OPINION: Christmas Movies Post 2000 – My Top 5
It’s that time of year again: decorate the tree, battle the crowds in town, deck the halls, yada, yada, yada…
But what do we all need on in the background when wrapping Christmas gifts or relaxing under a blanket when the weather outside is frightful? A Christmas movie. Of course, the oldies are often described as “the classics”; however, there are some pretty fun and festive movies which have been released since the turn of the Millennium. So, here are My Top 5 Christmas Movies Post 2000!
Here are the movies that didn’t make My Top 5, but still managed to keep me in the festive spirit after wresting with the public for the last roll of Christmas wrap…
Love Actually (2003)
The rom-com of all rom-coms, which just so happens to be set around the Christmas time, is a firm favorite of many of my friends. Featuring a cast list which boasts the likes of Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Keira Nightly, the film follows nine story-lines which intertwine. One of the film’s best scenes is its opening one, where Bill Nighy’s rock star character can’t get the lyrics to his newly released festive song correct, instead he repeatedly sings the lyrics to the original song. Christmas is the perfect back drop for romance, and who doesn’t enjoy watching the Prime Minster dance around Number 10?
Deck The Halls (2006)
In my opinion, Deck The Halls is an overlooked Christmas comedy. Starring Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick, the film is a battle of Christmas lights and eventually a story of neighborly friendship. In my opinion, Danny DeVito is the star of the show (as he always is, let’s face it) as he plays an overambitious father. Deck The Halls may have only received a rating of 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is an easy watch that is Grandma friendly.
Bad Santa (2003)
The last shout-out is to Bad Santa (2003), Billy Bob Thornton’s comedic take on a criminal at large over the festive period. Posing as Santa at several retail stores, drunk Willie Stokes and his elf-in-crime rob the shops and steal festive cheer. However, when Stokes befriends a young boy, his outlook on life changes. Bad Santa is a fresh take on the traditional Christmas stories of the time past, by setting itself in a location the audience recognize the laughs come as easily as your second helping of Christmas pudding.
Now, time to settle in for my Top 5…
5. Christmas With The Kranks (2004)
I had to throw a Tim Allen movie in somewhere, right? In this festive tale, Tim plays Luther Krank, a man who wants nothing more than to escape for the Christmas period. However, The Kranks find themselves to be outcast by their neighbors for their lack of spirit. Thus, the family must work their way back into the affections of their neighbors by hosting their annual Christmas Eve party with no time to spare and having done no preparation.
I associate this film as always being shown on television around Christmas growing up. Sunday afternoons wrapping gifts and “who last had the gold pen?” were the background to this movie for me. The narrative itself has several plot holes - of course it does, it’s a Christmas film – but it’s the perfect watch for this time of year.
4. Nativity! (2009)
Nativity! is a British Christmas comedy film starring Martin Freeman (aka The Hobbit). Freeman is a school teacher who, along with new classroom assistant Mr Poppy, is tasked with directing the young children in their take on The Nativity Story, as told in The Bible. The narrative of the film was set out loosely for the cast, however the actors and children were permitted to partially improvise, creating a magical end result.
The best moments in the movie come from the children, and I can honestly say that this film is genuinely funny. It is a good example of British humour at its best: dry, witty and dripping with sarcasm. The best scene in the film is the one where the children of St Bernadette’s Catholic School finally perform their nativity play in Coventry Cathedral. The production for the play is comedically to a very high standard, including an angel Gabriel who dangles from the turrets of the Cathedral dressed as Elvis. Yeah.
Nativity! is an under-rated Christmas film telling the story of Jesus’ birth as it was intended: by children with tea-towels on their heads dressed as shepherds. It’s certainly worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before, and worth a re-watch this year if you have.
3. Fred Claus (2007)
Fred Claus is Nicholas Claus’ mischievous older brother. He didn’t follow in the family footsteps and has thus found himself in need for help from his brother, cue his trip to the North Pole. He is the total opposite to Nicholas, causing chaos from the moment he arrives. However, with a visit from an efficiency expert overlapping his brother’s stay, Nicholas has a lot on his plate.
Vince Vaughn stars in this modern classic, and reeks of trouble from the second he lands on screen as Fred. The set of the film is imaginative, a lot of time and effort went into the creation of the scenes and this shows throughout the movie. The costumes are also fantastic, particularly the wardrobe of St Nick who sports some great seasonal knitwear.
My favorite scene is the one where the Claus family sits down for dinner. Kathy Bates plays Fred and Nicholas’ mother, a woman who is very proud of her youngest son and all his achievements. The scene is one of an awkward family, Fred kicking up a fuss and pointing out that his brother is “breaking and entering” people’s homes, rather than seeing Nicholas for the Saint he is.
2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
One of my favourite films, who doesn’t love The Grinch?
Jim Carrey brings to life one of Dr. Seuss’ most loved characters in the movie that makes Christmas. The Grinch is an outcast, residing with his dog, Max, on the snowy mountain above the cheerful town of Whovillle. He hates everything, from Christmas, to giving, to the company of others. The green, vicious character plans to steal Christmas from the Whos, however his plans begin to unravel when he meets Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) who teaches him what Christmas is really about.
Directed by Ron Howard, the movie is a festive delight. From the wacky hair styles and up-turned noses of the Whos, to the brilliant use of Max, the film is set to be in your Top 5, too. One can imagine that the task of bringing to life any of Dr. Seuss’ fictional lands is a hard feat, however the world the audience is transported to when sat to indulge in The Grinch is one which they never forget.
Most importantly, The Grinch is creepy. And I love it. Carrey plays the character so well that any other portrayal of the character (*cough* Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2018 animated re-vamp *cough*) stands no chance in filling his huge, hairy, green boots. The prosthetics and make up Carrey had to wear for shooting took three hours to complete every day, and The Grinch’s bodysuit was made of individually dyed yak hairs. The facial expressions of the main character, mixed with the physical comedy and the bloated green belly make for an entertaining watch, be it your first, tenth, or even 100th viewing.
Of course, we are obliged to discuss the 2018 release of The Grinch. Hollywood seems to be going through a phase of re-vamping its classics: Disney are replacing their classic animation films with live-action, darker versions of their stories, and Illumination have decided to do the opposite with the tale of The Grinch, turning it into a computer animated feature film. Things I disliked about the 2018 version: Cumberbatch’s American accent, the unnecessarily jazzy soundtrack and how The Grinch isn’t half as scary looking. Things I liked about the 2018 version: I guess the animation is good.
Overall, watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas this festive period and buy someone who you don’t like a ticket to the see 2018 version.
1. Elf (2003)
The one you’ve been waiting for…
Buddy The Elf and his story of finding his family at Christmas is a tale to stand the test of time. Will Ferall stars as Buddy, an elf brought up in the North Pole a little taller than his friends and with none of their natural toy-making-talents. He must voyage to New York to find his Father, mean spirited businessman Walter Hobbs (James Caan), and learn to live as a normal adult human. However, Buddy is reluctant to leave behind his festive roots and thus causes nothing but problems for Walter.
Elf is a modern day classic. As one of the most quotable films around this time of year, try and find someone how has not seen and enjoyed Elf. Buddy’s fantastic lack of boring adult traits instantly makes him a hit with his younger half brother and injects a sense of fun into the lives of those he meets. From snowball fights to trying the “world’s best coffee”, Buddy is the life and soul of the Christmas party. The film’s success can be put down to the movie’s brilliantly written script; David Berenbaum’s original screenplay underwent uncredited rewrites by several others to perfect it and make the movie it is today.
Interestingly, the role of Buddy was originally offered to Jim Carrey (him of Grinch fame), luckily Ferrell was second choice. A sequel to Elf was in the pipeline following the success of the original movie, however Ferrell turned it down regardless of the $29 million offer placed for him to revive the role of Buddy.
Elf manages to encapsulate the meaning of modern day Christmas. From the department store where he works as an elf (surprisingly), to the people rushing past each other on the street, the film was set to be a hit from its relatable setting. There is nothing like New York at Christmas time, and the movie takes its audience on a journey through the eyes of someone who has never lived it before, as many members of its audience have not.
Elf is a festive delight; fun for all the family, it is set to transport you to Christmas any time of the year. Furthermore, the film has a strong following; it was an instant hit and it is many people’s favorite Christmas film. Without being sickeningly heart-warming and without introducing any sort of rivalry, the narrative follows an elf in the search for his family. It really is that simple of a premise, and Elf owes its success to that simplicity.
Moreover, there is a restaurant in Chicago who are serving up Buddy’s sugary pasta breakfast this festive period – and if that isn’t legacy, I don’t know what is.
Overall, Christmas are never going to win any awards or nominations. No one settles in for a festive storyline and expects all the plot points to add up. However, the job of a Christmas film is to get its audience in the mood for a mince pie and a carol or two, and that is what all the films on this list do for me. Give these movies a shot and if you like them, pass on the list. But for now, it’s time to put your feet your up and settle in some Christmas magic.
Merry movie watching!