Christmas Movies Usually Aren’t That Great, But We Like These Ones: A List by the Much Ado Team

This post is a collaborative effort between myself, Iana, Dilara, Ryan and Jaime. Huge thanks to everyone for putting the work in at such short notice!

The “Christmas film” is a bit of an oddity; the most popular examples are often poorly reviewed, overly sentimental cheese-fests and yet, we love them all the same. Everyone who celebrates Christmas has their own favourite festive films, and if you’re anything like us here at Much Ado About Cinema, these particular movies will be especially close to your heart. Rather than try and rank this unique genre – if it can even be called that – we’ve decided to simply share those that are special to us personally, in the hopes that others may also find joy in them. Some are masterpieces, some are not-so-masterpieces, but one thing is for sure – come Christmas Day, we’ll be cuddled up with these movies.

Tokyo Godfathers

Tokyo Godfathers (2003). © Satoshi Kon, Mad House and Tokyo Godfathers Committee. All Rights Reserved.
 Legendary anime director Satoshi Kon is well known for his weirder films that Darren Aranofsky and Christopher Nolan have downright copied, but his most conventional film, ‘Tokyo Godfathers’ serves as a wonderful Christmas tale about the virtues of simple human compassion. The story sounds like it ends with a punchline: a middle-aged alcoholic, a drag queen, and a teenage runaway – all homeless – find an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve while rummaging through garbage for food. With only some baby supplies and a key to the mother’s storage locker, the group traverses across Tokyo in search of the baby’s parents.

This all sounds quite morbid for a Christmas movie but the film has so much and care not just for the characters, but the city of Tokyo itself. The trio live in a makeshift house in the harsh Japanese winter but is lit with warm tones that suggest a family cosying up to a fire. The story is definitely not one fit for the Disney crowd but the more dramatic moments are interspersed with the light humour of a group who are well-versed in making the best of what they have. And Kon never treats these characters as a joke, which I was especially thankful for in regards to the trans character, Hana. What makes ‘Tokyo Godfathers’ so great for Christmas viewing is that it reminds us, in a time where everything seems hopeless, you can always find solace in the kindness of strangers, and that selfless compassion is not an extinct concept.

– Iana Murray

Make Way For Tomorrow

Make Way For Tomorrow (1937). © Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow isn’t explicitly about its Christmas setting, but there’s a lesson or two that still allows it to tie into the Christmas season with ease. It’s cliché for some to say that Christmastime is all about the family coming together, but that’s a good part in where Make Way for Tomorrow‘s own power still lies within. Often cited by its own director as his best movie, he also famously stated as he won the Oscar during the same year for The Awful Truth, “Thanks, but you gave it to me for the wrong picture.”

This film is the story of an elderly couple who have ended up losing their home as a result of foreclosure, and must stick with their children as a means of sticking together. The children are too busy, of course, with their own lives and they cannot take the couple in to live with them – and it almost feels like they’ve lost touch with what their past had even meant to them.

It’s the perfect film about family because you want to look at Christmastime as the time everyone should be together. The kids don’t want it, because they’re already caught up in their own selfishness at the cost of their own parents. Nevertheless, there’s a lesson in empathy that Make Way for Tomorrow presents that still rings as important in our time. We can’t get caught up in ourselves and what we get for the holidays, it’s also about the effort that our family and friends do for our own good. And if we are ever to forget that as we grow older, maybe there’s a time we need to reflect on our own selves. Maybe that moment of reflection should be a yearly tradition after all as a reminder.

– Jaime Rebanal


Home Alone

Home Alone (1990). © 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

Every year, my family watches three movies across the Christmas period: ‘Elf’, ‘Home Alone’, and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. It’s a pretty important time, because my family aren’t really huge film fans, so it forms a great bonding opportunity for me as the resident Annoying Film Lesbian. ‘Home Alone’ in particular is a film that I hold in fond regard, simply because it’s one of the only films that I’ve found can make my entire family laugh out loud. The darkly comic cruelty of the plot – I mean, come on, they accidentally left their eight-year-old home alone at Christmas – is a breath of fresh air in the otherwise irritatingly chirpy holiday season, and the slapstick comedy never ages or gets tiring. Not to mention, it can usually be found on television no less than nine times over the week, and so can be comfortably popped on in the background whilst you’re busy eating leftover turkey. Continue with ‘Home Alone 2’ and maybe experiment with the third instalment (we’ve personally never liked it) if you still need more background noise and/or family entertainment. Avoid 4 at all costs. Sorted.

– Megan Christopher


Carol (2015). © Wilson Webb. All Rights Reserved.

Just watch it.

– Everyone

The Holiday

The Holiday (2006). © Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and GH One LLC. All Rights Reserved.

For many years, people said The Holiday was on of the worst Nancy Meyers films ever. I’m here to correct them and say, it’s one of her best, especially for Christmas. In this Christmas masterpiece, Meyers brings Hollywood’s blondest stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet together to go on their separate adventures, in each other’s homes! Iris, a journalist from London, had enough with her long-term crush Jasper and Amanda, a trailer maker from Los Angeles had enough with her cheating douchebag boyfriend Ethan. So the two do the most sensible thing and exchange their homes through the world wide web. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say Nancy Meyers invented AirBNB. Two women go have their holidays in each others homes, Iris learns how to see her value and Amanda gets over her childhood drama (?). Oh and of course they both fell in love with men they shouldn’t be in love with. But in the end, it works out perfectly, kind of. If you can ignore how white and straight the whole thing is, and not think about how all these people who live in other ends of the world are going to make their relationships work without abandoning their lives, it’s the perfect Christmas film that’ll go great with your hot chocolates!

– Dilara Elbir

It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). © Paramount HE. All Rights Reserved.

This is not just an amazing Christmas film, but an amazing film all around. This is a timeless story of what it means to be human, and how to appreciate everything you have in your life. It’s a story of redemption, acceptance, and love, and it’s one of the most heartwarming and emotional films ever made. Jimmy Stuart gives his best performance ever as George Bailey, the patriarch of the Bailey family, who after a pattern of unlucky and tragic events contemplates suicide. Because of this, Clarence, his guardian angel, decides to come help him out of his slump and teach him to appreciate his life. This may sound like a corny plot, but this movie has probably made me cry the hardest and most frequently of any Christmas film I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It’s a Christmas classic.

– Ryan Solomon


Which Christmas movie is your favourite? Or, on the contrary, which Christmas movie do you find completely overrated? Let us know at @muchadocinema

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