Evelyn Heis, Film & TV Editor
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Until a few years ago, I considered myself an avid Christmas hater. The overplayed Christmas songs, the crowds of people panic-buying presents, the incessant posts on social media of people’s extremely lavish family outings and expensive presents… I hated Christmas so much that throughout the whole month of December, I truly resembled Ebenezer Scrooge, or even better, the Grinch.
The Grinch has to be one of Jim Carrey’s best performances of all time and one of the best anti-Christmas films- though it eventually transitions into a heartfelt Christmas film- ever made. It is hilarious, relatable, and wholesome enough to make my icy Christmas-hating heart melt.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, The Grinch follows this green, fluffy and smelly, Christmas-hating creature who lives at the top of Whoville’s mountain and plans to sabotage Christmas for the Whos every year. That is until Cindy Lou Who (played by Taylor Momsen) attempts to befriend him and teach him the true value of Christmas.
Admittedly, this film feels like a fever dream, but the best kind. The pompous Christmas decorations in Whoville, their flamboyant costumes, their crazy hairstyles and makeup are the epitome of camp. Every character in Whoville is giving. From the Mayor’s wife in her sexy Santa dress to Cindy Lou Who’s iconic twisted braids, each and every one of them are serving. But the most underrated icon amongst them all is the Grinch, with the scene of him going, ‘Ooh! Aah! Mmmm! That’s it, I’m not going.’ when he tries on clothes, living rent-free in my mind.
I think this is truly one of the best Christmas films of all time, as it’s the perfect mix of comedy and wholesomeness. If the Grinch and I can learn to love Christmas, I can guarantee that you can too.
Jake Tickle, Deputy Film & TV Editor
Last Christmas (2019)
Last Christmas (2019) is a dark horse from what we’d consider ‘Christmassy’ films. But this film has everything! For starters, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding (everyone wins), as well as humour perfectly balanced with a heartbreaking twist. Needless to say, I sobbed, and if you’ve seen this film, then you know exactly what I mean.
If you haven’t watched it, then all I have to say is grab a box of tissues… Sad ending aside, Emilia Clarke plays Kate, who works as an elf at a Christmas shop (her boss, by the way, is literally called Santa, played by Michelle Yeoh), who seems bent on making awful life decisions. That is until she meets Tom, played by Henry Golding.
This film has the perfect light-hearted comedy with an actual good plot that makes rom-coms great, and Michelle Yeoh's character had me in stitches. A fantastic cast, the BEST soundtrack (‘Last Christmas’ is the best Christmas song ever) and a great plot... what isn't there to love?
I always recommend this film to anyone looking for something to get emotionally invested in over Christmas.
Amelia Jacob, Digital Film & TV Editor
Love Actually (2003)
My December film pick is not so much a recommendation as a love letter to a film that is – in my humble, hopeless-romantic opinion – Richard Curtis’ magnum opus, the crème de la crème of bumbling British romance: Love Actually.
Just in case you need reminding, I’ll give you a brief plot low down – various love stories, be it platonic or romantic, intersect in this Christmas classic, which begins five weeks before the big day and encompasses everything from an ageing pop star trying to secure a Christmas hit, to a holiday romance between an unlucky in love writer and the young housekeeper working at the property he retreats to.
I am very committed to the Love Actually discourse – was Kiera’s Knightley’s Juliet inappropriate by kissing her husband’s best mate? Absolutely. Would Colin’s Firth’s Jamie and the beautiful Aurélia have made it in real life? Probably not. But Richard Curtis is the king of making films that suspend ordinary cynicism and prioritise the small loving gestures we show to each other every single day.
Watching it feels like a warm hug, and even writing these words has convinced me to re-watch it...
Kalila Smith, Film & TV Investigations Editor
This pick is for all my fellow “cotton-headed ninny muggins” for ‘tis the season to whip out the remote and click onto the film banner poster of Will Ferrell in yellow spandex and unnervingly pointed black boots.
Elf (2003) involves a fully-grown man with concerningly intense ‘daddy issues’ and a lack of social cues; oh, and he so happens to be a human elf from the North Pole named Buddy (Will Ferrell). On a quest to find his biological father, Buddy leaves the North Pole for New York, which he immediately becomes entranced by, including a café with “the world’s best cup of coffee” - I doubt the concept of consumerism was taught in the North Pole.
Ferrell, for 90 minutes, becomes the physical embodiment of the childish innocence and borderline exhausting excitement that accompanies Christmas. The film can also become invaluable rest time from eating at Christmas with Buddy consuming cotton balls at an unsettling speed, and a nauseating scene where he devours, by choice, multiple pieces of chewing gum from the hygienic streets of New York.
This is a comedy classic with James Caan as the self-centred, begrudging father, Zooey Deschanel as the sweet-singing love interest, and a brief feature of Peter Dinklage rightfully pummelling Ferrell to the ground.
If you do not watch this film annually, then you are doing Christmas wrong… so watch it!
Claire Meakins, Subeditor and Film & TV Critic
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Growing up, Christmas films weren’t a staple of my festive experience, so many of the ‘classics’ I have either not watched or watched slightly too late in life for them to give me the nostalgia hit that many others enjoy. However, there is one exception to this rule, and that is The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992).
For some reason, its slot on TV always coincided with the annual present-wrapping bonanza so every year, I planted myself firmly on the sofa, pretending to help with the Sellotape but mentally being in the strange Muppet-filled world on screen.
Starring Michael Caine as Scrooge, The Muppets’ Christmas Carol follows Dickens’ iconic Christmassy story, but with a twist, aside from Scrooge, all the characters are Muppets. Amongst the film’s slapstick quirkiness, Caine plays the role straight, creating a human-Muppet dynamic that is both ridiculous and heart-warming.
Maybe it’s not the most sophisticated or technically brilliant Christmas film (or even the ‘best’ Christmas Carol adaptation), but something about the classic muppet dynamics, an oddly sensitive Kermit (Steve Whitmire), and a classic tale mixed with anarchic joy always brings the magic of Christmas into my cold, grinch-like heart.
Featured Image: Amelia Jacob, Digital Editor
What are your favourite Christmas films?