the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Steven Spielberg reboots Bernstein and Sondheim’s classic musical, while Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley plot to bring down the patriarchy

West Side Story

Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical is here given a wonderful, respectful reworking by Steven Spielberg. Despite some visual callbacks to Robert Wise’s 1961 version, his 1957 New York is a darker, scuzzier place – the territorial rumbles between the Sharks and Jets play out in an urban landscape of demolition and decay, reinforcing the hollowness of their small victories. Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, playing Tony and Maria – the Romeo and Juliet of this cross-cultural romance – make for a sweet couple but are upstaged by a fiery, forceful Ariana DeBose as Anita (particularly in a kinetic take on America) and Mike Faist as sinewy gang leader Riff.
Out now, Disney+


The World to Come

Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby perfectly balance delicate sensibility and submerged passion in this tale of the friendship and love between two farmers’ wives in mid 19th-century New York state. The death of their daughter has left Abigail (Waterston) emotionally closed off from her husband Dyer (Casey Affleck), but vivacious newcomer Tallie (Kirby) sparks something unexpected in her. Director Mona Fastvold tethers their lives to the unforgiving swing of the seasons as their affair slowly overwhelms them.
Sunday 6 March, 12.20pm, 8pm Sky Cinema Premiere



Philippa Lowthorpe’s drama – about the 1970 Miss World contest being disrupted by the women’s liberation movement – ​​could have just been a righteous tale of a feminist putting the boot in to a sexist event. And we do follow Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley in their plot against the patriarchy – epitomised by Greg Kinnear’s smarmy host Bob Hope. But we’re also privy to the lives of the female contestants, particularly Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Miss Grenada, for whom the “cattle market” is a rare opportunity for her as a Black woman to realise her dreams.
Sunday 6 March, 9pm, BBC Two



This film offers a comic, creative take on the potentially fraught story of a young woman who becomes pregnant but is far from the maternal type. Kristine Kujath Thorp’s Oslo-based Rakel is a would-be comic artist, so when she discovers she is six months gone already, she conjures up the foetus as an animated “sneaky ninjababy” – one who illuminates her thoughts and through quirky if challenging feelings asides. But Yngvild Sve Flikke’s drama does have a darker side too, as the disorganised, fearful Rakel deals with the dread prospect of motherhood.
Monday 7 March, 12.10am, Film4


Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy’s magnificently unlikable lead character makes Marielle Heller’s real-life drama a prickly but highly rewarding watch. Lee Israel is a hard-up, alcoholic writer who is struggling to get her biography of actor Fanny Brice commissioned, so resorts to forging letters by famous dead people – and discovers both an income stream and a genuine talent. Richard E Grant has a ball as her deadbeat criminal sidekick Jack in a roll tale of hubris and gred in the literary world.
Tuesday 8 March, 9pm, Film4


Phantom Thread

Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread. Photograph: Lifestyle pictures/Alamy

This 2017 Paul Thomas Anderson masterwork was Daniel Day-Lewis’s unexpected swansong as an actor, and his commitment to the role is total (he even spent a year learning dressmaking in preparation for it). His high-end 1950s fashion designer, Reynolds Woodcock, finds his obsessively controlled world – aided by sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) – thrown off-centre by Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress he seduces and then attempts to shape into a pliant muse . The push and pull of her resistance to – and love for – him gives their relationship a twisted power dynamic as finely detailed as one of his outfits.
Tuesday 8 March, 11.15pm, BBC Two


Fast & Furious 9

Vin Diesel and Nathalie Emmanuel in Fast &  Furious 9.

Vin Diesel and Nathalie Emmanuel in Fast & Furious 9. Photograph: BFA/Alamy

By now you know what to expect from this petrol-fuelled series of action films. Vin Diesel’s Dom will be drawn back into the spy game, along with his ever-expanding ragtag bunch of mates, to endure more preposterous but thrilling vehicular set pieces. But it’s real trump card is a focus on the importance of family – real or construction. This surfaces again when Dom (white T-shirt) comes up against his brother Jakob (John Cena, black T-shirt), amid returning faces, peculiar cameos and a Helen Mirren-instigated car chase.
Friday 11 March, 10.15am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo