As well as all the cosy comforts of the films you’ve seen a hundred times, but will inevitably end up watching again this Christmas, the TV schedule promises a bunch of much newer titles
Here’s our pick of the top ten biggest films this Christmas…
ITV, Sat 17 Dec 7.30pm
Billed as the second half of a double with, counter-intuitively, ‘The Lord of The Rings’ Part 3 (the former actually a prequel to the latter), this dazzling romp in Tolkien-Land promises to carry you into another world of elves, goblins and rings, with a big-footed Martin Freeman at his most lovable.
Kung Fu Panda
CBBC, Wed 21 Dec 7pm
Sweet, coming-of-age tale as the young panda (voiced by an irrepressible Jack Black) lives out his dreams of becoming a kung fu fighter and learns that - what do you know? - with power comes responsibility, and the challenge of taking on the almighty snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane).
Saving Mr Banks
BBC2, Friday 23 Dec 8.30pm
Mary Poppins was lovable, her creator PL Travers not so much - as Walt Disney discovered when he set out to adapt her greatest creation for the big screen. Why was she so determined to protect the depiction of the children’s father in the film? Because he was based on her own. Co-stars Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks ensure the quality of this tale-behind-a-tale.
The Lady In The Van
BBC2, Christmas Eve 9pm
Maggie Smith stars in the title role. What more do you need? Well, it was inspired by Alan Bennett’s play. Still more? Based on a true, bizarre story of a lady who came to live in his front driveway in his genteel Camden Town avenue. The sparky dialogue between the two doesn’t disguise Alan Bennett’s evident compassion, nor does his kindness mean he can’t spot what a rich fount for material she will prove to be. Tough and tender, with cracking performances across the board.
BBC1, Christmas Day 3.10pm
Here it is, the film that inspired a thousand sing-a-longs. In case you hadn’t heard, this is the tale of how a sibling tiff plunges a kingdom into eternal winter, a freeze that can only be thawed by an “act of true love”. Have hankies standing by, next to ear plugs.
BBC2, Christmas Day 2.25pm
Tune in and see why this throwback black and white homage to old Hollywood stole the Oscars in 2012, and made a modern hero of leading man Jean Dujardin.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Film4, Christmas Day 6.35pm
When HuffPostUK asked Dev Patel recently about the BBC series inspired by this film, it transpired he’d never heard of it. Long before Miriam Margolyes and Wayne Sleep checked in, Dev played host to stars Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Celia Imrie, and a feel-good phenomenon was born.
How To Train Your Dragon 2
BBC1, Boxing Day 4.30pm
More cracking animation - more wit, more wisdom, more coming of age responsibility. Prepare for your spirit to soar.
ITV, Boxing Day 9pm
Arguably the finest film to make its debut on screen this Christmas, this tense thriller homes in on a ship taken over by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. First-time actor Barked Abdi won a BAFTA and was Oscar-nominated for his turn as lead hijacker but, as ever, the heart and soul of the film is Tom Hanks, this time as the ship’s captain.
BBC2, Boxing Day 10.30pm
A feel-good hit about how a bunch of LGBT London activists upped and involved themselves in the miners’ strike of 1984. By turn camp, witty and full of good music, the serious message of outsiders united in adversity is nonetheless clear. Stars include Bill Nighy, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.