What better way to usher in the year end festivities than to enjoy some quality time with family and friends? Be it going for quick holidays/getaways or organising intimate get-togethers, the one thing that everyone can agree on is the fact that no matter where in the world you are, this season never fails to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Some say it because of the automatic “wind down” after a hectic year but we “blame” it all on Christmas. After all, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, is it not? ;)
As such, we’re adding another Christmas-themed activity that you can do be it alone, as a couple, or even as a group this year end. First, you’d probably need to block out an entire weekend to do this. Second, this is best enjoyed in an air-conditioned environment. And third, for the fear of sounding like a pre-movie cinema ad, turn off your mobile phones. Also, optional, load up on your favourite snacks and drinks (maybe a bottle of wine?). Once you’ve got all that prepared, there’s one thing left to do – snuggle up and pretend that “Baby, it’s cold outside” to some of our all-time favourite Christmas flicks:
Home Alone (1990)
“Home Alone” is a 1990 American Christmas family comedy film written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. Most people would remember “Home Alone” for Macaulay Culkin, who stars as Kevin McCallister, an 8-year-old boy who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation.
When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (played by Catherine O’Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. Kevin initially relishes being home alone, but soon has to contend with 2 would-be burglars played by Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci. As his excitement sours, he finds the missions of all missions – that he alone must protect the family home.
Needless to say, the cherubic Macaulay Culkin kicked ass and kicked ass hard in this all-time favourite Christmas flick.
The film also features Catherine O’Hara and John Heard as Kevin’s parents. As of 2009, Home Alone was the highest-grossing comedy of all time. It spawned a successful franchise, with 4 sequels and 3 video games, and with the main cast reprising their roles for the sequel, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
“The Nightmare Before Christmas”, often promoted as” Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas”, is a 1993 American stop motion musical fantasy film directed by Henry Selick and produced/co-written by Tim Burton. The film originated in a poem written by Tim Burton in 1982, while he was working as an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios. With the success of Vincent in the same year, the Walt Disney Studios started to consider developing “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as either a short film or 30-minute TV special. Over the years, Burton’s thoughts regularly returned to the project, and in 1990, he made a development deal with Disney. Disney decided to release the film under their Touchstone Pictures banner because they thought the movie would be “too dark, and scary for kids”.
The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colours and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life – he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.
Danny Elfman wrote the film score and provided the singing voice of Jack, as well as other minor characters. The remaining principal voice cast includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, and Glenn Shadix. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was met with both critical and financial success. The film has since been reissued by Walt Disney Pictures and re-released annually in the Disney Digital 3D format from 2006 until 2009, making it the first stop-motion animated feature to be entirely converted to 3D.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (promoted theatrically as The Grinch) is a 2000 American fantasy comedy Christmas film from Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, based on the 1957 story of the same name by Dr. Seuss. It was the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film. Because the film is based on a children’s picture book, many additions had to be made to the storyline to bring it up to feature-length, including some information about the backstory of the titular character. Most of the rhymes used in the book were used in the film, though some were slightly changed, and new rhymes were put in as well.
In this live-action adaptation of the beloved children’s tale by Dr. Seuss, the reclusive green Grinch (played by Jim Carrey) decides to ruin Christmas for the cheery citizens of Whoville. Reluctantly joined by his hapless dog, Max, the Grinch comes down from his mountaintop home and sneaks into town to swipe everything holiday-related from the Whos. However, the bitter grump finds a hitch in his plans when he encounters the endearing Cindy Lou Who (played by Taylor Momsen).
The film was directed by Ron Howard, produced by Howard and Brian Grazer, and starring Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, and introducing Taylor Momsen. The Grinch is the second highest-grossing holiday film of all time with $345,141,403 worldwide, only behind “Home Alone”. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for “Best Art Direction” and “Best Costume Design”.
Love, Actually (2003)
“Love Actually” is a 2003 British Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. The screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as their tales progress.
Set primarily in London, the story begins 5 weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, followed by an epilogue that takes place one month later. The film begins with a voiceover from David (played by Hugh Grant) commenting that whenever he gets gloomy with the state of the world he thinks about the arrivals terminal at Heathrow Airport, and the pure uncomplicated love felt as friends and families welcome their arriving loved ones. David’s voiceover also relates that all the messages left by the people who died on the 9/11 planes were messages of love and not hate.
The film then tells the “love stories” of many people:
- Billy Mack and Joe
- Juliet, Peter, and Mark (That famous cue cards scene)
- Jamie and Aurélia
- Harry, Karen, and Mia
- David and Natalie
- Daniel, Sam, Joanna, and Carol
- Sarah, Karl, and Michael
- Colin, Tony, and the American girls
- John and Judy
The Polar Express (2004)
“The Polar Express” is a 2004 American motion capture computer-animated musical Christmas fantasy film based on the children’s book of the same title by Chris Van Allsburg. Written, produced, and directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film featured human characters animated using the live action performance capture technique, with the exception of the dancing waiters who dispense hot chocolate on the train, because their feats were impossible for live actors to achieve. The film stars Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, and Eddie Deezen, with Tom Hanks in 6 distinct roles.
The film is an inspiring adventure which centres on a doubting young boy as he takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole. He embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. “The Polar Express” also included a performance by Tinashe at age 9, who later gained exposure as a pop singer in 2010, as the CGI-model for the female protagonist.
The visual effects and performance capture were done at Sony Pictures Imageworks. The film was made at a budget of $165 million, a record breaking sum for an animated feature at the time. The studio first released the film in both conventional and IMAX 3D theatres 10th Nov 2004. It is listed in the Guinness World Book of Records in 2006 as the first all-digital capture film.
The Holiday (2006)
“The Holiday” is a 2006 American Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written, produced and directed by Nancy Meyers. Distributed by Columbia Pictures and Universal Studios and filmed in both California and England, it stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Jude Law and Jack Black co-star, with Eli Wallach, Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, and Rufus Sewell playing key supporting roles.
The story revolves around 2 lovelorn women, one (Cameron Diaz) from America and one (Kate Winslet) from Britain, as they swap homes at Christmastime after bad breakups with their boyfriends. Each woman finds romance with a local man (Jude Law, Jack Black) but realises that the imminent return home may end the relationship.
Reviews were positive towards the film’s visual aesthetic design and the acting, most notably Kate Winslet’s performance as society column editor Iris. However, the plot drew a mixed response from critics, who criticised plot elements that lacked any surprises or were predictable. Cameron Diaz garnered an ALMA Award nomination for her performance, while Kate Winslet was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award the following year. The film itself won the 2007 Teen Choice Award in the Chick Flick category.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
“Arthur Christmas” is a 2011 British/American 3D computer animated Christmas comedy film, produced by Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation as their first collaborative project. The film was released on 11th Nov 2011 in the UK and on 23rd Nov 2011 in the US.
Everyone knows that, each Christmas, Santa Claus delivers presents to every last child on Earth. What everyone doesn’t know is that Santa accomplishes the feat with a very high-tech operation beneath the North Pole. Set on Christmas night, the film tells a story about the Santa Claus’ clumsy son Arthur Claus who discovers that the Santas’ high-tech ship has failed to deliver one girl’s present, goes on a mission to save her Christmas, accompanied only by his ageing grandfather, a rebellious yet enthusiastic young Christmas Elf obsessed with wrapping gifts for children, and a team of 8 strong, magical yet untrained reindeer.
“Arthur Christmas” was directed by Sarah Smith, and co-directed by Barry Cook, it features voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Ramona Marquez and Michael Palin.
Did your favourite Christmas movie make the list? Would you like to share ’em with us? Leave us a comment in the comments box below ;)