We have no snow, and certainly no mistletoe but what we do have, is plenty of connections — the internet kind. Arm yourself with these titles and get your stockings filled with holidays feels, no matter if you’ve been bad or good.
#1: Holiday Inn (1942)
There’s nothing like a classic oldie to kick off the holidays. In this case, renowned Irving Berlin scores a film with a repeated love triangle situation between leading men Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Can you even imagine the combination? Music by Berlin, singing by Crosby, and the nifty footwork of Astaire? It’s a legendary pairing that starts with strife, but ends with a good old-fashioned happy ending. This film gave rise to White Christmas and watching this will give the song an added dimension.
2. The Polar Express (2004)
Robert Zemeckis is a director known both for his expert use of special effects as well as working on stories that tug on the heartstrings. The Polar Express has both in spades. With a touch of the bittersweet, the film is a lush live action motion capture tale of a boy who rediscovered the magical ingredient of Christmas with a fantastic train ride to the North Pole. Boy, brakes, bell, and belief — these words will make more sense by the end of this holiday fable.
3. Love Actually (2003)
No one mentions holiday movies without citing this Christmas-themed romantic comedy. Set during the holidays, this series of love encounters between a dozen couples makes us realise the value of the human connection. Heightened by the familiar celebration scenes as Christmas approaches, this title even spans a wedding and a funeral, with different setups that eventually unravel the many faces of love. Perfect for couples or friends who just want to pick their favourite character, this is an evergreen film that satisfies everyone.
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
What happens when Halloween wants to become Christmas? Tim Burton’s ingenious work is now a classic, as we follow the ruler of the frightful holiday, Jack Skellington, while he tries to take over Santa’s job. It becomes a nightmare naturally, but in the most charming way. This iconic stop-motion piece goes untoward with its horrific treatment, but somehow strangely makes us feel more for Christmas. And when the ending comes, there’s plenty of friendship, forgiveness, gatherings, and even love to warm everyone’s hearts.
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5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This classic comedy-drama is included in almost every Christmas viewing, and for good reason. Not only does it top seasonal selections, the title is also often on the world’s chosen top films as well! James Stewart is George Bailey, a man contemplating suicide on Christmas eve — grim. But not to worry, angel-in-training Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) is dispatched to save him. This alternative Christmas Carol shows us how sometimes our actions can unwittingly bring help and joy to others, and director Frank Capra reminds us that every life can have a positive impact if we so chose.
6. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Another oft-quoted title, this is sentimentality for the lactose-intolerant — without any cheese. Is he or isn’t he? Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) acts like the real Santa Claus, and it seems he has everyone convinced except for a little girl. When she bargains for three items to be fulfilled before she believes again, we see how Kringle moves the pieces to make that holiday miracle happen, but not without him ending up on the wrong side of the law and having to prove in court that he is the real Santa Claus. We find out the answer, along with some Christmas magic, at the end.
7. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Tim Burton strangely seems to inhabit a curiously dark corner in the Christmas film market. Edward Scissorhands is a twisted love story filled with iconic moments, including the grand flourish at the end where we find out where the snow in the film comes from. A quirky trip through the eyes of a kind-hearted “monster” — an unfinished creature who has scissor blades instead of hands — the tale is a modern-day Frankenstein story with moments that will melt the most jaded of hearts.
8. Gremlins (1984)
While the Home Alone series by Chris Columbus is an obvious option, every Christmas celebration deserves a bit of fiendish spice from his other film about wacky creatures who transform if owners don’t heed the rules. With nostalgic hits like Stranger Things and Ready First Player all the rage, try some authentic goodness with this comedy horror which has attained cult status. It’s got lots of cute, tons of mayhem, and a reminder never to feed someone (or yourself) after midnight — perfect.
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9. Frozen (2013)
No doubt this will win the popular choice award with the young ones — after all, this Disney princess animation has got all the frostings of a classic Christmas tale. The tortured princess who claims her magical abilities to create all things ice teaches us about acceptance and the power of love, while throwing in a goofball snowman, moose and catchy song numbers that can have everyone at the party singing. Shrug off the work and let it go at the viewing.
10. Krampus (2015)
Because a good fright always brings people together (huddling on the coach), here’s a horrific tale of a boy’s wish gone wrong on Christmas. Krampus is refreshingly fun as it works on the dysfunctional side of the family tale, and when an unhappy boy accidentally summons an ancient demon — the shadow-side of Santa if you will — things become bloody and terrifying very fast. Family bonding was never so crucial. Be good for goodness sake, because this Santa takes instead of gives.
11. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
There’s some added tinge of poignancy in this film, because Jim Henson passed away during pre-production. But his legacy is wrapped up in lots of heart and bittersweet storytelling, as his fuzzy creations perform one of the greatest Christmas stories of all time. Michael Caine is the unrepentant Ebenezer Scrooge, but falls prey to the pure-hearted muppets as they try to win him over. It may be targeted at a fictional character, but the warmth hits us all in the heart.
12. The Holiday (2006)
Leading ladies Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet helm this feel-good movie about two lovelorn women who exchange homes to escape heartbreak during the Christmas season. It’s a predictable story of romance and hope during the holidays, but we love the sweet side story about an elderly screenwriter who gets his moment of recognition during the Screenwriters’ Guild, thanks to Winslet’s character and a Hollywood composer played by Jack Black. This is one that will make us go “awww” inside.
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