We are now in the full swing of advent, counting down to this year’s Christmas Day. YAAAY! The holiday season has inspired to start a new feature on my blog, lists of top films associated with a particular time of year or event in the movie calendar etc. Most of them will be Top 5′s, except for the end of the year where I shall post my Top 10 films of the year. But for now to get you in the festive spirit I shall give you my Top 5 movies I like to watch at Christmas, in case you were fed up with Channel 4′s selections for a Sunday afternoon.
I’m sure this Gothic tale of a skeleton discovering the true meaning of Christmas would appear on many people’s Christmas movies lists, as there is a very charming aspect beneath all the gothic make up of Tim Burton’s Christmas tale. With stop-motion animation beautifully directed by Henry Selick (the man behind Coraline), this is not your traditional Christmas movie with a strong dark streak, complimented by Danny Elfman’s best and most catchy score and songs. It’s odd, it’s visually stunning and is a wonderfully written tale of discovering Christmas and the magic that it holds.
Another dark entry here with the tale of a boy, Billy (Zach Galligan, (don’t really know what he’s doing now, he was on Soccer AM not too long ago I think) who gets a mysterious creature for Christmas known as a Mogwai called Gizmo. It seems like the perfect cuddly pet, but it comes with a set of rules. 1. Don’t get it wet. 2. Don’t get it into contact with direct sunlight, it will kill him. And most importantly 3. Never, ever feed him after midnight. But of course, Billy unwittingly breaks these rules and before long his town is crawling with mischievous and highly dangerous Gremlins. Director Joe Dante perfectly blends horror and comedy to create this festive treat that is zany, catoonishly violent and great fun whilst it lasts.
Ok, Channel Four is actually showing this one, but I had to include it as I’m pretty sure many people would be disappointed not to see it included. Elf has become a modern Christmas family favourite, and it’s not hard to see why. It captures a festive spirit mostly in the lead character Buddy (Will Ferrel, at his man-child best) who discovers that he isn’t in fact an Elf, despite being raised by them, inspiring him to go on a search for his real family. It’s one of Ferrel’s better roles and Jon ‘Iron Man’ Favreau always keeps things lively and bubbly, even when it does fall into predictable Christmas family fare, which is what you need from some Christmas movies.
A bit of a cheesy choice granted, but it’s one I always watch mostly because I have it on DVD, but I grew up with it none the less. This one is all about the concept, Kevin McAllister (Maculney Culkin, before all this Michael Jackson hoopla) is accidentally left home alone (get it) when his family decide to go to Paris for Christmas. What starts out as the best time of his life soon turns into a fight for his family’s home as it is threatened by two dim-witted robbers, The Wet Bandits (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). It works on many levels, as I’m sure many of us thought what it would be like if we had the whole house to ourselves when we were kids, but it does keep a strong message on the family value of Christmas, which I guess it kinda has too. But it doesn’t get in the way of the madness as Kevin attempts to stop the burglars through a series of booby traps, with John Hughes’ writing perfectly balancing sentimentality and slapstick perfectly.
5. Die Hard (1988)-
One of my perfect Christmas movies also happens to be one of the best action movies ever made. Die Hard sees New York Cop John McClane trying to patch things up with the Mrs. at her work’s Christmas Party in Los Angeles. This just so happens to be the same night that terrorists take over the building to break into the vault, which has rather a lot of money in it. Christmas is the kick-start for the high concept action which many other films have tried to match over the years but never quite manage. Bruce Willis is the key ingredient here in his career starting and defining role of McClane. He is instantly likable and makes you want to stay with him as he takes on the brilliant Alan Rickman and his gang of European terrorists.
So, that’s my Top 5, if you want to comment on my choices or put down your own favourite festive movies, feel free to write below. But for now, Yippee Ki Yay, have a very Merry Christmas and happy watching.