• (L - R) 'Frances Ha', 'The Breaker Upperers', 'The Bookshop', 'Bone Tomahawk', 'Concussion' (SBS)Source: SBS
Comedies, Greta Gerwig, cannibals and those classic SBS late-night movies – here are some of the most watched movies at SBS On Demand for 2020.
Ally Caracatsanis

3 Dec 2020 - 10:18 AM  UPDATED 3 Dec 2020 - 12:37 PM

The Bookshop

UK, Germany, Spain, 2017
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Isabel Coixet
Starring: Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Patricia Clarkson
What's it about?
This film is like losing yourself in a good book and, let’s be honest, whenever we see Bill Nighy in a film it is always a resounding yes to click play. Based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name, The Bookshop is set in 1959. Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), a free-spirited widow, puts grief behind her and risks everything to open a bookshop – the first such shop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. By exposing the small town to the best literature of the day including Nabokov’s scandalising Lolita and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, she makes an enemy of the town’s alpha female who is herself a wannabe doyenne of the local arts scene, Mrs Gamart (Patricia Clarkson). But she also has a kindred spirit and ally in the figure of Mr Brundish (Nighy) who is himself sick of the town’s stale atmosphere. A struggle not just for the bookshop but for the very heart and soul of the town begins. 


The Breaker Upperers

New Zealand, 2018
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Director: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek
Starring: Jackie van Beek, Madeleine Sami, Celia Pacquola, James Rolleston
What's it about?
Good books and a comedy were definitely top of the list for some escapism in 2020, and this New Zealand comedy was a clear favourite with audiences. Fifteen years ago, Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) discovered they were being two-timed by the same man. Bitter and cynical, they became fast friends and formed The Breaker Upperers, a small-time business breaking up couples for cash. Now they’re in their late-thirties and business is booming. They’re a platonic, co-dependent couple who keep their cynicism alive by not getting emotionally involved with anybody else. But when they run into an old victim, Mel develops a conscience and their friendship is truly put to the test.

'The Breaker Upperers': An Anti-Valentine's Day Comedy Delight
The best joke in ‘The Breaker Upperers’ is about the stuff white people laugh at


Frances Ha

USA, 2013
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Director: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver, Michael Zegen
What's it about?
It seems like what we also needed in 2020 was a good dose of the relatable and talented Greta Gerwig. First up in our Greta double feature is the beautiful black and white film Frances Ha (also starring Adam Driver). Frances (Gerwig) lives in New York, but she doesn’t really have an apartment. She’s an apprentice for a dance company, but she’s not really a dancer. She has a best friend named Sophie, but they aren’t really speaking anymore. Frances wants so much more than she has, but lives her life with unaccountable joy and lightness. A modern comic fable that explores New York, friendship, class, ambition, failure and redemption.

Frances Ha: Noah Baumbach interview
Frances Ha review: Greta Gerwig is luminescently 'undateable'
Frances Ha review: If you don’t feel like you’re a real person yet, this is the film for you


Maggie’s Plan

USA, 2015
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Director: Rebecca Miller
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Greta Gerwig, Julianne Moore
What's it about?
Our next Greta Gerwig film Maggie’s Plan also stars Julianne Moore and Ethan Hawke – sign me up, already. Maggie (Gerwig), a vibrant thirty-something single New Yorker, decides to have a child on her own. But when she meets John, a “ficto-critical anthropologist” and struggling novelist, Maggie falls in love for the first time, and adjusts her plans for motherhood. Complicating matters, John (Hawke) is in a strained marriage with Georgette (Moore), a brilliant Danish academic. Maggie sets into motion a new plan that catapults her into a nervy love triangle with John and Georgette, intertwining their lives in surprising and humorous ways.

'Maggie's Plan' review: A delightful screwball comedy for grown-ups

'Maggie's Plan'


The Meddler

USA, 2016
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Language: English
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Susan Sarandon
What's it about?
Another comedy for the list, this film written and directed by Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers) about family dynamics is funny, honest and moving, and features an incredible performance from Susan Sarandon. With a new iPhone, an apartment near the Grove, and a comfortable bank account left to her by her beloved late husband, Marnie Minervini (Sarandon) has happily relocated from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be near her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne), a successful (but still single) screenwriter, and smother her with motherly love. But when the dozens of texts, unexpected visits, and conversations dominated by unsolicited advice force Lori to draw strict personal boundaries, Marnie finds ways to channel her eternal optimism and forceful generosity to change the lives of others – as well as her own – and find a new purpose in life.


Certain Women

USA, 2016
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Lily Gladstone
What's it about?
Written and directed by Kelly Reichardt and featuring an all-star cast, it’s no wonder this film about everyday women made the list. Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams and Lily Gladstone star as four women striving to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest. Laura (Dern) is a lawyer who finds herself contending with both office sexism and a hostage situation. Gina (Williams) is a wife and mother whose determination to build her dream home puts her at odds with the men in her life. And Beth (Stewart) is a young law student who forms an ambiguous bond with a lonely ranch hand (Gladstone). As their stories intersect in subtle but powerful ways, a portrait emerges of flawed yet strong-willed individuals in the process of defining themselves.

Certain Women review: A quiet triumph

Kelly Reichardt is one of the best filmmakers working today
And the ‘Wendy and Lucy’ and ‘Certain Women’ director has the resume to prove it.



Belgium, France, Germany, 2016
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Language: French
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Virginie Efira
What's it about?
This gripping and captivating film from Paul Verhoeven features a commanding performance from one of the greatest actors working today in what really should have been her first Oscar-winning performance (come on, we have all been thinking it since 2017). Michèle (Isabelle Huppert) seems indestructible. Head of a successful video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. Being attacked in her home by an unknown assailant changes Michèle’s life forever. When she resolutely tracks the man down, they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game that may, at any moment, spiral out of control.

'Elle': Isabelle Huppert Stakes Claim As Greatest Living Actor

Isabelle Huppert in 2016's 'Elle'


Bone Tomahawk

USA, 2015
Genre: Drama, Horror, Adventure, Western
Language: English
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Kurt Russell
What's it about?
And now we take a sharp left turn towards a horror/western featuring cannibals from director S. Craig Zahler (Brawl in Cell Block 99). When a group of cannibals kidnaps settlers from the small town of Bright Hope, an unlikely team of gunslingers, led by Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) and his deputy (Richard Jenkins), a gunslinger (Matthew Fox) and a cowboy (Patrick Wilson) set out to bring them home. But their enemy is more ruthless than anyone could have imagined, putting their mission – and survival itself – in serious jeopardy. This is a gritty action-packed thriller chronicling a terrifying rescue mission in the Old West. Surely bound for cult status because of its genre mash-up and shock value, one scene in particular may have you covering your eyes.

Kurt Russell stars in the 2015 western-horror hybrid Bone Tomahawk, showing this Wednesday 27th March at 8:35PM



Room in Rome

Spain, 2010
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: Italian, Russian, Spanish
Director: Julio Medem
Starring: Elena Anaya, Enrico Lo Verso
What's it about?
This film always seems to be one of our most watched SBS On Demand titles. Wonder why? When Alba (Elena Anaya) seduces fellow tourist Natasha (Natasha Yarovenko) in a bar, the two women agree to limit their passionate affair to a one-night encounter in a hotel. Their physical adventure also leads them to share their life stories with each other. The story unfolds over twelve hours, through the night and into the early morning before each woman departs, Alba to Spain and Natasha to Russia.



USA, 2013
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Stacie Passon
Starring: Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff
What's it about?
Written and directed by Stacie Passon (TV’s Little Birds) this relationship drama features a stand-out performance from Robin Weigert (TV’s Deadwood) as Abby, an attractive 40­‐something, wealthy housewife. After she is smacked in the head by her son’s baseball, she begins to yearn for something else, something more than her banal suburban life. Determined to take on a new project, she buys a pied-­à­‐terre in Manhattan. But walking around the city streets reminds Abby of what it feels like to be sexy and her pent-­up libido compels her to invent a secret double life that draws her deeply into the world of high-­end prostitution for women. As Abby becomes more and more obsessed by her new role, and as her decisions become increasingly reckless, we realise that she won’t be able to contain this secret forever.

Concussion: Stacie Passon interview



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