1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Ah to be this excited about Christmas once again. Snow. Trees. Lights. Santa. This is the joy of the Christmas season personified, in all it’s abundance, saturation, and sensory assaulting-ness.
2. Meet Me in St Louis (1944)
This film is major Hollywood mush, however that’s not necessarily a bad thing during the holidays. Following the Smith family, fronted by Judy Garland as lead sister Esther, through the seasons in turn-of-the-century St Louis, the Christmas portion of this Technicolor cheese-fest ranges from fully-fledged gaiety at the dance (Sub Club it ain’t) to the melancholic lullaby in this clip. Fueled by the fantasy of a nostalgic utopic society before the evils of the 20th century really got going, when put into context, this film can be seen as a conservative encouragement to Americans during WW2. Looking at it now, it’s undeniable that the overt naivety never really existed in an honest way, its manufactured nature is irrepressible. But when we watch it with this knowledge, it’s far easier to enjoy as a piece of familial and social fantasy, rather than something actually aiming to reflect reality.
3. A Christmas Carol (2009)
A story that has been idiomized into our consciousness through the countless re-imaginings of it, the 2009 motion-capture version of A Christmas Carol certainly has its flaws. However, it is unmatched in it’s opening panorama through the streets of Victorian London, presenting in the most Dickensian way all the socio-economic variation of society, from the Christmas Card stuffed windows of the middle classes, to the urchins and beggars, to a banquet brimming with seasonal excess. Although this scene is rooted in the tint of rose-washed Christmas pleasantries, it succeeds in its juxtaposition of poverty and decadence, illustrating the political consciousness that Dickens’ work is founded upon.
4. The Lion in Winter (1968)
Katharine Hepburn in this movie deserves nothing less than the word; wow. Henry II (Peter O’Toole) has allowed his imprisoned with Eleanor of Aquitaine (Hepburn) out to visit for Christmas and by gum is she going to do everything to attempt to overthrow him. Yes, it’s medieval times but the basic familial dysfunction is just as relevant today as it was back then. Ok, so maybe, you’re not all physically trying to stab your brothers, plotting to have your dad dethroned, or pitting your children against each other, but the politics of this film is basically a fancy allegory for saying that Christmas can be a tumultuous time for one and all. Just don’t cut each other please.