Opinion: The best Christmas movies of all time
By Mackenzie Mason, Arts Editor
This year has been a long and tough one. From cancelled plans to mourning those we’ve lost due to the pandemic, we’re all looking for a way to escape from our realities.
Thankfully, movies are the perfect way to relax, unwind and immerse yourself into new characters and their realities. Christmas is getting closer by the day and watching a Christmas movie is the escapism everyone is looking for this year.
Here are my four favourite Christmas movies of all time — in no particular order.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The ultimate classic Christmas movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, was filmed in 2000 and has literally been a crucial part of every Christmas I’ve celebrated. I’m 20 years old now, and this movie never fails to fill me with holiday cheer(meister).
Watching the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who find the meaning of Christmas puts a smile on anyone’s face — young and old, big and small. While almost everyone knows the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas, whether they love Christmas like the Whos or hate it like the Grinch, there’s a lot about the movie’s production that many people don’t know about.
It’s hard to imagine Christmas without watching Jim Carrey in his iconic role as the Grinch, but the movie almost didn’t happen. When Chuck Jones, the movie’s director, got permission from Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) to make the film, he struggled to find any businesses to support it.
Thankfully, the Foundation for Commercial Banks made the movie a reality, endorsing it by providing a $123 million USD budget. This endorsement paid off, with the movie grossing $260 million USD domestically and $85.1 million USD in other territories for a worldwide gross of $345.1 million USD, making How the Grinch Stole Christmas the sixth highest-grossing film of 2000.
It’s also hard to picture the Grinch without the character’s distinct green colour, but that almost didn’t happen as well. In the original story, the Grinch was actually black and white and had pink eyes. When Jones became director of the animated movie, he made the genius decision that the main character was going to be entirely green.
Carrey’s costume was created mostly out of yak hair that was dyed green and individually sewn into the suit. Carrey spent a total of 92 days wearing the costume, and it took him three hours before each filming session to put it on. Talk about dedication.
Another iconic Christmas movie that makes it into my Christmas movie marathon every year is the 1990 film Home Alone, directed by Chris Columbus. The movie follows Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) as he fights off two burglars after accidentally being forgotten at home while his family spends Christmas in Paris.
This movie is so iconic, you can’t help but mouth the words as they are said on screen. It’s a movie that puts you through a rollercoaster of emotions, bringing you along the journey of Kevin’s mother trying everything to get back home to her son while her son goes from living the dream, to missing his family, to defending himself and his family’s house from the Wet Bandits.
While most Christmas movies are stereotypically about love, Home Alone is an action-packed comedy that makes you appreciate being with family during the holidays — something many people will be missing this year.
When I think of this movie, I can’t help but think of the famous line, “Keep the change, you filthy animal.” If you’ve ever thought of watching the movie Kevin uses to keep Marv, one of the burglars, from entering the house, or against the poor pizza delivery guy as a prank, you’ll be disappointed to find out that Angels with Filthy Souls is actually a fictional gangster film made solely for Home Alone.
And who doesn’t love a conspiracy theory? In the case of Home Alone, people believe that the King of Pop, Elvis Presley, didn’t actually die in 1977 — instead, he’s been making a living under the radar by working as a Hollywood extra. The King himself (or just his doppelgänger) can be seen when Kevin’s mom is at the airport trying to get back home.
The Santa Clause
Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause series makes the rounds as another staple in my yearly Christmas movie binges, but this is one of the trilogies where I prefer the second more than the first. So while the entire series is a classic for the most wonderful time of the year, I’ll be talking about The Santa Clause 2 filmed in 2006 and directed by Michael Lembeck.
After Scott Calvin accidentally kills Santa Claus and consequently becomes Santa in the first movie, Calvin is living the dream. But his plans are disrupted when he is told he must find a Mrs. Claus or give up being Santa. Now, maybe this is my favourite movie in the series because it follows a love story, but this film makes me laugh and smile every time.
The role of Scott Calvin/Santa Claus was actually written for Bill Murray. Chevy Chase was also offered the lead role, but scheduling conflicts urged producers to consider Tim Allen and I, for one, am glad they did.
The Santa Clause 2 was actually the most expensive in the franchise. With a budget of $65 million USD, the sequel cost almost three times what the first film did. After the big hit, the filmmakers really scaled back their budget with the third film, using “only” $12 million USD, making it the least expensive film in the trilogy.
Okay, so I know I said that this list was in no particular order… But I have to say that this is my favourite Christmas movie of all time. What can I say? I’m a sucker for love and romantic comedies.
Love Actually, filmed in 2003 and directed by Richard Curtis, is an intertwining story of love and loss in London during the Christmas season. Perfecting an on-screen love story is hard enough, but fitting 10 love stories seamlessly into one movie while connecting all the characters to each other? It’s a work of art.
What’s even crazier is that there were originally supposed to be 14 love stories in the film. Unfortunately, two were clipped in the scripting phase and two were shot and cut in post. The scripted cuts involved storylines about a girl with a wheelchair and another which is quite similar to Sam and Joanna’s story where a boy records a love song for a classmate who ultimately hooks up with his drummer.
Once the film was shot and put together, a story about an African couple supporting each other during a famine, and another storyline that followed a school’s headmistress and her secret commitment to her lesbian partner were cut to make the film shorter.
While this is one of my favourite Christmas movies, it’s unfortunate they cut the storylines providing representation for LGBTQ+, Black and disabled communities that could have greatly impacted the early 2000s.
But the moments in the film I enjoy the most are the raw and real reunions of loved ones at Heathrow Airport at the beginning and end of the film. This footage was actually shot with hidden cameras on location for a week and when a perfect reunion was caught on camera, a crew member would run to have its subjects sign a waiver so they could be included in Love Actually.
Unlike Bing Crosby or Michael Bublé, many people won’t be home for Christmas this year due to the pandemic and we’re yearning for nothing more than to be as close to those we love as seen in the opening and closing Heathrow scenes of Love Actually.
But COVID-19 has given Calgarians the opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise to see some of their favourite Christmas movies on the big screen in a socially-distanced movie theatre. So, grab your mask and support your community while getting in the Christmas spirit!