The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been a staple in both the UK and the US for years. It’s where popular shows like Dr. Who, Red Dwarf, Faulty Towers, and Planet Earth first premiered.
But, most of these shows don’t live on Netflix — making it hard to consume them in our digital-first TV ecosystem. Don’t worry! BBC launched BBC iPlayer, which is a completely free service that lets you stream ALL of the best BBC shows, movies, and more. But, there a small problem — it’s only for people in the UK.
If you want to watch BBC iPlayer while in States, you’ll have to use a VPN to mask your IP address. But, once you do, you’ll have access to a rich library of media. Let’s look at the top 4 movies you should stream on BBC iPlayer ASAP.
1. The King’s Speech
With four Oscars and a big handful of other awards, The King’s Speech should be on every movie-lovers watch list. It may not have the pace and excitement of a traditional action flick, and it’s certainly the most “royal soaked” drama that’s been aired in possibly forever. But, it has an incredible amount of charm and an uncanny ability to keep you hooked without really leading you anywhere.
There’s a certain allure to classic British cinema where lead characters still dress up in the morning, weave in-and-out of bars and office rooms to grab mid-day spirits and walk and talk with a strange mix of grace and aggression. The King’s Speech personifies that classic British feel that’s been tucked away in classics, longing to see the light of day again.
The story primarily focuses on the relationship (essentially a “bromance”) between King George VI (Colin Firth) and Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) his Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue. The film skirts through your traditional royal family drama with ease and lands on some broader topics without missing the point. This is a movie about relationships — not an overarching story.
2. My Life as a Courgette (or My Life as a Zucchini)
This animated film was nominated for an Acadamy Award in the “Best Animated Film” category for a reason — it’s wonderful. There isn’t some deep story with intricate layers of meanings happening here. This is a simple film that’s just pure charming.
When it comes to powerful opening scenes, My Life as a Courgette takes the cake. “I think I killed my mom,” the main character proclaims to his orphanage in the first few seconds of this animated masterpiece. But, like most animated films, it’s touched on lightly and led down a bizarre corridor. There are obvious relations to animated works like Coraline present in this movie. But, the animation quality is first-class, and the bright, vivid colors look like they could be present at TV shops as a visual reference for expensive 4k TVs.
The story is linear, mostly relying on the interactions between the colorful central characters, but the film really lives and dies on its pacing. There are a few twists and turns, and danger arrives when the main character’s (a blue-haired boy named Zucchini) evil aunt arrives to steal him from the orphanage. Without ruining the story, the primary points of this movie involve clashing against traditional tropes (the orphanage isn’t actually bad) and playing with character relationships, animation, and unique themes.
Sometimes, theatre can feel like a film. But it’s not often that film feels like theatre. This Roman Polanski film — which is based on a theatre piece of the same name (add a “God of”) — is very stagy. With only a few main characters located in a small flat, it takes the “boxed in” concept to a new level.
The premise of Carnage is simple enough. Two couples — Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly) as well as Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christoph Waltz) — meet in an apartment to discuss a fight between their children on a playground earlier that day. And, in Roman Polanski style, that talk will slowly devolve into madness.
The movie plays heavily in themes of claustrophobia and can be thought of like a dark comedy, though it really feels like a drama. Overall, superb performances by John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz make this film a must-see — especially if you like films that can feel fleshed out without ever changing the scene.
4. Everything Louis Theroux
The best thing about having every BBC film on the iPlayer is that Louis Theroux’s documentaries are technically films. To say that Louis Theroux makes documentaries is a bit of an understatement. He also stars in documentaries and has perhaps the biggest library of commercially successful documentaries on the planet. Every “episode” of his famous shows Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends and When Louis Met… are an hour or more in length. And he has filmed plenty of separate documentaries to boot.
All of his documentaries touch different subjects — like drug addiction, religion, or crime — but there’s a running theme within all of them, Louis. His dry sense of humor mixed with incredibly thoughtful and emotional scenes makes him the perfect screen companion to touch on these difficult subjects with. He never acts like he “gets it,” and always seems to be ready to engage that next person with a fresh, unbiased mindset.
In total, BBC iPlayer has 59 Louis Theroux documentaries, including Weird Weekends and When Louis Met — which could each count as over 20 documentaries alone. This means that you can binge well over 150 hours of Louis. And, once you get to know him and his style, you’ll quickly understand why he’s been so prolific, successful, and well-received. He films like a pro, talks like a novice, and approaches each documentary like a novel (something he owes to his father and brother).
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