The best films on BBC iPlayer (7th April 2020)
Staff Reporter | On 07, Apr 2020Reading time: 8 mins
Who needs to pay for a subscription when you can stream new and old cinematic gems alike for free on BBC iPlayer?
We round up the best movies currently available on BBC iPlayer, with their expiry dates listed so you know how long you have to stream them. (Click here to see our reviews of the best TV shows on BBC iPlayer.)
A Monster Calls
Juan Antonio Bayona confirms himself as one of Spain’s best modern directors with this masterful adaptation of Patrick Ness’ novel, which sees a 12-year-old boy trying to come to terms with his mother’s terminal illness.
Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah are on irresistably charming form in one of the 90s’ best rom-coms.
The Place Beyond the Pines
Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper are on intense form in this lyrical epic of fathers and sons.
Escape from Alcatraz
Escape from America’s most notorious maximum-security was supposed to be impossible, but for convict Frank Morris, Alcatraz is just another set of walls that will never hold him. Clint Eastwood stars in Don Siegel’s classic.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Annette Bening and Jamie Bell shine in this romantic drama.
Kristen Stewart delivers a sensational performance in this psychological thriller, which sees her reunite with Olivier Assayas.
Julian Barratt gets the leading man role he deserves in this laugh-out-loud comedy, about a failed actor trying to relive his glory days as a TV detective with a bionic eyepatch that literally let him see the truth.
Made in Dagenham
Gemma Arterton and Sally Hawkins are superb in this winning tale of female factory workers fighting for equal pay.
Alcoholic Jimmy McCabe’s life is being torn down around him by the authorities and his inner demons. He seeks shelter in Bill’s gym with the hope of resurrecting a talent for boxing – even if it means Jimmy disobeying all advice and agreeing to an unlicensed bout.
The Lost City of Z
At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon, where he discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilisation that may have once inhabited the region. Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller are fantastic in James Gray’s true life story of adventure and discovery.
Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a committed performance in this drama based on the true story of Jeff Bauman, a 27-year-old, working-class man who was at the 2013 Boston Marathon to try and win back his ex-girlfriend Erin.
Dive deep into the life of biologist and adventurer Jacques Cousteau in this stormy biopic.
This nostalgic sci-fi is a heartfelt study of belief, belonging and human bonds.
This chilling and entertaining adaptation of the stage play is a theatrical triumph.
This insight into life under Islamic militant rule is a perturbing, pertinent piece of cinema.
If Hitchcock made science fiction, it would probably turn out something like this. Trains, romance, an unsuspecting male lead (Jake Gyllenhaal); it’s all delightfully North by Northwest, right up until the train goes kaboom. Eight minutes later, it happens again. And again. All the while, Captain Stevens tries to find and defuse the bomb – and woo his fellow passenger (Michelle Monaghan). Between the mainstream wit and time travel smarts, this is a cracking caper on a train.
School for Scoundrels
Alastair Sim stars in this classic British comedy about the kind but weak-willed Henry Palfrey, who is cheated and abused by car salesmen, a head waiter, an upper-class cad and his employees. And so he enrols in the College of Lifemanship, run by Mr Potter (Sim), where he can learn to beat others in life.
The Man in the White Suit
Alec Guinness is iconic in this biting Ealing satire about a scientist who invents an indestructible fibre but finds that everyone wants to destroy his formula.
Burton and Taylor
Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter are excellent in this underseen drama telling the story of Hollywood’s most glamorous couple, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who acted together for the last time in Noel Coward’s Private Lives in 1983.
A young couple’s joy at moving into their own new home turns sour as sinister disturbances interrupt their sleep. A camcorder documents their increasingly distressing experience. When things don’t happen, it’s brilliantly disturbing. When they do, it’s a slight disappointment.
Facing Franco’s Crimes: The Silence of Others
Storyville strikes gold again with this very powerful documentary that reveals the reality of life after Franco’s dictatorship fell in Spain, with a government-sanctioned ‘pact of forgetting’ the crimes that victims suffered. Filmed over several years, the sensitive but shocking snapshot of the nation’s fascist past is a reminder not to let history repeat itself again.
Man on the Moon
Jim Carrey is remarkable in this biopic of controversial comedian Andy Kaufman. Star of Taxi and Saturday Night Live, Kaufman’s unorthodox humour was often misunderstood.
Minding the Gap
Bing Liu’s Oscar nominated documentary Minding the Gap is the coming-of-age saga of three skateboarding friends in their Rust Belt hometown, hit hard by decades of recession. Read our interview with Bing here and our full review of the film here.
I Walked with a Zombie
A nurse tending a paralysed woman on a Caribbean island discovers that her charge hides a terrifying secret. Jacques Tourneur’s 1943 classic stars Frances Dee and Tom Conway.
Night of the Living Dead
George A Romero’s 1967 classc, which sees a group of people barricaded in a farmhouse to survive the reawakening of the dead, remains as chillingly relevant as ever.
Brad Pitt is excellent in this time-travel thriller in which a convict from 2035 is sent back in time to find the cause of a virus which has wiped out most of the planet’s population.
iPlayer Originals and Exclusives
Happy New Year, Colin Burstead
Tragicomedy directed by Ben Wheatley about the difficulty of family relations. Middle-aged Colin organises a New Year’s Eve gathering for his extended family. Read our review
Adam Curtis’ latest documentary is perfectly at home on BBC iPlayer, freed from broadcasting constraints to ramble through the last three decades of global history to try and work out how we got to today’s world of Donald Trump and Brexit. The result is typically simplified and willfully obtuse, but there are thought-provoking flashes of inspiration amid the experimental mash-up of polemic and pop culture. Clocking in at almost three hours, no one else is making documentaries like this, and that’s something to be celebrated.
BBC iPlayer’s second original feature is the follow-up to teen documentary Beyond Clueless. Young director Charlie Lyne and the Beeb’s streaming platform prove a scarily perfect match, the lack of constraints giving him the chance to fully embrace the experimental nature of his film essay. The documentary stitches together clips from existing horror movies to explore how and why they scare us, but instead of an explanatory voice-over critiquing and giving context, we’re given a whispered narration from an anonymous woman who is working through her own fears. Contrasting cuts and eerie echoes arise during the hypnotic 80-minute montage, quietly raising questions while offering a fresh insight into films that have, in some cases, become all too familiar. As interesting as it is creepy. (Read our full review.)
The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist
The Exorcist is, without a doubt, one of the scariest films ever made – and, without a doubt, the man most determined to convince you of that fact is Mark Kermode. The BBC critic is known for his ardent love of William Friedkin’s seminal horror, so it is no surprise that in 1998, he wound up presenting a documentary marking its 25th anniversary. 21 years on, however, it is a surprise that BBC iPlayer should bring it back to our screens for Halloween, after the documentary has existed in various cuts in various places but never available to stream legally until now. Read our full review
Julia Donaldson Shorts
The definitive adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s book tells the magical tale of a mouse who takes a walk through the woods in search of a nut – and tells everyone he meets of his imaginary creature.
The Gruffalo’s Child
A little Gruffalo ignores her father’s warnings and tiptoes out into the snow in search of the Big Bad Mouse in this charming sequel.
The story of a keen young dragon in his first years at Dragon School.
Room on the Broom
A kind witch invites a surprising collection of animals to join her on her broom, much to the frustration of her cat.
The Highway Rat
A greedy rat (David Tennant) travels the highway in search of other animals’ food, before his sweet tooth finally leads him to a sticky outcome.
Stick Man tells the tale of a happy-go-lucky father’s epic journey to make it home in time for Christmas.