Two Days, One Night, BBC Two, Sunday, 12.35am

French actress Marion Cotillard was Oscar nominated for her role in this 2014 drama by veteran Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, film-making siblings, darlings of the arthouse circuit and the closest thing Continental Europe has to a Ken Loach or a Peter Mullan thanks to their preference for hard-hitting stories about real people facing real world problems.

Set and filmed in the Belgian town of Seraing near Liege, Cotillard plays Sandra, a mother of two young children who is about to return to work at a solar panel manufacturer following a period of illness which still has her popping Xanax, a benzodiazepine, at regular interviews. What happens to start the bout of frenzied toing and froing which dominates the film, much of it shot in real time, is the news that her colleagues have been given a choice by the factory’s management – keep their thousand euro bonus and vote to reduce the head count by one (that head being Sandra’s) or forget the bonus and keep Sandra. The vote has gone against her, so suddenly there is no job to go back to. Husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) works as a chef in a café but the family have only just managed to move out of social housing to their own home, and losing Sandra’s salary would put that at risk. So, helped by her friend Juliette (Catherine Salée), Sandra persuades boss Dumont (Batiste Sornin) to hold another vote and give her some time – two days and one night – to persuade at least a majority of her 16 colleagues to vote for her to stay.

And that’s the film, a series of encounters on doorsteps and in back gardens at which Sandra lays out the facts, appeals to her colleagues’ sense of decency, and is usually met with the same blend of sympathy and refusal. Who doesn’t need a thousand euros? But not everyone says no, and as the numbers start to swing in her favour Sandra’s back story is gradually laid out and the troubling questions at the heart of this remarkable film reveal themselves: what duties and responsibilities do workplaces impose on everyone in them, and is worker solidarity a price worth paying if it comes at a cost? But it’s Cotillard, looking haggard and worn-out, and featuring in virtually every frame, who really captures the attention.

The Vast Of Night, Amazon Prime Video

Now streaming

This hugely enjoyable first feature from American director Andrew Patterson takes its cue from US TV favourite The Twilight Zone (here renamed Paralax Theater) and tells the story of a strange happening of the UFO variety which afflicts the tiny New Mexico town of Cayuga – right in the middle of a high school basketball match. The year is some time in the mid-1950s and the two Cayugans embroiled in what may or may not be a close encounter of the third kind are Everett ‘The Maverick’ Sloan (Jake Horowitz), a young DJ with the local WOTW station, and Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick), a 16-year-old science geek who plays trombone and fills in for her mum at the local telephone exchange – when she’s not looking after her baby sister or learning how to use her new reel-to-reel tape recorder.

Low budget it may be (it was made for $700,000 and is essentially just four or five set-piece scenes strung together) but it’s also a bravura piece of film-making which pulls in wider issues such as racism. There’s a fabulous opening scene in which the camera follows Everett and Fay’s rat-a-tat conversation as they walk from the school gym to her home via the town’s main street – it’s peppered with brilliant 1950s slang – but the moment which has had the internet buzzing and the critics purring is a super-long tracking shot which travels through the town, into the gym over the heads of the people crowded in the doorway, around the basketball players, up into the bleachers and then out through an impossibly small window and into the car park. It was inspired, apparently, by a scene in Lawrence Of Arabia, and was achieved cheaply and with no special effects. It’s jaw-droppingly good, as is the rest of the film. A real treat for sci-fi fans.