Label volunteer writer, Grace Vinzia, gives us her take on Christmas movies (both the good, and the very bad).
As the festive season approaches, many of us are going to be planning the infamous Christmas movie watchlist. From personal experience, a Christmas watchlist usually soft launches the festive spirit for the season, consequently, our favourites are always kept for last. But what makes a Christmas movie any good and worthy of watching this year?
I am here to help you distinguish between fan favourites and cheesy plot lines. Most importantly, understanding what a successful Christmas movie should include.
Like any genre of movie, a good Christmas movie usually requires well rounded characters, a running plot, some sort of conflict for climax and a final resolution. What separates Christmas movies from other genres is the fact that they incorporate all of these aspects within a certain timeline and theme. Most Christmas movies will develop a plot so that the climax can be found around Christmas Eve or Day. As we all might know, the advent to Christmas is what makes this time of year so special and magical, hence why most Christmas movies seek to replicate this feeling. The rushed present buying, drinking hot chocolates while baking and decorating our homes.
Additionally, Christmas movies always try to include some sort of positive or good maxim. A message of hope or love as we associate this period of time with inherent goodness, a time for forgiveness and to cherish memories with loved ones.
Some examples of movies that do it best: Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Holiday. These can be considered classics, the holy grail of Christmas movies if you will. Everybody knows them and loves them. As far as critique goes, none of these movies go below 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest rated being The Holiday. If you are looking for your staple Christmas movie, you will definitely find it in these examples. From holiday cheering to love and all-around feel-good atmosphere, they encapsulate it all.
Most importantly, these movies are dynamic and rich in dramatization. Not to mention, the acting performances are brilliant in their own ways.
Onto examples of movies that do it worst. Truth is, it is much more difficult to classify a movie as good rather than bad. Especially when it comes to a simple genre such as Christmas movies which are mostly filled with joyfulness. However, if we need to be pointing fingers, large entertainment and blockbuster groups such as Netflix and the Hallmark Channel, need to be called out. Overproduction in cinema is no secret and with an increase in streaming services, the situation worsens. Consequently, modern and recent Christmas movies cannot be considered as impactful as older ones. In my opinion, a good movie should evoke some sort of emotion within the audience and if it fails to do so, the movie cannot be as memorable or entertaining. They lose all meaning as the same overproduced plot line is spoon fed to the audience.
There are obviously some exceptions to this point, such as Christmas Inheritance, Operation Christmas Drop, The Christmas Chronicles, A Christmas Prince and Let it Snow. I personally enjoyed all of these, even if they do not have the same timeless and nostalgic feel as the previous examples do.
I want to conclude my ‘reviews’ and recommendations with some personal favourites. These are a ‘must have’ for me on every year’s Christmas watchlist: Little Women (1994 and 2019), Polar Express, Last Christmas and Christmas with the Coopers. I absolutely adore and love every single one of these and have for many years. Polar Express has incredible sentimental value to me as it is a family tradition to watch it every Christmas Eve with my parents. And Little Women is an all-time favourite due to its jovial feeling of happiness and sisterhood. Not to mention the snowy landscape.
Edited By: Rachel Cannings (Culture and Entertainment Editor)
Design By: Sarim Mangi (Head of Design)