What are the chances? The art of the perfect Christmas film | Matt Mohan-Hickson

Christmas is a time when the rules of reality feel a little less rigid.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 7:35 am
Tokyo Godfathers, 2003

A time when magic almost feels like it is a real possibility, instead of simply something confined to the realms of fiction and stage artists.

No matter what the weather forecast actually says, it is a day when it always seems as if snow will actually fall – whether you are in Norway or Los Angeles.

Or that through some twist of fate your deepest wishes can actually come true.

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The best Christmas movies are the ones that capture this sense of infinite possibility and magic and properly embrace it.

And nothing better encapsulates that than the sense of ‘coincidence’ that runs through festive films.

A movie trailer producer arrives in a rural English cottage and just happens to meet a dreamy single father with a heart of gold. A New York cop happens to be at Nakatomi Plaza in LA when terrorists attack.

These festive offerings lean (knowingly or not) into the sense that the hand of fate is benevolently pulling the strings.

In fact if you think about it, the Christmas story itself is a tale driven by the machinations of fate.

An inn just happens to have enough space in its barn and a spare manger. Three wise men just happen to spot the star with enough time to arrive and meet the young Christ.

The importance of coincidence and fate in making Christmas themed stories feel genuinely magical and festive, came to me as an epiphany when watching Tokyo Godfathers.

This early ’00s animated tale, which was directed by the late great Satoshi Kon, is a movie that lives and breathes coincidence.

It follows three homeless people who happen to stumble across an abandoned baby in the run up to Christmas and set off on a quest to find her parents.

Throughout this journey they are continuously in the right place at the right time. In a way that starts out as subtle and eventually becomes the film’s central thesis.

And by the time the credits you are left feeling as if you’ve just watched three characters set out on a journey that was carefully guided by something or perhaps someone.

After all: Christmas is a time when anything can happen, even magic.

On the 12th day of Christmas my pharmacist gave to me...

I am going to start this section as I mean to go on – by leaning into full festive mode.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, a pharmacist gave to me, a third dose of Pfizer in the arm.

Technically speaking it was on December 14, but I really wanted to shoehorn it in.

Hopefully by the time you are reading this my antibodies are maxed out and I am properly protected from Omicron.

Or I am protected enough that I can’t pass it on to my loved ones this Christmas. Because that would be worse than finding a lump of coal in your stocking.

Hopefully it will be worth the sore arm and we won’t be staring down the barrel of further restrictions in the new year.

You can’t beat a good Boxing Day leftovers sandwich

Is it possible to actually produce a true ranking of the best Christmas foods?

I would argue that it is a fool's errand because simply put it is a smorgasbord of delights and why on earth would you try to narrow it down?

But if I had a gun to my head and had to pick I think I would go with a Boxing Day leftovers sandwich: a couple slices of turkey, some cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets and even a bit of stuffing if you are lucky enough to have any left.

It is a slice of pure culinary heaven.

But then there are also roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and gravy and Christmas pudding and I’m practically salivating thinking about it.

I should probably stop writing now before I find my stomach rumbling uncontrollably!

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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