December is here! Deck the halls and ring whatever bells you have to hand!
I’ll be dedicating this month to reviewing festive favourites, but before I launch into the reviews for the month, I thought I’d share with you all my film recommendations for if you want to feel holly and/or jolly. I’ll be reviewing some of these over the month, but not all of them, so take this as a stamp of approval on whatever I mention, enjoy.
Elf (2003) – Directed by Jon Favreau
Will Ferrell may be an acquired taste to some, and a bit hit-and-miss at best (and a lot more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’ in recent years) but the sight of him frolicking around New York as a giant elf will never be anything less than joyous.
Extra points for Zooey Deschanel too, I wonder what happened to her? Also, the musical is amazing, but they don’t show the live recording of it on TV anymore, which makes me very sad.
Die Hard (1988) – Directed by John McTiernan
Yes, it is a Christmas film, and yes, it still kicks ass.
An extremely well put-together film than manages to stand the test of time much better than many of its 80s counterparts. Hans Gruber is one of Christmas’ greatest villains, and his death remains one of cinema’s most satisfying.
Special mention should also go to its first two sequels. But not the last two, they’re a big pile of reindeer nuggets.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1999) – Directed by Ron Howard
A bit divisive this one; and truth be told it’s not a stone-cold classic like a lot of other films on this list, but seeing Jim Carrey in his 90s pomp hamming it up to the nines under about a mile of prosthetics makes this one to re-visit, if not every year then definitely every other year.
The original 1960’s animated version is also extremely charming, which is exactly what the latest Illumination adaptation was not.
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer (2000) – Directed by Phil Roman
Okay, we’re going really niche now.
I sometimes feel like I’m the only person on Earth who remembers this made-for-TV movie; it seemed to be on every Christmas as a kid, and I know because I looked for it every year, on Cartoon Network specifically, and watching it back as an adult is like a fever dream.
The basic pitch is that ‘Grandma’ is knocked down by one of Santa’s reindeer, after carrying a fruitcake laced with reindeer nip (?) out and about on Christmas Eve. Santa reacts to this by taking her back to the North Pole (let’s not speculate where he put her on the sleigh) prompting the vindictive ‘Cousin Mel’ to try and seize Grandma’s toy shop so she can sell it, and she also has Santa arrested. About time too, if you ask me.
It’s truly barmy and must be experienced to fully appreciate its charms.
Miracle on 34th Street (1994) – Directed by Les Mayfield
Has there ever been a better casting as Santa than Dickie Attenborough? Not if you ask me.
A remake of a remake that will melt even the most frozen of hearts, this has been a favourite of the Major household, in its many different adaptations, for generations, but for me, the 1994 version is truly the best.
Heart-warming, life affirming, and truly magic, it’s Christmas cinema in all its jolly glory.
The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) – Directed by Brian Henson
Because the Muppets just make everything better.
Special acclaim must be given to Michael Caine, who acted as if he was in a straight-drama piece, never once making it feel like he didn’t take the part seriously, and the addition of Muppets around him makes that all the starker.
It might be my favourite adaptation of this story, as well as the best use of The Muppets in films too, they’re at their most charming here, the fact that Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim are frogs won’t even occur to you, their portrayals are still just as heartfelt.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – Directed by Frank Capra
It had to be here, didn’t it?
Not only the best Christmas film of all-time but one of the best films of all-time, full stop, end of story.
It’s timeless, and it’s ending will spark the Christmas spirit in even the most ardent Scrooge, and will leave you beaming from ear-to-ear, a tear of festive joy running down your cheek at the beauty of life as it is depicted here.
Also, and indulge me here, but I’d love to see a Muppets version of this too. I know I’m a genius, and oh, by the way, Disney – if you’re reading this – I’ll accept a cheque in the post for that totally killer idea.
What are your annual Christmas movie traditions? Tweet me, or comment on Facebook!