Five alternative feel-good films to watch over Christmas 2020
Christmas is often a time for our favourite festive films, from soppy rom-coms to amusing action-fests we can just stick on while snoozing on the sofa. Feel-good, mind-free cinema. But tis also the season for recognising loved ones, acting generously and hoping for the opportunity of renewal in the year ahead. With that in mind, this list of films deviates from the staples of the holiday season, both conventional (Love Actually, The Muppets Christmas Carol) and unconventional (Die Hard, Prometheus) to inspire some true Christmas spirit.
If you didn’t get the chance to watch Bong Joon-ho’s award-winning satirical crime caper earlier this year, then this holiday is the perfect opportunity. Featuring a wickedly smart ensemble, Joon-ho’s lively black comedy plays with the adage that the family that sticks together will always succeed.
Goodbye Christopher Robin
Simon Curtis’s 2017 biographical film on the origins of Winnie-the-Pooh is a prickly but heartfelt watch and coming to Film 4 on Christmas Day. The golden-hued cinematography disguises the troubling unease from Domhall Gleeson’s convincingly brittle performance as author AA Milne. This is a very touching film about the real gifts that parents and children give to each other.
Denzel Washington gives a powerful lead performance as a heroic airline pilot whose personal life is about to crash and burn. Robert Zemeckis’s 2012 film is a hard-hitting depiction of a journey from self-denial to resolution that feels very apt for this time of year.
Hirozaku Kore-eda’s sweet, nuanced film Shoplifters (2018) is a difficult portrayal of the poverty-stricken underclass in contemporary Japan. Kore-eda’s film steals hearts with its tenderness, while resonating with the seasonal message that familial bonds and the spirit of generosity aren’t just based on blood.
The only film on this list clearly set in the holiday season, Todd Haynes’sCarol (2015) might be submerged in 1950s nostalgia, but it’s vividly contemporary. When Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara) fall for each other, this typical holiday romance is up against the period’s societal norms and deeper emotional fragility. It wouldn’t be Christmas without some love, and Haynes’s film explores it beyond the surface twinkling.