Our film expert James King is here to help you pick your Netflix films in June 2022 and there are some brilliant options…
Need a hand with Netflix film recommendations for June? Look no further! With summer well and truly on the horizon, our movie man James King is back with his must-see picks for the sunnier days…
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Reviews haven’t been that kind to Chris Hemsworth’s latest, a Netflix premiere about a science boffin who tests his formulas on imprisoned criminals. But with Top Gun: Maverick actor Miles Teller in a supporting role (the two films even share the same director) and a healthy sense of its own ridiculousness, Spiderhead is a fun slice of science-fiction that at least looks good, even if it doesn’t entirely live up to its promise.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
This biopic of the late, great Queen frontman Freddie Mercury might have had a troubled production but with Rami Malek’s remarkable (and Oscar-winning) performance at its heart, you wouldn’t notice. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a fan of Queen of not. This is an inspirational tale of a true one-off, the spiritual leader of a band who fought against the odds (and fashion) to become one of the UK’s biggest entertainment exports. It will rock you!
The Craft: Legacy (2020)
The cult nineties movie about four schoolgirl witches gets a contemporary reboot, perhaps lacking the coolness of the original but with a strong message of inclusivity that’s nicely played. There are even some nods to the first film for the fans too. Relative unknowns Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon and Lovie Simone star although look out for bigger names David Duchovny and Michelle Monaghan too.
Man Up (2015)
The multi-talented American actor and director Lake Bell stars as Nancy, an unlucky-in-love thirtysomething mistaken by bumbling Jack (Simon Pegg) for his blind date when he sees her at Waterloo Station. Instead of correcting his error though, Nancy keeps up the pretence, resulting in an eventful night out in London featuring a stalker, an ex-wife and the amusing use of a fire extinguisher. Oh, and true love of course. Co-starring Sharon Horgan, Rory Kinnear and Olivia Williams.
Liam Gallagher: As It Was (2019)
It’s not the former Oasis frontman covering Harry Styles, but rather an insightful and hugely entertaining look at his life following the split with his brother Noel and the new generation of fans worshipping the ground he walks on. Liam’s secret? What you see is what you get. He’s a rock ‘n’roll one-off, totally dedicated to the cause and with a sense of humour that’s irresistible. May he ‘live forever’!
One of the silliest films of all time is also one of the funniest, an inspired spoof of disaster movies (in this case, about an out-of-control passenger plane) that’s so packed with daft gags you’ll need to watch it at least twice to get them all. Some of the humour might be a little dated but the air of straight-faced stupidity is contagious, perfectly played by all the cast but especially by the legendary Leslie Nielsen, who’d go on to the do the same thing all over again in the Naked Gun movies.
War Dogs (2016)
Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are gun-runners for the US military in this wild, crazy and eye-opening
action drama loosely based on true events. Is it glamourising or criticising their behaviour? The jury’s still out but with Bradley Cooper and Ana De Armas as co-stars, plus some deliciously dark humour, there’s plenty of reason for you to watch and decide for yourself.
What’s Your Number? (2011)
The brilliantly ditzy Anna Faris is often better than the films she stars in and that’s certainly the case with this cheeky laugher about a young woman struggling to balance her past romances with finding ‘the one’. But whilst it may be occasionally clunky, it’s another polished performance from Faris (who’s now really showing her skills hosting hit podcast Unqualified) plus there’s a pre-Avengers Chris Evans charming everyone in his wake as her laidback musician neighbour.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
The Cold War has never been more atmospheric than in this all-star adaptation of the classic tale of espionage and double-crossing. Gary Oldman leads the cast as crinkly British intelligence officer George Smiley with Colin Firth, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Graham, John Hurt and Tom Hardy adding extra mystery to the proceedings. Moody and masterful. You’ll be gripped.
Jennifer Lopez: Halftime (2022)
If any showbiz megastar has a life worthy of a documentary then it’s Jenny From the Block. Starting with her childhood in The Bronx and going all the way to her eye-popping Superbowl show alongside Shakira, Halftime might be produced by J-Lo herself – and therefore lacking any real dirt – but her focus and determination across all aspects of her life is still an inspirational thing to behold.
WATCH: Jennifer Lopez in tears in trailer for intimate Netflix documentary Halftime
Every now and then Adam Sandler takes a break from dumb, throwaway comedies and makes a film that reminds us of what he’s really capable of. Hustle is one of those movies. Described as ‘Rocky meets Jerry Maguire’, The Sandman plays a scout for a Philadelphia basketball team who believes he might finally have found the prodigy he’s always dreamed of. Gritty, gripping and effortlessly likeable, this is a Sandler slam dunk. Co-starring Queen Latifah.
Tom Hardy stars alongside… er… Tom Hardy in this slick biopic of notorious London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray. He is, as you’d expect, hypnotically powerful in both roles whilst the film’s 1960s setting is flawless. It’s good to see a focus on Reggie’s wife Frances too (Emily Browning), exploring how the gangster’s criminal lifestyle affected his family life. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted though. The twins’ reign over the city’s underworld was brutal and Legend doesn’t pull any punches.
A young Asa Butterfield – now best known as Otis in Netflix’s Sex Education – stars in this flamboyant fantasy about a young boy who lives alone in a Parisian railway station in the 1930s, maintaining all the clocks on the platforms whilst also trying to figure out the secret behind one of his late father’s inventions. Eye-popping and eccentric, Hugo is another masterpiece from acclaimed film-maker Martin Scorsese. Chloë Grace Moretz, Jude Law, Sacha Baron-Cohen and Ben Kingsley co-star.
The true story of lesbian and gay activists who helped raise money for striking miners during the infamous 1984 dispute is brilliantly handled by stars Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West and Paddy Considine. It’s anything but worthy, a riot of one-liners and eighties pop that manages to be both angry and uplifting at the same time – not a million miles away from Britflicks such as Brassed Off and The Full Monty. A definite crowd-pleaser.
News of the World (2021)
The ever-reliable Tom Hanks lends his heavyweight power to this moody Western about a Civil War veteran returning a long lost girl to her family. The great man is, of course, superb as Captain Jefferson Kidd but it’s co-star Helena Zengel – just twelve years old at the time of filming and hailing from Germany – who picked up a raft of awards nominations. Impressive stuff.
The Ghost Writer (2010)
One of Ewan McGregor’s best (and, unfortunately, least remembered) movie roles sees him as a journalist hired to pen the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (a brilliantly slippery Pierce Brosnan), uncovering dark secrets about his past along the way. Look out for a superb Kim Cattrall too, as an eerily efficient personal assistant to the PM. Taut, stylish, grown-up thrills.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
A masterpiece that won multiple Best Picture awards, this epic – and true – tale of injustice hasn’t lost any of its power over the years. Chiwetel Ejiofor is unforgettably driven as Solomon Northrup, a Washington musician kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery but it’s perhaps Lupita Nyong’o who shines most brightly in her breakthrough role as Solomon’s friend, the heartbreakingly tortured Patsey. She rightfully won an Oscar for her turn and roles in Black Panther and Us followed.
The Impossible (2012)
Based on the experience of María Belón and her family in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami tragedy, The Impossible features jaw-dropping effects and haunting set-pieces plus inspiring turns from Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and – in his first film after starring as Billy Elliot in London’s West End – future Spider-Man, Tom Holland. Even as a fifteen year old he has serious charisma, even though he hadn’t even decided on a full-time acting career by this point. Hugely affecting.
Steve Coogan sports a frankly remarkable set of false teeth to dazzle his way through this biting comedy about a retail millionaire (Sir Richard McReadie) trying to organise his opulent birthday party on a Greek island. But underneath the showiness, Richard’s world is falling apart. Flashing between past and present, it’s easy to spot that this guy is loosely based on real people. But even though it has a lot to say about pride, vanity, and the immorality of some of the fashion industry, Greed is also just brilliantly funny.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
The second instalment of the slightly overlooked animation franchise sees New York zoo animals Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe crash land in an African nature reserve, leading Alex to a happy reunion with his long lost parents. More good-natured fun, with Sacha Baron-Cohen’s Julien the lemur stealing almost every scene. And if you’re a fan, check out the other Madagascar spin-offs and sequels on Netflix too.
Knight & Day (2010)
Has Top Gun: Maverick got you in the mood for more Tom Cruise? Well this fun romp (co-starring Cameron Diaz) features Tom at this most charming, playing a rebellious secret agent who embroils an unsuspecting car dealer in his whirlwind adventure. Viola Davis and Peter Sarsgaard co-star, with a small role for a pre-superstardom Gal Gadot too. Glamorous, globe-trotting escapism.
Man of Tai Chi (2013)
Keanu Reeves took his love of martial arts to the next level by both starring in and directing this moody thriller about an underground fight club. It’s a shame that it bombed at the box-office since the action scenes are spine-tingling and Keanu is, as always, a master of straight-faced authority. It might not be The Matrix or Point Break but it’s still worth a look.
The Peruvian bear with a love of marmalade sandwiches (and a voice just like Ben Whishaw) heads to London for a new life with the eccentric Brown family in this flawless adaptation of Michael Bond’s legendary stories. The key to its success? So many things. Charm, humour, adventure and a unique visual style all add up to a homegrown classic. The even-better Part 2 is also on Netflix, with Part 3 currently being filmed!
The force of nature that is Lin-Manuel Miranda (writer of songs for Encanto, Hamilton and In the Heights) voices Vivo’s title character – a rainforest mammal called a kinkajou – as well as composing the tunes for this animated musical about a small animal with big dreams. His mission? To travel from Cuba to Miami and deliver an important message for his best friend. Vibrant, funny and with seriously catchy tunes, Vivo also features the voices of Zoe Saldana and Gloria Estefan.
Anyone else remember Bandslam? Vanessa Hudgens followed up her High School Musical success with another teen singalong – this time with a cooler edge – about a group of student misfits out to win a local talent competition. With great tunes and sharp gags, Bandslam should have been massive (spoiler: it wasn’t). Never mind. With a host of producing, presenting and acting gigs on the pipeline, Vanessa’s having the last laugh.
The Crow (1994)
Nearly thirty years on this legendary cult movie still has plenty of power, not least because of its tragic history (star Brandon Lee was fatally wounded during filming and the film was completed using a stunt double and digital effects). But this story of murdered rock star Eric Draven, resurrected in order to get his revenge, also continues to deliver the goods because of some serious gothic style and a blistering soundtrack. A nineties classic.
Run Fatboy Run (2007)
Here’s a great pub quiz question: Which former ‘Friends’ cast member directed this hit rom-com, starring Simon Pegg as a loser who tries win back his girlfriend by entering a marathon? The answer is David ‘Ross’ Schwimmer – and a fine job he does. Look out for him in a cameo role too, handing Simon a beer during a race! Easy laughs and sweet romance, co-starring Thandiwe Newton and Hank Azaria.
The devastating true story of Saroo Brierly, separated from his parents in Khandwa, India, as a young boy before being adopted by an Australian couple and moving to Tasmania. Twenty five years later Saroo decides he wants to head back to his home country and track down his biological family. Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and David Wenham star in this spine-tingling award-winner.
The Lost Daughter (2021)
Actor Maggie Gyllenhaal’s first film as a director is a haunting, must-see tale of a professor (Olivia Colman) spending a holiday in Greece coming to terms with her past. Whilst she’s there she also becomes fascinated with a glamorous fellow traveller (Dakota Johnson), who’s hiding her own secret. A fascinating and beautifully told story of motherhood and regret, with Paul Mescal and Jessie Buckley in supporting roles.
Ali & Ava (2022)
One of this year’s best British films stars Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook as the title characters, both Bradford natives but with different backgrounds and family lives. A romance between them causes ripples in the community but this is a story told with such a big heart it never feels heavy-going. Great to see Adeel Akhtar get a BAFTA nomination for his joyfully eccentric performance as Ali too.
Channing Tatum stars as likeable bad boy Shawn, a New York street hustler who starts to find success in the lucrative – but highly dangerous – world of illegal fighting. It’s sometimes brutal, of course, but Channing’s doing what he always does so well: playing the cheeky beefcake with a heart of gold. The result? A drama with real punch.
The Invention of Lying (2009)
The ever-provocative Ricky Gervais – whose latest stand-up show Supernature is now on Netflix – co-wrote, co-directed, produced and starred in this cheeky fantasy set in a world where everyone tells the truth. The big chuckles are there, of course, but things also take a philosophical turn too – no surprise from a comedian who likes talking about religion almost as much as he likes wearing black t-shirts. So prepare to have your brain tickled as well as your funny bones.
Into the Wild (2007)
Emile Hirsch is unforgettable in this heartbreaking true story of Christopher McCandless, a disenchanted university graduate who decides to explore America by car, foot and even kayak instead of doing what society expects of him. Jena Malone, Kristen Stewart and William Hurt co-star, with confident and insightful direction from the man behind the camera too – a certain Sean Penn.
Django Unchained (2012)
Another slice of crazy genius from writer/director Quentin Tarantino, this one starring the great Jamie Foxx as a nineteenth century freed slave in America’s south, travelling the states to track down his lost wife (Kerry Washington). Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for his turn as Django’s oddball sidekick Schultz but it’s a white-haired Samuel L Jackson and an especially slimy Leonardo DiCaprio who really make a mark.
Cast Away (2000)
Classic Tom Hanks action drama that sees The Nicest Guy in Hollywood play a Fed Ex employee stranded for four years on a remote island after his plane crashes in the South Pacific. Tom’s performance is, of course, flawless. Filming was even stopped for a year so that he could could lose weight, grow a beard and generally look as though he’d really been stranded for months on end. Nevertheless, few would disagree that even the great Tom is almost upstaged by his co-star, Wilson the Volleyball.
Thirty years after he started in Formula 1, the legendary racing drive Michael ‘the Red Baron’ Schumacher is celebrated in this archive-packed look at his life and career, especially Ferrari’s early noughties dominance in the top tier of motorsport. As this is authorised by his family it’s always more about honouring than digging for dirt, but there’s still enough tension, warmth and insight to keep things interesting.
Jackass 4.5 (2022)
The dumb daredevils are back with their fourth movie outing, looking a little bit worse for wear these days but still with the same goal: to pull off as many dangerously stupid stunts as possible. It’s all ridiculously childish, of course, but there’s something weirdly reassuring about how Johnny Knoxville, Steve O and the boys don’t seem to have changed their behaviour one bit since their noughties heyday. Long may it continue.
A Perfect Pairing (2022)
Netflix really is the go-to place for cheesy romantic comedies like this. From the writers of previous hits Falling Inn Love and Love, Guaranteed comes another ‘opposites attract’ story, this time starring Victoria Justice as an LA wine executive (!) who heads to Australia for work, only to find herself working on a sheep ranch (!) and meeting a hunky local (!) Don’t expect realism, just plenty of beautiful scenery and slushy moments.
Brooding romance set on England’s South Coast in the 1840s about an introverted palaeontologist (Kate Winslet) and a secret relationship she strikes up with a budding fossil collector (Saoirse Ronan). Both leads are as pitch-perfect as you’d expect and although this is a slow starter, it’s ultimately a beautifully told feminist drama that seamlessly mixes real-life historical figures with a fictional love story.
The Departed (2006)
Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and the legendary Jack Nicholson found both box-office success and Oscar glory with this gutsy Boston crime drama about two undercover agents working on opposite sides of the law. It’s packed with big speeches, blistering action and heavyweight themes. Cracking stuff.
She’s All That (1999)
One of the best-loved high-school pics from the turn of the century got a recent remake but this original is still sweet and funny, with its classic My Fair Lady-style storyline of a geeky teen (Rachael Leigh Cook) who gets turned into one of the cool kids by a popular jock (Freddie Prinze Jr). The cast is packed with famous faces from the era – Matthew Lillard, Paul Walker, Gabrielle Union – as well as little Kieran Culkin, years before Succession gave him critical acclaim.
Fabulously fun fairytale starring Charlie Cox as Tristan, a young man who leaves his small village and heads for the fantasy kingdom of Stormhold in order to find a gift for the woman he loves. The Storhmold natives aren’t that happy about it though. Cheeky jokes and an all-star cast (Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais, Sienna Miller) makes this a magical must-see. You can sing along with the song on the end credits too: Take That’s ‘Rule The World’.
The legendary sailor Tracy Edwards and her all-female crew tell the story of their groundbreaking time in 1989’s Whitbread Round the World Race in this rousing and inspiring documentary. It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about yachts – this true tale is as gripping as any blockbuster. And more important too.
British star Florence Pugh continues her run of superb films (Little Women, Fighting With My Family, Black Widow) with this beautifully bizarre and seriously creepy tale of American students finding what they think is paradise on a camping trip to Sweden. How wrong could they be? Look out for Florence in the upcoming Don’t Worry Darling, alongside a certain Harry Styles.
Dear John (2010)
More high-class slush from the pen of author Nicholas Sparks – and perhaps the best movie adaptation of his work after The Notebook. Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum have genuine chemistry as Savannah and John, falling for each other by the beach in picturesque South Carolina but forced apart when his military leave ends and he heads to Afghanistan. Yes, you might groan. But you’ll blub too.
Senior Year (2022)
Rebel Wilson plays a 37-year old who wakes up from a coma after two decades, frustrated that she missed her prom and the chance to be crowned queen. Her solution? To go back to high-school. Don’t expect subtlety from Rebel but stories about sneaking back into education like this are always fun (think 21 Jump Street and Never Been Kissed). Plus, there’s an astounding Rebel-as-Britney moment!
The Good Liar (2019)
Twist-packed romps like this live and die on their credibility so when you’ve got acting legends Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen on board you know that however outlandish the plot, you’ve got the best leads to make it believable. Without them, this story of OAP con-artists would be a faintly ridiculous tale of bitter revenge. With them, though, it’s a masterclass from two heavyweights in how to inject relish and humour into a story, creating a charming drama full of dastardly deeds and cheeky oneupmanship.
Headline-grabbing comedian Pete Davison voices the giant – and very clumsy – Great Dane in this latest incarnation of the famous comic strip (the last was in 2010). This time around Marmaduke is eyed as a potential dog show winner, if only he could be properly trained. This so-so Netflix offering is not exactly going to get the animation brainiacs at Pixar quaking in their boots but it might just be enough for youngsters looking for something new.
Our Father (2022)
The horrifying – but gripping – true story of American thirty-something Jacoba Ballard who took a DNA test to discover her origins but uncovered something much darker: a conspiracy by a popular fertility doctor from Indianapolis to impregnate as many women as possible. Truly unsettling.
Enjoyably OTT drama starring Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and John Travolta about a drug-smuggling threesome who find themselves in hot-water with their colleagues in Central America. There’s plenty of tension and some stunning locations as well as characteristically ridiculous turn from Travolta as a dodgy drug enforcement officer with even dodgier facial hair.
Concrete Cowboy (2021)
Another strong outing from powerhouse Idris Elba – who produced this as well as starring in it – about a teenage boy who leaves his home in Detroit to stay with his estranged dad in Philadelphia, falling in with a crowd of city cowboys once he’s there. Sometimes traditional, sometimes surprising (who knew about city cowboys?), this is an especially great film for fathers and sons, featuring a strong message about the importance of family bonds and brotherhood.
It may not be as well remembered as the eighties version of the famous Broadway musical but this more recent, bubbly take on the story of little orphan Annie still has a lot to recommend it. The stars – Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx and eleven year old Quvenzhané Wallis – are all impressive whilst the new music by Sia works sweetly with old classics like ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’. Plus, here’s a fact for the pub quiz: this was the last film that Cameron made before deciding to retire from acting.
John Cusack stars in this Stephen King adaptation, playing a skeptical psychic investigator whose beliefs are challenged when he stays in creepy room 1408 of an historic New York hotel. A refreshingly eerie thriller that doesn’t rely on gore to send shivers down your spine – and which also features Samuel L Jackson at his intimidating best.
The Judge (2014)
Outside of his turns in blockbuster Marvel movies, Robert Downey Jr teamed up with Hollywood legend Robert Duvall for this gripping drama about a hotshot lawyer defending his estranged father on a case of second degree murder. It might boast some clichéd moments (which probably led to it being shut out of the awards season race) but let’s be honest, watching the two Roberts slug it out in a courtroom was never going to be anything less than riveting.
Doctor Sleep (2019)
If you know creepy classic The Shining – either the movie version of Stephen King’s novel – then you’ll want to check out this sequel. Dan Torrance, a child in the original but now an adult, has to protect a young girl with psychic powers from a cult known as the True Knot, bringing back memories of his traumatic time at the Overlook Hotel all those years ago. Effective chills, starring Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson.
Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
It’s Eurovision Song Contest time again! And if the actual show isn’t already ridiculous enough for you then this affectionate send-up starring Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell will surely do the job. They star as Sigrid and Lars, two small-time singers from Iceland who get the chance to represent their country in the legendary competition. Chaos, as you can imagine, ensues. You’ll laugh, yes, but original songs such as ‘Husavik’ – an actual Oscar nominee – are genuinely great too.
It’s a shame that it’s been so long since John Travolta has been in a genuinely great movie like this. Even dragged up and wearing several pounds of prosthetics, JT still delivers the goods as 1960s Baltimore mom Edna Turnblad, struggling not just with her agoraphobia but also with bubbly daughter Tracy (Nikki Blonsky) and her battle to change the TV landscape. Pure singalong joy that packs a political punch too.
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