When it comes to subscription services for streaming TV and movies, you might think that Netflix and Amazon Prime have it locked down. In fact there’s more competition out there than you might think though - we’ve rounded up some of the best streaming platforms here - and one of the top picks is Now TV.
Arguably best known to most people as the only streaming service that shows Game of Thrones as it airs through its Entertainment Pass, Now TV actually has a lot more to offer than just that. The Sky Cinema Pass offers just what it sounds like - a load of the best movies Sky Cinema has to offer - and we’ve done our best to pick our favourites here.
In case you didn't know, the Now TV Sky Cinema Pass costs £9.99 per month - though there's also a 2-week free trial - and it's worth pointing out that it's separate from the TV pass, so you only get access to the films, which means it is pretty expensive if you want access to both.
There are more than a thousand films included in the Sky Cinema Pass right now, so picking a top ten obviously meant missing out some favourites. It’s also worth remembering that one of the best things about the pass is that it offers far more of the biggest recent blockbusters than Netflix or Amazon do, so it’s arguably the best streaming service for watching new movies.
Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater’s sprawling love letter to life as a teenager in the ‘70s is still held up as one of his greatest cinematic accomplishments (no mean feat) and it’s easy to see why.
There’s not much of a plot as such - the film weaves throughout a host of different high schoolers as they go about celebrating the end of the summer, diving across cliques and year groups to reveal that just about everybody wants the same thing: to get drunk, get high, and get laid.
That’s not to say Dazed and Confused is crude though - along the way the film and its characters muse on life, love, and growing up, in classic Linklater style. Plus it’s all set to what’s surely one of the best ‘70s-inspired soundtracks around AND features the original Matthew McConaughey ‘alright, alright, alright’.
Kubo and the Two Strings
This stop-motion animation is an astonish work of tear-jerking beauty, its angular animations instantly evoking the origami that’s central to its plot. Kubo is a young boy left to fend for himself after his mother is killed by her murderous family.
Luckily for him he’s got the help of a talking monkey, a samurai beetle, and his own magical musical origami powers so it’ll probably all turn out alright in the end.
If nothing else, it’s welcome to see a major animated film come along that breaks out of the CGI mould, but beyond that Kubo tells a beautiful, action-packed story, with great voice-acting and heaps of style - not to mention fun.
Lost in Translation
This Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson classic from writer/director Sofia Coppola is perhaps the perfect fish-out-of-water film, making the most of the irascible Murray as an ageing actor adrift in Tokyo and hopelessly out of his element.
It’s as funny as it is bittersweet, touching on cultural divides, ageing, love, and karaoke as it follows Murray through the Japanese capital. He gives a career-best performance in the role that sparked a bit of a career renaissance for the former Ghostbuster, perfectly undercutting his comic sensibilities with just enough melancholy to carry the film’s darker side.
Johansson shouldn’t be forgotten either - this relatively early role did a lot to establish her credentials years before her eventual move into blockbuster superhero fare, and re-watching Lost In Translation is a welcome reminder of the depth of her talent.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Unless you’ve been living under an asteroid for the last few years, we probably don’t have to tell you much about The Force Awakens. It’s Star Wars. But new. And still good.
Now TV also has Rogue One in its lineup right now, but for our money The Force Awakens is where it’s at. It brought the franchise back in a major way with a moving, awe-inspiring love letter to the original films - plus it introduced us all to BB-8.
The story continues in The Last Jedi, which finally gives us the proper return of Luke Skywalker, but TFA is packed with all the droids, lightsabers, and X-Wings you could ever ask for.
This Hitchcock classic pulled off the masterful trick of taking something totally innocuous - bloody birds - and suddenly made us all start to worry about them just a little bit more.
Birds are everywhere, you see? And there are absolutely loads of them. And they can fly. So one minute, no birds. The next? Birds all over the place, and they’re coming for your eyes.
Tippi Hedren is brilliant - and you’d hope she would be after Hitchcock genuinely traumatised her in the making of the film. The fear is real, and soon you’ll have it too. You’ll never look at a pigeon in the same way again...
Horror is a genre that tends to be obsessed with trends, from slasher sequels to torture porn and found footage. The Witch is a movie that’s utterly uninterested in those trends, and just gets on with doing its own, rather weird, thing.
The Witch follows a family of Puritan settlers in early New England - the sort who got kicked out of the local town for being a little bit too Puritan, putting this firmly in the ‘religious fanatics do the darndest things’ wheelhouse.
After the youngest son disappears in the woods, the family dynamic starts to break down, turning into a literal witch hunt in which teenage daughter Thomasina takes the brunt of the blame and the family farm turns dark and violent.
Oh, and there’s a talking devil goat called Black Philip.
Last Action Hero
This might be a bit of a left-field choice, but bear with us. Released at the same time as Jurassic Park (also on Now TV, for what it’s worth) and buried by that film’s success, this lesser known Schwarzenegger is well worth your time.
Written by Shane Black (Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys) and directed by the legendary John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard) Last Action Hero follows a young kid who’s transported into his favourite Schwarzenegger movie, and has to learn to navigate life by Hollywood rules - before dragging the fictional action hero back out into the real world.
It’s extraordinarily silly, but just as self-aware, packed with references and even sly jabs at Schwarzenegger himself as it acknowledges just how dumb the average blockbuster can be - and in the process proves just how smart this one is.
The Naked Gun
Airplane! may be the best known Leslie Nielsen farce, but spare a thought for the Naked Gun series. The tale of hopelessly inept police detective Frank Drebin is rude, crude, and throws jokes out at a mile-a-minute.
All three films are fun, but the first is the knock-out classic, following Drebin as he stumbles his way towards stopping a plot to hypnotise people into killing the Queen - and yes, it’s as silly as it sounds.
Not every joke lands - and it’s fair to say it’s not entirely PC - but there’s such a constant barrage of wit that you’re all but guaranteed to laugh most of the way through.
This John Carpenter remake was a bomb on release, but luckily with the benefit of hindsight we can all recognise that it’s the finest sci-fi horror since Alien.
As a shapeshifting killer alien finds its way into a frozen research base, the inhabitants no longer know who to trust, as any one of them could be the ‘thing’. Paranoia is as much the enemy as the alien itself, which is really saying something when the alien is such a horrible mess of flesh and claws.
Kurt Russell leads the great ensemble, but the real star is the superb practical effects work, which brings to horrifying life a series of constructions of teeth, tentacles, claws, and legs - way too many legs.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The best known entry in Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood’s Dollars trilogy is rightly held up as one of the finest westerns ever, with a messy, grimy tale of betrayal and greed set against the backdrop of the Civil War.
Eastwood is joined by Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach as the titular gunslingers on the hunt for a lost stash of Confederate gold. Naturally they work together, but only to a point - culminating in the most iconic Mexican stand-off of all time.
The landscapes are stunning and the action is great, but it’s arguably Ennio Morricone’s score that’s made The Good, The Bad and the Ugly the icon that it is - this is the sound that came to define westerns for decades to come, and it’s never been bettered.