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Philomena to Jerry and Marge Go Large: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Pick of the week

Philomena

A devastating true story gave rise to this terrifically moving drama, featuring Steve Coogan as co-writer and co-star. He plays former BBC journalist and spin doctor Martin Sixsmith, who escapes work woes by taking up the case of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench). Fifty years earlier, she was an unmarried teenage mother stuck in a Catholic convent laundry in Ireland when her son was sold for adoption – against her wishes. She still hasn’t found him, so Martin agrees to join her search. The revelations that follow are skilfully drip-fed by director Stephen Frears, while the two leads are a wonderful study in contrasts, debating faith, loss and forgiveness with some pain but plenty of humour. Simon Wardell
Sunday 19 June, 10.30pm, BBC One

***

A Simple Favour

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a perky widowed mom who is dragged out of her suburban rut when she befriends high-flying fashion PR Emily (Blake Lively) – self-assured, sophisticated and married to the very eligible Sean (Henry Golding). Then Emily goes missing, and Stephanie decides to investigate … Comparisons to Gone Girl are inevitable, but Paul Feig’s blackly comic mystery is good fun on its own merits – from the 60s French pop soundtrack to Kendrick and Lively’s gleeful dismantling of a slew of female stereotypes. SW
Saturday 18 June, 10.20pm, BBC One

***

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

In his TV dramas Flowers and Landscapers, writer-director Will Sharpe has given a sympathetic ear to loners and eccentrics. His stylish, and at times trippy, new film adds another to the canon: the Edwardian illustrator known for his pictures of big-eyed, anthropomorphised cats. Benedict Cumberbatch is sad and endearing as Louis, who keeps his mental health troubles – and extreme championing of felines – just about within the realms of social acceptability, while supporting his mother, five sisters and wife Emily (Claire Foy). SW
Sunday 19 June, 12.05pm, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

***

Moana

Auliʻi Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson in Moana.
Auliʻi Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson in Moana. Photograph: Disney

Ron Clements and John Musker’s animation weaves the art, music and myths of Polynesia into an entertaining coming-of-age drama/eco-parable/origin story for the region’s seafaring people. Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), daughter of an island chief, is forbidden to explore beyond the reef, but when she hears that the theft of a nature goddess’s heart stone by demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) is leading to climate disaster, she sets sails to return it to its owner. A Mad Max: Fury Road homage and an imbecilic rooster are just two highlights of this accomplished Disney film. SW
Sunday 19 June, 4pm, BBC One

***

The Searchers

Jeffrey Hunter and John Wayne in the Searchers.
Jeffrey Hunter and John Wayne in the Searchers. Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex

As with Citizen Kane, just because John Ford’s 1956 western is forever being rolled out as one of the greatest films ever doesn’t mean it isn’t. It’s also John Wayne’s finest hour – he plays Ethan Edwards, a Confederate veteran brutalised by war who rediscovers his humanity and sense of community in his obsessive search for a niece abducted by Comanche raiders. Ford surrounds Ethan with vivid characters and epic Monument Valley landscapes in a film more profound than it lets on. SW
Sunday 19 June, 6.30pm, TCM Movies

***

Like Father, Like Son

The sharp end of the nature v nurture debate hits two families hard in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s poignant 2013 drama. Masaharu Fukuyama’s Ryota is a city architect whose drive to succeed at work means he neglects his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) and young son Keita. Then they discover Keita was swapped at birth with Ryusei, eldest son of small-town shopworkers Yudai (Lily Franky) and Yukari (Yōko Maki). The difference between the easygoing, playful Yudai and the pushy, emotionally repressed Ryota is clear as the four parents negotiate their new reality – some with more compassion than others. SW
Sunday 19 June, 1.30am, Film4

***

Jerry & Marge Go Large

Bryan Cranston and Anette Bening in Jerry & Marge Go Large.
Bryan Cranston and Anette Bening in Jerry & Marge Go Large. Photograph: Paramount

Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening make for a lovely couple in David Frankel’s fact-based comedy-drama. He has recently retired after 42 years in admin at a cornflake factory and is dreading the prospect of his “golden years” when he discovers a loophole in a lottery game that means he can win big … very big. There’s no breaking bad here – unless you count an insufferable Harvard student who gets the same idea – just two people who want to give back to their community by getting them involved in the plan, while revelling in a belated new lease of life. SW
Wednesday 22 June, Paramount+