With plenty of time to dive into some fantastic films, I thought I’d take a moment to run through some of the greatest films that are available to watch online right now.
Whether that be on Amazon, Netflix, Iplayer or any other of the joyous streaming services out there, they will all be available to check out straight away.
As there are so many fantastic films available to stream online, it felt like the right thing to do would be to make this a series of blogs. So, for fellow film lovers, I’ll be pointing you in the direction of some of the greatest films I’ve seen and where you can watch them online.
Hell, I’ll even give you a little bit of a review along the way.
For this first article, we’re not messing about. Not easing our way in, not starting at the bottom and working our way up to the top. This is all about award-winning films. I’ve carefully plucked four films from the internet’s online film collection and put them right here in this article.
Lucky for you all, some of my favourite films ever feature in this list. Without further ado, here we go!
Searching For Sugarman
Oscar – Best Documentary (2013)
Watch this film now!
I said I wasn’t messing about earlier and I was being serious. My first reaction after watching this film was that;
“It is the greatest thing I have seen.”
Not greatest documentary, not greatest film, but greatest thing.
I’m sorry to have to quote myself here, but I really had to emphasise just how much of an impact this film had on me. I’m well aware overhyping a film is setting myself up for recommendation failure, but that is how confident I am that anyone who watches this film will be filled with all the best emotions during and afterwards.
Beyond this, I’m not going to tell you much more about the story of the film. This may seem strange for someone who is talking it up beyond belief, but half the joy of this film lies in going into it blind.
When I was first told to watch this, it happened in the very militant and abrasive style that I’m using on you right now. But the caveat at the time was that I ask no questions and just watch the film. I’m so grateful my friend introduced it to me this way as it made the film all that more amazing. As for the story, that’s all you’re getting.
The little nuggets I can pass your way are that it’s a documentary. Most of the story takes place in South Africa and it’s focused on music. It’s artistically crafted, the storytelling is phenomenal and the subjects that appear in it are as endearing as characters in a fictional film.
For me, this film really does have everything and I will never tire of recommending it to others. So don’t even read past this first suggestion, get yourself over to Amazon Prime, watch Searching For Sugarman and have your life changed.
The rest of the article will still be here waiting for you.
The Big Short
Oscar – Best Writing (2016)
If Searching For Sugarman is the best documentary I’ve seen, then The Big Short is the best film I’ve seen. This film takes on the not so sexy topic of the 2008 financial crash. However, what may seem on the surface to be a dull, over-complicated event that lost everyone money for some reason or another, acts as the basis for a fantastic narrative.
The script-writing in this film is fantastic, the stories that are told interweave world issues with personal stories and take you down paths you never thought you’d go at the start. It’s highly emotional, weirdly inspiring and unbelievably gripping. The perfect ingredients for a huge hit.
As well as it being a fantastic story, there is no hiding the fact that it is a political and societal critique. It doesn’t hold back from bashing investment bankers and it doesn’t shy away from taking a big old swing at government institutions. But it’s by no means ranty, it digs into a story we may all think we’re familiar with, but encourages us to assess the morality of it all.
I got extra kicks out of this film as politics intrigues me and I get excited by history books. But it’s appeal is not limited to those interested in the subject. The big hitting cast of Steve Carrell, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling alone make it easily worthwhile. Add onto that the unique and quirky style of the film as a whole and you’ve got yourself a couple of hours of unbelievable film watching.
Head over to Netflix to check out this masterpiece.
The Dawn Wall
SXSW – Audience Award (2018)
Initially received as a recommendation from the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio, I quickly discovered this was the documentary everyone was talking about that I had never heard of. Released at a similar time to another hugely successful climbing documentary, Free Solo, The Dawn Wall is just as gripping, but in so many other ways.
First all, this documentary is pretty visually astounding. You are watching two guys scale a pretty much perfectly vertical cliff face in Yosemite, America, whilst living on the wall itself. Yes, that’s right, you read it correctly. They live on the wall in what can only be described as a tent dangling from a few hooks. Terrifying!
The film follows them as they aim to become the first climbers to successfully scale the Dawn Wall in one continuous go. It shows off ridiculous technical ability, bordering stupid levels of bravery and a super-human level of determination to go with it.
It’s by no means for the faint-hearted, but no matter what your feelings are towards the task in hand, you cannot take your eyes off some of the manoeuvres they pull off. The skill involved in that level of climbing is really showcased. It reaches an almost philosophical level as you start to question the limits of human capabilities. A captivating watch from a physical and mental standpoint.
Interlaced with all this you have got an unexpectedly surreal narrative. Pretty much every documentary provides a backstory for the subjects which contextualises the whole film. The thing with The Dawn Wall is that the back story is like nothing you’d ever expect.
At a very young age, the lead subject of the film, Tommy Caldwell, is kidnapped when away on a climbing trip in Kyrgystan. This throws him and his group into a series of life and death situations which they navigate their way through. Although they survive the ordeal, the events still left a huge impact on Tommy’s life.
Following this, a series of events later on in his life, severely hamper his career, which only adds more fuel onto the fire that produces his astounding level of determination in climbing the wall. This underlying narrative combined with the spectacular documentation of his battle in climbing the wall comes together to make a superb documentary. I think being blown away is an apt way of describing the experience of watching this film.
Get yourself onto Netflix, in order to give this film a watch.
Manchester By The Sea
Oscars – Best Original Screenplay (2017)
I’ve left this one till last, not to reflect the quality, but to be the final viewing option for those whose nerves have survived the first three films. This film is heavy. It’s dark, it takes you to places you probably wouldn’t choose to go when you woke up in the morning. Having said all this, it’s the raw emotion of the film that makes it the success that it is.
Set in a sleepy town in Massachusetts, the dark tone of the film is set early on as Casey Affleck’s character gives off gloomy, depressed vibes from the outset. The film opens with the tragedy of his brother dying and the story only continues to negatively deepen from there.
Through the use of flashbacks and long drawn out conversation scenes, we start to empathise more with his initially aloof and distant character. The slow pace of the film serves to drag you in to the emotional struggle he and the others around him go through. I know this sounds like it could be a real slog, but believe me, you are so drawn in by this experience that the slow pace of the film brings you closer to the character and more invested in the story.
Dark and depressing would be doing this film a massive disservice. Yes, the subject matter is glum and the whole tone of the film follows this. However, I’d prefer to describe the feel as tranquil, slightly eerie, yet with a strangely optimistic conclusion. I fully expected to feel really down after watching this film, however, it was very much the opposite. I felt a sense of life affirmation and a connection with the characters and their stories which ran a lot deeper than most films I watch.
Absolutely brace yourself for the emotional journey of this film, but be safe in the knowledge that you’ll come out the other end all the better for watching it.
Manchester By The Sea is available for the next few days over on BBC iPlayer. But if you’ve missed it on there, don’t worry, Amazon Prime have got you covered.
That concludes my list of award winning films available to watch online. If you’ve watched them, I’d love to chat about what you thought. I’m always happy to dive into a film discussion.