Coronavirus: recent critically acclaimed movies to catch up on while self-isolating

Remember those award-winning films you always meant to watch? Well, now's the time to catch up


What’s it about? In 2003, the Boston Globe newspaper won a Pulitzer for revealing the extent of sexual abuse against children by priests in the Massachusetts capital. Spotlight, starring Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo, vividly tells the story of the eponymous team of journalists who interviewed the victims and exposed the priests. It’s nail-biting stuff and won Best Picture at the 2015 Oscars.

Runtime: 2h9m

Where to watch: Netflix


Uncut Gems

What’s it about? One of the most anxiety-inducing films of recent years, Uncut Gems lives up to the hype. Playing a screechy jeweller with a penchant for a flutter, Adam Sandler pinballs between debt collectors, dubious associates and a professional basketball player as he tries to auction off a black opal he believes to be worth around $1million. Sandler was cruelly overlooked at the Oscars, un-nominated for a tour-de-force, probably career-defining performance.

Runtime: 2h15m

Where to watch: Netflix


What’s it about? Forget Joker. Here’s a grown-up comic book story. The first superhero film to be nominated for a screenwriting award at the Oscars, Logan is set in a world in which mutants have stopped being born. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is now an ageing limo driver, and, while caring for a dementia-riddled Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), they try to protect a girl who has been bred to act as a weaponised mutant. Jackman’s swansong as his iconic X-Men character is utterly compelling.


Runtime: 2h21m

Where to watch: Amazon Prime


What’s it about? Not to be confused with Tommy Wiseau masterpiece The Room, this harrowing film is about a mother and her five-year-old son who are forced by the boy’s father to live in a tiny squalid room with only one window. By tricking their captor, Joy (Brie Larson) tries to give her and the boy a fresh start. Not a massive barrel of laughs but significantly better acted than Wiseau’s film.

Runtime: 1h58m

Where to watch: Google Play

For Sama

What’s it about? One of five nominees for Best Documentary at this year’s Oscars, For Sama is an unflinching depiction of the plight of Waad Al-Kateab as she and her doctor husband try to survive in the horrific conditions of Aleppo, before and after the four year ‘battle’ during which more than 30,000 people died. Should they stay and help the victims or leave to seek a new life with their newborn daughter?

How long is it? 1h40m

Where to watch: All 4

John Wick: Chapter 2

What’s it about? As staggeringly violent as its predecessor, the second instalment in the Keanu Reeves franchise sees the hitman reluctantly accept a job from a Mafia boss to kill his sister so that he can take her seat at a council of crime lords. After doing so, Wick becomes the subject of a bounty, and much of the film sees various assassins try and fail to lop his head off. A hell of a lot of fun, a hell of a lot of blood.

Runtime: 2h2m

Where to watch: Netflix

The Favourite

What’s it about? A truly unusual film deservedly showered with praise at the 2019 Oscars, The Favourite is about the private relations of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), her lover the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), and the Duchess’ cousin Abigail (Emma Stone). Desperate to be the apple of the Queen’s eye, the pair becoming increasingly, farcically destructive and vindictive. Come for the melodrama, stay for the 17 rabbits Anne keeps in her bedroom.

Runtime: 2h2m

Where to watch: Now TV


What’s it about? Extensive unseen and candid footage makes this documentary about Amy Winehouse’s curtailed life a sad and intimate watch. For a figure so famously under the tabloid microscope, Amy manages to eke out some truly touching stuff, including video of Winehouse auditioning for record labels before her debut album. A crucial experience for any fan to undergo.

Runtime: 2h8m

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Ex Machina

What’s it about? Lovely one, this. Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) wins a competition to stay with his company’s CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), who reveals he owns a humanoid robot (Alicia Vikander). Is the robot, Ava, capable of human thought? Well, yes is an understatement – she and Caleb soon plot together to free her from the drudgery to which Bateman has subjected her. Things. Get. Messy.

Runtime: 1h48m

Where to watch: Netflix

Free Solo

What’s it about? An utterly captivating experience that will leave your palms dripping with swear, Free Solo is the story of one of the most extraordinary living human beings, Alex Honnold, who decided in June 2017 to climb the 3,000-foot sheer rock face of El Capitan. This does nothing to capture the scale of what Honnold does. One wrong move and he would literally plunge to his death. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping documentary of the last 20 years.

Runtime: 1h40m

Where to watch: Amazon Prime


What’s it about? When 12 grey extraterrestrial pods start hovering above the Earth, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is recruited to try to decipher the aliens’ messages. She learns not only that they probably come in peace but also that their messages contain a truly extraordinary revelation. It’s a fascinating exploration of language’s complexities and shortfalls, justly nominated for Best Picture in 2017.

Runtime: 1h56m

Where to watch: BFI Player


What’s it about? Competitive tickling. At least, that’s how it begins. Kiwi journalist David Farrier, looking to report on a story about the men who tickle other men, is threatened with legal action when he uncovers a bizarre underworld to the whole affair, full of coercion and sexual blackmail. A fantastic watch that descends into glorious madness.

Runtime: 1 hour 32 minutes

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Get Out

What’s it about? Difficult to believe you don’t know this, but the film – directed by Jordan Peele – is about a boyfriend (Daniel Kaluuya) visiting the parents of his girlfriend (Allison Williams). Kaluuya’s character is increasingly freaked out by the white family and their odd relationship with their black staff. Things only get weirder and more sinister from there. At once gobsmacking, satirical and terrifying, it flung Peele – who also wrote it – into the stratosphere.

Runtime: 1h44m

Where to watch: BFI Player