Got a 4K telly? Then treat your eyes to some eye-popping UHD entertainment. Updated for August 2020
4K tellies aren’t nearly as rare as they once were; in fact, there’s a very good chance you’ve already got one.
But finding things to watch on it in that lovely 4K resolution (you can call it UHD if you prefer) can still be somewhat tricky. There’s a fair bit out there if you know where to look, though, and the even better news is that we’ve done the looking for you.
So with no further ado, here are the 40 very best TV shows and movies that are currently available in 4K. We’ve even included a direct link to buy or stream each one from Amazon, Netflix or Sky. You’re welcome!Panasonic Lumix G100 Video Footage 1080p vloghttps://www.ultimedia.com/deliver/generic/iframe?mdtk=02564791&zone=3&type_player=0&sendstats=0&src=f8rk5f&width=490&height=300&urlfacebook=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.stuff.tv%2F&ad=1&autoplay=yes&fstart=1&title=Panasonic+Lumix+G100+Video+Footage+1080p+vlog&endMessage=um_ultimedia_wrapper_ultimediaEndRoll&widgetPrefix=um_ultimedia_wrapper_&tagparam=&tagparamdecoded=&visible=&gdprconsentstring=
And if you’ve not yet boarded the 4K train, here are the best cheap 4K TVs available right now.null
Rian Johnson’s twist-filled comic murder mystery is a treat: a clever reimagining of the classic whodunnit with a fantastic cast and a ripping pace. Daniel Craig’s Southern gentleman sleuth is a particular highlight, but pretty much every member of the cast puts in an eye-catching shift as a wealthy crime novelist’s untimely death sets his family at each other’s throats.
It’s not the fanciest film in terms of camerawork or visuals, but being high budget and shot only last year, it does look pleasingly crisp and clean on your 4K screen.
Based on the real-life 2010 offshore rig explosion, this thrilling disaster movie is guaranteed to give not only your screen but your speakers a thorough workout. Mark Wahlberg leads a star-studded cast as the head electrical engineer of the titular semi-submersible rig, a gargantuan floating drill that roams the Gulf of Mexico exploring potential oil wells. When one of those wells blows out, the resulting catastrophe pitches Wahlberg and the rest of the crew into a terrifying fight for survival.
Yeah, yeah, we know: you’ve probably seen Jurassic Parka dozen times before – but have you seen it in 4K? Amazon currently includes a very tasty-looking Ultra HD version of Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster on its Prime Video service, so if you’re hankering for some pristine-looking dino action, don’t delay.
Despite its advancing years, this film (and its pioneering special effects) looks the part in 4K – but then it’s so well shot that it’d dazzle if you watched it on your phone while perched on the loo.
The Irishman isn’t just director Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited return to the world of organised crime, it also unites the cinematic Holy Trinity of tough guy gangster movie stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and an out-of-retirement Joe Pesci. It’s kind of like The Expendables, but with people who can act.
It also looks beautiful, with Scorsese’s trademark editing and camerawork showcased by Netflix in beautiful HDR and 4K.
With a story spanning several decades (it’s a showcase for how far CG de-aging technology has come) the film delves one of 20th century America’s biggest mysteries: the disappearance of union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), who had links to both mainstream politics and the mob. It’s mainly told through the recollections of De Niro’s eponymous “Irishman” Frank Sheeran, a union member who becomes a hitman and enforcer for both Hoffa and the mafia.
THE CROWN (S1-3)
The Crown ranks as one of Netflix’s best original series to date. That’s partly down to the phenomenal production values that have been instilled in this retelling of Queen Lizzie II’s early years. Over £100 million was invested in this extravaganza, starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith (and, from the third season, Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies), and that all adds up to a swanky amount of period detail as well as several weighty performances.
The Safdie brothers’ handheld camera feverishly follows Adam Sandler’s hustling jeweller around New York as he attempts to juggle the demands of celebrity clients, his wife, his girlfriend and a bunch of mobsters looking for their money.
If you’re looking for a relaxing watch, Uncut Gems ain’t it – the camerawork, Daniel Lopatin’s electronic score and Sandler’s barely hinged performance (he’s become an expert at playing a man teetering on the edge) all serve to conjure a feeling of unease and anxiety that barely lets up over two hours. It’s deliciously delirious stuff.
“How do we get ahead of crazy if we don’t know how crazy thinks?”
This drama series tracks the efforts of two FBI agents to better understand the inner workings of serial killers’ minds. It was a field of research not considered useful by law enforcement top brass in the late 1970s, when the show is set, but our protagonists believe that learning how murderers’ brains function is key to being able to catch them.
If the subject matter sounds overly grim, don’t worry – Mindhunter isn’t all doom and gloom, being peppered with moments of comedy (often black comedy, admittedly) and underpinned by the interesting dynamic of the main characters’ often-strained relationship. It’s also fantastically well-made, with excellent camerawork, sound and editing – not all that surprising when you realised several episodes were directed by David Fincher.
BREAKING BAD (S1-5)
Yes, Breaking Bad had some memorable supporting characters – Los Pollos Hermanos kingpin Gus Fring, psychopath Tuco Salamanca and, of course, ‘Better Call Saul’ Goodman. But one of its more subtle stars is the Albuquerque landscape, shot beautifully on 35mm film and the main reason why the series has the distinctive look of a modern spaghetti western.
The money Breaking Bad saved by shooting in New Mexico (rather than California, as Vince Gilligan had originally planned) was pumped into its cinematic visual production, ensuring that its 4K version bursts from your screen like a Tuco-bothering chemical explosion.
LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS (S1)
This collection of R-rated animated shorts about the future is like a tube of Smarties for 4K fans – each of the 18 films is short and tasty, and as soon as you finish one there’s another one right there to eat/watch.
With a variety of animation styles on show and a bunch of clever ideas to shove inside your head alongside the gorgeous visuals, Love Death + Robots is a definite top-tier Netflix entry for 4K/HDR TV owners. It’s also jam-packed with bloody violence, sex and filthy language, so dainty types should be warned – this ain’t your typical cartoon series.
THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY (S1-2)
Based on the award-winning graphic novels penned by none other than My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, this dark fantasy series about a dysfunctional family of superheroes – including Ellen Page and Robert Sheehan – comes off like a mash-up of The X-Men, Hellboy, Misfits and Skins.
Fifteen years after drifting apart, six unconventional siblings must reunite to save their world (an alternate reality in which JFK was never assassinated) from apocalypse – not to mention a sociopathic assassin played by Mary J. Blige. As with many Netflix Originals, The Umbrella Academy is a visual treat, presented not only in pixel-packed 4K but HDR too.
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (S1-3)
House of Cards’ Rachel Brosnahan stars as Midge Maisel, a vivacious, fast-talking housewife with what she thought was the perfect 1950s upper-middle class New York lifestyle: husband, kids, a beautiful Upper West Side apartment.
When an unexpected turn puts that all in jeopardy, she decides to pursue a career in standup comedy – and discovers she has a rare talent not only for making people laugh but for hitting upon life’s truths and enigmas while doing it.
The show now numbers a couple of seasons and has bagged a ton of awards, so Amazon’s megabucks has not gone to waste – and there’s plenty evidence of the series’ care and craft on show if you view it in crispy 4K UHD, where its recreation of mid-century New York is, as the kids say, “on point”.
CHEF’S TABLE (S1-6)
This series (now six seasons strong – seven if you count Gallic-focussed spin-off Chef’s Table France) follows world-renowned chefs as they take viewers on a personal journey through their culinary evolution. Essentially, each episode affords the viewer an intimate, informative glimpse into what gets a genius’s creative juices flowing.
Lovingly shot in razor-sharp 4K quality (with HDR too, natch ), you can almost smell the doubtless delightful aromas drifting through the screen and tickling your nostrils. From glistening, perfectly-cooked cuts of meat to steaming pasta dishes and dainty desserts, this is pornography for your appetite. Just try not to dribble all over your remote control, eh?
Undoubtedly the best Netflix-produced movie yet, Romais the first film from a streaming service that made the cinematic establishment really sit up and take notice – the evidence being its ten Oscar nominations and three wins.
As you’d expect from director Alfonso Cuarón, previously responsible for the likes of Gravity and Children of Men, Roma is both immensely impressive on a technical level – beautifully shot and composed in black and white – and emotionally charged, resulting in a movie that’s every bit as powerful as anything made primarily for the big screen. Semi-autobiographical and inspired by Cuarón’s childhood in Mexico, the film follows an indigenous maid to a wealthy middle-class family as she experiences a series of momentous (and everyday) events.
DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT
Gus Van Sant’s affecting, affirming biopic stars Joaquin Phoenix as John Callahan, an alcoholic for whom a particularly epic bender ends in an horrific car accident. Paralysed and depressed, Callahan eventually finds solace in friends, art and the twelve-step programme.
Phoenix is typically excellent as the often-unlikeable Callahan, and there’s also superb support from Jonah Hill and Rooney Mara. A funny, thought-provoking and inspiring tale about conquering your worst impulses and “choosing life”.
THE EXPANSE (S1-4)
When original creator SyFy decided to drop The Expanse after three seasons, Amazon swept in and saved it – going on to produce a fourth season and host the lot on Amazon Prime for streaming: all in glorious 4K!
That news will be music to the ears of anyone who digs sprawling, critically-acclaimed and complex space operas, as The Expanse is all of those things: set a couple of centuries in the future where humanity’s colonisation of the solar system has resulted in tension between competing factions, it’s basically Game of Thrones with spaceships instead of dragons.
THE BOYS (S1)
If superheroes were real, they’d be jerks, perverts and outright fascists. That’s the premise behind this excellent comic book adaptation, in which a bunch of superstar costumed crusaders are owned and controlled by a ruthless corporation that keeps their bad behaviour (ranging from voyeurism and drug abuse to plain old murderous psychopathy) under wraps to keep the cash rolling in.
When one super-powered outrage leaves a young man bereaved and hellbent on revenge, he joins a group of like-minded vigilantes with the aim of taking Vought down once and for all. Effortlessly blending humour, action and drama, The Boys was Amazon’s best original series of 2019.
This quirky spy drama blends deadpan humour, action and a coterie of memorable characters for a truly original whole.
Michael Dorman excels as the permanently put-upon CIA operative John Lakeman, who really just wants to be a folk singer – only for life to keep conspiring against him.
The smart plot takes in Iran, nuclear weapons, a single-minded Luxembourger cop and a lot more info about industrial piping than you’d ever need know. It’s genuinely laugh-out-loud funny at times and the acting throughout is excellent. A real winner.
AMERICAN VANDAL (S1-2)
With true crime documentaries like Making a Murdererenjoying a purple patch of late, it was only a matter of time until someone started poking fun at the genre – we just didn’t expect it to involve phallic graffiti.
American Vandal follows Peter Maldonado’s attempts to prove Dylan Maxwell’s innocence after the renowned prankster is accused of defacing 27 faculty cars at an American high school. With more twists than a Thorpe Park rollercoaster and all the drama you’d expect from a show centred on American teenagers, it’s near-impossible not to get obsessed with trying to suss out the penis-drawing culprit – and it’s all rendered in gorgeous 4K, to boot.
Don’t let Paramount’s decision to dump this movie straight to Netflix rather than give it a cinema release put you off watching it, because Annihilation is one of the most accomplished and intriguing science fiction films of recent years. Not only is it visually outstanding – presented here both in 4K and HDR – and packed with tension, it’s a brain-twister that’ll leave you with more questions than answers (but enough clues to work everything out, too).
When an unexplained “shimmer” engulfs a tract of land in the southeastern United States, then starts expanding, the government doesn’t know how to act. Everything and everybody they send inside disappears, never to return – with one exception. When Natalie Portman’s biologist finds herself personally drawn into the mystery, she joins a team venturing into the Shimmer and uncovers the shocking truth at its centre.
THE GRAND TOUR (S1-4)
Clarkson and co’s Top Gear-topper is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of deal. If you’re a greasy-fingered petrolhead, or simply into following middle-aged boy-men on their banter-fuelled road trips, you’re going to enjoy this series a lot.
If you can’t stand this brand of overbearing laddishness, The Grand Tour isn’t likely to transform you into a believer – but for anybody looking for some beautifully shot, mindless entertainment to grace that new Ultra HD telly, this impeccably-produced show fits the bill.
STRANGER THINGS (S1-3)
It might be an homage to all things 80s (think E.T. meets The Goonies meets The Thing), but other than the scratchy, retro opening title, everything about Stranger Things’ production is cutting edge. It was actually shot in 6K, but even on our backwards 4K TVs the picture is stunning. Gruesomely so at the more horror-tinged points of the series. But whether you’re an AV nerd or not, this demands to be seen – it’s two seasons of truly stunning, surprising, unique television.
The first season of this magnificent Netflix original drama is all about the rise of drug baron Pablo Escobar, the second captures the true story of his downfall after years on the run, and the third concerns the Colombian kingpins who suceed him. You can expect a mix of tense action sequences, real news footage and superb moustaches – and it’s worth watching in 4K for the extra detail on Escobar’s superb selection of sweaters alone.
ALTERED CARBON (S1-2)
Altered Carbon is set in the kind of neon-soaked cyberpunk hellhole – created via dizzyingly expensive special effects – that positively demands to be delivered in 4K and HDR. And, thankfully for us, it is!
This glossy, gory cyber-noir takes us 300-odd years into the future, where Earth has become an overpopulated, dirty, decadent mess – but outright death is a rarity. That’s because your consciousness, digitally backed up on a device called a “stack”, can be transported between bodies – if, of course, you can afford to pay the exorbitant fee such an operation entails.
Into this terrifying new world drops hard-boiled anti-hero Takeshi Kovacs, released from prison and dropped into a snazzy, buffed-up Joel Kinnaman-shaped sleeve after a couple of centuries on ice. Why has Kovacs been brought back after so long? In order to solve a murder, of course – a mystery that the insanely wealthy victim (who’s now reincarnated in a fresh cloned sleeve, natch) believes only Kovacs’ unique skills can unwrap.
BLADE RUNNER 2049
The long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s eye-popping cyberpunk classic manages to outdo its predecessor on the visual stylistics, arguably being one of the most stunningly beautiful films ever made. Big ups to director Denis Villeneuve and Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, then, who’ve produced a rare treat for the eyes that owners of 4K televisions shouldn’t pass up. Pick it up on 4K Blu-ray for the ultimate in image quality, but those who baulk at the cost can stream it for much less.
BETTER CALL SAUL (S1-5)
No one really likes lawyers. They don’t have millions of adoring fans on Instagram, and their spirit animals are sharks – cold, grey killers, with dead, soulless eyes. But they’re not all bad. Take the slick and lovable Saul Goodman, aka Slippin’ Jimmy – a slick, rule-bending practitioner of justice who won our hearts in Breaking Bad, a show with incredible cinematography that has transitioned into this equally spectacular spin-off.
Moneyball’s not exactly replete with the kind of million-dollar action sequences that’ll give your fancy new telly a workout. Heck: there’s not even that much baseball in it. In fact, it’s kind of like Excel: The Movie, but the story of how Billy Beane turned the Oakland A’s from whipping boys into winners by studying stats is so well scripted by Aaron Sorkin that the performances of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill effortlessly capture the team’s underdog spirit. The result? A potential snoozathon becomes one of the most engrossing movies of recent years.
THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE (S1-4)
What if the Allies had lost the Second World War and America was currently ruled by Germany in its eastern half and Japan in its western half? You’d have a damn good plot for a novel, said Philip K. Dick. And, said Amazon over 50 years later, a fairly daring basis for one of its original TV series.
Knowing the scrutiny its first moves as a studio would receive, Amazon pumped a load of dug-up gold into the production. Which is good, because now that it’s available in 4K (with HDR) you can amuse yourself picking up the alt-history references in the newspapers and shop signs as the characters go about their captivating plot-based business in classy period sets.
BLACK MIRROR (S1-5)
Black Mirror’s move from Channel 4 to Netflix has meant a bigger budget, giving Charlie Brooker’s series of dark, self-contained cautionary tales a grander scope. It’s also meant an image quality upgrade to 4K and HDR which, given the show’s cynical view of chasing the latest tech trend, feels somewhat ironic – but when it looks this good, we’ll take it regardless.
Luca Guadagnino’s stylish reimagining of the Dario Argento classic is likely to divide audiences. Ponderously paced and tottering under the weight of more themes and ideas than it knows what to do with, this is peak arthouse horror – and some might find the inevitable gory payoff too little reward for the time invested.
Others will appreciate the movie’s strong sense of place (late 1970s Berlin, a divided city stricken by political turmoil) and the way it builds its oppressive atmosphere with sound effects, strange camera angles and Thom Yorke’s krautrock-inspired score; it’s not a showy movie, but it looks great in 4K. Dakota Johnson stars as a naive American joining a prestigious all-female dance company that just might be a coven of witches, while Tilda Swinton excels in three separate roles.
LIFE OF PI
Ang Lee won an Oscar for his direction of this extraordinary film about a boy stranded on a lifeboat with only a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a huge Bengal tiger named Richard Parker for company. Adapted from Yann Martel’s bestselling novel, Pi’s story meditates on faith after his zookeeping family drowns in the Pacific Ocean.
The incredible visual effects of the CGI animals and terrifying weather systems are only enhanced in 4K, which adds to the sense of exposure, powerlessness and isolation of the teenage protagonist. As unlikely as the scenario is, this is an unmissable spectacle.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
If ever a film was made for 4K (and HDR if you can get it) it’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Director George Miller takes what could’ve been a largely bland desert landscape and throws in splashes of colour like cinematic fireworks, with stacks of intricate detail in the characters’ grotesque masks and nightmarish modes of transport.
But it’s not just a treat for the eyes. The plot might be simpler than a sloth’s to-do list but the incredible stunts, superbly realised and totally bonkers world, plus a stonking performance from Charlize Theron make it a 4K journey that’s more than worth hitching a ride on.
AMERICAN GODS (S1-2)
Based on the celebrated Neil Gaiman novel, this big budget series from Bryan Fuller (previously producer of Hannibal) weaves together cords of ancient mythology, modern mythology, Americana and pop culture to create a modern fantasy fable – a magical realist tale about immigration, above other things. The cast includes the classy likes of Ian McShane, Peter Stormare and Gillian Anderson, but British viewers might be tickled to see former Hollyoaks hunk Ricky Whittle in the leading role – and doing a very decent job along with it.
American Gods has a distinctive, stylish look that benefits from its Ultra HD rendering – but given the series’ clever use of colour and contrast, we’re a tad disappointed that HDR isn’t on the menu.
If you need to name a tank you can’t ask the internet to do it or you’ll end up with something infantile like Tanky McTankface – it needs a fearsome moniker to strike fear into the enemy’s hearts, something like Gun Bastard or The Archbishop of Pain. In World War 2 Brad Pitt didn’t have the internet so the best he could come up with was Fury, which isn’t bad, if a little obvious.
As war films go Fury is no Platoon or Apocalypse Now but its frantic firefights, moodily lit battlefields and gloomy onboard shots are ripe for the 4K treatment.
Violent yet beautiful, menacing and stunning in equal measure. No, not Titus Welliver’s moody homicide detective – the city of Los Angeles. LA is as big a part of Amazon’s gritty crime drama as Bosch himself, and it looks flippin’ gorgeous in 4K with HDR.
Tune in for the beautiful rolling shots of LA, sprawling out from the Hollywood hills in UHD resolution, and you’ll soon be hooked by the clever murder mystery plot.
At the time of writing, a fourth season has just dropped onto Amazon Prime – which means binge-watchers have a whole heap of murder, conspiracy and assorted shadiness to dive into.
PLANET EARTH II
There’s no better way to experience 4K than a nature documentary. Trust us. From the bright pink flamingo bathing in a shimmering blue pool to a yellow jaguar lurking within the dense green jungle, there’s an abundance of colour within the animal kingdom. And it’s not just stunning visuals that are on offer here – David Attenborough’s narration will stir your emotions while also leaving you with more knowledge about the world we inhabit.
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
The latest Star Wars movie might have divided the critics somewhat, with some feeling that its tone wasn’t sufficiently “Star Wars-y” and others enjoying director Rian Johnson’s fresh take on the universe, but nobody could deny that it’s a visual spectacle and then some. Sadly it’s not yet available to stream in 4K, but owners of UHD Blu-ray players are in luck.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
It’s Potter, but not as you know it in this tangential adventure set in 1920s New York. Yes, there’s still magic and dragons aplenty, but this time Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) takes up the mantle of bumbling hero. While Fantastic Beasts spends a lot of time teeing up plot strands for its four planned sequels, there’s more than enough spectacle to entertain you.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
James Cameron’s SFX showcase sequel is bigger, brasher and arguably better than the dark sci-fi thriller the preceded it, and it makes an ideal “older” movie to enjoy in beautiful 4K.
When a teenage John Conner is again threatened by a time-travelling robot, the resistance again sends back an agent to protect him. The twist? This time it’s another robot, in the familiar shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cue some of the finest action set pieces in 1990s cinema.
LA LA LAND
Got turned off by all the La La Land love when it first hit cinemas? Don’t be such a doltz this time around. This is one of the best musicals in absolute yonks, and essential viewing even if the mere mention of ‘jazz hands’ is usually enough to make you retch. Why? Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone carry off what could have been a generic, schmaltzy romance with wit and subtlety to play your heartstrings like a fiddle.
Over the 145-minute running time of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, a word that sounds a bit like ‘4K’ is uttered 300 times. Casino (422) and The Wolf of Wall Street (569), two of the director’s later films, both bettered it – but this is the only one that’s available in Ultra HD. Much more than just a cinematic swear jar, Goodfellas is the storyof real-life gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his rise from teenage hanger-on to full-time mobster.
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