The best films on BBC iPlayer (27th November 2020)
Staff Reporter | On 29, Nov 2020
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.)
Otto Preminger’s superb crime thriller follows a driver who finds himself infatuated with Jean Simmons’ femme fatale, moving in to live with her family and become her chauffeur – only to also become embroiled in murder. Simmons is icily brilliant, while Mitchum is only aware of his crucial error in moral judgement until it’s too late. The result is a gripping noir that keeps things rivetingly cool but laced with a doom-laden atmospherie that leaves things ready to topple off the edge into shocking territory at the flick of a cigarette. Tune in for the gorgeous visuals, stay for one of the best closing shots of a film you’ll see this year.
A Simple Favour
Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick shine in this fun post-modern noir thriller.
Our Little Sister
Hirokazu Koreeda’s eye for human relationships has never been more tender than in this delicate study of parenthood, absence and inheritance.
Chilling horror in which a suburban family’s life is turned into a nightmare when vengeful spirits invade their home and abduct their five-year-old daughter.
Michael Haneke reunites with Amour stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant for this well-acted, dark, satirical drama.
David Lean’s romantic masterpiece chronicles an almost-affair between a wife (Celia Johnson) and a married man (Trevor Howard) after their paths cross at a station. Throbbing with passion, pain and pathos, it’s a beautiful, timeless tribute to unrequited love, captured with monochrome precision and swooningly accompanied by Rachmaninov. Even today, people still flock to Carnforth railway station in Lancashire to relive their memories of the film – and filmmakers such as Todd Haynes still echo Lean’s classic in their own work.
Tommy Lee Jones’ revisionist Western considers women’s plight on the frontier, with a cast including Hilary Swank and Meryl Streep. It follows Mary Bee, who, in the 1850s mid-West, is designated by church members to take 3 women who have lost their minds to a safe haven in Iowa. On the way, she saves the life of outlaw Briggs, a claim-jumper. He helps her in her mission, through perilous encounters and the harshness of the Frontier territory.
On the Town
Oscar-winning musical following three sailors on shore leave. Determined to enjoy their freedom, the young men embark on whirlwind romances. Starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
Martin Scorsese’s scorchingly personal epic is a quietly towering study of faith and doubt.
They Shall Not Grow Old
Using footage restored and colourised, this soldiers’ eye view of The Great War is astonishing and moving.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
Andy Serkis delivers a knock-out performance in this biopic of Ian Dury.
Andrea Arnold’s 2009 film sees 15-year-old Mia get a little too close to her mum’s boyfriend (Michael Fassbender). Shot in an apartment block with a raw immediacy, it won the Jury Prize at Cannes. A free-wheeling, intimate drama that captures the council flat living and the rolling Essex landscape with the shadow and colour of a Constable painting. Superb.
Michael Crichton’s sci-fi sees two strait-laced businessmen visit a vacation resort where robots enact people’s dream adventures – but something goes terribly wrong. If you like Westworld the TV show, don’t miss the original 1973 classic that inspired it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nichola Burley and Roxanne Scrimshaw are fantastic in this intensely moving tale of friendship and suspicion.
Henry Golding is fantastic in this thoughtful, atmospheric study of identity.
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.
David Robert Mitchell’s riveting horror does for pedestrians what Jaws did for sharks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.