It’s that time of the year folks. Darker nights and brighter lights. Presents are considered more important than presence. Your wallets are emptying fast. And you are forced to listen to Mariah Carey no less than three times a day. But like most things, there’s always some fun to be had, and once again it’s cinema that is here to save the day.
Whether it’s witnessing Arnie punch a reindeer in the face (for whatever reason), Tim Allen killing Santa Clause or Michael Keaton resurrecting into a snowman (That really happened…!), the holiday season always offers up a good time. Below are five films guaranteed to cheer you up. Especially during a cold, COVID occupied Christmas.
As always, this is my own personal list. No box office bias, or IMDB ranking system involved. Just one man’s opinion on what best encapsulates the spirit of Christmas. So please, don’t be offended if your favourite hasn’t made its way onto the list (sorry fans of The Holiday).
It’s A Wonderful Life:
Let’s start with the most genuinely heart-warming of the lot shall we?
It’s A Wonderful Life is the type of movie that you only need to see once in your lifetime and you will not forget it. Having said that, it’s just as special when you’ve witnessed it for the tenth time. It’s an experience that has not only stood the test of time, but has maybe become more significant in this day and age. A pleasant (and scarily, still relevant) escapism from the tough world that we live in.
Although being understandably applicable to all ages, the sometimes dark themes and timely production is something that may not be fully appreciated until at least your late teens, so if you’re choosing this for some family fun, light entertainment, I’d suggest something else. If you are fortunate enough to have witnessed Frank Capra’s irresistibly charming tale however, there shouldn’t be too many objections to its place on this list. If you are still yet to see it, then why?
Jimmy Stewart is at his charismatic best here. Playing the role of a character that you can’t help but root for, and although this film works on many levels, it’s Stewart that provides the magic that brings this story to life, and you bet it’s wonderful.
Only Chris Columbus can get away with making such a sinister concept feel so innocent, lighthearted and pure.
Home Alone simply doesn’t work without the seasonal setting. It would just appear as some silly, unrealistic tale of one kids alarmingly barbaric display of revenge. Instead, it’s a silly, unrealistic tale of one kids barbaric display of revenge… during Christmas. Which funnily enough seems to work in its favour, adding to its irrefutable charm.
The idiotic dastardly duo of Harry and Marv continues to amuse even to this day. The effect of seeing these two go through endless, literal pain still doesn’t waver, and the fact they managed to stop Joe Pesci from swearing throughout it all is a Christmas miracle in itself.
Topped off with an alluring and highly memorable score by John Williams, Home Alone manages to wisely build on its strengths in many ways that you kind of forget about all of its indiscretions.
It would appear that Will Ferrell’s consistent portrayal of the idiot is running on thin ice. Some might even say it has done for many years. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, he’s made a huge career out of doing so. From all the characters he has brought us however, none feel more authentically Ferrell than Buddy the Elf.
Before his involvement with the MCU, The Mandalorian and live action Disney remakes, Jon Favreau was making little gems such as this. Elf was Favreau’s first taste of success, and since its release back in 2003, has become somewhat of an annual tradition for families all over the world.
Home to some of the most quotable lines (especially around this time of year) in movie existence, Elf is remembered for its child like humour and festive representation. Love or loathe Ferrell’s dedication to the role, Buddy’s legacy continues to thrive through its seemingly endless yearly reruns. And people still can’t get enough of it.
What’s a list like this without a bit of controversy eh?
The seasonal debate continues. Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Well, it takes place on Christmas eve, during a Christmas party, features Christmas music throughout and there’s an abundance of festive themed props that help drive its perfectly plotted narrative. So, what else is needed to convince you charlatans that think this is anything but?
All kidding aside, this is the perfect remedy for those who believe the holiday celebrations start far too early. Sit back with a glass of the heavy stuff, have a break from wrapping your gifts and enjoy Bruce Willis deliver some of his very own, in the way of explosives and gunfire, in a rambunctious standoff between cop and terrorists.
Scrooge and the Grinch are certainly notorious for their lack of Christmas spirit, but they really don’t hold a candle to Hans Gruber. Here’s a guy that really is prepared to poop on your parade. A performance by Alan Rickman, which was so good, it paved way for an impressive career up until his devastating death back in 2016.
Certainly a more unorthodox watch during the holiday season, but there’s far more weight to Die Hard than any of the family friendly fluff you’d associate with the Hallmark channel on an annual basis.
You want something with a bit more fire to warm up your cold evening? Look no further, this film has plenty of it (literally).
The Muppet Christmas Carol:
It would appear baffling that the best adaptation we’ve ever had of Charles Dickens’ famous tale, A Christmas Carol, is told by The Muppets. But it’s true.
Annoyed by some and adored by others, The Muppets have been putting their spin on stories and tales for most of their existence. And none of their adaptations really hit the mark quite like their interpretation of Dickens’ decorative masterpiece.
It features all the classic characters in a typical setting of pure corniness and musical cheese. Only the inclusion of Michael Caine, as the infamously miserable Scrooge, is like putting the star on top of the tree.
The doom and gloom of its Victorian London backdrop, is an odd pairing with the contagiously cheery energy of The Muppets. Fortunately, it blends them both wonderfully, thus creating a festive fiesta that has been a joy to watch for almost three decades.
Which films should have made the cut? Which deserve to be dropped? Feel free to leave a comment below to let me know!