Entertainment TV & Radio

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Silver screen, golden moments

Stay clear of the turkeys while sticking to the crackers with our guide to the best films on television this festive season

December 21

The Sting (1973) ****

RTE One, 3.30pm

George Roy Hill's hugely enjoyable classic comic thriller stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as a pair of Depression-era street hustlers who set about arranging an elaborate con trick against an Irish gangster who ordered the murder of one of their friends.

Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009) ***

RTE One, 6.30pm

In this watchable animation, director Robert Zemeckis uses cutting-edge motion-capture technology to tell Charles Dickens' classic tale of a Victorian miser who learns the true meaning of Christmas the hard way when he's visited by four ghosts. With Jim Carrey.

Papillon (1973) ****

BBC4, 9pm

Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman star in this gritty drama based on the memoirs of Henri Charriere, a Parisian criminal who was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island.

Sanctum (2010) ***

Channel 4, 10.40pm

Australian adventure film starring Ioan Gruffudd as a flashy millionaire who takes his new girlfriend to Papua New Guinea to take part in the underwater exploration of a series of spectacular submerged caves.

Wake Wood (2010) ***

BBC2, 1am

Atmospheric Hammer Horror film starring Aidan Gillen and Eva Birthistle as a young couple who move to a quiet Irish village only to find themselves drawn into the web of a sinister cult. With Timothy Spall.

December 22

Nativity! (2009) ***

BBC2, 3.25pm

Slushy comedy starring Martin Freeman as a gloomy primary school teacher who enters his class in a national nativity play contest with the help of a very annoying assistant. With Marc Wootton, Alan Carr, Ashley Jensen.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) ****

UTV, 7.30pm

Harry's about to enter sixth year at Hogwarts when Professor Dumbledore takes him on a search for a former teacher who may be concealing valuable information.

Never Let Me Go (2010) ***

Channel 4, 10.25pm

Mark Romanek's dystopian drama, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, stars Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield as students at a boarding school that hides a dreadful secret.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967) ****

RTE Two, 11.50pm

Arthur Penn's stylish gangster picture tells the true story of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, who robbed a string of banks across midwestern America during the Depression. With Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

The Magdalene Sisters (2002) ****

BBC1, 12.15am

This powerful drama from Peter Mullan highlights the horrendous and shocking cruelty that routinely took place during the middle years of the last century at the so-called Magdalene Laundries for women. With Anne-Marie Duff, Eileen Walsh, Geraldine McEwan.

December 23

The Secret of Kells (2009) ****

RTE Two, 2pm

Brendan Gleeson and the late Mick Lally provide the voices for this beautifully made and Academy Award-nominated Irish animation about a young novice who becomes involved in creating and saving the Book of Kells, and befriends a forest spirit named Aisling along the way. With Evan McGuire.

Secretariat (2010) ****

BBC2, 3.05pm

Sporting drama starring Diane Lane as Penny Chenery, a 1970s housewife and horse breeder who led a rebellious and unfancied stallion called Secretariat to greatness with the help of a highly eccentric trainer. With John Malkovich.

Toy Story (1995) *****

BBC1, 3.15pm

In Pixar's timeless animation, a vintage cowboy doll feels threatened when a brash space ranger called Buzz Lightyear enters the boy's bedroom that he and other toys call home. Great fun. With the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.

Jane Eyre (2011) ****

BBC2, 8.30pm

Cary Fukunaga's poetic adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's novel of the same name stars Mia Wasikowska as Jane, the young governess who arrives at Thornfield Hall to find a household filled to the brim with secrets. Michael Fassbender co-stars.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984) ***

RTE One, 1.15am

Sergio Leone's sweeping New York crime drama stars Robert De Niro and James Woods as a pair of Jewish street kids who graduate to a long, but not especially happy, life of crime. With Elizabeth McGovern and Joe Pesci.

Christmas Eve

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) *****

Channel 4, 1.10pm

Frank Capra's heartwarming classic stars James Stewart as George Bailey, an honest smalltown businessman who's close to suicide when a kindly angel called Clarence turns up to show him the difference his life has made.

Toy Story 2 (1999) *****

BBC1, 3.40pm

In John Lasseter's magnificent animated sequel, Woody is kidnapped by a sinister toy collector, and while Buzz and the rest of the gang set out in hot pursuit, Woody finds out about his illustrious past.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) *****

RTE One, 3.45pm

In perhaps the greatest action adventure film of all time, intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones travels to the deserts of Egypt to prevent the Nazis from finding the legendary Ark of the Covenant. With Karen Allen.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) *****

RTE Two, 4.55pm

Wes Anderson's charming stop-motion animation is based on the Roald Dahl story. George Clooney provides the voice of Mr Fox, a dashing and clever animal who becomes involved in a nasty war of attrition with a ruthless farmer.

Finding Nemo (2003) *****

BBC1, 5.55pm

When a spirited young clownfish called Nemo gets caught by a diver and taken to a Sydney aquarium, his redoubtable father sets out to track him down. Another timeless Pixar classic.

Die Hard 2 (1990) ****

E4, 9pm

John McClane is waiting for his wife to arrive on a flight from Los Angeles when a group of over-acting terrorists take over Washington's Dulles International Airport and start directing planes to crash. Bruce Willis stars in this enjoyable sequel.

The Awakening (2011) ***

BBC2, 11.25pm

This beautifully shot chiller, starring Rebecca Hall, follows a sceptical 1920s writer and hoax exposer who's invited to a rural boarding school to investigate sightings of a ghost. With Dominic West, Imelda Staunton.

Superbad (2007) ****

RTE Two, 1.10am

Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse star in this crude, funny comedy about three friends trying to buy the alcohol that will help them woo the ladies.

Christmas Day

Horton Hears a Who! (2008) ****

Channel 4, 10.25am

Jim Carrey provides the voice of Horton, a happy-go-lucky elephant who becomes aware of the existence of a microscopic kingdom called Whoville when he hears a tiny voice calling to him from a flower.

The Princess and the Frog (2009) ****

BBC1, 12.30pm

Delightful Disney animation based on the classic Grimm brothers' fairytale and set in jazz-era New Orleans, where a black waitress and a visiting European prince are turned into frogs when they kiss.

White Christmas (1954) ****

TV3, 1pm

The songs of Irving Berlin are the real stars of this classic musical from Michael Curtiz about a group of buddies during the Second World War who make it big in the music business when they return to America.

With Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye.

Tangled (2010) ****

UTV, 3.20pm

Inventive update of the classic fairy tale 'Rapunzel'. After an evil witch kidnaps a princess to use the youth-giving properties of her magical hair, a charming thief chances on the crone's hideout and promptly falls in love.

The Dark Knight (2008) *****

RTE Two, 9.25pm

Christopher Nolan's darkly stylish superhero drama is dominated by a mesmerising turn from the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, a jovial maniac who sets out to bring Gotham City to its knees. With Christian Bale and Michael Caine.

Bridesmaids (2011) ****

RTE One, 10.05pm

Kristen Wiig co-wrote and stars in this sparkling ensemble comedy as Annie Walker, a likeable but downtrodden Midwestern woman who proves a disastrous maid of honour when asked to organise her best friend's hen party.

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013) ****

Sky Movies Premiere, 10.15pm

In this fresh and funny prequel to 'The Wizard of Oz', James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a fairground magician who finds himself embroiled in a nasty spat between witches when he's accidentally transported to a magical kingdom.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) *****

Channel 4, 3.05am

Michael Powell's classic stars David Niven as an RAF pilot who miraculously survives being shot down. But when the angels in heaven realise that a clerical error has been made, a foppish envoy is sent to Earth to sort things out.

St Stephen's Day

Alice in Wonderland (2010) *****

BBC1, 2.25pm

Mia Wasikowska stars in Tim Burton's inventive adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy about a little girl who chases a rabbit down a hole and ends up in a sinister wonderland. With Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

Cars 2 (2011) ***

BBC1, 4.05pm

In this Pixar sequel, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is now a champion race car, and is challenged to take part in a world grand prix using a new environmentally friendly biofuel. But all is not as it seems.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) ****

RTE One, 4.50pm

In the final part of the 'Harry Potter' film series, Voldemort has found the Elder Wand and emerges from the shadows to launch a massive attack on Hogwarts. Only Harry and his friends stand any chance of stopping him.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) ****

BBC3, 8pm

Indy and his dad take on the might of the Third Reich in a race to discover the location of the Holy Grail in this witty sequel, with Sean Connery stealing the show as the grumpy, donnish Jones Senior.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) ***

E4, 9pm

In this spectacular follow-up to the 2007 hit 'Transformers', Sam Witwicky and his girlfriend Mikeala set out to help Optimus Prime and friends stop the evil Decepticon robots from colonising the Earth. With Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.

The Guard (2011) ***

RTE One, 9.20pm

John Michael McDonagh's enjoyable action comedy stars Brendan Gleeson as Gerry Boyle, a laid-back rural sergeant who proves that he's more than a match for a gang of international drug-smugglers. With Mark Strong, Don Cheadle.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) *****

TG4, 9.50pm

Gary Oldman heads up a glittering cast in Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of John le Carre's novel. Old MI6 warhorse George Smiley emerges from retirement to discover the identity of a high-ranking mole who's selling secrets to the Russians.

The Social Network (2010) *****

RTE Two, 10pm

Director David Fincher's Oscar-winning biopic stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, a misfit Harvard student who chances upon a brilliant idea for a business while badmouthing his ex on the internet.

December 27

Enchanted (2007) ****

BBC1, 2.35pm

Chaos ensues when a fairy princess with absolutely no sense of irony descends on New York in this witty film that subverts the conventions of the classic Disney fairytales. Amy Adams, James Marsden and Patrick Dempsey star.

The Sound of Music (1965) ****

RTE One, 2.45pm

The Von Trapp family take on the Third Reich in this much-loved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical starring Julie Andrews as a prim but tuneful governess who transforms the lives of a gruff widower and his seven children.

Megamind (2010) ***

BBC1, 4.10pm

An extraterrestrial villain slowly realises that life is no fun when you get your way all the time after he accidentally kills his arch rival, Metro Man. Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt and Tina Fey provide the voices in this enjoyable comic animation.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) ***

RTE One, 6.30pm

Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) takes centre stage in this surprisingly entertaining sequel. The swaggering pirate comes face-to-face with an old rival and a disgruntled former girlfriend, both of whom are on the trail of the legendary fountain of youth.

The Shawshank

Redemption (1994) *****

ITV2, 9pm

Tim Robbins is excellent in Frank Darabont's inspired adaptation of a Stephen King novella in which a mild-mannered accountant is sent to the brutal Shawshank prison for murdering his wife, only for him to painstakingly plot a daring escape.

Irish Independent

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