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A Trifecta of What’s Best on the Box for Sunday 28 January 2018

For the performances of the lead actor alone, the first two “Also Ran” films could almost – but not quite – take the BEST FILM OF THE DAY title from today’s top pick.

Today’s Number One Film:

**Arrival, 9pm HBO2 BEST FILM OF THE DAY. Watch this if you liked Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Ex Machina or Inception. The French Canadian director who made us all sit up and take notice in 2010 with his first feature film, Incendies, and then rocked us back in our chairs in 2013 with Prisoners, and then bowled us right firetrucking over in 2015 with Sicario returned in 2016 to make us do all three in the same film – just much more slowly. It is perhaps not a film for everyone – and people who require an explosion, a car crash or a murder every ten minutes to keep their attention hooked shouldn’t even bother. For the patitent lover of deeply immersive cinema, however, few films offer this kind of reward.This is a film that has to be watched painstakingly closely to be understood; and then rewatched several times, for its depth and mastery to be appreciated. Exceptional. Recommended like the best Test match you’ve ever watched. Directed by Denis Villeneuve/ 2016/ USA/ Drama-Mystery-Sci-fi-Thriller/ 116 mins/ Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Also watch:

Dope, 12.41 midday HBO Plus. Watch this if you liked The Breakfast Club, Straight Outta Compton or Top Five. BC on TV called the American (born of Nigerian immigrant parents) director Rick Famuyiwa’s film one of the most pleasant surprises – and the 16th most outstanding DVD release – of 2015 for very good reasons. A top-notch all-round film that is only incidentally youth- or African-American- or geek-comic or anything else, Dope is seamlessly made, sparkingly scripted and lifts the normally identikit standards of the teenaged film market via real characters you care for deeply. Immaculate dialogue and provocative observational comedy fill out a delightful film that engages throughout and progresses to a powerful, memorable finale that makes something new out of one of the oldest questions in America. Directed by Rick Famuyiwa/ 2015/ USA / Comedy-Crime-Drama / 103 mins/ Rated R for language, drug content, sexuality/nudity and some violence, all involving teens.

*Avatar, 2.50pm Fox Action & again 4.57pm CineCanal. Watch this if you liked Apocalypto, The New World or any of the Lord of the Rings films. Dismissed by cynics as “Dances With Wolves In Space”, hailed by almost everyone else as entertaining from first frame to last credit, Avatar makes up with exuberance and spectacle anything it might lack in script and depth. It would take several different films – Pacific Rim + E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial + Surrogates + Shark Tale – to replicate all its strengths. A real treat for anyone who’s not seen it before but its near-three-hour runtime might challenge the short attention span crowd. It squeezes in ahead of perhaps technically or artistically “better” films today because it screens twice on different channels.Directed by James Cameron/ 2009/ USA/ Sci-Fi-Adventure/ 162 mins/ PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking.

Just Nosed Out:

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender Biodrama), 12.40 midday HBO2; Manchester by the Sea (Drama), 5.40pm Max; Looper (Sci-fi-Action-Thriller), 6.43pm Max; The Skeleton Key (Supernatural Horror), 11.47am HBOS; 2.50pm FoxAct; The Brothers Grimsby (Stoner Comedy), 9.35am HBOP; Cast Away (Tom Hanks Adventure-Drama), 8.50am FoxAct.

Also Ran:

Action/Adventure: Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, 3.25pm FoxClas.

Animated/Family: Hugo, 12.20 midday FoxFam

Arthouse/Independent/Cult: Final Destination 2 (Horror), 1.10pm MaxP.

Biography/Documentary: Heartbreak Ridge (War Biodrama) 9.30pm DTV.

Classic: Flashdance (Rom-Com), 9pm Stun.

Comedy: Hall Pass (Stoner), 3.30pm HBOC.

Drama: Atonement, 1.45pm HBO.

Foreign: Maria Full of Grace (Spanish Drama), 8am HBO2.

Horror: Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix, 10am HBOF.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 2.50pm HBO2.

Thriller: Face/Off (Crime-Fantasy), 12.25 midday MaxP.

War: The Hunt for Red October (Cold War Adventure-Thriller), 11.55am Prmt.

Western: 5 Card Stud (Dean Martin), 7.15pm 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.