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Bad Santa
"Bad Santa"

What your favourite Christmas movie says about you

Sorting the ‘Love Actually’ lovers from the ‘Die Hard’ devotees

Written by
Phil de Semlyen
&
Andy Kryza
Written by
Matthew Singer
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Everyone loves a good Christmas movie. No matter how cynically someone acts, deep down they’ve got a film that instantly makes them think of hot cocoa, warm fires, cold nights and sweet treats. The thing is, not everyone loves the same Christmas movies. Some prefer the classics, where some greedy old crank learns the reason for the season by way of helpful angels and/or vengeful ghosts. Others enjoy light, fluffy, knowingly corny romcoms where two pretty singles meet cute at a tree farm or something. And some want to hear Santa curse or watch some stuff get blown up while jingle bells chime on the soundtrack.

Hey, all of them are valid, as long as there’s some snow, jolly fat men and a message that speaks to what the holiday is all about, preferably in a non-preachy way. But there are enough variations on the Christmas formula that our favourites speak to something deep within our individual personalities. What, exactly? Well, allow us to extrapolate. 

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  • Film
  • Comedy

You don’t care what the cynics say, this unashamedly cheesy, multi-stranded snog-athon is your festive fave – and it’s a culture war you’re prepared to tool up for. Sure, you hold your nose during the Kris Marshall bits and you’ve always struggled to justify how a man who two-times his own best mate can possibly be held up as a romantic hero, but deep down you reckon that it’s all nitpicking when there’s 78 other cheery Richard Curtis subplots to pick from. And, no, you don’t want to hear about The Holiday. The Holiday is for the weak.

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

First of all, you’re right – Die Hard tis indeed a Christmas movie. Verily. It takes place on Christmas Eve, it’s got Run-DMC’s ‘Christmas in Hollis’ on the soundtrack and it’s about realising the importance of fighting for your family, whether that means fighting to keep your marriage alive or dumping a load of C4 down an elevator shaft to save your wife from a gang of Aryan terrorists… and what’s a Christmassy moral than that? So yes, you are correct in your assertion. However, if you insist that Die Hard is your favourite Christmas movie, chances are high that you’re a bit of a smug contrarian who enjoys arguing with strangers online and in the pub. Two things can be true at once, y’know.

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  • Film
  • Drama

You are a staunch traditionalist, and each of your holiday rituals happen like clockwork, no matter. Dinner is on the table at 5. One present can be opened on Christmas Eve, at 6.30. The annual screening of It’s a Wonderful Life commences at 8, with the first scheduled teardrop at 8.40. By 9pm, each of your family members have wondered whether life would be better if you were never born. All is forgiven by your third helping of eggnog at 10pm, because everyone knows you’re about to fall asleep on the couch at 10.11, just like last year and the year before.

  • Film

Nobody ever gets your Ron Burgundy references, but Christmas represents that magical time of year when you can scream-quote a Will Ferrell movie, and you’re going all in on it. ‘Son of a nutcracker,’ you excitedly yell each time a new guest arrives at dinner. You refer to kids as ‘cotton-headed ninny nuggets’ and annoyed adults as ‘angry elves.’ The person sitting next to you will later complain of sore ribs after an entire night of being elbowed. 

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  • Film
  • Family and kids

You will have the same conversation about how excited you are about the 20th anniversary reunion special – ‘I hope it’s better than Friends,’ you say – at least five times before you queue up the Harry Potter film. For the next 20 hours, you will alternate between spouting off unwelcome Hogwarts trivia, diatribes about ‘separating the art from the artist’ and loudly shushing anyone else who dares speak. You are terrified to go to the restroom for fear that your Tolkien-nerd cousin will seize control of the TV and put on the extended-cut DVD of The Fellowship of the Ring

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

You’re looking for something cockle-warming and delightful to pass a winter’s evening. You pick an animation. Tom Hanks is in it. You gather the family around the TV and hit play. So far, so good. But quickly something seems wrong – off even. The train conductor in the movie has human features but his eyes… they’re soulless, blank voids, gateways to a great emptiness that threatens to draw you in and leave you drifting for a thousand years. Welcome to The Polar Express. If you’re still glued to the screen, you’re either a train buff or some kind of weird mo-cap completist.

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  • Film
  • Comedy

Well, you grew up in the ’90s, that’s for sure. And at one point, for a brief moment, you probably really, really wanted to be friends with Macaulay Culkin – a dream that has not aged well. Beyond that, you were probably a highly independent kid with strict-but-loving helicopter parents who never let you watch violent movies or eat heaping bowls of ice cream, and you might harbour some sociopathic tendencies because of it. Do you ever wish someone would try to break into your house so you can burn them bald with a blowtorch and bludgeon them with bricks and paint cans? Then you might be Kevin McAllister.

  • Film
  • Comedy

In 2016, you declared via a lengthy Facebook post that Lost in New York is better than the first Home Alone. You went on to claim that the sequel is ‘one of the best movies ever made, period’, and that it would be the all-time highest-grossing film if the fake news wasn’t lying about the box office returns in favour of some climate-change propaganda called Avatar. Your 2021 Christmas card features a picture of you and a guy wearing a buffalo pelt sitting at Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Film

Into this melancholy seasonal staple? Chances are you have impeccable taste in jazz, but also an unfortunate habit of bringing up climate change and news of new Covid mutations as everybody sits down to dinner. After you skip dessert (what’s the point in dessert?), you drive home listening to Vince Guaraldi then seek solace Charles Schulz’s Peanutperennial, wondering if Charlie Brown’s sad little tree is slumping because it’s secretly dying. 

  • Film

If Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 winter warmer – aka the Bergman Holiday Special – is your pick of festive viewing, you’re either a hardened cinephile who is expecting Santa to drag large swathes of the Criterion Collection down the chimney this year or you’re buying yourself some space from the wee’uns currently tearing around the living room. At 197 minutes long and full of small children in shorts dealing with traumatic family scenarios, it’s a film heavyweight’s choice of festive movie and the perfect child-deterrent.

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  • Film
  • Comedy

You almost certainly had at least three drinks before you left home, and you will even more certainly be encouraged to take a cab home from dinner after you return from your third smoke break asking when Uncle Pete is arriving, despite the fact that you attended his funeral four years ago. But you’ll tip that cab driver well because it’s Christmas, motherfu*ker. 

Gremlins
  • Film
  • Fantasy

Your actual favourite Christmas movie is Black Christmas, but the last time you showed it at the family Christmas party was also the last time Aunt Milly talked to you. You’ve compromised by insisting on Joe Dante’s horror-comedy as your Christmas counterprogramming: it’s got plenty of fun and delight, plus a high body count, including that old lady that kind of looks like Aunt Milly. You’ve got a copy of The Nightmare Before Christmas in your backpack just in case there’s another incident. 

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White Christmas
  • Film

‘They don’t make them like this anymore,’ you whisper into your hot cocoa as Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye go tap-dancing across the screen while your kids look at their phones. The most recent Christmas movie you have seen is 1983’s A Christmas Story. You found it crass.

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