Florence Pugh in Lady Macbeth
Welcome to this week's Stay-At-Home Seven, featuring films to catch on streaming services and TV this week.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, 9pm Film4, Monday, 8 February
Frances McDormand is catching plenty of awards attention this year for Nomadland and I certainly wouldn't be against her. She puts in an equally gripping turn in Martin McDonagh's tale of a grieving mother who takes on a police chief. She's matched step-for-step by Woody Harrelson as the chief in question and Sam Rockwell as a racist small-town cop. McDonagh has always proved adept at balancing violence with more complex emotional themes and in McDormand - part destroyed mum/part avenging angel - has has found the perfect star for the material, which explores grand biblical themes of sin and redemption with a surprising amount of humour and heart. Read our full review.
Olivia Wilde (who older fans might remember best from her stint as Thirteen in House) makes an impressive debut with her take on the high school comedy. Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are best mates with a fine sense of their own studiousness - until they realise they've been missing out on everything else associated with school and try to cram it all into a single night. This is all about looking beyond the front of all the expected characters - from the jocks to the class clown - to see what lies beneath, highlighting why it's dangerous to make assumptions and showing empathy for all concerned. All types of sexuality are treated as unremarkable - a real step forward - and nobody is a bad guy/gal, they're just all muddling along with the reputation they've garnered over the years. Whether girl sex talk would be quite this frank all the time is a bit debatable but Dever and Feldstein are a pair of sparky likeable leads given winning characterisation. Read our full review.
In Fabric, BBC iPlayer, until March
Horror and dark humour meet a saturated colour palette and department store nostalgia in a pair of stories that revolve around in a killer dress. In the first story bank clerk and single mum Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) finds her life taking an odd turn after buying the dress for a Lonely Hearts blind date. In the second, Reg Speaks (Leo Bill), a washing machine repair man who turns out to have a particular way with words - has the dress foisted on him on his stag night, only for it to bring trouble to him and his fiancée Babs (Hayley Squires). There's a playfulness to the horror and a deliberate dreaminess to proceedings, that Peter Strickland told us about. A film that fetishizes the fetish with admirable results. Read our full review.
Lady Macbeth, BBC2, 11.20pm, Friday, 12 January
Florence Pugh cemented her name with this early performance in William Oldroyd's period drama about Katherine, a woman who is sold into a loveless marriage and begins to think of a drastic way out after becoming obsessed with estate-hand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis). The film has a spartan austerity that emphasises both the house's negative spaces and the emotional mental state of Katherine as she drifts through them. With its strong central performance, Oldroyd generates tension in every scene as Katherine's bleak plan plays out. Read our interview with William Oldroyd and our full review.
The Post, 9pm, Film4, Tuesday, 9 February
More than 40 years after All The President's Men, Steven Spielberg took another run at events surrounding the Watergate Scandal and broadens it out to consider the way that The Washington Post locked horns with the Nixon Administration over the Pentagon Papers. Writers Liz Hannah and Josh Singer build the film around the relationship between the paper's 'accidental' owner Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) and its editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). Streep's performance is a masterclass, as she tries to make her presence felt in a world of sexist attitudes. At once a celebration of the best of independent journalism and an exploration of class and social constraints that tried to keep everyone in their designated "places", Spielberg also never lets the tension slip.
Late Night, Netflix
It might drift towards the formulaic but with Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling riffing off against one another, this comedy drama from Nisha Ganatra has plenty to recommend it. Thompson plays late-night talk show host Katherine, a sharp-witted frontwoman in the Letterman mould who is not well liked in the writers' room - largely because she hardly visits. Ratings are falling and there's a new pen on the block - belonging to Molly (Kaling), the first woman to be hired in the role. She happens to be a fan of Katherine, who, naturally, is an old sourpuss, but the stage is set for them to learn to spark along while skewering the patriarchy as they go. The storyline is a bit sprawling but the central performances and a raft of good one-liners keep things moving along. Read our full review.
Ex Machina, Film4, 11.45pm, Friday, 12 February
Alex Garland moved from writing to pulling double duty as a director with this twisty artificial intelligence thriller. Programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) find himself chosen by his volatile employer Nathan (Oscar Isaac) to conduct the Turing test with his AI creation Ava (Alicia Vikander) to see whether she can pass as human. Garland's psychological thriller unfolds in slippery fashion as we try to work out who is manipulating who and, more importantly, where our sympathies truly lie, while considering larger existential questions along the way. The central trio of performances are all water tight but Isaac, in particular, reminds us what a chameleon he is when it comes to getting under the skin of characters.
This week's short selection is Toby Wosskow's documentary Sides Of A Horn, which considers rhino poaching in South Africa