Watch IN BED: Films for the Festive Season
Words by Jessica Ellicott
There are films you can watch at any time of year, and then there are Christmas films. Play them at the wrong time, and it’s the cinematic equivalent of hearing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” at the supermarket on December 26. It’s an assault on the senses. It’s not cool. Please, somebody, make it stop. But, play them at the right moment when your festive spirit is waning and you find yourself throwing serious side-eye to every shiny bauble, Santa hat and panettone in sight, and they’ll warm the cockles of even the grinchiest heart.
Happiest Season (2020)
Happiest Season is the new kid on the block this Christmas, and it feels like an important turning point in the festive film canon. Notable for its history-making status as the first queer holiday rom-com to come out of a major studio, its success is cause for celebration. All I want for Christmas is for somebody to look at me the way that Aubrey Plaza looks at Kristen Stewart.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Speaking of Stewarts, no list of yuletide heroes is complete without Jimmy. In Frank Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, JStew delivers one of his most memorable and moving performances as everyman George Bailey. Beset by money troubles, George is about to take his own life on Christmas Eve, before a guardian angel steps in to help him realise his life is worth living. Keeping tissue companies in business year upon year, It’s a Wonderful Life has spawned many an inferior remake (*cough* Click *cough*), but still reigns supreme as the tear-jerking king of Christmas movies.
Home Alone (1990)
Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like Joe Pesci getting his head set on fire. Simply one of the most fun viewing experiences the festive season can provide, Home Alone is full of ingenious physical comedy and one of the all-time great child performances from Macaulay Culkin, and seems to only improve with age. I’m patiently waiting for my nephew to be old enough to watch this one with me. My brother thinks it’s going to give him ideas.
The Apartment (1960)
Disproving my theory that Christmas-set films only make for appropriate viewing in the few weeks preceding December 25th, The Apartment is evergreen. (It is a Billy Wilder picture, after all.) Fresh off the success of Some Like It Hot (1959), Wilder and star Jack Lemmon struck gold again on this comic delight, where Lemmon stars as an ambitious clerk who loans out his snug Manhattan pied-à-terre for cashed-up executives’ one-night-stands. While not traditionally thought of as a Christmas movie, it’s full of festive spirit, and features one of the most spot-on depictions of a drunken office Christmas party ever committed to film.
If your vibe is more “Bah, humbug!” than “Jingle Bells” this year, don’t despair. Bill Murray is here for you in the form of Scrooged. He stars as Frank Cross, a nasty TV network boss who makes his employees work over Christmas, cancels their bonuses and is generally as scrooge-y as they come. That’s until he’s paid a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past, who makes him realise the error of his misanthropic ways. Replete with delightfully wicked humour, this is a film for those who prefer their Christmas tart.