From Maggie Gyllenhaal’s adventurous directorial debut to new thriller The Girl Before, the best on demand TV to watch this week
NETFLIX, SKY/NOW, DISNEY+, BRITBOX, DISCOVERY+ & GLOBE PLAYER
The Lost Daughter
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, of her own screenplay, is an adaptation of the Elena Ferrante novel of the same name. Olivia Colman is Leda, a grumpy, socially awkward academic on holiday alone on an idyllic Greek island.
When the tranquillity is disrupted by the arrival of a large, noisy extended family of tourists, Leda’s involvement with one of their number, a harassed young mother (Dakota Johnson), awakens memories of parenthood and her experiences with her two daughters.
Gyllenhaal proves as adventurous a director as she is an actress and this is an unsettling film with terrific performances from Colman, Johnson and Jessie Buckley, who plays the younger Leda in flashback. Netflix, from Friday
Olivia Colman (above) is Leda, a grumpy, socially awkward academic on holiday alone on an idyllic Greek island whose tranquillity is disrupted
JFK: Destiny Betrayed
Having already directed the epic movie JFK, Oliver Stone returns to the subject for this four-part documentary which, it’s claimed, offers new insights into the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963.
Having already directed the epic movie JFK, Oliver Stone returns to the subject for this four-part documentary offering new insight into Kennedy’s assassination
The project also reunites Stone with one of the movie’s stars, Donald Sutherland, who, along with Whoopi Goldberg, provides the series’ narration. Sky, from Tuesday
Mare Of Easttown
For many, this seven-part drama set in a working-class town in Pennsylvania was the TV highlight of the year. Kate Winslet is detective Mare Sheehan, who is investigating the murder of a teenage girl while dealing with difficulties in her personal life.
Winslet’s mantelpiece is already groaning under the weight of awards, but she is sure to bag more for this, arguably a career-best performance, while Evan Peters as Mare’s smitten police partner and Jean Smart as her sarcastic mother are also a joy to watch.
Quite an achievement to have a show featuring both some of 2021’s most harrowing scenes and some of its most hilarious. Sky/NOW, available now
Several of Harlan Coben’s pacy thrillers have been adapted for Netflix, as part of a 14-show deal, in Spanish (The Innocent) and Polish (The Woods), but those in English – Safe and The Stranger – are more gripping, with fine casts.
This eight-episode series stars James Nesbitt, Richard Armitage and Cush Jumbo in a twisty tale of secrets and lies concerning a detective and a cold case (Nesbitt), a failed photojournalist (Armitage) and a working mum-of-three (Jumbo).
Netflix, from Friday
The Flight Attendant
When the hard-partying, flirtatious flight attendant Cassie (Kaley Cuoco) wakes to find that the man she tumbled into bed with the night before is covered in blood and dead and she can’t remember what happened, she flees in a panic.
By her own admission, Cassie (Kaley Cuoco, above) is a ‘public nudity, yelling on the subway drunk’ rather than a slit-a-guy’s-throat kind of drunk
By her own admission, Cassie is a ‘public nudity, yelling on the subway drunk’ rather than a slit-a-guy’s-throat kind of drunk, so finding out what really happened is at the heart of this fast-moving, fun, eight-part black comedy with a hint of Hitchcock.
Sky, available now
A Hidden Life
The release of a new Terrence Malick production is something of an event – he’s directed only ten films in a 48-year career.
His most recent effort, which received its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019, is an epic historical drama featuring the final performance of Michael Nyqvist.
A Hidden Life follows the story of Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, a devout Catholic who refused to fight for the Nazis. Valerie Pachner (above) also stars
The plot follows the story of Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), a devout Catholic who refused to fight for the Nazis. With Valerie Pachner. Disney+, from Friday
When Adam Desiato (Hunter Doohan) kills another teenager in a car accident, he doesn’t stick around.
His father Michael (Bryan Cranston) – a judge – persuades him to turn himself in but quickly changes his mind when he discovers the dead boy’s father is the local mafia boss. Can he and Adam cover up the hit-and-run? Sky/NOW, available now
A chance to view stage productions through Shakespeare’s Globe’s on-demand service.
The repertoire includes all the shows from last summer, plus 12 other productions such as the award-winning, all-male Twelfth Night from 2012 starring Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry, and Gemma Arterton in 2014’s The Duchess Of Malfi.
player.shakespearesglobe.com; £59.99 a year or £9.99 per show
New to BritBox are some cinematic favourites.
Hitchcock’s 1964 movie Marnie, starring Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren, plus the master of suspense’s lesser-known work Saboteur (1942), in which an aircraft-factory worker is wrongly accused of murder.
An earlier version of Mary, Queen Of Scots from 1971 stars Vanessa Redgrave as the doomed Mary and Glenda Jackson (above) as Elizabeth is available
An earlier version of Mary, Queen Of Scots from 1971 stars Vanessa Redgrave as the doomed Mary and Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth; Jackson also features in 1973’s The Nelson Affair, as the vulgar Lady Hamilton to Peter Finch’s Nelson.
Plus there’s the 1933 version of The Invisible Man starring Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart and John Carradine. From Thursday
Peter Crouch: Save Our Beautiful Game
During 2000, when he was still a teenager, the future England striker had a spell on loan at lower-league Dulwich Hamlet FC.
This eight-part documentary follows his progress as he returns to the club as a director, hoping to utilise his skills as a newly qualified coach to push them up the football pyramid.
This eight-part documentary follows Peter Crouch’s (above) progress as he returns to Dulwich Hamlet FC as a director
Crouch also hopes his international experience will come in handy, although one wishes he’ll stop short of any robotic dancing goal celebrations…
Discovery+, from Tuesday
Death To 2021
Last year Charlie Brooker made Death To 2020, a satirical look back at a year many of us would prefer to forget.
It went down well with viewers, so he’s taken the same mock-the-year approach to the past 12 months, poking fun at numerous situations and news stories.
he cast is to die for – watch out for Hugh Grant, Tracey Ullman, Lucy Liu, Nick Mohammed, Stockard Channing and Brooker’s old mate, Diane Morgan.
Netflix, from Monday
The Suicide Squad
The tenth film in the DC Extended Universe is a direct sequel to 2016’s very similarly titled Suicide Squad.
Once again, a task force of supervillains is faced with sorting out a tricky situation, this time involving a giant alien starfish known as Starro the Conqueror. It’s fair to assume that it’s not based on a true story.
Idris Elba, John Cena, Sylvester Stallone and Viola Davis star, but it’s Margot Robbie (above) who steals the show again as the crazed Harley Quinn
Idris Elba, John Cena, Sylvester Stallone and Viola Davis star, but it’s Margot Robbie who steals the show again as the crazed Harley Quinn. Sky/NOW, from Sunday
Star Wars: The Book Of Boba Fett
A Star Wars legend and the galaxy’s most legendary bounty hunter is finally getting his own show, after making a surprise cameo in Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian.
Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) is joined by mercenary Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) as they return to Tatooine, the land once ruled by Jabba the Hutt, to infiltrate the galactic underworld and stake their claim of the territory by any means necessary.
Disney+, from Wednesday
The White Lotus
Acerbic social satire about three sets of privileged guests at an exclusive Hawaii resort and their interactions with the staff.
Armond (Murray Bartlett), manager of The White Lotus, is exasperated by the demands of the spoilt holidaymakers, including Alexandra Daddario, who drive him back to drug abuse.
Armond, manager of The White Lotus, is exasperated by the demands of the spoilt holidaymakers, including Alexandra Daddario (above)
The most loathsome guest is probably student Olivia (Sydney Sweeney), whose performative wokeness melts away when it means she might have to make a personal sacrifice. Sky/NOW, available now
A late entry for one of the best shows of the year. In one timeline we follow a girls’ soccer team in 1996 on their way to a tournament when the plane comes down in a remote part of the Rockies.
In the second, we follow some of the survivors in present-day America when they are hiding a terrible secret. Sky/NOW, available now
The grim but hugely popular Italian drama about Neapolitan gangsters returns for its fifth and final season.
Although a hit for Sky, it is not without controversy. In 2019 the mayor of Naples claimed that violent crime increased in the city whenever the show was on, and some say it humanises gangsters. Sky/NOW, available now
BBC iPLAYER, ITV HUB AND TALKING PICTURES TV
The Girl Before
You can’t complain about the fine cast in this tense psychological thriller adapted from the best-selling novel by J.P. Delaney.
It stars two Hollywood talents in David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle), as Jane, who moves into an ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect (Oyelowo), a man who takes pickiness to extreme levels.
You can’t complain about the fine cast, including Jessica Plummer (above), in this tense psychological thriller
Occupants have to follow his odd list of rules in the house, which has one of those staircases with no banister. Uh-oh. Then things get weird when Jane finds out stuff about her predecessor, Emma (Jessica Plummer). BBC iPlayer, available now
Chilling three-parter about the serial killer Dennis Nilsen, eventually apprehended because his drains were clogged with rotting human flesh.
David Tennant is the enigmatic, narcissistic psychopath, Daniel Mays is DCI Peter Jay, the police officer leading the investigation. A compelling but deeply disturbing portrait of true evil. ITV Hub, available now
Three-part adaptation of Rumer Godden’s novel about nuns battling illicit desires and temptations in a remote outpost in the Himalayas.
Nuns battle illicit desires and temptations in a remote outpost in the Himalayas in Black Narcissus. Gemma Arterton (above) and Alessandro Nivola star
It had a tough act to follow in the classic 1947 Powell and Pressburger movie, but it’s pretty good in its own right and the terrific cast includes Gemma Arterton and Alessandro Nivola. BBC iPlayer, until Wednesday
The Serpent documents the crimes of Charles Sobhraj, who murdered at least 12 backpackers across India, Thailand and Nepal in 1975-76. His web of crime was finally pulled apart by Herman Knippenberg, a junior diplomat in Bangkok.
This tense true-crime drama stars Tahar Rahim and Jenna Coleman. BBC iPlayer, available now
Ready Player One
Big, brash sci-fi set in 2045 when things are so bleak that people more or less live in escapist virtual realities. The good guys set out to find a set of keys that have been hidden in a massive digital gaming world.
It’s loud, derivative, CGI-heavy and packed with nods to other films and popular culture. BBC iPlayer, from Friday
Talking Pictures TV Encore
Can’t get enough of classic old films and TV series? Love a bit of David Niven or Margaret Lockwood? Talking Pictures TV, which started in 2015, has launched a free online catch-up service.
Access it on tptvencore.co.uk for old favourites such as the Saturday Morning Pictures strand and exclusive online content too.
Noughts + Crosses
Malorie Blackman’s novels are brought brilliantly to life in this six-part dystopian drama series. It takes place in an alternative version of London, 700 years after a powerful West African Empire colonised Europe.
Malorie Blackman’s novels are brought brilliantly to life in this six-part dystopian drama series starring Masali Baduza (above) and Jack Rowan
Black people, known as Crosses, rule over white ‘Noughts’, and against this backdrop, two people from opposite sides fall in love, placing them both in grave danger.
Masali Baduza and Jack Rowan star; watch out for a cameo from rapper Stormzy as a newspaper editor. BBC iPlayer, available now