It’s become a bit of a tradition on TV Scoop for me to leave you to your own devices at Christmas. There’s just too much good stuff around to choose a single movie, and anyway you’ll probably feel like something different every day. This time next week it will be Christmas Day (squee!) and I’ll be having the day off, so click through for a bumper selection of the movies on offer over the next two weeks, and if you’re feeling in a nostalgic mood then check out what was happening on the film front this time last year, or in 2006.
Animation / Family:
Nanny McPhee (ITV2, Saturday 20 December, 12.25pm)
Start your Christmas week right by sitting down with a plate of sandwiches and crisps and watching this. Kids optional but will probably increase the fun. Emma Thompson stars but as usual with this kind of movie the children steal the show.
A Knight’s Tale (C4, Saturday 20 December, 9pm)
If you’d rather not remember Heath Ledger as the ultimately scary joker, then here’s a glorious medieval romp that redresses the balance. And the music’s great too.
ET the Extra-Terrestrial (ITV1, Sunday 21 December, 3.45pm) – repeated on ITV2 Christmas Day & Boxing Day
Another wonderful family feel-good film, perfect to get you in the Christmas mood or, if you’re watching one of the repeats, maintain it.
High School Musical (BBC One, Christmas Eve, 11.50am)
This may well have passed you by but if you want to get down with the kids and find out what all the fuss is about, now’s your chance. You can always get up to baste the turkey during the singing.
Miracle on 34th Street (More4, Christmas Eve, 1.50pm)
The 1947 original – far superior to the Richard Attenborough remake – and one of those timeless movies which embodies the Christmas spirit.
The Polar Express (ITV1, Christmas Eve, 3pm)
Relegated from its Christmas Day slot last year, but still worth a look.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (ITV1, Christmas Eve, 4.50pm)
Great afternoon fun. Gene Wilder makes Roald Dahl’s story a whole lot lighter and fluffier than the Tim Burton remake, which is probably exactly what you want while you’re wrapping those last presents and sipping on the sherry.
Toy Story 2 (BBC One, Christmas Eve, 6.05pm)
I’m firmly in the camp that believes this fabulous sequel is even better than the original, but even if you prefer the first Toy Story, this is an excellent second best from the Pixar stable.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (ITV1, Christmas Day, 3.10pm)
ITV’s “blockbuster” movie for Christmas Day is a little darker than the preceding two in the franchise, but it will lose out in our house to Wallace and Gromit simply because we haven’t seen them yet.
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (BBC One, Christmas Day, 4.30pm)
Aardman’s first foray into a feature-length story for the strange housefellows. By all accounts it’s a rip-roaring success, so I’ll be gobbling down my turkey dinner so I can be ensconced in front of this with a bowl of Christmas pud and another glass of wine. Perfect.
Mary Poppins (ITV1, Boxing Day, 3.25pm)
Dick van Dyke’s famous execrable cockney accent aside, this is one of the best children’s movies of all time and although it veers towards over-moralising at times it retains its magical charm in the face of more recent effects-ridden efforts. Surely long overdue for a remake in view of some of the other classics that have been “refreshed” in the past few years?
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (BBC One, Boxing Day, 5.50pm)
I found this incredibly tedious the first and only time I saw it, but if you want something visually exciting playing away in the background while you practise piloting your new radio-controlled plane or helicopter around the living room, you could do worse.
Finding Nemo (BBC Three, Saturday 27 December, 7.55pm)
One of Pixar’s best and another Christmas repeat. Whether it’s the first or the twenty-first viewing it’s still worth a look.
Babe (ITV2, New Year’s Eve, 1.45pm)
Heartwarming and ultimately easy viewing for a New Year’s Eve afternoon
Shrek 2 (BBC One, New Year’s Day, 5.15pm)
From Christmas Day last year to New Year’s Day this year, the Green One is clearly still as popular now as he was last year.
Action / Adventure:
V for Vendetta (BBC Two, Saturday 20 December, 10.25pm)
2005 was a good year for graphic novel screen adaptations and this taught thriller delivers on all levels.
King Kong (ITV2, Sunday 21 December, 9pm)
Grossly over-long remake by Peter Jackson (can the guy make anything shorter than 3 hours?) which nevertheless delivers some unparalleled special effects and several wonderfully-executed set pieces. Make sure you have some snacks available though: it doesn’t finish until twenty to one in the morning.
Con Air (BBC One, Tuesday 23 December, 10.35pm)
Anything with Nick Cage in is alright by me – the guy’s a freaking genius. Here, he’s a thoughtful ex-con who has to share a plane ride home with some of the most dangerous criminals on the planet. The action is relentless – brilliant stuff.
The Day After Tomorrow (Film4, Boxing Day, 6.40pm)
One of my favourite films of all time. A climate-change apocalypse might not be your first choice of viewing for early evening on Boxing Day, but give it a go. You won’t be disappointed. The shots of Earth from an orbiting space station are awesome.
Superman Returns (BBC One, Monday 29 December, 8.30pm)
Apparently it’s two years since Brandon Routh stepped into the late Christopher Reeves’ shoes – err, cape – to bring the Man of Steel back to our screens. How time flies. And so does he, obviously.
War Games (C4, Tuesday 30 December, 2.05pm)
Looking a bit long in the tooth now, especially in terms of computer terminal technology, but the strong story keeps this eighties’ gem afloat, and it’s not been aired for a while. Good afternoon fodder.
Deep Impact (BBC One, Tuesday 30 December, 11pm)
Much the better of the two “asteroid hits Earth” movies of that year, featuring a story that builds slowly to a satisfying climax, excellent sfx, and some great performances from its leads – both established and newcomers.
Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl (BBC Three, New Year’s Day, 8pm)
Rapidly becoming a Christmas favourite of the Beeb’s, it looks like they’re a bit embarrassed about showing it *again* so they’ve tucked it away on Three.
Fantastic Four (C4, New Year’s Day, 8pm)
Not the best effort to bring Marvel superheroes to the screen but by this time on New Year’s Day the partying will have caught up with you and you’ll need something to sleep through.
Adult / Traditional:
Pan’s Labyrinth (Film4, Monday 22 December, 9pm)
Love Actually (ITV2, Christmas Eve, 11.05pm)
Another one moved from Christmas Day, but no less watchable for all that. Get your weeping out of the way early that’s what I say.
The African Queen (Film4, Christmas Day, 6.45pm)
Bogart on top, Oscar-winning form as the rough-hewn captain saving Katharine Hepburn from a fate worse than death. Onscreen partnerships just don’t get any better than this.
Nicholas Nickleby (BBC Two, Boxing Day, 5.55pm)
You can’t get through the whole of Christmas without Dickens, so here’s your annual dose in the capable hands of a host of well-known stars and also some casting surprises.
Chocolat (BBC Two, New Year’s Eve, 9pm)
I’d watch this one again just for the beautiful cinematography, but the story is gently endearing too. A good alternative if you’ve no parties to go to.
Airplane! (C4, New Year’s Day, 0.10am)
Still the best spoof movie ever made, hardly a minute goes by that isn’t jam-packed with double-entendres, visual humour or movie gags. Get your Auld-Lang-Syning out of the way double-quick and settle down for the first really good laugh of 2009.
The Fly (C4, New Year’s Day, 11.55pm)
David Cronenberg’s remake of the 1958 classic sees Jeff Goldblum on top form as the scientist gradually morphing into an insect-human hybrid: Brundlefly. The effects still sicken as Cronenberg pulls no punches, so you might want to have a sick-bag handy.
Dances with Wolves (BBC Two, Friday 2 January, 5.10pm)
Kevin Costner won Oscars for best director and best film with his first outing as director, and also stars, giving the character of Lt. John Dunbar great sensitivity, humanity and dignity. This may not be a film you want to watch more than once, but it is certainly one you should watch once.