7 Movies You Can Actually Watch on Your Smartphone

Kim Taylor-Foster

It’s understandable when sometimes the people involved in making a movie get annoyed at audiences watching them on a smartphone. They wanted their work to be experienced on the big screen. But with cinemas come the inevitable distractions: rustling popcorn, inconsiderate chatter, and seats so close to an oversized screen, which can make watching movies on your smartphone a more viable option.

According to a Scout study from Mediahub, people between the ages of 12-17 are regularly watching movies on their smartphones. In a similar way to the in-flight movie, you’re generally a captive audience with your smartphone. Despite the screen’s small dimensions, watching the right film on your mobile will draw you in.

It makes sense, then, to choose “smaller” films with human stories that will engage you without many big spectacles or loud explosions. With that in mind, here’s a list of some of the best movies for smartphone viewing.

Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated coming-of-age tale about an abrasive relationship between a mother and daughter is one that’s as powerful on the small screen as it is on the big.

It’s always sharply observed, however you watch it, and loses none of the comedy or drama, while Gerwig’s vividly drawn characters pop with the same rich colours. That includes hot young star Timothée Chalamet in a small role as well as Saoirse Ronan as the titular protagonist and Laurie Metcalf as her “scary and warm” mother.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director Martin McDonagh doesn’t need a grand platform for his precisely shot and scribed, endearingly quirky and gut-wrenchingly tragic story. The acclaimed director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths is also a playwright.

It’s easy to see any of his films working on the stage — or indeed any platform. These are all unique stories about characters who feel real. The Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, therefore — a complex tale about a woman in a small town looking for justice for her murdered daughter — translates perfectly adequately to the smartphone medium.

Paranmanjang (Night Fishing)

This 30-minute horror movie from South Korean Oldboy director Park Chan-wook was shot entirely on an iPhone 4. Which makes it inherently the perfect film to watch on a smartphone.

K-pop star Lee Jung-hyun leads the film as a shaman priestess who comes alive when her body is reeled in by a man fishing. The film won Best Short at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

While you might baulk at the idea of watching the mother of all space sagas on anything smaller than your giant TV, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is actually a Star Wars tale that fares well on a small screen. It’s one of the smaller stories in the Star Wars saga, telling the tale of a ragtag bunch of rebels on a very specific mission to get their hands on the Death Star plans. It means certain death for the team — something we know going in because of our knowledge of the events that unfold after.

Gareth Edwards’ intimate and focused tale depends on winning you over to embrace characters whose destiny is prescribed. It’s also dependent on us feeling empathy with those brave and unfortunate souls. The pull of that poignant ending is unmatched in a Star Wars film. Effects and set pieces very definitely took a back seat to the drama on the big screen, meaning Rogue One translates very well to five inches of glass.

Inside Out

Or any Pixar movie, come to that, that isn’t dependent on original songs for its appeal. That rules out the likes of Moana and Coco, both of which have singalong appeal and demand a bigger platform for their musical set pieces. The beauty of animation is that it doesn’t ordinarily need a big screen to translate its innate charm.

Inside Out is one of Pixar’s more thoughtful offerings, bright, breezy and colourful enough to suit the limitations of a smartphone screen but with a handful of heartstring-tugging messages that you’ll lap up as you focus all your attention on that handheld shiny rectangle.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Just because it’s a comic-book movie, don’t rule out watching it on your mobile. Captain America: The First Avenger is arguably one of the better Marvel Cinematic Universe films to watch on your phone — because it’s an origin story more reliant on one man’s transformation from scrawny zero to hench hero than bangs and spectacle. Although, there’s plenty of that too.

As Chris Evans told ScreenRant: “I think the story of Steve Rogers is great. He’s a great guy. Even if it [were] just a script about anybody, I would probably want to do it. So it wasn’t necessarily about the comic itself.”

Your Name

Another animated one for the list — this time in the form of anime. Your Name was the surprise hit of 2016 and takes the top spot in the highest grossing anime films of all time.  An emotional watch, this fantasy body-swap romantic comedy-drama takes you to unexpected places and is nothing short of mesmerising.

If you watched this on the big screen, you may have found the English-language subtitles difficult to follow, with your eyes refusing to budge from a lock on the film’s beautiful imagery. On your smartphone screen, you’ll have no such troubles.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.