By Rosanna Lloyd, Third Year, Film & Television
With the year it has been for us all, I think it is fair to say that most of us are looking forward to some Christmas spirit this year. And what better route to that magic, excitement, and joy than a Christmas film list ensured to make even the crankiest of Krampuses a little more gleeful this festive season?
10. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
First, we have Ernst Lubitsch’s screwball comedy. Set in a gift shop in Budapest, every employee takes their place in the quick-witted romantic drama. It is the You’ve Got Mail (1998) of the forties, but with a classic and elegant nature. Ending on the magical night of Christmas Eve it envelops all the hope and excitement of what is yet to come. There is something particularly special about watching an old Hollywood black and white over Christmas. It emits those waves of nostalgia for all of us, and so it seems right to watch films that echo earlier festive messages, especially if there’s a grandparent in the room.
9. Little Women (1994)
Despite the consistent cinematic retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s original 19th century novel (with Gerwig’s latest instalment releasing just last year) the 1994 Gillian Armstrong version will always remain my particular favourite. Its harmonic sense of community feels, to me, stronger and more crucial for all of us to making the most of the festive period. The presentation of sisterhood is both endearing and representative of the tribulations in family relationships. Get cosy with this winter warmer and delve right into the theatrics, ambitions and hearts of the March family.
8. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The perfect transition piece between Halloween and Christmas, this film encompasses all that is great about this time of year. From the bubbling explosiveness of its original score to the brimming creativity of the animation, this film is just the recipe for your cauldron of Christmas classics.
7. Black Christmas (1974)
For those of you who remain unconvinced about the traditional merriness of most Christmas films and are still yearning for October’s spook-fest, Black Christmas may be the one for you. Despite it being a low-budget Canadian slasher with most of its shock values being fairly predictable. We still find ourselves becoming more disturbed through the deranged killer’s mysterious calls and cutthroat killings to an all-female sorority house. The goings-on may not always surprise you, but the atmosphere is thick in this film and heavily inspires John Carpenter’s notable classic Halloween (1978). If you’re up for a twisted, blood-splattering version of Christmas then I cannot recommend this movie enough.
6. The Night Before (2015)
Next up we have a festive film for the thrill-seeking party goers among us. Unfortunately, our Christmas plans this year won’t take the usual settings of crowded pubs or thriving bars that play Slade right up to full volume. Alternatively, we can experience the almost traumatic nights of previous years through the eyes of Isaac, Ethan and Chris as they embark on a final night of absolute Christmas chaos. This film is a definite crowd-pleaser for student groups, and I’d advise not seeing this around family.
5. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
This idiosyncratic tragicomedy can be taxing and yet extremely rewarding when given enough attention. It’s focus on homeless people over Christmas opens a new, undistinguished world to the more fortunate. I’d suggest watching this one during the abyss that lies between Christmas and New Year when you’ve lost all sense of time.
4. Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
In my humble opinion, you can’t have one without the other. Both films’ messages resound the importance of comforting others, whether it’s the lonely neighbour that shovels out snow or the woman in grand central park who takes solace with her flock of pigeons. There shall always be a person in need when you look hard enough. The beautiful cityscape of New York in the second film, is enhanced through Kevin McCallister’s (Macaulay Culkin) innocent yet devilish lens. And yet I think we all wish we could put into practise Kevin’s scheming tricks and traps, when two evil robber’s start intruding on our privacy. Even if they are the talented comedy duo Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, that certainly make my mother and I laugh each year no matter how many times we rewatch the films.
3. Klaus (2019)
At number three we have another beautifully crafted animation. The 2019 Netflix original deservedly won the Oscar’s category for best animated feature film earlier this year. Klaus is not only for the captive hearts of children, but for anyone whose sense of festive spirit maybe lacking this year. Each character we see begins stuck in their ways; a raucous feud dividing the town of Smeerensburg, a postal academy’s spoilt and worst famed student and an introverted, grief ridden Klaus voiced by the wonderful J.K. Simmons. And yet through kindness, all begin to change. This intricately detailed story creates a sense of hope accentuated by the glorious music by upcoming composer Alfonso G. Aguilar.
2. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Ok so I’m not asking you to start putting ‘I believe’ posters in your windows. But to me, this is the most plausible of all the Santa films out there. Richard Attenborough’s endearing performance not only calculates the magical mind of Santa Claus but his ever-present softness in the face of capitalism’s exploitation of good will. This film has an annual screening in my house and for this year, it should be on your screens too.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Of course, this film had to be number one on my list. The less time I spend reviewing this quintessential, heartfelt classic, the quicker you are to get watching it.
What's your favourite festive film?