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.
Drama 2019 111 mins Director: Philippa Lowthorpe
Keira Knightley and Gugu Mbatha-Raw star in this inspirational story about the infamous 1970 Miss World contest.
Comedy 2017 133 mins Director: Terry Gilliam
Two decades in the making, Terry Gilliam’s wildly imaginative Cervantes adaptation is finally with us, and it’s everything we have come to expect from this visionary filmmaker.
Comedy 2020 81 mins Director: Rachel Hirons
Alexandra Roach (Utopia) and George MacKay (1917) play a couple hopelessly navigating the world of millennial dating, in Rachel Hirons’ distinctly filthy and cringe-heavy comedy.
Comedy 1954 94 mins Director: John Huston
Humphrey Bogart stars in this classic adventure comedy directed by John Huston and written by Truman Capote.
Comedy 2019 115 mins Director: Nicolas Bedos
Daniel Auteuil’s illustrator is given the chance to visit a different era to re-evaluate his life in this resplendent slice of Westworld-style speculative fiction.
Comedy 2019 108 mins Director: Takashi Miike
A terminally-ill boxer, a runaway call girl, a double-crossing drugs heist and a gang war; Takashi Miike doesn’t do things by halves.
Best Films of 2018
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.
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.
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.
Drama 2017 127 mins Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Andrey Zvyagintsev (Elena, Leviathan) delivers a masterpiece in this caustic look at contemporary Russian society, a failed marriage and the disappearance of a child. A major prize winner at both Cannes and BFI London Film Festival.
Drama 2017 106 mins Director: Michael Pearce
The hunt for a Jersey serial killer sparks a dangerous awakening in a young woman in this astonishing psycho-sexual thriller, which sets all the senses aflame.
Drama 2016 88 mins Director: John Carroll Lynch
Harry Dean Stanton gives the performance of a lifetime as an irascible nonagenarian maverick in a New Mexican town, grappling with his mortality.
Featuring Maxine Peake
Drama 2018 84 mins Director: William McGregor
A young girl tries desperately to protect her family from illness and dark outside forces in William McGregor's stark period horror.
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.
Drama 2019 135 mins Director: Trey Edward Shults
Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night) continues to impress with one of the year's most dazzling cinematic achievements, a study of a family's dramatic unravelling and redemption.
Drama 2018 76 mins Director: Scott Graham
Mark Stanley plays the petrol-head who never left town, in this Bruce Springsteen-inspired tale of thwarted dreamers.
Drama 2019 105 mins Director: Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää
In this playful, dark comedy a dominatrix offers a widower an unexpected chance for sexual and psychological release.
War 2019 119 mins Director: Sam Mendes
This technically brilliant, multi-award winner from Sam Mendes was inspired by his grandfather's memories of fighting in the First World War.
Drama 2019 80 mins Director: Oliver Laxe
A pyromaniac returns to his mother’s farm in Oliver Laxe’s visually jaw-dropping study of the Galician landscape.
Crime 2001 86 mins Director: Asif Kapadia
Irfan Khan stars in this stately swordplay epic from director Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna) which earned critical comparisons with Kurosawa.