The Cinephiliacs Pick: Their Favourite Christmas Films

Welcome to our second collaborative article of the holiday season. We have already spoken about our favourite films of the last year, so it seems appropriate that we talk a bit about our favourite seasonal films too. Here, the writers of this site, or those who were able to contribute to this piece, talk a little about their favourite things to watch at Christmas-time. Enjoy, and happy holidays!


 

Chris Cummings

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It took me a while to choose a favourite Christmas movie, because while there are only a handful that I actually really love, it was a tough decision to choose one specific title as the standout. It was down to four, and my chosen film beat out National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special and Gremlins as what just might be my go-to film for the season of wreaths, robins, snowmen and men with red suits, black belts and bulging sacks (ahem). Scrooged is that film.

I am a big Bill Murray fan, always have been. His sarcastic delivery has always been something I’ve enjoyed, whether he’s reliving the same day over and over (and over) in Groundhog Day (another film I watch every Christmas even though it isn’t a Christmas film) or even if he’s stalking his psychiatrist in What About Bob? I just enjoy the guy, and I also get a festive kick out of the story of A Christmas Carol. The original version of Scrooge is a classic that I like a lot, and I even dig the cuter versions including The Muppets and Mickey Mouse, but my favourite has to be the comedy version from 1988. With a tremendous cast including Murray, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, Karen Allen and a variety of others, the tale of Scrooge is given a darkly hilarious jab in the arm, with greedy corporate dick-wad, Frank Cross, taking the place of Ebenezer Scrooge as he is haunted by ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, forced to look at the harm his cruel ways have done, are doing and will do. With scenes that include a bunch of festive and scantily-clad dancers with their nipples showing, Cross being nailed in the mouth with a toaster by the Ghost of Christmas Present, and more wackiness, it delivers plenty of laughs, and even has a heart-warming moment or two.

It always sits atop the pile and I get a bolt of electric excitement when I see the DVD cover every December, knowing I’ll be watching it soon. It has always, since I was a kid in the 80’s, been a favourite of mine, and it still is today. If it weren’t a bit weird, I’d probably watch it all year, but I prefer to save it for Christmas-time. For me, it doesn’t get much better than this.


Bookmousenook (Victoria)

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It was really difficult to narrow down my selection as I am such a lover of Christmas movies and enjoy watching them throughout December. I have go-to films that I watch every year and each holiday season some new ones seem to be added. With childhood favourites such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Snowman to more recent titles like Arthur Christmas and Elf, there are always plenty of films piled up beside my television on the run up to Christmas.

I’ve chosen, as my pick for the sake of this article, Christmas with the Kranks. This is a film that I came across in the past five years or so and although it may seem like a strange choice and isn’t the greatest movie of all time it is one that I thoroughly look forward to watching and has become a Christmas movie staple and tradition in our home at this time of year. It manages to be festive, funny, heart-warming and captures the spirit of the season. It’s a comedy about a couple who decide to skip Christmas because their daughter has left home. They decide to take a cruise, but their nosy and involved neighbours take umbrage with their plan. With Tim Allen, Jaimie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd starring, this is charming family film that always makes me smile (and cry, but let’s not talk about that).

This choice is one that could change depending on the day and my mood because there are, like I said, a number of festive flicks that I love to watch. So, my television in December will always feature Snoopy dancing in the snow, Will Ferrell telling a fake Santa that he smells like “beef and cheese”, Tim Allen being unable to get rid of his gigantic white beard no matter how often he shaves, Macaulay Culkin protecting his house from burglars while he’s home alone and numerous incantations of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. So, whatever you choose to watch this holiday season, I hope you enjoy it, and have a great time!


 

Mondo Squallido (Pete)

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We’ve all been there. Coming home on Christmas morning at around 5 o’clock after drinks with friends. A night full of laughs, cheer and watered down beer. Not to mention the occasional shot and that obligatory glass of Bailey’s on ice with cigar combination to round the night off. OK, so maybe not every years’ festivities play out like that, but you know what I mean! When you finally make it back home, you crash on the couch and switch on the TV so you have something to help take your mind off the upcoming hangover. While you are flicking through, you stumble across one of your favourite festive films. You may even decide to stay on a low budget Kenyan soap opera, the shopping channel or maybe even something like Babestation?  Well, on one of these Christmas mornings I stumbled across what would become something of a Christmas tradition for me, I decided to stick with a favourite of mine, Tron. Yes, that sci-fi classic that really has nothing to do with Christmas!

Maybe it’s the bright neon lights of the scenes set inside the computer? Possibly. I think it was more the alcohol… Pretty colours do help though! I will admit that however, in recent years here in Germany, I have put Tron on hold. I usually sit down with the other half and her family and watch Love Actually. Sometimes I do like to watch Christmas Vacation or Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Yeah I know the latter isn’t exactly a Christmas movie, but it has that festive feel and it’s fun to watch with the family. This year I’m back in the UK for Christmas, so maybe Tron will make a return? If not, there’s always that Kirk Cameron film that people are shouting (somewhat loudly and angrily) about. Well, from Mondo Squallido HQ and of course the wonderful people here at The Cinephiliacs, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and if you’re drinking hard this festive season, you may discover a new Christmas favourite, just don’t drive!


 

Dingbat Dollface (Mark)

Terry Pratchett - Hogfather

The Hogfather is the Sky (television) adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s 20th book in the Discworld series. Starring an incredible cast including David Jason, Marc Warren and Tony Robinson, it follows the story of Christmas in Discworld and if you know anything about Discworld that means it’s not going to be a normal Christmas at all.

I can’t go into the plot as it will give parts away very quickly but believe me when I say that if you are anything like me and get a little sick of the same old Christmas movies then watch this and while you’re at it also get a hold of The Colour of Magic and Postal Service too, as they are just as good.

A romp along with humour, suspense, fantasy and actually creepy undertones, this is the perfect remedy for the saccharine overdone repetitiveness of some holiday movies.


 

R.T Ewell (Richard)

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Without a doubt, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is easily my favorite Christmas movie. I was eleven years old when I saw this in the theatre. What I think is truly great about this movie is its longevity. The more times I see it, the more I love it and the more I laugh. Few movies have this ability; to get better as time goes on, but thanks to a combination of things, Vacation achieves it perfectly. Thanks to a combo of terrific yet oddball characters and delivery of some of the best one liners in movie history. I mean who doesn’t love Cousin Eddie? So many great quotes come from that character and Randy Quaid expertly delivers each one. In fact that is something that is carried through this movie; the perfect comedic timing. Whether it be Chevy Chase or Johnny Galecki, they should all be commended for making such a funny movie.

Another thing that makes it so good is that it’s pretty relatable. Sure, we may not have exact representations, but the fact that the Griswold family is so diverse and crazy, I can certainly identify with. Who doesn’t love Uncle Lewis and Aunt Bethany?

Now, granted it isn’t as heartfelt as some Christmas movies but where it lacks emotion, it makes up for in humor. The amount of laughs in this movie is staggering at times. I watch this a few times a year, not just at Christmas time, and I never, I mean never, get tired of it.


 

Jillann27 (Jill)

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I can’t recall the first time I saw this movie, but it has been my “must watch” Holiday/Christmas movie for at least the last ten years. Made in 1992 and directed by Brian Henson, the son of Jim Henson, 2 years after his father’s death. It tells Dickens’ Christmas Carol with a flair that only the Muppets can do. Michael Caine is perfectly cast as Ebenezer Scrooge. The tale is narrated for us by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat. There are several musical numbers that while cheesy, are funny and heart-warming. Probably my favorite scene would be when Beaker appears to give Scrooge the finger. Varying from the original story, the ghost of Jacob Marley is joined by his brother, Robert and played by the two Grumpy Old Men from the balcony on the Muppet Show. All of the beloved Muppet characters make an appearance in this great adaptation. The Ghost of Christmas past and Christmas future are engaging yet ethereal. The Ghost of Christmas future is quite creepy, maybe too creepy for small children. I have always loved A Christmas Carol and read it every year as a child. It was spooky yet had an uplifting tale of redemption. I love Dickens writing and I think this rendition does it justice. Say humbug to the holiday bustle and settle down with loved ones and cocoa for this treat.


 

31FilmTalk (Nick)

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My favorite Christmas movie of all time actually isn’t that hard to pick for me. Usually picking a favorite of all time for anything is a tough and almost impossible thing to do. For me, this movie goes back to my childhood which makes it easy to choose. My favorite Christmas movie of all time is Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town from 1970. I had this movie as a kid on VHS and now I own it on DVD, making sure I can show it to future generations. The film is a stop motion animation film, telling the events of Santa Claus’ origin story in a sense. You see good ol’ Kris Kringle from birth, grows up, meet a colorful cast of friends, and how he became that guy in the big red suit we all know. Even today, I think the stop motion looks great and the art style of the miniatures is charming. The film is so much fun and moves at a fast rate, not wasting a lot of time. Its really a treat to see all the Santa lore and how it all fits together with the tropes you know today. The film has its funny moments too, one of my favorite being a nod to Rudolph, saying basically that’s a story for another movie (which is also a childhood favorite of mine). The only part of this film I absolutely hate and skip over every time is near the end when the character Jessica sings a song called “My World is Beginning Today”. This song comes out of nowhere and feels so out of place when you sit through it. The visuals don’t help either with their psychedelic 60s/70s acid trip look that usually hurts my eyes and gives me a headache. I can understand wanting Jessica to have a song here, but something soft and simple to show off the singer’s vocal talents would have worked so much better. The rest of the music in the film is great and always gets me singing along.

This movie brings me back to a time when I believed in Santa, seeing what a good hearted man could do and what kind of impact he could have on the world. I guess there’s some religious symbolism there. The film is charming beyond its years and will stand the test of time as a Christmas special that kids can always enjoy.


 

Will Tingle

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I’ve loved Dr. Seuss for as long as I can remember, so watching the 1966 animated version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas has long been a tradition to me (in fact, it was one of the first movies I ‘upgraded’ by buying the DVD when I already had the VHS version). I was really excited when, in 2000, the live action feature-length version, The Grinch, was released. After my initial excitement, though, came worry… Expanding an (already passed) 26 minute short into a full hour and a half movie would require a lot of padding, there’s no way the whole movie could (or should) be in rhyme, but with the rhyme going would the story’s charm also go with it? And what of the visuals; could live-action ever really bring Seuss’ world to life? My fears were unfounded as some amazing set design, along with Rick Baker’s fantastic creature design, brings the world and its inhabitants to life perfectly. The extended story fits wonderfully and even giving the Grinch an origin story works. Which version is best? It’s impossible to separate them. They’re similar enough that you don’t necessarily want to watch them both in the same month, but you should definitely make a holiday tradition of watching one or the other every December.


 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Greetings of Wintery Goodness to everyone who has helped make The Cinephiliacs a success in 2014. Have a great end of 2014, and here’s to a fantastic 2015. Thanks, from all of us!

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