The only Christmas film in recent years that I remember well is Last Christmas (2019). However, it is not without reason. I would never deny myself a lovely bit of George Michael, but when your cousin is in the film, it’s hard not to laugh and smile when he comes on screen. But ask me to think of any other Christmas film released within the last 10 years, and I’m stumped. Nothing comes to mind. I even tried looking at a list of recent films while writing this article and I can’t honestly say I recognise any of them.
The problem, I feel, stems from the vast amount of similarities we can pull from every Christmas film. People have lost their Christmas spirit, Santa can’t deliver the presents on time, someone’s died, someone’s getting divorced and for some reason, it almost always happens in New York. It gets difficult, even with some of the older films to pick out which one you’re actually watching. Films like Elf (2003), or Home Alone (1990) are instantly recognisable when they come on TV, because their characters are memorable and the story, particularly in the case of Elf is so whimsical that they stick out when you think of Christmas films.
Another key example is the heap of Christmas films based on the character Scrooge. After taking time to think about it, I did remember watching Spirited around Christmas in 2022, and then I realised it is just another retelling of Scrooge. While it still was overall a good film, and I definitely remember laughing at parts, I can’t remember any of the specifics that separate the underlying story from being anything other than a modern-day interpretation of Scrooge.
To be able to be put into the echelon of classic Christmas films, they have to be memorable. It’s why films like Miracle on 34th Street and Love Actually are still loved so much, because you actually remember things about them. And call me biased, but the only recent Christmas film I can recall is Last Christmas. Given time, could a more recent film become a classic? Most definitely. But we’ll have to wait and see, because I’d far rather pick an older film that I know is a classic, than take a punt on a new film.