For the longest time, the perfect Christmas movie was It’s a Wonderful Life, the 1946 Frank Capra-directorial venture. But in the era of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, the trope is standard. A rich woman goes to rural America, learns the ways of the countryside, and falls in love; a rich, single dad has a child looking for a mom; a lively woman teaches a lonely, emotionally impoverished man the joys of life. Or maybe, after a long road trip, a couple spends a night at an obscure, exotic inn.
Together, they make for a cheesy Christmas movie.
The holiday season is a time for comfort movies and food. New films aren’t exactly what we search for — we swim back to the same old movies that make us nostalgic. When it comes to Christmas films, some of the best — the infamous Home Alone series, Jingle All the Way (1996), The Polar Express (2004) — are worth watching multiple times. Yet, sometimes you come across a fresh film that is somewhat relatable to you now, and it feels like a win.
If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas movie — a formulaic mix of Santa Claus, a Christmas miracle, and family bonding — then you can include a bunch of 2022 releases that did fairly well. Lindsay Lohan made a comeback in Falling for Christmas with the role of a naive rich girl trapped in her comfort zone and aching to break free. Glorious in her element, Lohan easily outshone the confused male lead Chord Overstreet who played a lodge owner named Jake Russel.
The film also turns the camera on the influencer culture, and not just for a quick laugh.
Another great movie released this year was Your Christmas or Mine? a rather unusual one, but in an endearing way. Asa Butterfield plays Hubert, a drama student, who goes to his girlfriend’s house to surprise her on Christmas and celebrate it with her family. The fun part is that Cora Kirk, who plays Haley, does the same. The result is expectedly sad and yet wonderful.
Also read: There’s a reason why Christmas movies always work. All is forgiven in the holiday…
What made good Christmas romances
Christmas romances are irreplaceable. Two people going on a spontaneous long drive to a secluded location, moving through the snow, talking about anything and everything — now that’s some Christmas romance. Noel’s Diary (2022) treats you to exactly that. The conversations are organic, never too cheesy, and full of substance. Barret Doss as Rachel is upfront, confident, and understanding. She doesn’t intervene in Jake’s (Justin Hartley) affairs and stays ambitious. Trying to make peace with herself, she starts a difficult journey to dig into her complicated past but realises midway that she is fine without the knowledge of things. Her on-screen partner is a bestselling author, a well-behaved man with good taste in music. He is no prince charming, though — we are past all that in 2022.
I also watch Christmas movies for the full-hearted display of food. It is always tasteful to see a family feasting on dishes they can’t get enough of. And then there is bread — if only there was anything better than watching bread being baked, kneaded, bread being eaten, bread being loved. Something from Tiffany’s ( 2022) on Amazon Prime has some scenes that shoot up your cravings. The two main characters, Rachel (Zoey Deutch), a baker, and Ethan Greene (Kendrik Sampson) confess how they are the biggest fans of bread in the world. One makes bread, another savours it. Their meeting is a Christmas miracle — Rachel leaves her former partner who never treated her well. Ethan is an interesting man who understands her in an unusual way. Leah Jeffrey plays his teenage daughter who is well-informed, compassionate, has a fair sense of personal boundaries, and occasionally acts oversmart. Imagine Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s junior Anjali, but less annoying.
Last but not the least, there is Violent Night (2022) directed by Tommy Wirkola with David Harbour as Santa Claus. 2022 has reached into its bag and delivered a Santa who slays. Violent Night’s title is not joking around: Its characters meet their ends by way of burnings, beheadings, grindings, impalings,” wrote Megan Garber in The Atlantic. If you have a taste for watching the overused, unreal, and illogical “popular belief” get brutally mocked and shown a mirror, put Violent Night on your list.
I go about movies like I go about books, and fresh releases aren’t the only aisle I stop at. Another Round (2020) with Mads Mikkelsen as Martin shows what living in the moment is like with just one scene. A former jazz ballad dancer, Martin has moved on from his professional life. Then comes a moment when he lets go and dances his heart out.
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)