Christmas this year is, obviously, going to be slightly tainted by the seemingly-never-ending hellscape that is 2020. I can feel it, you can feel it, It’s Just Not Quite Going To Be The Same, Is It. Little things – things like not being able to go to the pub on Christmas Eve, or being able to see any relatives that are older than you in order to avoid infecting them with a deadly virus – have put a dampener on proceedings.
It may sound pathetic and dystopian (which it definitely is), but the act of viewing Christmas films is, for many, one of the only things that will connect us to the elusive and desperately needed Christmas Spirit this year. Can’t be with your family this festive season? Consider instead: surrounding yourself with pillows in bed, streaming the film you and your mum used to watch every December when you were a child, and straight-up weeping your way through to Christmas morning. To aid you in this festive viewing journey, here’s an objectively correct guide to What Your Favourite Christmas Film Says About You.
‘Love Actually’ –Christmassy Level: 9/10
This whitewashed, middle-class festive dreamland is the most subtle yet dangerous form of escapism, because it is tantalisingly out of reach. The film makes you genuinely believe, just for a moment, that you, too, might one day be someone whose biggest problem at Christmastime is deciding whether to spend it in your London townhouse or your (staffed) villa in the south of France.
If your favourite Christmas film is Love, Actually, then you are someone who point-blank refuses to face reality - i.e. you will absolutely go into Sainsbury’s on payday and overspend on the Taste The Difference range. If you’re being honest with yourself, do you really, genuinely need a wood-fired pizza hand-rolled with buffalo mozzarella and truffle oil? You do not. What you need is to buy four margheritas for 80p each and leave them in your freezer for when you inevitably run out of money a week before payday. But you buy the truffle oil pizza, don’t you, because you live your life like you are a newly elected Prime Minister who, in fighting for the affections of Martine McCutcheon, causes a v. serious rift in international relations, and then, to fix it, attends a primary school nativity play in Wandsworth.
‘Die Hard’ – Christmassy Level: 8/10
Die Hard is the Official Christmas Film of all straight adult men; past, present and future. If you look into the mirror on the twelfth day of advent and say “Bruce Willis” three times, you will hear the faint but distinctive sound of someone’s dad, somewhere, replying: “Die Hard. Yeah, great film, that is. Great film.”
‘Eyes Wide Shut’ – Christmassy Level: 5/10
And now onto an unbelievably depressing and very, very tenuously Christmassy look into the raw darkness found in every marriage / the cesspit that is our planet earth. If Eyes Wide Shut is your favourite Christmas film, then any attempts to get you into the Festive Spirit are a lost cause, because you are 100 percent likely to describe Christmas day as “at its very core, Just Another Day.” Stew on that for a moment, guys - there’s nothing special about Christmas day. We wake up and go to sleep just like any other day on the Gregorian calendar. Think about whether you’re enjoying Christmas because you want to, or because it’s what society has told you to do!
Any Of Those Netflix-Produced Christmas Romances – Christmassy Level: 12/10
The most baffling thing about these films is the fact that so many people watch them religiously, even though they are terrible. I have people in my life that I care about deeply, people that I would consider close friends of mine, who will watch each of these films – A Christmas Prince, The Princess Switch, Christmas: Made To Order etc – religiously, throughout November and December. The only conclusion I have managed to draw is that people who enjoy these films do so because their lives are so full, and therefore so stressful and chaotic, that they find it soothing to watch a film where literally nothing happens for an hour and a half. I have been there. When the winter days get rough, sometimes you need to unwind by watching something that uses no brain cells. I fear for the serial-viewers of these films, though, because at a certain point the viewing shifts, subtly but crucially, from “Using No Brain Cells” to “Actively Destroying Your Existing Brain Cells”. Tread carefully.
‘Home Alone’ – Christmassy Level: 8/10
You are, sadly, not a child anymore. Enjoying Home Alone is permitted only when you are watching it with children under the age of 12. As far as children’s Christmas films go, it is undeniably a straight banger. If you are going out of your way to watch it as an adult, though, you may want to take this end-of-year time of reflection to think about why you are trying quite so obsessively to relive the glory days of Christmas past.
‘Carol’ – Christmassy Level: 6/10
Carol joins Eyes Wide Shut on this list as a masterpiece of cinema that is laced with Christmas-ness. It is, undoubtedly, a beautiful film, but it also defeats the core purpose of Christmas films, which is to get pissed and watch something terrible to try to blur out the fact that you are staying with your family. If this is your favourite Christmas film, then you have impeccable taste – who among us would not want to watch Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett fall in love in 1950s New York? – but you should also probably be extra kind and gentle with yourself this year. When you’re done ripping your own heart out by watching Carol, light some candles, make some hot chocolate and watch The Holiday.
‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ – Christmassy Level: ?/10
Just going to use this opportunity to air my theory that this film does not actually exist. You have heard of it, yes – who hasn’t heard of it – but have you seen it? You have not. Do you know anyone else who has seen it? Did Not Fucking Think So. The fact that there was an entire Friends episode dedicated to Phoebe attempting to watch this film is the cherry on top of the cake, the final proof that this film is, in fact, nothing but an industry plant, created by those in power to try to convince us all that It’s A Wonderful Life, when it decidedly is not (see: The Year 2020).