| 9.4°C Belfast

Your essential guide to the best catch-up television and films

Self-isolating? Jacob Stolworthy,Annie Lord, Jake Cudsi, Louis Chilton, Adam White, Alexandra Pollard and Roisin O’Connor comb Netflix, Amazon Prime and more for under-the-radar faves to stream


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The Death of Stalin

The Death of Stalin



Empire Records

Empire Records





Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Once upon a time, shutting yourself indoors for a lengthy period of time seemed like a dream - something you booked holidays just to do.

Sadly, it's becoming the norm for swathes of people following the coronavirus outbreak, and while self-isolating can be a lonely experience, there's plenty to do to make it less so.

You might think you've exhausted the bursting catalogue of films on Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV, but we're willing to bet you haven't. Below are some hidden gems that won't just make the time go quicker, but will also take your mind off the news.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) - Amazon Prime

Ever heard of the heavy metal band Anvil? There's a reason why you probably haven't and this documentary - tracking why the group failed to match the success of their musical peers - tells you why. Like This Is Spinal Tap come to life, Anvil is pure entertainment. Jacob Stolworthy

Brooklyn (2015) - Amazon Prime

The film equivalent of a slice of apple pie, Brooklyn follows the homesick Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) as she tries to make a living in New York. Along the way, she finds love, friendship, and eventually, home. Annie Lord

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) - NOW TV

One of the greatest Westerns of all time stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as a pair of outlaws on the run. Also ranking as one of the all-time great bromances, the film sees Newman and Redford blaze a trail through the Americas as they run from a fate that won't let up. The interplay of the two leads is astounding in a simple, moving way. The interchanges are so lazily cool, the pair may as well be improvising their lines as they struggle to think and shoot their way out of another quandary. Jake Cudsi

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2019) -NOW TV

Regrettably, this movie seems to have sparked Richard E Grant's insatiable, irrepressible excitement for all things cinema. Watch this film and that boyish giddiness begins to make sense. He and Melissa McCarthy are absorbing as a literary forger and her unscrupulous friend/assistant. Based on the real-life actions of Lee Israel, a writer with a penchant for forgery and fakery. JC

Daisies (1966) - BFI Player

This Czechoslovakian comedy is an absolute joy. Emerging out of the experimentalism of the sixties, Daisies follows two girls, both named Marie, as they upend the trappings of polite society - and of existence itself - in a series of effervescent vignettes. Louis Chilton

The Death of Stalin (2017) - Amazon Prime

Why is Stalin's political coterie full of Northerners and Americans? It doesn't matter, Armando Iannucci pokes fun at the duplicity and inhumanity of those at the top of Stalin's USSR and, using real events surrounding his death, further ridicules the inept plotting and scandalous behaviour of those at the very top of Communist Russia. Crammed with the kind of incisive, witty and acerbic dialogue that's synonymous with Iannucci's work. JC

The Disaster Artist (2017) - Amazon Prime

This is the true story of the film so bad it's good. The Disaster Artist explores the making of The Room, a film renowned for its atrocious acting, god-awful plot and for generally being one of the weirdest pieces of art in existence. This movie isn't so much like that, in that it's actually consummately put together, makes sense and is brilliantly acted. James Franco deserved an Oscar for his scarily accurate portrayal of the brains behind the original film, Tommy Wiseau. JC

Empire Records (1995) - Amazon Prime

Few films released in the recent past feel as much beamed from an entirely different universe as Empire Records. Set in an independent record shop threatened by the impending arrival of a nefarious CD chain, it's about as familiar to the present day as something with cavemen in it. Somehow it is still incredibly powerful, though - buoyant and silly, and sharing DNA with Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused in its hazy charm. A pre-fame Liv Tyler and Renee Zellweger are among the record shop's employees. Adam White

Fighting with My Family (2019) - Netflix

They might be body slamming each other in the wrestling ring, but this family film gets seriously warm and fuzzy. Centring around punky WWE wrestler Paige (Florence Pugh), Fighting with My Family follows the teen as she digs deep in order to find what it takes to become a star. Based on a true story. AL

The Fugitive (1993) - Netflix

Harrison Ford has never been better than in this propulsive action thriller, playing a doctor wrongly convicted of murdering his wife who goes on the run from ace fugitive hunter Tommy Lee Jones - all while hunting down the real killer. Ford and Jones are dynamite and The Fugitive leaps gamely between memorable set-pieces. AW

Gloria Bell (2018) - Netflix

Julianne Moore's performance as the free-spirited divorcee of the title is a high-point in what is admittedly a career full of them. Gloria Bell - Sebastian Lelio's English-language version of his own Chilean-Spanish film - is an admirable remake filled with moments that'll have you smiling, cringing and shouting at the screen in equal measure. JS

The Handmaiden (2016) - Amazon Prime

Loosely based on Sarah Waters' lesbian crime novel Fingersmith - a riveting read with more twists than M Night Shyamalan could shake a stick at - this South Korean erotic thriller is stylish, sophisticated and just a little bit ridiculous. Alexandra Pollard

Julie & Julia (2009) - Netflix

This deliciously cosy tale of two women linked by their passion for food stars Meryl Streep in one of her best (and arguably most underrated) roles to date. Streep plays Julia Child, who became one of America's most beloved chefs after publishing her debut cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Amy Adams is Julie Powell, a bored office worker who challenges herself to making every one of Julia Child's recipes in just 365 days. Roisin O'Connor

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) - Netflix

Netflix really added the Studio Ghibli collection at the right time. With every one of its titles set to be available to stream next month, might we suggest the extremely pleasant Kiki's Delivery Service? The film, which follows a young witch-in-training as she moves away from her family home, is a vibrant choice to keep you company at such dark times. JS

The Long Day Closes (1992) - Amazon Prime

With anxiety running high, you'll want to spend time in the company of films emanating warmth. Terence Davies' The Long Day Closes is a perfect example - a lyrical snapshot into the life of a family in 1950s Liverpool. It's the screen equivalent of drinking a cuppa. JS

Mario (2018) - NOW TV

This somewhat overlooked Swiss film is a moving and much-needed look at the homophobia that still pervades football. It follows Mario, a promising young player hoping to make it in the game. He is introduced to Leon, another talented player from Hanover, and after their coach notices their chemistry on the pitch, he has them move into a flat together as the team's two strikers. As their relationship grows into an intense romance, they encounter discrimination from their teammates and concerned managers who fear for their professional careers. ROC

Meek's Cutoff (2010) - Amazon Prime

Kelly Reichardt proved herself one of the world's best independent filmmakers with this slow, thought-provoking revisionist Western, following a group of settlers who wind their way across the Oregon desert. LC

My Days of Mercy (2017) - Netflix

This film - about the burgeoning attraction between an anti-death penalty campaigner (Ellen Page) and the lawyer daughter of a police officer (Kate Mara) - sunk without a trace when it first came out. Which is a shame, because despite that slightly laboured premise, it is thoughtful and affecting, and its two leads have startlingly good chemistry. AP

Mystic Pizza (1988) - Netflix

One of Julia Roberts' earliest roles was as the vivacious Daisy Araujo, a waitress at a pizza joint in Mystic, Connecticut, who works with her sister Kat (Annabeth Gish) and their friend Jojo (Lili Taylor). As they try to navigate their love lives, as well as their futures, they discover a famous food critic is coming to review Mystic Pizza, which could make or break the business. ROC

Nashville (1975) - Amazon Prime

Robert Altman's classic musical drama remains one of cinema's finest satires - not just of the country music industry, but of the whole US. Exceptional performances all around, from a cast who each penned their own songs for the project. LC

Next Goal Wins (2014) - Amazon Prime

With the Premier League delayed until April at the earliest, football fans are no doubt on the hunt for things to watch. Stick on Next Goal Wins, a documentary chronicling the national football team of American Samoa - regarded as the world's worst - as they attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. As gripping an underdog story as there is. JS

Paris Is Burning (1990) - Netflix

This seminal documentary chronicles Harlem drag balls in the 1980s. In this competitive setting, a subsection of New York's LGBT+ community could be who they are. In the confines of the drag ballroom, we meet a kaleidoscope of characters from a culture that felt unaccepted by society. Here is an intimate portrait of their lives, their emotions and their extremes, as they vogue the night away. JC

Paterson (2016) - Amazon Prime

If you need any more of an excuse to watch anything with Adam Driver in, Paterson also stars a cheeky English bulldog with an underbite. This miraculously low-stakes tale of everyday goodness follows bus-driver-turned-poet Paterson (Driver) as he meanders through his small New Jersey hometown, being nice to strangers and buying presents for his beautiful wife. AL

The People vs Larry Flynt (1996) - NOW TV

Step forward one of the most underrated films of the 1990s. Woody Harrelson delivers a tour-de-force performance as pornographic magazine editor and larger-than-life personality Larry Flynt, whose sketchy dealings find him in trouble with the law. Breathlessly enjoyable from start to end. JS

Princess Cyd (2017) - Netflix

For anyone who claims they've mopped up every last indie film on Netflix, Princess Cyd is the perfect ace. In fact, this little-seen drama, following the sexual awakening of a teenage girl visiting her aunt in Chicago, sits top of the heap, with an indelible performance from Rebecca Spence, who must be years away from a high-profile TV role that'll shoot her to worldwide recognition. JS

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) - Netflix

In the wrong hands, a film about the polyamorous, sadomasochistic relationship between the creator of Wonder Woman, his wife and their new female assistant could have been a full-on sleaze-fest. But writer-director Angela Robinson - a queer woman with no interest in objectifying either the characters or their sexuality - gets this spot on. The film, which stars Luke Evans, Bella Heathcote and a scene-stealing Rebecca Hall, is a poignant, provocative period knock-out. AP

The Raid 2 (2014) - Netflix

This pelvis-breaking, throat-slitting, spine-snapping martial arts movie sees undercover cop Rama battling his way out of a high-security prison. The battle sequences are so well coordinated, it's like watching a ballet, except instead of pointing toes it's a guy getting his face repeatedly smacked against the side of a cell. AL

Searching for Sugar Man (2012) - Amazon Prime

Sixto Rodriguez made two incredible albums in the early 1970s and then disappeared. A ghost-like figure clad in all-black who would play to half-empty rooms in Detroit dive bars, Rodriguez barely made an impression on the city, let alone the States. He was forgotten about. But in a time before the internet, and with Rodriguez unaware of his stardom and rumoured to have killed himself, bootlegged copies of his album made their way to apartheid South Africa and became anthems in the struggle for peace and equality. JC

Sense and Sensibility (1995) - Netflix

Ang Lee and Emma Thompson's classic period drama is one of the finest on-screen adaptations of a work by Jane Austen. Thompson, who wrote the screenplay, stars as the eldest of the Dashwood sisters, who struggle to get by after being left out of their father's inheritance by their stepbrother and his conniving wife. The dialogue is witty and warm, with an outstanding ensemble cast that includes Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Laurie and the late Alan Rickman. ROC

She's Gotta Have It (1986) - Netflix

Spike Lee's first film was adapted by the man for himself for a Netflix series, but it didn't really work out. No, She's Gotta Have It is best enjoyed in all its original, monochrome glory. The film follows protagonist Nola Darling as she navigates relationships with three men. Like pretty much all of Lee's work, it proved quite divisive, but in under an hour and a half it shares fascinating perspectives on themes such as sex, race and society, much like Lee's later works explored. JC

Shoplifters (2018) - NOW TV

Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, arguably Japan's foremost live-action filmmaker, this richly emotional drama about a Japanese family living below the poverty line has many profound things to say about the bonds of family, sex, capitalism and the inescapable passing of time. LC

Sorry to Bother You (2018) - Netflix/NOW TV

Just what is Boots Riley saying with his directorial debut Sorry to Bother You. Touching on white privilege, the evils of capitalism, and identity politics, this film is loud, fearless and important. It's also a great watch, with Lakeith Stanfield playing a worker slowly waking up to the injustices of society around him. Spliced with comedy, this thoughtful, thought-provoking film will have you simultaneously laughing at its incredulity, and crying at its likeness to our world. JC

Spy (2015) - Netflix

Spy is one of those lightning-in-a-bottle movies, its cast and crew immaculately selected for peak comic chemistry. Melissa McCarthy is the undervalued CIA agent suddenly sent out on a field mission, with Rose Byrne, Allison Janney, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Miranda Hart and 50 Cent the unlikely ensemble surrounding her. For arguably the greatest studio comedy of the last decade, Spy hasn't had an enormous legacy. It's time to rectify that. AW

Starship Troopers (1997) - NOW TV

Paul Verhoeven's futuristic satire is a film with numerous selling points. A critical bomb at the time of its release in 1997, Starship Troopers has become well-regarded in recent years for its tongue-in-cheek send-up of propaganda films, left-field plot turns and spectacularly undated effects. "Medic!" JS

Support the Girls (2018) - Netflix

Andrew Bujalski's slice-of-life comedy transports viewers into the middle of a Texan sports bar. Regina Hall leads the cast of talent (particular mention for Haley Lu Richardson's convivial waitress) with a breezy charm. Films don't come less taxing than Support the Girls. JS

Thoroughbreds (2017) - Netflix/NOW TV

This elegantly twisted tale follows teenagers Amanda (Olivia Cooke) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) as they plot to kill Lily's mean stepdad. They might be hiring drug dealers to shoot guns, they might have tortured thoroughbred horses in a past life, they might be spoilt, but you want these privileged princesses to get away with it because they are just such good friends to each other. AL

Thunder Road (2018) - Netflix

This dark comedy stands out for its nuanced performance from Jim Cummings, who also wrote, directed, co-edited the film. Based on his short film of the same name, Thunder Road charts a police officer's meltdown in the wake of a divorce and the death of his mother. Proof of the excellence you can create on a smaller budget. JS

Wake in Fright (1971) - BFI Player

Part of the Australian New Wave film movement, this sun-baked thriller - considered lost for many years until it was remastered in 2009 - is a bona fide classic, the story of a teacher trapped in an Outback town of oppressive machismo and bottomless beers. AW

Won't You Be My Neighbour? (2018) - Netflix

If you saw Tom Hanks's delightful turn as kids' TV presenter Fred Rogers in this year's A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, then I urge you to learn more about the real-life Fred Rogers with this wonderful documentary. You might not think it possible for someone to be more avuncular than Hanks. You'd be wrong. AP

Belfast Telegraph