Christmas is so close you can practically see Santa already at your mantelpiece gobbling down mince pies fresh out of the chimney but there is still time to harness some of the ever-evasive Christmas spirit. If my last ten film suggestions didn’t do it for you, here are ten more which might just do the trick:
1. Toy Story
Pixar never fail to capture the essence of childhood by presenting us with sheer magic, wonderment, exhilaration and adventure. This is the story of Woody who harbours a not altogether unfounded fear that he is to be replaced as the object of owner Andy’s affections by new birthday present Buzz who seems to believe he is a real astronaut and not just an action figure. The only glimpse of Christmas occurs right at the films climax as the toys gather in anticipation for what new arrivals are to crash-land this year but the journey of friendship, togetherness and teamwork will most likely kindle a warm Christmassy fire in your otherwise frostbitten heart.
2. Monty Python's Meaning of Life
It’s a question we’ve all pondered many a time but the more the years pass; the less likely we are to reach a definitive answer. The Monty Python boys do a bloody good job of trying to ease us through a succession of skits that might just help us discover why we are all here and what the point of it all is. After edging us through the magic of procreation, over eaters and finicky waiters who have located their own purpose and are eager to share, we are presented with what life is all about (but don’t get your hopes up). So what does this have to do with Christmas you might say? Well apparently in heaven, it’s Christmas every day...yes that’s right...every single day. So get yourself a little piece of heaven on earth and get into the festive mood!
3. Eyes Wide Shut
Along with my prior two suggestions, this is not traditional Christmas fare. This is the Christmas film for the more surrealist, abstract viewer who enjoys a little mystery. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are Bill and Alice Harford, who on the face of it have it all. When Alice confesses that she only narrowly avoided temptation and very nearly cheated on Bill he embarks on a night-time adventure of bizarre erotic and sexual encounters. This all occurs around the Christmas period and reveals how our own desires and fantasies have become just as commercialised as Christmas itself.
4. About A Boy
No man is an island but eternal bachelor Nick Hornby would like to be. Christmas is traditionally a time for family and friends to come together, exchange gifts and celebrate. Not so for Nick, who would rather pass the day watching horror movies and smoking ungodly amounts of weed. Unfortunately for him, his opportunist attempts to get into the pants of London’s single mother scene cause him to crash-land into a very unique mother and son combination that slowly draw out his sense of family and unity (of course).
5. Edward Scissorhands
Christmas will never be the same for the Boggs family when they find themselves taking in Edward, the unfinished creation of an inventor, who is humanlike in his entirety except for his scissor hands. His skill with his scissors makes him a novelty in his new neighbourhood as a hedge-cutter and hair dresser although some take an instant dislike to him. He upsets the balance when he falls in love with Kim – a human girl who is already taken. This melancholy, gentle film celebrates the spirit of compassion and love and presents us with a world with a great influx of snow caused by Edwards ice sculptures as he witters away the time alone, set adrift from small minded suburbia.
6. The Harry Potter Series
I cannot select one film from the franchise so I’ve plumped for the series as a whole. Although a lot could have been tweaked and corrected to guarantee absolute perfection, this is the perfect story for children and inner children alike as Harry Potter is spirited away from a life of Cinderella servitude and informed that he is a wizard, but not just any wizard, the only wizard capable of defeating Lord Voldemort. The Christmas scenes add pleasant relief to the mounting evils that threaten to consume Hogwarts.
7. Bad Santa
The Coen brothers return with this black comedy where Santa is cynically cast as nothing more than a conniving conman. Whilst working as Santa in a mall, Willie (bad boy Billy Bob Thornton) alongside his friend Marcus disables the alarms every Christmas Eve and takes everything he can. This theft enables Willie to fuel his life of depraved debauch. This is the more sinister foil of ‘About a Boy’ as Willie confronts his demons when he develops a friendship with ‘the Kid’ and new flame Sue. Not all comedies include suicide, alcoholism and murder and for that reason alone, this film should be perfect for all Christmas scrooges.
8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
In war torn England, the four Pevensie children discover a world within a wardrobe, in which they find a landscape cursed with perpetual winter for over a hundred years but with no sight of Christmas. Most children and adults alike will be familiar with the Narnia Chronicles and the children’s attempt to expel the witch and return Christmas to the land. The blankets of snow and the triumph of the siblings over the cruel Jadis make welcome Christmas viewing.
9. Christmas with the Kranks
Luther and Nora’s daughter is AWOL for the holidays serving in Peru on a Peace Corps assignment. The couple then find themselves blighted with empty nest syndrome just in time for the holidays, finding no reason to celebrate without their daughters’ presence in the home. Their choice to simply ignore Christmas and instead use their savings to embark on a luxury cruise ostracises them from their community, who eagerly try to lure them back in with some Yuletide spirit. The Kranks soon find that it isn’t so easy to bow out gracefully from the festivities.
10. Lady and the Tramp
Disney sprinkles magic over every story it tells and this classic is no different. On Christmas morning, Jim Dear presents his wife Darling with a beautiful cocker spaniel named Lady. Lady endures the usual trials and tribulations that a cartoon dog finds herself faced with; unrequited love for an adventurous dog named Tramp, run-ins with exotic felines and the threat of replacement when a baby is due, but by the following Christmas everything turns around for Lady who finds herself with a family of her own.