12 Movies Like The Holdovers (2023) On Netflix UK

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching The Holdovers ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

Of all the Christmas-set films to have come out over the last couple of months that were, inexplicably, about grief and regret (you'd be surprised by how many there are), The Holdovers easily outdoes its contemporaries by being confident enough to just sit with its characters. Like the best of director Alexander Payne's other films, there are no melodramatic crescendos or overcomplicated metaphors; there are only flawed individuals going about their lives, occasionally noticing the things that bind them together. Payne's gentle touch means the characters (and the audience) aren't forced to "solve" their grief, but allowed to come to terms with it in their own way, with each other.Payne evokes the film's 1970s setting through a muted color palette and analog—almost tactile—sound design, giving warmth to this New England despite all its snow and chilly interiors. It's understandable that these characters are similarly cold to each other on the surface at first, but they manage to thaw the ice simply by taking the chance to listen to each other's pain. It's the kind of film in which relationships develop so gradually, that you hardly notice until the end how much mutual respect has formed between them when they return from their dark nights of the soul back to their status quo.

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

Art is a hobby for most people, but for musician Jon Batiste and writer Suleika Jaouad, art is part and parcel of this thing called life. Of course, it’s part of their work, and it’s how they make a livelihood, but it’s more than that– it’s almost a spiritual ritual they cling to, especially when Jaouad finds out that her leukemia has returned. American Symphony mainly depicts the creation of said orchestral work, but director Matthew Heineman translates the symphony into cinematic form, culminating in a performance played over the intimate moments between Batiste and Jaouad. It’s not just a documentary of a performance, but a documentary about art, about creation despite life’s pains, perhaps to survive life’s pains. It’s a powerful work that makes it easy to believe in art as imperative for life, and vice versa.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Anna Wintour, Billie Eilish, James Taylor, Jon Batiste, Jonathan Dinklage, Justin Bieber, Lenny Kravitz, Louis Cato, Questlove, Simon Helberg, Stephen Colbert, Stevie Wonder, Suleika Jaouad, Trevor Noah

Director: Matthew Heineman

Rating: PG-13

David Fincher's return to form almost ten years after Gone Girl turns the eponymous French graphic novel series into a stone-cold stunner. The Killer can be described as a crime thriller and a neo noir, but it's perfectly Fincherian in the ways it withholds information from the viewer, building up suspense in a masterful rhythm. The film opens on the inside of a construction site—a WeWork office to-be—where our Killer stalks his pray across the street. A rather static beginning, where nothing much happens: one may question the thriller qualities of the film during its first act for similar reasons, but just give it time; that's exactly what The Killer would say. But little does he know that time is something he doesn't have much of...

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Actor: Arliss Howard, Bernard Bygott, Brandon Morales, Charles Parnell, Daran Norris, Emiliano Pernia, Endre Hules, Erik Hellman, Gabriel Polanco, Jack Kesy, Jérôme Keen, Julia Rowley, Kellan Rhude, Kerry O'Malley, Michael Fassbender, Monique Ganderton, Nikki Dixon, Sala Baker, Sophie Charlotte, Tilda Swinton

Director: David Fincher

Rating: R

Many comedians use humor as a way to ease into more serious subject matter, though there always exists a risk that a comedy special can skew too far down the silly or the self-reflective route. Mike Birbiglia has come about as close to the perfect balance as possible, in this recording of his one-man Broadway show at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Key to this is the fact that Birbiglia tells one very cohesive story throughout these 77 minutes, frequently branching off to other humorous anecdotes but always returning with a pensive self-consciousness to the real possibility of him dying sooner than he'd want.

This filmed version of Birbiglia's show doesn't give a full idea of its multimedia qualities (Birbiglia occasionally has words and images projected onto the curved screen behind him, which he also physically interacts with), but the comedian's sincere style of storytelling more than makes up for the lack of audiovisual tricks we're permitted to see. And don't get it confused: this is a very funny stand-up special, whose jokes always come from the most unexpected places—it also just happens to contain some truly moving moments that come out of nowhere, but make total sense alongside all the laughter.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Mike Birbiglia

Director: Seth Barrish

Rating: PG-13

, 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

Bank of Dave is a simple but well-told film that feels utterly satisfying from start to end. Dave is the little guy who only wants to give back to his community, but stopping him from achieving his noble goals are the big guys in suits with vested interests and too narrow a focus to appreciate the good that Dave is after. The film is David versus Goliath, countryside versus cityside, socialist versus capitalist (or, if you like, ethical capitalism versus unethical capitalism). You know who will triumph in the end, but that doesn’t detract from the film’s overall enjoyability. The dialogue is smart and stirring, and you can’t help but root for the film’s small heroes to win big. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adrian Lukis, Angus Wright, Cathy Tyson, Drew Cain, Florence Hall, Freddie Bolt, Harry Michell, Hopi Grace, Hugh Bonneville, Jo Hartley, Joe Elliott, Joel Fry, Naomi Battrick, Paul Kaye, Phil Collen, Philip Gascoyne, Phoebe Dynevor, Rick Allen, Rick Savage, Roger Morlidge, Rory Kinnear, Steve Edge, Vivian Campbell

Director: Chris Foggin

Rating: PG-13

, 2023

An unsung hero of the civil rights movement gets the customary Oscar bait treatment in this biopic. Though he was instrumental in organizing the historic March on Washington — which helped force the US government to enshrine civil rights — gay Black activist Bayard Rustin isn’t the household name his peers are. In an inversion of that narrative, figures like Martin Luther King appear here as supporting characters to Colman Domingo’s Bayard.

Domingo’s energetic, commanding performance holds the center of the film, but he’s ill-served by the formulaic approach to storytelling that unfolds around him. More than a few scenes feel like they were written, directed, and performed with an eye to making awards ceremony clips, giving the film a disjointed, self-aware air. And yet, for all the limits of its by-the-numbers approach, Rustin does manage to pack in glints of insight. By virtue of who he was, Bayard will never not make for a compelling central figure — so even lackluster filmmaking can’t sap this inherently radical material of all its power. Though not without its flaws, then, the film is valuable for the light it sheds on the polarising effect Bayard's identity as a gay Black man had within the movement and the intersectional depths he nevertheless brought to it. 

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Adrienne Warren, Aml Ameen, Audra McDonald, Ayana Workman, Bill Irwin, Carra Patterson, CCH Pounder, Chanel Minnifield, Chris Rock, Collin Antrim Miller, Colman Domingo, Cotter Smith, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Dan Sauer, Daniel Johnson, Frank Harts, Glynn Turman, Grantham Coleman, Gus Halper, Hope Clarke, Ivan Moore, Jeff Hochendoner, Jeffrey Wright, Johanna McGinley, Johnny Ramey, Jordan Aaron Hall, Jules Latimer, Kevin Mambo, Lilli Kay, Maxwell Whittington-Cooper, Michael Potts, Rashad Edwards, Robert F. Kennedy, Scott Deal, Zuri Starks

Director: George C. Wolfe

Rating: PG-13

Nuovo Olimpo is stunning, atmospheric, and the very concept of the film – where lost love intersects with Italian cinema – is an interesting one. Starting the film’s relationship at a specific movie theater feels reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso, especially as Enea’s path mirrors Salvatore becoming a famous director. However, the film doesn’t really dive deep into this concept, nor does it add much to say with its gay romance. There’s something here about the relationship between the creator and the viewer that is undeniably interlinked, and there’s a hope that they can meet in the middle. But when the film doesn’t care about the couple’s individual paths, there are times it feels like it’s just going through the motions.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Aglaia Mora, Alvise Rigo, Andrea Di Luigi, Aurora Giovinazzo, Damiano Gavino, Eugenio di Fraia, Federico Mancini, Giacomo Colavito, Giacomo Stallone, Giancarlo Commare, Greta Scarano, Loredana Cannata, Luisa Ranieri, Priscilla Drag

Director: Ferzan Özpetek

Rating: R

True crime stories set in the world of crypto are still relatively unexplored and therefore have a real contemporary edge to them; they feel more relatable because these criminals share the same online spaces we do. Bitconned taps into this with a more casual, carefree energy, but it also brings up the same concerns—namely: how helpful is it, really, to give this much attention to a con artist currently running free? The film spends most of its time explaining how its main characters built their scam then failed spectacularly at covering their tracks, but after a while even the entertainment of others' mistakes needs to be supported by more thorough analysis, which this documentary doesn't provide.

Genre: Crime, Documentary

Actor: Damian Williams, Ray Trapani, Robert Farkas, Sam Bankman-Fried, Sohrab Sharma

Director: Bryan Storkel

Rating: R

With every new Aardman production, their stop motion animation technique becomes more and more seamless, looking practically indistinguishable from the work being put out by other animation studios that use CG. However, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget also threatens to flatten into the same kind of entertainment churned out by other studios at a faster rate. There isn't as much personality to either the story or the art direction—which gave the first Chicken Run film such a sense of urgency—and any ideas about how one's radical beliefs are tested with age never really get off the ground. And yet, what Aardman is able to do with actual tactile models will never not be impressive, these rebellious chickens standing as a tribute to handcrafted storytelling that will never be replaced.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

Actor: Alison Dowling, Amy McAllister, Bella Ramsey, Daniel Mays, David Bradley, David Brooks, Harry McEntire, Imelda Staunton, Jane Horrocks, Josie Sedgwick-Davies, Julia Sawalha, Kate Harbour, Lynn Ferguson, Miranda Richardson, Naomi McDonald, Nick Mohammed, Peter Serafinowicz, Ramanique Ahluwalia, Rebecca Gethings, Romesh Ranganathan, Sam Fell, Sam Wilkinson, Sarah Counsell, Shobu Kapoor, Sudha Bhuchar, Tamaryn Payne, Thandiwe Newton, Tim Bentinck, Tom Doggart, William Vanderpuye, Zachary Levi

Director: Sam Fell

Rating: PG

The messy, non-linear process of grieving is always tough to capture meaningfully on screen—and there are definitely parts of Good Grief that trail off without much feeling or go on for too long without making new points. But the good still outweighs the bad in Dan Levy's directorial debut, with the inherent impracticality of death taking center stage. At a certain age when one has too much going on in life, grief can become just another responsibility that needs to be managed, that often clashes with the priorities of one's friends. The film just falls short of making truly astute insights into loss or crafting complete characters, but it's reassuring all the same in how ordinarily it views something so tragic.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Arnaud Valois, Celia Imrie, Cyrielle Debreuil, Dan Levy, David Bradley, Emma Corrin, Himesh Patel, Jamael Westman, Kaitlyn Dever, Luke Evans, Mehdi Baki, Nigel Lilley, Ruth Negga, Yoli Fuller, Zoé Bruneau

Director: Dan Levy

Rating: R

The new stand-up special from Pete Davidson won't win over any skeptics, but there's something to admire in how the comedian heads straight towards edgy material, tells us he's going to go there, and still manages to surprise when he follows through. Which is to say Davidson's audacity might be more impressive than any of his actual writing in this special, with a good number of his jokes highlighting the bizarre situations his fame leads him into, but little more than that. It's stoner comedy for better or worse—observations about a strange world from a hazy point of view that may not always be coherent.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Pete Davidson

Director: Jason Orley

Rating: R