Films to Watch on TV and New Titles to Stream This Week

21 May 2020

7 mins
Finding Dory
Finding Dory

Due to the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 situation around the world, our weekly recommendations of the best new films released in cinemas and on DVD is not possible, as cinemas are closed for safety reasons, and release dates are being pushed back across the board. Instead, we'll be bringing you our picks for the best films showing on free-to-air television each week, as well as any especially appropriate titles added to subscription streaming services.

This page will be updated each week, so please bookmark it and keep checking back to stay up to date with the most educationally valuable - and entertaining - films that young people can watch while at home. 

Where possible, for each film we recommend, we'll also be providing any resources, behind-the-scenes videos, or other content relevant to the title to help you discuss the film afterwards, provide links to the curriculum, and ensure young people get the most out of their viewing experience. You will need to sign up for a free account to download our resources.

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Films on Free-to-Air TV: 22 - 29 May

The below films are airing on free-to-air channels that the majority of people will have access to. These films have been selected for their educational value as well as their power to captivate and entertain.

Finding Dory

Saturday 23 May @ 18.20 on BBC1

One of the breakout characters of early Pixar classic Finding Nemo gets their own film, as Dory, the forgetful blue tang fish, sets off in search of her parents along with clownfish firends Nemo and Marlin. A charming and fun-filled comedy with a surprisingly sensitive approach towards disability and adoption.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Saturday 23 May @ 19.10 on E4

After saving the day in the first Kung Fu Panda film, lovable Po the panda returns, along with his menagerie of fellow martial artist animals. In this fast-paced, action-packed comedy sequel, Po must use his newfound inner strength to help others and save China from the formidable emperor peacock Lord Shen, who wants to wipe out Kung Fu and martial arts for good. Gloriously goofy, but with strong central messages about friendship and potential, Kung Fu Panda 2 is an enjoyable and sweet addition to the franchise.

Paddington

Sunday 24 May @ 19.10 on E4

When a new Paddington film arrived, not many of us expected that this contemporary re-imagining of Britain's favourite Peruvian bear would become such a critically beloved box office hit! Funny, smart and profoundly moving, this film about a young bear who swaps his home in the jungle for London explores the immigration experience and what family means to all of us.

Kong: Skull Island

Monday 25 May @ 18.40 on ITV2

When a scientific expedition to a seemingly deserted island awakens beasts of mass destruction, a group of scientists must figure out how to contain the threat. As monstrously exciting as monster movies get, Kong: Skull Island is a thrilling look at the origins of King Kong, whilst also having much to say about nature and exploration.

Arrival

Tuesday 26 May @ 21.00 on Film4

One of the most thought-provoking films of recent years, Arrival follows Louise Banks, a world-class linguist who is brought in to communicate with an extraterrestrial species that has recently made its presence known to Earth. Themes of language, family and space are all approached with incredible depth in this science-fiction stunner from one of the most exciting directors working today, Denis Villenueve.

Films to Stream for Free

The following films are available to watch for free on various streaming platforms, in order of which will expire first. These films are all accessible to watch online at no cost, provided you have a TV licence.

Swallows and Amazons (1974)

Available to stream on BBC iPlayer until Sunday 23 May

Engaging for ages 7 - 14

Bringing an old fashioned sense of adventure to a modern audience, this delightful adaption of Arthur Ransome's famous novel follows a group of children who, in 1929, spend their summer on holiday in the Lake District and form bonds of friendship that will last forever. Family and growing up take centre stage in this lovely British period piece.

Love & Mercy

Available to stream on BBC iPlayer until Monday 25 May

Engaging for ages 14+

A film for lovers of music and anyone invested in the creative process, Love & Mercy explores the incredible and troubled career of Brian Wilson, driving force behind The Beach Boys, one of the most popular bands of all time. Jumping between the 1960s and 1980s, this is a film which explores the pursuit of perfection, while giving an empathetic platform to explore mental health issues induced by fame and celebrity culture.

The Elephant Man

Available to stream on BBC iPlayer until Tuesday 26 May

Engaging for ages 11+

From the mind of visionary director David Lynch comes this Victorian-set tale about John Merrick, a man born with severe facial deformities that led him to lead an extraordinary life filled with prejudice and brutality that he learned to overcome through kindness and understanding. Visually stunning and also full of heart, this is a wonderful film that challenges all of our daily prejudices we have inside ourselves.

The King's Speech

Available to stream on BBC iPlayer until Tuesday 2 June

Engaging for ages 11+

A box office smash on release, this film is much more than just crowd-pleasing entertainment. Colin Firth stars at King George VI, the monarch who had to learn how to stop stuttering in order to deliver important speeches during wartime in Britain. Both personal and political, this is a rousing piece of historical fiction.

Animal Farm

Available to stream on All4 until Monday 8 June

An all-time classic novel is brought to life through animation in this thought-provoking 1954 film adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm. When the animals of a farmyard decide to stage a revolution against their master, the farmer, things start to go horribly wrong when the pigs begin to seek their own greedy and personal gain. George Orwell's novel is often seen as gateway for young people to explore political and social metaphors in literature and this adaptation stays very true to the source material.

New on Subscription Streaming

The following films are educationally noteworthy new additions to subscription streaming services. While some streaming platforms require a paid subscription, or one-off rental fee, many offer a free trial that you can make use of.

Note: The information about films on streaming services is aimed at people at home only, and not for any film clubs still running in schools. Licencing conditions do not permit the access of streaming platforms from a school setting.

Netflix

Space Jam

Available to stream on Netflix

To compliment Netflix's new sports documentary, The Last Dance, this live-action/animation hybrid stars the legendary basketball player Michael Jordan as he teams up with the Looney Tunes in order to defeat a group of aliens who have stolen the powers of other star players. Appropriately zany and inspiring, Space Jam is an enduring family favourite.

NOW TV

Yesterday

Available to stream on NOW TV

Engaging for ages 11+

A struggling musician wakes up after an accident to discover that The Beatles and their music have been wiped from history, and so sets about recreating their songs, becoming a star in the process. A feel-good musical comedy from Danny Boyle that touches upon themes of intellectual property, authorship and cultural history.

Spiderman: Far From Home

Available to stream on NOW TV

Engaging for ages 11+

A young Spider-Man must take on new responsibilities during a class trip through Europe after some dangerous villains begin to show up. Action-packed whilst also taking a look at high-school life and romance, Spider-Man continues to be one of the most likeable superheroes on the big screen.

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

Available to stream on NOW TV

Engaging for ages 7 - 14

The long-awaited live-action Pokemon film follows a young man on the search for his lost father, aided by an adorable talking Pikachu who longs to be a detective. Full of creativity, this film is also a sweet take on the importance of family and the legacy you leave behind.

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