None of us got to the cinema as much as we would have liked last year. The silver lining: there’s now a long list of great movies you can catch up on from the comfort of your couch on Showmax, from the 2021 Critics’ Choice Super nominee The Hunt to 2020 Oscar nominees Pain and Glory and Knives Out to Dolittle, the fifth biggest box office hit of 2020, to 2020 People’s Choice nominees The Photograph and I Still Believe. Here are some recently added highlights:
PAIN AND GLORY | Spanish-language drama
At the 2020 Oscars, Pain and Glory was nominated for Best International Feature Film and Best Actor, a first-ever nod for Antonio Banderas (Desperado, The Skin I Live In). The Spanish drama also won over 60 international awards, including Best Actor for Banderas and Best Soundtrack at Cannes.
Written and directed by Oscar-winning auteur Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her), Pain and Glory centres on an ageing director (Banderas) as he reflects on the choices he’s made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him. It’s inspired by Almodóvar’s own life. Pain and Glory holds a 96% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Time Out saying it’s “Almodóvar at the peak of his powers”; New York Magazine billing it as “at once the gentlest and most emotionally naked movie Pedro Almodóvar has ever made;” and Rolling Stone proclaiming, “Antonio Banderas gives the performance of his career… Pain and Glory, suffused with memory and regret, is one of Almodovar’s greatest films.”
THE HUNT | Thriller
Controversial thriller The Hunt follows 12 strangers who wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen for a very specific purpose – The Hunt.
The Hunt was nominated for Best Action Movie at the 2021 Critics’ Choice Super Awards, where Emmy nominee Betty Gilpin (GLOW’s Debbie) won Best Actress: Action, beating out co-star Hilary Swank (a double Oscar winner for Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don’t Cry), who was also nominated for Best Villain.
The Hunt is directed by Craig Zobel (Westworld, The Leftovers); written and produced by the Emmy-winning team behind Watchmen and The Leftovers, Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof; and exec produced by triple Oscar nominee Jason Blum (Get Out, BlacKkKlansman).
KNIVES OUT | Whodunnit
The unexpected death of a wealthy patriarch brings out the worst in his eccentric family as the arrival of a shrewd detective makes everyone a suspect in this acerbically funny and deliciously twisty murder mystery.
Knives Out earned writer-director Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi, Looper, Brick) a 2020 Oscar nomination and a BAFTA nomination for Best Screenplay. The film was also nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 2020 Golden Globes, where Daniel Craig (James Bond in Skyfall, Casino Royale and the upcoming No Time To Die) and Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, No Time To Die) also nabbed Best Comedy Actor nominations.
The all-star cast also includes late Oscar winner Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, Beginners); Oscar nominees Toni Collette (About a Boy, Little Miss Sunshine, Hereditary) and Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Revolutionary Road); Golden Globe winners Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens, New Girl, Trading Places) and Don Johnson (Watchmen, Miami Vice); People’s Choice winner Chris Evans (Captain America); and Golden Globe nominee Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why).
DOLITTLE | Family adventure
Based on Hugh Lofting’s second Doctor Dolittle book, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, Dolittle earned $250 million at the global box office, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of 2020.
Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) stars as Doctor Dolittle, the famous vet who can talk to animals. Called upon to save the Queen (BAFTA nominee Jessie Buckley from Fargo and Chernobyl), Dolittle sets off on an adventure across the seas, aided by his animal companions and young apprentice Tommy (newcomer Harry Collett), but Dolittle’s lifelong rival, Dr. Blair Müdfly (Golden Globe nominee Michael Sheen from The Good Fight and Good Omens) is hot on their tails.
Oscar nominee Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory, The Skin I Live In) and Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge and Bridget Jones’ dad) co-star, along with an astonishing voice case that includes Oscar winners Emma Thompson (Years and Years), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Mr. Robot), Octavia Spencer (Ma, The Help, The Shape of Water), and Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose, Inception), and Oscar nominees Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, The English Patient) and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick). Also listen out for BAFTA winner Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Kids’ Choice and Teen Choice Award winner Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place), and Kids’ Choice and Teen Choice nominee John Cena (Bumblebee).
THE PHOTOGRAPH | Romance
Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Issa Rae (Insecure) was nominated for a 2020 People’s Choice Award for her performance here as gallery curator Mae, who falls for Michael (BAFTA nominee and Black Reel winner Lakeith Stanfield from Atlanta and Knives Out), a journalist documenting the life of Mae’s famous late mother, who was better at photographing people than loving them.
Golden Globe nominee Courtney B. Vance (Lovecraft Country, American Crime Story); Black Reel winner Rob Morgan (This Is Us, Mudbound); Sundance Film Festival Breakthrough Performance winner Chanté Adams (Roxanne Roxanne, Monsters and Men); and Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) co-star.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics consensus praises its “gorgeous visuals”, “affecting love story, and simmering chemistry between Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield.”
I STILL BELIEVE | Christian romance
I Still Believe is the real-life story of Christian music mega star Jeremy Camp and his journey of love and loss after his first wife, Melissa, was diagnosed with cancer just before they were married.
As Jeremy, K.J. Apa (Riverdale, The Hate U Give) was nominated for a 2020 People’s Choice Award for Favourite Drama Star. Three-time Teen Choice nominee Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland, The Space Between Us) co-stars as Jeremy’s first wife, Melissa, with Grammy winner Shania Twain and Oscar nominee Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump) as Jeremy’s parents, and Abigail Cowen (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Stranger Things) as Jeremy’s second wife, South African singer Adrienne Camp (née Liesching) from Christian rock band Benjamin Gate.
A #1 box office hit in the USA (admittedly, during a pandemic when that didn’t mean as much as it used to), I Still Believe was widely praised by Christian media. In their four-star review, Common Sense Media wrote, “This love story has the heart swells of The Notebook, the unexpected twists of a Nicholas Sparks novel, and the anguish of The Fault in Our Stars: the proof is your depleted tissue box… This is a full-fledged faith-based film, and it’s a victory for the Christian creative community.”
WAVES | Drama
Golden Globe winner Sterling K Brown (Black Panther, This Is Us), Saturn Award nominee Taylor Russel (Lost in Space), and BAFTA nominee Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Godfather of Harlem) star in Waves, a critically acclaimed drama that traces the journey of a suburban family – led by a well-intentioned but domineering father – as they navigate love, forgiveness, and coming together in the aftermath of loss.
Waves has an 84% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Wrap saying the film “provocatively examines black masculinity and the burden of living up to a societal standard, as well as a parental one.”
Waves was nominated for nine 2020 Black Reel Awards, with Kelvin Harrison Jr. winning for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance. He also won at the 2019 African-American Film Critics Association Awards, where the movie took two further awards. Waves also won three Hollywood Critics Association Awards last year, including Best Independent Film and the Star on the Rise Award for Taylor Russell, with a further seven nominations, including for Best Score – by Oscar and Grammy winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails.
DANIEL ISN’T REAL | Psychological horror
As a child, Luke witnessed something terrible, something only his imaginary friend Daniel could help him through. Now a troubled college freshman, Luke is struggling to cope, until his best friend turns up once more. But Daniel is dangerous, and he’s already inside Luke’s head…
Winner of both Best Feature and Best Director at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival and nominated for Best Limited Release Film at the 2020 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, Daniel Isn’t Real stars Miles Robbins (Mozart in the Jungle, Halloween) as Luke, in a performance that won Best Actor at Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival. Daniel Isn’t Real has an 82% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “Daniel Isn’t Real, but the smart, stylish fun waiting for genre lovers in this well-acted suspense thriller is completely genuine.”
Arnie’s son Patrick Schwarzenegger (Midnight Sun) plays Daniel and the cast includes Black Reel and Empire Award nominee Sasha Lane (Utopia, American Honey); Satellite Award nominee Mary Stuart Masterson (For Life, Blindspot), Chukwudi Iwuji (Designated Survivor, When They See Us); and SXSW Gamechanger Award winner Hannah Marks (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency).
Directed by Oscar-nominated crime movie master Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Sherlock Holmes), The Gentleman follows American expat Mickey Pearson (Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey from Dallas Buyers Club, True Detective and The Wolf of Wall Street), whose plan to sell off his marijuana empire in London triggers plotting, scheming, bribery and blackmail as rivals try to steal his domain out from under him.
The all-star cast includes Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Hugh Grant (The Undoing); Critics’ Choice and People’s Choice nominee Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy); Teen Choice nominee Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians); Golden Globe winner Colin Farrell (In Bruges, The Lobster); Golden Globe nominee Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey); Emmy winner Jeremy Strong (Succession); and Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan).
Washington Post calls this crowd-pleaser “a funny, violent, rambunctious shaggy-dog story of a crime caper featuring an ensemble cast studded with colourful characters…” Miramax announced late last year that Ritchie will helm development of The Gentlemen as a TV series.
LIGHT OF MY LIFE | Post-apocalyptic drama
Ten years after a pandemic wipes out the female population of the world, a father struggles to protect his daughter in a lawless post-apocalyptic world as their bond, and the character of humanity, is tested.
Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Manchester by the Sea) writes, directs and stars opposite Golden Globe and Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Invisible Man) but it’s Affleck’s co-star, child actress Anna Pniowsky(PEN15, The Hot Zone), who steals the show. LA Times calls her “ a staggering revelation.”
HAUNT | Horror
Calling all slasher movie fans: Fangoria Horror Hall of Famer Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) has teamed up with Saturn Award-winning writer-directors Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (who wrote the Oscar-nominated film A Quiet Place) for a scarefest that’ll have Saw fans cheering.
Haunt follows a group of friends whose Halloween party night leads them to an extreme haunted house that promises to feed on their darkest fears. Sounds like a blast, right? But the night turns deadly as they come to the horrifying realisation that not all nightmares are imaginary.
The cast includes Teen Choice winner Katie Stevens (Jane in The Bold Type) and Andrew Lewis Caldwell (iZombie, Matrix 4).