Christmas, the season of good cheer, feasting, terrible office secret Santa and evergreen movies. Here at the Robin’s Nest, we are massive Christmas movies fans. Mainly because they a.) are usually joyous; and b.) often hugely profound (well some are). They’ve even perhaps subtly influenced our editing when it comes to winter weddings.
So here, in reverse order, are the favourite Christmas Movies of a 30 something bloke. It must be noted that my choices are also influenced by nostalgic personal context.
10: Love Actually
A rom-com? Really? Well yes, actually. Richard Curtis, of Blackadder fame (and therefore a god amongst people of my vintage), crafts a clever concept of weaving various strands together. It is festive, but in a mild mannered British fashion. The opening sequence regarding Heathrow is poignant though some may see it as trite mush. However, for someone who has worked long contracts overseas in a previous career, reuniting with my other half at the airport arrivals area at Christmas was every bit as wonderful as the film depicts. On a personal level, just to brag, I went to the Scottish premiere of Love Actually, sitting beside Gregor Fisher himself. Good lad.
This is perhaps more funny because I now have kids, and can anticipate the numerous Christmas plays I’ll attend in the future. But I enjoyed it before, even when I knew nothing about kids, because I remember vividly being at Primary School myself. Martin Freeman is fantastic and makes this film something it probably couldn’t be without a talent like Freeman at the helm. The kids are funny too. As Christmas Movies go, this is probably overlooked but worth a gander. It’s better than it ought to be.
Some Christmas movies seem to instantly become classics, seeming to have been around for decades. Just so with Elf. The genius of Jon Favreau and Will Ferrell combined, plus Zooey Deschanel makes the old ticker miss a beat (not to detract from her own acting talent as a cynical elf). The clever thing about this, I suppose, is that it incorporates elements of older children’s Christmas animations and blends them with the live action. It’s simply great fun.
7: Home Alone
When I was younger, this was simply a slapstick movie. Every single kid would imitate Culkin’s aftershave slap screen in the playground. Now though, it is evident how steeped in the theme of family and general homeliness that the film is. My favourite bit is when he is walking to the church and speaks to the scary neighbour and Carol of the Bells plays in the background. It is a moment of depth, and peace.
6: The Snowman
No words. Just wonderful. Quintessentially British. I could watch it forever. In the book though, famously grumpy, author Briggs didn’t provide the respite of the boy finding the scarf in his pocket. Again, the boy and I share exactly the same experience of days when it snowed. I would be racing outside in not enough clothing to build snowmen. Mine didn’t bloody come to life and take me on an impromptu package holiday though. Pah.
5: Die Hard
Yes. Look this is definitely a Christmas movie. It’s just a Christmas movie with guns and pithy one liners as an added bonus. Not only do you get a marital reconciliation (nothing says I love you like massacring a tribe of Eastern European mercenaries) but you also get the joyous refrain of Let It Snow to the sight of snow-like bonds raining down from the sky. It’ll make you feel festive and give you a testosterone fix all in one go.
4: Miracle on 34th Street (either version)
I went to see the 1994 version in the cinema. So that instils it into the fabric of my childhood. Richard Attenborough is fantastic. There is also some sort of soft focus look going on which makes it all the more dreamlike. However, the original is perhaps better, and maybe the less glossy, black and white provides a bit more charm.
Actually the very best rendition of Dickens Classic on film. Alastair Sim is unparalleled as Ebenezer. A Christmas Carol may actually be one of the most important books ever written, certainly in terms of its societal impact at the time. But every year we are reminded to be better people.
2: Muppets Christmas Carol
However, if like me, the first version of this film which you saw was the Muppets version, then there isn’t really any discussion on the matter.
1: It’s a Wonderful Life
Perhaps the finest film ever made. It is an investment to be sure. You have to give yourself over to the film and go on the full journey with George Bailey. But do so and you will be given a new lease of life. Barry Norman, the great film critic, insisted that the entire population should be made to watch this film at least once per year, for the good of mankind.