Along with roast turkey and sprouts, putting out carrots for reindeers and pretending you’re pleased with what your great-aunt has got you, sitting around a TV with your family watching a beloved Christmas film with hot chocolates or mulled wine is a vital part of every holiday season. Here are some of our writers’ favourite picks.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Chris Columbus’ Home Alone is most certainly a Christmas classic but I would also argue also that its sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, falls into the same category. It includes everything that makes the original such a heartwarming, fun watch and astronomically upscales it. This time Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is once again estranged from his family in the Christmas period… but in the middle of New York! If the original could be described as a 90s McDonald’s meal, this would be the SuperSized version. It takes place largely in the Big Apple’s rather grand The Plaza Hotel; decorated to the point where you could merely pause the screen at any point and be instantly reminded of the film’s festive setting (an essential for any good Christmas film).
While Kevin’s pain-inflicting traps upon the ‘Wet Bandits’ are an obvious source of hilarity, the comedy ‘stand-out’ has to go to the glorious Tim Curry as Mr. Hector. In one of perhaps his finest, most underrated roles, his bumbling persona combined with frankly bizarre mannerisms makes him simply a joy to watch. Sometimes the sequels can be better!
– Callum Joynes
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Is this the cliche choice? Yes. Is this the pretentious choice? A little. Is there a reason why it’s so popular and beloved? Absolutely. The genius of It’s a Wonderful Life is that it isn’t a Christmas film until the very end (similar to Green Book). James Stewart radiates warmth and optimism for a period that just saw the end of the most gripping war in the history of the world, charting a life for himself in his sleepy little town. It’s only when the cruel Mr Potter (an unredeemed Scrooge) takes away all of George Bailey’s bank’s money that Stewart sinks into despair, entering an alternate universe where he never exists. Here he learns of all the good things he has done, leading to his famous sprint back home in the snow to reunite with his family and be saved by all the people whose lives he had bettered. Available in black and white and in colour, Frank Capra’s gem of a film is immortal in its seasonal warmth and tears of happiness.
– Jacob Hando
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Why does every single festive film always portray the best Christmases as idyllic and calm? The holidays are a time for getting together with your chaotic family and riding the wave of whatever mayhem comes your way. Enter the truest depiction of the winter holidays: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Oh, Clark Griswold Jr. Nothing is ever going his way as his planned festive party descends into anarchy. But despite this pandemonium, at its heart, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation has the heart and soul of a Christmas movie. Learning that, even if the tree burns down or the lights decorating the roof won’t win you any awards, it’s the family and who you celebrate with that matters (just don’t use the film as a blueprint for your festivities and you’ll be okay). But at the end of the day, it’s just a comedic masterpiece from the 1980s that you can sit down and watch with your family, knowing exactly which one of the Griswold’s everyone is.
– Louise Chase