The Glenny Guide To.. The Seven Best Movies To Watch This Christmas
Look, I love The Miracle On 34th Street as much as the next homo. But sometimes it’s nice to spend Christmas remembering a world post-technicolour. It’s easy at this time of year to mistake Black & White colouring for true sentiment. Every year I have a handful of ‘must-watches’. It started as two, then three and now has spiralled to about seven. And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why Glenn always gains five pounds over the holiday season. This year I’m about to introduce Elf to the mix and watch it for the very first time. I have my hopes up, because I have a secret crush on Will Ferrell (well, Stranger Than Fiction Ferrell anyway – Step Brothers Ferrell? Not so much..) and Zooey Deschanel has had my heart ever since her ‘and this song explains why I’m leaving home to become a stewardess’ monologue in Almost Famous. I’ve been listening to the She & Him Christmas album all day (suck on that Buble) and YOU SHOULD TOTALLY BUY IT BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME. Plus, my Mum thought it was KD Lang and I’m pretty sure that’s a positive endorsement if I ever heard one.
So, if you’re bored over the holiday season, here are seven of Glenny’s Christmas Modern Day Klassics that you should totally hunker down with some eggnog, pie and man candy (or any combination of the three) and get to know. Some have more tenuous Christmas connections than others, but for me they are all very essential holiday viewing. ENJOY! (Click on the titles of each of them for a youtube clip of Christmas Amazingness).
Tim Burton’s ground-breaking stop motion fantasy managed to bleed the two best holidays in the world – Christmas and Halloween – into one stunningly dark and beautiful piece of film-making that is just as breath taking now as it was 18 years ago. With a fantastic score, terrific voice acting and a pitch perfect tone, it’s a perfect Christmas movie for anyone eight to eighty.
Not a traditional choice by any means, but an essential one round these parts none the less. Now, I’m not even that big a fan of the show, in the sense that I don’t religiously watch it or anything. But I just LOVED the first movie. Very few tv shows have successfully managed to tell a story that is both true to it’s roots and is a genuine expansion beyond a 30 minute format. But, in general, very few comedies go to as such dark places as this does. The Christmas / New Year segment in the middle of this is as true emotionally as any more serious dramas. Kadoos!
And who could forget this 1990 Christmas Classic. Basically a 90 minute paean to the old ‘be careful what you wish for’ adage, it balances wish fulfilment for all ages with hilarious slapstick comedy and the now-patented Culkin schtick, which had not yet worn out it’s welcome. With a fab supporting cast, it managed to have just the right amount of sweet to keep it on high rotation two decades on.
Sure, the sight of an elderly woman being flung out of her roof in a malfunctioning electric chair doesn’t *scream* Christmas spirit, but Joe Dante’s mean spirited masterpiece was as much a satire on holiday culture as it was on our obsession with violence. And, besides, Mrs Deagle TOTALLY deserved it. Every kid knows that. Plus, Gizmo is the single cutest thing in the history of the world, ever. The sequel is, in a lot of ways, even better – mostly because it manages to be a lot funnier and consumer culture is an even bigger target – but nothing ever surpasses the blackly enjoyable thrill of watching a postcard perfect town get torn apart by malicious little demons. And Phoebe Cates’s monologue about discovering the truth behind Santa Claus is still as darkly funny as anything.
Sometimes Love, Actually feels like it was designed in a test tube as part of some mad experiment to breed the ‘ultimate’ Christmas movie. Probably in the same laboratory that produced such atrocities as Valentines Day and New Years Eve. Unlike those two holiday themed enema nozzles, Love, Actually manages to be equal parts funny and charming, actually. Sure, some of the plot lines could easily have been left out (Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, all the icky scenes of Alan Rickman being considered even remotely attractive *shudders*). In fact, if they would just rerelease the DVD with an option to just play all the Hugh Grant and Bill Nighy storylines for two hours, it would obviously be what is termed ‘a very good thing’. But the whole thing just works. And it’s superbly acted and downright hilarious in parts.
Renee Zellweger playing the quintessential British singleton should have been awful. Disastrous. I mean, the poor thing weights about 85 pounds. But, somehow, it was a stroke of genius. Truth be told, the film is actually much, much better than the original book (mostly because it pilfers it’s best plotlines from the second novel) and is just perfect in every way. Christmas now just wouldn’t be Christmas without Reindeer Jumpers, Turkey Curry Buffets and, of course, Hugh Grant traipsing around the Lake District in a sodding wet see through shirt. It’s almost enough for you to forgive them for unleashing Geri Halliwell’s godawful cover of It’s Raining Men on the world. Almost.
Hands down my personal favourite. I just adore this film. Equal parts romantic, hilarious and bittersweet, it just bounds along on an off kilter rhythm of off the cuff realism that you sometimes believe that Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson et al all actually spent the last thirty years of their lives just hanging out Connecticut trading barbs and practising their mad sign language skills. Featuring winning performances and plot filled with more surprise left turns than a theme park ride, it manages to loveable and adorable, even what the characters aren’t. Makes me cry each year without fail, it’s like a big Christmassy blanket I can’t live without.
What about you guys? Any that I’ve missed?