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The best 4K movies and TV shows and where to watch them

Narcos Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

You deserve nothing less than the best 4K movies and best 4K TV shows when switching on to relax in front of your What Hi-Fi?-recommended AV equipment. The very best content will make those pictures shine their brightest, the audio richer and more involving than ever and your whole experience the most luxurious and immersive it can be. Bravo. Your next trick is knowing where to find it.

If you've bought a new TV in the past couple of years, the chances are it's a 4K TV, which means you have four times the number of pixels at your disposal compared with an HD TV. Fill those pixels with information, courtesy of some 4K content, and you're looking at a picture that should be more detailed, more dynamic and more impressive in a 'wow-that-looks-good' way.

We've rounded up the best 4K films and TV shows that are available to watch now, whether on streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix or Disney+, or, for the ultimate in picture (and sound), with a 4K Blu-ray player and our pick of the best 4K Blu-rays.

We've also listed whether each film is available in Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10+ or  standard HDR10 (which to varying degrees will complement those sharper 4K images with improved colour reproduction) and whether a Dolby Atmos surround sound soundtrack is also included. Because, let's face it, 4K, HDR and Atmos combined makes for a truly tantalising home cinema proposition.

Read on for our pixel-packed picks...

Best 4K movies

There's nothing like immersing yourself in two hours of cinematic escapism. 

More than ever before, modern TV series are boasting big budgets, big-name actors, and complex stories weaved over tens of episodes and multiple seasons – but films offer a complete start-to-finish experience, ideal for an evening's entertainment. 

As TV shows have become ever more complicated, with elongated episodes and endless character arcs, there's a lot to be said for a singular dose of story-telling.

Let's kick things off with a selection of our favourite 4K films – and how you can watch them.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

No huge surprises from Disney in terms of plot or character arc in its latest fantasy animated epic, but that's not why we watch Disney, now is it? The animation is a thing of beauty at high resolution, with simply bags of fine detail and a heavyweight punch of contrast on good HDR TVs. Originally a Premium release on Disney Plus, it's now available free to all subscribers.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

If you've watched Blade Runner 2049 but not in 4K then, frankly, you've not seen it at all. Every scene of this sci-fi cinematic treat is a wonder to behold. The sets and locations are as much of a character as any of the performers and, with the script fairly understated and minimal, you will often find it's the staging and scenery that does most of the talking. That being the case, you should probably give it its best chance to look good. It's one to enjoy again and again.

Sound of Metal (2021)

Ever-likeable Brit Riz Ahmed stars as a metal band drummer who starts to lose his hearing. As such, this is arguably a film that's more important to get right sonically than visually which is why it's particularly frustrating that it's not available in Atmos. All the same, good sound needs good visuals too and that's exactly what you'll get if you make sure to view this excellent tale on Prime Video, the only place it's currently available in 4K.

Tenet (2020)

Exactly how much sense this film really makes is a matter of debate but, for what it's worth, the more we watch it, the more we like it. Even if you'd rather not get caught up in the time-twisting brain melt of a plot, the set pieces – and there are few moments that are not part of one – make exceptionally good viewing in 4K. Does it compare with Nolan's very best? Maybe not, but it's fast-paced, heart-pumping  viewing with a lot more to think about than most action flicks.

Mulan (2020)

If you're a Disney+ subscriber and didn't fork out £20/$20 for Mulan when it was released in September as Disney's first paid-for Disney Plus Premier Access title, let us tell you that the live-action remake of the beloved 1998 animation is now available to you free – and well worth your well-earned family time now. A tastefully modern take on the Chinese folklore story, and with sublime cinematography that proves an especially great advert for HDR, it's both a narrative and audiovisual treat for the holidays.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

The latest masterpiece by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball) depicts the notorious trial of the organisers behind the intended peaceful protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, who were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot following the violent clash with the police. With Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt helming a star-studded ensemble, this is courtroom drama at its most entertaining.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

Oscar winner Viola Davis stars alongside Chadwick Boseman in his final film appearance in this Denzel Washington-produced, George C. Wolfe-directed adaptation of a play by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson, inspired by one of America's first African-American professional blues singers. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom takes place at a recording session in Chicago in the late '20s as tensions rise between the legendary blues singer "Mother of the Blues" (Davis), her ambitious trumpeter (Boseman) and the white manager and producer who is determined to control her music. The script is excellent and both leads are truly formidable in this critically acclaimed drama.

Dark Waters (2020)

A straight-down-the-middle but nevertheless engaging telling of the attorney (Mark Ruffalo) who dedicated much of his career to uncover a dark secret hidden by one of the world’s biggest corporations and bring justice to a community that had been dangerously exposed to deadly chemicals for decades. It's an extraordinary story, and the same adjective can be used to describe Ruffalo's wholesome performance too. Also stars Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins and Bill Pullman.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

It's fair to say that the ninth and final chapter in the Skywalker Saga is quite a long way off the best of the series, but it is a spectacular experience, particularly if you've got an Atmos sound set-up. Best of all, the The Rise of Skywalker is available via Disney+, so subscribers don't need to pay extra to watch it. That version is also delivered in Dolby Vision, which the 4K Blu-ray version (somewhat bizarrely) is not.

1917 (2019)

1917 is an incredible technical achievement that looks utterly stunning in 4K and HDR, particularly if you opt for the superior disc version over the streaming offered by Amazon Prime Video and the usual pay-as-you-go services. That version is also the only one that currently gets the Dolby Atmos soundtrack, so it's worth the extra expense if you want the most cinematic experience possible.

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

One wouldn't expect a film about a young nazi whose invisible best friend is Adolf Hitler to be one of the most charming films of the past decade, but it's testament to Taika Waititi's genius that that's exactly the case. Jojo Rabbit is the perfect blend of hilarious, sweet and moving, and it boasts beautiful, Wes Anderson-like cinematography. The 4K Blu-ray isn't available in the UK, unfortunately, but the region-free disc can be ordered from (opens in new tab) and it can be streamed via Apple TV.

Joker (2019)

Joaquin Phoenix quite rightly won the 2020 Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Joker, and this intense, enthralling film really is all about the lead's starring role. That said, there's some sublime cinematography and a haunting soundtrack – not to mention a whole heap to think about, once you've digested it in its entirety. 

The 4K Blu-ray picture looks great and comes with Dolby Vision HDR, as does the Apple TV rental. Note that Joker is available to NOW TV subscribers and also features in the rental catalogues of Amazon and Sky Store – but only in HD.

Ad Astra (2019)

Beautifully shot and with some spell-binding scenes that will captivate you as much as they test your system, Ad Astra is thoughtful and challenging, and far removed from the typical Hollywood blockbuster of the day.

High-octane it isn't, but you can expect expansive shots of space, a great performance from Brad Pitt and a head-scratching storyline. It comes with HDR10 video, plus Dolby Atmos surround sound.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems is a thriller starring Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a jeweller and gambling addict in New York City's Diamond District, who must retrieve an expensive gem he purchased to pay off his debts. Cementing the Safdie brothers as directors to pore over following their impeccable Robert Pattinson-starring Good Time in 2017, and also starring NBA legend Kevin Garnett, Uncut Gems one of the most exciting films on Netflix – and certainly one of the most intense to sit through. A fittingly sparkling 4K picture also makes this a Netflix film to add to your watch list. 

Us (2019)

OK, so Us may not be as inventive an idea or as clearly realised as Jordan Peele's debut film, Get Out, but it still delivers jumps, twists, laughs and more than enough originality to keep you entertained. Expect a bright and bold colour palette, complete with inky dark blacks to show-off your screen, too. It's an upscaled 3840 x 2160p resolution image and delivers High Dynamic Range in the form of HDR10 and Dolby Vision, while there's also a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

A Star is Born (2018)

Who knew Bradley Cooper could sing? Who knew Stefani Germanotta aka Lady Gaga could act? Both deliver fine performances, accompanied by some brilliantly effective feel-good tunes and of course, the classic story (remade here for the fourth time). A powerful love story with Germanotta stealing the show in style.

A great test for your surround sound system, or even just in stereo, it comes with a 7.1-channel DTS-HD mix or Dolby Atmos, while there's HDR10 and Dolby Vision video.

Best 4K TV shows

As has been well documented, the likes of Amazon and Netflix are more than matching the might of Hollywood when it comes to delivering era-defining content. Mainly focusing on TV shows, expect drama, action, sci-fi and comedy - often all in one show. And of course, the streaming services have been no slouches when it comes to the technology, so 4K, HDR and even Dolby Atmos can now be delivered directly to your TV. Here's our pick of the best 4K TV shows.

The Witcher

Henry Cavill stars in this fantasy drama based on the series of books by the same name, which while at times messy and somewhat ridiculous is also easy to enjoy entertainment. Think Game of Thrones if it took itself a little less serious.

The general consensus is that this one, now in its third series, gets better with each episode, so it's well worth sticking with it even if you find the opening episodes a little too fantastical. And it's certainly popular, ranked as the no.1 show on Netflix in the UK at the time of writing.

The Witcher is available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

Narcos: Mexico

Now in its third season, this sequel to the original Narcos kill-a-thon has taken things up a notch, in terms of production, story-telling, drama, and yes, probably the number of shootouts. 

It really isn't all death and drugs, though, with impressive acting turns, captivating plot lines and some stunning settings to show-off your 4K TV.

We suggest blitzing the series' as fast as you can because the show only gets better...

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

Formula One: Drive to Survive

Now into its third season, this beautifully shot behind the scenes show takes racing fans into the pit lane and well beyond. Follow the teams and the drivers as they head from race to race in the world's most expensive traveling circus.

This appropriately high-budget production between Formula One and Netflix offers a fascinating insight into the characters and workings of this sport. It's even dramatic and entertaining enough to be enjoyed by petrolheads and regular punters alike.

This latest series is set during the pandemic and follows 'a season like no other'. Expect masks, mayhem and some seriously frayed tempers.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

The Umbrella Academy

Another comic book conversion, The Umbrella Academy is something of a grower and we're still working out if it's really going to deliver on that promise, truth be told with another season on the way.

It's great and glossy in 4K but with a surreal kind of edge to the sets and costumes that makes it a fascinating, almost gothic looking, show. Don't be tempted to turn up the brightness on your TV or projector. It's all a little on the shadowy side and an excellent test for your AV gear to see if it can pick out lots of lovely dark detail. Have fun and enjoy the performances.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

A Perfect Planet

David Attenborough and 4K nature footage – it's already going to be a winner. A Perfect Planet is one of a handful of series available in UHD on BBC iPlayer, free for those in the UK. Make sure to use a VPN (opens in new tab) to watch it if you happen to be traveling abroad.

The focus this time is on the grandeur and fragility of Earth. Each hour-long episode takes a look at one of the key elements that have shaped life on this planet - volcanoes, the weather, the sun, the oceans and even the human population.

Don't expect a cheery take-home, but you will be wowed and perhaps a little more driven to look after our world.

Available in 4K on iPlayer (opens in new tab)

Last Chance U: Basketball

Last Chance U: Basketball is another brilliantly shot and superbly dramatised sports documentary from Netflix. Again, it's so good that you really don't need to know much or even care much about basketball to be able to enjoy it.

This season, which makes the jump from American Football to another hugely popular and lucrative US sport, is arguably the best yet. Its characters are the most likeable, the storylines the most satisfying and the coach is finally actually quite a nice person too, it seems.

With a smaller group of players all trying to break their way into professional sports, it's easy to get a better feel for everything that's going on, on and off court, with the Huskies. The fact that it's produced so well and available in 4K is no small help either.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

The Mandalorian

This is the series that launched Disney Plus from an interesting option to a must-have subscription and, two seasons deep, it's still going strong. It was created by Jon Favreau, and you'll find a number of famous directors picking up episodes of this David Carradine Kung Fu meets Star Wars-style show.

Join our bounty hunter protagonist and his diminutive force-flowing sidekick as they explore the Star Wars universe in this fascinating mid-era timeline. You'll find out all the lore around one of the franchise's most interesting cults and feel every bit as immersed in an authentic Lucasfilm adventure as the best of the modern productions.

Available in 4K on Disney Plus (opens in new tab)

The One

This crime/sci-fi drama is built around a brilliant and almost universally engaging premise: what if a dating company could identify your guaranteed perfect romantic match? Would you sign up to that? And what if you were already with someone else – you know, just to check?

Set in London's tech boom industry, the show follows the irrepressible rise of the company that owns the algorithm and the lengths to which the founders behind it will go to protect themselves and their success. Some brilliant performances and fascinating ideas make this a must-watch series.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

Queen's Gambit

Created for Netflix by Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Logan) and Allan Scott (Regeneration) this seven-episode series is based on Walter Tevis's 1983 novel of the same name. Our heroine, Beth Harmon, is portrayed magnificently by Anya Taylor-Joy – whom you might have seen in the fantasy series Atlantis or the 2015 horror flick The Witch. Orphaned following a car accident when she was nine, at some point in the 1950s, Beth is sent to an ominous-looking orphanage where medicating young residents with "magic vitamins" is the norm. 

Burdened by understandable emotional problems and a growing drug and alcohol dependency, she takes comfort in playing chess. Yes, chess – and she's a formidable opponent, too.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

The Expanse

It didn't take Amazon long to snap up this cult TV show when it was dropped by Syfy in its third season. More than 100,000 fans and celebrities including Wil Wheaton and George R. R. Martin lobbied one of the big streaming services to save The Expanse and the series has gone from strength to strength since.

Based on the novels of the same name by James S. A. Corey, it's set in a future of space colonisation and follows an unlikely mix of crewmates as they navigate conspiracy, war and politics as well as the stars. Production values are high on this feast for the eyes.

Available in 4K on Prime Video (opens in new tab)

The Crown

Fascinated by the Royal Family? It doesn't matter, you'll get hooked all the same. The Crown is simply too well made to ignore. From the performances to the scriptwriting, this is a production of real quality.

Now four seasons down, it's a great time to binge this show which begins with the end of the reign of George V and, so far, takes us all the way up to 1990. Actors such as Gillian Anderson, Olivia Coleman and Helena Bonham Carter allow us to follow the lives of historical figures all the way through the century and dig up colour on all that happened to the House of Windsor and beyond.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)


If you missed Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat's Dracula miniseries when it aired last New Years Day and haven't taken iPlayer up on its catch-up offering since, you've still not missed out. The series has passed onto Netflix where it's still available in 4K.

It's a worthy three-parter to indulge an afternoon – even if it starts out better than it ends.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)


If you don’t want to binge another US show and you’ve had your fill of Nordic Noir, you could do a lot, lot worse than Dark, a magnificent, moody Netflix Originals drama from Germany. Set in a small German town that appears to be half scary rainforest and half mysterious nuclear power plant, the story centres around a series of disappearances which become eerily familiar to some of the town’s older residents.

The story may be a slow-burner at first (oh it speeds up, don't you worry!), but throw in dark caves and hidden tunnels, mad professors and mysterious contraptions (and in time, a whole host of slightly confusing character lines and timezones), and there’s every reason to race through both seasons. One of the very best shows of its kind ever made, in our humble opinion.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

Better Call Saul

One of the many charms of Breaking Bad was the vivid nature of its characters, pivotal and peripheral. The spin-off series, Better Call Saul, tells the backstory of über-shallow attorney Saul Goodman.

Heading to its sixth and final season, the storytelling is fast, tight, dramatic and humorous throughout, and the picture quality – Better Call Saul is shot, scanned, mastered and edited in 4K – is lustrous and superbly detailed. As a demonstration of what 4K can do, you won’t find much better.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

Locke & Key

How about a supernatural horror drama? Locke & Key was developed by Carlton Cuse (Lost) and is based on the comic book series of the same name by Joe Hill (who just happens to be Stephen King's son) alongside Gabriel Rodriguez. 

It follows three siblings who, after the murder of their father, move to their ancestral home – a remote, taxidermy-filled mansion with particularly lovely floor tiles. The Lockes' dwelling, conveniently titled Key House, houses magical keys that whisper to them and offer bizarre capabilities. But that's not all that's awry here – echoes in wells shouldn't be answering back, after all.

If you think you're ready to see a 10-year old boy put a key into a keyhole on the nape of his neck, watch on. Keep a pillow or fellow viewer close by for hiding purposes.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)


There are three seasons (30 episodes) of this white-knuckle thriller. What should you know? Well, our central character is an FBI agent Emily Byrne (Stana Katic) and according to the authorities it's a tragic case, but whatever happened to her during the six years she was missing (which involved a terrifying tank) it changed her. The once-respected agent – declared dead in absentia while tracking a notorious serial killer – is now back with us, but violent and extremely dangerous. Or is she? 

Byrne struggles to define herself as a mother and survivor of years of torture, trying to rebuild a relationship with a son who's being raised by her husband's new wife. She even enlists the help of a police detective to investigate her history, but that goes to dark places fairly quickly. 

Watch it and, however much you want to, you won't be able to look away.

Available in 4K on Prime Video (opens in new tab)


Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are excellent in this original drama about a white-collar family that slowly gets sucked into a life of guns, gangsters and people being electrocuted in boats, having decided to go from straight-laced accountants to money launderers for the Mexican cartel. As you do.

A mix of dark humour and dark goings-on make for a show with entertainment and suspense and it’s easier on the brain than some of the notebook-at-the-ready, multi-stranded HBO dramas. The fourth and final season is in production.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

Good Omens

A collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens stars Michael Sheen and David Tennant as an angel and a demon who work together to stop the apocalypse. The six hour-long episodes are a suitably zany, not to mention binge-worthy, 4K feast.

Available in 4K on Prime Video (opens in new tab)

For All Mankind

One of the first TV shows produced for Apple TV, For All Mankind imagines an alternate history where the 'space race' continues, following the Soviet Union successfully completing the first manned Moon landing. It's a grower, that gets more exciting as the episodes progress and the story takes shape. At times nerve-wracking and almost thought-provoking, it represents a solid start for Apple TV.

Available in 4K on Apple TV (opens in new tab)

Carnival Row

This Amazon Original stars Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. Now that we've got the bad news out of the way, here's the good news: it's actually very good. Set in a Victorian fantasy world where humans must live alongside mythical beasts, the action follows soldier-turned-detective Rycroft Philostrate (Bloom) as he hunts down a serial killer. Can he get to the bottom of the grisly killings? We couldn't possibly say – but you're in for a shadowy, noir-tinged treat.

Available in 4K on Prime Video (opens in new tab)

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance 

The prequel to Jim Henson's iconic 1982 dark fantasy film features stunning set design, sophisticated puppetry on a grand scale and a stellar voice cast. The story centres on a magical world called Thra filled with dense forests and magical creatures. If you're looking for an immersive TV experience, this live action mash-up of CGI, puppet art and Dolby Atmos sound will keep you hooked for ten entrancing episodes.  

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

The Boys

Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Eric Kripke's humans vs superheroes series sucker-punched its way onto the Prime Video service and it instantly – and deservedly – found fanfare.

The Amazon Original, based on the eponymous comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, sees a group of vigilantes (Karl Urban, Jack Quaid...) seek revenge on the most corrupt superheroes within the universe's corporate-owned Seven superhero team (Erin Moriarty, Antony Starr...).

One for Deadpool fans, The Boys triumphs through its refreshing blend of playful profanity, well-rounded characters and timely relevance.

Available in 4K on Prime Video (opens in new tab)

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet

An Apple TV exclusive, Mythic Quest is an American comedy show starring Rob McElhenney, who is perhaps best known for playing Mac in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The series made its debut in 2020 and has received largely positive reviews and, due to being set in a video game studio, will be extra on-point for anyone familiar with all the jokes and tropes of the gaming world.

Available in 4K on Apple TV (opens in new tab)


This drama focuses on a New York drug kingpin desperately trying to go straight. Naturally, it doesn't turn out to be so easy. The story's familiar, but the slick production and surprising twists elevate Power above the typical gangster show. The hip-hop soundtrack will give your system a work out and the 4K picture is excellent. There are six series in total - and, due to its success, a whole host of spin-off shows.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

The Man in the High Castle

What would have happened if the Axis powers had won the Second World War? Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, this series is set in a 1960s USA under the control of Nazi Germany in the east, and the Japanese empire in the west.

Available in 4K on Prime Video (opens in new tab)

Stranger Things

Stranger Things ticks all the 1980s Spielberg-era film tropes, but writers/producers/directors Mike and Ross Duffer veer away from saccharine pastiche. Instead, the brothers deliver a well-written plot that’s as exciting and involving as it is filled with pop culture, sci-fi, horror and nods to 80s music. There are three seasons to enjoy - and fourth is on the way.

Available in 4K on Netflix (opens in new tab)

Becky is the Hi-Fi and Audio editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, Australia, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her eight years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.