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.
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.
A Simple Favour
Comedy 2018 117 mins Director: Paul Feig
Paul Feig's delicious postmodern noir, with Anna Kendrick as a blogger investigating the disappearance of her best friend (Blake Lively).
Comedy 2000 97 mins Director: Simon Cellan Jones
Daniel Craig impresses in a tough but sensitive portrait of a man living with schizophrenia
Under the Tree
Comedy 2017 89 mins Director: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson
A neighbourly dispute over an obtrusive tree spirals violently out of control, in this cutting Icelandic comedy from the producers of Rams.
Talk About Jacqueline
Comedy 1942 70 mins Director: Harold French
Jacqueline journeys to the French Riviera to escape her controversial past and find an eligible bachelor in this comedy-drama lead by the wonderful Carla Lehmann.
Oh, Mr. Porter!
Comedy 1937 84 mins Director: Marcel Varnel
A bumbling railway worker played by Will Hay is appointed as stationmaster in the isolated, and apparently haunted, Northern Irish town of Buggleskelly.
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
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.
Animation & Artists Moving Image 1991 92 mins Director: Derek Jarman
Inside his modest, sparsely-furnished home on the barren, windswept Dungeness coastline, Derek Jarman dreams.
The Last of England
Animation & Artists Moving Image 1987 91 mins Director: Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman's passionate and poetic lament on the rise of Thatcherism and corporate dealings.
War 1989 93 mins Director: Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman's affecting vision of the horrors young men faced during the First World War.
Of Fathers and Sons
Documentary 2017 99 mins Director: Talal Derki
Syrian-born filmmaker Talal Derki travels to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. 2019 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature.
Drama 2018 141 mins Director: Damien Chazelle
Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in this powerful and sometimes petrifying biopic from the director of La La Land.
Documentary 2018 128 mins Director: Michael Moore
Michael Moore paints a fiery portrait of life in Trump’s America. Populist, provocative and piercingly captivating, this is Moore’s clarion call to action.