So, following last week’s BAFTAS – and Stephen Fry quitting Twitter following his bag lady gaff – we are one step closer to the Academy Awards. For now, though, it’s just another week and another chance to catch some old favourites on your TV.
Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis, 2000)
Saturday, 7:00 pm on BBC2
Who other than Tom Hanks could make us mourn for a lost piece of gym equipment?
Stuck on an island with no one for company except a volleyball (called Wilson), Hank’s perfectly captures the hope and desperation of a man who, for all his chance of rescue, might as well be stuck on another planet – at least NASA knew where Matt Damon was. Director Robert Zemeckis keeps this tale of survival as bare bones as possible – no hallucinatory Wilson speaking to us in the voice of Morgan Freeman, say – showing total faith in Hanks’ acting to carry it off; which it does, right up to the final heartbreaking moment.
The Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011)
Saturday, 11:00 pm on BBC2
Clooney directs this star-studded drama about political intrigue in which he also stars. Alongside him is Ryan Gosling as a junior campaign manager forced to contend with the realities of running for office. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jeffrey Wright also appear.
Based in part on Beau Willimon’s Broadway play, Farragut North, and the daddy of all political thrillers, Julius Caesar, The Ides of March is a timely tale of Presidential aspirations and a very murky drama about the way in politics work.
The World’s End (Edgar Wright, 2013)
Sunday, 9:00 pm on C4
The final part of the so-called “Cornetto Trilogy” sees Wright deliver a funny, scary, melancholy meditation of life and ageing.
In an inversion of their usual roles, Simon Pegg plays a black-clad man-child obsessed with finishing a pub crawl started decades ago, even if there is an alien invasion underway, while Nick Frost is the buttoned-down straight man. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike and Eddie Marsan offer support as their boyhood friends.
The jokes come thick and fast, but as has always been the case, the chemistry between Frost and Pegg provides the heart that ultimately anchors the film.
Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)
Tuesday, 10:45 pm on Film4
Based on the dialectical, drug-soaked tale by Irvine Welsh, this story of heroin abusers in Scotland became the film of a generation and cemented Danny Boyle’s status as a serious film-making talent.
Ewan McGregor leads a cast that also has Peter Mullan, Kelly MacDonald, Ewen Bremner, Johnny Lee Miller and a memorably psychotic Robert Carlyle that is as tragic as it is funny. Such a perfect day.
Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Thursday, 1:00 am on Film4
A ghoulish tale from Sweden about a young boy and a young girl who form a strong bond despite one being an un-dead creature.
Laden with horror images, Let The Right One Is is also s soaked in a sense of terror that only a child can understand. It’s a tragedy, but one that rewards the viewer with a truly touching story that also delivers big scares. The best vampire story since Near Dark.
Philomena (Stephen Frears, 2013)
Friday, 9:00 pm on BBC2
The true story that swept the nominations at the 2013 Oscars, Judi Dench is on superb form as a woman looking for her son years after he was taken away by nuns. Aided, begrudgingly, by Steve Coogan’s Martin Sixsmith, who, as a freelance journalist, really thinks this is a piece of fluff, but in the process learns that it’s actually something much darker and much more heartbreaking than he thought.
A truly important film, but one that is also deeply entertaining.