Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Daniel Craig and Janelle Monáe in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Photograph: John Wilson/AP
After the deserved success of his Agatha Christie homage Knives Out, it was inevitable that Rian Johnson would bring back Daniel Craig’s private eye Benoit Blanc for another starry whodunnit. Cleverly, Johnson sets the new case at 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 turns up after receiving an invitation that wasn’t meant for him but soon becomes involved in a real murder investigation.
There are a host of suspects for him to question, from Kathryn Hahn’s Connecticut politician and Kate Hudson’s leisurewear designer to Dave Bautista’s men’s rights influencer. And then there’s Andi, who’s not on the best of terms with Miles … It’s all great fun, with a plot that’s suitably labyrinthine and a cast clearly loving it.
Friday 23 December, Netflix
Shaun the Sheep Movie
In the WGCU (Wallace & Gromit Cinematic Universe), Shaun the Sheep is the equivalent of Marvel’s Loki or Star Wars’ Rogue One, a quality spin-off from a much-loved franchise. For his first big-screen outing – and in similar fashion to the Babe sequel – Shaun finds himself in the Big City after the farmer goes missing. He’s joined by the rest of the flock and Bitzer the dog, and they have to pose as humans while seeking their owner. Aardman’s Heath Robinson approach to both plot and design is, as ever, a delight, and gives the film a distinctively British feel.
Friday 23 December, 9.55am, BBC One
The late Roger Michell’s final drama is an engaging tale of the little man against the system, a kind of modern-day Ealing comedy. Jim Broadbent is a hearty presence as Kempton Bunton, a Newcastle taxi driver whose campaign to exempt pensioners from having to pay the TV licence fee leads him, in 1961, to steal a Goya portrait from London’s National Gallery and ransom it until his demands are met. Helen Mirren plays his exasperated wife Dorothy in a witty, quirky true story.
Christmas Eve, 1.15pm, 10.55pm, Sky Cinema.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
The third in the Wizarding World prequels shifts focus from Eddie Redmayne’s creature-loving Newt to Dumbledore (Jude Law). With the manipulative dark wizard Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, replacing Johnny Depp) politicking to destroy the muggle world, Dumbledore recruits an expert team 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
Guy Ritchie’s action-filled take on the Disney animation is revisionist in its casting – with fine actors of mostly Arabic origin – but otherwise hoves to the comedy musical template of the 1992 original. Mena Massoud is a charming Aladdin, the thief with a talent for parkour and pickpocketing, who falls for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and faces off with evil vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari). Will Smith has the hardest task – emulating Robin Williams as the Genie – but manages to put his stamp on the part.
Christmas Day, 3.10pm, BBC One
Emily Blunt did the character proud in Mary Poppins Returns, but the magical nanny will always belong to Julie Andrews. She’s spit spot-on as the mysterious visitor who entertains and educates her two wayward young charges, Jane and Michael Banks, while helping their distant 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 wonderful – from A Spoonful of Sugar to Chim Chim Cher-ee and, of course, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Stephen’s Day, 2.25pm, BBC One
The Mitchells vs the Machines
This terrific animated adventure from Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe tackles the pleasures and perils of social media. Abbi Jacobson voices the Mitchells’ teenage daughter Katie, a budding film-maker who struggles to relate to her outdoorsy dad Rick (Danny McBride). It takes a “machine apocalypse” of robot digital assistants, led by Olivia Colman’s bitter smartphone, to bring them back together. Witty and creative, the film layers colourful emojis and filters over the action, revelling in big tech’s possibilities while warning of its limitless power.
Stephen’s Day, 3.30pm, ITV1
Martin Scorsese has said he copied the snappy, freewheeling style of the French Nouvelle Vague for his scintillating mob drama. It certainly gives a fresh look to a crime subgenre usually in the shadow of The Godfather. Ray Liotta stars in the fact-based story of Henry Hill, a teenager drawn into the Brooklyn mafia.
His bosses, Jimmy the Gent (Robert De Niro) and the 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 proves their achilles heel.
Stephen’s Day, 10.15pm, BBC Two
Spirited (Apple TV Plus)
Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell make for an odd couple in this reimagining of — you guessed it — A Christmas Carol. Ferrell is the Ghost of Christmas Present, but instead of showing Reynolds’ Scrooge the error of his ways, it’s Present who must reexamine his own past, present and future. Expect big musical numbers and the hit of cheer you’re after from this serviceable bite of Christmas confectionary.
Disenchanted (Disney +)
While it’s not strictly a Christmas movie, Disenchanted is a no-brainer to watch over the silly season. It uses the genius idea of turning the pure and loving Giselle into an evil stepmother — technically she became a stepmother in 2007’s Enchanted. This sequel brings back Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden and Idina Menzel, and adds Maya Rudolph.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)
It’s animated, it’s aimed at all the family and it’s astonishingly good. Guillermo del Toro rarely disappoints and his take on Pinocchio is no exception. More than just a kids’ story, del Toro unfurls a trademark moving gothic fairy tale rooted in what it means to be alive. With significant deviations from the story we all know and memorable new creature creations, including skeletal rabbits and an ethereal wood sprite, this version of Pinocchio is perfect for Christmas. Warning: You will shed a tear at least once.
Who Killed Santa? (Netflix)
If you haven’t caught the earlier episodes of this comedy gem on Netflix, this might be a good place to start. The semi-improvised show sees celebrities join Will Arnett’s incompetent detective Terry Seattle on a murder investigation — but these guests haven’t seen the script. It’s up to them to track clues and name the murderer in the end. Jason Bateman and Maya Rudolph are along for the ride in the Christmas special — a lovely gift for the holiday.
A Storm For Christmas (Netflix)
How about a Christmas TV show fittingly set closer to the north? This Norwegian limited series follows a group of people stranded at Oslo airport, with the clock counting down to Christmas. Will they make it in time? Will they form unlikely friendships in this time of hardship? Don’t answer these rhetorical questions, just watch the six episodes.
Strange World (Disney +)
This rare pure sci-fi adventure from Disney hits Disney Plus just in time for Christmas. Strange World follows a family of explorers who journey to a monster-crawling world. There, they investigate the cause of a dying plant, while massaging a few family differences on the way.
Matilda The Musical (Netflix)
Netflix’s Christmas Day offering doesn’t take place at Christmas, but it has everything you could ask for from a Christmas movie. Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical is based on Tim Minchin’s hit stage musical. Fill your living room with the barnstorming tunes and the classic tale of a young girl (Alisha Weir) using her magical imagination to outwit an evil headmistress (Emma Thompson).