Dreamgirls, Awakenings, Legends of the Fall: films on TV today

Jamie Foxx wants a supergroup, Robert De Niro wants to stay awake, Brad Pitt wants his brother's girl: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY 
Dreamgirls ★★★
9.00-11.40pm 5★ 

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Bill Condon’s extravaganza is based on – or, more likely, inspired by – Diana Ross and the Supremes. In Detroit in the early 1960s Jamie Foxx, a car salesman, bursts into the music business with big ambitions. He signs a trio of young singers as a backing group for a rhythm and blues performer, Eddie Murphy, and founds his own record label. But early success doesn’t last. Murphy burns out and though the girls find fame as the Dreams there’s more trouble ahead. Foxx demotes and then fires his lover, the buxom lead singer, Jennifer Hudson, and replaces her with the more toothsome Beyonce, whom he marries. Hudson returns to Detroit, poverty and an uncertain future, leaving the questions: how long can Foxx last and will Hudson ever find the success she deserves? Not particularly original, perhaps, but plenty of good music and two splendid performances by Hudson (here winning an Oscar for her first movie) and Murphy, who has rarely been better. 


Awakenings ★★★★
4.50-7.15pm Movie Mix 

The true story of a neurologist who managed to rouse coma patients after decades in stasis became a bestseller for Oliver Sacks, inspired Harold Pinter’s play A Kind of Alaska and gained three Oscar nominations when it was adapted into a movie. Robin Williams plays doctor to Robert De Niro and if the film is a bit melodramatic, it doesn’t make the events any less remarkable.    


Legends of the Fall ★★★★
9.00-11.45pm Movie Mix 

High, wide and handsome, Edward Zwick’s family saga deservedly won the cinematography Oscar for its eye-widening outdoor vistas. It’s a heart-tugging if predictable tale of love and discord among three brothers brought up in the protective wilderness of Montana by patriarch Anthony Hopkins. Aidan Quinn, Brad Pitt and Henry Thomas are his sons, with Julia Ormand the wedge that will drive them apart. It’s well acted all round, but the camera loves Pitt the most.  


Fracture ★★★
11.10pm-1.25am Film Four 

Clever engineer Anthony Hopkins admits he shot his wife; clever assistant DA Ryan Gosling thinks it’s an open-and-shut case. They can’t both be that clever. Gregory Hoblit’s movie is a smart little puzzler, and Hopkins and Gosling do well as the proud and confident opponents, one with the experience of his years, the other with the brashness of his youthful success.   


Red Heat ★★★
9.00-11.10pm ITV4 

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The 1980s Cold War thaws out just a little, as Russian cop Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to America and has to team up with police officer James Belushi to catch a Georgian drug lord who killed his partner and escaped to the States. There’s nothing in this formulaic tale to bother the Oscar committee, but, with the plot dial set to mayhem, the dialogue liable to fill a swearbox and the violence worthy of director Walter Hill, action fans will be well satisfied.