by David Dougan
As Cliff Richard once sang, Christmas is a “…time for giving, a time for getting, A time for forgiving and for forgetting”, but it’s also a time for slobbing out in front of the TV and eating Quality Street until you turn into a big purple one. With that in mind, here’s a guide to how to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day in front of the TV watching films, with gaps for comfort breaks/extra chocolate.
Kick things off early on Christmas Eve with Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) on BBC2 at 9:10am. Impress your friends by saying ‘Actually, it was directed by Henry Selick, not Tim Burton, and he’s not happy that people don’t realise that’ as you enjoy the all-singing, all-dancing stop motion fun.
Don’t worry about where the remote is, as you don’t have to move a muscle for our next pick, as Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is on right after The Nightmare Before Christmas on the same channel. Men can enjoy trying to convince their wives that ‘No, I don’t find Jessica Rabbit attractive’, while everyone else wonders just how many drugs the writers and makers of the film took to make such a wonderfully crazed film. If you’ve got the option, flick over to Film4+1 at 12pm for sci-fi classic Silent Running (1972) and see Bruce Dern and some robots disobey orders as he tries to save the animals and forests on his space ship.
After a break, head back over to BBC1 for Disney classic Lady And The Tramp (1955) at 5:05, and at 6:45 on the same channel it’s another Robert Zemeckis film (following Roger Rabbit), with the motion captured A Christmas Carol (2009), starring an animated Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge. Then it’s back over to Film4 at 9pm for one of 2011’s best films, Attack The Block. Joe Cornish’s directorial debut is a sci-fi set in urban London innit, and is definitely worth checking out. Finally, if you’re too excited to sleep, catch Quadrophenia (1979) on ITV1 at 12:45am to see Phil Daniels and Ray Winstone getting well lairy in Brighton to the sounds of The Who.
If you’ve got kids, you’ll probably have been up for several hours by the time Aladdin (1992) starts on ITV1 at 9:25, but with any luck, Robin Williams as the Genie will keep them quiet for a couple of hours. Stay on ITV1 for Toy Story (1995) at 1:25 which is a must-watch whatever age you are.
Flick over to Channel 4+1 at 3:25 for Scrooged (1988) to see Bill Murray taking on A Christmas Carol in a modernized (well, at least a 1988 version of modernized) take on Charles Dickens novel.
After you’ve had your dinner (and if you’re not having Christmas dinner in the afternoon, you’re doing it wrong), pop yourself in front of the TV and stick on ITV4 at 6:35 for Jurassic Park (1993). You know the score, it’s a dinosaur theme park gone wrong, but Jeff Goldblum’s performance is still brilliant, as is the T-Rex munching down that bloke on the toilet. Stick with ITV4 for The Bourne Identity (2002) at 9pm and watch Matt Damon on the run and beating people up with magazines as he tries to remember who he is and what he does.
Once your gran has gone to bed, switch over to Film4 for Park Chan-wook’s astonishing Oldboy (2003) at 11:20. If you’ve never seen it before, prepare to be amazed, and once it’s done, try to imagine how bad the American remake (directed by Spike Lee) is going to be. If you’re still awake and still munching down on your seventh turkey sandwich, stay on Film4 for Bronson (2008) at 1:40, and enjoy Tom Hardy as Charles Bronson, one of Britain’s most notorious nutcases. It’s directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (he of Drive fame) and stars Tom Hardy. Just don’t tell Bronson I called him a nutcase.
If you’re able to move, start your boxing day with Cars (2006) on BBC1 at 10:25 and wonder just how it is that Paul Newman is utterly brilliant even when he’s playing an animated car made in 1951. And make sure to keep the film on during the end credits for versions of Pixar movies set in the Cars universe.
For another, completely different, animation experience, head over to Film4 at 1:10 for Ponyo (2008), a Studio Ghibli fantasy all the way from Japan about a goldfish called Ponyo who meets a young boy and dreams of becoming human. A different kind of fairy tale is up next on BBC1 at 3:20, with Enchanted (2007). Amy Adams stars as a Disney princess who finds herself transported from an animated world to modern-day New York City in a clever self-parody of Disney’s animated classics.
There’s a tough choice ahead after Enchanted, as you can either stick with BBC1 for How To Train Your Dragon (2010) at 5pm, or switch over to ITV1 for Toy Story 2 (1999). It’s not easy to pick between the two, but you won’t be disappointed whichever side you go with.
Things get more complicated later on in the evening, as you can either watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) on ITV4 at 9pm, or you can do something else until 11:10 and watch Alien (1979) on Film4. I won’t hold it against you whichever way you choose, because both are very high quality sci-fi films (although Alien is one of the greatest films ever made). If you do choose Team Arnie, you can end your day by switching over to BBC1 at midnight for Will Ferrell in a tight-fitting outfit as a figure skater in Blades of Glory (2007).
And that’s your guide for those three days. There are of course, plenty more films to be watched on December 27th and beyond, but it will be time to go outside again by then fatty!