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A Trifecta of What’s Best on the Box for Sunday 21 January 2018

Today’s Number One Film:

*Black Mass, 9.05am HBO2 BEST FILM OF THE DAY. Watch this if you liked The Departed, Prisoners or Goodfellas. Viewed on the silver screen, upon its general cinematic release, it seemed impossible to imagine anyone denying Johnny Depp the Best Actor Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and every other award for his role as the real life Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger, perhaps Boston’s most infamous son (and the inspiration for the Jack Nicholson character in The Departed); in the end, he wasn’t even nominated! Despite the near complete lack of recognition – the most significant Best Actor award he was nominated for (and lost) was the Screen Actors Guild – this could well be Johnny Depp’s best role, ever. The criminal on whom the film is based – see the documentary Whitey on Netflix – personifies evil and Depp portrays him perfectly. Add a genuinely stellar support cast that includes Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Joel Edgerton, Rory Cochrane and Benedict Cumberpatch as the real life senator brother – it’s all true facts, as opposed to, say, a Donald Trump speech – and you have a film you can admire as deeply as the subject matter revolts you as a citizen. Remarkable and not to be missed. As lanyap, the soundtrack is smokin’. Directed by Scott Cooper/ 2015/ USA/ Biography-Crime-Drama/ 122 mins/ R for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use.

Also watch:

The Wild Bunch, 4.37pm Turner Classic Movies.Watch this if you liked No Country for Old Men, Unforgiven or 3.10 to Yuma. Sam Peckinpah’s finest film for many, despite the amount and harshness of the violence. The opening scene, in which children torture a scorpion on an anthill, sets the stage for a long, savagely beautiful film about the passing of an age and the struggles of limited, brutal men to come to terms with their own uselessness in changing times. They are unmitigated bad men – yet the viewer identifies with their human frailty and rues their extermination in an end as potent and disturbing as the beginning. The road to their destiny for this band of hard men is revealed with stunning cinematography throughout, including the spellbinding, mood-setting opening and bloodbath closing scenes. A Western for people who can’t stand Westerns, BC on TV would rank it much higher than the American Film Institute did (number 80 in the Top 100 American films). Directed by Sam Peckinpah/ 1969/ USA/ Western/ 154 mins/ Rated R for strong, bloody violence.

**What We Do in the Shadows, 6.45pm ISat. Watch this if you liked This is Spinal Tap, the English version of the TV series The Office or the HBO series Flight of the Conchords. The creators of the deadpan hilarious half-hour sitcom, Flight of the Conchords, take that brand of incisive sendup of the perils of modern life from the music biz to the vampire world, and to feature film length, without missing a beat, a laugh or an opportunity to mock what we think of as set-in-stone perspectives.This story of four vampire flatmates trying to get by with the mundanities of modern life – paying the rent, deciding who will wash the dishes, getting some human blood – will have the thinking person wetting themselves with laughter.It is done so well, people who do not pay attention will probably take it seriously, as documentary. A real treat for the real cinefile. Directed by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi/ 2014/ New Zealand-USA/ Comedy-Horror/ 86 mins/ Rated R for bloody violent content, some sexual material and language.

Just Nosed Out:

**The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Stoner-Rom-Com), 10.45am HBOP; Gladiator Extended (Action-Adventure-Thriller) 7.13pm TCM; Toy Story 3, 9pm Max Mustang (Turkish Drama) 4.20pm FoxCin; Son of Rambow (Indy-Family-Drama), 8.28pm ISat.

Also Ran:

Action/Adventure: Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, 12.50 midday FoxClas.

Animated/Family: Kubo & the Two Strings, 8.15am HBOC.

Arthouse/Independent/Cult: ***Pleasantville, 8.47am HBOS.

Biography/Documentary: Erin Brockovich, 2.30pm HBOS.

Classic: Braveheart (Action-Adventure-History), 10.50am FoxAct.

Comedy: Grumpy Old Men, 8.50am MaxU.

Drama: Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen), 3.50pm MaxU.

Foreign: Goodbye Lenin! (German Rom-Com), 7.37am Max.

Horror: **The Sixth Sense (Supernatural), 7am HBOP.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: The Age of Adaline, 2.03pm Max.

Thriller: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 5pm MaxP.

War: The Hurt Locker, 10pm Sund.

Western: Gunfight at the OK Corral, 6.55pm FoxClas.

*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.