While there’s nothing quite like seeing a movie together at the ANU Film Group, we’ve put together this list of recommended films to keep our members entertained and connected from the comfort and safety of your own homes. Some are old favourites that we’ve screened before, while others are hidden gems you may not have heard of yet.
We’ve done our best to source these films from free (and legal) streaming platforms, and have noted where fees may apply for viewing on certain services.
This list will be updated on a weekly basis – so if you have any suggestions you’d like to share, please send them through to email@example.com along with why you think the film should be seen and details on where the film can be found.
Happy viewing, and feel free to share and discuss these films with your friends, family and loved ones!
Dissatisfied with her life, a Staten Island kindergarten teacher (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is thrilled to discover that one of her five-year-old students is a prodigy. She becomes fascinated with the boy and sets out to nurture his talent, no matter what the cost, in this provocative and complex character study.
A socially-awkward British teenager (Asa Butterfield) who finds comfort in numbers is taken under the wing of an unconventional teacher (Rafe Spall), who helps him to find new confidence and eventually land a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad. Based on a true story.
At a Montréal public school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. He sets out to help his students deal with their grief through sensitivity and humour, despite his own hidden grief, in this award-winning and tender Canadian French-language drama.
An out-of-work engineer (Sidney Poitier) takes up a temporary teaching job at a high school in London's East End. Unaffected by rowdy students, he implements his own brand of classroom discipline by attempting to teach them to treat each other with respect, in this classic British drama that deals with social and racial issues.
An unorthodox Brooklyn middle-school history teacher (Ryan Gosling) forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she catches him snorting cocaine in the locker room. As he struggles with his addiction, he tries to act as a mentor to the girl, in this unsentimental, Oscar-nominated indie drama.
A lonely housewife hopes to find the special recipe that will rekindle her marriage. However, when the hot lunches intended for her husband accidentally end up with a curmudgeonly widower, an unusual and poignant friendship begins. Set in Mumbai, this Hindi romantic drama has received widespread critical acclaim.
One of Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's earliest – and best – films, this family drama follows a widowed and emotionally-repressed chef who discovers that the only way he can communicate with his three headstrong daughters is via the elaborate dinners he cooks for them every Sunday. Funny, poignant and delicious.
Food and love collide in this German romantic-comedy about a workaholic chef who must cope with various changes in her professional and personal lives, including a rivalry with her restaurant's brash new Italian sous-chef. It received the Hollywood remake treatment in 2007 as No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Young Nigel Slater (Freddie Highmore) has big culinary aspirations loves his mother, despite toast being the only thing she can cook in the kitchen. When she dies young and his father remarries, Nigel finds himself competing with his stepmother, cooking their way into his father's heart in this 1960s-set British true story.
After the death of his wife, a Chinese chef travels with his young son to a remote village in Finland to seek out an old friend. When he is offered accomodation by a cafe owner, he helps out in the kitchen and introduces the delights of Chinese cuisine to the locals, allowing these vastly different cultures to connect in this dramedy.
One of the casualties of our Spring 2021 programme. In 2017, David Gulpilil was diagnosed with lung cancer and given six months to live but defied the odds to tell one last story: his own. This intimate documentary charts his extraordinary life as an actor, dancer, singer, painter and Aboriginal elder.
A crack team of journalists at a Romanian newspaper are investigating a 2015 nightclub fire when they uncover unimaginable mass corruption within their local health system that led to the death of innocent citizens. Nominated for Best International Film and Best Documentary Feature at the 2021 Oscars.
After Norwegian police apprehend the thief that stole two of Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova's most valuable paintings from an Oslo gallery, she finds herself developing an unlikely and unusual friendship with the thief. A compelling and surprisingly emotional portrait of compassion and forgiveness.
In 1974, French tightrope walker Philippe Petit sets out to perform a daring – but illegal – high-wire routine between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City. Using actual footage, this stunning, suspenseful account was adapted as The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2015.
Director Agnès Varda and photographer/artist JR travel around the villages of France meeting anonymous locals, learning their stories and immortalising them in gigantic portraits in this charming and powerful cross-generational portrait of life in rural France. Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature in 2018.
A landmark of the 1970s counterculture movement which kickstarted a new era of Hollywood filmmaking, this iconic road trip film stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as two drug-dealing hippy bikers who travel across America in search of spiritual truth. Jack Nicholson is a standout in an early supporting role.
An elderly WWII veteran wants to make amends with his estranged brother, who has just suffered a stroke. But because his legs and eyes are too impaired to get an actual driver's licence, he sets off on the nearly-400 km journey on his lawnmower. Based on an astonishing true story and directed by none other than David Lynch.
When one of their group dies, four diehard AC/DC fans embark on a road trip from Sydney to Freemantle to fulfil a promise to have his remains scattered next to the grave of the band's late frontman, Bon Scott. A heartfelt Aussie comedy about friendship and fandom, with Sam Worthington and Damon Gameau in early roles.
An ageing man believes he has won a million dollar sweepstakes prize, and sets out on a long journey to Nebraska to claim his winnings accompanied by his sceptical adult son. What follows is a charming reflection on life and family, shot in beautiful black-and-white and nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture.
A woman embarks on quest to rescue her Tour de France cyclist grandson after he is kidnapped by the French mafia. She is joined on her madcap journey by three elderly women who were a once-renowned jazz trio in the 1930s and an overweight dog, in this wonderfully odd, slightly surreal, double Oscar-nominated animated film.
Amy and Molly are best friends who have followed the rules all their lives. Realising that their less studious classmates have also gotten into prestigious universities, they set out to make up for four years of fun in one night. This directorial debut from Olivia Wilde put a fresh spin on the coming-of-age comedy.
This year's Oscar winner for Best International Film is an equally tragic and comedic in its look at midlife crises. In it, four Copenhagen teachers struggling with their boring lives decide to test a theory that their lives can be improved by maintaining a constant level of intoxication throughout the day.
After he is accused of a decades-old murder, an impulsive television producer (Paul Giamatti) looks back at the many successes and failures – and marriages – throughout his eventful life. A very funny and unexpectedly poignant look at the twists and turns of life, with a great cast headed up by Giamatti.
A 18-year-old British Indian girl is forbidden by her parents from playing soccer, but decides to join a local women's team anyway in this breakout sports comedy hit that not only put Keira Knightley on the map, but also highlighted cultural differences on screen in a genuinely feel-good and inspirational way.
A Scrabble-loving father (Bill Nighy) has spent years searching for his missing son, who stormed out many years ago over a game gone wrong. When the possibility arises that his son may have been located, he sets out to solve the mystery once and for all in this offbeat, distinctive comedy that is worth a play.
When the U.S. government charges a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters with conspiracy, the stage is set for a controversial and explosive legal battle that gets the whole world watching. Directed by Aaron Sorkin and with a terrific ensemble cast, this is a resonant look back at a turbulent – and timely – period of American history.
An idealistic staffer (Ryan Gosling) working for a promising presidential candidate (George Clooney) has his world turned upside down when the campaign is rocked by corruption and scandal. This acclaimed, Oscar-nominated political thriller may be fictional but that doesn't stop it from hitting hard, thanks to its outstanding cast of players.
In 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy – brother of John and Bobby – is embroiled in scandal after a fatal car accident claims the life of a young female campaign strategist. The incident forever alters his political legacy and ultimately changes the course of presidential history in this stirring look at an American political dynasty.
In 2005, a New Jersey police detective (Julianne Moore) diagnosed with terminal lung cancer is denied her request to have her pension benefits transferred to her domestic partner (Ellen Page), leading to a landmark civil rights battle for equality against an establishment that refuses to recognise their relationship.
Bet you didn't expect to see this on the list – but Arnie's sci-fi thriller has turned out to be an all-too-prescient predictor of the state of America in 2020. Set in a dystopian United States decimated by economic collapse, the film follows a wrongly convicted man who gets a shot at freedom by participating in a deadly TV game show.
One of the best Aussie horror films ever made, Jennifer Kent's debut follows a single mother and her young child as they are terrorised by a monster from a children's book. A terrifying and extraordinary exercise in less-is-more horror filmmaking, it was among the most acclaimed films of 2014, even winning the AACTA award for Best Film.
A group of friends fall victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths in the film that set a new gold standard for slasher horror films. The original 1974 debut of Leatherface was so violent and controversial that it was infamously banned in many countries – including here in Australia, where it was refused classification until 1984.
If you like a bit of fun, sci-fi action with your scares, look no further than this body horror thriller from Leigh Whannell (Saw, The Invisible Man). In it, a technophobe is implanted with a revolutionary A.I. chip that allows him to walk again after a brutal mugging. But he soon discovers that the chip do much more than help him walk...
A brilliantly original Iranian mash-up of Spaghetti Western/Vampire Horror/Teen Romance. Shot in strikingly stylish black-and-white, it follows a skateboarding teenage vampire who stalks the residents of a worn-down city, preying on men who disrespect women – until she meets a boy who changes her perspective on (after)life.
A landmark of the psychological horror genre, this Oscar-winning classic follows a young woman (Mia Farrow) who moves into a New York apartment with her husband. When she becomes pregnant, she finds herself increasingly isolated from the world and her friends. But is there a conspiracy at play, or is she being paranoid?
In a remote valley in Iceland, two brothers who haven't spoken to each other in 40 years must put aside their differences to save their ancestral sheep stock from a deadly virus. A terrific, touching and offbeat Icelandic comedy now with its very own Aussie remake starring Sam Neill and Michael Caton, in cinemas this month.
15-year-old Charley gets a summer job working for a horse trainer where he befriends an ageing racehorse named Lean on Pete. When both of their futures are thrown into doubt, Charley and Pete embark on an odyssey in search of a new home in this beautiful, aching portrayal of a young man's coming of age.
The first Singaporean film to ever screen at the Sundance Film Festival, this drama follows a disillusioned man who serendipitously bumps into a circus elephant from his past on the streets of Bangkok. Together, they embark on a charming and unforgettable journey across Thailand in search of the rural farm where they grew up together.
In the original Aussie family classic, a lonely boy living with his father on the South Australian coast befriends an Aboriginal loner as they bond over the care of three orphaned pelican chicks. Winner of Best Film at the AFI awards in 1976, the story of the beloved Mr. Percival continues to delight audiences more than 40 years on.
This British drama is a heartwarming, feel-good tale based on the true story of a recovering drug addict living on the streets of London whose world is transformed when he encounters a stray ginger cat – who is played with scene-stealing aplomb by the real-life Bob the Cat.
When her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) suddenly vanishes overnight, rebellious teenager Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) sets off to find her – uncovering a dangerous conspiracy and outwitting her famous detective brother (Henry Cavill) along the way in this fun, effervescent new take on the world of Sherlock Holmes.
One of acclaimed French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve's (Sicario, Arrival) earlier films, this Oscar-nominated thriller follows a pair of twins who travel to the Middle East to fulfil their mother's last wishes and begin to unravel their family's mysterious history. An unforgettable and devastating masterwork.
In 1937, a Los Angeles private eye (Jack Nicholson) is hired by a woman to investigate her husband's infidelity. But the seemingly routine investigation soon becomes anything but, as he uncovers a tangled trail of corruption, deceit and secrets in this classic noir mystery that is undoubtedly one of the most iconic of the genre.
A doctor mourning the death of his wife eight years earlier is implicated as a serial killer when the police uncover two bodies near his home. Things take a turn for the unexpected, however, when he receives a video showing his wife alive and well, in this intense, award-winning French whodunit packed with twists and turns.
A young, guilt-ridden Belgian doctor becomes obsessed with the case of a dead, unidentified woman after learning that she had tragically died shortly after having been turned away from her clinic the night before. This mystery-thriller from The Dardenne Brothers is poignant, complex and thought-provoking.
In 1940s Poland, against the backdrop of the Cold War, two people from fatefully mismatched backgrounds enter into an impossible romance under impossible circumstances. Nominated for three Oscars, including for its gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, this passionate Polish masterpiece is a love story for the ages.
In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving are arrested and banished from their home state of Virginia for violating its laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Determined to return to their roots and family, they take their case to the Supreme Court. This romantic drama has the bonus of being based on a powerful, if painful, true story.
A British exchange student falls in love with an American, only to be separated from him when she is denied re-entry into the United States for violating the terms of her visa, forcing them to confront the difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship in the face of ever-changing lives. An intimate and affecting look at young love.
A suburban housewife's conventional life becomes increasingly complicated following a chance meeting at a railway station with a stranger that quickly develops into something more. Consistently ranked among the best British films ever made, David Lean's romantic drama remains one of cinema's greatest forbidden love stories.
Two cowboys in the American West enter into a forbidden romantic relationship as their separate lives evolve and intertwine over the years. A landmark in LGBT cinema, Ang Lee's drama was widely acclaimed for its heartbreaking universality, aided by beautiful performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger.
One of Law's very first roles was in Andrew Niccol's terrific, thought-provoking sci-fi film, alongside Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Set in a future society driven by eugenics where your genes dictate your social standing, Law plays a former swimmer who is paralysed after being hit by a car – but whose DNA is otherwise perfect.
In his breakout, star-making role, Law stars as a rich playboy who attracts the attention of a young, talented underachiever (Matt Damon) yearning for a better life. Law received his first Oscar nomination for his part amongst the terrific, all-star ensemble cast of director Anthony Minghella's dark and intelligent thriller.
In the future, a childlike android (Haley Joel Osment) longs to become a real boy and is assisted on his quest by a robot prostitute named Gigolo Joe, played with glee by Law. Steven Spielberg's sci-fi drama was the realisation of an idea initially developed by Stanley Kubrick, and the result is a fascinating amalgamation of styles and ideas.
Now considered a cult classic, this retro sci-fi action adventure stars Law as an Air Force captain protecting New York City from giant flying robots in this visually-stunning tribute to pulpy genre classics. One of the first films to experiment blending actors with wholly CG backdrops, it was also one of six films Law appeared in that year!
This underseen and underrated thriller stars Law as a submarine captain who risks everything in search of a sunken U-boat carrying a cargo of Nazi gold. Alongside great character actors like Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy, Law shines as the conflict-ridden leader of a motley crew whose greed quickly gets the better of them.
A PTSD-suffering war veteran (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter have been living off the grid in an Oregon forest for years – until one small mistake derails their idyllic existence. This American indie is a deep and affecting story of love and survival, and one of the rare films to hold a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating from critics.
On the fringes of Tokyo, a dysfunctional family of outsiders rely on shoplifting to survive. When the family's patriarch comes across a young girl who doesn't seem to have anywhere to go, he takes her under their wing – to unexpected outcomes for the whole family – in this heartfelt, Palme d'Or-winning Japanese drama.
Ryan O'Neal stars alongside his real-life daughter, Tatum, in this American road trip dramedy set during the Great Depression which follows a con man who forges an unlikely partnership with a young girl. The younger O'Neal even won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role, making her the youngest competitive winner ever at age 10.
When his teenage daughter is assaulted and her ability to sit her final exams is jeopardised, a doctor is given the option to save his daughter's future – but at the risk of compromising everything he, as a father, has taught her. This highly acclaimed Romanian drama is a powerful look at the cost of being a parent.
This French remake of the hit 2013 Mexican film Instructions Not Included follows a bachelor (Omar Sy) whose high-flying life is interrupted one day when an old flame shows up at his door and leaves their infant daughter in his sole care. With no clue on how to raise a child, he is forced to step up and be a father.
An environmental activist will do whatever it takes to protect the beautiful Icelandic countryside she calls home. But when she discovers that her dream to adopt a child is about to be realised, she must choose between being a saviour or becoming a mother in this quirky and satisfying Icelandic-Ukrainian comedy-drama.
Veteran French actress Isabelle Huppert delivers a formidable, Oscar-nominated performance here as a businesswoman whose world is upended when she is raped in her own home – and then takes it upon herself to track down her assailant. An electrifying and typically provocative film from director Paul Verhoeven.
Natalie Portman stars as the titular heroine in this revisionist take on the Western, in which a woman whose husband is murdered decides to turn the tables on the outlaw gang that killed him. Far from your typical damsel in distress, this pulpy revenge thriller proves that women can more than hold their own in the Old West.
A Belgian mother of two (Marion Cottilard) discovers that her workmates have opted to accept a bonus in exchange for her dismissal – and spends the weekend trying to convince them to reverse their decision. Featuring a heartwrenching performance from Cotillard, who received an Oscar nomination for her work here.
A former Olympic-class skier (Jessica Chastain) becomes involved in the running of a Los Angeles underground poker empire involving Hollywood celebrities, athletes, business tycoons and the Russian mob – which eventually attracts the attention of FBI investigators. Based on an incredible and fascinating true story.
Meryl Streep has been nominated for an acting Oscar a record 21 times to date, winning three times, most recently for playing Margaret Thatcher in 2012. Looking at the early years of the UK's first-ever female Prime Minister, the film itself was relatively straightforward, but Streep's performance was one of her best.
Any Oscar list featuring Meryl Streep would be remiss not to also include Daniel Day-Lewis, the only person to have won Best Actor three times. This film earned him his first, for playing Irishman Christy Brown, who despite only being able to control his left foot due to cerebral palsy, lived a remarkable life as a writer and artist.
Marion Cottilard made history when she became the first person to win an acting Oscar for a French-language performance – and what a performance it was. Intensely acclaimed, her virtuoso turn as French singer Édith Piaf was ferocious and mesmerising, elevating the decades-spanning biopic to a whole other level.
Adrien Brody also made history when he became the youngest person to win the Best Actor Oscar at the age of just 29. Based on the memoir by Wladyslaw Szpilman, this raw and moving film followed the Polish-Jewish musician as he struggled to survive World War II amidst the ruins of Nazi-occupied Warsaw.
After trying so hard for what seemed like a very long time, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar for playing frontiersman Hugh Glass in director Alejandro González Iñárritu's epic period drama. Both the film and DiCaprio's committed performance are beautiful, punishing and enduring in equal measure.
Four well-off American college students attempt an audacious plot to steal a number of invaluable, rare books from the Transylvania University library – not for financial gain, but purely out of boredom. Intertwined with interviews with the real-life protagonists, this indie true crime thriller is as compelling as any blockbuster.
This iconic British caper classic stars Michael Caine in one of his most memorable roles as the cockney leader of a gang of crooks who set out to steal a shipment of gold bullion from the streets of Turin, Italy using Mini Coopers as getaway cars. The less said about the 2003 remake starring Mark Wahlberg, the better.
The most successful Thai film in history follows a straight-A student who devises a unique – and highly profitable – system of helping her classmates cheat their way to success. But the stakes are raised when she is tasked with applying her unique set of skills to an international university admissions test that takes her to Australia.
Fear not, this isn't some mindless Jason Statham action flick. Based on a scandalous true story of the 1971 Baker Street heist, the film follows a crew of unlikely misfits who attempt to pull off a lucrative job with unexpected links to the Royal family. Thoroughly entertaining and a great deal of fun, despite the bland title.
Not all heist films have to be thrillers. Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin star as diamond thieves who embroil a hapless lawyer (John Cleese) in their double-crossing schemes in this brilliant Oscar-winning comedy, which was reportedly responsible on release for causing a man to die from laughing too hard!
A Swedish border guard finds new meaning in her life after meeting a mysterious stranger. This is a film best experienced with as little knowledge as possible. All you have to know is that it is an unpredictable – and oddly timely – subversion of a laundry list of genres from Nordic noir to fantasy and even romance.
A suicidal man (Paul Dano) stranded on an island befriends a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) that washes ashore, and soon discovers that his new friend has a myriad of supernatural abilities which may be able to help him get home. This comedy-drama is as bizarre as it sounds but also rewardingly and refreshingly original.
A group of teenagers spend the weekend at a deserted cabin, but soon fall victim to horrors lurking in the woods. Sure, this may sound like your typical horror/slasher film – but it is so, so much more. Again, the less said, the better but know that you are in for an astonishingly clever film that turns the genre on its head.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in this psychological thriller ostensibly about a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home – but the metaphorical (and violent) nature of Darren Aronofsky's film generated much confusion and discussion upon release. Not for the faint of heart.
Yorgos Lanthimos may now be best known for Oscar-winning period drama The Favourite, but the Greek director's filmography is full of uniquely offbeat cinematic treats like Dogtooth and The Lobster. This unsettling thriller about a doctor whose life is turned upside down by a teenage boy is an equally acquired taste.
Don't let the zombies scare you off! It may be about an undead outbreak aboard a train, but there's a reason this became one of the most successful South Korean blockbusters of all time. This is a highly original and entertaining cracker of a film, with spectacular action, social commentary, pathos and humour by the trainload.
One of the most acclaimed films of 2018, this South Korean adaptation of a Haruki Murakmi short story chronicles the tense relationship that between an aspiring novelist, his childhood friend, and a wealthy businessman. The less you know about this unforgettable psychological thriller, the better...
Before Parasite and Snowpiercer, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho bent genres by combining dark humour and social satire within the context of a riveting monster movie. When a monster emerges from a local river and kidnaps a food vendor's daughter, it's up to him and his highly dysfunctional family to rescue her.
Based on a true story, this powerful drama tells the story of ten Korean women who were dragged away from their homes and forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during WWII. Exploring their plight through the courts, it presents an overlooked chapter of South Korean history that will no doubt tug at your heart strings.
This solid, stylish South Korean remake of Hong Kong director Johnnie To's 2012 film Drug War has plenty to keep you hooked. In it, a police detective seeks out the help of a gang member to finally catch the mysterious head of Asia's biggest drug cartel. An intense and intelligent thriller that would put Hollywood to shame.
Director Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) delivers a new take on an Australian legend with this fictionalised, revisionist account of the life of Ned Kelly (1917's George MacKay) and his outlaw gang as they violently rebel against authorities in the 1870s. A terrific cast and a bold, stylish vision – just don't expect a history lesson.
In 1825, a young convict (newcomer Ainsling Franciosi) seeks revenge against a British soldier (Sam Claflin) for a terrible act he committed against her family. Winner of six AACTA Awards, director Jennifer Kent's (The Babadook) sophomore feature bravely depicts the brutality of colonial Tasmania. Not for the faint of heart!
After a white lie spirals out of control, the eldest son (Osamah Sami) of a Muslim cleric must follow through with an arranged marriage – even though he's madly in love with the girl of his dreams. This offbeat rom-com shines the spotlight on Australia's migrant community, made even sweeter by its basis in writer-star Sami's own life.
Indigenous detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) arrives in the Outback town of Goldstone to investigate a missing person, but soon uncovers a web of crime and corruption in this acclaimed Aussie noir thriller with plenty to say. For the complete story, be sure to check out 2013's Mystery Road as well as the ABC spin-off series.
This Australian coming-of-age drama centres on a teenage girl dealing with her mother transitioning to become a man over the course of a year. Director Sophie Hyde's (Animals) debut feature was filmed each Tuesday for an actual year in suburban Adelaide with first-time actors – to frank, fearless and poignant results.
Think you've been cooped up at home for long? This stranger-than-fiction documentary tells the story of seven siblings who were confined to their New York apartment for 14 years and learnt all they know about the outside world by watching films. A fascinating and bizarre look at the power of movies, it has to be seen to be believed.
In 1940, the Ministry of Information recruits a team to produce a film about the Allied evacuation of Dunkirk, in the hopes that it will help boost the morale of the British people as WWII rages on. With an excellent cast led by Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy, this comedy-drama offers a charming slice of cinematic nostalgia.
Long overshadowed, Carol (Lake Bell) sets out to make her own voice heard by competing against her famous father, known as the king of movie trailer voiceovers. This witty, satirical comedy shines a light on an oft-overlooked (but no less engrossing) area of filmmaking – along with writer/director/star Bell's considerable talent.
This terrific coming-of-age British comedy follows two schoolboys in the 1980s who unexpectedly bond over their love of First Blood, which brought Sylvester Stallone's Rambo into the world. Joining forces, they set out to make their own action epic for a filmmaking competition – with no budget but plenty of imagination and heart.
Paul Thomas Anderson's star-studded opus may be about films of the pornographic variety but it is a dazzling look at the lives of the filmmakers as they struggle with the decline of their industry in the 1970s. Full of humour and colourful performances from the likes of Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore and, yes, even Mark Wahlberg.
This acclaimed, AACTA-winning Australian sci-fi thriller from the Sperig Brothers stars Ethan Hawke as a temporal agent on his final assignment who travels back in time in pursuit of an elusive criminal. Twisty and mind-bending but with a strong emotional punch thanks to breakout star Sarah Snook, it's not to be missed.
In this smart, heartfelt and low-fi little indie, three magazine employees head out on assignment to interview a man who has placed a classified ad in the paper seeking a companion for time travel. As they learn more about him, they begin to question whether he is just crazy or if he has actually managed to build a real time machine.
A young boy accidentally joins a band of time-travelling dwarves, as they skip through time attempting to steal treasures from different historical eras. Terry Gilliam reunites with fellow Pythons John Cleese and Michael Palin for this hit time travel fantasy that also features the likes of Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall and the late Ian Holm.
Dean is a scientist who wants nothing more than to create the perfect romantic weekend for his girlfriend. But when his plans are disrupted by her ex-boyfriend, he attempts to travel back in time and undo the damage. This terrific low-budget Aussie rom-com is an inventive, clever and bizarre rift on well-worn time travel concepts.
Released nearly two decades ago, Richard Kelly's cult classic is still just as weird and wonderful. In it, a troubled teen (Jake Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit telling him that the world will end in 28 days. Seeking answers, the teen investigates time travel in an attempt to prevent the impending apocalypse.
In 1950s New Zealand, a couple meet and fall in love – but disastrous dates, parental disapproval and family secrets all threaten to tear them apart. Their bittersweet love story is told in toe-tapping fashion with the aid of new takes on beloved songs by iconic Kiwi artists such as Crowded House, Bic Runga and The Swingers.
In this charming American indie dramedy, a widowed ex-musician (Nick Offerman) spends the summer before his daughter (Kiersey Clemons) heads off to college recording music together. When their song becomes an unexpected hit online, he is torn between fulfilling his dreams or letting his daughter find her own path.
An intensely moving portrait of a relationship, as two bluegrass musicians fall in love and dive headfirst into a sweeping romance, before being hit by an unexpected tragedy that tests everything they know. This Oscar-nominated Belgian musical drama is intoxicating and heartbreaking – with a fantastic soundtrack to boot.
This Israeli comedy-drama was one of 2007's best received films and even became a Tony-winning stage musical a decade later. It follows eight Egyptian musicians who get stranded by mistake in a small Israeli town where they must overcome ethnic barriers in a clever, poignant exploration of cross-cultural differences.
Yes, it's another musical about relationships, but this sincere little indie is one worth seeking out. Starring Anna Kendrick in one of her best performances yet, it follows a relationship over the course of five years, as told in a non-linear narrative that alternates between the couple's beginnings in 2009 and their eventual divorce in 2014.
Kaytetye filmmaker Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah, Sweet Country) is perhaps one of Australia's best directors working today. Here, he takes an eye-opening look at the Southern Cross constellation and its significance in Indigenous culture in a mischievous yet important discussion about race, history and identity.
The landmark Mabo decision – which overturned the Terra Nullius doctrine in favour of native title recognition in Australia – is a demonstration of what can be achieved when people come together to combat injustice. Directed by Rachel Perkins, the film chronicles Eddie Mabo's highly personal campaign for Indigenous land rights.
Following The Tracker and Ten Canoes, David Gulpilil's third collaboration with Dutch-Australian director Rolf de Heer scored him the Best Actor prize at Cannes in 2013 – and for good reason. The Yolngu screen icon is extraordinary here as an Aboriginal man facing an all-too-common plight: lamenting the loss of his culture.
A evocative audio-visual journey into the life of one of Australia's most beloved musicians: Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Blind from birth, Gurrumul – aka Dr G Yunupingu – found purpose through music inspired by his community and country but struggled to strike a balance between culture and celebrity in modern Australia.
Released 65 years ago, this was the first Australian feature film to be shot in colour, and more importantly, the first to star Indigenous actors in leading roles. It tells the story of an orphaned Aboriginal girl who is taken in by a white family. As she grows up, she finds herself trapped between two cultures, but belonging to neither.
The powerful true story of Bryan Stevenson (Jordan), a Harvard law grad who dedicates his career to defending the wrongly convicted. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillan (Foxx), an African-American man sentenced to die despite all evidence pointing to his innocence – one of many victims of systemic racism.
Samuel L. Jackson narrates this essential, Oscar-nominated documentary which explores the history of racism in the United States through the writings of social activist James Baldwin. Baldwin devoted his life to putting his experience of being a Black man into words, making crucial observations on American race relations.
Set during one of the largest race riots in American history, this film recreates a racially-charged incident of police brutality that occurred at the Algiers Motel in 1967. John Boyega – one of the strongest celebrity voices at the heart of the recent movement – stars as a security guard who is unwillingly caught up in the inhumane acts.
Ava DuVernay (Selma) directs this documentary that likens the widespread mass incarceration of coloured people in America to a continuation of slavery. Named after the US constitution's 13th amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865, the Oscar-nominated film is provocative, challenging and packed with information.
Racism exists in Australia too, and it would be remiss of us not to mention Indigenous AFL footballer Adam Goodes as a confronting example of this. This acclaimed documentary focusses on the final chapter of Goodes’ playing career when he took a stand on racism and became the centre of a debate that divided the nation.
The influential debut of both Mikkelsen and director Refn (Drive, Bronson), this grisly Danish crime thriller follows a drug pusher (Bodnia) as he desperately tries to recoup a large debt after a deal gone wrong. Mikkelsen plays his dimwitted skinhead sidekick – who goes on to become the lead character in Refn's 2004 sequel.
With a bleeding tear duct and a memorable torture scene, Mikkelsen's turn as villainous banker Le Chiffre is bound to live on in the pantheon of Bond baddies. Daniel Craig's stellar back-to-basics debut as 007 also finally gave Mikkelsen international recognition, as the two men face off in a high-stakes game of poker.
The deserving recipient of a bevy of accolades – including for Best Actor – this unforgettable Danish drama stars Mikkelsen as a kindergarten teacher who is wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child at his school. The false claim sees the man become a target of mass hysteria as his town's tight-knit community turn against him.
This lavish period romance was released the same year as The Hunt and couldn't have been more different. Mikkelsen plays an 18th century royal physician whose devotion to his King and country is upended by an affair with the young Queen (Vikander). What follows is the true story of a revolution that changed Denmark forever.
In terms of one-man shows, you could do worse than spending 100 minutes with Mads in the snow. Here, he plays a man stranded after a plane crash in the Arctic circle whose makeshift livelihood is disrupted by the arrival of an unexpected visitor. Even in the absence of dialogue, Mikkelsen manages to deliver a stunning performance.
Perhaps the quintessential Cannes film, Federico Fellini's 1960 Palme d'Or winner is the extravagant tale of a jaded celebrity journalist who has just seven days in Rome to find the eponymous sweet life. It gave the world everything we associate with modern Italy – style, fashion, even paparazzo – while cementing Fellini's reputation.
Jane Campion's sensual period drama is still infamously the only Palme d'Or winner to be directed by a woman. Set in mid-19th century New Zealand, a mute pianist (Hunter) finds her loveless marriage to her new husband (Neill) falling apart when he sells her prized piano – and inadvertently her affection – to another man (Keitel).
Francis Ford Coppola filmed this 1974 Palme d'Or winner at the same time as a little sequel by the name of The Godfather Part II. In this tense thriller that remains as relevant as ever in today's techno world, a surveillance expert (Gene Hackman) faces a moral dilemma when one of his recordings appears to reveal plans for a murder.
Does any other Palme d'Or winner have as much cultural relevance as Quentin Tarantino's 1994 masterpiece? From that dance to Sam Jackson's Ezekiel speech, this postmodern crime film is undeniably iconic and forever changed expectations of what independent cinema could be. Plus, it made John Travolta cool again (for a bit).
At 196 minutes long, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s 2014 Palme d'Or winner will test your patience, but those who stick through it will be rewarded with a beautiful meditation on class inequalities in Turkey and beyond. The fable-like drama follows a Turkish landowner as he deals with conflicts from both his own family and his aggrieved tenants.
After making her feature film debut just one year earlier in Bruce Beresford's Paradise Road, Cate's performance as Elizabeth I catapulted her to international stardom. This look at the early years of the embattled monarch's reign also scored Cate her first Oscar nod, along with Best Actress wins at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs.
Within less than a decade, Cate had become one of the world's most sought-after actresses. She stars here alongside Brad Pitt as an estranged couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert – in this ensemble drama from director Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant, Birdman) about the interlocked lives of seemingly random people.
Cate delivers a tour de force performance as a Manhattan socialite who has fallen on tough times in Woody Allen's dark comedy-drama. Critics heralded the performance as one of Cate's best – and she received more than 40 awards on the way to a Best Actress Oscar, her second after winning Best Supporting Actress in 2005.
After playing one of many Bob Dylans in Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, Cate reunited with the director for this 1950s-set drama about a forbidden love affair between a woman going through a divorce and a younger department store clerk (Mara). This beautiful and intoxicating romance was one of the best films of 2015.
One of five (!) films she appeared in during 2015, this experimental feature has Cate playing no less than 13 characters as she recites famous manifestos from artists over varying time periods in contemporary scenarios. Originally designed as an art installation, this 90-minute film version is no less of a masterclass in performance.
Unbeknownst to its mortal inhabitants, Berlin is populated by invisible angels who observe the humans and listen to their thoughts – until one of the angels (Ganz) falls in love with a woman. One of the greatest German films ever made, it was remade in 1998 as City of Angels, starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan and set in Los Angeles.
A Hong Kong cop goes undercover with the Triads, while a rival gang member infiltrates the police force and rises through the ranks. Despite being remade in 2006 by Martin Scorsese as The Departed – which eventually won the Best Picture Oscar – the original remains a slickly-told crime thriller that more than holds its own.
This darkly comedic Norwegian revenge thriller was remade by the same director in 2019 as Cold Pursuit, starring Liam Neeson. Although the end result was similar, we prefer the original starring Stellan Skarsgård as a mild-mannered snow plow driver who seeks bloody vengeance against the drug dealers who killed his son.
In 1980s Stockholm, a bullied young boy begins a friendship with the peculiar girl who has just moved in next door, unaware that she is a vampire. Beautiful and unexpectedly intelligent, the Swedish original was remade in 2010 as Let Me In – a commendable, if redundant, American re-telling of the tale starring Chloë Grace Moretz.
A dentist (Matthau) finds himself caught in a lie with the woman he wishes to marry (Hawn, who won an Oscar for her early role) and recruits his longtime nurse (Bergman) to pose as his soon-to-be ex-wife. This rom-com classic was remade in 2011 as Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Need we say more?
It's been nearly five years since the last Bond film, but that's nothing compared to the six-year series hiatus that GoldenEye broke when it came along 25 years ago. Featuring Pierce Brosnan's first go-around as 007, this post-Cold War thriller is one of the best in the series. And have we mentioned every Bond film is streaming on Stan?
Michael Caine stars as Harry Palmer, a sly criminal-turned-spy tasked with investigating the kidnapping of scientists in this British espionage classic. Released the same year as Sean Connery's Thunderball, Palmer was designed to be the 'anti-Bond': a working-class civil servant more interested in cooking than saving the world.
After her family is murdered, a 12-year-old girl (Portman) is reluctantly taken in by a hitman (Reno) and soon becomes his protégée as he trains her to be an assassin. Stylish, violent and undeniably arresting, Luc Besson's iconic action-thriller has a lot going for it – not least the film debut of then-child actor Portman.
A former hitman comes out of retirement to get revenge on the gangsters that took everything from him. A practically perfect pairing of role and actor in Keanu Reeves, this stylised actioner kicks off a ferociously fun franchise that gets even better with each subsequent entry (Chapters 2 and 3 are also available on Netflix).
What this South Korean action-thriller may lack in depth, it certainly makes up for with stunningly choreographed and ultra-violent action sequences. Trained as a killer since she was a young girl, Sook-Hee travels to South Korea with the promise of starting a quiet new life – but her dark past eventually catches up with her.
One of the first casualties of Australian cinemas shutting down, Pixar's latest is now available to stream at home. Their 22nd feature film, this heartwarming and modern twist on the fantasy-adventure genre follows two suburban elf brothers who set out on a quest to find an artefact that will bring back their deceased father.
This Studio Ghibli co-production has no dialogue whatsoever but more than makes up for it with a deceptively simple, yet no less masterful, fairy tale about a man shipwrecked on a deserted island who befriends a giant red turtle. Special mention: 21 more of Studio Ghibli's beloved animated features are now streaming on Netflix.
This Swiss-French film combines adorable stop-motion animation with a surprisingly weighty exploration of childhood innocence. After his mother's sudden death, a young boy nicknamed Zucchini is sent to a foster home, where he learns to trust and love as he searches for a new family. English dubbed version.
As far as you could get from a kid's film, this stop-motion animated drama comes from the distinctive mind of American writer-director Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich). Profound and thought-provoking, it follows a lonely inspirational speaker whose finds his life re-invigorated after meeting a unique woman.
One of this year's Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film, this French animated fantasy tells the macabre tale of a severed hand (yes, you read that right) as it scours the streets of Paris for its owner, a lovestruck young man. Intricately imaginative and utterly unique. Available in English and French.
Making history this year by winning four Oscars including Best Picture, Bong Joon-Ho's masterpiece is not to be missed. This darkly comedic South Korean thriller follows the members of a poor family who plot and scheme to intertwine their lives with a wealthy family – but their beautiful home hides dark secrets too.
Winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this suspenseful and powerful thriller follows a member of the East German secret police (Mühe) who is assigned to spy on a couple in their Berlin apartment. The more he learns about them, the more he becomes increasingly absorbed in their lives.
Directed by Canberra-raised Cate Shortland – whose next film is Marvel's Black Widow – this psychological thriller centres on an Aussie backpacker (Palmer) exploring Berlin. After spending the night with a German man, she discovers that she has been taken hostage by her would-be lover and trapped in his apartment.
Lift your spirits with this rom-com classic and 1960's Best Picture Oscar winner in which insurance worker Bud (Lemmon) lends his Upper West Side apartment to his bosses to use for their extramarital affairs. Bud falls for the elevator operator (MacLaine) at work, who in turn is having an affair with Bud's boss.
Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow directs and stars in this hilarious and loving homage to kung fu cinema. In 1940s China, an aspiring gangster (Chow) inadvertently triggers a war between the notorious Axe Gang and the eccentric residents of a rundown slum of apartments – who are all secretly kung fu masters in hiding.
This year's Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, writer-director Taika Waititi's WWII satire follows a lonely Hitler Youth member named Jojo (Davis), who discovers that his mother (Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. With his world turned upside down, Jojo turns to an imaginary Adolf Hitler (also Waititi) for advice.
Taika Waitii brings his trademark wit to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the hilarious – but no less action-packed – third instalment in the Thor series. Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, Thor (Hemsworth) but find a way back to his home world of Asgard before the ruthless Hela (Blanchett) brings an end to his civilisation.
In Taika Waititi's fourth feature, rebellious Ricky Baker (Dennison) runs away into the New Zealand bush, pursued by his foster uncle (Neill). Branded as outlaws by authorities, the two must put aside their differences to survive. Charming, offbeat and poignant, this is the most successful film ever at the Kiwi box office – and rightfully so!
A coming-of-age comedy set in 1980s New Zealand, this is Taika Waititi's second feature – and the second highest-grossing film in NZ box office history. In it, an 11-year-old Michael Jackson fan (Rolleston) finally gets the chance to reconnect with his criminal father (Waititi) when he returns home to recover a buried bag of money.
A bonus blast from the past to round out our spotlight on Taika Waititi: this 2004 short film is one of the Kiwi writer-director's earliest efforts and it earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short. Two young boys and a girl develop a budding friendship as they wait for their parents in a parking lot outside a rural pub.