It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Hot takes roasting on an open thread, hashtags nipping at your prose.
Once a year, everybody on Twitter, Facebook and beyond come together in a grand celebration of that most joyous of events: debating whether or not “Die Hard” (or occasionally another film) is really a Christmas movie. Here’s the real Good News: every movie can be a Christmas movie and it’s entirely up to you!
Of course, there are indisputable Christmas movies, those that deal specifically with Christmas, so “Miracle On 34th Street“, “A Christmas Carol”, “The Santa Clause“, “Jingle All The Way”, “Nativity!” etc. These films are set at Christmas, are about Christmas, feature Christmas characters and usually rely on a little (or a lot) of Christmas ‘magic’ to resolve their plot.
Then there are the films which are set at Christmas and may involve Christmas on a plot level, even if only by reference, like the seemingly perennially debatable “Die Hard” (and its less often debated sequel “Die Hard 2: Die Harder”). “Die Hard” involves a few good jokes and references to Christmas but it doesn’t go much further than that whereas “Lethal Weapon” takes Riggs on a very Christmassy journey of rediscovering friendship and family, culminating with him joining a Christmas dinner which seemed unthinkable at the start of the film. “Gremlins”, “Jaws The Revenge“, “The Long Kiss Goodnight”, “Batman Returns”, “Iron Man 3” and, arguably, “It’s A Wonderful Life” fall under this category as well.
“It’s A Wonderful Life” also belongs in the next category of potential Christmas movies: movies traditionally watched/ on TV at Christmas. Unlikely now in the age of instant, on-demand entertainment but for decades, the only place to see old favourite movies was on TV, and certain movies stuck to the festive period like glitter on crazy glue. “The Sound Of Music”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “The Great Escape”, “The Wizard Of Oz”, “Star Wars” and many more, all were firm fixtures of the festive TV schedules, with the Queen’s Speech being invariably followed by a pre-1985 Bond movie. Anchored in cosy family memories of gathering around the TV to solve a problem like Maria, hide from the Childcatcher, cheer on Steve McQueen or head off to see the wizard, every single one of these movies (and others) are Christmas movies too.
And finally, there are movies you might watch with friends and family each and every year which have no connection to the season except for the fact that you love them and find time to enjoy them or share them with your loved ones when the holidays roll around and life slows down just enough to spare the time to crack open a tin of Quality Street and enjoy a movie together. Do you watch “Aliens” every Christmas Eve over a bowl of chilli and some beers? Cool – “Aliens” is a Christmas movie. Do you and your family always sit down on Boxing Day to watch “Rocky”? Fill your boots, it’s a Christmas movie. Hell, even if the only tenuous connection to the season is featuring an abundance of snow, if it’s a movie you enjoy regularly in December (or November if you’re feeling a bit glum and need to cheer yourself up), “Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring”, “Fargo”, “Doctor Zhivago” and “Frozen” are a-okay and if anyone says otherwise, you know what to tell them:
Anything and everything can be a Christmas movie and the only person whose opinion matters is yours. Whatever your seasonal selection, you’ve nothing to worry about. Enjoy your Christmas movies. And God bless us, every one.