(Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, 2009)
This charming animation is one of Pixar’s finest, centring on the poignant friendship across the age gulf between curmudgeonly Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) and lonely boy scout Russell (Jordan Nagai). Together they take flight – in a balloon-powered house – to a South American jungle. It’s about life, loss and chasing that dream, and is sprinkled with movie magic.
Sunday 23 December, 3.25pm, BBC One

(Jon Favreau, 2003)
Will Ferrell is full of festive cheer as Buddy the elf, who discovers he’s not really one of Santa’s little helpers – he’s 6ft tall and human – and sets off to find his real father, who turns out to be very Scroogey book publisher (James Caan) in New York. There are touches of computer-animated trickery, and likable support from the likes of Ed Asner and Zooey Deschanel, but it’s Ferrell who parcels out the fun.
Sunday 23 December, 4.55pm, ITV2

The Grand Budapest Hotel
(Wes Anderson, 2014)

Wes Anderson’s lovely, loopy comedy is set in the eponymous hotel, in the fictional republic of Zubrowka, where legendary concierge Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and orphan bellboy Zero (Tony Revolori) become embroiled in a struggle for a priceless painting. The most colourful character is the hotel itself, a triumph of gorgeously eccentric art design.
Sunday 23 December, 11.20pm, Film4

The Shape of Water
(Guillermo del Toro, 2017)
As with any good fishing story, the Oscar-laden praise for Guillermo del Toro’s romantic fantasy was somewhat exaggerated. But it’s nevertheless a darkly compelling tale, in which mute cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and her amphibian lover (Doug Jones) must evade national security forces and find true love in a beautifully ramshackle 1950s sci-fi-retro world.
Sunday 23 December, 12.10am, Sky Cinema Premiere

(Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, 2016)
This Disney effort is a funny bunny tale about rookie cop Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), the first rabbit on the force of animal-city Zootopia. She is consigned to parking-ticket duty by police chief Bogo (Idris Elba) but soon gets her teeth into the case of 14 missing mammals, with the help of sly fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).
Christmas Eve, 2.55pm, BBC One

Scrooge: A Christmas Carol
(Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951)
A warm-as-mince-pies version of the Dickens tale, with Alastair Sim a Scrooge incarnate, his miserly humbuggery a gloomy delight. C Pennington-Richards’s snowy, atmospheric photography is superb but beware the ghostly visitation of Michael Hordern’s chain-clanking, shrieking Jacob Marley: he’s a real gothic horror.
Christmas Eve, 4.20pm, Channel 5

Mary Poppins
(Robert Stevenson, 1964)
With the Emily Blunt update breezing into cinemas, here is the wonderful original. Julie Andrews won an Oscar for her magical nanny, who flies in to No 17 Cherry Tree Lane to put the Banks family right. David Tomlinson’s fuddy-duddy daddy, finally learning the fun of kite-flying, steals the show, while Dick Van Dyke’s gor-blimey-guv chimney sweep is unintentionally hilarious. A joyful blend of song, dance and animation: Emily will have to pull something special out of the bag to match Julie.
Christmas Eve, 5pm, BBC One

Kingsman: The Secret Service
(Matthew Vaughn, 2015)

Vaughn’s spy spoof stars an effortlessly dapper Colin Firth as Harry Hart – the 007, as it were, of the Kingsmen. He is inducting young geezer Eggsy (Taron Egerton) in the mysterious ways of his secret-busting organisation, and of his gadget-packed brolly, while foiling the world-conquering plans of arch-nemesis Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) with a near-terminal dose of laddish humour.
Christmas Eve, 9pm, Film4

Avengers: Infinity War
(Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, 2018)
A bewildering number of superheroes join this third Avengers assemblage. And from Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, they need every last one of them, being up against Josh Brolin’s universe-threatening Thanos. The Russo brothers do a superhuman job in giving each character his or her moment in an apocalyptic Marvel movie.
Christmas Day, 10.30am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
(Nick Park, Steve Box, 2005)
This first full-length feature adventure for wacky inventor Wallace and his much smarter dog Gromit has the duo running an anti-rabbit business that gets very busy when a supersized bunny threatens the produce at Lady Tottington’s annual giant vegetable fete. It’s a hilarious spoof of antique Hammer horror films, brought joyously to life with modelling clay.
Christmas Day, 11am, BBC One

The Jungle Book
(Jon Favreau, 2016)
Jon Favreau’s reworking of both the Kipling story and Disney’s 1967 animated version is a wondrous thing. Little Neel Sethi is Mowgli, immersed in a world of beasts so realistically formed by CGI they look as though they’ve just stepped out of Dynasties. They are voiced by a stellar cast including Bill Murray (Baloo), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa) and Idris Elba as Shere Khan. Tremendous fun and thrills.
Christmas Day, 3.10pm, BBC One

Monsters, Inc
(Peter Docter, 2001)
So there are monsters hiding in cupboards to scare children at night – but they’re only employees of Monsters, Inc, collecting the screams that fuel their city, Monstropolis. Their world and ours collide in this exuberant and witty animated adventure from Pixar, featuring the big blue furry monster Sully (voiced by John Goodman), and Mike, his little one-eyed critter sidekick (Billy Crystal).
Christmas Day, 4.10pm, ITV

The Greatest Showman
(Michael Gracey, 2017)

An effortlessly charismatic Hugh Jackman bosses the stage as the 19th-century circus ringmaster PT Barnum in this irresistible musical. It follows a familiar rags-to-riches trajectory, with young Phineas and wife Charity (Michelle Williams) going into partnership with a fellow entrepreneur (Zac Efron) in creating a barnstorming show that, to the irrepressible tunes of La La Land’s songsters Pasek and Paul, finds fame and strikes a triumphant blow for diversity.
Christmas Day, 6.45pm, Sky 1

Gosford Park
(Robert Altman, 2001)

Ryan Phillippe Kristin Scott Thomas Gosford Park
Ryan Phillippe and Kristin Scott Thomas in Gosford Park. Photograph: film still handout

Murder in a country pile in England, circa 1932: the setting is pure Agatha Christie, but for Altman the whodunnit is less important than the gallery of characters above and below stairs. The screen glows with excellence, from the impeccable performances (Helen Mirren, Kristin Scott Thomas and all) to Andrew Dunn’s lustrous cinematography and Julian Fellowes’s acerbically literate script.
Christmas Day, 9.15pm, Paramount Network

Train to Busan
(Yeon Sang-ho, 2016)
Here is a film to challenge Runaway Train as the most gut-churning railway-themed thriller of all. South Korean director Yeon has a horde of zombies invading the high-speed KTX train from Seoul to Busan while a divorced dad (Gong Yoo) tries to save his daughter (Kim Su-an) from the ferocious people-eaters, in a gleefully bloodthirsty satire. The animated prequel, Seoul Station, follows on Boxing Day.
Christmas Day, 1.15am, Film4

The Young Victoria
(Jean-Marc Vallée, 2009)
There is a touch of The Princess Diaries-in-period-dress about this story of Queen Victoria’s teenage years. It’s short on substance, but the settings and costumery are splendid. Emily Blunt makes a charming young monarch, with Rupert Friend her Albert and Paul Bettany as prime minister Lord Melbourne.
Boxing Day, 10.20am, BBC Two

The Witches
(Nicolas Roeg, 1989)
The late Nicolas Roeg’s child-oriented fantasy, adapted from the classic Roald Dahl story, casts a strong enough spell to snare adults, too. Jasen Fisher plays Luke, the lad ensconced with granny Mai Zetterling who discovers a coven of witches meeting secretly at an English seaside hotel. After being turned into a mouse, Luke starts to nibble away at head witch Anjelica Huston’s powers.
Boxing Day, 11.05am, ITV

Raiders of the Lost Ark
(Steven Spielberg, 1981)
“Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” Nice Spielbergian touch to give his heroic adventurer Indiana Jones these little human fears and foibles. First, fastest and funniest of the Jones movies, with Harrison Ford’s indestructible archaeologist chasing pell-mell from Nepal to Cairo with plucky partner Karen Allen to whip the ark of the covenant from under Nazi noses. Tremendous.
Boxing Day, 1.25pm, BBC One

Saving Mr Banks
(John Lee Hancock, 2013)

Saving Mr Banks
Saving Mr Banks. Photograph: Allstar/Disney/Sportsphoto

The origins of the film legend that is Mary Poppins, served with a big spoonful of sugar. Emma Thompson is the wonderfully crotchety PL Travers, protective author of the book that Tom Hanks’s Walt Disney is desperate to bring to cinematic life. It’s a supercali (etc) double act: she is witheringly dismissive of his art, while Walt masks his will to win with twinkly charm. Delightful.
Boxing Day, 2.30pm, BBC Two

(Steven Spielberg, 2016)
Based on a screenplay by ET writer Melissa Mathison, Spielberg’s family favourite shares that film’s childlike sense of wonder. Ruby Barnhill is orphan Sophie, who sets off to the fantastical/horrible Giant Country with new friend the BFG – a rather small, sad giant, it turns out. Mark Rylance’s performance shines through the superb motion-capture magic.
Boxing Day, 5.40pm, BBC One

Five Easy Pieces
(Bob Rafelson, 1971)
An early Jack Nicholson hit that marked him for superstardom. His feckless wandering minstrel, Bobby Eroica Dupea, is born of a musicians’ family but prefers working the oil rigs to playing the piano. Karen Black and Susan Anspach are the women he scorns, but the core of it is in the scene with his sick, silent father on a windy hilltop: an achingly poignant American tale.
Friday 28 December, 10.35am, Sky Cinema Classics

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
(Steven Spielberg, 1989)
The last of the original trilogy, with Harrison Ford’s weary hero again racing the Nazis to buried treasure, in this case the Holy Grail. The action is still a sharp blend of comic-book and back-street violence, pepped up no end by Sean Connery as Jones’s medievalist dad.
Friday 28 December, 1.15pm, BBC One

The Goonies
(Richard Donner, 1985)

The Goonies.
The Goonies. Photograph: Warner Bros/Everett/Rex

In this Steven Spielberg story, the Goonies – a coastal Oregon branch of the Secret Seven – discover a pirate treasure map and, in desperate need of money to save their home from land developers, set off on the traditional hunt. But the map’s author, long-dead buccaneer One-Eyed Willy, has also left a series of ancient booby-traps to overcome. It’s a slow starter, but builds up to some fine mini-Indiana Jones thrills.
Friday 28 December, 11.40pm, TCM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
(JJ Abrams, 2015)

The Star Wars prequel trilogy having disappeared into an exceedingly dull black hole, Abrams reboots the franchise with energy and spectacle. He also recruits gutsy new characters, with Daisy Ridley’s lone scavenger Rey and John Boyega’s renegade stormtrooper Finn joining the fight against the dark side, embodied by chilling new villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). All this, plus the lump-in-the-throat returns of Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia and Harrison Ford’s Han Solo.
Sunday 30 December, 8pm, ITV

(Sam Mendes, 2015)

Daniel Craig Lea Seydoux Spectre
Daniel Craig and Léa Seydoux in Spectre.
Photograph: Allstar/United Artists

After the emotional pyrotechnics of Skyfall, there is a sense of business as usual in the latest Bond adventure, but it’s still a killer of a thriller. Following on from the previous film’s carnage, it sees Daniel Craig’s buffed agent chasing, fighting and loving his way around the world, starting with a stunning opening scene in Mexico City. For 007, the mission is more personal than usual. His target? The shadowy mastermind of terror organisation Spectre.
New Year’s Eve, 8pm, ITV

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
(Mandie Fletcher, 2016)
Jennifer Saunders’s Edina and Joanna Lumley’s Patsy are back for this big, daft but fun TV spin-off. A sitcom episode-thin plot has them “killing” Kate Moss and going on the run, by budget airline, to Cannes. Everywhere you look there’s a famous face – John Hamm, Graham Norton, fashion icons Stella McCartney and Alexa Chung – heaving into view.
New Year’s Eve, 9pm, BBC One

Inside Out
(Peter Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen, 2015)
One of the brightest jewels in the Pixar crown, this dazzlingly inventive animated comedy takes place inside the head of 11-year-old Riley (voiced by Kaitlin Dyas), where five bickering embodiments of feelings control her actions: Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness and – thankfully, to balance all the negativity – the ebullient Joy (Amy Poehler). It’s a great excuse for a thrilling, emotional journey through a surreal internal landscape.
New Year’s Day, 5pm, BBC One

The Revenant
(Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2015)
Iñárritu’s jaw-droppingly ferocious, majestically shot tale of wilderness survival is based on the true adventures of 1820s frontiersman Hugh Glass. As played by Leonardo DiCaprio, he is horrendously mangled by an angry bear, left for dead by weaselly fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), and then crawls, hobbles and hacks his way through all manner of savagery towards safety, and vengeance.
New Year’s Day, 10pm, BBC Two

Main composite: Lucasfilm/Paramount; Allstar/20th Century Fox; Disney/Everett/Rex; RKO/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock; Frank Ockenfels/CTMG; Allstar/Disney; Allstar/Fox Searchlight; DreamWorks Animation


Paul Howlett and Phil Harrison

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