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.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Unless you’ve been living under an asteroid for the last few years, we probably don’t have to tell you much about Rogue One. It’s Star Wars. But new. And still good.
This prequel (bear with us, we know Star Wars has a bad track record here...) picks up immediately before the first Star Wars film, showing the team that worked to gather the plans to the first ever Death Star, crucial to Luke's exploits at the end of that movie.
There's a dark, oppressive tone that's entirely new to the Star Wars universe, but don't worry, it's not all grim - Alan Tudyk's K-2SO droid is a particular comic highlight.
Read our full Rogue One review if you want to find out more.
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...
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.
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.
The Usual Suspects
Boasting one of the most infamous twists of all time (though we'll say no more here) director Bryan Singer's crime caper is a rightly legendary thriller.
Following the interrogation of one of two survivors of a massacre on a docked ship, the film uses flashback and narration to detail the convoluted set-up of this job gone wrong - and the mysterious crime lord in charge of it all.
Whether you know the ending already or not, this is rightly a classic.
Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright heads into bigger action territory with Baby Driver, an astonishing crime thriller with musical twist.
No, no-one sings - well, not very much at least - but Wright has edited the whole film with music in mind, with every gunshot, impact, or sudden brake timed to hit the beat of one of the excellent tracks that fill the soundtrack.
Ansel Elgort is the titular Baby, a getaway driver who needs music for his mojo, and across the film he crosses paths with the likes of Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, each on brilliant form as some of the colourful criminals that fill this world.
The latest Alien film got a bit of a mixed reaction when it first released, thanks in part to trying to both follow up the operatic Prometheus and re-establish the gritty horror of the original Alien.
Whether you missed at the time or just weren’t a fan, it’s worth revisiting. With a score that deftly weaves elements of both Alien and Prometheus into one unholy hybrid, and a focus on the truly unhinged mind of Michael Fassbender’s android David, there’s actually a lot to appreciate here - not least Fassbender’s dual performance, as he also plays a second model of the same droid.
The weirder sides of Prometheus are still lurking about too, but this is a much more traditional horror movie, with some truly chilling moments tucked away.
The Italian Job
This Boxing Day staple is rightly a classic crime caper, which sees a simple gold heist sprawl into a car chase across Turin.
Iconic moments abound, from the red, white, and blue Mini Coopers to a certain line about blowing some bloody doors off, all underpinned by the one and only Michael Caine.
It’s the sort of film we all know of, but let’s be honest, you probably haven’t watched it in years. Do yourself a favour and set that right - and skip the remake, for your own sake.
A film that hopefully needs no introduction, this innovative horror movie won the Oscar for best original screenplay, thanks in part to some bold commentary on race relations in modern America.
If you’re not a horror fan, don’t let that put you off. While Get Out undeniably belongs in the genre, this is no standard slasher movie, or gore-packed torture porn. Instead it’s tense, unsettling, and surprisingly (and often uncomfortably) funny, with a streak of black humour running right up to the end.
Few genre movies are as ambitious or uncompromising, and almost none get (or deserve) the kind of acclaim heaped on Get Out. Don’t miss it.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Now a venerable 50 years old, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a landmark of science fiction cinema, an utterly unique vision that shaped much of the genre since.
Stanley Kubrick’s meticulous design and direction is still being unpacked today, while the corrupt HAL-9000 AI is only becoming more and more relevant as our own technology progresses.
Make sure you go in with the right frame of mind - for better or worse, this is a long, slow film - and try to be open to the unusual ending, and you’ll be rewarded with a piece of sci-fi that has arguably never been bettered.
The teen movie to end all teen movies, Clueless remains unmatched after more than 20 years.
Alicia Silverstone’s wealthy but well-meaning Cher is utterly endearing as she does her best to tutor a new student (Brittany Murphy) in this modern take on Jane Austen’s Emma that transposes the action to a stereotypical American high school.
Keep an eye out for Paul Rudd as the obligatory romantic lead, years before his more recent ripped superheroics as Marvel’s Ant-Man.
“Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown…”
Few movies are as memorable for a single line as Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, an iconic noir detective story starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.
Nicholson’s cynical private eye is hired for a simple adultery case which ends up drawing him into a web of crimes, from mismanagement of state water in a California drought to murder, in a sprawling conspiracy with a final reveal that lands like a punch to the gut.
Almost relentlessly downbeat, this is in no way a pick-me-up, but it remains one of the best thrillers of the ‘70s (a decade that had a fair few great ones) and is as effective today as it was when it first hit cinemas.
Look, it’s Toy Story. Toy Story. The film that kicked off Pixar. The film that spawned two amazing sequels (with another on the way). The film that made us all cry about bloody toys, of all things.
The point is, these are among the best family films ever made, and hold up just as well as they ever did, even if the animation has dated slightly along the way.
Superhero movies have changed a lot since Hugh Jackman first donned the sideburns and claws way back in the first X-Men movie, and not all of his outings of Wolverine have held up so well. That’s why Logan - his swansong - is so refreshing, standing out not just from previous X-Men films but from the rest of the superhero pack.
This moody road trip film is part comic book romp, part western, and part noir - so much so that there’s a black-and-white version, Logan Noir, also on Now TV - and it’s as poignant and powerful as any superhero film has ever gotten.
Jackman is phenomenal, as always, but bolstered by brilliant turns from Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant, and the incredible Dafne Keen as the infant mutant a reluctant Wolverine is tasked with taking care of.
The Wicker Man
Lord Summerisle would be almost any actor’s defining role. In the case of Christopher Lee, he also played a Bond villain, Dracula, and Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, so his villainous turn in The Wicker Man can occasionally be forgotten - but it shouldn’t.
Worlds away from the shaky Nicolas Cage remake, this British horror from the ‘70s is a chilling look at a Scottish pagan cult, and what happens when Edward Woodward’s restrained Christian policeman finds himself caught up in some very unfamiliar behaviour.
This is horror in the unsettling vein, eschewing jump scares and gore for a slow creep of dread, and the pervasive sense that something just isn’t right. Watch it, but don’t expect to be quite the same on the other side.
Ridley Scott’s other iconic sci-fi creation (after Alien, of course) remains the best adaptation of any of Philip K Dick’s stories, neatly drawing the strongest elements of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? out into a lean sci-fi noir that still finds the space for plenty of slow reflection.
Harrison Ford is the grizzled police officer tasked with hunting down a group of rogue replicants - biological androids indistinguishable from real humans - but the film is less concerned with a game of cops and robbers than it is with asking just what sets them apart after all.
Blade Runner nerds will want to know that Now TV offers the theatrical cut of the film, as opposed to any of the various other cuts and edits out there, but any version of the movie is well worth watching.