01: THE APARTMENT (1960)
What’s a Christmas movie without a bungled love triangle? In this black-and-white romantic comedy, Jack Lemmon plays an industrious office worker who tries to score points with his bosses by opening his tiny apartment for their extramarital liaisons. It all seems like a great idea until he falls in love with a colleague (Shirley MacLaine) – who’s also caught the eye of his ruthless boss (Fred MacMurray).
For love cynics with meltable hearts.
02: TRADING PLACES (1983)
A modern take on Mark Twain’s classic 19th-century novel, The Prince and the Pauper, this comedy tells the tale of a homeless street hustler (Eddie Murphy) and an obnoxious financial broker (Dan Aykroyd), who end up swopping lives as a result of a social experiment. With a wintry New York City as the film’s backdrop, hijinks ensue as the pair team up to settle the score and get their lives back on track.
Comedy of errors with all the elements of a classic New York Christmas.
03: BAD SANTA (2003)
In one of his most memorable performances to date, Billy Bob Thornton plays a disenchanted, foul-mouthed, and perpetually inebriated mall Santa who’s inclined to rob retail stores during the festive season. However, things don’t go quite as planned after he develops a friendship with a troubled kid and attracts the unwanted attention of an overly inquisitive security guard (Bernie Mac).
For those who prefer an offbeat plot with feel-good vibes.
04: TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003)
An unconventional take on the holiday spirit, this anime movie centres around three homeless friends in the snow-fuelled streets of Shinjuku, Tokyo, who stumble upon an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve. The heart-warming plot delves into their unconventional relationship as street dwellers, juxtaposed against their personal struggles as they search for the baby’s parents.
Every cloud has a silver lining as good as the bottle of red you’ve been saving for the holidays.
05: IN BRUGES (2008)
This black comedy details the lives of two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who find refuge in the picturesque city of Bruges during Christmas, when an assassination attempt on a priest goes awfully wrong. The talented Ralph Fiennes plays the duo’s infuriated boss whose patience increasingly runs thin, thanks to his subordinates’ penchant for defying orders.
Proof that even cold-blooded killers can get into the holiday spirit.
06: BRAZIL (1985)
A Kafkaesque nightmare come true, director Terry Gilliam’s cult classic uses Christmas as a metaphor to dabble in themes like consumerism, bureaucracy and a totalitarian state. Set against an Orwellian-like dystopia where dysfunctional machines reign supreme, the story follows a troubled bureaucrat (Jonathan Pryce) in search of a woman who haunts his dreams with premonitions.
For contemplating the metaphysics of the festive season.
07: NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989)
Chevy Chase plays a doting father whose plans for a perfect Christmas backfires when he doesn’t receive the Christmas bonus he had been hoping for. The situation goes from bad to worse when his annoying relatives make an unannounced visit, further adding to the comic furore.
An ode to every harried father during Christmas.
08: THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)
In this animated Tim Burton classic, leader of Halloween Town Jack Skellington grows disillusioned with Halloween when he stumbles upon a portal to Christmas Town. Chaos enfolds as he tries to introduce – in typical macabre fashion – his new-found holiday spirit to his fellow grim, uninspired townsfolk.
For lovers of the macabre who are still experiencing halloween hangover.
09: UN CONTE DE NOËL (2008)
This French comedy-drama documents the trials and tribulations of the dysfunctional Vuillard family, who come together to celebrate Christmas after its matriarch suffers a health scare. Blending black comedy with emotional drama, the movie documents a family that’s barely keeping it together while dealing with deep seated issues of anger and hate that have only exacerbated over the years.
A poignant reminder of what the holidays are truly about – family.
10: RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (2010)
A potent mix of deadpan comedy and unadulterated horror, this movie turns the lens on teenager Pietari and his reindeer-hunter father who capture Santa Claus, the psychopathic killer bent on taking the lives of children. Trouble ensues when Santa’s deranged elves try to recapture their leader and reinstate his homicidal glory.
Rogue elves, a very naughty Santa and an action-packed plot.