Thursday 29 September 2016

Your guide to the best films on TV this Christmas

It wouldn't be Christmas without at least one day spent slumped on the sofa with a tin of Roses, the remote control and 'It's A Wonderful Life' on the box. Paul Whitington rounds up the best of the seasonal offerings. Get comfy...

Paul Whitington

Published 22/12/2015 | 19:00

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The Wizard of Oz
Michael Keaton in Birdman
Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln
Coraline

My favourite festive indulgence has always been curling up on the sofa with a plate of Christmas leftovers and losing myself in a movie. This year, as ever, there's a bewildering array of choices, from the latest box offices hits to tried and trusted classics. Here's our pick of the best.

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December 23

Life of Pi (2012) ††† Film Four, 6.35pm

Ang Lee's visually spectacular drama tells the story of a 16-year-old Indian boy who's on his way to Canada by ship when a storm sinks it and he winds up in a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger.

 

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) ††† RTE2, 10pm

Will Ferrell reprises the role of histrionic San Diego news anchor Ron Burgundy in this slapstick comic sequel. Ron loses his job and hits the skids until a 24-hour news channel offers him a chance at redemption.

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The Fugitive (1993) †††† 3e, 11pm

Classic 90s action movie starring Harrison Ford as Dr Richard Kimble, a Chicago surgeon wrongly accused of murdering his wife who goes on the run in an attempt to clear his name. With Tommy Lee Jones.

 

December 24

Frozen (2013) †††† Sky Movies Disney, 10.40am

Distract the kids with Disney's winning animation about an unhappy princess who accidentally turns her kingdom into a snowy wasteland. Sing-along versions will be shown on Sky over Christmas.

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It's a Wonderful Life (1946) ††††† Channel 4, 2.15pm

A stone would shed a tear watching Frank Capra's heartwarming classic, which stars James Stewart as George Bailey, an honest smalltown man whose life is saved by a bumbling angel.

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Frankenweenie (2012) †††† RTE2, 2.45pm

Tim Burton's playful animation tells the story of a lonely young boy called Victor Frankenstein, who's so devastated when his dog is killed by a speeding car that he vows to bring it back to life.

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Gravity (2013) ††††† RTE1, 9.45pm

In Alfonso Cuaron's Oscar-winning drama, Sandra Bullock plays a NASA astronaut who gets stranded in space when her space shuttle is destroyed and must find a way of getting back to Earth.

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December 25

The Wizard of Oz (1939) ††††† TV3, 12.55pm

In the timeless MGM classic a spirited girl from Kansas is transported to the magical land of Oz where she joins forces with the Tin Man, Scarecrow

and the Cowardly Lion to find the legendary Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland stars.

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Brave (2012) †††† BBC1, 3.10pm

Kelly Macdonald provides the voice of Merida, a Scottish princess who wants to be a warrior and refuses to marry in Pixar's lively and entertaining animation. With Billy Connolly.

 

Gods and Kings (2014) ††† Sky Movies Premiere, 8pm

Ridley Scott's handsome epic stars Christian Bale as Moses, an Israelite who grows up as a member of the Egyptian royal family but becomes a guerilla fighter and leads his people to freedom.

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Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie (2014) †† RTE1, 9.40pm

In Brendan O'Carroll's warmhearted comedy, a gang of Russian entrepreneurs who decide to flatten Moore Street and replace it with a shopping centre will have to do so over Mrs Brown's dead body.

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The Sapphires (2012) ††† TV3, 11.15pm

Musical drama set in Australia in the late 1960s and starring Chris O'Dowd as a wandering Irish musician who's hosting a talent show in a rural dive bar when he discovers a talented female singing group.

 

December 26

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) ††††† Channel 4, 11.25pm

In Wes Anderson's charming animation, George Clooney provides the urbane voice of Mr Fox, a dashing and devious animal who becomes involved in a nasty war of attrition with local farmers.

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Despicable Me (2010) †††† RTE1, 1.30pm

Witty Franco-American animation about Gru, a dastardly international villain who realises he has a serious rival when someone steals the Great Pyramid of Giza and replaces it with an inflatable copy.

 

Ben-Hur (1959) †††† TCM, 2.45pm

Ancient Rome is given the William Wyler treatment in this spectacular epic starring Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman who becomes a Roman slave after being falsely accused of a crime.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) †††† RTE2, 8.35pm

In J.J. Abrams' breathlessly paced adventure, Kirk and Spock must briefly suspend hostilities when a mysterious villain attempts to take out Star Fleet's bases on Earth. With Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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December 27

The Princess Bride (1987) ††††† TV3, 3.05pm

Classic 80s comic fantasy starring Cary Ewles as a handsome farmhand called Westley who sets out to rescue his true love Princess Buttercup from the clutches of evil Prince Humperdinck.

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Hugo (2011) ††††† Channel 4, 3.35pm

In Martin Scorsese's bold fantasy, Asa Butterfield plays a Parisian orphan who lives in the clock tower of a 1930s railway station, and becomes fascinated by a mysterious toy store owner called Papa George.

 

Notes on a Scandal (2006) †††† RTE1, 11.25pm

Drama based on a Zoe Heller novel and starring Judi Dench as a crusty old London schoolteacher who falls in love with a beautiful younger female teacher but turns vindictive when she decides she's been betrayed.

 

Rock of Ages (2012) ††† TG4, 12.15am

Enjoyable comic musical based on a hit Broadway show and starring Julianne Hough as a smalltown girl who ends up working as a waitress in a legendary Los Angeles rock venue. With Tom Cruise.

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December 28

Cinderella (2015) ††† Sky Movies Premiere, 4.15pm

Sumptuous Disney live action recreation of the classic fairytale, with Eloise Webb playing the neglected skivvy whose miserable life is changed forever by a kindly fairy godmother.

 

Mirror, Mirror (2012) ††† Channel 4, 4.25pm

Fantasy starring Lily Collins as Snow White, the orphaned heir to a magical kingdom who's oppressed by her evil stepmother until a saviour turns up in the form of a handsome prince.

 

Les Miserables (2012) †††† RTE1, 9.30pm

Tom Hooper's sprawling adaptation of the hit West End show stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, a Napoleonic-era convict whose efforts to rebuild his life are thwarted by his vengeful former jailer, Javert.

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Behind the Candelabra (2013) †††† BBC2, 10pm

In Steven Soderbergh's sensitive and funny biopic, Matt Damon plays a young gay man who's at a loose end in 1970s Hollywood when he enters the orbit of legendary entertainer Liberace. With Michael Douglas.

 

December 29

Back to the Future (1985) †††† RTE1, 1.25pm

In Robert Zemeckis' enduring 80s classic, teenager Marty McFly gets himself into all manner of awkward and embarrassing scrapes when he travels back to the 1950s in a magic DeLorean. With Michael J. Fox.

 

Coraline (2009) †††† Channel 4, 2.30pm

Henry Selick's delightful animation tells the story of a lonely little girl who moves to a creepy old house with her parents and discovers a secret passageway to a seemingly idyllic alternate universe

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012) †††† RTE2, 6.05pm

Wes Anderson's comic drama is set on a small, idyllic island a few miles off the New England coast. It's 1965, and when a 12-year-old scout elopes with a local girl, many secrets are unearthed.

 

Godzilla (2014) †† Sky Movies Showcase, 8pm

In this big-budget action film inspired by the 1954 Japanese horror classic, a giant sea monster is awakened by a nuclear accident and heads for downtown San Francisco. With Elizabeth Olsen.

 

December 30

Alice in Wonderland (2010) ††††† BBC2, 5.50pm

Tim Burton's magnificent adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy stars Mia Wasikowska as a teenage girl who chases a rabbit down a hole and ends up in a sinister wonderland. Johnny Depp co-stars.

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I Am Ali (2014) ††† RTE2, 6.55pm

Entertaining documentary that uses recorded phone calls and audio journals to give an insight into the private and family life of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

 

Birdman (2014) †††† Sky Movies Select, 8pm

Michael Keaton makes a glorious career comeback in this surreal comic drama about a has-been Hollywood actor who hopes a forthcoming Broadway show will revive his moribund carer.

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December 31

Into the Woods (2014) ††† Sky Movies Family, 2.35pm

Comic musical based on Stephen Sondheim's 80s musical and starring Emily Blunt and James Corden as a childless couple who make an ill-advised deal with a witch. Meryl Streep co-stars.

 

Up (2009) ††††† BBC1, 2.50pm

A 78-year-old man mourning the recent death of his wife fulfills the dream of a lifetime by attaching thousands of balloons to his house and flying it down to South America in Pixar's superb animated feature.

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The Quiet Man (1952) †††† RTE1, 3.20pm

In John Ford's classic melodrama, an Irish-American ex-boxer called Sean Thornton returns to the old country to settle down and falls in love with a fiery redhead. With John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

 

The Incredibles (2004) †††† Sky Movies Disney, 4.15pm

Pixar take on the superhero genre in this delightful animation about a family of superheroes who've hidden their special powers for years until they're forced out of retirement to foil the schemes of an evil genius.

 

Elysium (2013) ††† RTE2, 9pm

Matt Damon stars in Neil Blomkamp's stylish sci-fi thriller set in the year 2154, when the rich elite have abandoned our polluted planet for the safety of a high-tech space station called Elysium.

 

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) †††† Film Four, 11.10pm

David O Russell's darkly comic drama stars Bradley Cooper as a young man recovering from a mental breakdown who's obsessed with winning back his estranged wife. Jennifer Lawrence.

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January 1

We Bought a Zoo (2011) ††† RTE1, 3.35pm

Comic drama based on a true story and starring Matt Damon as Benjamin Mee, a widowed father of two who decides to sell the family home and buy a small urban zoo. With Scarlett Johansson.

 

Lincoln (2012) ††††† RTE1, 9.20pm

Steven Spielberg's dense and accomplished historical drama stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, who faces the challenge of his life when he tries to pass an anti-slavery bill through congress.

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Taxi Driver (1976) ††††† RTE2, 11.45pm

Martin Scorsese's journey to the heart of New York's seedy 1970s underbelly stars Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, an unhinged taxi driver who decides it's his duty to save a 13-year-old girl from a life of prostitution.

Irish Independent

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