The quintessential holiday movie guide
What to watch and what to avoid during the holidays
By Colin Macgillivray, Arts Editor
It is clear to me that the worst sub-genre in film is Christmas movies. The plethora of films that are released during the holiday season each year absolutely suck all the joy out of arguably the happiest time of the year. The holidays are about getting together with friends and family, giving back to those you love and winding down after a hard year of whatever you’ve been doing. So, the movies that you watch during the holidays should be about all those things and more.
So, since everyone is already going to be crowded around the television, watching another mind-numbingly bad Christmas movie that you’ve already seen a million times, I’ve compiled a list of movies to watch over this holiday season and some movies you should definitely avoid. This list might be a little unconventional for some, so if you’re looking for me to drool over holiday favourites like Elf or Home Alone, you’ll be incredibly disappointed.
Watch: Die Hard
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a thousand times, Die Hard is the best Christmas movie of all time. There really is nothing better during the holidays than to gather around a nice fire, grab some hot cocoa and watch John McClane thwart a terrorist plot on Christmas Eve.
The beauty of this Christmas movie is that it really isn’t a Christmas movie and that is exactly why it takes the coveted top spot on the list. The holiday theme doesn’t feel forced and the fact that Bruce Willis’ take-no-prisoners detective just so happens to be delivering presents for his children just in time for Christmas is just a nice little added bonus for the audience. This movie is still incredibly re-watchable and an overall fun experience, but the Christmas hook just gives me an excuse to start up the old VHS machine for a night of Die Hard.
Bruce Willis is at his best here. Not only does he have hair, but his charismatic portrayal of John McClane made the cowboy synonymous with iconic action heroes. The late, great Alan Rickman plays arguably the greatest villain in movie history, Hans Gruber, while the definitive holiday action classic is constantly delivering with legendary one-liners, brilliant action sequences and genuinely funny moments of levity throughout.
Although none of the sequels have been able to live up to the magic of the first, Die Hard will forever hold a place in the holiday history books as arguably the best action film of all time and easily the greatest holiday flick ever made.
Dont Watch: Love Actually
Making a Christmas movie is also the ultimate cop out. When a studio wants to make a couple million dollars by preying on holiday cheer, they’ll make a movie like Daddy’s Home 2, a film that has no business being a Christmas movie in the first place. By adding a Christmas or holiday theme to any movie, you can ensure that it will be seen by everyone at some point, because of television reruns.
This is exactly the case with the abysmal tale that is Love Actually. This convoluted mess of a movie commits every deadly sin when it comes to filmmaking. Not only does it shoehorn in an unnecessary Christmas theme, but it wastes an exceptionally talented ensemble cast that includes Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson on 10 minutes of screen time each. It is maddening that a movie that boasts so many talented stars but ensures that none of them are allowed to give standout performances due to story and time restraints. There are at least 11 distinct narratives in this movie and none of them are given enough time to be even remotely compelling.
Love Actually is actually really disappointing. It is the quintessential holiday romantic-comedy, but that is exactly why it is a terrible movie. By lazily writing a Christmas setting into a cookie-cutter rom-com, writer and director Richard Curtis essentially assured immortality for this overstuffed turkey of a film. For that reason alone, both this movie and that laughable cue-card scene should be burnt with the yule log.
Watch: Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas
Have you heard Kirk Cameron and his absolutely abysmal film Saving Christmas? If you haven’t, I suggest you stop everything you’re doing for an hour and 20 minutes and watch arguably the worst movie ever made.
Now, you might be asking yourself why you would want to watch the worst movie ever made? Well, there is nothing more entertaining than watching bad movies with loved ones. Not only can you sit back and relax with friends and family and make a mockery of Kirk Cameron and his horrific film, but more importantly, you’ll appreciate all those overplayed Christmas movies just a little bit more.
But why is Saving Christmas so bad? Well, there are a couple reasons. The first being Kirk Cameron, a washed up 80’s sitcom star who has some pretty interesting things to say about trees and consumerism. Not only does this ludicrous film dive into how hip-hop is essential to properly celebrate the holiday season, but also includes a 10 minute conversation of Kirk Cameron telling his brother-in-law that Santa Claus is really “Satan Claus.”
This is The Room of holiday movies. A movie so laughably bad that it transcends film all together and becomes a watchable movie. Not only is it an incredibly entertaining experience, but Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas is an enigma in the holiday movie world that you will never forget.
Don’t Watch: Four Christmases
What a stupid premise for a movie! Four Christmases is essentially about hiding from your dysfunctional family over the holiday season because of creative differences. When Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are trapped in an airport during Christmas and are subsequently forced to stay home, their four divorced parents all want to visit them, which is completely normal behaviour. For some reason, this movie insists that parents wanting to see their children is asinine.
88 minutes of pure torture, the film’s major plot points include Reese Witherspoon’s character being deathly afraid of inflatable bouncy castles, something that, for some reason puts an intense strain on her relationship with Vaughn’s character. In the end, none of the character’s really change and essentially there was absolutely no point for anyone to care about the nonsensical narrative in the first place.
Every Christmas comedy trope is used and abused in Four Christmases, so don’t watch it.