For moviegoers in 2022, finding the right movie to watch is not so much a chore as an endless array of possibilities: from the Criterion Collection to Curzon to Mubi to BFI Player, there are now so many places to find some really good old and new movies.
BFI Player boasts an old catalog of classic foreign language movies and old favourites, as well as tons of critically acclaimed releases.
The service’s monthly subscription gives viewers access to a large archive of movies, while a smaller selection of movies, including the latest releases, can be rented once. Here we focused on the movies available to watch right now in the subscription service model.
From French classics to modern cult films, here are 30 of your favorite movies currently available on BFI Player, listed in no particular order.
This gruesome black-and-white French film about three friends living in a poor neighborhood in Paris won the 1995 Cannes Best Director award for director Mathieu Kassovitz. explores society, poverty and race.
Our favorite film from Swedish director Ruben Östlund, The Square is a brutal takedown of Stockholm’s elite artist crowd. Christian (Claes Bang), the self-absorbed curator of Stockholm’s X-Royal art museum, is experiencing an existential crisis. He hires an advertising team to help him publicize his museum, with hilarious results.
Often hailed as one of the best foreign language films ever made, Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece follows the heroic efforts of warriors trying to protect a Japanese village from a brutal attack by bandits. This classic film later became the inspiration for The Magnificent Seven.
The late Harry Dean Stanton is at his enigmatic best in this extensive road movie, playing a mysterious drifter who emerges from the desert, unseen for four years. Unforgettable.
Another epic from the Japanese genius Akira Kurosawa, this time focusing on a lone warrior who becomes the architect of a bloody gang war in feudal Japan. It’s full of memorable iconography – you know you’re in for an emotional movie when you see a dog running down the street in the opening scene with a human hand in its mouth.
Two classic stories from Russian literature – Chekhov’s “The Wife” and elements of Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” – travel to modern-day Turkey in this gripping film. It is full of political commentary on the lives of rich and poor in Turkey, which won the Palme d’Or in 2014.
This interesting drama tells about the creation of a demonic plant that infects people with happiness. Ben Whishaw is in fantastic form as a scientist who discovers the secret of the plant and decides to protect the enchanting creature. Emily Beecham also stars in the critical hit by cult Austrian director Jessica Hausner.
Lynn + Lucy
This inspirational debut drama from British director Fyzal Boulifa follows the strained friendship between an Essex couple, Lynn (Roxanne Scrimshaw) and Lucy (Nichola Burley). The Standard critic Charlotte O’Sullivan called it “disorienting, stressful and ultimately electrifying” in her review, praising it as one of the best releases of the summer.
Throne of Blood
Another Akira Kurosawa epic, this mid-century tale of Shakespeare’s Macbeth shifts the action from the Scottish moors to feudal Japan, where a famous warrior slays his ruler at the behest of his wife. Upon its release in 1957, the film won two prestigious Japanese Mainichi Film Awards.
A satire on idle celebrities and the social culture of Rome in the late 1950s, Fellini’s most famous and famous film is about the handsome but imperfect journalist Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) who spends his life running around cabaret clubs and secluded castles with the rich and famous, having hopefully to divert attention from the failures that haunt him.
King of New York
Filmmaker Abel Ferrara put it best: “It makes Scarface look like Mary Poppins.” A bloody underworld thriller starring Christopher Walken as the ruthless Frank White, a drug lord determined to take over the city. A dud on release, it rightfully earned its reputation as a cult classic, not least because of Walken’s performance; it was in this film that he patented his unusual eccentricity, which here is extremely disturbing. The dance moves are spot on though.
A haunting, surreal nightmare, Dogtooth is no easy watch; despite this, the 2009 release is remembered as the most important Greek release for decades, and for good reason. As elegantly shot as it is disturbing – and it can be grotesquely disturbing – Dogtooth tells the story of a couple who hide their teenage children from the world by keeping them in line with sadistic acts of violence. Sex is always present. A movie with its own power.
It’s funny – almost absurd – to think that the Italian critics didn’t rate the film on the day of its release. Since then, his stock has skyrocketed, and this story of a desperate father scouring Rome for a bicycle in post-war Rome is now regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. There’s a lot of heart and tension here too; without a bicycle, the father will lose his job and his poor, starving family will suffer even more.
Not surprisingly, it tells the story of a baroque painter, although it is not a linear biography. While much has been said about his intense approach to work, it is fun to watch Caravaggio’s turbulent, drunken and dissolute life. The film also marks the screen debuts of both Tilda Swinton and Sean Bean.
This disturbing supernatural thriller is an uncomfortable and sometimes bizarre watch. Jessica Harper plays a ballet dancer who moves from America to Germany to join a respected academy. Things are not right; bugs fall from the ceiling, a dog’s throat is torn open, there are murders. A suspenseful, disturbing and bloody film.
Under the Skin (1997)
A simple premise, but delivered powerfully and with emotion. It tells the story of two adult sisters in Liverpool who experience the sudden death of their mother. They both handle it differently; Iris (Samantha Morton) finds solace in casual sex and hedonistic late-night parties. Rose’s older sister, married and pregnant, doesn’t and is horrified to see her sister let loose. A moving study of grief.
Me without you
Anna Friel and Michelle Williams star as Marina and Holly in a tale of friendship that seems to poison both of them as much as they please. We first meet this couple at the age of 12 and watch them sporadically as they grow up. Friendship is intense, confusing, restless, sometimes bitter, and often treacherous. This makes the viewing feel very real and refreshing.
One of Werner Herzog’s most bombastic works, Fitzcarraldo, is about a man who embarks on a bizarre plot to take a steamboat over a hill in the Amazon basin to get to the site of a new rubber factory. He compares man to nature in the way all of Herzog’s best films do, and opened the director’s filmography to a wider audience in the early 1980s.
Bad sleep well
Kurosawa drew attention to corporate corruption in his 1960 drama The Bad Sleep Well, a scathing tale of betrayal, revenge, and greed. The hero Kōichi Nishi manages to infiltrate a powerful company to find those responsible for his father’s death, in a story inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
One of the masters of mid-century Italian cinema alongside Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, directed one of his deepest and most moving films, La Notte, a portrait of a falling apart marriage. The film is set over the course of one day as a novelist and his frustrated wife come to terms with the breakup of their relationship and receive the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
The subversive comedy-drama Listen Up Philip focuses on the relationship between two novelists at opposite ends of their careers who both alienate those around them. A fun and smart watch with brilliant performances from Jonathan Pryce, Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss.
One of Kurisama’s amazing 1950s films, The Hidden Fortress, tells the story of two Japanese villagers who agree to travel to enemy territory, but do not realize that their passengers are a general and a member of the royal family. While it’s often overlooked in favor of the director’s other films like Seven Samurai and Ran, it’s a beautifully shot gem worth exploring.
God knows what
Before the Safdie brothers united themselves with audiences around the world with their adrenaline-pumping and fear-inducing films Uncut Gems and Good Time, they made this desperately sad drug addiction drama based on a true story. The film stars Arielle Holmes playing a version of herself as a homeless heroin addict whom director Josh Safdie befriended while living in New York City.
This fascinating documentary contains four decades of theories about one of the greatest horror films ever made. The film debunks the myths and speculation surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, pondering how certain details of a classic horror film can be filled with hidden and incomprehensible meaning.
Passion of Joan of Arc
This classic French silent film from 1928 is early Hollywood at its most direct and expressive, telling the story of Joan of Arc’s last days and her execution in England. Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s cinematography is striking even after nearly 100 years, but it is Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s timeless performance that gives the film its strength.
Hailed by some as one of the greatest films ever made, Tokyo Story is the story of elderly parents in western Japan who travel to the capital to visit their busy adult children. The parents do not receive the welcome they expected, and the film becomes a meditation on the notion of a family plagued by time and distance. A subtle and heartwarming work.
Banned by the Iranian government, Jafar Panahi posed as a taxi driver and drove around Tehran, meeting fascinating locals, uncovering their stories and studying life under oppressive rule to create this heart-wrenching documentary. The film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and blurred the line between real life and drama to capture a revealing portrait of the city.
Tom from Finland
This biography focuses on the life of a man who helped inspire a generation of gay men to be proud of their identity in post-World War II Finland. It tells the story of Touko Laaksonen, an artist who returned to Helsinki after the war and challenged traditional society by publishing erotic drawings. This is a sensitive and moving account of a man who made a real difference in his time.
Night of the Hunted
This disturbing and intriguing French psychological drama follows the occupants of a psychiatric hospital who lost their memories in an unexplained environmental accident. Jean Rollin’s film is a dark, overwhelming look at dystopia and depravity, but it’s one that will stay with you.
Swedish sci-fi, anyone? This film is set in a world devastated by climate change, with hi-concepts and thoughts on human behavior in crisis. The dystopian drama takes place aboard a starship hurtling through space on its way to Mars, asking big questions and offering intimate, relationship-based drama in equal measure.