20 Movies with A-List Actors on Netflix UK

20 Movies with A-List Actors on Netflix UK

June 20, 2024

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The downside of actors becoming huge movie stars is that, sometimes, they get boxed into their most recognizable roles and struggle to find opportunities to show off their range or the real depth of their talents. Here at agoodmovietowatch, our goal is to guide you towards relatively lesser-known, high-quality films that show off what these big names and familiar faces are really capable of. And for the UK, a country known for having a high pedigree of classically trained actors, as well as talented character actors, many of these hidden gems can be viewed easily through Netflix’s expansive library.

11. Leave the World Behind (2023)

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Sam Esmail

Actors

Alexis Rae Forlenza, Charlie Evans, Erica Cho, Ethan Hawke

Moods

A-list actors, Challenging, Character-driven

The key to what makes this apocalyptic thriller from Mr Robot and Homecoming showrunner Sam Esmail so unnerving is how resolute it is about not taking place in an alternate timeline. Making references to memorable events in recent history and namechecking real brands and cultural touchstones (like Tesla and Friends), Leave the World Behind is uncannily familiar — which, when combined with the film’s meticulous crafting of tension, makes it all the more unsettling.

Though taking place amidst an ambiguous national emergency, the film is largely set in one house — a claustrophobic setting that puts the characters’ self-conceits and prejudices under a microscope and forces them to confront their own impotence in an analog world. If it all sounds a bit “we live in a society,” be assured that Leave the World Behind cleverly manages to avoid the pitfalls of seeming like a bad Black Mirror ripoff by sidestepping expectations and deploying all the atmospheric tools in its arsenal. Withholding key plot and character information to increase our own paranoia means the movie always runs the risk of disappointment when explanations are finally given, but its focus on the human drama and its well-set-up ending ultimately eclipse any niggling frustrations.

12. Adaptation (2002)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Spike Jonze

Actors

Bob Stephenson, Bob Yerkes, Brian Cox, Cara Seymour

Moods

A-list actors, Funny, Original

A film written by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, about screenwriter Charlie Kaufman as he struggles to adapt a book about poaching a rare plant into a successful movie. Through Kaufman’s clever writing and Spike Jones’ unique style of directing, the film unfolds using “mise en abîme” as the viewer sees the lessons the writer in film comes across to improve his script more or less subtly influence the events he encounters as the narrative advances. Nicolas Cage’s performance is also particularly good as a highly intelligent and self-obsessed screen writer with low self-esteem.

13. Good Time (2017)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Ben Safdie, Benny Safdie

Actors

Barkhad Abdi, Ben Safdie, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress

Moods

A-list actors, Intense, Mind-blowing

A fast-paced thriller, and “actually dangerous” movie as envisioned by its directors, Good Time is about a bank robbery gone wrong and one brother trying to get his other brother out of jail in its aftermath. It’s a deep and fast dive into New York’s criminal underworld that will not give you the time to catch a single full breath. The rhythm here is, without exaggeration, unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s anxiety-inducing and very… primal. Incredible work featuring a career-pivoting performance from Robert Pattinson as the loose criminal that will do literally anything in the pursuit of seeing his brother free.

14. Pride (2014)

best

8.1

Country

France, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Matthew Warchus

Actors

Abram Rooney, Adam Ewan, Alexander Perkins, Andrew Scott

Moods

A-list actors, Discussion-sparking, Feel-Good

It’s 1984 and miners in England are on strike against Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s plans to close pits. Their cause has unlikely appeal for Mark Ashton, a human rights activists who decides to take a group of people who had joined an early Gay Pride parade in London to rural England to show support for the (often socially-conservative) miners.

You can see how things might go wrong, but in this case they didn’t. This heartwarming tale is based on a true story. An easy, funny, and relevant movie about the bond that oppression brings to the oppressed. Super earnest, too.

15. Wildlife (2018)

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Paul Dano

Actors

Avery Bagenstos, Bill Camp, Blaine Maye, Carey Mulligan

Moods

A-list actors, Depressing, Sunday

A powerful but quiet movie directed by Paul Dano and based on a novel of the same name by Richard Ford. It stars Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal as a couple who move to a new town with their only child during the 1960s. Their relationship transforms after Gyllenhaal’s character loses his job as a butler and chooses to leave for a more dangerous profession, firefighting. This movie is about his wife’s response to this event and the implications of both parents’ behavior on their kid. There are no twists or turns, exciting action or plot; but Wildlife doesn’t need any of that. This moving story about a decaying family unit is portrayed in the sadness that comes with such events. The only joy comes from watching the outstanding (but expected) performances of the cast.

16. The Death of Stalin (2017)

best

8.1

Country

Belgium, Canada, France

Director

Armando Iannucci

Actors

Adam Ewan, Adam Shaw, Adrian McLoughlin, Alla Binieieva

Moods

A-list actors, Discussion-sparking, Funny

This is a hilarious political comedy starring the ever-great Steve Buscemi. Set in the last days before Stalin’s death and the chaos that followed, it portrays the lack of trust and the random assassinations that characterized the Stalinist Soviet Union. Think of it as Veep meets Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator. Although to be fair, its dark comedy props are very different from the comedy that comes out today: where there are jokes they’re really smart, but what’s actually funny is the atmosphere and absurd situations that end up developing.

17. Paddington (2014)

best

8.1

Country

France, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Paul King

Actors

Alexander Bracq, Alice Lowe, Ancuta Breaban, Asim Chaudhry

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Feel-Good

In a global movie industry of children’s entertainment that often feels like it isn’t even trying, this little Peruvian bear coming to England is a wonderful reminder that films aimed at younger audiences aren’t inherently limited. If anything, Paddington challenges itself to come up with a far more creative (and effective) way to talk about the lingering scars of colonialism manifesting as discrimination in everyday “civil” society. It sounds like heavy stuff, but Paddington approaches its fish-out-of-water story with the exact counterbalance of silliness, and a riotous cast that’s far funnier than anyone would have expected them to be.

18. Winter’s Bone (2010)

best

8.0

Country

Netherlands, United States of America

Director

Debra Granik, Female director

Actors

Ashlee Thompson, Casey MacLaren, Cody Brown, Dale Dickey

Moods

A-list actors, Character-driven, Dramatic

A young girl is looking for her father while struggling to care for her family. The film is bleak and slow but great performances from the cast, especially the lead, will keep you engaged throughout. The story has a very real, raw, and natural feeling to it, so natural in fact that at times, you will forget it is a movie. And in many ways, it feels that Winter’s Bone is to Jennifer Lawrence what The Believer was to Ryan Gosling, as her performance is nothing short of perfect.

19. Begin Again (2013)

best

8.0

Country

United States of America

Director

John Carney

Actors

Adam Levine, Andrew Sellon, Aya Cash, Catherine Keener

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Feel-Good

John Carney, who directed the critically and commercially successful Once, may be the world’s best captor of charm. Begin Again tells the story of a broken-hearted singer who gets discovered by a failed showbiz executive. Their ideas and love for music are all they have to face their failures and bring their creativity to life. The original songs are charming and from Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo to Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Adam Levine, and Cee-Lo Green, the cast generate sparkling chemistry and portray the story beautifully. Begin again is a sweet and effortless watch, yet far from being your classic rom-com.

20. Nope (2022)

7.9

Country

Japan, United States of America

Director

Jordan Peele

Actors

Alex Hyde-White, Andrew Patrick Ralston, Barbie Ferreira, Brandon Perea

Moods

A-list actors, Gripping, Mind-blowing

It’s inspiring to see that, even after Jordan Peele made the jump to blockbuster budgets, he hasn’t lost the ability to evoke the sheer visceral panic of seeing something that isn’t supposed to be there. Nope is that increasingly uncommon kind of film whose dense air of mystery isn’t frustrating—and in fact uses to great effect the very human instinct to understand the unknowable, even if we know it’ll hurt us. Its characters might not be the most three-dimensional and the development of its themes seems to depend on a lot of extrapolation and educated guessing, but the way Nope transforms from alien invasion, to monster movie, to western adventure, to cosmic horror still makes the film much greater than the sum of its parts.

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