Double features used to be a regular occurrence at cinemas. Movie theatres enticed audiences with the appeal of not one, but TWO must-see flicks, and more popcorn than is humanly possible to eat over the course of four hours. You’re less likely to experience them at your regular movie theatre nowadays, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone completely. Nope. Thanks to home streaming, and the vast array of movies available at the touch of a button, it’s much easier for you to mastermind your own movie double bills from the comfort of the couch.
Let’s face it, real film nerds don’t settle down for just one movie. No. If you’re a bona fide cinephile, you’ll hunker down with a couple. And let’s face it, everyone’s got extra time on their hands right now. But, if you’re not sure how you go about curating the best movie double bills, then look no further than our top 30 duos. We’ve got every cinematic whim covered. We’ve got films with similar themes, the same leading actors, from one director… this rundown of the best movie double bills covers all sorts of angles to bring you an evening of harmonious movie bliss. Enjoy!
- The 30 best movies on Disney Plus
- The 30 best Netflix movies
- The 30 best movies on Amazon Prime
30. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids + Innerspace
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: Disney+ (US), Disney+, NowTV, SkyGo (UK)
Innerspace: MaxGo, Cinemax (US), rent from Chili (UK)
Decades before Ant-Man arrived in the MCU we had this pair of family classics. Two movies within the same amount of years both featuring shrinking tech? There are, thankfully, enough differences abound to make this a great Sunday afternoon double bill. In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Rick Moranis’ wily home inventor accidentally blasts his own children with a shrinking ray, sending them on a wild chase across the back yard where blades of grass loom tall as houses. Ditto for ants. Whereas Inner Space finds Dennis Quaid’s smart-mouthed naval aviator Tuck Pendleton volunteering to be shrunk down inside a spaceship which is then inserted into Martin Short’s ear. Different approaches that ultimately result in the same outcome – tiny happy people.
Extend to triple bill with: Another ‘80s sci-fi family flick, Flight of the Navigator.
29. Top Gun + Days of Thunder
Top Gun: Fubo (US), NowTV, SkyGo (UK)
Days of Thunder: Showtime, DirectTV (US), Starz (UK)
Everyone knows Tom Cruise is fast on his feet. This slam-dunk double bill shows his speed knows no bounds; he’s also lickedy splits in a jet and in a race car. In short? He’s made millions acting out your childhood ambitions. Top Gun’s status as the coolest of the cool ‘80s movies with a heavy homoerotic undertone remains a blast to watch even now. Throw in Days of Thunder, where the steamy windows aren’t from his red-hot driving but from the saucy shenanigans as a result of Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s sizzling chemistry. Fast cars! Fast planes! Fast Cruise!
Extend to triple bill with: Cocktail, where Tom’s agility for mixing drinks will blow your mind.
28. Terminator + Kindergarten Cop
The Terminator: Showtime, Fubo (US), Netflix (UK)
Kindergarten Cop: Starz, DirectTV (US), rent from Chili (UK)
A killer cyborg! A cop undercover as a kindergarten teacher! Both, terrible at handling children – one more so than the other. But let’s not rag too hard on Kindergarten Cop. On the whole, Arnie’s acting muscles tend to get less attention than his actual muscles, yet this double bill offers the biggest, ahem, flex across his performances. The Terminator, his first acting role, fits him like a glove. He utters barely any dialogue and when he does it’s as wooden as your first Ikea table. Perfect for a monosyllabic cyborg. Contrast that with Kindergarten Cop and he’s actually warm, funny, and, dare we say, likeable. This is an unusual double bill but one that shows Arnie’s got more range than you’d think.
Extend to triple bill with: Maggie, Arnie’s zombie drama that’s surprisingly tender.
27. Dead Poets Society + Mr. Holland’s Opus
Dead Poets Society: Vudu Free (US), rent from Google Play (UK)
Mr. Holland’s Opus: HBO Now, HBO Go, Direct TV (US)
O’Captain, my Captain! The inspirational mentor genre boasts a tried and tested formula. Hollywood’s cranked out plenty. This pair both feature a kind teacher who puts aside their own aspirations in order to provide support and inspiration for their students. Better start off with Mr. Holland’s Opus to give it a fighting shot against Dead Poets, although they both tug at the heartstrings in a similar fashion. Richard Dreyfus stars as Glenn Holland, a composer hung up on the fact that he’s yet to write his big life-changing piece of music. He takes a job at a high school teaching music where he learns that his opus is, in fact, changing these kids’ lives. Dead Poets Society treads a similar path, except Williams’ turn as the English teacher at a private school has left a longer-lasting imprint on pop culture.
Extend to triple bill with: Good Will Hunting, with Williams’ on top form as a counsellor to Matt Damon’s troubled youngster.
26. Blinded By The Light + High Fidelity
Blinded By The Light: HBO Now, HBO Go (US), Amazon Prime (UK)
High Fidelity: Rent from Amazon Video (US), rent from Google Play (UK)
Two slightly different approaches to musical fanaticism. High Fidelity is based on the Nick Hornby novel and follows Rob Gordon (John Cusack), an unlucky-in-love record store owner who spends his days cooking up desert island playlists with his employees (Jack Black and Todd Louiso). Their intense discussions which typically revolve around musical analysis spur Rob to explore his all-time top 5 break-ups, which results in him figuring out what he really wants in life. On the other hand, Blinded By The Light catches teen poet Javed while he’s at school falling in love with the power of Bruce Springsteen’s music. Less acerbic than High Fidelity, it’s an anthem to those teenage days when music speaks to your very soul. It’s hard not to feel that same enthusiasm.
Extend to triple bill with: Yesterday, Danny Boyle’s recent fantasy riff that explores a world where the Beatles don’t exist.
25. Groundhog Day + Edge of Tomorrow
Groundhog Day: Netflix, Showtime (US), Netflix, Now TV (UK)
Edge of Tomorrow: USA Network (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
Time loops are a cunning device that, when used right, can squeeze a story for extra juice. Take Groundhog Day, for instance. Harold Ramis’ comedy pushes its sarcastic weatherman Phil Connors to the limit when he’s forced to brave the icy climes of wintry Pennsylvania. And then pushes him again once he realises he can’t leave until he undergoes significant personal growth. Edge of Tomorrow spins that concept into a sphere of its own by throwing an alien invasion into the heart of the story. Oh, and Emily Blunt kicks Tom Cruise’s ass repeatedly. Each film manages to wring pathos from their time loops, harnessing this repetitive feature to make interesting points about their heroes.
Extend to triple bill with: Happy Death Day, the superb ‘90s-horror-inspired slasher that finds a college girl forced to repeat her death day over and over.
24. Imagine Me and You + But I’m A Cheerleader
Imagine Me And You: Rent from Microsoft Store or Redbox (US), rent from Sky Store (UK)
But, I’m A Cheerleader: Roku, Hoopla. Vudu Free, Tubi, Pluto TV (US), rent from Amazon Video, iTunes (UK)
It used to be that most lesbian movies ended on a downer. One of them dies. Someone goes back to a douchey guy. There are plenty that buck that trend, including this pair. Imagine Me And You is a quintessential British rom-com (because it co-stars Celia Imrie and features characters saying things like “bloody wanker”). Piper Perabo is on the verge of marrying her life-long best friend (Matthew Goode) when she catches a glimpse of her wedding florist (Lena Headey) and feels a funny tingle. What follows is a refreshing, warm, and very funny take on finding true love. Ditto, But I’m A Cheerleader is a pastel-coloured delight, a tongue-in-cheek riff on conversion therapy. Natasha Lyonne is the cheerleader in question whose parents ship her off to True Directions where she meets the moody and mysterious Graham (Clea Duvall).
Extend to triple bill with: Low-budget feelgood rom-com, Better Than Chocolate
23. Jumanji + Mrs. Doubtfire
Jumanji: Rent from Amazon Video, Fandango (US), Netflix, Now TV, Sky Go, Amazon Prime (UK)
Mrs Doubtfire: HBO Now, HBO Go (US), Disney+ (UK)
If you’re in need of a feel-good Robin Williams afternoon then look no further. This duo of ‘90s family features shows off his brand of physical, larger-than-life humour that’ll have you grinning from ear-to-ear in no time. Jumanji sinks its hooks in by asking: what if your board games were actually real? Like many Williams’ movies, it appeals to the kid in everyone by making fantasy a reality which is the same for Mrs. Doubtfire. Williams’ out of work actor tries his hardest to win back his wife and kids by dressing as a Scottish housekeeper and serving as the family’s nanny. Cream pies to the face, vacuum-dancing to Aerosmith, the superb restaurant switcheroo sequence… it’s got the lot.
Extend to triple bill with: Hook, another of Robin Williams' fabulous early '90s performances.
22. Timecrimes + Predestination
Timecrimes: Hoopla (US), rent from Sky Store (UK)
Predestination: Crackle (US), Amazon Prime (UK)
It’s par for the course with time travel movies that at some point you will rise from your seat, turn to face the room and shout “WHAT THE RUDDY BLIME IS HAPPENING?” Both Timecrimes and Predestination are in that category. Far from the likes of Back to The Future or About Time, these hard genre pics take no prisoners. There’s no warmth or redemption for its characters who exist in a strange world, a Mobius strip of their own making with no obvious escape. Timecrimes hails from Nacho Vigalondo (who gave us the sublime Colossal) and Predestination the work of the Spierig Brothers. These are a couple of thoughtful sci-fi movies unlike any you’ve seen: we’d advise not reading anything else about them before you do!
Extend to triple bill with: Triangle, an equally dark time loop horror starring Melissa George.
21. Escape From Alcatraz + The Rock
Escape from Alcatraz: Starz, Direct TV (US), Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer (UK)
The Rock: Rent from Amazon Video, iTunes (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
Clint Eastwood stars as Frank Morris in Escape From Alcatraz, the true story of the only man to ever escape from the infamous prison. It’s classic Eastwood (he’s surly) that no doubt inspired many future prison break pics as Morris befriends two fellow inmates in order to escape. That’s what makes it a great double bill with The Rock. The Michael Bay blockbuster carries far less nuance and far more explosions. Sean Connery stars as John Mason, a former inmate who successfully broke out of Alcatraz who is then paid a lot of cash to break back in alongside Nicolas Cage’s cop Stanley Goodspeed, in order to… you know, it doesn’t really matter why. Bay’s stories typically cower beneath the weight of the explosions.
Extend to triple bill with: The Birdman of Alcatraz, the Burt Lancaster-starrer from the 1960s.
20. Love, Simon + Call Me By Your Name
Love, Simon: Cinemax (US), rent from Google Play (UK)
Call Me By Your Name: Direct TV (US), rent from Google Play (UK)
Love, Simon is the brainchild of Greg Berlanti, whose upbeat take on superhero serials makes its way into this sunny LGBTQ teen tale. Peddle your misery business elsewhere ‘cause this is a refreshing look at coming out, Simon’s story of figuring out sexuality bursting with colour and vibrancy. On the other hand, Call Me By Your Name is a gorgeous glimpse at a hazy, lazy ‘80s Italian summer. It’s so finely tuned you can practically taste the vino. Young Elio (Timothee Chalamet) falls head over heels for his father’s latest medical intern, Oliver (Armie Hammer), and the two embark on the type of romance most of us only dream about. Both movies approach their gay teen stories from very different angles, yet they both feature speeches from parents that’ll make you bawl.
Extend to triple bill with: The 2014 historical dramedy Pride, which follows the lesbian and gay-alliance supporting the 1984 miners strike.
19. Interstellar + Dallas Buyers Club
Interstellar: FX Now, Sling TV (US), rent from Chili (UK)
Dallas Buyers Club: Netflix (UK, US)
A year after space drama Gravity swooped up all the awards came Christopher Nolan's mega-blockbuster. Not only is this ambitious tale packed with existentialist ponderings and CGI-worm holes but it also features Matthew McConaughey as he gallantly stomps his way back into public view. The early 2010s marked the beginning of the McConaissance and Interstellar’s a fine example of his movie star chops as he tries to secure a future for mankind away from our sterile planet. Similarly, his turn the previous year in Dallas Buyers Club landed him an Oscar. In the role of Ron Woodruff, one of the first men diagnosed with HIV, his physical metamorphosis reaches Christian Bale-levels of commitment.
Extend to triple bill with: Mud, the 2011 indie that stars McConaughey as a drifter crook who seeks the help of a couple of kids
18. Scream + The Faculty
Scream: Hoopla, Showtime, Fubo, Direct TV (US), rent from Amazon Video (UK)
The Faculty: Showtime, Direct TV (US), rent from Amazon Video (UK)
You can’t mention ‘90s horror without mentioning Scream. Kevin Williamson’s sharp, clever script, sending up slashers of yesteryear caught the eye of horror maestro Wes Craven who transformed the screenplay into a very funny and very scary movie. Its casting is top-shelf and its razor-sharp dialogue on point, the perfect vehicle to revive the gasping genre. A few years later Williamson’s love of reworking the classics led him to write The Faculty, a modernised riff on fifties sci-fi. Robert Rodriguez directs the action which takes place at Herrington High where a gaggle of ‘90s-hot teens try to solve the mystery of what’s happening to their teachers. Paying homage to everything from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to The Thing, it’s a blast that sadly never gets as much chatter as Scream.
Extend to triple bill with: Williamson’s other genre revamp from the ‘90s, and the best Michael Myers sequel (don’t @ me): Halloween H20.
17. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off + Election
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Netflix (US), Sky Go, Now TV, Starz (UK)
Election: Showtime, Direct TV, Fubo (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the quintessential 1985 teen comedy about a Chicago teen playing hooky. A decade later, Matthew Broderick attempts to get away with that same shady shit, just this time he's on the other end of the teacher-student spectrum. Acting almost like a comeuppance for Ferris’ self-serving shenanigans, Election takes place in 1999 and casts Broderick as Jim McAllister, a snivelling, spineless teacher who’s the antithesis of everything Ferris stood for. He’s got more in common with Principal Rooney than Ferris as he tries to destroy the reputation of eager overachiever student Enid Flick (Reese Witherspoon) during the school election. This pairing works in a karmic way, as if Ferris’ joy for living in the moment truly came to bite him on the ass.
Extend to triple bill with: You Can Count On Me, a superb Kenneth Lonergan film in its own right that also features Broderick playing again type.
16. WarGames + Hackers
Wargames: IMDB TV, Vudu Free, Roku, Pluto TV (US), rent from Amazon Video (UK)
Hackers: Amazon Prime, Hulu, Roku, Hoopla, Vudu Free, Direct TV (US), rent from Google Play (UK)
Hack The Planet! Oh, the innocent fun to be had when you’re hacking into a government mainframe. The big appeal of WarGames is less with Matthew Broderick’s ability to weasle into a military supercomputer and more that he managed to charm Ally Sheedy. His prowess for seeking the ultimate in online gaming nevertheless leads to a bit of a misunderstanding that lands the US in trouble. Ten years later Hackers, while lacking the looming threat of World War III does pack in some serious crimes against fashion. Jonny Lee Miller’s prodigy hackboy Zero Cool buddies up with a new hacking gang to take out a corporate bully pinning his dodgy dealings on innocent hackers. It’s cheesy as hell and doesn’t have a plot – but boy is this over-the-top dive into high-technology (woah, a 56k modem!) fun.
Extend to triple bill with: You simply cannot beat Sandra Bullock’s 1995 movie The Net when it comes to hacking fromage.
15. Footloose + Dirty Dancing
Footloose: Direct TV, Starz (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
Dirty Dancing: Direct TV, Fubo (US), Netflix, Amazon Prime (UK)
There’s more in common between this couple of foot-shuffln’, hip-thrusting classics than mere dancing. Certainly, the ability to shake yo thang is part of their appeal, but the warm gooey centre of these movies is about accepting people for who they are, differences and all. Both movies toss their somewhat clueless leads into new scenarios, where their expectations are thrown out the window. Footloose’s city kid discovers small-town prejudice and Dirty Dancing’s Baby discovers… well, exactly the same at a Catskills summer resort. They’re both schmaltzy sure, but you can’t beat a dance-off finale that gives the finger to the man as the dancehall rebels make their last stand.
Extend to triple bill with: Round out the ‘80s dance fun with Jennifer Beals as a wet welder in Flashdance.
14. Color Out Of Space + Annihilation
Color Out of Space: Rent from Amazon Video, Google Play (US), buy from Rakuten (UK)
Annihilation: Amazon Prime, Hulu (US), Netflix (UK)
The scribe whose prose is denser than a fruitcake inspires this pair of mind-bogglers. Color Out of Space adapts a Lovecraft short story that, on the surface, sounds like your standard sci-fi riff: a rural family homestead is upheaved when a meteorite lands in their front yard. It’s a neon-skewed nightmare that finds Nicolas Cage (his performance as gonzo as you’d expect) and Joely Richardson fending off an extraterrestrial organism. Annihilation similarly indulges every hallucinogenic whim. Alex Garland’s reworking of Jeff Vandemeer’s nutty novel sends four scientists into an area known as The Shimmer where people continue to go missing. It’s frightening, a horror show that asks plenty of its cast and asks even more of its audience.
Extend to triple bill with: Full on horror gonzo Cage-fest, Mandy.
13. The Big Lebowski + The Hudsucker Proxy
The Big Lebowski: Starz, Direct TV (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
The Hudsucker Proxy: HBO Now, HBO Go, Direct TV (US)
Look, you can’t argue with the Dude. Jeff Bridges’ chilled stoner likes nothing more than sipping on white russians and bowling with his pals. He’s so damn likeable. Casting him is one of the Coen Brothers’ finest achievements, his hazy, messy existence matched perfectly by the overcomplicated plot he finds himself in. Pairing it with The Hudsucker Proxy, the Coens’ biggest flop, is the perfect accompaniment because neither are what you’d expect them to be. Hudsucker’s a send-up of 1930s screwball comedies, unjustly maligned for trying to do too much, yet it’s still got plenty to savour. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s best comedic turn to date as harried reporter Amy Archer, and some of Roger Deakins’ sharpest work, to name but two.
Extend to triple bill with: Miller’s Crossing for some dark crime Coens’ time.
12. The Breakfast Club + Heathers
The Breakfast Club: Starz, Direct TV (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
Heathers: Amazon Prime, Hulu, Hoopla, Shudder (US), Shudder (UK)
The Breakfast Club ain’t nothing to do with cereal and instead follows a mismatched group of suburban white kids in Saturday detention. It was John Hughes’ way of telling teens that underneath our differences, we’re all really the same and it’s not that hard for us to get along. Then Heathers arrived a few years later to blow that theory out of the water. Characters dish out scathing rebuttals to their peers like “Did you eat a brain tumour for breakfast?” and furiously diarize their ever-spiralling lives with entries like: “My teen angst bullshit has a body count.” While The Breakfast Club’s group of kids dance their differences away, Heathers’ teenagers strap bombs to their chests to prove that ‘the only way different social cliques can genuinely get along is in heaven’. Heathers is the dark yin to Breakfast Club’s upbeat yang.
Extend to triple bill with: Superb Christian Slater-starrer Pump up the Volume, about a lonely kid who starts a radio station from his bedroom
11. 28 Days Later + Shaun of the Dead
28 Days Later: Hulu, Direct TV, Starz (US), rent from Amazon Video (UK)
Shaun of the Dead: Starz, Direct TV (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
The undead lurch across England at differing speeds in this duo of crackin’ early '00s zombie apocalypse movies. Shaun of the Dead’s flesh-eaters amble and shuffle around London, as Simon Pegg’s slacker Shaun vows to see out the apocalypse down the pub after scooping up his ex-girlfriend and mum, of course. Edgar Wright’s feature debut is surprisingly heart-warming as well as remaining very funny and very bloody. 28 Days Later, on the other hand, has no feelgood aspirations. These zombies? They run. There’s no escaping these flesh-hungry gobblers but the leading cast of characters try their best to make their way to the safety of the nearest army base.
Extend to triple bill with: South Korean zombie flick, Train to Busan. It’s an absolute blinder.
10. The Matrix + eXistenZ (1999)
The Matrix: Rent from Amazon Video (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
eXistenZ: Hoopla (US), Mubi (UK)
Was it Y2K panic that inspired the psychosis at the centre of late ‘90s movies? With its game-changing bullet-time sequences, The Matrix hogged the spotlight at the time. And rightly so. It remains a blistering sci-fi actioner that dabbles with modern man’s existential dilemma… and includes a slew of dynamic set-pieces, as Keanu Reeves’ computer nerd Neo discovers his world is not what it seems. On a much, much smaller scale is David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ. It wrestles with the same concept – what is real and what is artifice? – through the director’s distinct penchant for body horror. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s game designer Allegra Geller goes on the run when anti-gaming realists threaten her life. Where The Matrix’s tech is knowable, the gaming systems of eXistenZ yank at bodily fears. Its gaming pods, bio-ports and umby-cords, all organic creations that throb and gyrate like worms. The whole film plays like a hauntingly familiar nightmare as Geller and intern Ted Pikul (Jude Law) hide from assassins inside her latest game.
Extend to triple bill with: The awesome and underseen reality-baffler, The Thirteenth Floor.
9. Jojo Rabbit + Life is Beautiful
Jojo Rabbit: Rent from Redbox, Microsoft Store, Amazon Video (US)
Life is Beautiful: Max Go, Cinemax (US), rent from Google Play (UK)
AKA the uplifting tearjerker double bill. The lengths parents will go to shield their children from the horrors of war is, understandably, a niche corner of cinema. Both of these movies tug at your heartstrings as they tackle WWII from different aspects. Life is Beautiful follows the vivacious Roberto Benigni as he and his son are taken to a concentration camp, where he does whatever it takes to hide the truth. Jojo Rabbit is Taika Waititi’s biting satire that invokes Adolf Hitler as its pint-sized protagonist’s imaginary friend, adopts a different approach. Little Jojo learns from his mother how we cannot have stolen from us that which matters to everyone – finding joy in the everyday and smallest things.
Extend to triple bill with: The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas, not just a tear-jerker but a full-on body-wracking tale of two boys who become friends at a concentration camp.
8. Equilibrium + THX1138
Equilibrium: Netflix, Hoopla (US), rent from iTunes (UK)
THX 1138: Rent from Amazon Video (US), rent from Chili (UK)
THX 1138 is more than a cute easter egg snuck into every George Lucas movie. It imagines a world where emotions are outlawed. Where everyone is forced to take medication that keeps those feelings locked down. Even though it sounds bleak as hell, Lucas reveals his soft underbelly in his first feature, showing the risks people take when the government forbids their freedom. Now, imagine that same scenario decades later with Christian Bale, guns, and trenchcoats. It’s also from 2002 so Taye Diggs co-stars. That’s Equilibrium, a wham-bam action take on practically the exact story. Bale plays an enforcement officer in a world where feelings are forbidden and suppressed through drugs. When he forgets a dose he experiences true emotion for the first time and joins the resistance in a bid to overthrow the totalitarian government.
Extend to triple bill with: Even more bonkers futuristic legislation abounds in Logan’s Run, where anyone over 30… well, we won’t spoil it for you.
7. The Silence of the Lambs + Zodiac
The Silence of the Lambs: Rent from Amazon Video (US), Netflix (UK)
Zodiac: Amazon Prime, Hoopla, Kanopy, Crackle (US), Amazon Prime (UK)
Distinctly eerie sides to the same coin. Jonathan Demme and David Fincher tackle the evil that men do in two heart-stoppingly good serial killer pics. The Silence of the Lambs kickstarted the ‘90s serial killer movie trend but nothing comes close to touching it. It introduced audiences to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal doctor who helps Jodie Foster’s FBI upstart Clarice Starling catch another murderer on the loose. It’s scary, thrilling, its finale copied so many times since yet barely matched. Its closest competitor arrived 17 years later in the shape of Fincher’s Zodiac. It commands that same lingering sense of dread, capturing our simple human fears through the eyes of newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith, whose armchair detective work inspires several very haunting scenes.
Extend to triple bill with: Fincher’s *other* serial killer flick, Seven. "What's in the boooox!"
6. Carol + Far From Heaven
Carol: Vudu Free, Tubi (US), Amazon Prime (UK)
Far From Heaven: Starz, Direct TV (US), rent from Google Play, YouTube (UK)
This pair of Todd Haynes movies mimic the feel of 1950s melodrama, yet they look back at that decade as a way to tell stories of sexual orientation, gender inequality, and racial tensions. Far From Heaven is Haynes’ pastiche of a Douglas Sirk melodrama, in which Julianne Moore plays Cathy, a privileged housewife whose life unravels as she seeks progressive change and struggles to handle her own liberal leanings. Carol also betrays the social standing of the fifties and instead of clinging to convention and then uproots them to deliver one of the best lesbian love stories of recent years. The movie finds Cate Blanchett’s housewife embroiled in a love affair with Rooney Mara’s shopgirl. Both are exquisite.
Extend to triple bill with: Wonderstruck, Haynes’ third outing with Julianne Moore, that leaps between the 1920s and 1970s.
5. Knives Out + Ready Or Not
Knives Out: Rent from Redbox, Amazon Video, Fandango (US), rent from Amazon Video (UK)
Ready or Not: Rent from Redbox, Amazon Video, Fandango (US), rent from Amazon Video (UK)
The wealthy who believe themselves immune to the school of hard knocks get their comeuppance in this duo of 2019 corkers. Raking in all the money at the box office is Knives Out, a Clue-inspired riff that finds the Thrombey family under scrutiny from Detective Blanc when family patriarch Harlan Thrombey is found dead under suspicious circumstances. Their unscrupulous plottings are exposed in a series of amusing twists. Taking things distinctly down the gory route, Blumhouse horror Ready or Not feasts on an even more deplorable twist. On the night of her wedding, Grace (Samara Weaving) is hunted by her husband Jack’s entire family in a sick, murderous game that’s part of their newlywed rituals. A horrific deconstruction of marriage and white privilege, it stuffs in plenty of laughs too - keep your eye on Melanie Scrofano as Jack’s coke-addled sister.
Extend to triple bill with: You’re Next, the 2011 jet-black comedy horror about a wealthy family who reconvenes over a weekend and are slowly picked off by masked assailants.
4. The Thing + Alien
The Thing: Starz, Direct TV (US), rent from Google Play, Chili (UK)
Alien: HBO Now, HBO Go (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
Know people who think quarantine is “just 4 suckaz”? Show ‘em this double bill. A true viewing experience to match the current climate, this duo is rampant with the visceral, bloody aftermath of what happens when you violate quarantine. The Thing, even its title oozes with some unknowable fright, is one of the best horror remakes ever made. It has a blast with the idea of human identity, as a group of researchers isolated in the Antarctic are stalked by an extraterrestrial organism that hides in the group by copying them. The iconic scene from Alien, a twitching, terrified John Hurt, gasping for breath as a facehugger bursts from his chest, is reason enough to remember the rules Ripley lays out: “Listen to me, if we break quarantine, we could all die.” Both pics are genre trendsetters that deserve every word of praise.
Extend to triple bill with: A bunch of people isolated far from civilisation? Round this out with The Descent, a terrifying creature feature entry into the horror canon.
3. The Shawshank Redemption + The Green Mile
The Shawshank Redemption: Netflix (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
The Green Mile: Rent from Amazon Video, YouTube (US), rent from Amazon Video (UK)
Two Stephen King flicks sans monsters. Not your typical King beasties, anyway. Shawshank and Green Mile boast another type of evil, the darkness that lingers in men’s hearts. But they’re not all doom and gloom! The flipside to that dabbles with how good people possess the power to overcome adversity in even the toughest of circumstances. Shawshank casts Tim Robbins’ as wronged banker Andy Dufresne, who spends most of his life in a penitentiary, where he makes friends for life. Ditto, The Green Mile is another King pic set behind bars also directed by Frank Darabont. This tearjerker takes place on Death Row, where the story of a man convicted for murdering two girls John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), the prison guard, become friends.
Extend to triple bill with: Early ‘80s Robert Redford prison flick featuring a small early role from Morgan Freeman.
2. Goodfellas + Casino
Goodfellas: Netflix (UK, US)
Casino: Starz, Direct TV (US)
It’d be easy to throw Goodfellas together with The Godfather, two mafia movies by directors at the top of their game. Pairing it with Casino, Martin Scorsese’s *other* ‘90s mobster pic is way more fun: this double whammy is all about the fun of crime. The ‘what the hell can we get away?’ ballsiness of its leading men. They play off one another, companion pieces of a sort, each loosely based on true stories of ego-centric crooks whose lives spiral out of control on account of their greed. That’s the broad strokes though: the real delight is in the details, that Scorsese seldom scrimps on. His long, unending shots that spiral throughout the characters’ lives, the painstaking voiceovers, all of which shine light on the excitement and the ultimate downfall of these men. But boy, what a ride.
Extend to triple bill with: Scorsese’s other greed is good pic, The Wolf of Wall Street.
1. Aliens + Terminator 2
Aliens: HBO Now, HBO Go (US), Now TV, Sky Go, BFI Player (UK)
Terminator 2: Fubo, Showtime (US), Now TV, Sky Go (UK)
How do you follow up two gritty, lo-fi, claustrophobic horrors, celebrated for their originality? Easy. You make ‘em bigger and better than ever – with budgets to match. Aliens and Terminator 2 isn’t just another great pairing: this is the blockbuster double bill to end ‘em all. James Cameron’s sequels are more than mere fan service. They’re sprawling behemoths, snagging the main themes of their originals – both iconoclasts in their genres – and blowing them up to tell ambitious stories about what makes us human. Where Terminator plays like a low-tech stalker noir, Terminator 2 rocks out with its endoskeleton out, the entire runtime a non-stop string of iconic set-pieces. From the epic Pescadero break out, to Sarah’s breakdown to the final chase sequence: it’s all killer, no filler. Aliens does the same, albeit in a different genre. If Alien is the haunted house horror in space, Ripley’s return to LV-426 for Aliens is a blistering assault, relentless in its drive, a sci-fi actioner through and through. It’s impossible to choose the best scene, or a highlight, because the entire movie is near-perfect.
Extend to triple – nay, quadruple – bill with: You already guessed right? Hunker down for the long haul with a quartet of cinema greats by adding Alien and The Terminator into the mix too.
Need more movie suggestions? Then why not check out one of these:
- The 30 best sci-fi movies
- The 30 best horror movies
- The 30 best feel-good movies