It is always good to prepare in advance for Christmas when free time is scarce, and we would like to spend it pleasantly enjoying ourselves with our family, maybe watching a good movie.
So, suppose other content creators can advise you on the best gifts for him and her, how to dress up or do your makeup for the holidays, or how to cook without error for forty guests, in that case, I want to offer a menu of movie genres for all tastes and circumstances.
These movies encapsulate a wide range of Christmas-related themes, including positive and negative aspects such as love and hate and elements of fun, fear, imagination, superheroes, good and bad guys, and historical events that evoke powerful emotions.
So let’s avoid dragging this out too long and go straight to the gist of the article; I assure you that there is something suitable for each of you waiting for you under this bright tree.
Table of contents
Joyeux Noël (2005)
Today’s first Christmas movie takes place in the most unlikely of settings, namely the soldiers’ trenches during World War I, where a miracle occurs that, for one day, makes the good in all of us prevail instead of the brutal daily slaughter of battle.
As you can imagine, death hovers relentlessly over this patch of land where the British, German, and French armies fight incessantly night and day, so morale is certainly not the best for celebration on either side.
But everything changes when visiting the German side; two opera singers, Nikolaus Sprink and Anna Sørensen, partners in life and on stage, want to spend the holidays away from the arrogant officers to be together with the ordinary soldiers.
Indeed, at midnight, the guns finally fall silent, and in total darkness, their marvelous voices rise, along with the instruments of a few amateurs of music on the opposite side, beginning a totally unofficial truce that results in a reunion of all soldiers.
For once, no one cares who the enemy is, and the color of the uniform does not matter; what matters is to be together and at peace, get to know each other, discovering they are pretty equal despite shooting at each other every day.
Director Christian Carion directs a gentle poem about the cruel irony of war, where reason prevails over the desire to kill, and for this (absurdly), the officers “guilty” of this clandestine truce will be harshly punished by their superiors.
There are little-known but outstanding and convincing actors in the large international cast, among whom the divine and beautiful Diane Kruger stands out, the only real star of this Christmas movie.
A bizarre poem about an event that really happened but was forgotten and buried by history.
The Ice Harvest (2005)
We definitely change the mood with the next movie, a noir of edgy irony set in the cold Christmas of a small Kansas town.
The day seems to begin like any other for lawyer Charlie Arglist, a lonely man who has now broken almost all relations with his family and spends all his free time at his friend Vic Cavanaugh‘s strip club.
While courting the beautiful Renata, one of the hottest women in the club, he notices the violent hitman Roy Gelles is after him, and obviously without good intentions.
So he sneaks off unnoticed, only finding out later that his friend Vic has stolen $2 million from the town boss, Bill Guerrard.
But the roads to escape are downright icy and impossible to drive on, so the friends are forced to stay in town while the rest of the gang hunts them down.
Directing this naughty black comedy is Harold Ramis, the unforgettable bespectacled scientist from Ghostbusters, an excellent comic actor aside from being a majestic director of an absolute cult comedy like Groundhog Day.
Despite its light tones, it is a thriller that does not lack its fair share of violence, especially in the finale, with the exquisite pair of friends (but not even that much) John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton.
No one is saved in this town where cheating and stealing are rule number one, which also applies to women like the gorgeous femme fatale Connie Nielsen, forbidden love and dream of freedom for a new life for the protagonist.
Precisely because of this dark and black soul, the typical sentiments of Merry Christmas resonate loudest in this movie that unfortunately did not have much success at the cinema, but any lover of the genre should definitely not avoid it.
Santa’s Slay (2005)
Even more cruel and insane is the next movie, whose absolute protagonist is a bloodthirsty Santa Claus decidedly far from the usual figure of the good, plump, jolly bearded man.
Indeed, he is none other than the Devil himself, who, having lost a bet to an angel, must behave himself for at least 1,000 years.
But unfortunately for the citizens of rural and ignorant Hell Township, deadline has expired and our fiendish redcoated protagonist is once again ready to return to his job: mercilessly slaughtering anyone who stands in his way.
Finally free of his pledge, Santa Claus takes the wheel of the sleigh pulled by his hellish reindeer, spewing flames from his nostrils, landing like a ravager in the middle of the town and dispensing his Christmas justice against the bad children.
Amid delirium and mayhem, sweethearts Mary and Douglas must flee and hide while waiting for dawn when the indestructible avenging angel should finally lose his power.
Directing this unusual comic slasher is newcomer David Steiman, for whom, unfortunately, this will remain his only experience behind the camera.
Steiman is not very talented but has a true passion for old horror movies such as Black Christmas or Evil Dead, from which he takes the setting of some of the murder scenes and the madness in the murderous rampage of the main character, the giant wrestler Bill Goldberg.
Equally entertaining is the pair of young survivors, the cute blond Emilie de Ravin, who we will later see again in the acclaimed series Lost, plus the screen promise (never fulfilled) of Douglas Smith.
In short, a perfect movie if you find yourself with the right group of well-meaning friends toward a bloodbath of raw irony among rednecks, Jewish versus Christian pastors, and shameless boobs in the wind.
Let’s get back down to earth with a movie rooted in the reality of 1990s Los Angeles, following the vicissitudes of a few boys and girls during the holidays between Christmas Eve and Christmas night.
Split into episodes with some common elements that will only become intertwined toward the end, the story begins with the misfortunes of young Ronna, a humble supermarket clerk who is always out of money and on the verge of eviction.
So when she sees an opportunity to steal some customers from her friend and small-time drug dealer Simon, she mindlessly procures a few doses of ecstasy to resell to some partygoers from out of town.
Of course, everything falls apart, and Ronna is again without money and with the drug dealer on her tail demanding she return the goods.
At the same time, Simon spends a crazy night in Las Vegas among touchy-feely strippers, stolen Ferraris, and a shootout against a hysterical bouncer and his dangerous and vengeful father.
Back in town, Simon and his friends think they have lost the crazies, but they follow them to join the last two characters in the story, Adam and Zack, delinquents/police informants who were the same ones who pretended to want to buy drugs from Ronna in the beginning, triggering the whole mess.
Directing this little tragicomic odyssey of America’s lurching youth is newcomer (at the time) Doug Liman, who would later go on to such high-budget productions as The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow.
Equally promising was the cast with the vibrant Sarah Polley and Katie Holmes, plus a small cameo for then-unknown novice Melissa McCarthy, closing the circle with the handsome dark drug dealer Timothy Olyphant.
In short, what would Christmas be without some drugs, sex, and your best friends?
Batman Returns (1992)
We close with the best, with a movie certainly needing no introduction, but which many people do not remember occurs during good old Christmas.
Not even three years after the resounding triumph of the first Batman, Tim Burton strikes again with an even darker and more gothic story, jam-packed to the brim with its visual and narrative madness.
Indeed, Bruce Wayne must step back into the shoes of the nocturnal big bat when a mysterious gang of circus freaks repeatedly puts the city’s festival streets on blast.
These criminals are led by the ferocious Oswald Cobblepot, another half-man, half-penguin-born freak, disowned and abandoned in the sewers by his family when he was still in the cradle.
At the same time, back from a fatal accident (attempted murder, actually), the shy and awkward secretary Selina Kyle is reborn in the tight-fitting latex of the athletic Catwoman.
The whole story revolves around these personas/beasts, with the cat and bat fighting and flirting on the rooftops of Gotham City while the Penguin plots to become mayor under the watch of the city’s most ruthless villain, namely the unstoppable capitalist Max Shreck.
Burton brings his style between gothic and black comedy to the nth degree, transforming the detective story of the first chapter into a genuinely explosive action/fantasy.
Each character is unforgettable, from the great Michael Keaton as the silent, sneering night avenger to the tiny but aggressive Danny DeVito, who wants just as much revenge against the society that rejected him.
Impossible then not to mention the sexy femme fatale Michelle Pfeiffer, who goes from a skinned kitten in the beginning to a lethal feline under the push (literally) of the superb and peerless Christopher Walken, who is simply the best character ever seen in the many Batman movies.