While there’s nothing quite like seeing a movie together at the ANU Film Group, we’ve put together this list of recommended films to keep our members entertained and connected from the comfort and safety of your own homes. Some are old favourites that we’ve screened before, while others are hidden gems you may not have heard of yet.
We’ve done our best to source these films from free (and legal) streaming platforms, and have noted where fees may apply for viewing on certain services.
This list will be updated on a weekly basis – so if you have any suggestions you’d like to share, please send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org along with why you think the film should be seen and details on where the film can be found.
Happy viewing, and feel free to share and discuss these films with your friends, family and loved ones!
The powerful true story of Bryan Stevenson (Jordan), a Harvard law grad who dedicates his career to defending the wrongly convicted. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillan (Foxx), an African-American man sentenced to die despite all evidence pointing to his innocence – one of many victims of systemic racism.
Samuel L. Jackson narrates this essential, Oscar-nominated documentary which explores the history of racism in the United States through the writings of social activist James Baldwin. Baldwin devoted his life to putting his experience of being a Black man into words, making crucial observations on American race relations.
Set during one of the largest race riots in American history, this film recreates a racially-charged incident of police brutality that occurred at the Algiers Motel in 1967. John Boyega – one of the strongest celebrity voices at the heart of the recent movement – stars as a security guard who is unwillingly caught up in the inhumane acts.
Ava DuVernay (Selma) directs this documentary that likens the widespread mass incarceration of coloured people in America to a continuation of slavery. Named after the US constitution's 13th amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865, the Oscar-nominated film is provocative, challenging and packed with information.
Racism exists in Australia too, and it would be remiss of us not to mention Indigenous AFL footballer Adam Goodes as a confronting example of this. This acclaimed documentary focusses on the final chapter of Goodes’ playing career when he took a stand on racism and became the centre of a debate that divided the nation.
The influential debut of both Mikkelsen and director Refn (Drive, Bronson), this grisly Danish crime thriller follows a drug pusher (Bodnia) as he desperately tries to recoup a large debt after a deal gone wrong. Mikkelsen plays his dimwitted skinhead sidekick – who goes on to become the lead character in Refn's 2004 sequel.
With a bleeding tear duct and a memorable torture scene, Mikkelsen's turn as villainous banker Le Chiffre is bound to live on in the pantheon of Bond baddies. Daniel Craig's stellar back-to-basics debut as 007 also finally gave Mikkelsen international recognition, as the two men face off in a high-stakes game of poker.
The deserving recipient of a bevy of accolades – including for Best Actor – this unforgettable Danish drama stars Mikkelsen as a kindergarten teacher who is wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child at his school. The false claim sees the man become a target of mass hysteria as his town's tight-knit community turn against him.
This lavish period romance was released the same year as The Hunt and couldn't have been more different. Mikkelsen plays an 18th century royal physician whose devotion to his King and country is upended by an affair with the young Queen (Vikander). What follows is the true story of a revolution that changed Denmark forever.
In terms of one-man shows, you could do worse than spending 100 minutes with Mads in the snow. Here, he plays a man stranded after a plane crash in the Arctic circle whose makeshift livelihood is disrupted by the arrival of an unexpected visitor. Even in the absence of dialogue, Mikkelsen manages to deliver a stunning performance.
Perhaps the quintessential Cannes film, Federico Fellini's 1960 Palme d'Or winner is the extravagant tale of a jaded celebrity journalist who has just seven days in Rome to find the eponymous sweet life. It gave the world everything we associate with modern Italy – style, fashion, even paparazzo – while cementing Fellini's reputation.
Jane Campion's sensual period drama is still infamously the only Palme d'Or winner to be directed by a woman. Set in mid-19th century New Zealand, a mute pianist (Hunter) finds her loveless marriage to her new husband (Neill) falling apart when he sells her prized piano – and inadvertently her affection – to another man (Keitel).
Francis Ford Coppola filmed this 1974 Palme d'Or winner at the same time as a little sequel by the name of The Godfather Part II. In this tense thriller that remains as relevant as ever in today's techno world, a surveillance expert (Gene Hackman) faces a moral dilemma when one of his recordings appears to reveal plans for a murder.
Does any other Palme d'Or winner have as much cultural relevance as Quentin Tarantino's 1994 masterpiece? From that dance to Sam Jackson's Ezekiel speech, this postmodern crime film is undeniably iconic and forever changed expectations of what independent cinema could be. Plus, it made John Travolta cool again (for a bit).
At 196 minutes long, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s 2014 Palme d'Or winner will test your patience, but those who stick through it will be rewarded with a beautiful meditation on class inequalities in Turkey and beyond. The fable-like drama follows a Turkish landowner as he deals with conflicts from both his own family and his aggrieved tenants.
After making her feature film debut just one year earlier in Bruce Beresford's Paradise Road, Cate's performance as Elizabeth I catapulted her to international stardom. This look at the early years of the embattled monarch's reign also scored Cate her first Oscar nod, along with Best Actress wins at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs.
Within less than a decade, Cate had become one of the world's most sought-after actresses. She stars here alongside Brad Pitt as an estranged couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert – in this ensemble drama from director Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant, Birdman) about the interlocked lives of seemingly random people.
Cate delivers a tour de force performance as a Manhattan socialite who has fallen on tough times in Woody Allen's dark comedy-drama. Critics heralded the performance as one of Cate's best – and she received more than 40 awards on the way to a Best Actress Oscar, her second after winning Best Supporting Actress in 2005.
After playing one of many Bob Dylans in Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, Cate reunited with the director for this 1950s-set drama about a forbidden love affair between a woman going through a divorce and a younger department store clerk (Mara). This beautiful and intoxicating romance was one of the best films of 2015.
One of five (!) films she appeared in during 2015, this experimental feature has Cate playing no less than 13 characters as she recites famous manifestos from artists over varying time periods in contemporary scenarios. Originally designed as an art installation, this 90-minute film version is no less of a masterclass in performance.
Unbeknownst to its mortal inhabitants, Berlin is populated by invisible angels who observe the humans and listen to their thoughts – until one of the angels (Ganz) falls in love with a woman. One of the greatest German films ever made, it was remade in 1998 as City of Angels, starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan and set in Los Angeles.
A Hong Kong cop goes undercover with the Triads, while a rival gang member infiltrates the police force and rises through the ranks. Despite being remade in 2006 by Martin Scorsese as The Departed – which eventually won the Best Picture Oscar – the original remains a slickly-told crime thriller that more than holds its own.
This darkly comedic Norwegian revenge thriller was remade by the same director in 2019 as Cold Pursuit, starring Liam Neeson. Although the end result was similar, we prefer the original starring Stellan Skarsgård as a mild-mannered snow plow driver who seeks bloody vengeance against the drug dealers who killed his son.
In 1980s Stockholm, a bullied young boy begins a friendship with the peculiar girl who has just moved in next door, unaware that she is a vampire. Beautiful and unexpectedly intelligent, the Swedish original was remade in 2010 as Let Me In – a commendable, if redundant, American re-telling of the tale starring Chloë Grace Moretz.
A dentist (Matthau) finds himself caught in a lie with the woman he wishes to marry (Hawn, who won an Oscar for her early role) and recruits his longtime nurse (Bergman) to pose as his soon-to-be ex-wife. This rom-com classic was remade in 2011 as Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Need we say more?
It's been nearly five years since the last Bond film, but that's nothing compared to the six-year series hiatus that GoldenEye broke when it came along 25 years ago. Featuring Pierce Brosnan's first go-around as 007, this post-Cold War thriller is one of the best in the series. And have we mentioned every Bond film is streaming on Stan?
Michael Caine stars as Harry Palmer, a sly criminal-turned-spy tasked with investigating the kidnapping of scientists in this British espionage classic. Released the same year as Sean Connery's Thunderball, Palmer was designed to be the 'anti-Bond': a working-class civil servant more interested in cooking than saving the world.
After her family is murdered, a 12-year-old girl (Portman) is reluctantly taken in by a hitman (Reno) and soon becomes his protégée as he trains her to be an assassin. Stylish, violent and undeniably arresting, Luc Besson's iconic action-thriller has a lot going for it – not least the film debut of then-child actor Portman.
A former hitman comes out of retirement to get revenge on the gangsters that took everything from him. A practically perfect pairing of role and actor in Keanu Reeves, this stylised actioner kicks off a ferociously fun franchise that gets even better with each subsequent entry (Chapters 2 and 3 are also available on Netflix).
What this South Korean action-thriller may lack in depth, it certainly makes up for with stunningly choreographed and ultra-violent action sequences. Trained as a killer since she was a young girl, Sook-Hee travels to South Korea with the promise of starting a quiet new life – but her dark past eventually catches up with her.
One of the first casualties of Australian cinemas shutting down, Pixar's latest is now available to stream at home. Their 22nd feature film, this heartwarming and modern twist on the fantasy-adventure genre follows two suburban elf brothers who set out on a quest to find an artefact that will bring back their deceased father.
This Studio Ghibli co-production has no dialogue whatsoever but more than makes up for it with a deceptively simple, yet no less masterful, fairy tale about a man shipwrecked on a deserted island who befriends a giant red turtle. Special mention: 21 more of Studio Ghibli's beloved animated features are now streaming on Netflix.
This Swiss-French film combines adorable stop-motion animation with a surprisingly weighty exploration of childhood innocence. After his mother's sudden death, a young boy nicknamed Zucchini is sent to a foster home, where he learns to trust and love as he searches for a new family. English dubbed version.
As far as you could get from a kid's film, this stop-motion animated drama comes from the distinctive mind of American writer-director Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich). Profound and thought-provoking, it follows a lonely inspirational speaker whose finds his life re-invigorated after meeting a unique woman.
One of this year's Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film, this French animated fantasy tells the macabre tale of a severed hand (yes, you read that right) as it scours the streets of Paris for its owner, a lovestruck young man. Intricately imaginative and utterly unique. Available in English and French.
Making history this year by winning four Oscars including Best Picture, Bong Joon-Ho's masterpiece is not to be missed. This darkly comedic South Korean thriller follows the members of a poor family who plot and scheme to intertwine their lives with a wealthy family – but their beautiful home hides dark secrets too.
Winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this suspenseful and powerful thriller follows a member of the East German secret police (Mühe) who is assigned to spy on a couple in their Berlin apartment. The more he learns about them, the more he becomes increasingly absorbed in their lives.
Directed by Canberra-raised Cate Shortland – whose next film is Marvel's Black Widow – this psychological thriller centres on an Aussie backpacker (Palmer) exploring Berlin. After spending the night with a German man, she discovers that she has been taken hostage by her would-be lover and trapped in his apartment.
Lift your spirits with this rom-com classic and 1960's Best Picture Oscar winner in which insurance worker Bud (Lemmon) lends his Upper West Side apartment to his bosses to use for their extramarital affairs. Bud falls for the elevator operator (MacLaine) at work, who in turn is having an affair with Bud's boss.
Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow directs and stars in this hilarious and loving homage to kung fu cinema. In 1940s China, an aspiring gangster (Chow) inadvertently triggers a war between the notorious Axe Gang and the eccentric residents of a rundown slum of apartments – who are all secretly kung fu masters in hiding.
This year's Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, writer-director Taika Waititi's WWII satire follows a lonely Hitler Youth member named Jojo (Davis), who discovers that his mother (Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. With his world turned upside down, Jojo turns to an imaginary Adolf Hitler (also Waititi) for advice.
Taika Waitii brings his trademark wit to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the hilarious – but no less action-packed – third instalment in the Thor series. Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, Thor (Hemsworth) but find a way back to his home world of Asgard before the ruthless Hela (Blanchett) brings an end to his civilisation.
In Taika Waititi's fourth feature, rebellious Ricky Baker (Dennison) runs away into the New Zealand bush, pursued by his foster uncle (Neill). Branded as outlaws by authorities, the two must put aside their differences to survive. Charming, offbeat and poignant, this is the most successful film ever at the Kiwi box office – and rightfully so!
A coming-of-age comedy set in 1980s New Zealand, this is Taika Waititi's second feature – and the second highest-grossing film in NZ box office history. In it, an 11-year-old Michael Jackson fan (Rolleston) finally gets the chance to reconnect with his criminal father (Waititi) when he returns home to recover a buried bag of money.
A bonus blast from the past to round out our spotlight on Taika Waititi: this 2004 short film is one of the Kiwi writer-director's earliest efforts and it earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short. Two young boys and a girl develop a budding friendship as they wait for their parents in a parking lot outside a rural pub.