Movie Feature

The Bluffer’s Guide to: Christmas movies

By Travis WongMovies - 18 December 2012 6:04 PM | Updated 26 November 2014

The Bluffer’s Guide to: Christmas movies

So if the world doesn’t end on 21 December like the doomsayers (not the Mayans) say, you’ll still have plenty of time to catch up on Christmas movies. 


‘Rare Exports’ (2010)

In this gorgeously-shot Finnish film, a bunch of miners find something odd in the ice. It appears to be Santa, and he’s not too happy. Based on the legend of Krampus, the evil twin of Santa Claus, this film is definitely one that won’t leave a warm, fuzzy feeling in you. More of a black comedy, though not particularly nasty, it’s a Christmas treat that shines a different light on why Santa wears a red suit. 

Best quote: “Tell him we’re holding Santa for ransom.”

Best scene: When the audience gets the first view of Santa, freshly melted from the ice block. 

‘Joxeux Noel’ (2005)

During World War I, German, French and Scottish troops take it upon themselves to call a ceasefire on Christmas Eve. Their superiors aren’t happy, but the ground troops, sick of the bloody war, hold fast to their decision to have a bloodless Christmas. Inspired by an actual incident, this French-made film is a reminder during the holiday season that there are wars still going on in the world. 

Best quote: “You don’t have to invade Paris to drop round for a drink.”

Best scene: When Diane Kruger sings ‘Ave Maria’ (okay, it’s actually opera professional Natalie Dessay but still a glorious scene). 

‘Love, Actually’ (2003)

This British Christmas movie follows the lives of eight very different couples, and was a who’s who’s of British film royalty. Hugh Grant plays the bumbling PM, while Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Rowan Atkinson and Bill Nighy help make the movie float. With so much going on, ‘Love, Actually’ outdoes all other romantic Christmas movies, while trying to avoid being overly sentimental with just a right blend of cynicism. 

Best quote:  “Life is full of interruptions and complications.”

Best scene: When Hugh Grant owns up to his feelings.

Bad Santa (2003)’

Two conmen dress up as Santa (Billy Bob Thornton) and his Elf to go around robbing shopping malls, but when they come across an eight-year old, they learn the true meaning of Christmas. This film is expletive-ridden, but if you’re sick of sentimental slush, it will melt away the saccrine sweetness of the season. 

Best scene: When Santa gets drunk and demolishes a store’s Xmas decorations in front of a whole bunch of kids. The cure for all the feel-good Christmas movies.

Best quote: “Well they say he can get into anything. Anything. They say he’s been in Margaret Thatcher’s p**y.”

‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993)

Henry Selick brings to life Tim Burton’s Christmas fable, as Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, and has trouble getting his idea around the concept. With a Danny Elfman score and a bunch of wonderfully designed creations that mix together Christmas and Halloween motifs, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ has remained a creepy Christmas classic. 

Best quote: “There are children throwing snowballs / instead of throwing heads / they’re busy building toys / and absolutely no one’s dead!”

Best scene: Jack taking over the role of Santa and delivering gifts; he obviously has much less trouble going down chimneys. 


‘Home Alone’ (1990)

So whatever happened to Macaulay Culkin? Once upon a time, he was the biggest child star since Shirley Temple. Relive Culkin’s glory days in this fun John Hughes-penned comedy, in which he plays an eight-year old boy left home alone on Christmas and who ends up turning the tables on a pair of bumbling bandits (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) by planting booby traps all over the house. 

Best scene: When Joe Pesci puts his hand on a scorching door knob, and falls down an icy staircase.  

Best quote: ”Greetings, my name is Kevin, I want to play a game.”


‘Die Hard 2’ (1990)

Set during a winter storm at an airport in Washington, ‘Die Hard 2’ raises the Christmas suspense as poor old John McClaine (Bruce Willis) has to take down a bunch of terrorists intent on spoiling his holiday. His task is made more urgent by the fact that his wife is on an airplane that’s low on fuel and circling the airport. It all ends well though, except for the military types that get blown up into snowflakes. 

Best quote: “Just once, I’d like a regular, normal Christmas. Eggnog, a f**** Christmas tree, a little turkey. But, no. I gotta crawl around in this mother**** tin can.”

Best scene: When poor John McClaine goes all out to stop the plane from landing. That scene just packs a punch. 

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946)

There’s no escaping this gem of a Christmas movie. Dear old George (James Stewart) has been good all his life, but an error in judgement might deliver his entire town into the clutches of an evil corporation. Angel (Henry Travers) comes from above to help George even as he thinks about ending it all. Director Frank Capra’s portrayal of a town trying to stay away from big business still holds true in this day and age, and the film, for all its mawkishness, has a touch of darkness.

Best quote: “You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.”

Best scene: James Stewart and Donna Reed doing the Charleston in a swimming pool. 


Extra gifts: ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’, ‘Black Christmas’, ‘White Christmas’, ‘Elf’, ‘Gremlins’


Travis Wong is a film loving geek who got his start from frequenting video shops in JB. He frequented movie theaters more often than school, and received his cinematic epiphany when he watched 'Taxi Driver'. While not driving a cab, he haunts DVD shops, and he currently has the largest remaining collection of VHS tapes and Laserdiscs in the country.