The Wonder to Spirited: the seven best films to watch on TV this week | Movies

Pick of the week

The Wonder

In 1862, English nurse Lib (Florence Pugh) comes to rural Ireland to spend two weeks monitoring Anna (Kíla Lord Cassidy), an 11-year-old girl who hasn’t eaten for four months but remains fit and well. Anna claims she lives on “manna from heaven” but is she a miracle from God or pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes? Questions of faith, rationality and the tricksy nature of storytelling pervade this historical thriller, with the Irish famine of the 1840s another touchstone. Director Sebastián Lelio, who has already explored organised religion in Disobedience, is blessed here with Pugh as his lead actor – a magnetic, confrontational presence driving the drama forward.
Wednesday 16 November, Netflix

The Endless

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead in The Endless.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead in The Endless. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

This satisfying slice of indie sci-fi weirdness from film-making duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead surmounts its low budget with nicely delayed plot reveals and unsettling corner-of-the-eye special effects. They also star as brothers returning to Camp Arcadia, the “UFO death cult” in the wilderness they left years ago. Their unresolved brotherly issues and memories of their time there intertwine with increasingly bizarre events – photos dropping from the sky, invisible presences, a second moon – that presage something very bad. SW
Saturday 12 November, 1.35am, Film4

Monkey Business

Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in Monkey Business.
Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in Monkey Business. Photograph: Landmark Media/Alamy

A comedy revolving round animal experimentation may be frowned upon today, but with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers starring and Howard Hawks directing, this 1952 film surely gets a pass. It’s gloriously silly, as the search by Grant’s scientist for an elixir of youth goes pear-shaped when one of his chimps doses the lab water cooler. Given the chance to play increasingly youthful versions of themselves, Grant and Rogers are brilliant – Rogers even sends up her own dancing skills – and it all zips along with screwball vim. SW
Monday 14 November, 2.25am, Talking Pictures TV

Pitch Black

Radha Mitchell in Pitch Black.
Radha Mitchell in Pitch Black. Photograph: United Archives GmbH/Alamy

David Twohy’s tense 2000 sci-fi thriller may have been the film that launched a thousand Vin Diesel blockbusters, but – as bad boy turned (relatively) nice guy Riddick – he has to share the limelight with Radha Mitchell. She brings out her inner Ripley as Fry, a pilot who takes charge after her passenger ship crashes on a planet with three suns. The inhospitable world is populated by hungry creatures that only come out during eclipses – and one is imminent. Two Riddick sequels have followed, so far, but this is easily the best of the lot. SW
Tuesday 15 November, 11.25pm, ITV4

High Plains Drifter

Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter.
Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter. Photograph: Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

Clint Eastwood’s second effort as director harks back to his Man With No Name character from the Sergio Leone westerns. A stranger (Eastwood) walks into a desert settlement and agrees to help protect it from outlaws. But he has a strange way of going about it – at one point he orders the town painted red – and the inhabitants have some very dark secrets. A film that gets more nihilistic as it goes on, with Eastwood a far from likable soul even as he gives the townsfolk what’s coming to them. SW
Thursday 17 November, 9pm, ITV4


Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in Spirited.
Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in Spirited. Photograph: Claire Folger/Apple TV +

A Christmas Carol gets a fun remix in Sean Anders’s musical comedy. Will Ferrell plays the Ghost of Christmas Present, who works in a department of the afterlife dedicated to the redemption of bad people. He chooses permatanned marketing consultant Clint (Ryan Reynolds) – “the perfect combination of Mussolini and Seacrest” – as the latest “perp” deserving of a spooky moral lesson. However, the PR guy proves a hard nut to crack, while Present falls for Clint’s assistant Kimberly (Octavia Spencer). The songs are serviceable but it’s Ferrell and Reynolds’s verbal sparring that hits the spot. SW
Friday 18 November, Apple TV+

The Phantom of the Open

Mark Lewis Jones and Mark Rylance in The Phantom of the Open.
Mark Lewis Jones and Mark Rylance in The Phantom of the Open. Photograph: Nick Wall/AP

Golf has provided cinema with several plucky underdog stories (Tin Cup, Happy Gilmore) but few have featured a player as dreadful as Maurice Flitcroft. This real-life tale follows the Barrow shipyard worker (played with sympathetic precision by Mark Rylance) as redundancy inspires in him thoughts of a career in a sport for which he has absolutely no talent. His attempts to qualify for the Open are comic and squirm-inducing in equal measure, with moments of harsh financial reality that keep the film under par. SW
Friday 18 November, 11.45am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

Shirley McQuay

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