As a little stocking filler for Christmas, myself, Zoe, Rob and Ryan have all prepared an essential viewing guide for you to peruse. We have all picked three films that no Christmas season can do without, and that we find ourselves going back to each year without fail. Check out our selections after the jump.
What About The Twinkie?:
- Scrooged (1988) – What’s not to love about Scrooged? It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s darkly funny and it has the almighty Bill Murray starring as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge. Only this time his name is Frank Cross, and he is a deeply cynical killjoy working as a TV executive who is trying to get the highest ratings for his network through any means possible. Bill Murray does some of his best work here, and despite the deeply layered bitterness there is a kind heart in both the film and his character, showcased beautifully in Cross’ closing speech.
- Die Hard (1988) – Call me predictable if you will, but I stand by my argument that Die Hard IS a Christmas film and anyone who thinks differently is wrong. If you look for it, Die Hard is the quintessential Christmas film. As one man gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, he must overcome adversity to claim redemption in his own eyes and his families. Too much? Well then, just sit back and watch Bruce Willis blow shit up, then I dare you not to sing along to “Let it Snow” when the credits are rolling.
- Bad Santa (2003) – What can I say? I like my Christmas film to be mischievous to say the least. I’m not one for schmaltz and melodrama, instead I like humour, and sick twisted humor at that. Bad Santa is therefore the perfect Christmas film for me. It’s got laughs a plenty, Billy Bob Thornton as a professional thief masquerading as a shopping centre Santa Claus, a midget for a sidekick and maybe, just maybe it has a heartwarming story buried underneath all the sex and alcohol.
Damn, this got a little bit difficult when I heard the movies should preferably be Christmastime films and the sort. My biggest issue with this is likely that I hate Christmas movies and such. But I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. However, picking three films that have a Christmas setting was a little easier, no matter if the entire point of the film was Christmas-related or not.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – This movie is just awesome on so many levels for me. I love it, I think it is ridiculously sharp and witty and entertains me endlessly each time I watch it. A large section goes down around Christmastime, and I thought it worked with the movie. This is totally the kind of movie I can get on board with that demonstrates the holiday, but is not inundated with the cheese and stupidity of it all.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – This movie leaves me torn between October’s and Decembers, and it is definitely not difficult to understand why, especially seeing as it is doing a mashup between Halloween and Christmas, shattered identities, hopes and dreams. Well, I like this one for either, but I love it for December viewing (it must be the pretty lights). It is so steeped in having fun, celebrating the holiday, giving, acknowledging mistakes and what not that you cannot help but love it. Not to mention some awesome animation, great songs, snow and decorations everywhere? Love it.
- Batman Returns (1992) – Yep, another Burton on the list. He somehow knows how to take Christmas and make it awesome in a real non-conventional way. I mean here we have the Penguin up to his serious shenanigans over the big holiday, real Gothic-style characters, all them purdy lights that I love so much and the decorations and Catwoman wending her way through all the events. It’s just… yes… a darker, more entertaining Christmas film.
- Love Actually (2003) – I can’t remember the very first time I watched Love Actually but I do remember getting hooked on this movie. In what is considered “The Ultimate Romantic Comedy”, it was the first time a group of Hollywood’s best English actors and actresses were thrown together for a hilarious and heartfelt look at relationships during the holiday season. Despite it’s mostly negative reviews I love this movie because it is funny and charming. There are several moments where you could find yourself bursting out laughing or wiping away a tear of joy. The cast is simply amazing with Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Kiera Knightley, Alan Rickman, and Emma Thompson. There’s at least one couple in the movie that you can get drawn into and mine is Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister relationship with his secretary Natalie. She is a very beautiful woman, Hugh is just too dumb to see it, and will end up making a fool of himself to finally tell her she’s the one. Love Actually has been one of my go to Christmas movies for almost a decade now, “Because it’s Christmas, and at Christmas you tell the truth.” 10/10
- The Family Man (2000) – Anyone who knows me, knows I love the city life and would prefer the concrete jungle to any other landscape. When Nicholas Cage came out with The Family Man in 2000 I felt connected to his character more than I ever could to Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life. These movies came out almost a hundred years apart but share the similar storyline, with The Family Man presenting a more modern-day version of having a glimpse of a life that could have been. It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic and will always be held in high regard, I just make sure to watch The Family Man every Christmas because I would love to have the life of Cage’s character. I’m sure I’d enjoy all that money and the beautiful high-rise living, but there would probably come a day where I wonder what life would be like with kids bouncing from hockey rink to hockey rink. I thought Tea Leoni was a beautiful choice as a wife and would totally consider giving up my other life if I was coming home to someone like her every night. If you love It’s a Wonderful Life and enjoy sentimental Christmas movies, The Family Man is a must watch. 9/10
- Christmas Vacation (1989) – There is seriously one Christmas movie that is a must watch every year and that is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Chevy Chase opens up the Griswold family home for the holidays only to see it filled with an insane number of crazy family members. Everyone has an Uncle Eddie in their family and would never want to admit it let alone them empty his RV’s toilet into their sewer. My favourite parts are when the cat eats the Christmas lights and when Chase’s character goes on a rant (filled with numerous swears) about his lowlife boss. There so many other moments about this film that will still have you laughing out loud even after 25 years. I hope they never remake this movie because it would be extremely hard to duplicate the chemistry between all the characters and it would be really hard to top all the crazy things that happened over the holiday season in suburban America. 10/10
Being Jewish, I have never celebrated Christmas, but having grown up in the suburbs of Detroit during the 80’s, I was quite exposed to the “holiday” atmosphere in stores, on the streets and of course via my love of movies. So when thinking about what three movies remind me of the “Holiday” spirit, the answer to me is quite clear:
- It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – I actually avoided seeing this movie till well into my teens because I had thought it will be too Christmassy for me, but once I saw it, I was hooked and have always loved watching and re-watching it. The movie really puts everyone in the position where they must think about how essential each and every one of us is in the world and if we were no longer part of it, how many other lives would be effected by us not being there.
- Scrooged (1988) – There have been many adaptations of Dickens’ classic tale, but this one is my favourite because Bill Murray is great in the role of Frank Cross, and this movie takes a very serious premise and lighten it with a lot of humor and sight gags that make you smile. The song at the end by Annie Lennox and Al Green has always gotten me very emotional.
- Die Hard (1988) – How can a list of Christmas movies not include the best one of them all, that is set during Christmas but just isn’t quite your regular feel good holiday movie? They expertly give us the feeling of the Holidays with the perfect use of music, parties and decoration accessories to keep reminding us why John McLane is in LA and also why the terrorists chose that particular night for their scheme. Yippee ki yay!