Festive films to love?

It’s not Christmas without some decent feature-length festive entertainment, so I’ve decided it’s time to dust off some classics in preparation for a girly night in next week. When I proposed the concept last week (it’s a simple one – girls, possibly clad in PJs, drinking hot chocolate and watching classic Christmas movies) there was much discussion as to which films should make the shortlist. I was shocked that some I felt were mandatory were vetoed, but I’ll watch them anyway, and share them with you for posterity…

Most shocking of all, was a negative reaction to Love, Actually. It’s been compulsory annual viewing since its release in 2003 (in fact, I babysat a child while its entire family was at the film’s premiere – jealous much?) and it’s a favourite for festive train journeys. However, it seems that there’s a sizeable number of people who hate it, actually – as the comments on this fabulous Hairpin article demonstrate hilariously. [Though it seems that even those who try to hate it end up loving it secretly and no one can resist the charm of “Eight is a lot of legs David”.] I may be slightly hardcore in my passion for this film – not only do I watch it throughout the year, but I usually watch the deleted scenes too, after all, Richard Curtis would want me too. Then I play this scene over and over and over…

Similarly, The Holiday is a film I can (and do) watch throughout the year. In fact, I tend to forget that the ‘holiday’ element of it is Christmas, despite the ridiculous quantity of snow in the English storyline. Just a few weeks ago I spent a happy Saturday night in watching it for the umpteenth time and couldn’t be bothered to turn the DVD player off when it finished and discovered that this meant that the movie would start again from the beginning – no matter, I thought, and watched the first half again. For me, this is a motivational film – I’ve done a version of Kate Winslet’s gumption speech twice now with two different men – and I’ll often watch it just for her storyline, skipping the Jude Law/Cameron Diaz scenes. Yes, it’s a chick flick and yes, it’s only tenuously Christmassy, but I adore it.

But what is Christmas for if not for watching films that make you feel like a child again? I suppose it’s no surprise that my other favourites all came out in the late 1980s/early 90s when Christmas was still a magical time for my innocent heart…

Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are both coming into their own as Christmas classics (we don’t speak of the third instalment), but controversially, it’s the second that’s my personal favourite – after all, it stars New York, and who wouldn’t love to be in NYC at Christmas? Plus, it has a lovely soundtrack (John Williams, quelle surprise) and the moment when the family’s reunited in the Plaza melts me every time. Oh, and it features a massive toyshop – what else does it need? [The first film features a church service, so it’s not as if it’s completely blasphemous!] Oh, and it’s got Tim Curry in it – although sadly it doesn’t involve him singing.

Also starring New York is the remake of Miracle on 34th Street. I’ve long preferred this version over its black and white predecessor, but probably because this was the version I saw one Christmas and the version we then owned on VHS and watched annually. However, it turns out that Mark Kermode also prefers the Attenborough version, so I feel justified. Cute children, cute lawyers and some legal drama – what’s not to like?

Finally, back to London, but in the company of some Americans, for the utter classic without which Christmas cannot be complete – The Muppet Christmas Carol. It has much going in its favour. For a start, my Dad adores the Muppets, so this was truly a film for our whole family. Plus, the year it came out on video was the same year that my sister and I were in an Am-Dram production of the classic Dickens’ tale. To this day, I think we could still recite the script in full (as we used to do, to our parents’ joy, on long car journeys). I was overjoyed last week to discover that the soundtrack is on Spotify and that it includes a song glaringly excluded from the DVD release (the scene wasn’t in the theatrical release, but was in the video, I still can’t believe they cut it). The whole thing is a joy from start to finish, but the real star is Rizzo the Rat, who has all the best lines – some of which are still firm fixtures in our family vocabulary:
“Hoity toity Mr Godlike Smarty Pants!”
“Light the lamp not the rat! Light the lamp not the rat!!”
Oh, and I defy you not to cry when the Ghost of Christmas Future takes Scrooge (Michael Caine – see, it’s a gem!) to the Cratchitt house after Tiny Tim’s death. Heartbreaking.

Clearly, there must be classics that I’m missing (though my mother does the entire family’s duty of watching It’s a Wonderful Life every year without fail), so what should I add to my collection?


  1. Santa claus the movie, elf, and of course the grinch who stole Christmas – a fave of the girls! Agree with most of the above!

  2. Father Christmas (DVD paired with The Snowman, which is also excellent, but doesn’t have ‘Another Bloomin’ Christmas’ to add to its charms).
    I totally agree with all of the above, btw… HOW could they veto Love Actually?! Or The Holiday?!

    wv: anslyin
    Anslyin if she says she doesn’t secretly love Love Actually.

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