The best films on BBC iPlayer (6th May 2021)
Staff Reporter | On 06, May 2021
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.)
The Elephant Man
David Lynch’s historical drama will surprise you with its tender melancholy and humanity.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam and Ewan McGregor are on charming form in this adaptation of the Jane Austen matchmaking classic.
Enjoyed HBO’s TV series? Now go back to the original with Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi thriller about a robotic theme park gone wrong.
Margot Robbie is never less than magnetic in this hugely entertaining, darkly funny sport biopic of America’s skating wild child.
Steve Coogan and Judi Dench are excellent in this thoughtful, sweet drama based on real events.
Glenn Close and John Malkovich are on salaciously good form in Stephen Frears’ adaptation of the classic French novel about two 18th-century French aristocrats playing a cruel game of seduction and manipulation.
A family must come to terms with the sudden death of their son during his military service in this moving Israeli drama.
Scott Graham’s follow-up to Shell is a stark, yet nuanced drama with a host of stellar performances, including Ruth Negga.
The Blair Witch Project
A trio of filmmakers go on what should have been a simple walk in the woods in this hugely influential, definitive found footage horror.
Scottish supermarket shelf-filler Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) uses her boyfriend’s inheritance after his suicide to escape from her boring life. An emotionally intense road movie from Lynne Ramsay.
This well acted biopic reveals some of the madness behind the revered biologist Jacques Cousteau.
The Children Act
High Court judge Fiona Maye is given the case of a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who refuses to undergo a blood transfusion for leukaemia that could save his life in this earnest adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel.
Scottish filmmaker Anthony Baxter captures the fallout of the Flint water crisis in this urgent and eye-opening documentary.
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.
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.
Whitney: Can I Be Me?
This poignant portrait of the iconic singer is lacking in insight but not in impact.
Peter Mullan stars in the moving drama about a man experiencing homelessness who makes his journey from Glasgow to London in search of friendship and warmth at Christmas.
The Eichmann Show
Martin Freeman stars in this drama about the efforts to broadcast the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel. A moving, gripping reminder of the banality of evil – and the importance of telling what happened to new generations.
Stan & Ollie
Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly capture the magic of entertainment and friendship in this warm, winning biopic.
The Mole Agent
An octogenarian becomes an unlikely spy in this hugely entertaining and moving Oscar-nominated documentary.
This Oscar-nominated documentary about healthcare corruption in Romania is a gripping, harrowing watch.
Finding Jack Charlton
This moving documentary tells the story of football legend Jack Charlton, which looks at his special association with Ireland, his complicated relationship with brother Sir Bobby Charlton and his final battle with dementia.
Billie: In Search of Billie Holiday
With The United States vs Billie Holiday up for awards, there’s no better time to catch this superior documentary, which takes us back through the life of the singing legend. An icon who has often been considered a victim, James Erskine brings depth to the story of her career, as unvarnished in its portrait of her talent and personal troubles as it is unflinching in its details of the politics and social tensions she had to somehow navigate. It’s all held together with spellbinding footage of her singing on stage, including the powerful, mesmerising Strange Fruit.
Two workmen struggle with a plank of work as they attempt to move it from a timber yard to their building site in this classic silent comedy directed by and starring Eric Sykes.
Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House
Cary Grant and Myrna Loy star in this comedy about a family forced out of their Manhattan apartment court disaster when they buy a dilapidated country house, fit only for demolition.
This superbly acted coming-of-age Brit flick isn’t exactly what you’d call a comedy – but it’s a helluva set.
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil
This intense, action-packed flick hardly ever lets up.
British Films on BBC Two
Gymnast Frankie Box delivers a starmaking performance in Eva Riley’s fantastic coming-of-age debut.
This beautifully atmospheric coming-of-age mystery is a confident, stylish calling card for debut director Claire Oakley.
One Man and His Shoes
This excellent, unflinching documentary charts the story of the Air Jordan phenomenon, showing the sneakers’ social, cultural and racial significance and how groundbreaking marketing strategies created a multi-billion-dollar business.
Silver Screen Classics
Silver Screen Classics: Collection 1
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).
Silver Screen Classics: Collection 2
Just when you think BBC iPlayer can’t spoil us any more, up pops a second wave of classic films from RKO Pictures, one of Hollywood’s Golden Age studios. This collection includes the classic Gershwin musical A Damsel in Distress, classic 1950s chiller The Thing from Another World, and more Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant than you can shake a stick at. Other titles include: Second Chance, I Remember Mama, Holiday Affair, Bachelor Knight, Yellow Canary, Primrose Path, Sylvia Scarlett, Hotel Reserve, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Windy Poplars.
Six years after the death of her husband, Amelia struggles to discipline her out of control 6 year-old Samuel, a son she finds difficult to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a monster he believes is coming to kill them both. When a disturbing storybook called The Babadook turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. The Babadook astutely unites the wry, modern storybook incarnation with the genre’s disturbing past. The result is one of the horror movies of recent years.
The first horror film producer Val Lewton made for RKO Pictures redefined the genre by leaving its terrors to the audience’s imagination. A Serbian émigré in Manhattan believes that, because of an ancient curse, any physical intimacy with the man she loves will turn her into a feline predator.
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 classic, which sees a group of people barricaded in a farmhouse to survive the reawakening of the dead, remains as chillingly relevant as ever.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Wallace & Gromit: Shorts
Enjoy a triple-bill of Aardman’s charming stop-motion duo with The Wrong Trousers, A Grand Day Out and A Matter of Loaf and Death all available to stream.