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Cinema Noel: Six New Christmas Classics

It’s official: The Christmas season is here. Speakers are blaring Jose Mari Chan classics, houses are lit by parols, and the smell of puto bumbong and bibingka is starting to fill the air. But Christmas is more than those things. The holidays are first and foremost, about the birth of Jesus. It is also the time to be with family and friends, catching up, expressing love for one another, and drinking too much Coke, if the ads are to be believed. Speaking of being with family, a good old-fashioned movie marathon is a great bonding activity to undertake along with Noche Buena preparations. Christmas movies have a way of being repetitive and formulaic. Since the creation of colored film, storytelling has also evolved thanks to creating new and combining old ones, making for fleshed-out stories and great cinema. We’re giving you a head start on your holiday playlist with six movies that will hopefully make the Christmas countdown a little more memorable.

Krampus (2015)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Emjay Anthony, Adam Scott, Toni Collette

Writer-Director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) brings another holiday-themed horror movie, this time straight from European folklore. The film centers on the Engels, a pressure-cooker of a family waiting to implode, seemingly ignoring the essence of the holiday. Because of their apathy towards the holiday, they start to get terrorized by an ancient demon-like creature called the Krampus. With gingerbread hooks and killer toys, the dark comedy-horror film sticks true to the holiday, as the Krampus picks the family off one by one, leaving you with a stern warning to keep your Christmas spirits high.

Night Before Christmas (1993)
Director: Henry Sellick
Starring: Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, Ken Page

The fan-favorite musical film mixes Burton’s signature gothic aesthetic with stop-motion animation, and has since gained a massive cult following. Another Christmas-horror entry, the film features the leader of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, as he grows weary of the routine of Halloween. One day he discovers Christmas, but is unable to relate to it, except for one thing: a red lobster-like king called Sandy Claws. He and the citizens of Halloween Town then decide to take over Christmas that year which of course, brings disaster to the holiday. Starring the voices of several Tim Burton collaborators, it features famous film composer Danny Elfman as Jack Skellington’s singing voice.

Love, Actually (2003)
Director: Richard Curtis
Starring: Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman

Featuring a powerful ensemble, the film tells ten stories of various relationships centered around Londoners at Christmastime. From Daniel (Liam Neeson) helping his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) catch the eye of his American classmate Joanna, to Mark (Andrew Lincoln) professing his love to Juliet (Kiera Knightley), his best friend’s wife, it’s an all-around cheese-fest. Love Actually explores touching stories of loss, love, friendship, and self-actualization with Briticisms sprinkled on top. The film has gone on to become a Christmas staple as it speaks about the spirit of love during the holidays.

Elf (2003)
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel

One Christmas, a human baby crawls into Santa’s sack and is accidentally brought to the North Pole. The baby, named Buddy by the elves who found him, he grows up believing himself an unusually tall elf. After finding out the truth, finds out that his father is on Santa’s naughty list, and makes his way to New York. Once there, he finds himself in a world full of cynics, gets a crush, and tries to connect with his human family, all leading up to an epic Christmas. Will Ferrell in one of his most wholesome roles, as an elf no less, is a sight to behold, perfectly blending humor and heart.

The Holiday (2016)
Director: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Jack Black

Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans may recall Rosa Diaz citing this particular Nancy Meyers film in conversations. The Holiday is solid classic from the director, featuring strong women driven narratives. It tells the story of movie trailer producer Amanda (Cameron Diaz) as she arranges a house-swap with Iris (Kate Winslet) as a means for both to escape heartbreak. With subplots around Amanda warming up to Graham’s (Jude Law) daughters and Iris and Miles’ (Jack Black) friendship with veteran Hollywood screenwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach), they both find more than the solitude they were looking for, during the most wonderful time of the year.

Joyeux Noel (2005)
Director: Christian Carion
Starring: Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canet, Daniel Bruhl, Diane Kruger

Based on an actual historical event during World War I, you might be asking yourself why you would watch a war film during the holidays. The answer is simple: it is based on the Christmas Truce of 1914. An unofficial ceasefire, it saw French, German, and British soldiers halt hostilities to exchange well-wishes and gifts during the holiday. The film may have shown a slightly fictional account of this historic event, but it nevertheless showcases the brotherhood of man in a way no Hallmark Christmas greeting card could.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE November 2019 Issue
Words by Daniel Ringon
Artwork by Chini Soriano