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Best films on TV for Christmas and New Year

Best films on TV for Christmas and New Year

Get the lowdown on the best movies to watch on the small screen during the festive period this year

By Simon Ward, Content Director

Sometimes there’s just not time for a movie. The early work meeting the next day. The school gate drop-offs. The endless scroll before you realise it’s bedtime. That’s when Christmas comes into its own with time – at last! – for films to take centre stage on your TV.


This Christmas, the likes of BBC One HD (CH 101), BBC Two HD (CH 102), ITV1 HD (CH 103), Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108) and Channel 5 HD (CH 105) have an impressive line-up of movies, all at the touch of a button on Virgin TV.


Whether it’s a film you watch every year like The Sound of Music or something new like Belfast, there’s truly something for everyone. Hit the links to jump to your favourite section or scroll down to find what you’re after.


Kids films

Action films



Classic films

Best of the rest


Best kids films on TV this Christmas and New Year


Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Saturday 16 December, 5.30pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)

The first and best of the Harry Potter prequel spin-offs, the Wizarding World comes to New York City in the roaring 20s. Fresh off the boat is Eddie Redmayne’s “magizoologist” Newt Scamander (a name first seen on Harry’s Marauder’s Map). But with a different dark wizard from the one we’re used to hearing about on the loose, he’ll need allies and fast.



Sunday 17 December, 4.05pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

Released in February 2020, it’s fair to say that we might have started to have other things on our minds than a trip to the cinema. So, the film Robert Downey Jr did next after more than a decade of Avengers was largely overlooked. But give it a go. The enchanting story of the physician who can talk with the animals feels tailor-made for a Christmas second chance.


Monsters Vs Aliens 

Sunday 17 December, 1.40pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

This hugely entertaining film from DreamWorks Animation feels a bit of a hidden gem. It’s so much more than the bombastic title suggests, as the world’s most unlikely heroes join forces to fight back when aliens attack. As much about self-acceptance and self-love as massive battles. Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie and Will Arnett provide the voices.


Jack Frost

Tuesday 19 December, 5.10pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)

Critically panned and a box office flop, it’s the story of many Christmas films. But that saccharine sweetness has found a second life on TV as a bit of a classic. Michael Keaton’s wayward dad/musician comes back to life following a car crash… as a snowman. It’s a film about second chances and cherishing our loved ones before they’re gone like a snowflake.


The Secret Garden

Thursday 21 December, 5.05pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)

Why are some films “Christmas movies” when they don’t mention Christmas or even have snow? Maybe it’s a vibe? For a story adapted as many times as The Secret Garden, it’s this 1993 version that remains the most loved. A recently orphaned girl is sent to England and finds a… well, it’s in the title, isn’t it? Featuring a brilliant turn from Dame Maggie Smith.



Saturday 23 December, 6.45pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

Based on Michael Bond’s beloved books about the adventures of Paddington Bear, this charming adaptation sees the unworldly ursine move from the jungles of Peru to London. An all-star cast includes Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi and Nicole Kidman.


Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

Christmas Eve, 5.25pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)

If you ignore the cameo from You Know Who, the sequel to the all-time classic manages to find new places to tread in what felt like a one-hit idea. Macaulay Culkin (Kevin) returns as the boy left, while Daniel Stern (Marv) and Joe Pesci (Harry) reappear as the bumbling burglars looking for revenge. No one can do comical pain quite like Joe Pesci.


The Boss Baby

Christmas Eve, 10.05am, BBC One HD (CH 101)

For any of us who have grown up with a younger sibling, their first appearance does seem to change the order of things. Cute, sure. But in turning your parents into their employees, maybe there’s something more malevolent beyond the nappies. That’s the premise here as Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin) enters the world, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. But what’s his endgame? 


Charlotte’s Web

Christmas Eve, 12.30pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Spiders are normally drawn as villains or the precipice of fear. But E B White’s 1952 book painted the titular Charlotte as its heroine. When the sweet and affable Wilbur (voiced by Dominic Scott Kay) is fated for the farmyard Christmas dinner, a spider (Julia Roberts) who spins her webs in the barnyard door decides to find a way to save the pig’s life.


Miracle On 34th Street

Christmas Eve, 5.45pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Many will argue about the best version of Miracle On 34th Street – which logic dictates is probably not far from another Hollywood dusting-off. Our money is on the 1994 one. The winning mix of Richard Attenborough’s twinkling Kriss Kringle and Matilda’s Mara Wilson at the height of her “cast the super cute kid” phase hits all the right notes. You too will believe in Santa Claus (if you didn’t already).


Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom Of Doom

Christmas Day, 8.40am, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

The sequel to the entertaining Kung Fu Panda sees Jack Black once again voicing Po, now known as the Dragon Warrior, who protects the Valley of Peace alongside the Furious Five. But when a new enemy emerges, he must unlock the mysteries of his past. The animation is DreamWorks Animation at its most sublime and it remains as deeply fun as the original.


Puss In Boots

Christmas Day, 10.25pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

It both made sense to make a spin-off about Shrek 2’s standout character, and yet also a risk. Because what was funny and cute in a supporting role might seem a touch one-note in his own feature film. Instead, it’s a charming and genuinely witty prequel that takes its Zorro-like influences (Antonio Banderas has starred in both) and truly commits. Wonderful.



Christmas Day, 11.15am, BBC One HD (CH 101)

The classic Disney animation is given the live-action treatment in this very faithful adaptation of its own source material. The blue dress (featuring 10,000 crystals, no less), the glass slipper and the wicked stepmother (played to perfection by Cate Blanchett) – are all present and correct. Lily James steps into the slippers as Ella, while Richard Madden plays the handsome Prince.


The Addams Family 2

Christmas Day, 12.55pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

Everyone’s favourite spooky family gives us their take on the classic family road trip in this animated sequel. With Wednesday and Pugsley growing up fast (there’s a good gag about “too much scream time”), Morticia and Gomez decide to cram them into their haunted camper to reclaim the bond they once had. Creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky.


Sing 2

Christmas Day, 4.30pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)

This jukebox animated delight is back. After fighting to save his theatre from closure, koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is back, this time determined to launch his most dazzling stage extravaganza yet alongside his all-star cast of performers. But to make it in the big city, they need an ace card. Enter Bono as lion Clay Calloway, in his animated debut.


Toy Story 4

Christmas Day, 3.10pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

In many ways, Toy Story represented one of the most perfect trilogies in cinema history. So, this fourth film was a sizable gamble. And yet, when it felt like Pixar had said all it wanted to say, along comes a toy made from rubbish having an existential crisis named Forky. This film explores how big the world can be for a toy. You’ll cry ugly tears.


Home Alone

Christmas Day, 5.20pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

It’s been over 30 years since this film hit cinema screens, and we still can’t believe Kevin McCallister’s parents didn’t get in trouble for forgetting about their own child and leaving him home, er, alone. Still, at least he knew how to take care of himself…


The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

Boxing Day, 8.05am, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

One of those animated “kids films” that will pull you in by its sheer weirdness. If you think we’re exaggerating, there’s a whole fight sequence that takes place on the back and legs of a red-trunked and live-action David Hasselhoff, who is pinging along the water like a speedboat. We promise you that it’s even more unhinged than it sounds.


Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Boxing Day, 9.50am BBC One HD (CH 101)

In this world, people collect Pokémon to do battle. And when Harry Goodman goes missing, his son Tim (Justice Smith) seeks out the help of a Pikachu, who yearns to be a detective, to crack the case. You could say he’s “gotta catch ’em all”. Get it?! Renowned football club owner and gin maker Ryan Reynolds provides the voice of the yellow Pokémon. 


Beauty And The Beast

Boxing Day, 1.15pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

The tale as old as time seems tailor-made for the Christmas break – especially the bit where the dishes self-clean (something we could all use during the holidays). Emma Watson is a beguiling Belle, while Dan Stevens’ transformation from spoiled aristocrat to sullen Beast to romantic hero is pitch perfect. But Luke Evans as the proper beastly Gaston and Josh Gad as lovelorn LeFou very nearly steals the whole show.


Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Boxing Day, 3.15pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

Despite its departure away from Beatrix Potter’s original source material, with the titular rabbit’s status as a mischief maker given even more prominence, younger viewers will especially love watching Peter (voiced by James Corden) getting into a whole new set of misadventures as he journeys to the big city.


The Lion King

Boxing Day, 5.05pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

After the huge success of The Jungle Book, director Jon Favreau took that same animal photorealism to the Pride Lands of Africa to retell the classic story of King Mufasa (the returning James Earl Jones – the only original cast member), Queen Sarabi (Alfre Woodard), Simba (Donald Glover), Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Nala (actual Beyoncé).


Dora And The Lost City Of Gold

Wednesday 27 December, 9.30am, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Our favourite explorer comes to life in this live-action adaptation of the classic cartoon. After a childhood in the Peruvian jungle, Dora is sent to an American high school. But things take a dramatic twist when she’s kidnapped by mysterious mercenaries.


Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Wednesday 27 December, 1pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Jim Carrey undergoes quite the transformation as Count Olaf in this fantasy adventure, with hairs growing from his chin and an excessive amount of wrinkles. Looks like us on New Year’s Day…



Wednesday 27 December, 5.35pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Before Kingsman: The Secret Service and even Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn gave us this sweet fairy tale, based on the Neil Gaiman story. In the spirit of films like The Princess Bride, a young man (Charlie Cox) ventures into the realm of fairies to retrieve a fallen star to prove his love. But instead of a lump of rock, that star is a woman (Claire Danes).


The Croods: A New Age

Wednesday 27 December, 2.25pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

Featuring an excellent voice cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds, the Croods are back in this animated sequel as the prehistoric family search for a safter habitat. But when they discover a new paradise, along comes a very modern issue: neighbours! Fun for all the family.


Trolls: World Tour

Thursday 28 December, 10.05am, BBC One HD (CH 101)

The Trolls are back after their smash hit first jukebox movie. When the Queen of the Hard Rock Trolls tries to take over the Troll kingdoms, Queen Poppy and her friends try different ways to save all the Trolls. Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake and Rachel Bloom lend the voices to the big haired goofballs.


Inside Out

Thursday 28 December, 11.30am, BBC One HD (CH 101)

Pixar have asked some big questions: what happens to toys when we’re out of the room? What are monsters scared of? This one asks: what happens inside our head when we’re growing up? This whimsical journey inside the head of 11-year-old Riley gets as poignant as Pixar at its best. Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling voice the emotions.



Thursday 28 December, 1.55pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

In a Roald Dahl story that thematically feels so Steven Spielberg, it’s a joy the great director has given us this charming and moving adaption. As expected, it focuses less on the darker elements of Dahl, and more on the softer side of the story – that love and friendship are everyone’s true superpowers. Mark Rylance is so perfectly cast as the Big Friendly Giant.


Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

Thursday 28 December, 9pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

“Absolutely not”, was the cry from the internet when a reboot of the Robin Williams film Jumanji was announced – a film that was right up there in the late actor’s greatest hits. But rather than reboot, it only loosely links back to the original (in a sweet way), reframing the board game as a video game that four teens are trapped inside. With body swapping and some neat nods to gaming, this is very good. Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan star.


Paddington 2

Saturday 30 December, 6pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

At one point on Rotten Tomatoes, this was the best reviewed movie of all time. And all those reviewers… were right. Hilarious and heartfelt, it remains a perfect movie that will have you sobbing come the close. Director Paul King’s world is a just a joy to spend time in, fully embracing Michael Bond’s kindness worldview. Hugh Grant has never been better.


Roald Dahl’s The Witches

New Year’s Day, 5.55pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

For many people, Anjelica Huston in the 1990 adaptation of The Witches was terrifying perfection. So, you can imagine just how “chill” people were when they heard about this reimagining. But fear not. It’s a lot of fun, it throws in the scares in just the right way and Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch is excellent.



Best action films on TV this Christmas and New Year


Deep Impact

Saturday 16 December, 3.10pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

It might seem like this film is on every time you flick on the TV. And maybe it is. But Christmas demands a big blockbuster, and they don’t come much bigger than this. If you can drown out the noise of your family playing the “Which is better: Deep Impact or Armageddon?” debate in the background, this is still a marvellous movie.


Saving Private Ryan

Saturday 16 December, 9pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108) 

Widely considered to be one of the greatest war films ever made, Steven Spielberg’s epic frames something as big and impossible as the Second World War through the story of a single family. When three of the four Ryan brothers are killed in action, the last – James (Matt Damon) – is listed as missing. This is the story of how they went to rescue him. Tom Hanks is at his absolute best here as the determined Captain John Miller.


Men In Black

Sunday 17 December, 5.40pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108). Watch Men In Black II on Sunday 17 December at 7.25pm and Men in Black III on Saturday 23 December at 7pm

Before he was an Oscar-winning actor, the mid-90s saw Will Smith become the man for the Hollywood hit. If 1996’s Independence Day didn’t make that clear, the following year’s Men In Black showed the world that Smith was box office gold. The added bonus? He might also sing your film’s theme tune. All three of his MIB films will be shown across the holidays.


Sherlock Holmes

Friday 22 December, 4.40pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 105) HD (CH 105)

Sherlock Holmes: but make it like Snatched. And cast Iron Man as Sherlock. None of Guy Ritchie’s film about the cerebral super sleuth should work. And yet, it’s really, really good. For all its Richie bombast and quick cuts, there’s a proper mystery at its heart. Robert Downey Jr’s English accent is passable, and Jude Law makes a great foil as Watson.


Die Hard

Saturday 23 December, 9pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

It takes place at Christmas, it’s set at a Christmas party and John McClane’s wife is even called Holly. It’s as Christmassy as tinsel on a tree. So put the debate to bed and enjoy an all-time festive action masterwork.



Saturday 23 December, 11.35pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

How else are you going to spend Christmas Eve Eve than with one of cinema’s most iconic baddies in Predator? Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Dutch, a commando as part of a team in a Central American jungle finding themselves being hunted by an alien warrior. As good today as it was when it was released in 1987.


The Italian Job

Christmas Day, 3.10pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108) 

This quintessential 1960s movie stars Michael Caine as one of a gang of crooks who attempt a big heist in Italy using a fleet of Minis. A must-see, not least because Caine delivers most of his best-known lines in it… including the one about the doors.


The Great Escape

Boxing Day, 3.30pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Christmas calls for classic movies, and you don’t get more classic than The Great Escape. You know the story, you know the moments and you know the soundtrack that will remain in your head until the New Year. Steve McQueen is at his leading man finest.


Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Boxing Day, 6.50pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Despite The Big Bang Theory theory that Indiana Jones is entirely superfluous to the plot of Raiders, the original 1981 movie is still the best of the five movies and one of the greatest films ever made. Funny, filled with action and b-movie stylistics, it’s just rollicking good fun. Sidebar: Harrison Ford might have never looked so handsome.



Wednesday 27 December, 3.50pm, BBC One HD (CH 101). Watch Ghostbusters II on Thursday 28 December at 3.45pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

The original Ghostbusters is a brilliant movie. But it has definitely spawned some very passionate fans whose opinions have been extreme, to say the least – extraordinary for something that is a comedy film (Weekend At Bernie’s fans aren’t quite as passionate). You can watch both films this Christmas on BBC One HD (CH 101).


Catch Me If You Can

Wednesday 27 December, 10pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a master of deception who’s just too tricky to track down, having forged a fraudulent life as a doctor, a pilot and a lawyer. Tom Hanks is hot on his heels as the FBI agent determined to take him down. Based on real events.


No Time To Die

New Year’s Eve, 8.30pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)

After the so-so Spectre, Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 gets it just right. Partly because it remembers it is Bond’s fragility underneath the tux and the muscles that has made Craig’s performance so memorable. Here, he is put through the absolute proverbial throughout, with some neat call backs to previous films, especially in the film’s score.



New Year’s Day, 10.40pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)

The film that launched a thousand student hall room posters with that speech. It remains an epic film that is anchored around a performance by Russell Crowe as Maximus that rightly won him Best Actor at the Academy Awards. A sequel to Gladiator starring Paul Mescal will be released next year.



Tuesday 2 January, 10.45pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)

This 1994 action thriller doesn’t let up for a second – possibly because that’s the entire premise. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are sensational as they attempt to keep a city bus from exploding by keeping its speed above 50mph, while Dennis Hopper makes the perfect foil. Director Jan De Bont somehow keeps the show on the rails.



Best romcom films on TV this Christmas and New Year


Bridget Jones’s Baby

Saturday 16 December, 10.30pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)

2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary sparked a new wave of British romcoms. But while the second movie – The Edge Of Reason – did well at the box office, it never reached the heights of the original. This third entry gets very close to the original’s magic. Bridget (Renée Zellweger) is now 40-something, single and her life is uncomplicated. That is until… well, you might be able to guess.


Last Christmas

Thursday 21 December, 11.15pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

Emma Thompson co-wrote this wonderful 2019 festive film starring Emilia Clarke (Game Of Thrones) as Kate, a frustrated young woman whose life is turned around when she meets handsome Tom (Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians). The pair soon fall for each other – but is Tom everything Kate hoped for?


The Holiday

Thursday 21 December, 10.10pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)

Director Nancy Meyers knows what she’s doing with a romcom. Here, two women with guy problems swap homes for the festive season. Cameron Diaz heads to a picturesque English cottage. Kate Winslet heads to a luxury condo in LA. It was recently posed online that Jude Law as Mr Napkin Head is the sexiest he’s ever been, and we’d hard agree. Jack Black also stars.



Boxing Day, 12.35am, BBC One HD (CH 101)

If you can get over some big narrative leaps (such as a world without The Beatles would have still spawned Ed Sheeran, whose role here is far bigger than a cameo), then there’s a lot to love as struggling musician Jack (Himesh Patel) realises he’s the only person who can remember The Beatles. As much as a love letter to the Fab Four as a traditional romcom.


Crazy Rich Asians

Wednesday 27 Dec, 12.40am, BBC One HD (CH 101)

The tagline for this worldwide smash hit was “The only thing crazier than love is family.” This brilliant movie takes the well-worn meet-the-parents trope and turbocharges it through the lens of wealth and culture shock. Constance Wu and Henry Golding are flawless as the couple at the centre of the madness, while Michelle Yeoh is perfection itself.


Four Weddings And A Funeral

Saturday 30 December, 10pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

You can’t have a romcom section without this absolute classic. The “is it raining?” line hasn’t got much better over time, but everything else is pretty much great. This was a film that revitalised the British film industry, turned the cast into household names and gave the world a new British love interest in Hugh Grant.



Best musical films on TV this Christmas and New Year


Guys And Dolls

Monday 18 December, 1.50pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons (who won a Golden Globe) and Vivian Blaine in a single cast already make this movie one of the greats. With songs like “Luck Be A Lady” and the title song “Guys And Dolls”, it’s still worth your millionth rewatch.


The Sound Of Music

Christmas Eve, 2.50pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

We’ve said it before in this list, but it’s a curious thing about the non-festive films we associate with Christmas. But The Song Of Music is right at the top of the tree. While Nazis and nuns don’t immediately scream the season, it’s still perhaps the most epic musical ever made for the screen and, song for song, one of the best.


White Christmas

Christmas Eve, 1.00pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)  

While everyone will have played “White Christmas” repeatedly on their festive playlist, we’d imagine that number shrinks when it comes to viewers of the film that birthed us that song. Make this Christmas the year when you watch it because it is an absolute timeless classic. Starring Bing Crosby with songs by the legendary Irving Berlin.



Boxing Day, 10.45am, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

Your love of Annie will largely scale alongside your love (or not) of Aileen Quinn’s performance as the spunky young orphan. But the film rests on her young shoulders, and with songs like “Tomorrow”, “Maybe” and “It’s The Hard Knock Life”, it’s a toe-tapping production that will always put a smile on your face.


Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Boxing Day, 8.50am, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)

You really can’t beat a film where the entire plot is contained in the title. One of the great American musicals that is now as much a part of Christmas as stuffing and roasties. One of the original taglines described the film as the “love-making musical”, which was either very clever marketing to get people into the cinema or gloriously innocent.


My Fair Lady

Boxing Day, 11.00am, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)

Julie Andrews played Eliza Doolittle on stage but was replaced by Audrey Hepburn in this iconic screen adaption. While this story of turning a commoner into “a lady” might seem a little outdated in 2023, take it for what it is – a truly brilliant production of its era featuring probably the best collection of songs in a musical ever. Andrews beat out Hepburn (who wasn’t even nominated) for Best Actress at the Oscars for Mary Poppins.


Singin’ In The Rain

Boxing Day, 2.25pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)

A film that is so much more than just that one scene we’ve all watched Tom Holland recreate before breaking out into Rihanna’s “Umbrella”. Starring Gene Kelly (who also choreographed alongside Stanley Donen), this is what you’d call a classic.



Best classic films on TV this Christmas and New Year



Friday 22 December, 11.30pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

More doesn’t always mean more. That’s why Ridley Scott’s original Alien beats all its follow-ups. That threat of a single entity stalking and taking down the crew of the Nostromo is far scarier than its action-packed sequels. Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley is instantly iconic.



Saturday 23 December, 2.55pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

We blame this film entirely for making us believe we could ever look as cool as Sam does when playing the piano. The black-and-white classic also spawned many classic lines. Our fave? “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid”, of course. 



Saturday 23 December, 2.35pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

Bill Murray has made a career out of playing along the scale of likeability – the likeable screwup, the likeable scientist, the likeable down-on-his-luck dad, and so on. Here, he plays unlikeable Frank Cross, a TV executive putting on a live production of A Christmas who is a real-life “Bar Humbug” Scrooge-like misery. The story might be as familiar as the taste of turkey, but this inventive retelling remains one of its best adaptations.


It’s A Wonderful Life

Saturday 23 December, 4.30pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

It really doesn’t feel like Christmas without this vintage motion picture. George Bailey (James Stewart) has so many problems, that he wonders what the point of his life is. But when an angel shows him what life would have been like without him, he starts to see things differently.


Chariots Of Fire

Christmas Day, 11.15am, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

Undoubtedly one of the greatest British movies of all time. Sport and faith have always been constant bedfellows, and Chariots Of Fire is the story of just how interwoven they can become. But it’s also about prejudice and how sport and faith don’t always sit comfortably together. Vangelis’ electronic soundtrack remains unmatched.


Death On The Nile

Christmas Day, 3.10pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot is a chef’s kiss when it comes to casting in this 1978 adaptation of the Agatha Christie classic. A big cast includes Angela Lansbury, Bette Davis, Maggie Smith and David Niven who all look for a killer onboard their paddle steamer.


Forrest Gump

Christmas Day, 9.45pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

For many, one of the great modern pictures. For others, it’s the epitome of Hollywood schmaltz that somehow beat out The Shawshank Redemption at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony. But if you find yourself in the latter camp, it’s time for a rewatch. Is it sentential? Deeply. But it’s Tom Hanks at his very, very finest.


Gone With The Wind

Wednesday 27 December, 8am, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)

Maybe the most Hollywood movie ever made with a running time that even Martin Scorsese would think is a bit much (there’s a reason it starts at 8am), it’s undoubtedly one of the greatest ever made. And, to this day, it remains one of the most successful. Leading men and ladies have never come better than in Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara.


Murder On The Orient Express

Thursday 28 December, 4.25pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

If you enjoyed Death On The Nile on Christmas Day, then arguably Agatha Christie’s best is served up here, this time with Albert Finney stepping into the shoes of the great detective, Hercule Poirot. Like Nile, the cast here is stacked: Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery and Vanessa Redgrave, to name a few. But… whodunnit?


Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

Friday 29 December, 10pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)

It’s a curious thing Close Encounters is both very loved and very good, and yet it’s probably not on most people’s list when they call out their very favourite Steven Spielberg films. But it should be. Give it a rewatch, because with special effects that still hold up, an enchanting story and another amazing John Williams score, it’ll go right to the top of your list.



Best of the rest films on TV this Christmas and New Year


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Saturday 16 December, 7.10pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

Featuring acting royalty in the forms of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie and Penelope Wilton, this enchanting film about a group of pensioners moving to a retirement home in India (run by Dev Patel’s Sonny) is an absolute delight.



Tuesday 19 December, 10pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

Joe Wright’s critically acclaimed Cyrano puts a musical spin on the classic love story that has been adapted so many times. Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) is a man ahead of time, unparalleled in his wordplay or swordplay. But he is convinced his appearance makes him unworthy of the love of his beloved Roxanne (Haley Bennett). One of this season’s must-watch films.



Wednesday 20 December, 9pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

This highly personal, black-and-white film from writer and director Kenneth Branagh is sentimental but deeply sincere with it. Despite the setting and era, it’s not perhaps the political film you might expect. Instead, it’s about family. Beautifully shot and truly uplifting.


House Of Gucci

Friday 22 December, 9pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)

The critics were split on what looked like prime awards bait. Lady Gaga’s performance, however, didn’t split anyone’s opinion – she’s sensational as Patrizia, a woman from humble beginnings who marries into the Gucci family. It’s absolutely bonkers, Jared Leto makes… choices, but it’s well worth a watch. Because you will be talking about it for days.


Saving Mr Banks

New Year’s Eve, 2.20pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)

This is a lovely film that says a lot about the artist and their work, who it belongs to and how entwined someone can become with their creation. Mary Poppins creator P L Travers (Emma Thompson) doesn’t want to sell the rights to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). So why did she?



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