ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011)
The role of "Santa" is also hereditary. The current Santa (Jim Broadbent) is nearing retirement, and getting ready to inherit the suit is son Steve (Hugh Laurie), who as Operations Chief is in charge of keeping all the missions running smoothly. There's also younger son Arthur (James McAvoy), who at the beginning of the film is stuck in the Letters department, answering letters children send to the North Pole.
When one child's present is accidentally missed, it's up to Arthur and GrandSanta (Bill Nighy) to try and save the day.
DIE HARD 2 (1990)
I don't feel the bad guys are quite up to the standard of those in instalments 1 and 3 of the series, but it certainly goes for the "Die Harder" aspect, with even more fights and explosions than the original. It is amusing how McClane almost seems to realise that he's in a sequel... "Another basement, another elevator... how can the same s#!+ happen to the same guy twice?"
Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a North Pole elf who is shocked to discover that he isn't actually an elf, but an adopted human. Learning that his real dad (James Caan) is on Santa's "Naughty List", he heads to New York City in order to help spread some Christmas cheer.
Not every joke hits the mark, but the movie, directed by Jon Favreau ("Zathura", "Iron Man"), is for the most part funny and charming. Also, Buddy is one of Will Ferrell's more likeable comedy characters.
THE HOLIDAY (2006)
As you might guess from the poster/DVD cover art featured above, they each meet a local guy. Amanda meets Iris's brother Graham (Jude Law), and Iris meets Miles (Jack Black), a composer who works with Amanda. The great supporting cast includes Eli Wallach (you may know him, as I do, as Tuco from "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly") as an old screenwriter from Hollywood's Golden Age.
As a romantic comedy, certain outcomes are of course predictable. But getting there is an enjoyable journey, thanks to good dialogue, (mostly) realistic characters, and helped along by Hans Zimmer's score.
JOYEUX NOEL (2005)
A highly-recommended film, which shows the best and worst sides of national rivalries. It benefits greatly from its international cast, avoiding the usual Americans-as-Brits and Brits-as-Germans you sometimes see in such war films.
LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
Also amusing on our most recent re-watching was Alan Rickman complaining about company Christmas parties. His first feature film role involved crashing one.
It's funny, it's cleverly done, and we've since seen a number of similar attempts at the massive-intertwined-cast-romantic-comedy thing from Hollywood - "Valentine's Day" etc.
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992)
Released by Disney, it's a far cry from a typical "Disneyfied" musical aimed at a younger audience. There's music and colour, sure, but there's just as much darkness and misery in this version of Dickensian London. It's brilliant.
(Currently watching this one.)
THE NATIVITY STORY (2006)
It's a refreshing change from the usual result when film-makers (Christian or otherwise) attempt such an adaptation, and try to keep it "family-friendly". (You know the kind of film I mean.)
RARE EXPORTS (2010)
Young Pietari and his reindeer-hunter dad get drawn into the mystery when other local children begin mysteriously disappearing. Onni Tommila's performance as Pietari is quite believable, and not just your standard "why won't the adults believe me" role.
In no way a typical Christmas movie, but certainly an interesting twist on Santa. (And on the real story behind all those shopping-centre Santas.)
And then the closest thing we have to a "traditional Christmas movie", in the sense that we watch it every single year...
DIE HARD (1988)
Not the most "Christmassy" of films on this list, but it still has to make an appearance every December in this house.
After all, it does feature:
- "Ho ho ho - now I have a machine gun".
- Christmas wrapping tape used to strap a gun to McClane's back
- Al singing "Let it snow"
Merry Christmas, and happy movie watching!