It’s almost time for TV and film fans to undertake an annual tradition, buying the RTE TV Guide and making note of all the best films to watch over the festive period.
In terms of variety, it’s arguable that TG4’s scheduling of programming over the last 12 months and beyond is right up there with the very best because the Irish language broadcaster has always opted for an eclectic and entertaining mix.
Aside from providing excellent sports coverage, TG4’s documentary series Finné has been outstanding and their policy of supplementing excellent Irish-language programming with the very best from elsewhere has been extremely clever.
All this without mentioning their Twitter account which is probably one of the best in the country.
However, Christmas is a time for movies and TG4’s lineup has a few Christmas crackers in store.
Ryan’s Daughter – December 20 10:35pm
Set in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising, a married woman in a small Irish village has an affair with a troubled British officer. Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard and John Mills star in David Lean’s classic.
Dancing at Lughnasa – Christmas Day 6pm
Five unmarried sisters make the most of their simple existence in rural Ireland in the 1930s. Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon and Gerard McSorley star in Pat O’Connor’s film.
Into the West – St.Stephen’s Day 5pm
Directed by Mike Newell, Grandpa Ward gives a horse he found to his grandchildren, who keep it in their tower-block flat in Dublin. The horse is stolen from them, and the two young boys set out to find it and flee on it. An Irish classic which features Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin and Ciarán Fitzgearld.
Lorenzo’s Oil – December 19, 10:25pm
Oscar-nominated director George Miller delivers a sweeping, powerful, and tear-jerking drama based on the true story of a family who discovers their 5-year-old son is dying of an incurable, mysterious brain disease.
Oscar-nominee Nick Nolte and Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon play the intrepid parents who ignore doctors and research the disease to find a cure themselves.
Chaplin – December 21, 9:30pm
The biography of Charlie Chaplin, filmmaker extraordinaire.
From his formative years in England to his highest successes in America, Charlie’s life, work, and loves are followed. While his screen characters were extremely hilarious, the man behind “The Little Tramp” was constantly haunted by a sense of loss. Robert Downey Jr. received an Oscar nomination for his performance in Richard Attenborough’s biopic.
Burn After Reading – December 23, 10:30pm
Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand and George Clooney lead an all-star cast in this zany comedy from the Coen brothers. A disk containing the memoirs of a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous gym employees who attempt to sell it.
Dirty Dancing – Christmas Eve, 10:15pm
Nobody puts Baby in the corner.
In the summer of 1963, 17-year-old Baby is vacationing with her family at a mountain resort when she is drawn to the staff quarters by stirring music. There she meets Johnny, the hotel dance instructor, and they fall in love despite everyone’s warnings.
When Harry Met Sally – Christmas Day, 11:30pm
Directed by Rob Reiner. Will sex ruin a perfect relationship between a man and a woman? That’s what Harry Burns and Sally Albright debate while sharing a drive from Chicago to New York. Eleven years of friendship later, they’re still no closer to finding the answer. Will these two best friends ever accept that they’re a perfect match…or will they continue to deny the attraction that exists between them?
Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, and Carrie Fisher star in what many film fans consider to be the greatest rom-com of all-time.
Whitnail & I – St. Stephen’s Day, 11:30pm
In 1969, two substance-abusing, unemployed actors retreat to the countryside for a holiday that proves disastrous.
It might be one of the most-quotable films ever made.
Mystic River – December, 9:15pm
Clint Eastwood’s directs this tense thriller which stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon.
The film depicts the lives of three men – who were childhood friends – as their lives shatter following a family tragedy.
Little Voice – December 29, 10:20pm
A shy reclusive lady is convinced by an invisible entity to sing. Subsequently, she finds herself noticed by a sleazy talent agent and her talent being showcased on-stage. She also meets a kind but nervous man who becomes her best friend.
Inside Llewyn Davis – December 30, 10:30pm
Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen., this drama-musical is arguably one of their most underrated films.
In simple terms, the film depicts a week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Oscar Isacc, Carey Mulligan and John Goodman all star
Finky – New Year’s Day, 9:20pm
Micí Finky, a musician and puppeteer looking to escape his past, steals an envelope full of cash and runs off to Scotland with his childhood friend Tom Tom.
On their first night in Glasgow, Finky suffers a horrible accident and is left paralysed from the waist down. He hits rock bottom but is given a chance at redemption when recruited by Carnival Chaotica. Finky embarks on a twisted odyssey that brings him over the rainbow but, as his journey becomes increasingly hellish, Finky realises that he must confront his tormented past.
Starring Dara Devaney, Ned Dennehy, Diarmuid de Faoite. Directed by Dathaí Keane.
Films for the Family
Shrek – December 20, 5:20pm (English Version) and Christmas Eve, 5:25pm (Irish-Language version)
A mean lord exiles fairytale creatures to the swamp of a grumpy ogre, who must go on a quest and rescue a princess for the lord in order to get his land back.
It’s a classic.
Marmaduke – December 22, 5:20pm
A suburban family moves to a new neighbourhood with their large yet lovable Great Dane, who has a tendency to wreak havoc in his own oblivious way.
A Dennis the Menace Christmas – December 23,5:20pm
To make sure that his beloved neighbour, Mr Wilson, has the perfect Christmas, the neighbourhood’s lively six-year-old, Dennis Mitchell, makes a long list of things one needs to make it work; however, will the old man ever change?
Lego Ninjago Movie – Christmas Day, 11:30am (Irish Language Version), Lego Ninjago Movie – 30 December, 5pm (English version)
Six young ninjas: Lloyd, Jay, Kai, Cole, Zane and Nya, must protect the city of Ninjago from the evil Lord Garmadon.
Harriet the Spy – December 27, 5pm
Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. But when her friends find her secret notebook the tables are turned on her. Can she win her friends back and still keep on going with the spy business?
The Adventures of Tintin – December 28, 5pm
Steven Spielberg’s live-action/animation sees fearless reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.
Marley & Me – December 29, 4:50pm
A family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog.
Finding Neverland – New Year’s Eve, 5pm
The story of Sir J.M. Barrie’s friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – New Year’s Day, 4:50pm
A young boy wins a tour through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by the world’s most unusual candy maker.
Meet me in St Louis – December 23, 1pm
Directed by Vincente Minnelli. The tale of the emotional trauma a St. Louis family experiences in the early 20th century when they learn their father has been transferred and the family will be moving to New York.
The Nutcracker – Christmas Eve, 1pm
On Christmas Eve, a little girl named Marie falls asleep after a party at her home and dreams herself (or does she?) into a fantastic world where toys become larger than life. Her beloved Nutcracker comes to life and defends her from the Mouse King, then is turned into a Prince after Marie saves his life.
High Society – Christmas Day, 1:10pm
C.K. Dexter-Haven, a successful popular jazz musician, lives in a mansion near his ex-wife’s Tracy Lord’s family estate. She is on the verge of marrying a man blander and safer than Dex, who tries to win Tracy’s heart again. Mike Connor, an undercover tabloid reporter, also falls for Tracy while covering the nuptials for Spy magazine. Tracy must choose between the three men as she discovers that “safe” can mean “deadly dull” when it comes to husbands and life.
A Streetcar Named Desire – December 19, 10am
Disturbed Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law while her reality crumbles around her.
Guys and Dolls – New Year’s Eve, 1pm
In New York, a gambler is challenged to take a cold female missionary to Havana, but they fall for each other, and the bet has a hidden motive to finance a crap game.