When it comes to watching a film to get me in the mood for Christmas, I like a rom-com. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of Elf, or Gremlins, or Muppet Christmas Carol, and I’m also going to watch Die Hard for the first time this year (it’s a Christmas film, apparently). But I think the best Christmas films – the ones that I want to watch while snuggled up in front of the fire, with a hot chocolate or a Bailey’s – have a sprinkling of romance in them somewhere. Here are some of my favourites …
1. Groundhog Day
Love this film. Groundhog Day is 1 February so strictly speaking this isn’t a Christmas film as such. But there’s snow on the ground, and Andie McDowell becomes a snow angel, and Bill Murray gets a chance to mend his ways and become a better person so he’s basically Scrooge and it’s an updated version of A Christmas Carol but with a love story as well. What more could you want?
2. Peter’s Friends
A group of college friends (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Kenneth Branagh etc) gather for a reunion over New Year’s Eve: cue lots of fun, alcohol, romance and bad behaviour. I love the scene where Emma Thompson’s character produces Christmas presents for everyone and they all protest because they didn’t know they were doing presents, until in the end she screams ‘Just take the fucking presents!’ and runs out of the room. Christmas in a nutshell.
This is another favourite film of mine: I’ve written about it before. It’s about a group of debutantes in Manhattan during Christmas vacation, ‘Not so long ago’. It’s sort of Woody Allen meets St Elmo’s Fire I suppose. They play bridge and dance the cha-cha and play Truth or Dare, and there’s a subtle little love triangle which doesn’t end the way you think it will, and a character called Fred who falls asleep in every scene. Here’s a great article on the making of this film.
4. When Harry Met Sally
You might not think of this as a Christmas film …. until you remember the ending, with Harry running to meet Sally on New Year’s Eve. And Manhattan can’t help but be Christmassy. One of my favourite scenes is when Sally’s dragging her Christmas tree along by herself, remembering last year when Harry helped her with the tree. The soundtrack is dreamy too, with Ella Fitzgerald and Harry Connick Jnr sounding like mulled wine and crackling fires.
5. The Holiday
I’ll admit it: this Nancy Meyers film about Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet doing a transatlantic house swap over Christmas does look a tad cheesy at first. Jude Law is a ‘book editor’ who lives in a seven-bedroom mansion and Kate Winslet as a newspaper staffer who lives in a fairytale cottage in an impossibly chocolate boxy village… But it’s really charming, and fun, and Rufus Sewell is brilliant as a toxic ex who won’t let go and insists on being ‘friends’. And there’s a really great moment where Kate Winslet tells her Mr Wrong ‘I’ve got a life to live! And you’re not in it!’ Great stuff.
And finally here’s one I’ve got lined up: Happy Christmas.
This looks like just the kind of indie comedy that I love. It’s got Melanie Lynskey, who was great in Hello I Must Be Going, and Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham, and it’s about a chaotic irresponsible sister who moves in with her sensible older brother and his novelist wife, so I’ve basically got to watch it. That’s Saturday night taken care of …