5 Movies Like Poor Things (2023) On Netflix UK

Staff & contributors

The concepts of roads not taken and domino effects have received plenty of cinematic attention in their showier forms by way of multiverse comic book movies and dimension-hopping films like Everything Everywhere All At Once. But, though there’s no hint of sci-fi in Past Lives, Celine Song’s gentle film can count itself as one of the best treatments of that universe-spawning question: “what if?”

When her family moves from Seoul to Canada, teenage Na Young bids a loaded farewell to classmate Hae Sung and changes her name to Nora. Years later, they reconnect online and discover the spark still burns between them. This is no idealistic romance, though: Past Lives is told with sober candor. Song acknowledges real obstacles standing in the way of a relationship between the two — those pragmatic (distance) and, more painfully, personal (evolving personalities, American husbands).

Those two threads — unrealized romance and the transmutation of identity that so often takes place after migrating — are expertly entwined in Past Lives to produce a sublime, aching meditation on memory and time, practical love and idealistic romance, and all the complex contradictions that exist in between. That Song communicates so much and so delicately in only her first film makes Past Lives all the more stunning.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: An Min-yeong, Chang Ki-ha, Chase Sui Wonders, Choi Won-young, Emily Cass McDonnell, Federico Rodriguez, Greta Lee, Hwang Seung-eon, Isaac Powell, Jack Alberts, Jane Yubin Kim, John Magaro, Jojo T. Gibbs, Kristen Sieh, Moon Seung-a, Moon Seung-ah, Seo Yeon-woo, Teo Yoo, Yim Seung-min, Yoon Ji-hye

Director: Celine Song

Rating: PG-13

Real life tragedies, especially one that's as sensationalized as the Miracle in the Andes, can be tough to depict on screen. On one hand, the film has to keep true to the story but also maintain some form of spectacle to keep people watching. Past depictions of the 1972 crash are preoccupied with the cannibalism portrayed by big name actors, but Society of the Snow takes a different route. The actors are newcomers, the threats to their lives don't require daring action stunts, and the cannibalism is limited to small chunks indistinguishable from animal meat. Instead, the spectacle of Society of the Snow is the human spirit– the vulnerability, the respect, and the generosity they've given each other in order to survive. It’s still an uncomfortable watch, especially since we get to know some of the survivors before the crash, but it’s definitely a transcendent addition to the genre dedicated to the miracle of existence.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Agustín Della Corte, Agustín Pardella, Alfonsina Carrocio, Blas Polidori, Diego Vegezzi, Enzo Vogrincic, Esteban Bigliardi, Esteban Kukuriczka, Felipe González Otaño, Felipe Ramusio Mora, Fernando Contigiani García, Francisco Romero, Jerónimo Bosia, Juan Caruso, Matías Recalt, Paula Baldini, Rafael Federman, Simon Hempe, Tomas Wolf

Director: J.A. Bayona

Rating: R

, 2023

After winning Oscars for their documentary work, filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin make their narrative feature debut with Nyad. The move to narrative fiction isn’t a monumental jump for the director duo, whose cinematic documentaries (among them Free Solo and The Rescue) play like nerve-shredding action thrillers and intense human dramas. Nor does Nyad’s subject — another extreme feat of human daring and endurance — make this feel a million miles away from their most famous works.

The most obvious departures from the directors’ documentary strengths — Nyad’s flashbacks and hallucination scenes, for example — do sometimes highlight their newness to narrative filmmaking, however. These scenes feel shallow and therefore disconnected from the movie’s otherwise deeper treatment of its subject, just as the performances dip into outsized cliches at times. Mostly, though, Nyad manages to float above the trap of trying too hard to be an inspirational sports drama thanks to its confrontation of Diana’s prickly personality. This flips the film’s perspective onto that of Diana’s team (including her coach and former girlfriend, played by Jodie Foster), who ultimately suffer the consequences of her stubbornness. That refusal to submit to hagiographic impulses gives the film a documentary-like edge of truth, making the rousing moments here feel genuinely earned.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Anna Harriette Pittman, Annette Bening, Carolyn McCormick, Diana Nyad, Eric T. Miller, Erica Cho, Ethan Jones Romero, Garland Scott, Jeena Yi, Jodie Foster, Johnny Solo, Karly Rothenberg, Katherine Klosterman, Luke Cosgrove, Marcus Young, Melissa R. Stubbs, Nadia Lorencz, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Schnetzer, Tisola Logan

Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin

Rating: PG-13

While not having world-ending stakes or large-scale operations, Sixty Minutes just works as an action movie. Sure, the plot is familiar and a little far fetched, but the film maximizes the potential of its premise, with excellently choreographed fight sequences working in tandem with the cinematography to reflect the MMA fighter leading the movie. Each moment isn’t wasted, with the action escalating each time Octa finds out about the hidden information kept from him about the match he’s planned to skip, and the film easily keeps track of his journey through neon-lit stopwatch faces and maps. And when we (and Octa) feel tired from all the fighting, the film ends right on time after sixty (and twenty nine) minutes.

Genre: Action, Drama

Actor: Alain Blazevic, Aristo Luis, Balázs Megyeri, Bettina Hoppe, Bruno Salgueiro, Dennis Mojen, Emilio Sakraya, Eniko Fulop, Florian Schmidtke, Georg Blumreiter, Harry Szovik, Janna Striebeck, José Barros, Laurent Winkler, Livia Matthes, Ludger Bökelmann, Marie Mouroum, Mehmet Ateşçi, Morik Heydo, Nyamandi Adrian, Paul Wollin, Philipp Droste, Steffen Jung, Tatjana Šojić, Tayssir Khalfallah, Vassilis Koukalani

Director: Oliver Kienle

Rating: R

, 2024

Sometimes, after a demanding work week, you want to watch a low-stakes, enjoyable movie with just enough plot to enjoy. Heist comedy Lift tries to be that film, with Kevin Hart as a smooth criminal who steals art in order to keep art from undeserving owners and improve the artist’s revenue from their work. It’s an interesting twist to the Robin Hood stereotype, one that could have hinted at concerns of screen artists last year when its release date was originally scheduled for. That being said, the film throws this idea away when Kevin Hart and his team are now forced to participate in a risky heist due to the Interpol. The events that play out amount to a fairly generic caper, but there are far better heist films to spend your weekend watching, with far better plots and stunts.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Actor: Amit Dhut, Andrew Wilson, Billy Magnussen, Burn Gorman, Caroline Loncq, David Proud, Erol Ismail, Gary Fannin, Gerard Monaco, Gordon Alexander, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jacob Batalon, Jean Reno, Jess Liaudin, Kevin Hart, Kim Yun-jee, Oli Green, Paul Anderson, Ross Anderson, Roy McCrerey, Russ Bain, Sam Worthington, Úrsula Corberó, Vincent D'Onofrio, Viveik Kalra

Director: F. Gary Gray

Rating: PG-13