentary about Jiro, the 94-year-old owner of a three-Michelin star restaurant in a Tokyo subway station. Telling the story of the pressure his two sons face in trying to live up to his name and continue the family business, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a moving family portrait which unpacks the customs of cooking in Japan.

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Milk

The first openly gay man to be voted into public office in America, activist and politician Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 before being tragically killed a year later. This Gus Van Sant-directed film follows the events which lead to his election after several failed attempts, all set against the backdrop of rife homophobia across the country. Sean Penn is excellent as Milk, capturing the tireless energy it took for him to live his life as himself and fight for a more tolerant society.

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Brooklyn

Saoirse Ronan captures the loneliness of being homesick in a strange city in this adaptation of Colm Tóibín's novel of the same name. Ronan plays Eilis, an Irish girl who sets sail for Fifties Brooklyn where, after a rocky start, she falls in love and sheds her past. When she must return to Ireland after tragedy strikes she finds herself torn between past and present; seasick from being pulled between the two. As well as Ronan's commanding performance Domhnall Gleeson is excellent as her love interest and the affecting script is adapted by Nick Hornby.

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Harmonium

Kōji Fukada's tense drama won the Un Certain Regard prize when it showed at Cannes Film Festival in 2016, the film telling the story of a metalworker who along with his quiet family, lives a life of dull suburban domesticity. When he hires an old acquaintance and ex-con to work alongside him he begins to untangle his life and drag skeletons out of the closet, the story building into an unbearable climax. There are parallels with Bong Joon Ho's Parasite in the way that it builds tension until it bursts from the screen and its portrait of a family home and the secrets it holds. It's also a 'foreign language' film which more than deserves the attention of a global stage.

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An Education

The relationship between a teenage girl and older man in post-war suburban London at first appears to be a heartwarming romance in this film based on a memoir of the same name by British journalist Lynn Barber. But the more Jenny (a brilliant Carey Mulligan) learns about the impressive David (Peter Sarsgaard) the more she becomes out of her depth and realises what she has given up for him.

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A Bigger Splash

Luca Guadagnino, the director behind Call Me By Your Name, here recounts another stylish summer in Italy. This time the story focuses on a musician (Tilda Swinton) who receives an unexpected visit from an ex (Ralph Fiennes) and his seductive daughter (Dakota Johnson) while on holiday with her boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts). Alluring and intense, Guadagnino creates a melting pot of emotion which burns under the Sicilian sun.

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The Departed

Scorsese's gangster epic remains as taut and carefully crafted as when released in 2006, a testament to the strong performances from Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. The film follows two parallel cat-and-mouse games as an undercover agent and spy both try to keep their identities hidden while secretly helping out the other side. A film packed with hidden Easter eggs, Scorsese's depiction of a rotten system and the shifting loyalties it produces grips until the end.

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Mad Max: Fury Road

The fourth adventure in the Max Max film series from director George Miller sees Max (Tom Hardy) team up with warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) In a high-octane race to overthrow a tyrannical authority who controls the water of the land. Exhilarating from start to finish and with action sequences that blow up so wildly it makes the Fast and the Furious franchise look like Robot Wars, Mad Max: Fury Road is an action film in a league of its own.

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The Salesman

Emad and Rana are a young couple living in Tehran, Iran, who are forced to move out of their apartment, and the history of their new building by chance brings a violent encounter to their doorstep which threatens to undo them. The recipient of two awards at Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award, The Salesman simmers with a tension that always feels about to boil over.

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The Imitation Game

The story of how mathematician Alan Turing saved the country with a code-breaking computer during the darkest hours of World War II is a chapter in British history that is sadly unknown to so many. Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent as Turing in this 2014 retelling of his work at Bletchley Park, with a strong ensemble cast that includes Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode.

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Appropriate Behaviour

Desiree Akhavan directs and stars in this indie drama about an Iranian-American living in Brooklyn who is struggling to come to terms with breaking up with her girlfriend and keeping her bisexuality hidden from her family. Like New York hipster dramas Tiny Furniture and Frances Ha, Appropriate Behaviour mixes heart and humour effortlessly while painting a modern picture of sexuality.

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The Farewell

Director Lulu Wang first shared the story of her grandmother's terminal cancer diagnosis, and how the family kept it a secret from grandma “Nai Nai”, on an episode of the podcast, This American Life. In this dramatisation of the story, Billie (a never-better Awkwafina) returns to see her Nai Nai in Changchun, China, her farewell disguised as the wedding of a cousin in a film which asks questions about grief and family and sees cultures clash over the best way to say goodbye.

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Cold War

Nominated for the best foreign language film Academy Award in the year that Roma took the prize, this beautiful black and white masterpiece from Polish filmmaker Paweł Pawlikowski is a love story set against the backdrop of Cold War- era Europe. The story follows a music director (Tomasz Kot) and his pupil (Joanna Kulig) across borders and many years as they are forced apart and pulled back together again.

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If Beale Street Could Talk

Moonlight writer and director Barry Jenkins adapts this love story set in Seventies Harlem from James Baldwin's novel of the same name. In it Trish (Kiki Layne) fights to free her falsely accused husband (Stephan James) from prison before the birth of their child. As with Jenkins’ previous film, some of the scenes which say the most are also the most silent, whether it is the couple staring wordlessly at each other through prison glass, or gazing into the other’s eyes in the dusk-light of Harlem. There's also a sublime score from Nicholas Britell whose music makes so many scenes ache with longing.

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Manchester by the Sea

Sometimes there are no happy endings and life keeps trudging on even after a tragedy that feels as though it should end the world. This is what Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is faced with after being named guardian to his teenage nephew, Patrick, and forced to return to his hometown and confront his past. Michelle Williams give a sublime performance as Lee's ex-wife Randi and Lucas Hedges is also brilliant as the awkward but endearing Patrick.

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Carol

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara play two women who meet at the counter of a department store in Fifties Manhattan, their tryst sparking a forbidden romance which they cannot resist. Directed by Todd Haynes and adapted from Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt, Carol is visually stunning and meters out its drama slowly. Both leads give measured yet moving performances and manage to conjure a love story which asks questions about sin and sexuality while revelling in the female gaze.

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Hustlers

Jennifer Lopez may have never got her Academy Award nomination for Lorene Scafaria's excellent 2019 film, but this strobe-lit dive into the strip clubs and shopping mall excesses of pre-crash New York City shines without a gold statue. Based on a New York Magazine article about strippers who drugged and robbed their clients when they stopped spending, Hustlers is a slick, funny and compelling look at bending the rules when the system is broken.

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The Report

Long-time Steven Soderbergh screenwriter Scott Z Burns makes his directing debut in the compelling true story of Senate staffer Daniel J Jones, the man who forensically compiled a report into CIA Detention and Interrogation Program, a scheme which saw the brutal torture of suspects in the wake of 9/11. Adam Driver is excellent as Jones, a character who makes the case for speaking truth to power even at extreme personal cost.

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Silence

Martin Scorsese leaves the gangster genre briefly for this 2016 adaptation of the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō. In it two Jesuit priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrupe (Adam Driver), travel to japan during the 1640s in search of an older mentor named Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). Though it was a film which polarised viewers at the time, Silence is a nerve-wracking, intense and at time almost entirely still film which demands your attention.

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The Founder

The fable of how the McDonald's golden arches became as ubiquitous as Church crosses is a tale which feels as American as they come. Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, a struggling salesman who gets a taste of pure joy via a burger in California, deciding on tasting it to turn it into the biggest restaurant business in the world.

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Green Book

Mahershala Ali picked up his second Oscars in three years for the film which also went on to win the 'Best Picture' Oscar in 2019. Green Book follows the real story of a tour of the deep south which Jamaican-American pianist Don Shirley (Ali) took with his driver, former bouncer Tony "Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) in the 1960s. Both Ali and Mortensen's performances balance comedy and candour and have an on-screen chemistry and warmth with each other that carries the film.

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The Squid and the Whale

Director Noah Baumbach is masterful at telling stories of families breaking down and this 2005 film about a couple divorcing feels like a prequel to his semi-autobiographical Academy Award-winning drama Marriage Story. It follows The Berkmans, a dysfunctional family coping with divorce as the children bear the brunt of their parents separation, with Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney playing the parents, and Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline as their two sons.

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Beautiful Boy

Chronicling a boy's descent into meth addiction and the repeated relapses that follow, Beautiful Boy is told through the eyes of David (Steve Carell), a father who watches his son, Nic (Timothée Chalamet) gradually be consumed by the drug. A role in which Chalamet cements his status as one of the most exciting actors of the moment after his Oscar-nominated performance in Call Me By Your Name.

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Requiem for a Dream

Darren Aronofsky's look at lonely people searching for happiness is just as arresting now as when it was released in 2000. The film follows four strangers, all linked by the relationship between the lonely widow Sara Goldfarb and her sweet but sad son Harry, plunging into a desperate and unsettling end for each of them.

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Vice

Coming from dark comedy expert Adam McKay (The Big Short), Vice stars Christian Bale as former VP Dick Cheney, Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld. The biopic charts Cheney's ascent from the early days of the Nixon White House to becoming 'the most powerful Vice President in history'.

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Wild Rose

Irish actress Jessie Buckley earned a Bafta for her turn in this superb musical about an aspiring country singer and single mother from Glasgow who is released from prison after serving a drug smuggling charge. When given the chance to pursue her musical ambitions she travels to Nashville, Tennessee on a journey that is more complicated, and ultimately uplifting, than a standard Dream Big fairytale.

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Room


Based on Emma Donoghue's harrowing novel of the same name, Brie Larson plays a kidnapped mother who is held captive in a tiny room with her young son Jack. The film does justice to the book by showing the perspective of Jack in this strange world, one where his friend is a lamp and the stranger that comes into 'room' is hidden away from him. A difficult but enormously powerful watch.

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The Prestige

A Chistopher Nolan classic, The Prestige sees the director bending time as he did in blockbusters Inception and Tenet. Here his use of trickery and illusion is even clearer, with the plot focusing on a rivalry between two magicians following a tragic incident which sees them push each other to darker depths. As well as long serving Nolan cast members like Christian Bale and Michael Caine, there's also Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman and even David Bowie on the bill here.

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Best comedy movies on Amazon Prime UK

The Personal History of David Copperfield

The whimsical literary adaptation trend, which has seen recent remakes of classics such as Little Women and Emma, is perhaps best seen in Armando Iannucci's mischievous adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel. Turning conventions of the story on their head, the film begins with Copperfield witnessing his own birth in a brilliantly weird scene. Things continue in a similarly topsy-turvy fashion, with satirists and leading comics like Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi and Tilda Swinton adding a rich sense of theatricality and absurdity to the story. Dev Patel is excellent as Copperfield, powerfully making the point that whiteness is not intrinsic to telling these classic tales.

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The Big Sick

Arguably one of the great romantic comedies of the last decade, this Academy Award-nominated film is based on the real-life romance between Pakistani-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his partner Emily, played in the film by Zoe Kazan. Balancing laugh-out-loud moments and sucker-punch moments of sadness as Emily's health deteriorates, The Big Sick is a story that stays with you.

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Animals

Based on Emma Jane Unsworth's book of the same name, this hedonistic look at the drug and drink-fuelled nights that seep from our late twenties to our early thirties are the backdrop for this funny romp. Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat play best friends whose wild nights are interrupted when one of them falls in love, their story showing how friendship can be the real love story of our lives in the same vein as works like Girls and Fleabag.

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Booksmart

Actress Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut in this sharp comedy about two friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) who reach the end of their time in school to realise they have traded their social lives for academic prowess. A Superbad remix for a more woke era, Booksmart delivers laughs and heart as well as nailing Gen Z in a way that feels fresh.

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Lost in Translation

Sofia Coppola's 2003 homage to Japan captures the vivid feeling of finding yourself in vast, bright Tokyo as a lonely foreigner. It follows the unlikely friendship between a travelling actor and a college graduate, played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, as they find themselves jet-lagged and alone in the same towering hotel. Whether it is the sky-high views from the karaoke booth or the strange restaurant menu where the pictures all look the same, Lost In Translation captures the brilliant strangeness of travel.

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Four Lions

Ten years since its release and it's clear just how ahead of its time Chris Morris' satirical dark comedy about a group of terrorists was. The film follows four inept would-be terrorists from Sheffield who hatch a plan to become suicide bombers and, with poor results, attempt to take down the London Marathon in ridiculous costumes. Four Lions has the nerve to poke fun at terrorists but never does so purely to shock us, the results is a classic British comedy which landed star Riz Ahmed on the map.

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Shaun of the Dead

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's zombie spoof of movies like Dawn of the Dead has earned its place in British cinema history, with so many lines from the script still repeated to this day. In it Pegg plays deadbeat tech salesman Shaun who finds himself thrown into disaster after his girlfriend dumps him and zombies take over London. Alongside his equally morose best friend Ed (Nick Frost) they assemble an unenviable team to fight off the threat. Their initial plan, of going to the Winchester and "waiting for this all to blow over", remains a key part of British lexicon for dealing with a disaster.

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How To Build a Girl

Caitlin Moran's childhood in Wolverhampton and early years as a music journalist in London are relived in this adaptation of her 2014 novel of the same name. Ladybird and Booksmart's Beanie Feldstein offers up another brilliant female coming-of-age story, this time as lead Johanna Morrigan, a teenage recluse from a large, mad family who wants to escape the Midlands and forge a path as a rock critic, despite knowing nothing about the genre. Feldstein's accent might be a little off the mark, but the story here is moving and entertaining nonetheless.

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Knives Out

Rian Johnson's meticulously crafted whodunnit features an unexpectedly brilliant comedic performance from Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc, as well as an an introduction to Ana de Armas, his (now distant) future co-star in No Time To Die. Despite being criminally (boom boom!) overlooked for award nominations, this tightly plotted and hilarious detective story is as strong as its excellent cast (Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, and many more) would suggest.

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Happy-Go-Lucky

Academy award-winner Sally Hawkins is brilliant in this endearing film about zany but happy-go-lucky schoolteacher Poppy and the eccentricities of her life. From veteran director Mike Leigh, the auteur behind films such as Abigail's Party and Secrets & Lies, here he turns his observant eye on the quotidian details of one woman's world to create a portrait that feels moving and real, and went on to win several awards in 2008.

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Taika Waititi's 2016 film is about the New Zealand tradition of 'going bush' and becoming connected to nature by being off-grid. In it Sam Neill and Julian Dennison play Uncle Hector and Ricky Baker who flee home after becoming the subject of a manhunt. The story is a bizarre but hilarious story about coming-of-age tale with a father and son connection at the heart of it.

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Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Almost 15 years after terrorising America, Kazakh television presenter Borat Sagdiyev is back to do it all over again. His 2020 update finds him returning to America in the run up to the Presidential election, and having to don disguises thanks to how recognisable he has become around the world. Again, Borat stages outrageous provocations and stunts in a shockumentary which exposes the anti-semitism, racism and misogyny rife across America, as well as showing the sad reluctance of anyone to step in. Of course, we knew all this already, but it's still a worthwhile reminder of how far things have slipped.

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The Gentlemen

Guy Ritchie is back being extremely Guy Ritchie in this crime caper which is heavy on guns and f-bombs. Told in flashbacks over the course of a very long dinner, with twist and turns a plenty, the story is about super rich weed dealer Mickey Pearson (an extremely cool Matthew McConaughey) whose moves to get out the game spark gang warfare. Special mention goes to Hugh Grant who, like McConaughey is now in the renaissance of his career, and plays a brilliantly slippery and unpleasant villain.

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Best horror movies on Amazon Prime UK

Midsommar

Florence Pugh's breakout role comes in this story of a couple who attend a Swedish midsummer festival which turns truly horrifying at the hands of a pagan cult. From the twisted mind of Hereditary director Ari Aster, Midsommar is one of the best products of the horror boom of recent years, using the genre as a foil for weighty ideas about misogyny, grief and betrayal.

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The Shining

Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's seminal horror novel features a tour-de-force performance from Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, a crazed writer who spends a winter at the Overlook Hotel with his wife and son. King might have never warmed to the film but its motifs, from the winding maze to the spooky twin girls in the hallway, and even the geometric carpets, have gone on to influence horror ever since.

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The Cabin in the Woods

Joss Whedon is the screenwriter behind this subversive film which cleverly dismantles all of the clichés within the horror genre. What begins as a classic doomed tale where teenagers take a trip into the woods turns into a maze of different tropes, referencing specific authors, films and conventions of the genre so that the whole thing feels packed with Easter eggs for horror fans.

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Hostel

Eli Roth's torture porn progenitor has a simple set-up – a pair of American backpackers stumble upon a group of psychopathic weirdos, who proceed to do weird, psychopathic things to them – but manages to be smarter than the rest of your Saw spin-offs courtesy of a dust of Tarantino script magic.

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American Psycho

Cinema's most stylish serial killer remains a tough watch, because despite Patrick Bateman's depravity, there's still a little bit of you that wants those abs, and that business card, and a reservation at Dorsia. Brutal though it is, Mary Hannon's direction – which leans as much into satire as scares – and Christian Bale's committed performance imbue American Psycho with an intelligence that tips it into 'classic' category.

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