CHRISTMAS is a time for getting together with family and friends for good food and good cheer. Whether your plans this festive season are to stay home for some quiet time or to go out celebrating with good company, there’s a Christmas-themed movie to get you into the holiday spirit. Here are some gems over the past several decades to get you started:
1. Arthur Christmas (2011)
Set on Christmas night, this movie tells the tale of Arthur Claus, the clumsy son of Santa Claus, and his quest to deliver a girl’s present and save her Christmas.
Featuring the voice talents of James McAvoy as the hapless lead, Hugh Laurie as Steven Claus, his more capable older brother, Bill Nighy as Grand-Santa, his grandfather, and many more, this Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation production has a lot of heart and makes for a nice heart-warming festive movie.
2. Love, Actually (2003)
Love it or hate it, this Richard Curtis offering is one of the modern rom-com staples for the season. Taking place mostly in London, the film looks into the different aspects of love that the characters are dealing with during a particularly eventful Christmas season.
With a stellar cast that includes Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Martine McCutcheon, Bill Nighy and Rowan Atkinson, there are plenty of moments to laugh, cry and go “aww”.
Watch with either your girlfriends, or an obliging boyfriend or spouse.
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This stop-motion musical fantasy has Tim Burton’s signature all over it, from the offbeat characters and Danny Elfman’s unmistakable soundtrack. Jack Skellington, a being from Halloween Town opens a portal to Christmas Town and decides to celebrate the holiday with some comical consequences. This makes a perfect viewing for kids who are not afraid of ghouls and goblins.
4. Die Hard (1988)
The film that proved Bruce Willis had the makings of an action hero sees Willis’ off-duty police officer John McClane take on an entire band of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman) amid an office Christmas party gone awry.
Dubbed by Rotten Tomatoes as a “definitive holiday action classic”, this roller coaster ride of a movie can be summed up in the words of McClane — “yippee ki-yay, mother******”.
5. Black Christmas (1974)
This Canadian indie horror film directed by Bob Clark and written by A. Roy Moore follows a group of sorority sisters who are stalked and murdered over Christmas vacation by a killer hiding in their sorority house.
Inspired by The Babysitter and The Man Upstairs, and based on a series of murders that took place in Quebec around Christmas time, this film is generally considered to be one of the first slasher films.
Watch only if your idea of entertainment involves a lot of gore and fake blood.
6. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Charles M Schulz’s Peanuts gang demonstrates how a simple animation for kids can provide adults some food for thought.
Charlie Brown and crew tackle the issue of the over-commercialisation and secularism of the season in this television special that was (ironically) commissioned and sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company (which is responsible for popularising the way Santa Claus looks today).
The film might be about the Christmas holiday but the message of remembering the root of the season can be applied to any religious festival.
7. Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) (1951)
This film iteration of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is regarded as one of the best screen adaptations of the timeless tale of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation when he is visited by the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future.
Alastair Sim’s performance of Scrooge is the one that all other actors playing the role have to match.
8. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This Frank Capra produced and directed fantasy comedy-drama is a Christmas classic for good reason.
A man who spent his life helping others and who is contemplating his imminent suicide on Christmas eve is visited by his guardian angel who shows him all the lives he touched and how different life would have been in his community if he had never been born.
Have a box of tissues ready as you watch James Stewart’s George Bailey discover how it really is “a wonderful life”.
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