The best films on BBC iPlayer (8th July 2020)
Staff Reporter | On 08, Jul 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.)
I Am Not Your Negro
A moving biopic and a rallying cry, this important documentary is based on the timeless writings of James Baldwin, exploring the lives and legacies of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr and Medgar Evers – and linking them to to a history of racial inequality in the USA. Essential viewing. Read our full review
David Oyelowo is phenomenal as Martin Luther King in Ava DuVernay’s stirring, powerful drama, which follows his historic march for voting rights in Alabama in 1965.
Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield are on brilliant form in this powerful drama about a family whose home is foreclosed upon – only for the young man of the house to end up working for the guy who evicted them to try and claw back enough money to get their home back.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan are on charming form in this drama recounting the true story of Philomena Lee who, decades after being forced to give up her infant son, enlists the help of an investigative journalist to track him down.
Sunset Song is both Terence Davies’ most lavish film and an adaptation of one of Scotland’s most beloved books.
In a small coastal Russian town, a man decides to fight against the corrupt local officials who impose a compulsory purchase order on his land. Kolia defiantly refuses to give up his home, and recruits a lawyer friend to help, but the man’s arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.
On Chesil Beach
Dominic Cooke brings Ian McEwan’s novella to life in this awkwardly moving drama about a naive couple on their honeymoon.
This Beautiful Fantastic
When a reclusive young woman is threatened with eviction unless she gives her garden a makeover, she sets to work, watched by her curmudgeonly neighbour.
The Lady in the Van
Alex Jennings and Maggie Smith are superbly cast in this charming film about Miss Shepard, an eccentric woman of uncertain origins, who temporarily parked her broken-down van in writer Alan Bennett’s London driveway… for 15 years.
Borg vs McEnroe
Ace performances make this Borg and McEnroe biopic a smashing sports flick.
3:10 to Yuma
Explosive yet character-driven, this Western remake has energy to spare.
Two Days, One Night
Marion Cotillard stars in this powerful drama that sees the Dardennes at the top of their game.
The Blair Witch Project
Three students decide to go into the Maryland backwoods to cover the mystery behind the Blair Witch incidents. However, they lose their map and things take an unexpected turn. The result is a seminal found footage horror film that set the template for low-budget scares ever since.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to Chechnya
This gripping, chilling documentary about atrocities against Chechnya’s LGBTQ+ population is one of the most important films of the year.
Keith Haring: Street Art Boy
This entertaining documentary presents the definitive account of international art sensation Keith Haring, who blazed a trail through the art scene of 80s New York and revolutionised pop culture.
Silver Screen Classics
BBC iPlayer has the rights to a bunch of classics from old Hollywood studio RKO, including Citizen Kane (1941), King Kong (1933), Suspicion (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and Top Hat (1935). Others include Angel Face (1952), Beautiful But Dangerous (1954), Blackbeard the Pirate (1952), Bringing Up Baby, Carefree (1938), Fort Apache (1948), The Gay Divorce (1934), Kitty Foyle (1940), Love Affair (1939), Miracle of the Bells (1948), Mr Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse (1948), My Favourite Wife (1940), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Sky’s the Limit (1943), The Spanish Main (1945), The Velvet Touch (1948), Vivacious Lady (1938) and Wagon Master (1950).
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.