The 30 best films to watch on BFI Player right now, from Wild Tales to Persona


For cinephiles in 2024, finding the right film to watch isn't so much a chore as a series of endless possibilities: from Criterion Collection and Curzon, to MUBI and BFI Player, there are now so many places to track down seriously acclaimed films from past and present.

BFI Player boasts a huge back catalogue of classic foreign-language cinema, old favourites, and plenty of critically adored releases.

The site’s monthly subscription allows viewers to access a large archive, while a smaller selection of films including recent releases are available to rent on a one-off basis. Here, we’ve focused on the films available to watch right now through the subscription service model.

From moody French thrillers to modern cult favourites, these are our 30 favourite films on the BFI Player right now, listed in no particular order.

Personal Shopper

This captivating supernatural thriller from Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep; Paris Je T’aime) is set in Paris and stars Kristen Stewart as a woman working as a personal shopper to a supermodel. Her twin brother recently died and she believes he will try to contact her from the afterlife – so when genuinely creepy things start to happen, is it him or something else behind it?

The Secret in Their Eyes

In this brilliant 2009 thriller from Argentinian director Juan José Campanella, judiciary agent Benjamín Espósito revisits an unsolved crime he first investigated 25 years ago. In doing so he unearths vivid memories of the horrible rape-murder of Liliana Colotto de Morales, the behaviour of her devoted husband, and of a woman he once loved.


Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 avant-garde psychological thriller remains one of the most influential films ever made. A meditation on the human psyche, motherhood, sexuality and identity, the film depicts an intensifying relationship between young nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) and her patient; the well-known actress Elisabet (Liv Ullmann). Professional lines are crossed as the two women’s roles start to blur.

Wild Tales

Damián Szifron’s Oscar-nominated Wild Tales contains six stand-alone stories, all of which explore human behaviour in modern society. The Spanish-language films are all hilarious, dark and moving – each somehow more enjoyable than the next.


Michael Haneke’s 2005 psychological thriller Caché (Hidden) details a nightmare scenario: Parisian couple Anne (Juliette Binoche) and Georges (Daniel Auteuil) Laurent start being sent video tapes of surveillance of their own apartment, as well as unpleasant drawings. Georges has suspicions that he knows who is tormenting them, and takes matters into his own hands when the police refuse to step in.

Christiane F.

Uli Edel’s 1981 film is based on the true story of German actor and musician Christiane Vera Felscherinow’s life. Christiane grew up in Berlin’s working-class borough Neukölln in the Seventies, years before it became a hipster paradise. By her early teenage years, she was using heroin and working as a sex worker. Christiane F. tells a version of this story, with a soundtrack scored by David Bowie.

La Haine

This grisly black-and-white French film about three friends living in a deprived Paris neighbourhood won director Mathieu Kassovitz Best Director at Cannes in 1995. Now a cult classic, La Haine, which translates to “hate”, is still as blistering as ever as it explores society, poverty and race.

Seven Samurai

Often hailed as one of the finest foreign-language films ever made, Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece follows the heroic efforts of the warriors attempting to protect a Japanese village from a vicious bandit attack. The classic film famously later became the inspiration for The Magnificent Seven.

Paris, Texas

The late Harry Dean Stanton is at his most enigmatic in this sprawling road movie, playing a mysterious vagrant who emerges from the desert having not been seen for four years. Unforgettable.


Another epic from Japanese genius Akira Kurosawa, this time focusing on a lone fighter who becomes the architect of a bloody gang war in feudal Japan. It’s one full of memorable iconography – you know you’re in for a visceral movie when the opening scene features a dog running along a street carrying a human hand in its mouth.

Little Joe

This curious drama follows the creation of a demonic plant which infects people with happiness. Ben Whishaw is in fantastic form as the scientist who learns of the plant’s secret, becoming intent on protecting the beguiling creation. Emily Beecham also stars in the critical hit from cult Austrian director Jessica Hausner.

Lynn + Lucy

This inspired debut drama from British director Fyzal Boulifa follows the fraught friendship between Essex pair Lynn (Roxanne Scrimshaw) and Lucy (Nichola Burley). The Standard called it “disorientating, stressful and – ultimately – electrifying”.

Throne of Blood

Another epic from Akira Kurosawa, this mid-century retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth transports the action from the moors of Scotland to feudal Japan, with a famous warrior killing his sovereign at the behest of his wife. The film won two of Japan’s prestigious Mainichi Film Awards upon its original release in 1957.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead

This stomach-churning film, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke, tells the story of two brothers who rob their parent’s jewelry store. An indisputably bad idea, things go from bad to downright disastrous when their father, Charles (Albert Finney) decides to exact revenge on the thieves, not knowing they are his children.

King of New York

Filmmaker Abel Ferrara said it best: “It makes Scarface look like Mary Poppins”. A bloody underworld thriller, Christopher Walken stars as the ruthless Frank White, a drug lord determined to take over the city. A dud on release, it rightly has earned a reputation as a cult classic, not least for Walken’s performance; it was in this film he patented his offbeat eccentricity, which is extraordinarily unsettling. Dance moves are on point, though.


A haunting, surreal nightmare, Dogtooth is not an easy watch; still, the 2009 film from Yorgos Lanthimos is remembered as the most important Greek release in decades, and not without reason. As elegantly shot as it is disturbing – and it can be grotesquely disturbing – Dogtooth tells the story of a couple who keep their teenage children hidden from the world, keeping them in line with sadistic acts of violence. Sex is ever-present. A film with power.


It’s all in the title: this film tells the story of the Baroque painter. Though plenty is made of his intense approach to work, the fun is in watching Caravaggio’s riotous, drunken and debauched life. Derek Jarman’s film also marks the screen debut of both Tilda Swinton and Sean Bean.


This unsettling supernatural thriller is an uncomfortable and at times bizarre watch. Jessica Harper stars as a ballet dancer who transfers from America to Germany to join a well-regarded academy. Though she seems like she’s living the dream, it quickly becomes clear that things aren’t right: maggots fall from the ceiling, a dog has its throat ripped out, and there are multiple murders. A tense, disturbing film, full of gore.


This mysterious Japanese drama tells the story of a woman whose husband appears to have taken his own life. The film is about her contracting and expanding sadness as she raises their new child, becomes romantically entangled with somebody new, and moves to a coastal village. Visually exquisite, Maborosi has an 100 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Me Without You

Anna Friel and Michelle Williams star as Marina and Holly in a story of a friendship which seems to poison both as much as it pleases them. We first meet the pair at 12 years old, and follow them intermittently as they grow up. The friendship is intense, confusing, troubled, sometimes bitter and often treacherous. It is, then, very real – and refreshing to watch because of it.


One of Werner Herzog’s most bombastic works, Fitzcarraldo, follows a man who embarks on an outlandish plot to run a steamship over a hill in the Amazon basin to access a new site for a rubber factory. It pits man against nature in a way that all the best Herzog movies do, and opened the director’s filmography up to a wider audience in the early Eighties.

The Bad Sleep Well

Kurosawa turned his attention to corporate corruption for his 1960 drama The Bad Sleep Well – an acerbic tale of betrayal, revenge and greed. Protagonist Kōichi Nishi manages to infiltrate a powerful company to find those responsible for the death of his father, in a story influenced by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Chameleon Street

Wendell B Harris Jr’s bone-dry black comedy is a forgotten treasure. It won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize in 1990, and has been described by the BFI as “a lost masterpiece of Black American cinema”. They also called its director “a triple-threat filmmaker of original and eccentric talent”. Telling the story of a man who, tired of his low-level job, decides to con his way into several professional positions, the film is a tantalising and discomforting meditation on racism and identity.

The Hidden Fortress

One of Kurosawa’s incredible Fifties films, The Hidden Fortress follows two Japanese peasants who agree to make the journey into enemy territory, but fail to realise their passengers are a general and a member of the royal family. While it’s often overlooked in favour of the director's other films like Seven Samurai and Ran, it’s a beautifully shot gem well worth discovering.

Heaven Knows What

Before the Safdie Brothers connected with a worldwide audience with their adrenaline and anxiety-inducing movies Uncut Gems and Good Time, they made this desperately sad drug addiction drama based on a true story. The movie not only stars Arielle Holmes, but is based on her memoir of being a teenage homeless heroin addict in New York.

The Passion of Joan of Arc

This classic 1928 French silent movie is early Hollywood at its most direct and expressive, telling the story of Joan of Arc’s final days and execution in England. Danish film director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s cinematography is still striking nearly 100 years later, but it’s Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s timeless performance that gives the film its real impact.

Tokyo Story

Declared by some as one of the greatest films ever made, Tokyo Story is the story of elderly parents in west Japan who travel to the capital to visit their busy, grown-up children. The parents don’t receive the kind of welcome they’d hoped for, and the film becomes a meditation on the notion of family ravished by time and distance. A subtle and heartbreaking piece of work.

Tom of Finland

This biography focuses on the life of the man who helped inspire a generation of gay men to be proud of their identity in Finland following the Second World War. It tells the story of Touko Laaksonen, an artist who returned to Helsinki after the war and challenged traditional society by publishing erotic drawings. It’s a sensitively done and moving account.

Night of the Hunted

This unsettling and intriguing psychological French drama is the story of the inhabitants of a mental hospital who have lost their memories in an unexplained environmental accident. Jean Rollin’s movie is a dark, oppressive look at dystopia and depravity, and one that will stay with you.


Swedish sci-fi, anyone? This movie is set in a world destroyed by climate change, with hi-concepts and ruminations on human behaviour in a crisis. The dystopian drama is set onboard a spaceship hurtling through space on its way to Mars, asking big questions and offering intimate, relationship-driven drama in equal quantity.