The Northman to Detroit: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Pick of the week

The Northman

Thanks to its (possibly Covid-related) box office underperformance, The Northman might stand as the only time that Hollywood will ever let director Robert Eggers play with a big budget. That would be a shame, because this is a tremendous film; a loud, bloodthirsty ancient Norse revenge blockbuster that retains a lot of the rough edges of, say, Eggers’ The Lighthouse. If you enjoy endless screaming, vast amounts of gore and one of the best casts in recent memory (Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Björk), and you haven’t yet seen The Northman, what on Earth have you been playing at?
Tuesday 11 October, Prime Video



After two films focused on the post-9/11 Middle East conflict, Kathryn Bigelow set her next movie closer to home. Detroit is a reenactment of the Algiers Motel incident where, over the course of one summer night in 1967, a riot taskforce killed Black teenage boys. As with much of Bigelow’s work, there’s a breathless reportage to Detroit that sometimes comes at the cost of character. But you cannot possibly claim that she is behind the times. This is an uncomfortable watch, and its subject matter has only gained more urgency since its release.
Saturday 8 October, 11.55pm, BBC One


The Searchers

John Wayne in The Searchers.
Breaking bad … John Wayne in The Searchers. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

John Ford’s epic western has gained more traction as a cinematic reference point than an actual movie of late – everything from Rogue One to the Breaking Bad finale has paid tribute – so it’s reassuring to note that familiarity hasn’t dulled it one bit. John Wayne, as a grizzled old racist out for revenge against a band of Native Americans, ramps up his repugnancy to near unthinkable levels, and his late-stage volte-face is still one of the most moving in the history of cinema.
Saturday 8 October, 11.55pm, BBC One


Barking Dogs Never Bite

Film4 has something of a mini Bong Joon-ho appreciation festival this weekend, with 2003’s Memories of Murder showing on Saturday, and his world-conquering Parasite on Monday. But the real enthusiasts will be drawn to this well earned run-out of his 2000 directorial debut. The story of an unemployed professor who sets about murdering as many dogs as he can, the film’s mix of violence, dark comedy and biting social commentary failed to find an audience on release. However, it set in place the blueprint that Bong – and Korean cinema as a whole – still follows to this day.
Sunday 9 October, 12.50am, Film4


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

In the coming days, it will be harder and harder to ignore the onslaught of horror hitting screens, so let’s kick Halloween season off with a good one. Trollhunter’s André Øvredal adapts the popular children’s short story collection, and goes all in. This is no mere children’s movie. People are stabbed, necks broken, a truly frightening monster forms and reforms as if out of a nightmare. If you’re an adult expecting scares, this might seem like thin gruel. But if this is your first horror movie, prepare to be scarred for life. SH
Wednesday 12 October, 9pm, BBC Three



Almost a decade on, Amma Asante’s period drama remains a near-perfect thing. A biography of Dido Elizabeth Belle – a woman born into slavery in the West Indies and who died Britain’s first Black aristocrat – it manages to be at once a gorgeously sumptuous affair and a damning historical indictment. The cast is loaded, with Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton and James Norton – but there is no doubt who the star is here. As a woman who must twice learn how to be someone else’s property, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is incandescent. It’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. SH
Thursday 13 October, 9pm, BBC Four


Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Boom … Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Photograph: Paramount Pictures/Sega of America/AP

If you have children the same age as mine, this film will have bludgeoned you into submission several months ago. But newcomers will find this sequel ticks all the boxes you could want from a family-friendly popcorn flick. Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is once again called upon to save the world from the terrors of Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey, gleefully chewing so much furniture that he deserves an award), this time aided by Idris Elba’s super-strong Knuckles. It’s very fast and extremely funny, although that might just be the Stockholm syndrome talking. SH
Friday 14 October, 10:10am, 5.55pm, Sky Cinema Premiere