Now that it’s finally December the Christmas spirit is officially palpable in the air. Seriously though, head into any shop and it’s like the second all the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving has been eaten the Christmas soundtracks are making their rounds on the PA system and becoming terminally stuck in every grumbling shopper’s head. To counteract (or add to?) this questionable joy, it’s fun to count down with a Christmas Movie advent calendar that will build up your holiday expectations and feed into the contagious Christmas mood. Pop one of these in your DVD player next time you feel yourself overcome by the last-minute stresses of early December to remind yourself that Christmas is only days away.
Dec 1st – 5th “Home Alone” (Chris Columbus, 1990)
To kick-off your holiday countdown, nothing seems more appropriate than a Christmas centered comedy in which you can thank your lucky stars your family is not as dysfunctional as the McAllisters. Hell, if you compare your cousins/kids/grandkids/pets to the incredibly witty yet decidedly demonic Kevin, anyone can seem tame and innocent in comparison! Sit back and enjoy the baddies getting beaten up by Christmas ornaments and the machinations of an eight-year-old who essentially encapsulated the 90s. You’re welcome.
Dec 6th – 10th “Joyeux Noel” (Christian Carion, 2005)
This little known period film is possibly the most optimistic and delightful film ever made about world war one. In the midst of the fighting in the trenches, three groups of Scottish, German, and French soldiers decide to suspend the conflict on Christmas Eve and hesitantly fraternize. Based on a true story, this touching transnational film will lighten your heart and get you in that holiday spirit that is somehow inextricably tied with world peace, as if on Christmas everyone could magically pause all violence and negativity for a moment and just contemplate the beauty of being human and being alive with your loved ones. If only.
Dec 11th – 15th “A Muppet Christmas Carol” (Brian Henson, 1992)
Because, let’s be real – who wants to see any of the ‘legitimate’ versions of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” when Kermit the Frog is an option on the table? The Muppets have never been better, from Miss Piggy’s hilarious banter, to Statler and Waldorf’s appearance as the ghosts of Christmas past and their characteristic humor that flirts with inappropriateness for children. Throw in Michael Caine as Scrooge with a fantastically fitting haircut, and it’s not difficult to see why this film should be deemed a holiday classic everywhere.
Dec 16th – 20th “Meet Me in St. Louis” (Vincent Minnelli, 1944)
As Christmas week draws nearer, it’s time to return to the classics. While “It’s A Wonderful Life” is arguably also applicable here, Vincent Minnelli’s musical classic “Meet Me In St. Louis” is just too beautifully shot and wonderfully scored to ignore. The film acts as a love letter to his soon-to-be-wife, Judy Garland, who has never been better. Her docile attempts to unite the family and console her siblings about their planned move are carried out with a grace and poise that leaves the squealing Dorothy of “The Wizard of Oz” far behind. The Christmas Eve sequence in particular oozes holiday coziness, so make sure you’ve got your hot cocoa at hand and save this one for a snowy day.
Dec 21st – 25th “Love Actually” (Richard Curtis, 2003)
“Love Actually” is the ideal film to wrap up your Christmas Movie advent calendar, as the film itself works around a countdown structure starting six weeks before Christmas Eve. “Love Actually” is a rare film that gives romantic comedies a decidedly good reputation. As accessible and moving as it is hilarious, this British comedy captures the bliss of the holiday season and the importance of appreciating our loved ones in whatever shape or form these relationships may be. The second you hear the timeless classic,“Christmas Is All Around” – well, the song speaks for itself. Happy Holidays!