MaverickFilm’s Favourite Christmas Films

This Christmas let MaverickFilm.co be your guide to what you should watch and which of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of Christmas films are worth a perusal …

Gremlins – Jeremie Sabourin

As soon as winter rolls around, there are many holiday classics that people feel the need to watch. A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and the animated television specials from the 1960’s and 70’s come to mind almost immediately. One film that seems to go largely unnoticed in terms of the Christmas holiday, though, is Joe Dante’s Gremlins from 1984.

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Who did not see this film and want a ‘Gizmo’?!

Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) receives a mysterious, furry creature known as a mogwai as a present for Christmas. There are three rules to follow when it comes to a mogwai: 1. Keep them out of bright light, especially sunlight since it will kill him; 2. Don’t get them wet; 3. Never feed them after midnight. Of course, all three of these things end up happening which leads to Billy’s pet, Gizmo, reproducing and the new mogwai turning into the terrifying gremlins.

While it’s not a traditional Christmas film, Gremlins still embodies everything great about the holiday season mixed with an army of the mischievous monsters. The town of Kingston Falls is covered with snow throughout the entire film and there are always reminders of the holiday sprinkled throughout the scenery. Christmas music, lights, decorations, and even gremlins dressed up as carolers never give the plot a chance to stray from its holiday spirit.

Despite there being numerous horror elements in the film, Gremlins still has a lighthearted tone…

The film may not be specifically about Christmas but it’s constantly an underlying theme in the story. Similar to other films like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, it stays true to the “genre” by having issues that the characters must overcome. Even Billy’s potential girlfriend, Kate (Phoebe Cates), has a heartbreaking story about why she no longer celebrates Christmas. By the end, though, the problems are resolved and Christmas ultimately prevails. Despite there being numerous horror elements in the film, Gremlins still has a lighthearted tone and remains a lot of fun from start to finish. No matter what, the season would not be the same without this perilous, yet humorous, unconventional Christmas classic.

Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Amelia Conway

The second-highest grossing holiday film of all time, Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), is a much-needed reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. The Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, is the Scrooge-like protagonist of the film possessing a deep hatred for Christmas and the people of Whoville. It becomes clear upon his first encounter with young Cindy Lou and the discovery of his sad past that he may not be quite as heartless as even he himself believes to be.

The film perfectly captures the over-the-top commercialism that the festive period has come to symbolise (somewhat ironically considering its Hollywood production). The Grinch’s efforts to ruin Christmas by stealing the Whos’ presents fails, having the rather adverse effect of strengthening their Christmas spirit. The Grinch realises that Christmas is not about material objects but being with those you love, miraculously regaining the capacity to feel and experiencing a growth spurt in his tiny heart. There is no better film to sit down and watch with your loved ones, a refreshing change from the monotony of mediocre festive comedies and rom-coms. Full of singing, rhymes, and quirky characters, the Grinch’s saving of Christmas is certain to leave you feeling sufficiently warm and gooey inside.

National Lampoon’s Christmas – Phil Gorski

Christmas is all about traditions that range from heart-felt family hand-me-downs, like what exact foods are served for Christmas dinner, to the more absurd, such as which ornament must go in which exact spot on the Christmas tree or how may strands of lights have to go on the house so Santa won’t fly over without stopping. It’s a time of merriment, sure, and also a time where families are often pushed to their limits in terms of stress.

… it can be a bit hokey at times, and it hasn’t necessarily aged as well as other Christmas classics [ … ] but it still remains a staple to some Christmas celebrations …

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the greatest Christmas movie because it shines a light on all of the insanity we subject ourselves to for this holiday season, all in the name of perfectionism. Chevy Chase plays Clark Griswold, a very relatable every-man who works himself into the ground in hopes of getting the bonus check needed to afford his family a swimming pool. This film is equal parts side-splitting laughter and cringeworthy awkwardness, as it neatly tops holiday family arguments, unexpected (and perhaps unwanted) guests, and the culture of placing a price on Christmas joy with ribbons and bows. The moral at the end of the film ends up highlighting the importance of not focusing on having the perfect Christmas tree, nor one-upping the neighborhood with the best outdoor Christmas lights display, but instead making sure Christmas is about the ones you love (and maybe not making harsh statements about your boss in front of a relative who might act on those desires to kidnap said boss).

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Though it can be a bit hokey at times, and it hasn’t necessarily aged as well as other Christmas classics—looking at you, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you glow-in-the-dark monstrosity—but it still remains a staple to some Christmas celebrations, if only for a source of levity during one of the most stressful times of the year.

A Christmas Carol (1999) – Gareth Wood

Patrick Stewart singing loudly and decidedly out of tune with the rest of the congregation after he’s thrown snowballs at children playing on the street; as anyone who’s seen American Dad will tell you, Stewart is a versatile actor who can turn his talent to any tale. So he does in this 1999 production of A Christmas Carol, a story almost as synonymous as that of Jesus’s birth when it comes to the festive season.

… it is not Stewart alone who makes this film stand out from its numerous brothers, but the rest of the cast too.

Stewart’s Scrooge is a marvelous creation. By turns arrogant, by turns uncertain, Stewart takes him through the full range of emotion as Scrooge is forced to question every decision he’s made in his life. Yet whilst this production will be judged primarily by the success or failings of the lead, it is not Stewart alone who makes this film stand out from its numerous brothers, but the rest of the cast too. Saskia Reeves is a fantastically grumpy Mrs Cratchit, and Richard E. Grant, a good counterpart to bring the ever-present cheer of Bob. It is Claire Foy and Kenny Doughty, however, who provide the frame in which essential question of this story sits; how much is money really worth?

Which brings us back to that scene of Stewart singing loudly, and badly, but full of heart, as his onscreen alter ego discovers the true meaning of Christmas, and the audience discovers the wonder of this film, and of the actor who is it’s star attraction.

Die Hard – Oliver Rowe

I am sure that I will feel a great deal of sadness when I elect to watch Die Hard this year, due to the passing of the great Alan Rickman. However, I am equally sure that this sadness will be outweighed by the enjoyment gained from watching what is not only a great Christmas film, but one of the greatest action thrillers ever made. And Die Hard is a Christmas film. The pacing is still superb, the set pieces enthralling and the humour just as funny and quotable as ever – “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho”. In fact it’s the writing that makes Die Hard Die Hard; it just helps that the acting and editing is great too.

It’s what puts it above being a by-the-numbers clichéd action movie – by all means it has these tropes in droves, but they’re executed brilliantly and it’s more than thrilling enough for you to not really care about them. There’s even a nod to the audience about this very thing with the John Wayne/Gary Cooper back and forth between the real hero of Christmas John McClane and delightful German-terrorist-played-by-a-British-man-because-Hollywood Hans Gruber. What better way to pay tribute to Alan Rickman than by carrying on what should be every family’s Christmas tradition of watching one of his most iconic roles come December. It ain’t Christmas until the phrase “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” has been radioed to Severus Snape.

A Wonderful Life – Arran Byers

Although its success in 1946 was not obvious it is now plain to see that this is one of the greatest Christmas films, perhaps one of the greatest films, of all time. If we ponder for a moment how many films from 70 years ago still have such significance today aside from the likes of White Christmas and Casablanca then its obvious this film is really something. 

it covers […] the trials and tribulations of adult life and most importantly, depression.

The story resonates so keenly with a modern audience due to its compelling story featuring romance and tragedy with the cast delivering moving performances. But the themes it covers too are important in a modern context; financial loss, the unfairness of life at times, the trials and tribulations of adult life and most importantly, depression. When the George Bailey considers ending his life in an epic performance by James Stewart he is confronted with his life and all the lives he has touched as the antithesis to Scrooge in Bedford Falls.

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Clarence and George begin their journey of reflection. However, George is bewildered by Clarence’s apparent occupation… 

A Wonderful Life does this perfectly by exploring an alternative universe in which the main character never did all the amazing things we see him do with the help of his guardian angel, Clarence (Henry Travers). So this Christmas dust off your VCR player, gather your loved ones near and cuddle up on the couch with an eggnog… this film will teach you Christmas is not all about the wealth but your loved ones and reflecting on your achievements.

We will be bringing you our Favourite Christmas TV Specials soon plus a rundown of what you can watch on British Television this Christmas. Go to Facebook for more updates and info!!!

 

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