Top Gun: Maverick to Glass Onion – The Best Movies to Watch This Holiday Season | Film

Movie of the week

Top Gun: Maverick

Thirty-six years after his last aerial battle, Tom Cruise returns to the skies as flyboy Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in this thrilling action sequel. The ever-rebellious Maverick returns to San Diego’s Fighter Weapons School to train candidates for a dangerous mission, including Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of his dead friend Goose. There are many callbacks to the first film, from Cruise on the motorcycle to the rock soundtrack to a broad brush romance (here with Jennifer Connolly’s bar owner) and the flying sequences are razor sharp.
Thursday, December 22, Paramount+

Meet me in St Louis

Meet me in St Louis.

Vincente Minnelli’s chocolate box of a musical is a sweet treat, with cracking songs – The Trolley Song, The Boy Next Door and the surprisingly melancholy Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Various romantic ups and downs weave through a year in the life of the St Louis-based Smith family, especially Judy Garland’s all-singing Esther, while the shadow of the family moving to New York hangs over the build-up to the 1904 World’s Fair. Despite a series of production difficulties, on screen it’s all hilarity and big-budget splendor.
Saturday 17 December at 2.20pm, BBC Two

A star is born

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born. Photo: Warner Bros/Allstar

Every generation gets their version of this rags-to-riches story, and Gen Z’s can boast the amazing Lady Gaga, following in the footsteps of Garland and Streisand. Bradley Cooper – also the director and co-writer – stars as over-the-hill, alcoholic country singer Jackson, who discovers Gaga’s singing waitress Ally. He immediately sees her potential, they start writing together and then they fall in love. But the less Ally needs him, the more Jackson resents her fame. A remake that has fascinating things to say about the balance of power in relationships.
Sunday 18 December at 10pm, BBC Two

Back to the Future

Back to the Future.
Back to the Future. Photo: Snap Stills/REX

Fire up the DeLorean and bust out your best Chuck Berry shuffle, Marty McFly is back with the greatest time-traveling comedy of the 80s (and its sequels, Tuesday and Wednesday). Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd make a great comic team as 1985’s Marty (Fox) returns to 1955 – thanks to a time machine invented by Doc (Lloyd) – and unwittingly disrupts the courtship of his parents (Crispin Glover and Leah Thompson). A witty spin on the high school movie, with a heavy dose of 50s nostalgia and a star-making turn from the lovable Fox.
Monday 19 December, 2.45pm, ITV1

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book.
The Jungle Book. Photo: Disney/Allstar

Jon Favreau’s 2016 reworking of Rudyard Kipling’s story used advances in photorealistic animal animation to bring real immersion and danger to the adventure in India. Neel Sethi plays the orphan boy Mowgli, who lives happily with a pack of wolves until the dreaded tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba) threatens his life. Comic relief is provided by Bill Murray as Baloo – unexpectedly pulling off the old Disney number The Bare Necessities – while Christopher Walken brings a bizarre touch of Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz to Louie the Monkey King.
Tuesday 20 December at 2.45pm, BBC One

Shiva Baby

Shiva Baby.
Shiva Baby.

Student Danielle (Rachel Sennott) reluctantly attends a shiva – a Jewish funeral – with her parents, only to find her secret sugar daddy lover Max (Danny Deferrari) is also in attendance with his wife and baby. Oh, and Danielle’s ex-girlfriend Maya (Booksmart’s Molly Gordon) is there too… Emma Seligman’s cutting comedy uses the claustrophobic setting of the community gathering to heighten the tension while also critiquing the roles given to young women today.
Tuesday 20 December at 23.20, Film4

The beauty and the Beast

The beauty and the Beast.
The beauty and the Beast. Photo: Disney/AP

“Beauty is found within” is the sensible message of Bill Condon’s unabashedly romantic live-action version of the fairy tale – although it helps if your beauty turns out to be Dan Stevens in the end. Emma Watson brings Hermione’s practicality (and a decent singing voice) to French bookworm Belle, who bonds with her furry captor over a shared love of literature. Ewan McGregor (candelabra), Ian McKellen (clock) and Emma Thompson (teapot) provide comic relief as the animated household appliances, while Be Our Guest, with its Busby Berkeley stylings, is the standout number on the soundtrack.
Wednesday 21 December at 2.45pm, BBC One


Paddington. Photo: Studiocanal/Allstar

The anniversary audience with the Queen gave him unexpected prominence after her death, but Michael Bond’s accident-prone Peruvian immigrant has already become a Christmas party. In this masterful 2014 comedy, the CGI bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) charms his adopted family – led by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins – after coming to London to track down the explorer who met his family in the rainforest. Mild menace comes in the form of cool taxidermist Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman). You can find the sequel on Friday 23. December on BBC One at 3.35pm.
Thursday 22 December at 3.15pm, BBC One


Skyfall. Photo: Sony Pictures/Allstar

The highest-grossing James Bond film ever, Sam Mendes’ cyberthriller features Judi Dench’s final flourish as M, a sappy theme tune from Adele and one of the most entertainingly absurd villains in Javier Bardem’s ex-MI6 agent Raoul Silva. Istanbul, Shanghai and Macau are the main stops for Daniel Craig’s embattled agent, while Bond’s Scottish ancestral home provides another window into the spy’s personal life – an angle that has defined Craig’s time as 007.
Thursday 22 December at 8pm, ITV1

Film selection

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Daniel Craig and Janelle Monáe in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
Daniel Craig and Janelle Monáe in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Photo: John Wilson/AP

After the deserved success of Agatha Christie tribute Knives Out, it was inevitable that Rian Johnson would bring back Daniel Craig’s private eye Benoit Blanc for another starry night. Cleverly, Johnson sets the new case for a murder-mystery weekend hosted on his private island by Edward Norton’s Miles Bron, co-founder of a tech company with Janelle Monáe’s Andi. Blanc shows up after receiving an invitation that wasn’t meant for him, but soon becomes involved in a real murder investigation. There are any number of suspects he can question, from Kathryn Hahn’s Connecticut politician and Kate Hudson’s casual wear designer to Dave Bautista’s men’s rights influences. And then there’s Andi, who isn’t on the best of terms with Miles… It’s all great fun, with a plot that’s suitably labyrinthine and a cast that clearly loves it.
Friday the 23rd December, Netflix

The Shaun the Sheep movie

The Shaun the Sheep movie.
The Shaun the Sheep movie. Photo: Aardman Animations/Studiocanal/Allstar

In the WGCU (Wallace & Gromit Cinematic Universe), Shaun the Sheep is the equivalent of Marvel’s Loki or Star Wars’ Rogue One, a quality spinoff from a much-loved franchise. For his first big screen outing – and in a similar vein to the Babe sequel – Shaun finds himself in the big city after the farmer disappears. He is joined by the rest of the pack and the dog Bitzer, and they must pose as humans while searching for their owner. Aardman’s Heath Robinson approach to both plot and design is, as always, a delight, giving the film a distinctly British feel.
Friday the 23rd December at 9.55am, BBC One

The Duke

The Duke.
The Duke. Photo: Album/Alamy

The late Roger Michell’s latest drama is an engaging tale of the little man against the system, a kind of modern Ealing comedy. Jim Broadbent is a solid presence as Kempton Bunton, a Newcastle taxi driver whose campaign to exempt pensioners from having to pay the TV license leads him to steal a Goya portrait from London’s National Gallery in 1961 and redeem it for his demands is fulfilled. . Helen Mirren plays his exasperated wife Dorothy in a witty, quirky true story.
Christmas Eve, 1.15pm, 10.55pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Photo: Landmark Media/Alamy

The third in the Wizarding World prequels shifts the focus from Eddie Redmayne’s creature-loving Newt to Dumbledore (Jude Law). With the manipulative dark wizard Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, replacing Johnny Depp) politicizing the destruction of the muggle world, Dumbledore recruits a team of experts including Newt and his brother Theseus (Callum Turner) to stop him. Always visually inventive, director David Yates keeps all the narrative plates spinning in anticipation of further films, which may or may not be conjured up.
Christmas Day, 12.30pm, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere


Aladdin. Photograph: Entertainment Pictures/Alamy

Guy Ritchie’s action-packed version of the Disney animation is revisionist in its cast – with fine actors of mostly Arab origin – but otherwise sticks to the comedy-musical template of the 1992 original. Mena Massoud is a charming Aladdin, the thief with a talent for parkour and pickpocketing, falling for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and meeting the evil vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari). Will Smith has the most difficult task – impersonating Robin Williams as Genie – but manages to leave his mark on the role.
Christmas Day, 15.10, BBC One

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins.
Mary Poppins. Photo: Moviestore collection Ltd/Alamy

Emily Blunt did the character proud in Mary Poppins Returns, but the magical nanny will always belong to Julie Andrews. She is spot-on as the mysterious visitor who entertains and educates her two wayward young charges, Jane and Michael Banks, as she helps their estranged banker father reconnect with them. Dick Van Dyke provides the energy as cockernee chimney sweep Bert, while the songs, by Richard and Robert Sherman, are consistently fantastic – from A Spoonful of Sugar to Chim Chim Cher-ee and, of course, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Boxing Day, 2.25pm, BBC One

The Mitchells vs the Machines

The Mitchells vs the Machines.
The Mitchells vs the Machines. Photo: AP

This stunning animated adventure from Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe tackles the joys and dangers of social media. Abbi Jacobson voices Mitchell’s teenage daughter Katie, a budding filmmaker struggling to relate to her outdoorsman Rick (Danny McBride). It takes a “machine apocalypse” of robotic digital assistants, led by Olivia Colman’s bitter smartphone, to bring them back together. Witty and creative, the film layers colorful emojis and filters over the action, reveling in the possibilities of big technology while warning of its limitless power.
Boxing Day, 3.30pm, ITV1


Goodfellas. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry Wetcher/Allstar

Martin Scorsese has said he copied the snappy, freewheeling style of the French Nouvelle Vague for his glittering mob drama. It certainly brings a fresh look to a crime subgenre usually overshadowed by The Godfather. Ray Liotta stars in the fact-based story of Henry Hill, a teenager who is drawn into the Brooklyn mafia. His bosses, Jimmy the Gent (Robert De Niro) and hair-trigger Tommy (a truly terrifying Joe Pesci), are his gateway to easy money and a flashy lifestyle – but the criminals’ paranoia about betrayal and retribution prove their Achilles’ heel.
Boxing Day, 10.15pm, BBC Two

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