CHRISTMAS MOVIES! Many of us have a favourite (or several) that we quote in our darkest moments, like tinsel-coated mantras. They can be cheesy, they can be cloyingly sentimental. Sometimes they're not even very good. But they're ours, and right now is the only time of year when we're truly allowed, nay, encouraged, to enjoy them. With that in mind, here are what I deem to be the ten finest, most Christmassy films imaginable. Spoiler alert: you can, and will, disagree with some of these.
Say what you will about the film itself (and lately, people seem to have been saying a whole lot about it), but this film is festive. Really festive. It's pretty much possible to overdose in Christmas if you watch Love Actually; the decor, the music (Bill Nighy's Christmas single, for one), the endless professions of Christmas-inspired love… it might be saccharine as hell but it sure gets the tone right.
The single best piece of Christmas fiction is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This surreal, brash reinterpretation starring the single greatest human alive - Bill Murray - is terrific. Just watch it already.
I know what you're thinking: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang isn't a Christmas film. Except - and it gives me great joy to say this - it absolutely is. The entire plot is kicked off because Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr., in the role the reignited his career) is trying to steal a present for his kid. For Christmas. The rest of the film is riddled with Christmas references, making it a kind of post-noir Christmas detective action film. Which is just about the coolest genre ever.
Another take on A Christmas Carol, this time starring Muppets (like, all of them), and Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. I want you to revisit that pitch: Michael Caine and muppets doing a heartwarming Dickensian fable for your viewing pleasure. I still remember my parents taking me to see this, and crying for hours afterwards because I couldn't adequately process all the emotions I was feeling. Which might actually say more about me as a person than it does about the film, really.
Thank god for the criminally negligent Bannister parents. Kevin is left to his own sociopathic but utterly heartfelt devices in New York, a city that, in 1992, was frankly still a wee bit on the dangerous side. Tim Currie stars as a ruthless hotel manager guy, Stern and Pesci bring the goods, and there's a department store / gift-giving / homeless pigeon lady subplot that contains so much Christmas spirit I'm practically levitating just thinking about it.
On paper, it sounds awful: Arnie is a shitty parent, and in an attempt to make amends to his as yet un-Annakined son Jake Lloyd, enters the last minute Christmas shopping fray to buy a Turboman action figure. Sinbad features prominently. And it really should suck, but it totally doesn't; it's sublimely nineties and ruthlessly cheesy, but holy hell is it uplifting.
Clever, kind, generous and legitimately funny, The Santa Clause is a Christmas film I watch basically every year. Tim Allen is a heartless businessman who literally kills Santa, by accident, and due to an obscure legal clause (THE PUN WORKS ON SO MANY LEVELS) he begins to literally become Santa. The sequels aren't great, especially the third one starring Martin Short as Jack Frost, but the original kicks arse.
Speaking of the original, Home Alone is just sublime. John Hughes (Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles) brings tonnes of heart to this fable about a boy who decides to torture, maim and somehow not kill two burglars who, to be fair, were sort of asking for it. Again, I cannot stress enough how much heart this film has, how much Christmas spirit is has, and just how unfeasible it is that Pesci and Stern didn't just give up and go home.
Jimmy Stewart was a superb actor for so many reasons, and he actually hated this movie. Here's the thing, though: it will reduce you to a blubbering mess. It's a beautiful Christmas story about a fundamentally good guy getting screwed over, losing all hope, and having hope thrust back at him. The final scene kills me every time.
DIE HARD IS PERFECT. The fact that Die Hard is a Christmas film is sort of a bonus, because were it not, i'd still be trying to sandwich it awkwardly into this list. Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, and a Christmas party gone horribly wrong. A disgraced cop with a heart of gold, angry blonde German dudes, explosions, pathos, troubles with your ex… it's all here. If you've somehow not seen Die Hard, rest assured that it's the best thing you can do on Christmas. Sit down, shut up, and experience the festive wonder. The bloody, traumatic, festive wonder.