PICK OF THE BEST FILMS
CHRISTMAS DAY Singin’ in the Rain (U) Channel 5, 1.05pm
Not just a wonderful musical but the best film about movie making ever made. Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly (yes, he could direct too) are at the helm as this tale about the arrival of the talkies unfolds. Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds are uniformly brilliant in routines running from Good Morning to the title scene, but it is Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont, the star with a voice made for silent movies, who makes me laugh every time. A picture that’s still fresh as a falling raindrop despite being, can you believe it, 65-years-old.
Cinderella (U) BBC One, 3.10pm
Kenneth Branagh called on chums old and new for this truly scrumptious live action version of the classic fairytale. In the starring role in Disney’s 2015 musical is The Dress, and after that it is the actor wearing The Dress, Lily James, formerly of Downton Abbey, who plays the gal that loses a shoe and gained a prince. He’s played by Scotland’s Richard Madden, who also scrubs up nicely. Joining them in doing their bit for dear, dear Kenneth are Cate Blanchett (who makes an ace wicked stepmother), Derek Jacobi as the king, and Helena Bonham Carter as, what else, the fairy godmother.
BOXING DAY Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (15) STV, 9.25am
To paraphrase the titular hero of John Hughes’ classic comedy from 1986: Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and watch FBDO once in a while you are missing a genuine treat. Matthew Broderick is the high school kid who fancies a day off with his pals. Eight hours of doing things far more exciting than crashing on the sofa and playing Grand Theft Auto follow. John Hughes is beloved to many for his teen comedy drama The Breakfast Club, but for my money and fried egg sandwich, this 1986 offering is more of a keeper.
Paddington (PG) Film 4, 2.55pm
Every superhero needs an origins story, and if you were charmed by the recently released Paddington 2 you’ll want to check out this 2014 tale of how the little bear came to Britain from Peru. Had Paddington rocked up at immigration today, he would probably be given a hard stare and deported for not having a visa. Fortunately, he meets the Brown family (dad Hugh Bonneville, mum Sally Hawkins and their screen kids) instead and all is well. Ben Whishaw is pitch perfect as the bear who believes what his Aunt Lucy told him: If you are kind and polite the world will be right.
Jurassic World (12) STV, 6.40pm
Okay, it’s a fair cop. Nothing is ever quite going to match the thrill of seeing Spielberg’s original 1993 movie, complete with T-Rex v Jeep car chase, but don’t discount Colin Trevorrow’s 2015 action adventure. For a start, it has Hollywood’s most lovable big lug, Chris Pratt, as a raptor whisperer, and Bryce Dallas Howard as the busy-busy aunt whose nephews come to stay. The special effects, too, show how much the craft has come on since Richard Attenborough and Jeff Goldblum’s day. Wouldn’t you know it, someone has opened a new park on the site of the old one. What could possibly go wrong?
Ex Machina (15) Film 4, 9pm
2017 was the year when we began to fret seriously about robots taking over everything from our jobs to our cars. If you really want to be spooked about how far the tech revolution could go, check out this 2014 chiller from 28 Days Later writer Alex Garland. Oscar Isaac plays Nathan, a silly-rich entrepreneur living in a grand designer dream home beyond the imaginings of even Kevin McCloud. Newbie programmer Domhnall Gleeson receives a coveted invitation to meet the boss, and his charming new acquaintance, Ava (Alicia Vikander). Drop dead stylish and fizzing with ideas, it deservedly won an Oscar for its visual effects.
WEDNESDAY Sunshine on Leith (PG) Channel 4, 1.15pm
Proclaimer fans go no further than Dexter Fletcher’s wonderfully feelgood 2013 musical. As in the stage play, the tale centres around two squaddie pals coming home to Edinburgh to see the folks. Much crowbarring in of songs follows, the whole thing is shamelessly sentimental and completely daft, but after viewing you’ll walk 500 miles with a smile on your face. Kevin Guthrie, Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan (whose gravelly singing voice makes Lee Marvin sound like Charlotte Church) star.
THURSDAY Flight (15) Channel 5, 9pm
How is this for a dream team: Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) directing and Denzel Washington in the lead in a story of survival up in the air and down on the ground. Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a pilot whose skills and daring save many lives when trouble comes calling at 36,000ft. But when he wakes in hospital, Whitaker finds the authorities have some questions. But des he have all the answers? Not for nervous flyers.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (15) BBC Two, 11.30pm
There are two partridges in the pear tree this Christmas. There’s a BBC Two documentary this Wednesday tracing the rise and rise of Steve Coogan’s character, and the day after there is this back-of-the-net comedy from 2013. The original writing team, including Scotland (and Veep’s) Armando Iannucci are on duty as our “hero” becomes caught up in a radio station siege.
FRIDAY Gone Girl (18) BBC One, 9.15pm
Ah, Gone Girl. The novel by Gillian Flynn that sold a gazillion copies and led to lots of other mystery thrillers with girl in the title and this 2014 movie adaptation. On the plus side it has David Fincher (Zodiac, Mindhunter) directing and Rosamund Pike as the wife who goes missing, leaving a mountain of questions for her husband (Ben Affleck) to answer. On the not so plus side, unless you are one of the rare folk not to have read the book you will know how it turns out.
From top: Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck star in Gone Girl; Antonia Thomas in Sunshine on Leith; and Steve Coogan in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa