Ah, Christmas. It’s the time of year when we have a little break, gain some weight, cry over silly movies, and exchange presents (Royal Mail, can you hear us?). We can also eat a lot – did I say this? I think I did. I know that this Christmas (and this year as a whole) might not have been as you expected, but Christmas is more a state of mind than anything else. All you need are some Christmas lights, a lot of video calls with your family (yes, even with that annoying uncle), hot chocolate with marshmallows, and some – hopefully – good movies. Since there are plenty out there, I managed to find ten of them, which are festive but not in the traditional way. After all, who wants to watch Love Actually for the hundredth time?
By Nikos Papanikolaou
This is not your typical Christmas movie. But if you like Batman, now is the right time to watch it. Long before Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, Tim Burton was the last one who produced great Batman movies. Released in 1992, this is the sequel to the 1989 film Batman, starring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Danny DeVito as Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Christopher Walken as Max Shreck. In this movie, Batman faces the Penguin, who is planning to kill all the firstborn sons of Gotham City, while Catwoman is looking for vengeance against Max Shreck, who wants to bring Gotham City under his control with Penguin’s help.
Why do we like it? Because it’s Batman, because it’s Tim Burton (Goth, duh), and because it’s one of the best casts in a Batman movie ever.
Again, this is not a typical Christmas movie. Michael Keaton (second movie suggestion with Keaton – am I into him or what?) is Jack Frost, the lead singer in a rock band and a father who makes his living by performing blues covers, and is hoping to sign a record deal. Frost is killed in a car accident – while attempting to meet his wife and son – but he returns to life as a snowman. The movie didn’t go so well in the box office (I wonder why? The plot is so realistic.), but it’s a Christmas classic – and let’s admit that many Christmas movies are bad, but there’s something mesmerising about them – so you should watch it. Also, three of Frank Zappa’s four children – Dweezil, Ahmet, and Moon Unit – appear in the film.
Why do we like it? To be honest, I don’t know. We just do.
After my – unexplained by now – film crush for Michael Keaton, this is the second (out of three) movies by Tim Burton in this list. Johnny Depp plays a humanoid named Edward who has scissor blades for hands. The young man is taken in by a suburban family and promptly falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Burton’s Christmas movies have something dark, in contrast with the real life where everything is full of colours. Also, the inspiration of Edward Scissorhands came from a drawing by Tim Burton, which reflected his feelings of isolation while he was living in suburban Burbank as a teenager.
Why do we like it? Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, a dark love story over Christmas – what’s not to like?
Again, this isn’t really a Christmas movie in the traditional way. The film is set in New York City during the early ’50s and tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aspiring female photographer (Rooney Mara) and a woman going through a difficult divorce (Cate Blanchett). It is based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith and was in development since 1997, when the first draft of the screenplay was written by Phyllis Nagy.
Why do we like it? Because it shows a story of true love, in a really suppressing era, while it’s Christmas.
There is a long ongoing debate on whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not. Obviously, you know my opinion, since the film made my Christmas list. It follows New York City police detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) who is caught up in a terrorist takeover of the Nakatomi Plaza by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) while visiting his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). The film is considered one of the greatest action films ever made, and since it’s taking place on a Christmas Eve, one of the best Christmas films ever.
Why do we like it? Because it’s the first time we met John McClane, because it’s snowing bullets, and because this movie introduced us to a new era of action movies.
An instant classic, even if it’s a bit twisted. The film is about Billy (Zach Galligan), a young man who receives a strange creature called Gizmo as a pet. Mogwai then spawns other similar creatures who transform into little monsters that wreck the city on Christmas Eve. And that’s all because Gizmo was touched by water. We got it Gizmo, you don’t like showers, but it’s Christmas, and you should be kinder.
Why do we like it? Well, Gizmo and the Gremlins grew up alongside a whole generation, including mine. Since I was never into the classic Christmas movies, Gremlins was one of the few I really enjoyed watching.
Little Women (2019)
In its seventh film adaptation of the 1868 novel, Greta Gerwig brings this classic story to the screen again, 25 years since its last adaptation. It is about the lives of the March sisters—Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth—in Concord, Massachusetts, during the 19th century. The cast – which is excellent – consisted of Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk and Chris Cooper.
Why do we like it? Because it’s a classic and because this adaptation is the best one so far, in my humble opinion.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
There is a debate on whether The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween or a Christmas movie. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, who walks through a portal to Christmas Town and becomes obsessed with Christmas. The movie was inspired by a poem written by Burton in 1982, while he was working at Walt Disney Productions. Tim Burton once again manages to master visuals in a creepy – but at the same time festive – way.
Why do we like it? Burton, Christmas, skeletons, and my – until recently – unknown need to include more than two films in which Tim Burton is involved.
Based on the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Scrooged is a modern screen adaptation of the famous book. The movie follows Frank Cross (Bill Murray), a cynical, cold-hearted, and selfish TV executive, who is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve, to help him find his lost Christmas spirit. Bill Murray’s three brothers, Brian, John, and Joel, also appear in the film.
Why do we like it? It’s the adaptation we were looking for under the prism of capitalism.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
It’s one of the few times when a third instalment is equally good as the previous two. The film follows Clark Griswold, who plans to have a great Christmas with his entire family. He gathers his wife Ellen, daughter Audrey, and son Rusty and drives out to the country to find a tree, and this is how the mess starts.
Why do we like it? Because it’s National Lampoon, because there is Chevy Chase, and obviously because this is not an ordinary family.