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MOVIE WONDERLAND; DAVID EDWARDS MIRROR FILM CRITIC There are some classic movies and must-see premieres on TV this Christmas - I for one won't be going anywhere during Toy Story 2 and Chicago! Here's my guide to the best on the box over the festive season.

Byline: DAVID EDWARDS

From crime to comedy, from sci-fi thrills to supernatural scares, this year's pick of the festive films truly offers something for everyone. With premieres such as Layer Cake, Chicago and Collateral about to hit a TV screen near you, expect to spend Christmas glued to the box.

BBC1 will deliver a host of Christmas crackers, including the terrific animated comedy Toy Story 2, which follows the ongoing exploits of Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Also set to be a ratings winner is Steven Spielberg's futuristic Minority Report, in which Tom Cruise finds himself wrongly accused of murder. The famed director's crime caper Catch Me If You Can, starring Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks and heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, is also getting a showing over the festive season.

Musical fans won't want to miss the Oscar-winning Chicago, where Renee Zellweger stars as the murderous Roxie Hart opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere. Also great fun is the sci-fi mystery Signs with Mel Gibson, while for kids, there's a double-bill of action in Spy Kids and its sequel.

Over on BBC2, you can catch the latest movie adaptation of The Importance Of Being Earnest, featuring an all-star cast including Colin Firth, Judi Dench, Rupert Everett and Reese Witherspoon. Meanwhile, Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman will appear in the time-travelling rom-com Kate & Leopold. Also look out for Dennis Quaid in the heartwarming The Rookie while Kevin Spacey finds romance with Julianne Moore in The Shipping News.

Whatever ITV have planned, they're keeping it secret for the time being. But Channel 4's schedule promises a mix of side-splitting comedy and much-loved classics. Receiving its network TV premiere is the goofy Bowfinger starring Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, who also pops up in the slapstick Nutty Professor.

Classics receiving a welcome screening include Cleopatra, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, plus David Lean's Oscar-winning Lawrence Of Arabia and The African Queen, with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

Also getting its terrestrial premiere on Channel 4 is the sorcery fantasy The Sword Of Xanten, based on the Nordic myths that later influenced JRR Tolkien to write his Lord Of The Rings trilogy. And don't miss Cats & Dogs, a comedy that kids will adore, about the secret war being conducted by felines and pooches.

Wise guys will be dumping suspicious-looking rolled-up carpets in the backs of cars in two gangster flicks set to hit five. In The Godfather: Part III, Al Pacino returns as Michael Corleone, a Mafia boss who's now trying to go legit. It's not a patch on the earlier movies, but fans of the genre should lap it up.

Much better is Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, possibly the greatest gangster flick ever made. Starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci, it's a blisteringly powerful - and very violent - movie you'll want to see again and again.

Also showing is horror sequel Omen III: The Final Conflict, in which little Damien is all grown up and plotting Armageddon, while Kevin Costner directs and stars in the epic Western Dances With Wolves.

There's also fun for the kids with the animated Casper's Haunted Christmas and the classic Wizard Of Oz, in which cinema's most-famous red slippers get dusted down for a very welcome return. Expect knockabout comedy in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and The Man Who Sued God, starring Billy Connolly.

Over on Sky Movies, there's a host of mouth-watering premieres, including Matthew Vaughn's superior British gangster flick Layer Cake, starring Sienna Miller and the new James Bond, Daniel Craig.

Tom Cruise will also be making an appearance in the superb action thriller Collateral, in which the sofa-jumping actor stars as a hitman who gives cabbie Jamie Foxx a night he'll never forget. Expect mystery - and a bit of a dud ending - as Julianne Moore stars in the psychological thriller The Forgotten.

Meanwhile, Bill Murray voices the lasagne-loving cat in kids' comedy Garfield, and there'll be song-and-dance numbers aplenty in Bride And Prejudice, a Bollywood take on Jane Austen's much-loved novel. Over on Sky Box Office, the animated adventures of Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams and Halle Berry will feature in the premiere of cybernetic comedy Robots. Book your seat now!

CAPTION(S):

CRIMINAL: Collateral and Catch Me If You Can (right); PLAYFUL: Toy Story 2; SILLY ASP: Cleopatra; MYSTERY: The Forgotten; GOOFY: Bowfinger; FUN: Robots; MAGICAL: Wizard Of Oz; ZANY: Garfield; BOLLY: Bride And Prejudice
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 24, 2005
Words:729
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