There are some films that are simply must-see movies at Christmas, and this year, Channel 4 is airing so many of them, we couldn’t possibly list them all, but here’s our pick of the bunch!
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE 1.10pm
(1947) Frank Capra’s evergreen comedy drama stars James Stewart as George Bailey, an ambitious young man condemned by circumstance to stay in smalltown Bedford Falls, where he marries his childhood sweetheart (Donna Reid) and runs a small bank with his forgetful uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell).
But, on Christmas Eve, Uncle Billy makes a mistake that leaves George facing disgrace and prison, and deciding to end it all. Enter bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), who shows him how the town and his friends and family would have fared if he had never existed. Can Clarence convince George that his is a wonderful life, and earn his own wings? Also starring Lionel Barrymore as Mr Potter, Bedford Falls’ ruthless loan shark.
The Grinch 3.50pm
(2000) Jim Carrey (hidden deep inside a latex suit) stars in Ron Howard’s family comedy, a live-action adaptation of the popular Dr Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The whole of Whoville can barely contain its excitement. Christmas approaches and, as the snow gently falls, the Whos bustle around their town buying presents and arranging festive celebrations. It’s such a beautiful, heart-warming scene… unless you’re the Grinch (Carrey), a great, green-haired, grumpy, goblin-like creature who lives up on the hill that overlooks Whoville.
The only thing the Grinch hates more than himself or his neighbours is Christmas. So he sets out to make their Yuletide as wretched as he wants his own to be. But he doesn’t reckon on one small Who-girl (Taylor Momsen) and her determination to bring some seasonal spirit into his cold heart… The vast amount of dollars poured into the project succeeded splendidly in translating Dr Seuss’s kooky illustrations to the big screen, and the film picked up an Oscar win for its makeup (and nominations for costume and design). It’s worth noting that the very young could find the Grinch and his malignly miserable outlook a little scary.
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL 4.35pm
(1992) The Muppets take on Dickens’ festive classic, directed by Brian Henson, starring a remarkably game Michael Caine as Scrooge, with Kermit as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as his wife and Gonzo as Charles Dickens himself, acting as the narrator (with the help of Rizzo the rat). All elements of the story are faithfully adhered to, albeit it interspersed with songs, and the conclusion is as heart-warming as in Dickens’ original.
HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK 6.15pm
(1992) Director Chris Columbus and writer John Hughes reprise their successful formula two years after the original. This time, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) ends up in New York while his family are in Miami but he resourcefully manages to book himself into a swish hotel. Also in the city are the two burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) he defeated last time. They’re planning to rob a toy store and, when Kevin finds out, he must once again use his ingenuity to defeat them.
THE KING AND I 10.30am
(1956) Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner star in Walter Lang’s multi-Oscar-winning adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein smash Broadway musical. Brynner stars as the King of Siam (the role for which he picked up his sole Academy Award), to whose court, in the middle of the 19th century, arrives a young, attractive woman called Anna Leonowens (Kerr). She’s there to teach the children of the royal household English and Western etiquette – and is armed with a formidable strength of personality. But the king is not accustomed to anyone challenging his word…
INDEPENDENCE DAY 6.20pm
(1996) Roland Emmerich’s landmark science-fiction blockbuster. Aliens reach Earth and they’re clearly hostile: their plan is to suck the planet dry of all its resources, leave behind a burnt cinder circling the sun, and move on. Planting giant ships above the world’s major cities, they unleash destruction on an unprecedented scale (superbly realised by the special effects).
All attempts to fight back are met by hordes of fighter craft until pilot Steven Hiller (Will Smith) manages to down one and capture its pilot. Meanwhile, scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), having worked out the aliens’ purpose, finds a way to destroy them, but he and Hiller need a spacecraft – which brings them to a secret base near Las Vegas… The child of countless science-fiction movies, Independence Day is all-out rollicking, fast-moving action.