Culture’s Christmas Film Reel
The countdown to Christmas is on, and Ellipsis’ Culture team has devised a list of our favourite festive films!
So, cosy down and stick on one of our recommendations and let the spirit of Christmas wash over you…
The Polar Express (2004)
As the clock nears midnight, a young boy’s room begins to shake. As he looks out of his window, he spots a never-ending steam train drawn to a halt outside of his house on newly-appeared tracks. The conductor (voiced by Tom Hanks) explains “why, this is the Polar Express!” and our hero boy embarks on an adventure of trust, friendship and belief. The film is a heart-warming family film that reminds us of the magic of Christmas. (And if you can make it through the ‘bell’ scene without tearing up, you’re probably lying.)
Chalet Girl (2011)
For our Deputy Culture Editor, Chalet Girl is the perfect winter film without it being overly Christmassy (and there’s always a high chance that it will be showing on one of the film channels this festive season!)
Freya Darbyshire says: “Chalet Girl may not be a festive film, but it is definitely one to watch to get you in good spirits this frosty season. Down to earth Kim lives the dream when she lands a job working in the ski season as a house maid in the snowy alps whilst simultaneously training to become a champion snowboarder. A magical, feel-good romantic comedy following the charming Felicity Jones (Kim), as she tries to navigate the high life with Jonny as her guide (Ed Westwick) …Need I say more.”
A Christmas Carol (The Muppets (1992) and the animated (2009))
From festive spirits to ghostly ones comes a couple of adaptations of Charles Dickens’ festive favourite: A Christmas Carol. The original Christmas ghost story was first adapted for screen in 1916 through the story The Right to be Happy and has been remade innumerable times since. The 1992 Muppet version tells the tale in puppet form, whilst the 2009 version showcases modern animation featuring the charismatic Jim Carrey’s voice. In case you are unfamiliar, A Christmas Carol is a tale of humbugging miser Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey to self-realisation and his discovery of the true meaning of Christmas. The cold Victorian London streets contrast greatly to the heart-warming message and is a must-watch this Christmas time.
Love Actually (2003)
With a combination of some of the best British actors, Richard Curtis’ film, Love Actually is one of the most loved Christmas themed films of our time. The nine individual storylines intertwine across the plot, exploring the most complicated of emotions: love. From Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson to Rowan Atkinson, Alan Rickman and Andrew Lincoln, this star-studded cast offers everything from laughter to tears. Because of the variety of storylines, there will always be one that strikes a chord with your own experiences, whether it be unrequited love, heartbreak, loss or totally consuming love.
For Olivia Marchant, Love Actually has a special place in her heart because the character that Liam Neeson plays reminds her of her dad, and one of the featured songs was played at her mum’s funeral. The film is timeless and means so much to many different people and is a must-watch every Christmas.
The Snowman (1982)
A silent short film adapted from the wordless book by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman follows a young boy as he builds a snowman who comes to life at midnight. Their adventures together will bring back many memories of watching it subconsciously as a younger person, and of course fall back in love with the Christmas tune that is ‘Walking in the Air’.
With its fourth sequel released this winter, Nativity! is a collection of films that you can’t help but love. Classes of school children over the years find themselves in sticky situations as they try to take part in various Christmas concerts and nativities around the country, with lead roles played by Martin Freeman and David Tennant in respective versions. Described by our writer Megan Clark, Nativity! has a “fab cast and is hilarious” and its innocence is so pure and wholesome for a light-watch this winter.
Culture contributor Georgia Berry explains what Carol all is about:
“Although it’s not the first film that springs to mind when someone mentions the genre of Christmas film, Todd Haynes’ 2015 romance starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara has all the best aspects of the festive season. Whilst working in a department store and looking ethereal in a Santa hat, Therese (Mara) meets the elegant and older Carol (Blanchett). Set in the 1950s, with all of its prejudiced attitudes, the two develop a deeply romantic yet tumultuous relationship over the holiday period.
Carol’s rich colour palette of red, green and gold, glittering cinematography, snow-covered landscapes and intricate, decorative touches makes it an aesthetically striking vision of Christmas. What truly makes Carol a festive film is its emphasis on love, and the suggestion, through its endearing and heart-warming narrative, that it always triumphs.
Buddy the Elf’s adventure to New York City is showered with chaos, naivety and loving relationships. I shan’t spend long explaining the details of Elf because it would ruin the magic (and surely everyone has seen it?!)
The Grinch (2005)
Jim Carrey’s exaggerated facial expressions and actions make this version of The Grinch an absolute joy to watch repeatedly. Social outcast Grinch “loooaaathes” Christmas and its modern superficial meaning, but when he meets the loveable Cindy Lou-Who who coaxes him out of his reclusive cave, he rethinks what Christmas really is all about. Film buff John Reynolds explains that “Carrey put so much effort into his role and even had to learn torture-coping techniques from the CIA to help him through the 8-hour makeup sessions every day!”
It’s a Wonderful Life (1956)
Frank Capra’s 1946 Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, has been loved for years as a timeless commentary on society’s obsessions. When his guardian angel appears to him before he takes his life, George Bailey (James Stewart) discovers what life would have been without his existence. It’s a Wonderful Life is a beautiful tale of appreciation and what you have and what you can give and embodies the true meaning of Christmas.
Enjoy watching, and on behalf of the Culture section at Ellipsis, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Rachael and Freya xx