Christmas generally consists of two things: food and films. Or at least, that’s generally what it consists of at my house. Although these two things do not seem like they would cause too much difficulty, it is the second part of this glorious Christmas deal that brings about a yearly dilemma in our household. It is a question that my brother and I start asking ourselves a few weeks before Christmas comes around: what should we watch this year?
If you are living with people who also have wildly different tastes and preferences when it comes to movies, I think you will understand this dilemma. There’s nothing worse than looking through dozens of ‘Best Movies’ lists and coming up with suggestions which are shot down one by one. I am not even joking when I say that this ritual can go on for at least an hour at our house, usually with unsatisfying results.
So, I thought it’d be a good idea to put together a Christmas watch list, for those people that are all too familiar with the phenomenon I just described. At first glances this list might seem rather random, and that’s because it pretty much is. I included films which have been hits in our household in previous years, as well as some movies which I reckon would fare well when catering to a divided audience. As long as the lucky people sharing Christmas with you are not as picky as my family, we’re all good. As I am writing this right now I am silently hoping that we will end up picking one of these films for our annual Christmas viewing, as at this point we have not chosen yet (and there’s only one day left until Christmas!).
In True Christmas Spirit
There are only a handful of Christmas films that I can actually stand to watch (more than once). As most of them are too cheesy for my liking, or too boring (here’s looking at you, Polar Express), my viewing list only comes down to three films, which, in all fairness, you probably have already seen. However, what’s a Christmas watch list without the actual festive films right?
First of, Home Alone and Home Alone 2.
These are the only Christmas films that I have watched more than once and actually enjoyed watching more than once as well. A little boy, a big house all to himself, and a duo of not too bright criminals who end up getting into a feud with the kid. Chaos ensues. Who does not like that? These films are just so easy to watch and they always do the trick of getting me into the Christmas spirit (which is a hard task this year). Oh, and let’s not forget, they came out in the 90s! (a time when Donald Trump was just a passerby rich guy in a Christmas film, not the president elect of the United States-oh those jolly old times).
It’s a Wonderful Life
A slightly darker film with a clear message at its center. Again, this is another Christmas classic and probably most of you have already seen it, but why not swap that festive-themed romcom for a slightly older black and white film with a bit more substance to it. Follow Jimmy Stewart around as he is dissuaded from ending his life prematurely by an angel who shows him just how important his presence on Earth is, and how he is needed by those around him. Although the film shows that life can be fraught with hardship, it also gives a message of hope, which is perhaps something we all need in 2016.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is a no-brainer for me because it is one of my all-time favourite films. Wes Anderson’s visually stunning tale (that trademark symmetry though) about a rundown hotel’s past glory is packed with comedy, quirkiness, and action, while having some darker undertones. I am a big fan of how Anderson dresses up the more serious message underlying this story, without resorting to absurdity. If you like the colour pink, and want to see Edward Norton wear a big fur coat, this is the one for you. Also, if you generally like to be entertained, this is a good’un. Oh, and there is snow (for those Christmassy vibes).
This one was a big hit with my family some Christmasses ago, and therefore has rightfully earned a spot on this list. I genuinely do not think there has ever been another year that we all sat down and watched a film without anyone taking of or falling asleep. The reason? Food. Chef follows the story of a chef (no surprises there) who, disillusioned with his restaurant job, quits to start his own food truck. The premise of the film is simple but effective. There is the added emotional element of the main character taking this new endeavour as a chance to reconnect with his young son, but whether you find this story line gratifying or not, there is always the food.
I am not really a big fan of animation, as in, I rarely choose to watch animated films, even though I have nothing against them. However, I was prompted to watch Inside Out after hearing a lot of good things about it, and it certainly did not disappoint. Showing us the personified emotions inside a little girl’s head, Inside Out plays with our curiosity. I mean, we have all wondered more than once what goes on inside other people’s heads right? And although obviously I do not think that there are little coloured characters in my head pushing buttons and pulling levers, it is very satisfying to imagine that that is what is actually going on. In any case, I reckon it is a nice, no-fuss film to watch on a lazy Christmas day. If the old people don’t like it they can go play cards. But come on, give it a chance.
I don’t think this needs much explaining. When I think family films, I think Mary Poppins. Sometimes it is just very satisfying to watch a classic like this on a festive family occasion like Christmas. It’s one of those films all of the generations in our family are familiar with, which makes it an easy choice.
Broody and Wintry
The Hounds of the Baskervilles (1959)
What is better than watching a dark, Gothic tale like the Hounds of the Baskervilles when it is cold outside and you are sitting on the couch with your festive jumper and cup of hot tea? Nothing, I know. Murder mystery story? Check. World famous detective? Check. Young Christopher Lee? CHECK. I especially enjoyed this version because it is so much more down to earth than some of the more modern Sherlock Holmes adaptations. Just Peter Cushing in his iconic deerstalker hat chasing a fake dog on a foggy set. Love it.
Inside Llewyn Davis
The story of a struggling 60s folks singer who sleeps on couches and loses people’s cats. Incidentally, the cat is a major force in the film’s plot, which does not really have a beginning or an end. The reason for this can probably be found in the fact that the main character has no idea what he is doing, and is, generally, going nowhere. Although I would not call Inside Llewyn Davis uplifting or inspiring, it does a remarkable job of telling a story which is not really a story. Set on the cold streets of New York city you would almost get the feeling you need to wrap up warm just to watch it. However, there is always the music to warm your heart.
Love & Friendship
I love Jane Austen stories, and I generally like adaptations of her stories. Although Love & Friendship may sound like it would be similar in content to widely adapted Austen novels like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility (it’s the and thing), it is really not. When I first watched Love & Friendship the only word that came to mind to describe it was ‘witty’. Following around top manipulator Lady Susan, the film bring 18th century comedy to the 21st century, and makes it work. Filled with ridiculous characters that trump even the main character’s antics, it is a joy to watch, and provides top entertainment for a relaxed Christmas afternoon.
Although you might not want to watch this film with your 80-year-old grandma, I think that generally, Deadpool will fare well with most. It is unapologetic in its use of bad language, bad jokes, and dirty jokes, which makes it weirdly refreshing. And, let’s not forget, this is a superhero movie. Although Ryan Reynolds portrays perhaps the most dysfunctional superhero ever, he is the hero nonetheless. He might not come across as one through his voice-over, but I think the action scenes prove a lot. In any case, this will provide all the entertainment you need when you just finished that huge Christmas dinner, and need to prevent yourself from taking a nap.