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18 Dec 2023

HPPH's Festive Favourites

Recommendations from the HPPH team

This holiday season, Hyde Park Picture House staff and volunteers have chosen their favourite Christmas and festive films in the hope of keeping you entertained on cold winter nights when you're not sure what to watch.

Brazil (1985)

What is more Christmassy than one man’s struggle against bureaucracy? Gilliam’s dystopian classic is set during the Holidays with a nightmarish family Christmas that opens the film that rivals the Christmas tree scene in John Waters’ Female Trouble. Santa or is it? even pays Sam Lowry a visit after he is arrested by the state. Brazil is my all-time favourite film so naturally it’s my favourite film for the Holiday season. 

Honourable mentions - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Batman Returns and The Box (2009). 

Ian - Volunteer

Three Wishes for Cinderella (1973)

With its beautiful wintry landscapes, warm characters and a true earworm of a musical theme tune, this film is a revisionist, funny and delightful retelling of the classic fairytale. Unlike other more saccharin versions we’re used to, it manages to be rustically down-to-earth yet still remain completely magical. The magic here though, not being that of a pumpkin stagecoach or fairy godmother, but of nature: three hazelnuts, and a pet owl. It’s one of the most beloved films in all Central European cinema and I’m determined to make it the UK’s favourite Christmas film tradition, or at least HPPH’s.

Robb - Operations & Programme Manager

Babette's Feast (1987)

It’s hard to choose but if I had to, I’d say my favourite festive film is Babette’s Feast (1987, Dir. Gabriel Axel). Based on a short story by Isak Dinesen, the writer of Out of Africa, Babette’s Feast is a celebration of coming together, of sharing one’s table and one’s life with others. Almost more importantly, it is perhaps one of the greatest films that’s ever been made about food. It elevates the preparation of a meal to the status of high art, highlighting the particular combination of skill and creative energy that come together to make something truly beautiful.

Wendy - Head of Cinema

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

My favourite Christmas film is The Grinch as I'm a bit of a Grinch and find Christmas a bit much at times but it taught to me an important lesson which was err about being lovely and nice to everyone even if they're a tad different or something warm and gooey like that. I really enjoy how silly and fun the film is and “I'm all toasty inside.” 

Irfan - Volunteer

Carol (2015)

My favourite Christmas movie is also one of my favourite queer films of recent years – the gorgeous and at times devastating period romance, Carol

Todd Haynes’ 2015 adaption of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt begins with a chance encounter at a department store before Christmas, where Rooney Mara’s timid Therese and Cate Blanchett’s glamorous Carol first lock eyes. What follows is a sumptuous story of suppressed desire and forbidden love, with phenomenal performances from both Mara and Blanchett. 

There are some wonderful nods to the work of photographer Vivian Mair in the beautifully captured 16mm cinematography – which together with some incredible production design and a stunning score from Carter Burwell – help bring a festive and wintery New York City to life in a quite magical way. 

Ollie - Marketing & Communications Manager

Dekalog: Three (1988)

What is Christmastime if not a period for sonorous, profound reflection upon all the moments one has failed to act, leaving you stranded in a tide of insignificance? Break open another bottle of bubbly, Kieślowski is doing Christmas, and it’s just as bleak as you’d imagine.

A far cry from the typical revelry of Yuletide media, Dekalog: Three opts instead to validate those who aren’t surrounded by family and friends during the holiday season. It’s a tale of regret, untenable longing, and the insipid mundanity of squandered opportunity. It’s my favourite Christmas film (contentious description) because Kieślowski deftly explores the isolation so implicitly ubiquitous to a season supposedly dedicated to community.

Alfie - Volunteer

The Snowman (1982)

My favourite festive film is The Snowman because when I was young, my grandma had a VHS copy of it that we would watch every year - it takes me back to sitting on her living room floor watching it on an ancient telly. Plus the film led to an excellent Irn-Bru advert.

Owen - Deputy Projection & Facilities Manager

Trading Places (1983)

A screw-ball comedy with a Prince and the Pauper-style role reversal of a super-rich commodities broker and a bumbling street hustler. There’s a scene with a very drunk Santa on the bus trying to eat a whole salmon that will destroy your enjoyment of food for a good long while.    

Jos - Deputy Operations Manager

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

It may seem sacrilegious to call any James Stewart film but It’s A Wonderful Life my favourite Christmas film, but after almost watching that classic to death, I began to search out other festive films and this instantly became a favourite for me. The Shop Around the Corner is based on the Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklós László and I think the storyline is genius. It’s one of the best romances ever written – the kind that Christmas magic makes possible. The play also went on to inspire the 1998 film You’ve Got Mail which is also great, but Tom Hanks is no James Stewart. 

Martha - Digital Marketing Coordinator

Batman Returns (1992)

Full of Christmas trees, wrapped presents, candy colours and snow,
The Bat, the Cat & The Penguin was the first anti-blockbuster. 
A character(s) study of trauma masquerading as a superhero movie.  
A black and white film in colour, 
German Expressionism in shadows, set design and psyche. 
A film obsessed with duality & contrast. 
Is Selina Kyle a descendent of Shanghai Express’s Marlene Dietrich & Anna May Wong?

Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.
But a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it.

Simon - Volunteer

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

In no way do I think it's the best Christmas film, but it's our family nostalgia Christmas film. We watch it every year as children, and adults (!) and it certainly had its impact. With memorable characters such as John Lithgow's creepy wheeler dealer Dad character, Dudley Moore as an entrepreneurial and unsatisfied elf, and a little homeless boy who is obsessed with McDonald's and drinks the most satisfying-looking can of Coke (serious product placement). The film always felt like it lasted for hours although it is only 108mins, and there are at least three major chapters - the origin of Santa in the middle ages, Santa recruiting a little helper in the 20th century, and in present-day 80s the helper (Moore) running away to New York to make it big in the toy industry but only to be exploited by a toy executive (Lithgow) and then rescued by two little children with Santa. It's a surreal wild ride and worth a watch in a post-Christmas dinner slump drifting in and out of a nap. You won't be sure if you hallucinated your way through it - it's perfect.    

Mosa - Creative Engagement Officer

Dinner for One (1963)

Ignored by this nation for decades, Dinner for One is more than just a goofy sketch about a wealthy lady with a fading mind and her loyal butler who gets increasingly inebriated by pretending to be all the dinner guests at once. Watched by millions on New Year’s Eve, for Germans (like me) it’s an annual ritual that unites even the most cantankerous family members for at least 18 minutes. To put it in Miss Sophie’s words, ‘it’s the same procedure as every year’.

Fran - Cinema Venue Coordinator

Arthur Christmas (2011)

This is such a cute and lovely festive film for all the family to enjoy, produced by Aardman Animations. I like their take on how Santa delivers presents all over the world on one night by having an army of elves with high-tech gadgets and a spaceship, captained with military precision by Santa's son Steve. The real heart of the film is with Santa's other son, Arthur, who is under appreciated and a bit haphazard so is sidelined from the operation but replies to every letter Santa receives and loves Christmas. The madcap adventure that Arthur goes on with Grandsanta and Bryony, the elf who's an expert in Christmas present wrapping, to deliver a present that has been missed is lots of fun. Packed with heaps of charm, jokes, quirky and loveable characters and feel-good factor that you expect from Aardman.

Han - Cinema Venue Coordinator

If you'd like to see a festive film at the Picture House, you can browse our programme here. We'll be closed on Christmas Day but open over the rest of the holidays to keep you entertained and provide a perfect refuge from Christmas loneliness and festive family arguments.

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Become a member!  •  Ticket discounts  •  Priority booking  •  Three months free MUBI  •  Become a member!  •  Free tickets  •  Food & drink discounts  •  Members’ newsletter
Become a member!  •  Ticket discounts  •  Priority booking  •  Three months free MUBI  •  Become a member!  •  Free tickets  •  Food & drink discounts  •  Members’ newsletter
Become a member!  •  Ticket discounts  •  Priority booking  •  Three months free MUBI  •  Become a member!  •  Free tickets  •  Food & drink discounts  •  Members’ newsletter