2. The Death of Stalin (2017)
Written and directed by Armando Ianucci, the comedic genius behind some of the best British comedy of the past 20 years – ‘I’m Alan Partridge’, ‘The Thick of It’ and In the Loop, to name but a few – The Death of Stalin is the sort of comedy that will thrill the well read and the historians among us, but it’ll never step so far out of reach to cause any of us normies to feel incapable of jumping in.
Stacked to the brim with comedic talent of another level to perhaps any comedy film of the past decade, including Steve Buscemi and Monty Python’s own Michael Palin, this somehow semi-historically-accurate farce about Joseph Stalin’s death is steeped in all the trademarks of the filmmaker’s tremendous back catalogue – genuine British awkwardness being chief among them.
Communist Russia has never looked so stupid, Ianucci pulling the pants down on yet another political regime in yet another political structure.
If politics aren’t your thing, I wouldn’t worry too much as the visual gags and wordplay are sharp and sometimes come so quick that you’re still processing the first moment as the second is occurring, but if you do like politics and/or history, you’re in for a real treat on so many levels.
3. Game Night (2018)
2018 was a stellar year for comedies (more on that to come), but Game Night was certainly one of the strongest. This is an ensemble comedy about a big prank gone wrong that intelligently features all of the twists and turns of an actual board game while remaining hilarious from story beat to story beat for a tremendous laugh out loud spectacle.
Here, Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving gangsters, police and an awkward next door neighbour after they and their friends’ usual game night is interrupted by thugs in masks. The couple, who don’t know which moments are real and which are parts of their game night from moment to moment, then comedically stumble through the events of the film in what is a surprisingly thrilling narrative wrapped in never-ending laughs.
Jesse Plemons arguably steals the show as the nosy and intrusive aforementioned neighbour, while Rachel McAdams is utterly unmissable in a role revisiting her early career days as a comedic talent.
This one might hit a bit close to home if you’re missing your friends a lot, but it could make for a great movie to watch together (albeit over message/video call).