No other holiday is better for films than Christmas. You’ve got the run up to the Oscars, all the classic Christmas and family films being played on TV, and the epic Christmas blockbusters that are released in the cinema over the course of the holiday. This year is no exception with films on the horizon such as Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Golden Compass, Fred Clause, and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, but what about those classic films that embody Christmas in all its glory?
I guess the first film on the list should be the true classic that is It’s a Wonderful Life, because let’s face it, this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Despite its gloomy beginning, the film shows the difference one person can make and how great life can be, and by the end of the movie, like James Stewart’s character, you come away feeling inspired.
The Snowman is a film full of imagination and heart that remains quite uplifting despite the sad ending. The classic song ‘Walking in the air’ has a big impact, thanks to the fact that there are no other words apart from the narrative.
Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are brilliant stand-alone films whilst also making a great Christmas double bill. After seeing these films, what kid doesn’t want to be left alone in the house in the hope that two burglars would come along so they could try out some booby traps? Although Macaulay Culkin is incredibly entertaining, the winning performances come from Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the two incompetent burglars Harry and Marv.
If you get the chance to see the animated version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas then make sure you tune in and watch it, it isn’t played very often and you don’t want to miss out on such a treat. The live action version is also very good, and brings the world of Dr. Suess alive, using amazing sets and make up, not to mention Jim Carrey’s highly amusing performance in the title role.
Elf has the winning combination of Will Ferrell at his silliest as Buddy the elf, whilst also being filled with Christmas spirit and heart.
This is also the season for pantomime and undoubtedly at some theatre in the country Peter Pan will be shown. But why bother going out to the theatre when you can sit back at home and watch Hook, which is full of great performances, especially Dustin Hoffman who truly made the role of Captain Hook his own.
Nightmare Before Christmas is a brilliant piece of stop motion animation from the mind of Tim Burton. Anyone who’s seen this film will remember Jack Skellington’s first steps into Christmas town as he sings the films signature song. If you get the chance then go and see the 3D version at the Imax cinema in London.
Lastly, if you want a break from all the family films that are knocking about this Christmas and you just want to sit back and watch something packed full of action from start to finish, then why not watch Die Hard. The best thing is, if somebody starts to argue that it doesn’t quite fit in with the spirit of Christmas you need only point out that that’s when the film takes place.
First published in The Orbital (December 2007)