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A Trifecta of What’s Best on the Box for Sunday 3 December 2017

On another day, three excellent family films could have filled today’s slots, starting with the greatest West Indians-in-London-Post WWII animated film ever shot (*Paddington, 8.52am Max) going on to a great film adaptation of a great children’s story (Stuart Little, 1.11pm HBOF) and ending with the best animated version of Kipling so far shot (The Jungle Book, 7.20pm HBOC).

Today’s Number One Film:

*The King’s Speech, 4.35pm Paramount Channel. Watch this if you liked Quiz Show, The Queen or The Madness of King George. The King’s Speech won four Oscars (Best Directing, Picture, Lead Actor [Colin Firth] and Original Screenplay), the same BAFTAs (plus Best Supporting Actor [Geoffrey Rush] & Actress [Helena Bonham Carter] and Best Music) and was nominated in almost every other major category; and it was all richly deserved. Based on a fine script founded on largely accurate historical events, the great strength of the film is the way it humanised British royalty, the same group of upper class twits Monty Python would have savaged. Colin Firth, in the title role of the stuttering prince, is nothing short of amazing. Everyone else is almost as good, particularly Geoffrey Rush, as the speech therapist who saved a crown and a family. Sentimental in parts, perhaps, but thoroughly satisfying in the whole, this is filmmaking at its best. Directed by Tom Hooper/ 2010/ UK-USA-Australia/ Biography-Drama-History/ 118 mins/ R for some language.

Also watch:

*Jarhead, 10.40am Fox Action Ch 561. Watch this if you liked Full Metal Jacket, Hacksaw Ridge or The Hurt Locker. From at least one point of view, this may be the best anti-war picture ever made: as Jarhead’s own sequences reveal, even a film as defiantly anti-war as Apocalypse Now! can be co-opted and used to pump up young men for battle. Jarhead simply presents war for what it is: long periods of boredom interrupted by bursts of savage brutality. Though the pacing goes a little slack occasionally, Jarhead deserves its place in the already staggeringly-impressive filmography of Sam Mendes. Indeed, some might call it his best. Jarhead is like The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket combined. By only one sequence, the most completely realised cinematic vision of Hell – the white horse in the burning oilfields – Jarhead redeems itself entirely. Miss it only if you’re deaf, dumb, blind & broke. Directed by Sam Mendes/ 2005/ USA/ War/ 123 mins/ Rated R for pervasive language, some violent imaes & strong sexual content.

Invictus, 4pm Friday HBO Plus. Watch this if you liked The King’s Speech, Friday Night Lights or Miracle. Clint Eastwood’s easily accessible take on the strength of sport to close gaps between the strongly divided groups of people contains his irrepressible sentimental streak which attenuates the film’s impact, as in Million Dollar Baby (but tied to the title this time); but that’s the only flaw in a strong film that manages to get an almost lifelike performance from Matt Damon. Morgan Freeman is very good as Nelson Mandela, perhaps because he doesn’t even shoot for the South African accent.History, biography and entertainment blend seamlessly. Directed by Clint Eastwood/ 2009/ USA/ Sport-Biography-Drama-History/ 134 mins/ Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Just Nosed Out:

**The Constant Gardener (Action-Drama-Thriller), 3.40pm FoxCin;; Swordfish (Crime-Thriller), 12.25midday MaxP; Doctor Strange (Superhero), 7pm HBO; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Sci-fi), 5pm HBOC & 9pm HBO2; The Sons of Katie Elder (Western), 9pm FoxClas.

Also Ran:

Action/Adventure: The Dark Knight (Superhero), 5.59pm Spac.

Animated/Family: *The Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio), 10.09am AMC; *Batman: The Killing Joke, 8.55am HBOP.

Arthouse/Independent: The Squid & the Whale, 9.40pm ISat; Lost in Translation (Drama), 3pm ISat.

Biography/Documentary: Spotlight (Docudrama), 9.45am Max.

Classic: I Know What You Did Last Summer (Splatter Horror), 10pm TCM.

Comedy: Little Fockers, 8.10pm CnCl; The Naked Gun 2½ (Slapstick-Stoner), 11.25am FxMv.

Drama: Whiplash (Music), 11.55am Max

Horror: 10 Cloverfield Lane (Creature), 1.55pm FoxMov.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: LOTR1, 10.39am Max

Thriller: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Adventure-Sci-fi), 6.35pm HBO2

War: Platoon, 12.14 midday, Edge.

Western: The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino), 5.10pm Max.

*Starred films have been picked in the last year.**Double-starred films have been picked in the last two months.***Triple-starred films were picked last week.

Particularly strong Also Ran films are bolded.

Please verify times.Advance Internet scheduled times can be wrong, especially at month-end.