If you’re looking for some summer escapism, these feature films will whisk you away from the first scene. From a Western epic filmed in New Zealand to the lives of Venus and Serena Williams, these captivating new releases run the gamut of great entertainment — wherever they take us.
The Power of the Dog
Tightening the reins on what a Western epic can be, The Power of the Dog is a masterpiece of a melodrama set in Montana. Written and directed by the critically-acclaimed Jane Campion, and filmed in atmospheric locations across New Zealand, it tells the gripping story of a staunch rancher who seems to despise his brother and his new family. Adapted from the riveting novel by Thomas Savage, there is a remarkable depth of character for the leads, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee, while the audience is kept on tenterhooks until the final scene. Watch on Netflix.
The Lost Daughter
With an electrifying cast of Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson and Paul Mescal, The Lost Daughter takes us on a terrible vacation, as a woman’s encounter with a brash young family makes her question the difficult decisions she made during her own early motherhood. An adaption of the eponymous novel by Elena Ferrante, and the directorial debut of Maggie Gyllenhaal, this movie is menacing yet moving. Watch on Netflix.
West Side Story
Bringing a modern cinematic beauty to a Broadway classic, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is a tragic allegory of young love and fierce rivalries in 1950s New York. Starring Ansel Elgort as Tony and Rachel Zegler as Maria, we’re ready to be swept away by this monumental musical. In cinemas now.
Tom Hanks is back to break our hearts in Finch. As the last human left on earth, he brings sincerity to a sickly inventor who creates a robot to protect his dog, and to teach him the wonder of living while he still can on an adventurous trip through the post-apocalyptic West. Watch on Apple TV+.
Filmed on Fårö — the island where Ingmar Bergman’s most existential movies were made — Bergman Island follows a fictional filmmaker couple at a writer’s residency. As they work on their art-house screenplays, their own reality becomes more tenuous as their scripts come to life. This Cannes-selected drama will stay with you long after the closing credits. Catch Bergman Island at the In The Shade film festival on 22 Jan & 1 Feb, and in mainstream cinemas from March.
A heartwarming film with razor-sharp wit is hard to come by, but we have found it in Best Sellers. When a publishing house heiress (Aubrey Plaza) drags a reclusive and cantankerous author (Michael Caine) on a book tour in a bid to save the company, they learn not to judge a book by its cover, so to speak. In cinemas now.
If you’re looking for a sympathetic portrait of the royals, this is not it — but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be added to the top of your watch list. Directed by Pablo Larrain (who also directed Jackie), Spencer stars Kristen Stewart who offers a deft portrayal of Diana, Princess of Wales. It takes place at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate during three days over the Christmas period, and is an imagining of what could have happened throughout that time. Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles has well and truly fallen apart, and she must make some devastating decisions. In cinemas 20 January.
His daughters are sporting legends, and now the father of Venus and Serena Williams gets his turn on the podium in this emotive biopic starring Will Smith. It focuses on the drive and tenacity of Richard Williams, who was undeterred in his mission to raise two tennis greats. In cinemas 13 January.
Blending nostalgia with just enough fresh new energy, the long-awaited second sequel to the iconic 1984 film is oodles of fun. After moving to a remote town, a single mum and her two kids discover their connection to their grandfather — and the original Ghostbusters. In cinemas now.
The Harder They Fall
In this rollicking film, described as a ‘righteously new school Western’, Jonathan Majors stars as an outlaw who discovers his enemy (Idris Elba) is being released from prison. He assembles his gang to seek revenge, and plenty of high stakes action ensues. Watch on Netflix.