If you’re anything like me, your holiday viewing begins the minute the Halloween pumpkins are thrown away. So, to help get you into the Christmas spirit, here are 6 of my favourite Christmas movies.
- The Nightmare before Christmas.
The wonderful thing about Henry Selick’s stop-motion classic, based on Tim Burton’s story, is that you can legitimately watch it any time from Halloween on. What’s more, as Pumpkin King Jack Skellington learns about Christmas, Selick and Burton manage to both undermine all the cutesiness and underline the bits of Christmas that really matter – like the bit where your toys don’t bite you or turn into snakes. That bit’s imperative.
- White Christmas
Two soldiers-turned-entertainers, travel to their former commanding officer’s inn to put on a show, help him out and romance a couple of sisters with their own musical act. Cue skating, singing, romantic entanglements and one of the best Christmas songs ever. Sure, it’s sappy, predictable and a little OTT, but the Irving Berlin songs are good enough, and the energy high enough, that you won’t really care.
- Die Hard
Arguably the greatest action movie ever made, and now the greatest Christmas movie ever made, too. Bruce Willis’ John McClane may seem like an unlikely Santa Claus – he doesn’t have enough hair for one – but what better Christmas present is there than the gift of terrorists getting taken down as they try to take Nakatomi Plaza hostage during a Christmas party to carry out an elaborate theft. Nothing says deck the halls like jumping off a roof tied to a fire hose, and nothing says season of goodwill like a machine gun. Ho ho ho.
- Love Actually
Richard Curtis’ sprawling ensemble piece is best watched at this time of year, when you’re bound to find at least one storyline among the several million on offer that you like. Perhaps it’s the porn star stand-ins finding a tentative, awkward sort of romance, or Colin Firth’s fumbling attempts to woo a woman with whom he doesn’t share a common language. But for me it will always be the sad stories here that ring truest, with Laura Linney’s devotion to her brother and Emma Thompson’s quiet heartbreak really hitting home.
There have been many spins on A Christmas Carol – but in movie terms at least this is the best. Ebeneezer Scrooge is transformed from cold-hearted businessman into yuppie TV exec, and made almost likeable despite his obnoxious behaviour by Bill Murray, on sardonic and sarcastic form. MVP, apart from Murray, goes to Carol Kane’s Ghost of Christmas Present, who has the delightful habit of hitting her charge with a toaster when necessary. And even when not.
- Edward Scissorhands
The framing device of this entire story is a grandmother telling her grandchild why it always snows at Christmas – so while the images that linger in the memory are mostly sundrenched and pastel, as you’d expect of the 1950s California setting, the beginning and end, and one of the most emotional scenes on the way through, are snow-covered and Christmassy. Edward’s finest hour sees him sculpting ice for the girl he loves, producing a shower of snow in which she dances – and when it emerges, at the end, that he’s continued to make snow for her every year despite their long separation, well, you’d be forgiven for having a bit of trouble with something in your eye.