So, the BFI has taken a breather from compiling informational corporate safety films from the 1950s to try to work out what makes a good Christmas film. And, in so doing, have revealed that they know nothing about what makes a good Christmas film.
There are lots of things one does at Christmas that one doesn’t do at other times of the year, but watching White Christmas isn’t one of them. There is never a good time to do that.
Christmas is a time for giving. Parents beam as tousle-headed moppets tear open presents with squeals of delight. Either that or they slump in an easy chair, paper hat drifting over an ear, Christmas scotch clutched tight, detailing at length the cost of each item unwrapped and how you weren’t worth it, none of you were worth it; he didn’t have to stay here, he had options, he could have been a musician if it weren’t for you lot; he’d been in a band, and they were good, really good, someone from London, from a record label, said they’d come to see them once, they could have been huge, but he gave it all up to look after us kids, and did we appreciate it? Did we? He’d abandoned his dreams for an Our Price voucher, and a mug saying ‘World’s Best Dad’, well who’d the fucking mug now, eh? Eh? Who’s the fucking mug now? I’m going to bed.
I always preferred Easter.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my top ten Christmas films. Ones you can watch without wanting to kill yourself or your fellow man. In reverse order…
- Scrooged (1988) – Okay, it’s by far the worst thing on this list, but I had to get Bill Murray in somewhere, and Ghostbusters II is not a Christmas film. It’s a New Year film. Yes, it is. Oh, shut up.
- The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) – Rewatch it. You’ll be surprised by how many good bits are in it. I promise. It’s not as bad as you remember. Either that or action films have become incomparably worse, so, by today’s standards it stands up.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – A wonderful look at how our struggle to create the perfect Christmas we remember from childhood can destroy our current Christmases. Includes exploding tree, yuppie torment, and a full shitter.
- A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – This would be higher if it weren’t for the dreadful songs. Still, one you can watch with the children. “Quiet down back there, you melons.”
- Twelve Monkeys (1995) – “The Freedom For Animals Association on Second Avenue is the secret headquarters of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. They’re the ones who are going to do it. I can’t do anymore, I have to go now. Have a Merry Christmas!”
- Home Alone (1990) – Another one you can watch with the kids, as long as you don’t mind them watching burning, scalding, piercing, and the acting of Daniel Stern.
- Batman Returns (1992) – From the moment Peewee Herman drops Danny deVito into a sewer, it’s a Christmas miracle. And it allowed me to get Tim Burton onto the list without including The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is a Hallowe’en film. Maybe.
- Rare Exports (2010) – It’s about a race of evil Santas. It’s awesome. You must watch it this Christmas and every Christmas.
- Gremlins (1984) – Nothing fills me more with the Christmas spirit than seeing a demented, homicidal creature get exploded in a microwave.
- Die Hard (1988) – It had to be. It was a close-run things with Gremlins, but it’s practically perfect in every way.
So, those are mine, what are yours?
(This is the point where people notice that I’ve missed something like Alien or Jaws or Mouse Hunt being set at Christmas, and I have to rewrite the whole thing…)
- Top Twenty Classic Holiday Season Christmas Films (contactmusic.com)
- Our Top 10 List of Christmas Movies to Watch this Year (personalcreations.com)
- Weekly Top Five: Ho-ho-ho horror films (chicagoreader.com)