To help you navigate through the 11,000+ hours of content available on SBS on Demand, CW has compiled a list of nine of the best movies available in 2021 on the popular, free streaming platform.
Accompanied only by her faithful dog and four camels, a young Australian explorer turned writer satisfies her craving for solitude by embarking on a solo trip across the desert from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean.
Starring Canberra actor Mia Wasikowska and now Hollywood A-lister Adam Driver and based on a true story, Tracks takes viewers on a slow-paced but worthwhile journey across the Northern Territory with spectacular on-location footage from some extremely remote areas, and excellent performances from its leads and supporting cast.
Tracks is available on SBS on Demand until 31 March 2021.
In a future Los Angeles sometime later this century, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely man who composes letters for people unable to write letters of a personal nature themselves, purchases a newly developed operating system designed to meet the user’s every need.
To Theodore’s surprise, a romantic relationship develops between him and his operating system.
Her is a bittersweet exploration of the nature of love, the power of technology to both isolate and connect, and the implications we face as technology becomes more and more ubiquitous in our daily lives.
Eight years since it released, Her has continued to remain relevant and thought provoking, and could very well go on to be regarded as a visionary work as time passes.
Her is available on SBS on Demand until 2 February 2021.
With Michael Keaton depicting a fading actor best known for his portrayal of a famous superhero in the 1990s, 2014’s Birdman was in many ways an extraordinary case of life imitating art upon release.
Shot and edited together in a way where the entire two-hour movie feels almost like a seamless take, Birdman sees Keaton’s Riggan Thomson attempt to mount a comeback by appearing in a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
With the camera weaving through the wings of the theatre, alongside its innovative editing and cinematography, the film’s deeply emotive, percussive score by Antonio Sánchez perfectly complements the action.
Supporting performances from Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone all hit. All of its elements firing in unison make Birdman an extraordinary, unique film you won’t forget anytime soon.
Birdman is available on SBS on Demand until 7 February 2021.
One of New Zealand’s finest entertainment exports, Academy Award winner Taika Waititi wrote, directed and acted in this hilarious and heartfelt coming-of-age comedy tale about heroes, magic and Michael Jackson set in 1984.
In Boy, the titular character brought to life by precocious Kiwi actor James Rolleston, who was just 13 when it released, lives on a farm with his gran, a goat, and his younger brother, Rocky (who thinks he has magic powers).
Shortly after Gran leaves for a week, Boy’s father, Alamein, played by Waititi, appears out of the blue. Having imagined a heroic version of his father during his absence, Boy comes face-to-face with the real version.
Shot on location in Waititi’s hometown of Waihau Bay, the embodiment of a sleepy coastal town, despite the fact it was produced and released after Waititi’s feature debut Eagle Vs Shark, he wrote Boy first and regards it as such.
Boy is available on SBS on Demand until 29 January 2021.
Dallas Buyers Club (MA15+)
In case you completely missed this one on release in 2013, Dallas Buyers Club is loosely based on the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a drug-taking, woman-loving, homophobic man, who in 1986 was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
Set at the absolute peak of the crisis where such a diagnosis was considered a death sentence and little about the syndrome was understood, the film does an amazing job of transporting the audience back and giving one a sense of the subject matter’s broader political context.
Praised for Matthew McConaughey’s lead performance, one that alongside True Detective defined the early-to-mid 2010s McConaissance and earned him his Academy Award.
Jared Leto’s portrayal of Rayon, a drug-addicted trans woman with AIDS who befriends McConaughey’s Woodroof, received critical acclaim too, and led to Leto also taking home an Oscar for his performance.
Dallas Buyers Club is available on SBS on Demand until 10 February 2021.
Midnight in Paris (PG)
Enchanting, whimsical, nostaligic and, of course, romantic, Woody Allen’s Owen Wilson vehicle Midnight in Paris is a 94-minute ride worth taking when you’re in the mood.
The movie sees Wilson’s Gil, an aspiring novelist with a soft spot for Paris’ Années folles of the 1920s, travel to the city of love with his fiancé’s family, who, it turns out, hold Paris in a very different light.
When walking the streets of Paris alone, Gil is transported to the Paris of the roaring ‘20s at the strike of midnight, where he gets to live out his dreams and learn a series of important life lessons along the way.
While a fine movie, after multiple watches I’m still unsure whether Rachael McAdams’ character, Gil’s fiancée, is meant to be irredeemably cruel and unlikeable or is just a poorly drawn, one-note character used to elicit sympathy for Gil.
Midnight in Paris is available on SBS on Demand until 17 February 2021.
The Wrestler (MA15+)
This gritty 2008 drama widely acclaimed for its touching and accurate depiction of the pro-wrestling subculture features ageing former champ wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson, played by Mickey Rourke, who is watching his pro career quickly leaving him behind.
Taking a beating on a particularly tough night leads to Randy quitting. He then sets about coming to terms with his age, which sees him attempt to kindle a serious relationship with a stripper, played by Marisa Tomei, and try to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
The Wrestler is available on SBS on Demand until until 31 January 2021.
Donnie Darko (M)
Known as the movie that made its lead Jake Gyllenhaal a bona fide star, Donnie Darko has been captivating and befuddling audiences in equal measures since it debuted in 2001.
Made on an indie budget with a high-profile cast including Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonald and Patrick Swayze, it features a curious combination of time travel, human sized bunnies, a stellar 1980s soundtrack and intense Smurf debates.
A production story goes that Gyllenhaal and co-star Seth Rogen supposedly joked together at the production’s wrap party that neither of them had any idea what the movie they just made was about!
Donnie Darko is available on SBS on Demand until 31 January 2021.
My Life as a Zucchini (PG)
A charming bittersweet French children’s movie that doesn’t shy away from life’s darker aspects, following his mother’s death our protagonist Zucchini (Courgette) is befriended by a kind police officer, Raymond, who accompanies him to his new foster home filled with other orphans his age.
There, with the help of his newfound friends, Zucchini eventually learns to trust and love, having adventures and growing up alongside the other children.
My Life as a Zucchini is available on SBS on Demand until 10 February 2021.