Damson - What we're watching #14
Christmas movies eh! You either love them or hate them. We love them here at Damson. Well, most of them anyway....
What better way to watch your favourite Christmas movies this holiday than tucked up with the family, in front of the fire, and making sure that you're testing your Damson S-Series to its limits!
We have discussed (argued) about it at Damson HQ, but eventually, come to some agreement on our top 10 Christmas movies to watch through your Home Cinema. There's no particular order to this, so don't get too upset if it doesn't include your personal favourite...
The Polar Express
Robert Zemeckis sprinkled his family-friendly magic on this performance-capture animation starring Tom Hanks in multiple roles, including the narrator, train conductor and Santa Claus. This one ticks a lot of boxes for Christmas fanatics, including reindeer, elves and a whole heap of snow. The incredible animation and sound design are really enhanced when played through the Damson S-Series.
This is either unbearably sickly or a festive heart-warmer, depending on who you ask. Love is certainly all around in this ensemble comedy-drama set in the holiday season: even a school nativity play is an opportunity for romance. Comic standouts include Bill Nighy as an ageing rock legend who’s reduced to competing in the race to land a Christmas Number One. Other amazing performances from Emma Thomson, Andrew Lincoln and the late, great Alan Rickman, make this a must-see for anyone at a time of year, just as long as you don’t have a swinging brick where your heart should be!
Yes, it’s a Christmas movie. No, we don’t care if you disagree. As bad Christmas Eves go, few are worse than the one had by NYC cop John McClane (Bruce Willis), whose reconciliation with his estranged wife in an L.A. skyscraper is interrupted by a bunch of machine-gun-toting terrorists. Filled with killer set pieces and a memorably nasty villain (Alan Rickman, him again), John McTiernan’s crowd-pleasing action film is the explosive gift that keeps on giving.
He drinks like a fish, swears like a sailor and the less said about his sexual escapades the better. Billy Bob Thornton’s department-store St Nick is the furthest thing from a saint. The fact that this misanthropic comedy somehow turns this pathetic loser into a sympathetic hero – and the movie into a foul-mouthed ode to goodwill to all men – is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. Very funny, very dark and definitely not one to watch with your parents.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
There’s something incredibly lovely about first-rate stop-motion work and this gorgeous musical about a botched Halloween-Christmas merger ranks up there with the old Rankin/Bass Xmas toons. Who else but Tim Burton, the project’s patron, could have come up with such appealingly macabre mayhem? Having one of the greatest scores in movie history, written and composed by Danny Elfman, doesn’t hurt. This is one of those movies that, strangely, gets better and better each time you watch it.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Michael Caine as Scrooge, Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens, Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit – just three of the many reasons to love this witty, warm-hearted take on the immortal story. Despite the presence of Muppets, it is (believe it or not) one of the more faithful versions of the book. One of those movies than invokes so many great memories of youth, and not just around Christmas time. This is one Christmas movie that really stands the test of time.
It must be said that Bill Murray is perfectly cast as a smug corporate TV exec in store for some ghostly comeuppance. The modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge, Murray throws himself into the role just as you would expect him to and the movie is all the better for it. We remember being really scared of the ghosts when we were much younger and while watching it now doesn’t give the same chills, it’s still a very funny, very odd, and, surprisingly, very sweet way to spend an evening in front of the TV.
Scripted by John Hughes, this is the film that made the adorable Macaulay Culkin a star. It’s heavy on the slapstick, but against all odds, a sentimental Christmas streak does shine through. Even though Kevin doesn’t seem all that upset that his Paris-bound family has accidentally left him behind for the holidays. One of many favourite movies, although as you get older, you can’t help wondering exactly what Kevin’s Dad does as a job to be able to afford that house, AND take the whole family to Paris for Christmas. Hmmmm….
Will Ferrell’s overgrown-child persona hilariously complements this comedy about a guileless giant elf searching for his dad in NYC, but the film’s focus isn’t just on the funny bone. There’s an abundance of heart and soul in the way the story cherishes holiday cheer. In a genre that’s become generically saccharine, this is one modern Christmas movie that’s genuinely sweet. It’s also become one of the most quotable movies ever, so it must be doing something right.
While it doesn't quite have the bite of ‘Gremlins’, this modern Christmas horror comedy definitely does the job when it comes to festive chills. The Krampus, a demonic anti-Santa creature that happens to be half-goat, has all the hallmarks of a classic B-movie villain, and there's even a horrifying child-eating clown. It's a reminder that Christmas with your relatives might not be too bad after all. Most of the time anyway.