CHRIST­MAS MOVIES

Four Em­pire writ­ers bring you the great­est gift of all: the top ten fes­tive films of all time

Empire (UK) - - BINGEWATCH -

Chris: First of all, ‘Christ­mas movie’. That’s a bit neb­u­lous. What’s a Christ­mas movie for you?

Terri: So, snow. Or talk of snow. Heart­warm­ing mo­ments. Presents. Trees. Dolph Lund­gren.

Chris: Wait a sec­ond… You’re ze­ro­ing in on one par­tic­u­lar movie here.

James: Also, you just de­scribed Cliffhanger up un­til that point.

Terri: I looked for a com­mon theme through­out my ten. And most of them, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of Fe­male Trou­ble, there is some sense of a para­ble or some sense of there be­ing a story about good­will, about love, about com­mu­nity, about the true spirit of Christ­mas, which is giv­ing.

Chris: Re­ceiv­ing is also good.

Terri: It’s hard to de­fine, but I have to feel like a bet­ter hu­man be­ing af­ter watch­ing that movie.

Chris: Does it have to be set at Christ­mas?

James: Set at Christ­mas is kinda key, I would say. There should be an el­e­ment of fes­tive cheer. There is a cockle-warm­ing, warm and fuzzies-type thing that many movies peo­ple wouldn’t con­sider to be Christ­mas movies do have.

Terri: Rocky IV.

James: Like Rocky IV.

Chris: There aren’t that many nailed-on Christ­mas clas­sics. It’s A Won­der­ful Life is one. But how many are ac­tu­ally great?

Jonny: Seven.

Chris: What are they?

Jonny: What­ever my top seven are. The thing with Christ­mas movies is you’re given free rein to have nos­tal­gia. Movies that mean a lot to you, but which aren’t very good, can rank quite highly. Santa Claus: The Movie is third on my list. I as­sume that to peo­ple who haven’t seen it ev­ery year since they were four, it’s not a good movie. But it’s a won­der­ful movie to me.

Chris: When was the last time you re­vis­ited it?

Jonny: I see it ev­ery year. And my son is just about old enough that I’ll show it to him this year.

Chris: That was a big movie for me grow­ing up. I had the nov­el­i­sa­tion.

I loved David Huddleston as Santa Claus. I hated Dud­ley Moore as Patch The Elf.

Jonny: Even as a kid?

Chris: Even as a kid. He was tak­ing the at­ten­tion away from Santa Claus. It’s called Santa Claus: The Movie. Not ‘Sod­ding Patch The Elf: The Movie’.

Terri: I think we have dif­fer­ent stan­dards when it comes to Christ­mas movies, right? I want some­thing dif­fer­ent from a film I watch at Christ­mas, with a QC on the go, and I don’t re­ally care so much about cin­e­matic qual­ity.

Chris: I’m go­ing to alight on Love Ac­tu­ally. It’s on a lot of peo­ple’s lists. It’s not on mine, be­cause it’s one of the worst movies ever made. But a lot of peo­ple over­look its flaws.

James: It’s a film Terri and I love. I love Love Ac­tu­ally.

Terri: I watched it six times last Christ­mas.

James: Okay, that’s just psy­chotic.

Terri: That scene with Joni Mitchell play­ing, where Emma Thomp­son’s dis­cov­ered the gift Alan Rick­man’s go­ing to give to the strum­pet, when she cries and straight­ens the bed... one of the most dev­as­tat­ing mo­ments in British film.

Chris: I’ll grant you that. And it has Hugh Grant. I’ll Hugh Grant you that. But by and large, it’s an aw­ful movie. I liken it to be­ing re­peat­edly stabbed in the eye with a marsh­mal­low. It’s aw­ful, but you don’t feel the pain.

James: Like boil­ing a frog.

Chris: What’s the first Christ­mas movie you re­mem­ber see­ing?

James: Scrooged is the first one I re­mem­ber see­ing. It’s cer­tainly the most salient Christ­mas movie I re­mem­ber see­ing. To me, that is A Christ­mas Carol.

Chris: It has been su­perceded for me by

The Mup­pet Christ­mas Carol. We re­visit that ev­ery sin­gle year.

James: I have no love for Mup­pets.

Chris: That’s be­cause you are a mup­pet.

James: That may be true. But I just don’t like them. And I’ve done a pod­cast with Pepé the Prawn and Ker­mit.

Jonny: I think it’s a won­der­ful telling of that story. It’s full of imag­i­na­tion and re­tains some­thing of the orig­i­nal novel but takes it in an­other di­rec­tion.

James: Mup­pets.

Chris: Terri, was it Rocky IV for you?

Terri: I wore that tape out. Not in the way that that sounds.

Chris: When that ro­bot but­ler came on, my word.

Terri: You know I’ve never seen Mup­pets?

Jonny: You’ve never seen Mup­pet Christ­mas Carol?

Terri: Why would I watch it? Not bothered.

James: I’m with Terri on this.

Chris: “Not bothered”.

Jonny: It’s ev­ery­thing you claimed you want from a Christ­mas movie.

Terri: Is it? It’s not peo­ple. I want peo­ple. Real peo­ple. A man puts his hand up a pup­pet’s arse and I’m sup­posed to think that’s good cin­ema?

Chris: Are we still talk­ing about Rocky IV? Okay, what is the great­est Christ­mas movie of all time?

Terri: It’s A Won­der­ful Life.

Chris: Why?

Terri: It’s about sac­ri­fice, it’s about hav­ing a fam­ily, it’s about dis­cov­er­ing the greater mean­ing. And there’s loads of snow.

Jonny: There are very few films that can make me cry reg­u­larly. It’s A Won­der­ful Life is one of them. It al­ways gets me go­ing at the end when Ge­orge Bai­ley re­alises he’s loved. I think about this film a lot. Chris: Jimbo? It’s Die Hard, isn’t it? James: Yes, it ob­vi­ously is Die Hard.

I love Die Hard be­cause it’s among the great­est films ever made. It’s the great­est ac­tion film ever made. It’s set at Christ­mas, there­fore it is the great­est Christ­mas movie ever made. It is just the great­est across the board.

Chris: This is im­pec­ca­ble logic.

James: I could watch it ev­ery day of the year. But def­i­nitely at Christ­mas.

Chris: What about Die Hard 2?

James: I’ve got a lot of time for it. It’s not as good as Die Hard, ob­vi­ously. But you do get to see Wil­liam Sadler’s ex­traor­di­nar­ily chis­elled pos­te­rior, which is a fes­tive treat.

Chris: You get to see the out­line of his tes­ti­cles. If you pause it just right.

Terri: Merry Christ­mas!

Chris: Right. Enough squab­bling. Let’s vote!

To lis­ten to the full Christ­mas film de­bate as a pod­cast, go to www.em­pire­on­line. com/pod­cast.

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