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A Trifecta of Today’s Best Films on the Box

As usual, DirecTV sets the beat with music, starting with tributes to two great rockers, one English and poppy (MusiCares Tribute to Paul McCartney, 1pm) and one Canadian and heavy (MusicCares Tribute to Neil Young, 2pm) and a strong bio about the original guitar god himself (Eric Clapton: Slowhand at 70, 3pm). For French speakers or Spanish subtitle readers, Two Days, One Night (10.55pm HBOS) is the genuine cinefile’s BEST FILM OF THE DAY, clipping today’s number one film and the first one “Just Nosed Out”, either of which might otherwise have clinched that title.

Today’s number one film:

The Sixth Sense (M Night Shyamalan/ 1999/ USA / Horror-Thriller-Mystery/ 107 mins/PG-13 for intense thematic material and violent images), 2.26pm Cinemax. Watch this if you liked The Others, The Shining or The Usual Suspects. One of the greatest endings in cinema fits one of the most original American horror films since Wes Craven’s groundbreaking A Nightmare on Elm Street. The whole thing stands up to repeated viewings but, if you’re lucky enough never to have seen it before, it is striking in its originality. A real treat but far spookier than its PG-13 rating suggests; expect very bad dreams for them if you let young ones watch it. The major criticism of M Night Shyamalan may very well be true: that every film he made since has been a step down from this, his first; but that does not take into account how very high he set his own benchmark.

Also watch:

American Hustle (David O Russell/ 2013/ USA/ Crime-Drama/ 138 mins/ Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence) 2.10pm HBO. Watch this if you liked The Sting, The Counsellor or The Bank Job. The director of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter turns his hand to the caper flick and turns in a seamless, fast-paced film crammed with excellent performances and with the hottest rock ‘n’ roll/R&B soundtrack since The Departed, to boot. Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe as Christian Bale’s wife, but it is Bale himself, as the small time conman looking to go big, and Amy Adams as his co-conspirator, who really shine – even though Bradley Cooper, Lawrence’s co-lead in Silver Linings, is also magnificent in a strong supporting role. Add a script that keeps you guessing but doesn’t fudge the resolutions in the least and you have a great experience. Movie magic, for sure.

Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott/ 2003/ USA/ Comedy-Crime-Drama-Thriller / 116 mins/ PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, some sexual content and language), 9am HBO. Watch this if you liked Lord of War, Paper Moon or Catch Me If You Can. Despite having the wooden Nicholas Cage in the lead – he is actually perfectly cast, with the movie playing strongly to his very few dramatic strengths – Ridley Scott’s sardonic crime drama is a treat. A strong script, with some nice twists and more than a few laughs, is deftly handled by one of Hollyood’s best directors. Paper Moon imitating House of Games adds up to less than David Mamet so it’s a long way from life-changing, but remains thoroughly enjoyable for intelligentsia, imbecile and insurance agent alike.


**The Sunset Limited (Existential drama), 11.55am MaxP; *Scarface (Crime-Thriller), 6.05pm FoxClas; **Spotlight (Drama-History), 4.30pm HBO; **The End of the Tour (Bio-Drama), 9.10am HBOS; **T2: Judgement Day (Action-Sci-fi-Thriller), 3.45pm FoxClas; **Bridge of Spies (Spy drama), 2.45pm & 4.45pm F+1; MI: Rogue Nation (Thriller), 9pm FoxAct; Trading Places (Comedy-Drama), 9.40am FoxClas; Fruitvale Station (Indy bio-drama), 7.45am FoxMov; Finding Nemo (Animated-Family), 3.27pm HBOF;; A Most Violent Year (Crime-Drama), 10.35am & 12.35 midday F+1;

Selma (Bio-Drama), 6.45pm HBOS.


Action/Adventure: Ant-Man (Superhero), 9.39am & 9pm HBOF

Art House/Independent: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 10am Max

Biography: The Hurricane, 11.35am HBOS

Children/Family: Shrek, 10.30am, Shrek 2 12 midday, Shrek the Third 1.25pm FoxFam

Classic: Leon: The Professional (Action), 10pm TCM

Comedy: Kingsman: The Secret Service (Action-Thriller), 9pm FoxMov; 27 Dresses (Rom-Com), 4.30pm CnCl

Drama: **Her (Sci-fi romance drama), 4pm HBOS

Foreign: The Belier Family (French family drama), 12.05 midday CnCl

Horror: Ouija, 8.45am HBOP

Sci-fi-Fantasy: Avengers: Age of Ultron (Superhero), 9.40am MaxP

Thriller: Syriana (Political drama), 3.20pm MaxP

War: The Good German (Drama), 2.05pm HBOS

Western: Major Dundee, 10.40pm FoxClas

*Starred films have been chosen in the last year. ** Double-starred films have been chosen in the last two months. Particularly strong Also Ran choices are bolded.

Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end.

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