Watching a movie is all about getting into mood – and now that Halloween is out of the way we can start planning to get all ‘Christmassy’ with a festive movie line-up. But leave A CHRISTMAS CAROL and MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET for Christmas Day, after all it’s too early to bring out the big guns. THN recommends you start lightly with these films – the top five Christmas movies that can be enjoyed the whole year.
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
Studios rejected Tim Burton’s EDWARD SCISSORHANDS until the success of BATMAN saw it fast tracked into production. The film had a Christmas release in the US and in Tim Burton’s twisted mind – the same mind that brought us THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS – EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is a undoubtedly a Christmas film. Hot mess Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder were the couple of the 1990s, and here they play the unfinished, artificial boy with scissors for hands and his love interest respectively. Depp is completely unrecognisable with his leather ensemble, pale façade, and scissor appendages. The romance is there, as is the satire, and overall EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is an exquisitely beautiful film.
Christmas Movie Moment: Things get really crazy at Christmas in the little suburban town – by this point Ryder’s Kim has fallen in love with Edward and everybody else in the community has decided to both fear and look down on him. But visually it remains a picturesque Californian street, and Edward creates the perfect Christmas scene as he makes an ice sculpture of an angel with his scissor hands, creating the first flakes of snow over Kim as she dances like a ballerina.
LA CONFIDENTIAL (1997)
LA CONFIDENTIAL revolves around a massacre in a Los Angeles café in the 1950s, and subsequent revelations of sex, drugs, and corruption in the LAPD. Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, and a ridiculously handsome Russell Crowe play a trio of unlikable officers – each perfectly unlikable and seeking the truth by his own methods. With a great story and brilliant actors, LA CONFIDENTIAL is a perfect film and stands in a class of its own – it even has a touch of Christmas to it.
Christmas Movie Moment: It goes without saying that LA CONFIDENTIAL isn’t your typical Christmas movie – it’s not filled with messages or gifts, but does have mistletoe, tree ornaments and was inspired by the real life events of ‘Bloody Christmas’ in 1951.
Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ has been done – and re-done – to death. The Muppets gave us their interpretation, and so did Jim Carrey – both did an all right job, but they were just too damn Christmassy. Enter Bill Murray. He transforms Ebenezer Scrooge from a measly, miserable man into TV exec Frank Cross, your typical New York douchebag. This is why this Christmas film can be enjoyed all year round – because on a bad day each of us is Frank, a character real enough to imagine living in modern society. At times it’s even easy to side with him – if only those do-gooder ghosts would bugger off.
Christmas Movie Moment: Frank Cross finally realizes what Christmas is all about, and there’s a song to encourage us all to feel the same way. Everyone on the set of Frank’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ production sings ‘Put a Little Love in Your Heart’, and if you’re drunk enough you can join in too.
LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
With its interweaving stories, LOVE ACTUALLY is the mother of all seasonal films. Since its 2003 release, Americans have tried to duplicate the formula with VALENTINE’S DAY and NEW YEAR’S EVE, but never managing to be half as charming. LOVE ACTUALLY follows eight different stories – including married couples, lovers, and one night-stands – across one crazy Christmas period.
Christmas Movie Moment: Where to begin? The Prime Minister professes his love for his secretary, Colin Firth proposes in Portuguese on Christmas Eve, a schoolboy chases his first crush to the airport gate and everyone’s favourite – Keira Knightley kisses her husband’s best friend in the middle of the street, because to him she’s perfect. And because it’s Christmas.
DIE HARD (1988)
The first DIE HARD set standards for both the Christmas and action movie. Bruce Willis is New York cop John McClane, who travels to LA to celebrate the festive season with his businesswoman wife. It all goes wrong when Alan Rickman’s band of terrorists interrupts the office party, leaving it up to McClane to save Christmas.
Christmas Movie Moment: There’s no better Christmas film than one that revolves around saving the holiday from angry European terrorists. McClane is like Jesus reborn with his reluctant hero act. He teaches us about family values, the sacredness of Christmas, and selflessness. Unfortunately, the festive spirit died with the sequel DIE HARDER.