The Yearly Return of Christmas Films

Saahithi Gaddipati, Staff Writer

Once the weather turns cold outside, people bundle up with mugs of hot chocolate decorated with oodles of whipped cream, cocoon themselves in blankets as they position themselves across from the fireplace, and begin to fixate their eyes on the television. Christmas-themed movies are a genre that people come back to each year, whether it is because of family traditions, one especially good movie, or the persistent algorithms on various streaming platforms. Disclaimer: this article in no way applies to all readers, or all celebrants of winter holidays. It is recognized that there are multiple winter holidays, as well as their corresponding movies and traditions. However, this article will be specifically focusing on Christmas movies. 

As the holiday comes closer, an abundance of Christmas-related media floods through the internet. Sophomore Riva Naidu states, “My feed usually gets filled up with Christmas movie recommendations around this time of year, because that is what people are more likely to watch.” Freshman Brody Barquist comments on this timing, stating, “Usually, after Thanksgiving, I am fine with seeing the movie recommendations, but if I see movies before Thanksgiving, it is kind of awkward.” This pattern is widely agreed upon, as a majority of streaming platforms provide cinema recommendations after evaluating personal preference, as well as currently trending media. On their site, Netflix explains that they use a variety of methods to predict user preference, such as “[user] interaction with [their] service (such as [viewer] viewing history and how [viewers] rated other titles), other members with similar members with similar tastes and preferences on our service, and information about the titles.”  The weight of other user’s viewing habits to calculate recommendations ensures that the film satisfies the majority’s timing preferences.

While the timing of the return of Christmas movies is an important aspect to ensure that enough festive spirit is generated, it pales in comparison to the content and plotline of films. Junior Anish Bhamidipati states, “I am not sure if Christmas movies are very different to each other. They are all pretty jolly.” Due to the genre being centered around one holiday, there is not much to explore, resulting in similar plotlines, or multiple sequels of the same movie. While the latter may not sound bad, it often results in a lower quality plot with each subsequent release. This can be easily displayed with the popular movie series, “Home Alone.” According to Rotten Tomatoes, the original Home Alone had an 80% audience score, along with a 66% tomatometer rating. By the last two films in the series, tomatomater scores became unrated, while the audience score dropped below 30%. Barquist explains what he thinks sets these films apart, stating, “I think that most Christmas movies have the same idea, but the thing that sets them apart are the characters, their background, and what they have gone through.” The intricacies of each movie that set them apart are important, as the majority of viewers cite uniqueness as a quality that their favorite Christmastime movies have. Bhamidipath illustrates this principle, saying, “I really liked ‘Elf,’ because I felt it was not your average Christmas movie.”

Within the topic of Christmas movies, there are also a blend of subgenres: Christmas comedies, dramas, romances and epic fantasy adventures. While each of the movies in these categories have similar plotlines, they provide an overall variety. A poll by IMDb surveyed its viewer base on their favorite Christmas movie subgenres, asking them to choose their top pick out of several popular Christmas movies. Out of the 23 options, the top two had aspects of comedy in them, with the third being an action movie. Senior Angela Milkowski does not share this opinion, and explains her favorite sub-genre blend, stating, “I do not really like the blend with romance, and a lot of times, Christmas comedy is just hard to watch, so my favorite would probably have to be blended fantasy.” Ultimately, it comes down to individual preference and mood, but the blends of multiple genres allow Christmas movies to have something that appeals to everyone.

While the mimicry of this genre encourages a bit of searching to find the right movie, one of the key traits in the genre is that it is family friendly. Milkowski states, “My family really likes watching Christmas movies during the holiday season. The day after Thanksgiving, they always get really excited about watching Christmas movies, and doing [other winter holiday events].” Barquist adds on to this, explaining, “[My family and I] really only watch Christmas movies together.” The simple nature of holiday themed flicks results in a versatile age range sitting down and enjoying an activity together.

Christmas movies take every aspect of the holiday and turn them upside down to branch out into as many plots as possible. The relation to a single idea does oftentimes result in repetitive plots, especially when the sub-genre of the film is the same as well. However, elements within the film can set it apart, leading to a reliable activity to participate in with your family in order to entertain yourselves. Whether you are looking to get into a more festive spirit, or a simple way to pass the time, Christmas movies have a wide range to choose from!