The Best Festive Films (That Aren’t About Christmas)
With the Christmas season undeniably here, like moths to a flame, the same festive films we watch each year start to flutter onto our screens, and as the big day draws nearer, it’s nigh impossible to avoid them. I’m not saying we don’t love them – they’re fun to watch the first few times – but when you’re on your fifth run of Elf knowing that Home Alone 1 and 2 are going to be on later for the third time, you start to crave something that’s not knee deep in tinsel, turkey and Macaulay Culkin’s screams. However, although you’re sick of Christmas classics, you don’t want to give up completely, nor stray too far from the festive feel. So, you need a film that speaks of wintry goodness without uttering Santa more than any other word in the script. If you have found yourself in this predicament, then these films are for you.
They are films in which Christmas is not the main focus, but there’s something about them, a certain magic, which resonates well with this season. They are not particularly centered around Christmas but it’s in there somewhere, whether it be in one short scene, in the songs being sung, or just that they’re all-time favorites which happen to be on but have absolutely nothing to do with the holidays.
Either way, snuggle up in a big blanket, while the wind and rain blows outside, with your Christmas tree in the corner, knowing that for the next couple of hours, Christmas is close but not all up in your grill.
The golden oldie: It’s A Wonderful Life
This is one that’s really going to warm your conscience’s cockles. Imagine your life as if you had never been born. Well, thanks to an angel sent from God, George Bailey was able to do just that. He tried to kill himself because he had some money troubles and he thought his life wasn’t worth living anymore. He slowly realizes that he’s made a change in so many people’s lives, so much so that he begs for his old life back. Long story short, the Bank is saved by the generosity of the town’s people, everyone ends up singing Auld Lang Syne, and the angel gets his wings. A lovely story, a bit of a tearjerker, and if none of that appeals to you then Donna Reed’s style is reason enough.
The novel adaption: Little Women (1994 edition)
If you don’t have time to read the book or you’re just far too hungover during most of December to even consider it, then this is all-star cast will fill you in without being too taxing. We follow the March sisters, who include a young Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes and Winona Ryder among others, as they face the major and minor struggles of growing up in America during and after the civil war.
There are blossoming romances, betrayal, bustles, and ultimately, a beautiful sisterhood bond, which proves to withstand anything. It was actually released on Christmas day in 1994 – it features a lot of snow as well as a couple of Christmas day scenes, so it’s the perfect movie for a bit of literary education during this time of year.
The tinsel teen queen: Mean Girls
Whilst we usually try to find any excuse possible to watch this film on any occasion, the Jingle Bell Rock scene alone warrants it a well-deserved spot on this list. Need we say more?
The classic sing-along: Oliver
This is about as close as you’re going to get to panto without having to scream ‘HE’S BEHIND YOU’ 20 times at a fat guy with bad acting skills in a theatre that stinks of kids’ feet. No, no, stay inside, save money, and perfect your “Please Sir, can I have some more?” until you’re just about ready to take the stage yourself.
For the big kid: Frozen
It may not mention Christmas once, but there’s something about all that ice, the heart warming story, the sarcastic snowman and screaming ‘Let it go’ at the top of your voice that just makes this film ideal for this time of year. And every other month, according to Poundland.
For the Dad’s dream: The Great Escape
Just like the Queen’s speech, this war classic makes its way onto our screens every year at the same time. It’s usually on in the background while you’re shoveling vol-au-vents into your gob or playing boggle with granny, but it’s there nonetheless. It’s one of the films you’ve seen every year but never really paid attention to, you just know Michael Kane is on a motorbike at one point. You don’t mind, though, because your Dad is sat watching it intently reeling off another “Well, in my day…” And that’s what Christmas is all about really, isn’t it.
Others include The Sound of Music, Edward Scissorhands, Gremlins, The Wizard of Oz… pretty much any musical, 90s, or Disney film. It may be the time of year for love and giving, but it’s also the time of year to dig out all the things you haven’t seen, watched or used for the past 11 months, like Michael Bublé or home videos. You wake them from their slumber, get all nostalgic and then pack them away again, knowing you’ve ignited enough of your inner magic to get you through January.