Stuck on what to stream this month? Unlike other lists, we’re on hand to recommend a variety of films for every mood, from tear-jerkers to trailblazers. Here are our picks for the best films to stream in the UK this month.
The Silver Screen Classic
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) dir. Ingmar Bergman
Winner of the Prix de l’Humour Poétique at the Cannes Film Festival in 1956, this movie is one of the early works in Bergman’s extensive filmography. This film earned Bergman international renown and it’s still enjoyed by many today. Smiles of a Summer Night is set in turn-of-the-century Sweden and is centred around an amusing ensemble of characters who are navigating complex matters of the heart. The awkward situations that the characters find themselves in will have you doubled-over with laughter. As women take more central roles through this movie, directing and criticising the men, it has a more modern feel than comparable films of the time. Flirty and witty, it’s a movie that will be delightful to watch on a cold January night.
Available to stream on BFI Player
It’s a Wonderful Afterlife (2010) dir. Gurinder Chadha
It’s a Wonderful Afterlife comes from the same writer and director as the feel-good British classic Bend it Like Beckham (2005). Chada’s comedy, which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, is one of her lesser seen films. It’s also a perfect movie for a night in if you’re craving a couple laughs. Starring Sendhil Ramamurthy before he was the sweet dad in the TV series Never Have I Ever, it’s a comedic look at the arranged marriage scene. Like Chada’s other female protagonists from other films, Roopi (played by Goldy Notay) is also a feminist, who struggles with the expectations and judgement of British Asian society. Her mother’s response to the judgement of her peers is…deadly, to say the least. Far from the flop that its reviews would suggest, this is an ideal film for a night in.
Available to stream on Amazon Prime
Dating Amber (2020) dir. David Freyne
Starring Fionn O’Shea as Eddie, who you may know from the BBC’s Normal People, comes a wonderful Irish coming-of-age comedy. For his efforts, Freyne won the Audience Award for Narrative Feature at the 2020 New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival, and it is clear why. Eddie and Amber (Lola Petticrew) start dating to stop speculation about their sexuality, marking the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Far more lighthearted than Normal People, this witty movie explores the differences in coming-out journeys, showing that not each story is the same and there is no right or prescribed way to do it. It’s comedic and heart-warming, with Eddie and Amber’s platonic relationship at the centre. With all the excitement of a romcom, it’s a beautiful film.
Available to Stream on Amazon Prime
The Foreign Language Gem
The Disciple (2020) dir. Chaitanya Tamhane
This movie feels similar to Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash (2014) as it too explores the dedication that a musician must show to hone their craft. This Marathi-language movie is just Tamhane’s second feature film, and premiered at the 77th Venice International Film Festival. The Disciple follows Sharad Nekelar (Aditya Modak) as he diligently follows the traditions and teachings to become a Indian Classical Vocalist. As he continues over the years, he begins to wonder whether he will ever reach the standard ofexcellence he is pursuing. Even if you are not familiar with the intricacies and traditions of Indian classical music, it’s nuances are made plain through this movie, as are Nekelar’s own doubts an struggles. It is a wonderful film to watch if you have a spare two hours.
Available to stream on Netflix
The Sun is Also a Star (2019) dir. Ry Russo-Young
Based on the bestselling young adult novel by Nicola Yoon, The Sun is Also a Star is a sweet and endearing teen romance. As Natasha (Yara Shahidi) and Daniel (Charles Melton, both of whom you may recognise from Riverdale) take a tour through New York City, falling in love as they go, an impending time limit hangs over their heads. It explores destiny, fate and the reality of love—even if it does feel a bit cringey at times, but then which romance film don’t? The movie touches on the current political climate and the subtleties of race and identity, showing how they play into how the characters see themselves. Ultimately, even with their optimism, the young protagonists don’t get the fairy tale ending they’ve hoped for. It is a story that will make you cry even if you already know what is coming.
Available to stream on BBC iPlayer
Yes, God, Yes (2020) dir. Karen Maine
This is Maine’s directorial feature debut, and a brilliant one at that. Yes, God, Yes takes place place in the early 2000s when the internet was still a dial-up operation and when prehistoric-looking internet chat rooms were all the rage. The movie follows Alice (Stranger Things‘ Natalia Dyer) in her strict Catholic school in a small town as she begins to discover her perfectly natural sexual desires. Far from it being a comedy that is driven by the pursuit of a romantic lead (although not without a bit of teenage longing), Alice is driven by her exploration of her own pleasure and, in doing so, explores the contradictions practiced by her supposed peers. It’s a sweet comedy that reminds you that desire is normal and that radical self-acceptance is always an option.
Available to stream on Netflix
Four Lions (2010) dir. Chris Morris
This is an early film starring Sound of Metal‘s Riz Ahmed and directed by Chris Morris. A cult classic in the desi community, this hilarious and farcical film depicts four wannabe terrorists as they aspire to be suicide bombers. This is a smart black-comedy that thankfully understands to perfection what satire is supposed to be. Morris spent three years researching this project, even sending the script to former Guantanmo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg. Too often films exploring terrorism rely on xenophobic attitudes and stereotypes of Muslims and Islam, but this film does not. Four Lions was one of the first films to take a really satirical look at terrorism when the subject was still raw. Few films since have really explored terrorism without sliding into harmful tropes or generalisations. In this way, Four Lions remains unique, with no other film quite like it.
Available to stream on All 4
The Platform (2019) dir. Galder Gaztelu Urrutia
If you enjoyed Squid Game, this Spanish-language drama from filmmaker Galder Gaztelu Urrutia is for you. Like Netflix’s record-breaking Korean survival drama, it uses a unique dystopian setting to critique capitalism and wider attitudes present in a money-driven society. The Platform premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, winning the People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness. Set in a vertical prison, occupants get their food from a platform that moves down through each of the levels. The platform starts with laden with food but as it goes through the levels it gets scarcer and scarcer. It’s a haunting, strange movie that explores the divides between rich and poor with an engaging cast of characters.
Available to stream on Netflix
- Films To Stream In The UK In December 2021
- Films To Stream In The UK In November 2021
- Films To Stream In The UK In October 2021
- Films To Stream In The UK In September 2021
Words by Gurjinder Khambay
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