Hugo 3.35pm Channel 4
Hugo acts as director Martin Scorsese’s love letter to the art of filmmaking. Essentially a family film, its plot revolves around a young orphan boy living in a busy Paris train station and the automaton he is desperately trying to fix. There are plenty of images of vintage cinema, stunning special effects and set design and a truly passionate heartfelt story. The bigger the TV you can watch it on, the better – the cinematography steals all the attention.
Cool Runnings 2.20pm BBC One
I guarantee that most of us haven’t seen this film in about a decade, but it used to be a firm childhood favourite, so if you want to take a trip down memory lane, give this a watch. Its plot is now infamous – the first bobsleigh team from Jamaica, a country with no snow, and their bid for the Olympics. Consistently funny, it’s a real tale of positive thinking.
The Shawshank Redemption 9pm ITV 2
Based on a short story by Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption is a slight detour from King’s stereotypical material – there’s no horror, no supernatural element, and the film has no special effects. The Shawshank Redemption is instead a story of camaraderie and the prevalence of hope. After circumstantial evidence lands the innocent Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in jail for the supposed murder of his wife and her lover, Andy bonds with his inmates and earns their respect, especially that of ‘Red’ (Morgan Freeman) and together they make a plan to escape the prison. Deep and powerful, it’s a real piece of cinematic art.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 5.45pm ITV 2
The first film in the rebooted Lord of The Rings franchise, The Hobbit acts as a prequel to the original LOTR films, based on Tolkien’s original novel. Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins, on his quest to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the legendary dragon Smaug. The magic of the original Lord of The Rings films is captured in the sweeping scenery, amazing graphics and epic scale of the film, with fight scenes and magic abound. It doesn’t quite live up to the success of the originals, but it’s a worthy, entertaining effort.
E.T. 6.45pm ITV 2
Spielberg’s seminal family classic and another film soaked in nostalgia. E.T. tells the story of Thomas, who finds and befriends an alien stuck on earth. Watching it back now, of course the special effects are a little less than impressive, but it’s the film’s ability to pull on your heartstrings (and make you cry every single time) that really matters. With themes like friendship and family, it might not be a conventional Christmas film, but I reckon it suits the holidays fine.
Catch Me If You Can 10.20pm BBC Two
This may be his second movie on this list, but Spielberg pulls another top quality film out of the bag with Catch Me If You Can. Frank Abernathy J.r (Leonardo DiCaprio) leaves home when his parents get divorced, and without money or a home, cons his way into various professions – doctor, lawyer, pilot – and a hell of a lot of money, all whilst pursued by a FBI Agent (Tom Hanks). The storytelling is slick and supremely entertaining, with amazing attention to detail, and the all-star cast means the acting is of top quality, just like the film itself.
The Dark Knight 9pm ITV
The sequel that the Batman films deserved. Heath Ledger never lived to see his role in The Dark Knight, but it’s his chilling, horrifying performance as the Joker that makes this film. Dark and sinister, action packed, with a clever plot and terrifically well acted. Perhaps the best super-hero movie made, and definitely the best Batman movie out there.