Merry Christmas everyone! If you’re looking for some films to watch amongst the litter of wrapping paper and Christmas cracker jokes, then why not give these a try? We asked our contributors about their favourite festive films to watch this season.
The Family Stone – Charlotte Grimwade
The Family Stone is a Christmas comedy-drama that was released in 2005 and continues to be a favourite festive film of mine to this day. It tells the story of a chaotic, liberal family dealing with the arrival of Meredith Morton, Everett Stone’s uptight girlfriend, over the holidays. Whilst this is arguably an overused narrative, The Family Stone combines an incredible cast and well-written script to achieve a nuanced take on family dynamics, all combined with the warm and endearing Christmas aesthetic of snowy Connecticut that can get anyone excited for the festive season.
Although the film has plenty of hilarious farcical scenes (such as one concerning an engagement ring stuck on the wrong person’s finger), it also effectively gets to the heart of each character’s flaws and varied emotions, making them even more likeable and engaging. There’s something about a satisfying character arch that makes a feel-good movie for me, and this film definitely achieves this through Meredith’s character, excellently acted by Sarah Jessica Parker. If you’re looking for a light-hearted Christmas movie to enjoy with your family over December, The Family Stone is the perfect watch!
The Holiday – Emerson Shams
The Holiday (2006) is a must watch in my house every year – I can only say that for very few other films. It is an exquisite exploration of the five main characters who are on their own quests to discover how to trust, either in themselves or in others. It’s not a sappy film about how the girl meets the boy and he fixes her life, but more how a change of pace and meeting new people can allow you to explore different perspectives of life.
It is through these perspectives which the characters grow to love and respect themselves, and thus are able to love others. Nora Ephron perfectly captures the holiday spirit without all the tropes which plague this genre: magic, Prince Charmings, cheesy plots. In my opinion, this film goes down in the great pantheon of British holiday films. Yes, it is half-American – but it holds the quality and nuance I have only found in films such as Bridget Jones and Love Actually. If you like those, and haven’t seen this, make sure to check it out!
The Muppet Christmas Carol – Amy Howlett
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) is obligatory viewing in my house (sadly only me, since my family turn their noses up at it – bah humbug to them!). This is the perfect family film: colour, energy, and humour keep children entertained, but with delightful touches for adults to appreciate, such as Miss Piggy’s suggestive winking. The film’s uniqueness is due to the brilliant fusion between the Muppets and Dickens’ story. The film has its own identity, but it doesn’t shy away from the novel’s darker topics: poverty, isolation, infant mortality. All the original’s moral lessons are still front and centre.
But what makes the film underrated is THE Michael Caine performance. Any adaptation hinges on Scrooge’s moral and spiritual journey. Michael Caine’s Scrooge is every bit as unfeeling as you’d expect, but Caine shows us all the layers of this character. He recognises the loneliness of his younger self sitting in the classroom. He weeps as he watches his tragic parting from the love of his life. His heart breaks when he contemplates Tiny Tim’s death. This is Caine at his best: you’ll hate him for his cruelty, but rejoice in his ultimate redemption.
Image: Samantha Fulton