This Christmas Eve, the Fourway sit down for the last debate of 2011, and settle that classic post-pudding argument once and for all; what is the best Christmas movie?
Aoife Valentine – Love Actually (2003)
Love Actually should be an intolerable endurance test. Pretty much every one of its many, many storylines derives from some horrible cliché and its cast follow suit. Hugh Grant continues to be as British as possible, Colin Firth is terribly deep and reserved, and Keira Knightley is still constantly pouting, for no real reason. We’ve seen it all before.
Except, it’s in that familiarity that this film shines. The cast manage to draw all the storylines together without inducing a two hour long cringefest, by playing to their type. It’s almost equal parts happy and sad, making it more believable, even if that kid, who somehow ran through the airport dodging security all over the place, didn’t get arrested. It’s because he loved her, alright? Doesn’t matter that he looked like a demon-child.
And really, with so many stories about, um, how love is all around us (cringe), you’d need a cold, dead, black heart not to love Love Actually. It’s Christmas and everyone’s getting married or getting laid or fixing marriages, and it’s all lovely and full of happy-ever-afters. Also, Hugh Grant is Prime Minister, Bill Nighy is an aged rock-star and Snape is a dad. What more do you want?
George Morahan – Die Hard (1988)
Yippee ki-yay motherfuckers and a Merry Christmas to you all. After tasting sweet, sweet success last time out, I want to keep the good times rolling by getting my mulled wine on and sitting down with a Christmas movie for the ages. And what better choice is there than Die Hard?
What could be more heart-warming than watching my good friend Bruce Willis as he goes about settling his business with some well-dressed Eastern European terrorists and reinforcing Cold War geo-political stereotypes and paranoia? Sure, Elf or Love Actually would be considered more traditional Christmas films. That’s all well and good, but having ate your weight in turkey and exhausted yourself trying to explain to your grandfather why we don’t call black people that anymore, it may be that explosions and awful one-liners are in order. However, Die Hard is not just another run-of-the-mill action blockbuster. Its set at Christmas, so it’s totally festive, and Brucie even references Santa after killing one of Alan Rickman’s hippy henchmen.
All in all, Die Hard is entirely ludicrous, casually racist, powered by a zeal for capitalism and fully requiring of a suspension of disbelief, much like this wonderful holiday of ours is itself.
Jon Hozier-Byrne – Elf (2003)
Christmas films are a strange breed – some are lame yet heartfelt (Aoife), others are awesome but cold (George), and some are that little bit ‘too’ Christmassy to be really enjoyable (Dermot). Elf, however, gets the holiday magic just right. Not only is it just the right amount of Yuletide schmaltz, but it is mixed in with lashings of physical comedy that put it on par with Will Ferrell’s non-holiday pictures. Even the most flint-hearted of us could not possibly resist the appeal of Buddy, the human-born elf who leaves the North Pole in search of his father. For those of you for whom this sort of adorable narrative doesn’t appeal, Zooey Deschanel is in it too.
Although I am not his biggest fan, it cannot be denied – Will Ferrell knows comedy, and that paired with a genuinely funny script and tight direction makes Elf one of the most legitimately enjoyable holiday films out there. So, this Christmas, rather than watching that Harry Potter nonsense out of sequence, or slapping on Jurassic Park for no perceptible reason, look to your pal Buddy; he’ll teach you to be a better friend, the importance of family, and that you can find your way to the Empire State Building from anywhere in the world if you have the appropriate snow globe.
Dermot O’Rourke – How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
At this time ‘round Christmas, when you’re always on beer,
You need a good movie to help beat the fear.
When the TV is stuffed, it’s got too many flicks,
Which one is the best, which one should you pick?
George will be wrong and say that one Die Hard,
But I’m urging you, reader, that’s one to discard.
The others will offer you movies benign,
So throw them aside and I’ll offer you mine.
The Grinch is my offer, I know that it’s weird,
But this is a movie that should be revered!
There is great narration from Anthony Hopkins,
And then there’s the rhyming, that should spark a few grins,
So for this drink-laden time of great Yuletide,
Vote for The Grinch and, (for once), be on my side.
Have your say – vote for the best Christmas film on the University Observer Facebook page. A very Merry Christmas to all of our readers, and a Happy New Year.