Maxine Peake gives a formidable performance as an aspiring female comedian standing up to a violent husband and the sexist Northern England club circuit. If you think that modern comedy is still lacking in gender equality, then this tough, streetwise British film shows that it’s also made giant strides since the in-your-face chauvinism of working men’s clubs in decades past. And yet, ill-treatment by men is something our eponymous heroine is grimly used to, from childhood beatings to an abusive husband (scriptwriter Tony Pitts, on terrifying form).
More a film about the power of laughter and how to transform pain into humour than a straight-up comedy, Funny Cow is a fitting showcase for Peake. So often dazzling on stage and television, she’s hilarious and heart-breaking here. There’s fine support too from cast-against-type Paddy Considine as her middle-class paramour and a swooning, melancholic soundtrack by Richard Hawley.
Sorry to Bother You
Comedy 2018 111 mins Director: Boots Riley
A mild-mannered call centre operator whizzes up the corporate ladder after he discovers a unique ability to adopt a "white voice" in writer-director Boots Riley's breathlessly inventive satire.
Action and Adventure 2018 108 mins
The Salem witch trials are given a digital overhaul in this ferocious female action film.
Comedy 2017 92 mins Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
The first man in Poland to receive a full face transplant achieves national notoriety, but struggles with his own identity in this ingenious tragicomedy.
Anna and the Apocalypse
Horror 2017 98 mins Director: John McPhail
A Scottish schoolgirl has the ultimate weapon with which to quell the zombie apocalypse: showtunes.
Comedy 2018 95 mins Director: Carlos López Estrada
While on probation, a man begins to re-evaluate his relationship with his volatile best friend, in this electrifying Sundance hit.
Comedy 2000 97 mins Director: Simon Cellan Jones
Daniel Craig impresses in a tough but sensitive portrait of a man living with schizophrenia
Best Films of 2018
Drama 2016 103 mins Director: Maysaloun Hamoud
Three strong, independent Israeli-Palestinian women try to square their liberated, hedonistic lifestyles with the stultifying restrictions of conservative family life, in Maysaloun Hamoud's charming and vital drama.
God's Own Country
Drama 2017 105 mins Director: Francis Lee
A troubled young sheep farmer falls for a hired hand in this stunning debut from Francis Lee.
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
Documentary 2017 115 mins Director: Sophie Fiennes
Grace Jones is laid bare in this intimate and electrifying insight into the fascinating world of a pop-cultural phenomenon.
Comedy 2017 71 mins Director: Sally Potter
Following some unexpected revelations, a celebration quickly takes a turn for the worse in Sally Potter's razor-sharp comedy.
The Death of Stalin
Comedy 2017 107 mins Director: Armando Iannucci
Chaos and comedy ignite in Armando Iannucci’s acerbic satire, as Soviet officials frantically react to the passing of their glorious leader.
The Florida Project
Drama 2017 112 mins Director: Sean Baker
Tangerine director Sean Baker presents another visionary take on the wild ups and dangerous downs of life in America’s underbelly, featuring an Oscar-nominated turn from Willem Dafoe.
Featuring Maxine Peake
Drama 2017 154 mins Director: Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh orchestrates a superb ensemble cast in this rousing tale of working class uprising and its violent suppression in Manchester in 1819.
Drama 2010 92 mins Director: Carol Morley
A group of people gather at the Cliff Edge Hotel, where death is never far away, in this early, micro-budget feature from Carol Morley.
Drama 2014 102 mins Director: Carol Morley
Amid the seething hormones and turbulent emotions of an all-girl school, a mysterious fainting sickness takes hold.
Featuring Paddy Considine
Drama 2016 92 mins Director: Paddy Considine
Paddy Considine directs and stars with Jodie Whittaker in this emotional knockout - the story of a boxer rebuilding his life after a near-fatal injury.
Drama 2015 113 mins Director: Justin Kurzel
Fassbender is ferocious as the Scottish king in Justin Kurzel’s red-blooded and viscerally atmospheric Shakespeare adaptation.
Comedy 2010 97 mins Director: Richard Ayoade
Richard Ayoade’s sweet and quirky directorial debut about a Swansea teen’s travails with his distant girlfriend and warring parents.
Comedy 2014 120 mins Director: Matthew Warchus
The smash culture-clash comedy tells the incredible true story of how miners and a Gay Pride support group come together to fight a common cause.
My Death Is a Mockery
Crime 1952 69 mins Director: Tony Young
Hop aboard for a choppy Channel crossing with this bleak, bullet-spattered sea-smuggling crime drama.
Room at the Top
Drama 1958 117 mins Director: Jack Clayton
Jack Clayton directs this romantic, love-triangle drama featuring Simone Signoret in an Oscar-winning performance.
Mary Queen of Scots
Period drama 2018 124 mins Director: Josie Rourke
Saoirse Ronan is Mary Stuart, facing off against Margot Robbie's Elizabeth I in this striking, feminist take on 16th-century history.
Drama 2018 121 mins Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet give blistering performances as a father and son in this gripping story of a family dealing with addiction over many years.
Biopic 2017 112 mins Director: Wash Westmoreland
This witty, Belle Époque-era biopic stars Keira Knightley and Dominic West as literary couple Colette and Willy, whose relationship rewrote social and gender rules.
Documentary 2018 98 mins Director: Marcus Lindeen
Imagine Big Brother at sea, but with no evictions. Director Marcus Lindeen innovatively uncovers the human stories behind a 1970s social experiment, salaciously dubbed ‘The Sex Raft’.