With Christmas time rolling around, the swathe of terrible Christmas movies are starting to fill up our screens and mysteriously appear in streaming services suggested list. Sometimes you just want to watch something easy and Christmasy, I get that. But what if you could watch some really great performances while you were getting that dose of festive cheer in your holiday spirit? In this vein, here are our top Christmas movies for actors.
Love Actually (2003)
So we all know that this film has its problems. In fact, to describe the stereotypes presented in Love Actually as problematic is a dramatic understatement. However, even given the Prime Minsters fling with a staffer and the Colin Farrels character taking advantage of a Portuguese maid – there is still a lot to be gained from studying Love Actually. Particularly around the sheer genius of Emma Thompson. Spoilers – but the scene where she confronts her partner played by a little known actor by the name of Alan Rickman about his relationship with his secretary (are you starting to detect a theme in this film?) is simply extraordinary. She’s got two Oscars and is a Dame of the British Empire, in this moment you can see why. Worth a look.
Die Hard (1988)
Is it a Christmas film? Is it not? Of course it is. It is set on Christmas eve!? What more do you want. Plus someone literally says “Ho- ho- ho, now I have the machine gun.” I mean. Come on. I forced my family to watch this on Christmas eve last year and I have no regrets. In terms of acting, the must-watch moments settle around that man Rickman as Hans Gruber, the German terrorist mastermind at the centre of the film. Rickman is an absolute pro, in his breakout role shows us why he will be the perfect Severus Snape, nearly 20 years before J.K. Rowling put pen to paper.
The Apartment (1960)
Time for a classic, and the literal invention of American sit-com acting. Without The Apartment there is no Kramer in Seinfeld, there is no Big Bang Theory, there is no Veep. The list goes on. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine put on a complete comedic masterclass. Their timing, delivery and physical comedy is absolutely on point. Have a look in that clip at Lemmon when shes asks how many drinks he’s had, he says three but puts up four fingers. Somehow this isn’t on the nose, but hilarious in the moment. An enjoyable Christmas classic.
Let’s cut to the chase. Cate Blanchett is the actor of her generation. She is truly incredible, and in this film alongside the exceptional Rooney Mara, she delivers a powerhouse performance. Not only that but the plot of the film is such a breath of fresh air to the heteronormative narrative propagated by most Christmas movies. Just watch the trailer, seriously, take two minutes out of your life and have a crack at this. All the actors are extraordinary, it is incredibly shot and directed, when it gets to Christmas eve and someone wants to put on some piece of utter Hallmark trash, do yourself a favour and wack on Carol instead.
Home Alone (1990)
Come on, it’s a Christmas movie list – I had to put Home Alone on here I’m not a wild animal. Additionally, Macaulay Culkin’s performance is pretty extraordinary especially when you consider he was 9 when they were shooting! The most famous child star since Judy Garland, Culkin is an undeniable talent in this film, plus it’s fun. Joe Pesci is there doing his thing, and if that is something you can’t get around at Christmas then there is nothing that can be done for you. Don’t at me.
A Christmas Carol (1999)
This Charles Dickens classic has been reimagined by every man and his dog. Even this year in 2019 a new version is set to come out starring Tom Hardy. However, even with its terrible late 90s CGI and overblown score, this film is worth looking at for Patrick Stewart’s performance. Stewart is a classically trained, excellent Shakespearian actor who found himself at the helm of the Starship Enterprise for an extended period. Here he gives, depth, gravitas and high stakes to highly supernatural circumstances.
There you have it, there are a bunch of ideas to look at when someone asks what we should watch on Christmas eve! Christmas movies do not have to be complete trash, have a look at these examples and enjoy your holidays!