Six of the best – Festive films

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Love Actually

by Jane Hodgkiss

loveactuallyI  love ‘Love Actually’. What’s not to like? Amazing cast, amazing humour, amazing pathos, and, those inextricably linked stories. This is why it’s the ultimate Christmas film.

First, let’s look at the cast: Hugh Grant as an improbable, unmarried Prime Minister, Bill Nighy as an aging rockstar, Alan Rickman as a potential Lothario, Emma Thompson as a faithful wife, and Liam Neeson as a recent widower in search of Claudia Schiffer, to name but a few. It’s a basically the crème de la crème of the British acting fraternity.

The humour is also very British. Who can forget Rowan Atkinson’s effeminate salesman wrapping an illicitly bought present, Hugh Grant dancing alone around 10 Downing Street, or the mundane conversations between Martin Freeman and Joanna Page while filming a sex scene? Throw in Colin Firth’s Portuguese marriage proposal, and you’ve got the perfect festive film.

Will Sarah and Karl will get together despite Sarah’s devotion to her brother? Will Harry will give his wife the locket instead of his tramp of a secretary? Will Juliet will repay Mark’s devotion after his touching doorstep declaration? Cue tissues for these scenes.

I’m sure many of the British public will agree that this film deserves the title of the best Christmas film. After all, love – I mean Christmas – is all around us.

Black Christmas 

by Rory Mellon

black_christmas_ver4What’s more Christmassy than a group of college students being hunted by a ruthless killer? Generally considered to be one of the first slasher films Black Christmas deserves a spot in any Christmas movie marathon, perhaps towards the end of the night though once the more squeamish have gone to bed. It should go without saying but we are of course talking about the 1974 original, the 2006 remake is awful.

Think John Carpenter’s Halloween but with more snow and Christmas lights and you’d be on the right track, in actual fact Carpenter citied Black Christmas as an inspiration when making his iconic Halloween. It’s not hard to see why; tension is expertly built and the scares don’t rely heavily on cheap shock value as many modern horror films do. Perhaps the film’s greatest aspect is the way it keeps you guessing as to who exactly is the killer.

For the genre the acting isn’t half bad, it’s not Oscar quality but it’s a cut above the typical horror movie acting. Black Christmas basically started an entirely new genre which is a huge accomplishment in itself; the fact that few films in the genre have bettered it is even more impressive.

 

 

The Snowman

by Joanna Gresty

This sensationally whimsical adaptation Raymond Brigg’s classic story book is perhaps one of the most underrated Christmas films of all time.

The hauntingly beautiful use of sound and animation makes the animated drawings literally come to life. The angelic and now infamous voice of St Paul’s Cathedral choir boy Peter Auty steals the show as the Snowman and his creator, a nameless but relatable young boy, fly over the breathtaking English landscapes to reach the North Pole. ‘Walking In The Air’, the beguiling piece by the Sinfornia of London orchestra, is guaranteed to stay in your mind throughout the film in spite of the consistency of an incredible score overall, ranging from the jovial to the heart breaking. The soundtrack sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear it.

A melancholy ending to The Snowman introduces the young to the inevitability of death through natural causes. I am usually still in tears long after the haunting and bittersweet piano melody and the end credits finish. This timeless classic encompasses the underlying philosophy: All good things must come to an end.

The Family Stone

by Anna Meng

the-family-stone-originalStill the quintessential feel-good movie you’re looking for on that cold winter night, ‘The Family Stone’ is a Christmas film with just that little bit more substance. Lacking the overt cheesiness of fellow seasonal film favourites like ‘The Holiday’, this is the somewhat- dare I say it- more realistic addition to the annual December must watch list.

The comedic drama is centered around the family of Everett (Dermot Mulroney- let’s be honest, that face alone is enough reason to watch this film) and the tensions that arise when he brings his uptight, conservative girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) home for the holidays.

The plot follows various members of the Stone family as they struggle with some refreshingly relevant problems of their own whilst collectively trying to accept Everett’s intention to propose to the increasingly uncomfortable Meredith with a treasured heirloom ring. Tensions escalate to the point that her sister has to come visit.

With a stellar cast of rom-com veterans including Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes and Rachel McAdams, this is a movie you can’t go wrong with. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and you’ll definitely be able to guess how it ends – but in this case, that’s satisfying.

Die Hard

by Danté Szafranski

die-hardSo it’s nearly Christmas time and so it’s time to start indulging in our back catalogues of Christmas films. Elf, The Grinch, It’s A Wonderful Life and Home Alone are all favourites but there is one Christmas film that doesn’t get enough love this time of year: DIE HARD.

Many reading this will be sceptical and cry bloody murder for Die Hard to be included in a list of favourite Christmas films, but when you break it down it fits the very simple Christmas formula.

Take our hero John McClane. He is simply a man lost in the world, much like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life. His marriage to Holly is on the rocks and his life is in a downward spin. Step in a Guardian Angel (of sorts) in Hans Gruber and so begins McClane’s Christmas journey.

So the body count is high and the violence visceral, but it is only a step away from the slapstick of Home Alone. What’s important is the reasoning behind the violence: only through the threat of losing Holly does John McClane realize how lucky he is to have her in the first place.

Isn’t that what Christmas films are all about? Family? The Grinch’s heart did grow two sizes bigger upon being included in the community of Whoville; Buddy The Elf brought a fractured family together and so did Hans Gruber (albeit inadvertently).

Plus the film is set on Christmas Eve. There is snow, decorations and ‘Let It Snow’ is played. That should be justification enough!

Home Alone

by Laura Dempster

home-alone…The first one! It would seem that Hollywood director Chris Columbus took advantage of Macaulay Culkin’s Peter Pan Syndrome and cast the baby faced actor in as many sequels of the film as possible, but I would recommend the first. Shown on television screens throughout December every year, this classic Christmas film takes you right back to the nineties and truly brings back some of that special Christmas magic.

Every eight year old’s dream is to have the entire house to yourself for a few hours or so, and Kevin indulges this fantasy when he eats all the chocolate in the house… but what about when your family go away to Paris and accidentally leave you behind for days over Christmas?! When The Wet Bandits attempt to break into the McCallister family home, Kevin saves the day with elaborate booby traps that children around the country have always tried to copy ever since. A trip wire connected to a table covered with feathers and a fan? Genius! Home Alone is the perfect film to watch with your flat mates as week ten draws to a close (great for prank ideas) or with your family on the run up to Christmas Eve to make you feel like a kid again.

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