We’re going to see the new Star Wars film on Tuesday with subtitles (please, no spoilers!), and, from the sounds of it, it’s doing really well. Lizzie is beside herself with excitement. People are calling it ‘epic’ and ‘nostalgic’ and having a musical score to remember: all the things you’d expect from a good Christmas film (see what I did there?)
I already watched Home Alone in November thanks to Netflix’s targeted advertising, and we recently watched Scrooged with Bill Murray. Okay, not with Bill Murray per se because that would be too cool. I should really invite him round one day.. Incidentally, Netflix also suggested I watch A Very Murray Christmas (2015) which I duly did and.. apart from some funny back and forth with Chris Rock and a nice duet with Miley Cyrus, I found it pretty flat for a Christmas film
So anyway, I thought i’d reminisce here with some of my festive favourites. These are the films that make my Christmas. They stir up many childhood memories and are generally guaranteed to leave me feeling jolly. There’s plenty of room on this sleigh, hop on and off we go:
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The classic tale as retold by the Jim Henson’s Muppets in their typically outlandish style. This is easily my absolute favourite film at this time of year. I love it for all the singing, good cheer, and the comical sketches between the narrators, Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat. Also, who doesn’t tear up when Tiny Tim makes his speech?
Light the lamp, not the rat, light the lamp, not the rat!
– Rizzo The Rat
Bill Murray is excellent in this film as miserly Television Executive, Frank Cross, supported by great comical acting from Robert ‘Bobcat’ Goldthwaite as Eliot Loudermilk. I’m not sure i’ve seen any of the serious Scrooge films – there have been many – so next to The Muppets, this is the serious version for me 😉 The ghosts are wonderfully played and entertaining, and the modern take on Tiny Tim is sweet. I particularly like Bill Murray’s moving speech at the end, drawing everyone together, including his love interest Claire, played by Karen Allen (Raiders of The Lost Ark, 1981, The Perfect Storm, 2000)
Home Alone 2 (1992)
I loved the original but i’ve seen more of the sequel and the New York setting is magical. Having watched this film for years, it was a long time before I found myself in these familiar surroundings on our trip to New York in 2012. Macauley Culkin reprises his role as Kevin brilliantly: I love how he winds up Plaza Concierge, Tim Curry (The Hunt for Red October, 1990), and Bellman Robert Schneider (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, 1999). Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern return as the unlucky crooks, Harry and Marv, and their slapstick is hilarious. My favourite parts of this movie are the scenes in Duncan’s Toy Chest and the sweet heart-to-heart scenes with Brenda Fricker’s ‘bird lady’.
Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love animation: from Disney classics like The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and The Beast (1991) and Lilo and Stitch (2002), to anime offerings like Cowboy Bebop (1998), Ghost In The Shell (1995), My Neighbour Totoro (1988), and 3D productions such as The Incredibles (2004), Wall-E (2008) and Up! (2009).. I could go on forever. Throw in my love of all things Stopmotion and the deliciously creepy storytelling of Tim Burton and its easy to understand why I love this film.
Unlike the bright, colourful 3D style found in Pixar and DreamWorks animations, the style here is gritty and dripping with atmosphere. Initially painstakingly created via stop-motion over three years, the film has apparently been fully converted to 3D animation for re-releases. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, attempts to run Christmas albeit with his own creepy twist. The characters are iconic, the adventure thrilling, and the heart of the story is delightful.
(I’d also recommend Coraline (2009), by the same Director, Henry Selick)
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Not the 1947 original, but the sugary-sweet nineties version with Mara Wilson – Mrs Doubtfire (1993), Matilda (1996) – as sceptical six-year-old Susan opposite jolly Richard Attenborough as Santa Claus. Who doesn’t love Richard Attenborough, whose acting credits included Brighton Rock (1947), The Great Escape (1963), and Jurassic Park (1993), and amongst his many directorial offerings, A Bridge Too Far (1977). Miracle on 34th Street is a feel good movie for the whole family and the touching scene where Santa speaks sign language is unforgettable (because Santa speaks all languages, of course)
Okay, not really very Christmassy but we always watched these at this time of year. I like the third film with Samuel L. Jackson equally, but the original and its sequel are set at Christmas time. Bruce Willis is great as the wise-cracking, in-the-wrong-place-at-the-right-time, reluctant hero, Officer John McClane. The action is loud, there’s guns and explosions abound, the villains are over the top, and the endings are always well deserved.
Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…
– Officer John McClane, Die Hard
Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
There are lots of similar films around this time of year – The Santa Clause series for example – but this one speaks to me the most. I like how Santa is introduced as a simple man who wants to spread some joy to children, and is rewarded by becoming Santa, rather than the pre-packaged, commercialised image of Santa we see everywhere now. The kids in this film, played by Christian Fitzpatrick (Joe) and Carrie Kei Heim (Cornelia), are also adorable. Dudley Moore gives a wonderful performance as Patch, the elf with misplaced good intentions.
The Holiday (2006)
Ah I love this film! Next to You’ve Got Mail that I wrote about for the Daily Post prompt, this is one of my favourite feel good romance movies. The pairing off of Kate Winslet / Jack Black and Cameron Diaz / Jude Law works brilliantly, and watching them fumble around in unfamiliar surroundings is sweet. I particularly like the heart-warming plotline with Arthur the screenplay writer, played by Eli Wallach, and the last scene at the end (which Lizzie thinks is too cheesy but I love it 🙂 )
Quite a recent addition to my list as I only saw it a couple of years ago but I loved it. Will Ferrell is hilarious as the titular Elf, Buddy, and the perfect contrast to his no-fun real father, Walter, played by James Caan. I love his child-like innocence and unbounded enthusiasm as he gallivants around spreading Christmas cheer.
I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops.. – Buddy The Elf
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
The last film on my list is the saddest of them all. Directed by Tim Burton in his familiarly dark style and starring Johnny Depp in one of his finest roles as the protagonist, Edward, a mechanical man with scissors for hands, this is a heart-wrenching tale of unrequited love and fear of the unknown. It’s a very human story. I like that it doesn’t focus on the mechanics of Edward’s creation, rather on his struggle to understand the emotions of the community around him.
It wouldn’t be Christmas for me without watching Disney’s sing along video that we had on VHS. Although there was an updated DVD version released in the U.S.A. in 2002 (Region 1), there has never been a DVD release in the UK. Looking at the reviews on Amazon.co.uk, i’m not the only one who hopes we’ll see a reissue in the future.
From the opening Disney logo you know you’re in for a treat and all the familiar Disney characters take you through a sing-along with karaoke style lyrics of your favourite Christmas songs. My absolute favourite one is ‘Parade of the Wooden Soldiers’ 🙂
HEY YOU GUYSSS!! I’ve just found this wonderful YouTube video of the whole thing (embedded below), and there are shortcuts to each of the songs in the first comment. I’m in my happy place this evening. Enjoy!
Do you have any favourite festive films? Those films that really say ‘Christmas’ to you and form part of your annual tradition, sitting down to watch them with your nearest and dearest. Any recommendations?