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Earlier this week, Disney reaffirmed its increasingly monolithic stature in arts and entertainment by dropping a ridiculous number of over 75 TV series and more than 280 movies all at once on Disney+, under the banner of Star.
It's essentially a collection of films and television, aimed at a more mature audience, owned by recent acquisition Fox – so now you can watch Terence Malick’s war epic The Thin Red Line after the latest episode of WandaVision, if you so choose.
It’s enough content for an entirely new streaming service, so it would take too long to list everything worth watching.
For now, we’ll just pick out a couple of favourites.
Please note that a subscription will be required to watch.
Solaris (2002) - Disney+
Steven Soderbergh’s take on Stanislaw Lem’s famous sci-fi novel (of the same name) famously adapted by Andrei Tarkovsky had a lot to live up to, and it’s something miraculous that his version of Solaris stands on its own. Soderbergh finds new angles within the same material as he explores grief, guilt and and the ephemeral nature of memory in a haunting study of love felt and love lost.
It might be the most emotionally potent collaboration between the director and star George Clooney, and somehow feels just as haunting and transcendental as Tarkovsky’s version while cutting about 90 minutes (not to mention it has a simply incredible score from Cliff Martinez). Its personal, postmodern approach puts it above mere remake status, a beautiful work that stands alone in its own right.
Broadcast News - Disney+
Arguably James L Brook’s masterpiece, this Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks-starring comedy about newscasters and reporters has maintained its sting over all the years since its release thanks in large part to its canny and timeless observations about workplace culture.
There’s no moment more telling than one that comes during a string of harrowing layoffs and redundancies in the company, as one worker suggests to Jack Nicholson’s star news anchor that he take a payout so others can keep their jobs. Of course, his only answer to the suggestion is a silent, stone-cold stare.
Also on Disney Plus: Conan The Barbarian, The Thin Red Line, Summer of Sam, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, basically every Fox property that exists
Us - Netflix
Following on from the runaway success of instant horror classic Get Out, Jordan Peele had set an extremely high bar for himself with his sophomore feature. The previous film had immediately become embedded in the cultural lexicon, with smart commentary on racism amongst liberals and how class status ties into engagement with racial politics.
Us is a little more opaque with its allegory, and also arguably a lot more ambitious than Get Out in terms of how it visually presents both its horror as well as its ideas. The main premise bares some slight superficial similarities to the 80s horror film C.H.U.D., with a literal underclass of people rising up from their subterranean home and reclaiming the surface for themselves. The twist here is that they’re also exact duplicates of the people who live above, as Peele has his entire cast play dual performances, doubling as creepy, menacing body doubles of themselves – leading to one of Lupita N’yongo’s finest work yet.
Watch the trailer for Us
As in Get Out, Peele’s roots in comedy are evident both in the film’s sharp sense of humour but also its cutting and economical visual approach, and Us does well to keep its thrills and its laughs complimenting each other. The conclusion may leave some scratching their heads, but it’s an immensely rewarding film, and one that only brings more excitement for whatever feature Peele cooks up next.
Also on Netflix: Capone
Source Code - BBC iPlayer
The second film by Duncan Jones, director of beloved indie sci-fi Moon, was an equally contemplative thriller also in a confined space, with Jake Gyllenhaal playing a U.S. Army captain who is sent into a simulated reality to find a bomber, reliving the same 10 or so minutes until he does.
Its metaphysical third act is a little tenuous, but its Groundhog Day spin on what would otherwise be quite a straightforward action thriller is fun and invigorating, Gyllenhaal of course nailing the sweaty paranoia required of the part. Jones’ direction itself is propulsive, assured and playful, finding an expert balance between finding new angles of the same space, and reinforcing the repetitions and patterns that Gyllenhaal’s character has to learn.
Also on iPlayer: The Bling Ring, The Babadook
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