Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Christmas is a strange time of year for the movie business. To gamble millions of dollars on a film only to be shown one, maybe two, months of the year, and then waiting another 10 months before you can sell it in the shops, can seem like a crazy business idea. If your movie turns out to be a saccharine nightmare, you'd be lucky to make your money back on naff TV re-runs. But if you've made a classic, not only will you create a lot of money, you'll also define the tone of Christmas for generations. Within a couple of hours, you can go from Bah-humbug to a holiday fanatic.

Though I'm not one to over-dose on Christmas, I will indulge myself in the odd film. Here are the five that I like to enjoy when I want to get into the spirit of the season.


Before Disney commercialised this film to death with various garbage like backpacks and mugs and slippers, this film was the young goth, and even non-goths, dream come true. Perfect to watch when your still wishing it was Halloween, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of Tim Burton's masterworks. With his characteristic stop-motion animation and superb songs, learning about the spirit of Christmas has never been so spooky.


For many years in my household, Christmas wasn't Christmas without several viewings of this film. Based on the classic novel by Charles Dickens, the Muppets unique take on this humbling story is at once ridiculous and heartbreaking. With Ebenezer Scrooge played masterfully by Micheal Caine, and songs both scathing and touching sung by various fruit and veg, The Muppets Christmas Carol reinforces the spiritual heart of Christmas with every watch.


After being voted the top Christmas film of all time by the Radio Times, this film has been compulsory for many people. Not me, however, as the first time I saw this film was this morning. I really wonder what took me so long. With a brilliant turn by one of my favourite actors, James Stewart plays George Bailey, who's life is knock back after knock back, until one day it all gets so much that he realises he is worth more dead than alive. An amazing, life affirming film, I'll admit I wept at the finale. Maybe not a film that can be watched repeatedly, but one worth saving up and really looking forward to.


Elf has become such a loved film that, when Sky Movies brought out the rights to show the film from Channel 4, The Guardian writer Stuart Heritage got so upset that he organised a mass DVD watchalong in protest. With the kind of silly jokes you'd expect from Will Ferral, who plays Buddy the Elf, this film is great in that you can sit and watch it with younger members of your family and you'll both be laughing at the same jokes.


Although this film only came out earlier this year (it's not even out on DVD yet), it deserves a place on this list as one of the great anti-Christmas movies. Based on the book by Trainspotting's Irvine Welsh, it tells the tale of a corrupt policeman who is a drug addicted, bi-polar, bigoted bastard. Set at Christmas time, instead of being about Christmas (bit like It's A Wonderful Life), Filth is a brilliant but hard going film. Intense and darkly humorous, with a harsh ending, I thoroughly recommend you see when it comes out.

Well these are my favourites, but what are your favourites? Don't forget to listen to our Christmas episode where we review Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Have a happy Christmas everybody. Look after yourself, look after your loved ones, and don't forget to enjoy it!


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