One thing I’ve learned in my year of blogging is that pretty much every time I have what I think is an “A-ha!” idea – as in “Wha hay! I must write about this unheard of /ingenious/ totally original thought!”, I will usually find a thousand other people who got there first in a Google search, have thought of the exact same things I have and written about them better than I ever could. Blaargh!
And so it went with this, my totally original “Non-Christmas Christmas movies” idea. I admit I first thought of it as a “What would be some good “Christmas” movies for people who are fed up of/don’t like Will Ferrell or Jimmy Stewart or furry green men growing hearts? (Not that I am one of these people, but I am I confess married to one, well he likes Bad Santa but that’s about it!) type post. But well, that’s kind of been done to death (it would seem) by numerous online magazines and blogs already. Most of their lists are the same, but I would agree with them that In Bruges, Die Hard, and Gremlins are all good choices for anyone who is looking for an “alternative” festive film that isn't too cloying.
And then I thought “Well, what movies make me feel a bit Christmassy even though they are not technically Christmas movies?” Because even though it’s December (eek!!), I’m just not in the mood for proper Christmas movies yet. Similar idea I guess but well....there's only so many ways to write about this stuff!
On the phone with my Mom the other day (who is coming over for Christmas, yay!) we were discussing the possibility of the weather keeping us holed up indoors (she lives in Florida and is not used to this!), she pointed out that the worst case scenario (actually best case for us) would be to stay warm indoors and watch Bridget Jones Diary. Bridget Jones Diary has actually become a bit of a thing for me at Christmas in the past few years –I don’t even let myself watch it the rest of the year because I don’t want to get Bridget burn out (easily done as it’s basically on t.v. every other week!). But there is a sweet spot in early/mid December that it hits just right. There are a handful of films that I get this same “Awww Christmas” buzz off of, so I will share them with you and hopefully we can avoid early Christmas movie burn out together!
You’ve Got Mail: I feel like this is such an obvious choice? I mean, It’s got snowy Upper West Side NYC at Christmas, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks = instant fuzzy feelings, Joni Mitchell’s River being played sadly over a childhood mother daughter memory, fairy lights in a beautiful bookshop window. It all adds up to warm hot chocolate and marshmallows in film form really! Just add a candy cane and you're set! ;-) (If you've seen this one too many times why not try the original Jimmy Stewart version"The Shop Around the Corner" :-))
Edward Scissorhands: I personally associate this movie with Christmas as I went to the cinema on Christmas night to see it with my best bud Jodi in high school when it first came out. It was such a lovely moment in time, Johnny Depp was taking bold strides as a young actor, it was magical and snowy and had a beautiful soundtrack by Danny Elfman, and when we left the cinema it actually began to snow for the first time that Christmas! It was one of those weird magical moments you don't forget, so I guess it's only natural I have such enduring fondness for this movie. The message of being different and that being a beautiful thing is eternal, also there is enough humour and weird Tim Burton-ness to give it some edge. Plus Winona and Johnny, was there ever a more perfect couple?
About A Boy: Probably my favourite Hugh Grant film, it’s a lovely, funny tale of friendship and being there for people who are having a tough time even if we don’t quite know how to help. Hugh Grant’s character Will ironically lives off of the proceeds of his Dad’s Christmas one hit wonder. Superficially he has everything he could want, but of course there is something deeper missing from his life. I like that the romance is secondary in this film to his friendship with geeky teen Marcus (a young, adorably awkward Nicholas Hoult).
It’s sweet without being sickly, a difficult thing to pull off. It addresses the issue of Christmas loneliness and suicide/family troubles spiking during the season with a light yet moving hand. Toni Colette as Marcus’s troubled mom Fiona is excellent as always. It also has a fantastic soundtrack thanks to Badly Drawn Boy.
Serendipity: I admit this is basically on my list because NYC at Christmas, and Jon Cusack and Kate Beckinsale’s chemistry. As a film it’s a little bit all over the place, but I’m a sucker for seeing The Woolman Rink in Central Park covered in snow, the central concept of fated romance hooks me, and I find it weirdly, enjoyably discombobulating. Like, I know I’ve seen this film a few times now, but it’s one of those ones where I forget stuff so will happily watch again even though it’s not like the best movie in the world, because it’s worth it in the end? Does that make sense?
While You Were Sleeping: Nothing beats early Sandra Bullock. Fun Fact: Bill Pullman came out of my university’s theatre department! It’s not a Christmas movie per se but it takes place around the holiday. Sandra Bullock plays lonely subway ticket taker Lucy, who has a deep crush on a handsome guy who is oblivious to her existence (Peter Gallagher). She saves his life one night and he ends up in a coma. His family mistakenly presume she is his girlfriend, and she decides to go with it. Only someone with Bullock’s charm could make this not seem entirely stalker-ish/weird! Bill Pullman plays the salty/crushable brother Jack, who is onto her. It is perfectly plotted and unfolds just the way it should.
Bridget Jones Diary: Mark Darcy’s reindeer jumper: Need I say more?! I have an eternal soft spot for this film, it’s simply perfect. It’s funny, it’s romantic, and yes, it is Christmassy! Colin Firth turning his most iconic character into an even better one? Check. Renee Zelwegger nailing the role of Bridget? Check. London in the snow? Check. Perfect chocolate box English village in the snow? Check. Drunken white wine singalongs optional! ;-)
How about you, do you jump right into the festive films or do you ease yourself in like me?