When the Christmas festivities and busyness can get too overwhelming, there is nothing better than relaxing on the sofa to enjoy a film on the TV. Over the holiday season channels load their schedules with a variety of films, giving a lot of choose from – almost too much. So, to save you spending hours paging through the TV Guide, I’ve put together a little list of the best films being aired on TV this Christmas. Not all of them are strictly festive but they’re all a great watch and are sure to put you in a good mood to enjoy your holidays with!
Mary Poppins (1964) – Christmas Eve, BBC1, 5pm
While its flashy new sequel, Mary Poppins Returns has just arrived in cinemas, there would be no better way to spend a cozy Christmas Eve in than by watching the enchanting original. It remains a touching Disney highlight over 50 years after it originally was released – Julie Andrews is perfect, the numbers are rapturous to watch, and the animated sequences are still charming and gorgeous to this day. It may be pretty long but when you get swept up in the magic of it all, it’s very easy to forget and just enjoy. Or at least make fun of Dick Van Dyke’s legendarily bad Cockney accent.
Gremlins (1984) – Christmas Eve, ITV, 9:30pm
For those looking for a bit of cynicism to temper the festive cheer, look no further than this darkly comic classic. Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) receives an adorable, furry creature for Christmas with three rules – 1. Keep him out of bright light, 2. Keep him away from water and most importantly, 3. Don’t ever feed him after midnight. Inevitably these are broken, and great mayhem ensues. Joe Dante hilariously skewers holiday film clichés by placing the dark hijinks and violence against a picture-esque Christmas setting, whilst the mischievous, homicidal gremlins are enduringly impressive creations and still delightful villains to watch.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – Christmas Day, C4, 4pm
Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol remains a lasting classic, with a great number of film and TV adaptations over the years to prove it. But of all of them, it’s the Muppets take on the story that remains the most heart-warming and joyful to watch. The roster of Muppet characters take up most of the roles – with Statler and Waldorf as the Marley brothers being the most inspired bit of casting – while Michael Caine takes on the part of Scrooge and is truly excellent from start to finish. Room is made for reliably funny jokes with the Muppets as well as some truly catchy songs, and still the story is remarkably faithful to Dickens. The film is not afraid to hit the darker notes, as it knows that they make the exuberant ones that much better.
A League of Their Own (1992) – 28th December, C4, 9:45am
Set in America during World War II, A League of Their Own tells the story of a team of women brought together for the first ever professional all-female baseball league. It remains one of the best sport films there is, standing out from the others with its female perspective and engaging period setting. The cast is stacked with funny and contrasting characters, featuring memorable turns by Madonna – who gets an amazing swing dance number on the side – and Rosie O’Donnell amongst others. It’s nice to see a film that so firmly presents female friendship and solidarity at its centre, and holds some extra power when acknowledging its director, Penny Marshall died just days ago. Not only is it a tribute to the sports women of this period, but now to Marshall and her legacy.
Hugo (2011), 29th December, C4, 2:10pm
No film can quite re-ignite a love of film more than Martin Scorsese’s beautiful adventure, Hugo. Set in 1930s Paris, the eponymous hero (Asa Butterfield) embarks on a quest to solve the mystery of a broken automaton left to him by his late father. At its whole, the film is a moving love letter to cinema and the history of the moving image, brought to life with stunning visuals and design that wow even when just watched on a TV screen. But it still maintains great heart and most importantly affirms the idea that cinema can bring people together, an intention that feels fitting for the Christmas season.
Inside Out (2015), 1st January, BBC1, 5pm
If you’re recovering indoors following New Years, what better film to kick off your year than one of Pixar’s best, Inside Out. In answering the question of “what is going on inside their head?”, Pixar creates one of its most inventive worlds, imagining that our emotions are anthropomorphic beings controlling our every move. With lovely animation and an all-star voice cast that includes hilarious performances from Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith and Bill Hader, the film is simply a joy to watch. Not to mention it provides one of Pixar’s most powerful emotional punches. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be set to have a great year.