classic films stream

The classic films to stream now

From Hitchcock to Spike Lee, we round up the cinema greats now available on demand

Ever mindlessly scrolled through Netflix and thought, ‘There’s just So. Much. Content.’? Us too. And, while much of it is compelling viewing (look, anyone could be forgiven for watching the entire series of Love Is Blind in one sitting right now) most of it isn’t going to add anything to your knowledge of great cinema.

However, there are some exceptions. From a great Hitchcock thriller to classic British comedy and culture-shifting documentaries, here are there truly great classic films to be streaming now.

American Psycho

Christian Bale’s deranged New York yuppie needs no introduction. Based on Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel of the same name, Mary Harron’s cult classic offers a satirical – and horrific – take on the superficiality of American corporate culture with the murderous Patrick Bateman emerging as the ultimate in morally repugnant, meme-ready anti-heroes. Also starring Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Chloe Sevigny and Reese Witherspoon, this is the dose of black humour these times call for.

Streaming on: Netflix

Goodfellas

If you’ve already made it through The Irishman, then dive straight back in with arguably the finest Scorsese epic of them all. Set in and around the underbelly of the New York organised crime scene, Goodfellas simultaneously rejects and demonises the city’s gangs while showcasing the acting talents of Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci in all their greatness.

Streaming on: Netflix

Charade

Described by the British Film Institute as ‘the greatest Hitchcock film not by Hitchcock’, this 1963 romantic comedy mystery film was directed by Stanley Donen but is very much influenced by the likes of North by Northwest. Starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant (it is worth watching for their on-screen chemistry alone), the film follows protagonist Regina as she enlists the help of a charming stranger in investigating the suspicious death of her husband, and quickly gets out of her depth.

Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Paris Is Burning

It isn’t too often a documentary comes around that is so powerful that, 30 years on, it’s still considered required viewing on its subject. But Paris Is Burning is exactly that. Released in 1990, Jennie Livingstone’s film examines the LGBTQ community in New York, exploring the end of ball culture and the issues of race, class and gender affecting this marginalised group. As well as its unflinching portrayal of the violence and hardship its protagonists face, this is also a film about escapism glamour and, of course, voguing.

Streaming on: Netflix

She’s Gotta Have It

The film that put Spike Lee on the map, She’s Gotta Have It was filmed on a budget of just $175,000 and returned $7.1 million at the box office. It’s also credited with sparking America’s independent film movement so, if it’s seminal film history you’re looking for, it doesn’t come much better than this. The movie tells the story of Nola, a young woman who, when forced to choose between three suitors, struggles with the idea of accepting a monogamous relationship and relinquishing personal freedom.

Streaming on: Netflix

To Catch a Thief

Escape to the Riviera from your living room sofa courtesy of Hitchcock’s glossiest thriller. The movie stars Cary Grant as a retired cat burglar who falls for a wealthy socialite (Grace Kelly) but is then forced to clear his name after a spate of robberies plagues the glitzy South of France coastline. And, while it comes with all the suspense you would expect of a great Hitchcock, it is To Catch A Thief’s beautiful scenery, easy-going tempo and moments of humour that make this a fan favourite.

Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Reservoir Dogs

It’s almost impossible to believe that a film with as much cultural cache as Reservoir Dogs could have possibly been a debut – but such is the genius of Quentin Tarantino. Released in 1992, this indie hit stars Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Steve Buscemi (among many, many others) as diamond thieves whose big heist goes horribly wrong. Setting out what would become Tarantino’s trademark style, it is notable for its slick use of pop-culture references, nonlinear storytelling and razor sharp dialogue.

Streaming on: Netflix

Four Weddings and Funeral

Let’s be honest, who couldn’t use a dose of early career Hugh Grant in all his public schoolboy-is charm right now? We’re fairly sure you already know what happens but, just in case you need a primer, this quintessential Richard Curtis romantic comedy follows the highs and lows of one man’s love life told across, you guessed it, four weddings and a funeral.

Streaming on: Netflix

Once Upon A Time In America

Another New York crime movie starring Robert De Niro, we have Italian director and co-writer Sergio Leone to thanks for this unforgettable depiction of the city’s Jewish gangsters. Also starring James Woods, it is the third – and undoubtedly best – film in Leone’s Once Upon A Time Trilogy, which also includes Once Upon A Time In The West and Duck, You Sucker! Exploring themes of greed, betrayal, friendship and love agains the backdrop of the rise of American mobsters, it runs to a vast 3 hours and 49 minutes – making it perfect lockdown viewing.

Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Fight Club

As plot lines go, an insomniac office drone and a freewheeling soap maker forming an underground fight club might sound more B-movie that silver screen classic, but David Fincher’s cult hit offered far more for its 1999 audience than simply a good time at the cinema. Starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt – as well as a darkly hilarious Meatloaf and Helena Bonham Carter – the movie explores themes around the anxieties of Generation X, the rejection of consumerism and the immoral value system of advertising.

Streaming on: Amazon Prime

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