So, the big day is behind us, the presents unwrapped – and there’s no better day of the year to curl up on the sofa with a good movie. And this year’s Boxing Day movies are anything but leftovers.
Once again, the daytime schedule is packed with family films, but that doesn’t mean they’re inferior. ITV1’s first offering of the day is Lionel Jeffries’ The Railway Children at 9.25 am, a beautiful re-telling of the E Nesbit classic for kids of all ages. The ending never fails to make me blub – and I defy you not to do the same! Song and Dance fans will turn to BBC2 at 2.40 pm for An American In Paris, showing as part of a Gene Kelly season. With a score by Gershwin and Kelly’s customary athletic dancing, it’s still fresh and delightful. Cartoon song and dance comes in the shape of Happy Feet (BBC1, 1.40 pm), featuring penguins singing and tap dancing to classic and contemporary tunes. It’s imaginative and heart-warming, although younger viewers may find one or two scenes a little alarming.
Tim Burton puts in another appearance, this time with his individual take on Alice In Wonderland (BBC1, 6.50 pm). Don’t expect the traditional Lewis Carroll classic – it’s nothing like that. But it’s full of imagination and some striking visuals, not the least of which is the size of the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) head. Burton’s regular collaborator, Johnny Depp, is a crazy-eyed Hatter, and look out for Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat and Matt Lucas as both Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Later in the day, BBC2 kicks off its Hitchcock’s season with the director’s only Best Picture Oscar winner, Rebecca (10.30pm). The cast, led by Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier, are all on fine form and Hitchcock builds the tension – as only he can – up to the literally blazing climax. If you’ve seen it before and don’t feel like staying up, record it and treat yourself later.
There’s more excellent British film-making over on ITV1, this time in the shape of Joe Wright’s Atonement (11.15 pm). Based on Ian McEwan’s best seller and starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as the doomed lovers, this is a stylish film with a wonderful sense of its pre-war period as well as being well-acted by a strong cast.
And Channel Four kicks off its Stieg Larsson’s trilogy with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (10.30 pm). This is the Swedish version, which preceded this year’s version with Daniel Craig, and is full of twists and turns that sticks surprisingly close to the book. The two sequels can be seen tomorrow and Friday night.
In the next part of this preview, I’ll be picking the best movies from the rest of the holiday, up to and including New Year’s Day. This time, there’s more for the grown-ups – and that’s no bad thing!