5 brilliant Netflix films to watch instead of the news

With all the COVD-19 news at the moment, a distraction is needed to ensure we all stay sane. Here are five award-winning Netflix films to stream now

Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach’s tale of a playwright (Adam Driver) and an actor (Scarlett Johansson) trying to keep things civil as they negotiate a divorce and a bicoastal custody agreement was met with rave reviews at the Toronto Film Festival – due to the enigmatic performances of the two leads. Things turn nasty and the film loses some momentum but both actors more than hold their own. At times it is gut-punching – alongside the standout, now award-winning performance from Laura Dern (she won Best Supporting Actress at this year's Oscars) – but you'll always stay with it.


Related: Things Fall Apart: I watched Marriage Story so you don't have to

The Irishman 

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci star in Martin Scorsese’s epic saga of organized crime in post-war America told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran, a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th century. Spanning decades and using digital de-ageing technology to showcase their lives as younger men, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa. It is Scorsese at the height of his craft with standout performances from the entire cast. It had no less than 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Despite not winning on the night, it remains an absolute must-watch.

Related: 'The best of 2019': Twitter reacts to watching Netflix’s The Irishman

The Two Popes


From Fernando Meirelles, the Academy Award-nominated director of “City of God,” and three-time Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten, comes an intimate story of one of the most dramatic transitions of power in the last 2,000 years. Frustrated with the direction of the church, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) requests permission to retire in 2012 from Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins). Instead, facing scandal and self-doubt, the introspective Pope Benedict summons his harshest critic and future successor to Rome to reveal a secret that would shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. The commanding performances of two Hollywood veterans are the best thing about this one –  Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce were nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for their roles as Benedict and Francis.

I Lost My Body

Adapted from a novel by the screenwriter behind AmélieI Lost My Body is sweet, weird and utterly wonderful – it's the kind of film that usually bypasses The Academy so it was a pleasant surprise to see it nominated for best Best Animated Feature. It chronicles a severed hand’s quest to be reunited with its owner Naoufel (voiced in this English-language version by Dev Patel), an orphan who lost his parents at a young age. Told in flashbacks, it’s only close to the end that we get the full picture of what happened to him.

American Factory

The winner for for Best Documentary Feature, this fascinating documentary chronicles the lives of the employees of an auto-glass manufacturing plant in Dayton, Ohio, run by a mammoth Chinese company named Fuyao. Made by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, it's an at-times staggering watch, as the filmmakers expertly weave the beliefs of two differing workplace cultures –  American and Chinese employees – in what is a tough working environment.


Main photograph: Netflix

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