The Great Film Giveaway + Inside the Magic: Fantastic Beasts

Film buffs and Harry Potter fans, we’ve got something special for you!

We’re giving away 16 copies of a book Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them PLUS surprise films on DVD (from The Revenant to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s a pretty nice selection from our catalogue). Interested?

In the book Inside the Magic, you can meet Newt Scamander, Magizoologist, and explore such wonders as MACUSA, United States counterpart to the Ministry of Magic, the magical secrets of Newt’s case, and the fantastic beasts themselves.

There are multiple options to enter our giveaway, so you can use one or more for additional chances to win these goodies.

On CinemaParadiso.co.uk:

Just sign up for our free trial offer during the giveaway period and you get a chance to win Inside the Magic: Fantastic Beasts hardcover book AND 2 surprise DVDs from our extensive catalogue.

To make it even better, you have the trial period to rent films and television series which you can choose from CinemaParadiso.co.uk library of more than 90,000 titles!

We’ll pick 1 winner every week for the duration of the giveaway.

On Facebook:

Find The Great Film Giveaway + Inside the Magic post, and “Like” it for 1 chance at a free hardcover book, and “Comment” on it for a 2nd chance. It’s that simple!

We’ll pick 1 winner every week for the duration of the giveaway. Like us for more info and updates!

On Twitter:

Find The Great Film Giveaway + Inside the Magic tweet, and “Retweet” it for a chance to win a free hardcover book. That’s all you have to do! Follow us to get giveaway updates and more interesting content from @cinemadiso.

We’ll pick 1 winner every week for the duration of the giveaway.

On Instagram:

Find The Great Film Giveaway + Inside the Magic post, and “Like” it for 1 chance at a free hardcover book. Follow us on instagram.com/cinemadiso for a second!

We’ll pick 1 winner every week for the duration of the giveaway.

So, be sure to follow our social media channels where we’ll keep you updated on the giveaway and more. Don’t forget to read the rules below and remember that every entry option gives you an additional chance to win this definitive companion to the film + surprise DVDs if you sign up for a free trial in the specified time period. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions

  • No purchase necessary to enter or win
  • Giveaway begins on 10 July 2017 and ends on 7 August 2017
  • Giveaway runs on a weekly basis between dates mentioned above (prizes will be picked equally across all giveaway channels)
  • Winners will be chosen at random and announced through our social media channels every Monday during the giveaway period
  • Eligibility: Open to legal UK residents and Prize will only be awarded and/or delivered to addresses within said locations
  • Entry: participant can enter giveaway through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or CinemaParadiso.co.uk sign up form
  • Prizes: Twelve (12) winners will receive one (1) hardcover book Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Ian Nathan (entries through social media channels)
  • Prizes: Four (4) winners will receive one (1) hardcover book Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Ian Nathan (entries through CinemaParadiso.co.uk sign up form) plus two (2) surprise DVDs
  • Prizes cannot be transferred, redeemed for cash, or substituted by winner
  • Winners will be directly contacted through private messages or provided e-mail address when possible
Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

BAFTA Nominations in 2017

We’ve prepared something special for you! Win 6 months of free subscription by guessing BAFTA winners, all you have to do is vote on each category. Whoever predicts the highest number of winners will get 6 months of free rentals with CinemaParadiso.co.uk.

The awards season is heating up with BAFTAs approaching fast on February 12. Will this year’s EE British Academy Film Awards follow The Golden Globes suit on the road to the Oscars? We can only try to predict and cheer for our favourite nominees. Here we’re presenting you those who just might bring that award home.

La La Land (2016)

La La Land is at the top of every list at this moment, and it comes to BAFTA with 11 nominations! These include Best Picture, Director for Damien Chazelle, Actor for Ryan Gosling, Actress for Emma Stone, Original Screenplay again for Chazelle, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design, Score, and Sound. It’s safe to say it covered all major categories and it is going to be the winner of the night.

Still from La La Land

Arrival (2016)

Sharing the spot with Nocturnal Animals, they’re both coming to BAFTAs with 9 nominations. It’s worth mentioning that both films are starring Amy Adams, and yet no Oscar nomination for her. Hopefully, BAFTAs will show her more love. Arrival is nominated for Best Picture, Director for Denis Villeneuve, Actress for Amy Adams, Best Adapted Screenplay for Eric Heisserer, Cinematography, Film Editing, Score, Sound, and Visual Effects.

Still from Arrival

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

As mentioned above, Nocturnal Animals earned 9 BAFTA nominations this year. A lot of these categories are shared with the two biggest films of the year, and unfortunately there can be only one winner. Nocturnal Animals is nominated in categories Director for Tom Ford, Actor for Jake Gyllenhaal, Supporting Actor for Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Adapted Screenplay again for Tom Ford, Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup & Hair, Production Design, and Score.

Still from Nocturnal Animals

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Manchester by the Sea is in the mid-number of BAFTA nominations with 6 categories. A bit of trivia, if Casey Affleck wins his first Oscar, he and his sibling Ben will be the first Oscar winning brothers. Manchester by the Sea is up for Picture, Director for Kenneth Lonergan, Actor for Casey Affleck, Supporting Actress for Michelle Williams, Original Screenplay again for Lonergan and Film Editing.

Still from Manchester by the Sea

I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Ken Loach’s praised film got five BAFTA nominations, alongside Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, Hacksaw Ridge, and Lion. I, Daniel Blake is nominated in following categories: Best Picture, Director for already mentioned Ken Loach, Supporting Actress for Hayley Squires, Original Screenplay for Paul Laverty, and British Film. A film worth watching before the big ceremony!

Still from I, Daniel Blake

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Latest J.K. Rowling’s adaptation got 5 nominations as well. This was expected with it being “home-made” film and being a prequel to the Harry Potter franchise. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is nominated in the categories for Costume Design, Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects, and British Film.

Still from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

It seems the film industry is welcoming back Mel Gibson and rightly so, his new directorial work Hacksaw Ridge earned five BAFTA nominations. There’s no Director nomination in there, but still it’s good being nominated for Actor (Andrew Garfield), Adapted Screenplay (Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight), Film Editing, Make Up & Hair, and Sound.

Still from Hacksaw Ridge

Lion (2016)

One of the films with the most intriguing premise, Lion is also nominated in five categories, including Supporting Actor for Dev Patel, Supporting Actress for Nicole Kidman, Adapted Screenplay for Luke Davies, Cinematography, and Score.

Still from Lion

Florence Foster Jenkins is probably unexpectedly nominated for 4 BAFTAs. Well, it’s starring Meryl Streep and award nominations for her are almost a given, but this time it was a nice comeback for Hugh Grant! Aside Actress and Supporting Actor, Florence Foster Jenkins is also nominated for Costume Design and Make Up & Hair.

Still from Florence Foster Jenkins

Much talked about Moonlight is in the same group with 4 nominations. The categories covered Picture, Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, Supporting Actress for Naomie Harris, and Original Screenplay for Barry Jenkins. Is it possible Moonlight wins best picture in the race with Arrival and La La Land?

Still from Moonlight

What rarely happens to comic book films, happened to Doctor Strange – it’s nominated in three categories: Make Up & Hair, Production Design, and Visual Effects. They all are maybe technical categories, but it’s also a nice kudos to the cast and crew of the film.

Still from Doctor Strange

Hell or High Water, a wonderful contemporary western, got nominations for Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Original Screenplay (Taylor Sheridan) and Cinematography. This is also the biggest indie hit of 2016. Another one with three nominations is Natalie Portman’s Jackie that got her a nomination for Actress, along with Costume Design and Score.

Still from Jackie

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is alone in the group with two BAFTA nominations which include Make Up & Hair and Visual Effects – categories in which films like this prevail. Finishing with one BAFTA nominations are Allied for Costume Design, Captain Fantastic for actor Viggo Mortensen, Deepwater Horizon for Sound, Fences for actress Viola Davies, The Girl on the Train for actress Emily Blunt, Hail, Caesar! for Production Design, Hidden Figures for Adapted Screenplay, and The Jungle Book for Visual Effects.

Still from The Jungle Book

These are all major categories covered. What do you think, will there be surprises or, as expected, Arrival and La La Land will be the big winners? Reach out to us on social media and share your opinion!

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

5 Inspirational Indie Films to Beat January Blues

January 16 is on the record as the most depressing day of the year. For many reasons according to the statistics, but it seems breaking the bank on holiday gifts and our new year’s resolutions top the list. That’s why we’re bringing you these 5 inspirational indie films to beat January blues! Watching good films is the best distraction from these possibly dreary days and we guarantee they’ll make you feel better. Let’s start!

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a true Wes Anderson styled comedy extraordinaire. The story follow the (mis)adventures of Gustave H, concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel while the plot is set between two World Wars in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. Gustave H’s story is also Zero Moustafa’s, the lobby boy who throughout the film becomes Gustave’s most trusted friend.

The film won 4 Oscars which acknowledges its genius, or that of Wes Anderson to be precise. This cinematic gem dazzles visually and emotionally with its offbeat quirkiness, and even though the strict director’s path of his previous titles, this is considered his best work yet. He has mastered his vision to deliver us moving, vibrant and hilarious watch. Delight indeed topped with an awarding winning cast: Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton and many more, too many to mention.

Still from The Grand Budapest Hotel

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

It seems every one of these films includes a journey of some sorts with a realization at the end of the road. Little Miss Sunshine is no different, but its plot is quite unique. When young Olive is invited to attend the pageant (Little Miss Sunshine) in California, the whole family – some reluctantly – comes together in their rusty VW bus to accompany her.

The Hoovers are an endearing family full of quirks. Father Richard is unsuccessfully trying to sell his motivational programme, mum Sheryl forces honesty in all aspects, depressed uncle… And then there are junior Hoovers, little beauty queen Olive and her nihilist teenager brother Dwayne who has taken a vow of silence. The family is completed with their foul-mouthed grandfather. The superb cast includes Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin and Paul Dano.

Still from Little Miss Sunshine

Captain Fantastic (2016)

Captain Fantastic is categorized as a drama, but there’s a lot of hope there. Viggo Mortensen plays the head of the house (or tent in this case), family of six children who go through the most tragic event in their lives. But they’re not an ordinary family, Ben has based their off the grid days on teaching them survivalist skills, rigorous training and home-schooled education.

Bodevan, Kielyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja and Nai are unique because their parents made up the names – there’s only one of each in the world. After the tragedy, family goes on a trip with a mission, but Ben and his children are faced with challenging “real” world and their whole life’s philosophy is put to the test.

Still from Captain Fantastic

Lost in Translation (2003)

Lost in Translation is basically a must-see on every film list. Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson bring us two now iconic roles to the screen, lonely and unsatisfied people lost in the foreign place. Bob Harris, faded film star doing whiskey commercial in Tokyo, and Charlotte, neglected by her photographer husband in Japan on business, meet in a hotel bar and start an unexpected friendship.

They’re both feeling lost in the city surrounded by cultural and language barriers. Sofia Coppola’s second feature film as a director shows us that it’s sometimes easier to connect to a complete stranger and tell them your thoughts than people close to you. Intimate but not quite there yet, the two of them go on a journey through Tokyo’s many sights, sounds and people.

Still from Lost in Translation

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

This endearing coming-of-age film is based on a bestseller novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky first published in 2011. Its author also served as a screenwriter and director, and it turned out well as a feel-good film about an introverted 15-year old Charlie who finds comfort with his new friends, struggling with thoughts of his best friend’s suicide, his own mental illness and being in love.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower deal with all these ordinary and extraordinary circumstances in a life of a teenager. Charlie is trying to find a group to belong to, and we can’t help but sympathize with this troubled and lovable teen. The young cast is brilliantly working with Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. It’s visible how much Stephen Chbosky cares about his book and triumphantly manages to transfer the emotions and characters to the big screen.

Still from The Perks of Being a Wallflower

How many of these have you seen? How many are on your watch-list? Find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your thoughts.

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

Oscar Nominations 2017 and Our Predictions

The race for the golden statue is heating up after a season of film festivals and numerous other awards, a lot of them already presented people’s and critic’s favourites. The one award every filmmaker, thespian – anyone involved in the film industry – craves is yet to come.

The 89th Academy Awards ceremony is set for 26th February, traditionally held at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The second most important date related to the Oscars (or to some the most important) is 24th January – the date when Oscar nominations are announced.

So, who’ll make the final cut? Let’s look back on 2016 and film favourites. We’ll stick to the few most anticipated categories because there are just too many to cover in one article.


Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. It’s nominated for 6 Golden Globes and Mahershala Ali is a strong contender in the Oscar race as well.

Martin Scorsese’s Silence starring Andrew Garfield which premiered in Vatican City, is already the talk of the town even though it’s only been released for a few days. Besides Garfield, Liam Neeson and Adam Driver make a quite powerful casting. Definitely in the race for multiple nominations.

Still from Silence


Lion starring Dev Patel also comes into play as a contemporary true story tearjerker about a man who uses Google Earth to find the family he lost when he was 5 years old. A unique story indeed. Could be in the running for the best adapted screenplay as well.

Two-time Oscar winner, Denzel Washington brings us Fences in his new directorial work starring alongside wonderful Viola Davis.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling reunited for a musical romance La La Land which is with Manchester By the Sea and Arrival, one of the most talked about and liked film by audiences and critics alike.

Still from La La Land


For Nocturnal Animals Tom Ford could be shoulder to shoulder with Clint Eastwood’s Sully, possibly Arrival, Moonlight, and less talked about Fences and Hidden Figures. Nocturnal Animals is building the buzz around its somewhat unusual story where an art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale. Amy Adams has so far been nominated five times and didn’t win any golden statues. Could Arrival and/or Nocturnal Animals be her first win?

It looks Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood can do no wrong. Sully is a film that’ll probably never be shown as an in-flight entertainment. You may recall this sensational news when a pilot, nicknamed Sully, saved passengers by landing on the Hudson River. Even though the film is well-review, its nominations are considered a long shot.

Still from Sully


Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi thriller Arrival starring Amy Adams (also in Nocturnal Animals) is strong in the race for multiple Academy awards. Arrival is mostly praised for creating an intricate alien language, but everything about this film is quite unique including storytelling. Like Interstellar, it asks for a repeated viewing to truly experience what it offers.

Manchester By the Sea is a drama starring Casey Affleck, best actor nominee frontrunner, and with a strong supporting role from Michelle Williams. The story is focused on an uncle who is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies. Kenneth Lonergan could be nominated in the best director category for Manchester By the Sea.

Still from Manchester by the Sea


Then there’s Jackie starring Natalie Portman as JFK’s widow, a film which has already won a few awards and is nominated for a Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a motion picture.

Mel Gibson is back directing with praised Hacksaw Ridge, a tough World War II film starring Andrew Garfield (up for nominations in Silence). It is yet to be seen how the Hollywood feels about it after its director’s previous trespasses.

Empowering female driven drama, Hidden Figures is about three African-American NASA geniuses and stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Jonelle Monae. It’s already nominated for three Golden Globes and the future looks bright for this historic drama.

Still from Hidden Figures


The 2016’s biggest indie hit is a contemporary western Hell or High Water, directed by David Mackenzie and starring a talented cast including Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. It is exciting to again see a western that actually can get an Oscar nomination.

Honourable mention goes to Love and Friendship adapted from Jane Austen’s novella, starring well-reviewed Kate Beckinsale (she does need it after the enormous flop that is Underworld: Blood Wars).

Another one is always incredible Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic, playing a devoted father raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education.

Still from Captain Fantastic


Some of the biggest Disney films of the year are immensely successful sequel Finding Dory and Kipling’s children’s classic adaptation of Jungle Book. A live-action child inside an animated film? Yes, it worked in the capable hands of director Jon Favreau.

The biggest animated hit this year was Zootopia (aka Zootropolis) by far, nominated for a Golden Globe and is among top rated animated film in the history. Recently Moana, set in ancient Polynesia, took box office by surprise, but also in the race is The Red Turtle – dialogue-less film following a castaway on a deserted tropical island.

Still from Moana


Even though Florence Foster Jenkins didn’t do well critics-wise, a strong frontrunner from this film isn’t Meryl Streep as most would assume. It’s actually Hugh Grant for the supporting role of the titled character’s husband.

This year is a good year for Scandinavian cinema, or it may seem judging by the possible foreign films nominee candidates. Norwegian The King Choice, Land of Mine from Denmark and Swedish film A Man Called Ove are among likely nominees for the foreign film category.

Still from Land of Mine

Other contenders are Canadian It’s Only the End of the World, The Salesman from Iran, My Life as a Zucchini from Switzerland, Russian Paradise and Tanna from Australia.


There is yet to be seen what films the Academy might snub, but there are a few that haven’t delivered on their hyped promise – one of them being Allied, World War II spy romance starring Brad Pitt and currently omnipresent Marion Cotillard.

This also applies to Rules Don’t Apply, Warren Beatty’s retrospect at 50’s Hollywood.

The list is long and could be longer! We apologize if we left out your favourite! Reach out to us on social media and share your opinion on possible Oscar nominations.

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

Most popular 2016 releases on DVD & Blu-ray

The end of the year is just around the corner and while welcoming 2017 with open arms, we want to take a look back at 2016 in film on CinemaParadiso.co.uk. We’ve compiled for you a list of most popular and highest rated 2016 titles released on DVD and Blu-ray up to now.

Here are your favourites according to their popularity and rating combined, and what our critics and your reviews had to say (in no particular order):

Zootropolis (aka Zootopia)

According to the critic Mark McPherson, the accompanying pop song of Zootopia is Shakira’s “Try Everything” and the lyrics couldn’t be more fitting. Here is an animated film that is willing to go further in every aspect of conceiving a city of anthropomorphic animals. A lesser movie would just make a few gags about species interacting with one another and call it a day. But Zootopia actually takes the time to fully define its own world with details big and small. How could a city of nearly every animal exist in the same climate? Separate the city into zones of different land types. These details may seem like overkill for a bit of animated family fun, but the dedication to world building helps sell Zootopia’s setting and story. Also available for rental on Blu-ray 3D.

Still from Zootropolis

Notes on Blindness

This is a story of John Hull, a man who lost his sight in 1980’s and in an effort to overcome such a difficult obstacle, John started to keep and audio diary. Coming from his original recordings, Notes on Blindness delivers us one of the best documentaries in 2016. In an almost poetic manner, it guides us through John’s loss, rebirth and renewal – where he discovers a whole new world beyond the sense of sight. With a dark premise that starts with him losing his sight just days before the birth of his son, we end up feeling uplifted which needs to reminds us not to worry about the trivialities and enjoy in the everyday beauty life gives us.

Still from Notes on Blindness

Game of Thrones: Series 6

The only TV entry goes to the Game of Thrones newest series. It’d be hard to imagine any end-of-year list without mentioning it. Every year millions of fans eagerly await the next developments in the series. After all, it is most-watched series in HBO history and a true worldwide phoenomenon. The shocking ending of series 5, including Jon Snow’s fate, made us all anxious for the new season. Familiar faces form new alliances while new characters emerge to challenge the balance of power in the east, west, north and south. We won’t spoil anything for you, if you still haven’t seen it.

Still from Game of Thrones: Series 6

Deadpool

As Mark McPherson writes, there are at least seven movies in 2016 that are based on comic book superheroes. With their relentless explosions and one-liners, it’s going to be an exhausting year. Thankfully, the first superhero movie of the year is a refreshing bit of satire that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Deadpool is aware of its audience, its formula and its universe, spitting in the eye of each one with a vulgar smile. The concept of Deadpool is just plain fun. He’s an anti-hero that cracks more jokes than Peter Parker, kills more baddies than Rambo and breaks the fourth wall more than any other movie character in recent memory.

Still from Deadpool

Captain America: Civil War

Mark McPherson notes, the directing Russo brothers manage to add a grand dose of excitement and surprise to the superhero genre once again in Captain America: Civil War. The action scenes are far more than just a series of explosions as our heroes spend more time fighting hand-to-hand than with guns and energy blasts from a distance. For a movie that boasts flying robots, shrinking men and otherworldly beings firing lasers out of their foreheads, most of these practical stunts are rather impressive. The arc of Captain America’s distrust versus Iron Man’s paranoia would be enough for the script, but I was astonished at how well the B-plot arcs held up. Also available on Blu-ray 3D!

Still from Captain America: Civil War

Me Before You

As the critic Adrijan Arsovski writes, Me Before You is a charming little movie with a rather innocent message that spans across cultures and teaches people to always better upon themselves, challenge their beliefs and live boldly. Yup, it’s preachy, but then again – who isn’t these days? When synthesized, Jojo Moyes’ novel that came to fruition by director Thea Sharrock is a strange mix of romantic comedy, drama and tear-jerker all at the same time. It dances between genres and conventions and never truly finds itself amidst the melodrama that is plaguing its narrative cohesion. Was this intentional? Probably not, as Me Before You is taking itself rather seriously for what it’s actually trying to portray.

Still from Me Before You

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years

A rockumentary this way comes, the Beatles capture the attention as the icons they are once again. This is also a second documentary on your list with the criteria involving popularity and rating, which is a wonderful achievement. This particular Beatles documentary focuses on their touring years from the perspective of the filmmaker Ron Howard. Filled with original interviews, footage, live performances, Ron Howard give us an insight into this extraordinary adventure called the Beatles. As is says, the documentary covers their touring years from 1962 to 1966, from the Cavern Club in Liverpool to their final concert in San Francisco.

Still from The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years

War Dogs

For the first half of the picture, he approaches the material with an engaging pace and tone as well as injecting in his own brand of humor. David (Miles Teller) is a 20-something with a dream to run his own business and a wife to support him. He makes the mistake, however, of going into the bedsheet business for nursing homes that simply don’t care about quality. With bill piling up and a baby on the way, David seeks a quick means of making a living outside of his depressing career in massage. His prayers are answered when his old buddy Efraim (Jonah Hill) pops up to inform him of his gun running business and that he needs a partner. Reviewed by Mark McPherson, War Dogs is also available on 4K Blu-ray.

Still from War Dogs

Star Trek Beyond

Mark McPherson writes that this is very much the Star Trek picture everyone has been waiting for from this fresh, young crew. Past the soft rebooting and needless amounts of nostalgic winking, the ensemble of the USS Enterprise can finally do their own thing on that five year mission they kept talking about it. There’s no shameless insertions of obvious references and no shoehorned cameos by the original Trek crew. For the first time, the new Trek has taken off the training wheels and ready to become its own original picture. You can also enjoy in this title on Blu-ray 3D to make your Star Trek experience even better.

Still from Star Trek Beyond

The Nice Guys

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe appear together as a pulp-noir detective duo that feels long time overdue. Their chemistry drives this feature toward the inevitable, albeit subversive conclusion that leaves no one indifferent, except – for the irony to be even bigger – themselves. The two exchange banter like they’ve known each other for the whole of their lives, both on-screen and off of it. A simple glance is all that takes for the two to understand each other, without even uttering a single word. A comedy of wits, subversion and general stupidity, The Nice Guys is a thorough examination of clumsy characters acting in relation to bigger events than what they can ever comprehend. Reviewed by Adrijan Arsovski.

Still from The Nice Guys

Finding Dory

Dory quickly became a standout character that stole the show in Finding Nemo. How could anyone forget her goofy whale talk or her mantra of keep on swimming? Dory has problems with memory as she becomes easily distracted and forgetful. But when fleeting memories of her parents begin to surface, Dory enlists the aid of Marlin and Nemo to help find them. And though Dory does become lost in her journey that takes her from the ocean to an aquarium, the A plot is finding Dory’s parents so that there’s something for Dory, Marlin and Nemo to do in this adventure. Reviewed by Mark McPherson, and also available on Blu-ray 3D.

Still from Finding Dory

Eddie the Eagle

As PV writes in his user review, film makers will exaggerate things to fit the story – in this case make out Eddie the Eagle to be utterly useless (when in fact he was in the UK ski team before he became a ski jumper – as he said himself on a recent radio show plugging his book). But film makers will always do this to make the eventual success all the more wonderfully improbable. CinemaParadiso user DJ adds in his review, a story of a man fulfilling his boyhood dreams. Obviously the filmmakers have made some additions and stretched the truth a little but it does not detract from making this a very enjoyable family film with humor, drama and an inclination to root for the hero against the “establishment”.

Still from Eddie the Eagle

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book has finally received the film adaptation it deserves. There always seemed to be a little something off about every interpretation from Disney’s animated picture to Disney’s live-action attempt of the 1990’s. Sometimes the animals just didn’t look right and other times the story just wasn’t hitting the right notes. But Jon Favreau seems to have ironed out all the kinks of bringing The Jungle Book to the big screen. In Favreau’s take, we’re presented with a fusion of both the books and original animated movie. There’s a sense of treaties and hierarchy among the animal society that echoes the dark tones of the book, but still takes the time enjoy a musical number about the bear necessities. Reviewed by Mark McPherson, and you can also watch the Jungle Book on Blu-ray 3D.

Still from The Jungle Book

10 Cloverfield Lane

In the wise words of the critic Mark McPherson, sometimes it’s a good thing when a spin-off veers wildly off course from its predecessor. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a perfect example as a spiritual continuance of 2008’s Cloverfield. While its predecessor was a giant monster movie shot in the found-footage format, this picture ditches that tired cinematography device and even the giant monster angle. 10 Cloverfield Lane is actually a genuine surprise of a film in that it’s a highly effective bottle movie built atop marquee value. Is it a shameless attempt to bank off a name in order to get butts in the seats. You bet, but those suckered into seeing this movie will not be disappointed.

Still from 10 Cloverfield Lane

That’s about it for our end of the year list in the category of most popular and highest rated 2016 releases on DVD and Blu-ray. How many of these have you seen? How many are on your watch-list? Find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share what you think of this year’s best titles.

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

13 Films to Watch This Christmas

Christmas time is upon us and the warmth of home is calling us to escape the cold outside. Is there any better opportunity to take some free time and enjoy in the magic that only Christmas themed films can provide? Take a journey with us and meet some of the classics, films we love to watch again and again, and maybe stumble upon a few gems you haven’t seen before.

13. Holiday Inn (1942)

The main cast includes Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds, and if that alone isn’t the reason enough to see it, Holiday Inn won an Oscar for the best original song “White Christmas”. The story revolves around Jim Hardy who leaves his showbiz life to open an inn in Connecticut. Jim and Ted Hanover, his former partner, fall for the same girl, which turns into a love triangle adorable to watch. Holiday Inn is a delightful film to see, and it’s full of spectacular song and dance numbers.

Still from Holiday Inn

12. A Christmas Tale (2008)

French film Un conte de Noël is another one that assembles talent-filled cast including Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric. A Christmas Tale is a drama spiced with black humour about family reunion for Christmas. As it goes, past tensions and affections reappear and we discover why the matriarch actually wanted to gather her family, aside from the holidays.

Still from A Christmas Tale

11. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

It’s a Wonderful Life is a cinematic Christmas must-see and we all probably know how the story goes. What is so appealing about this film? Maybe it’s the angelic intervention when a heavenly being helps a desperate man (James Stewart) by showing him what would his little town and people be like if he never existed. This fantasy drama is about finding a purpose in life; holiday classic and probably the most heartwarming film made by director Frank Capra.

Still from It's a Wonderful Life

10. A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2011)

John Choo and Kal Penn return in their recognizable roles of Harold and Kumar six years after their last adventure, this time in A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas. Add to that Neil Patrick Harris playing himself, a prize Christmas tree going up in smoke and a rather stoned adventure of getting a replacement tree – and you get an amusing holiday comedy worth of time to sit back and relax. But remember, you probably shouldn’t watch this film with the whole family.

Still from A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas

9. Die Hard (1988)

This action film is a beloved Christmas classic to a lot of people. The now iconic role of John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, is one of the most known action heroes. Die Hard can be and is classified as a Christmas film because the whole story happens on Christmas Eve. While he’s waiting for his wife to finish with her office party, a group of terrorists storm and take control of the building. That’s when John McClane’s Christmas spirit comes into play. In another iconic role is Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, the terrorist leader.

Still from Die Hard

8. Christmas with the Coopers (2015)

This pick is one of the newer films on our list. Christmas with the Coopers is a story in which a husband and wife, Sam Cooper (John Goodman) and Charlotte (Diane Keaton), have only one wish and that is for their festive feast to go perfectly – which rarely happens. When families gather, old dramas often show their face and bickering becomes an essential, all leading to a not-so-perfect evening. Even though the synopsis may seem a bit dark, this is actually a hilarious holiday film in which prevail surprising family bonds and the spirit of Christmas.

Still from Christmas with the Coopers

7. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Often cited as a Halloween classic, this is actually more of a Christmas film. Even though The Nightmare Before Christmas starts in Halloween Town with its residents, as the story evolves, they come to find their holiday spirit alongside the leading man (or skeleton) Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King. He’s the one who shows them what Christmas is all about, no matter how hard it is for them to fathom that kind of joy. The film itself is enhanced with one of the best original soundtracks, courtesy of Danny Elfman.

Still from The Nightmare Before Christmas

6. Get Santa (2014)

Jim Broadbent leads the cast in Get Santa, a comedy made for the whole family. What to do when it’s only days before Christmas and reindeer are roaming the streets of London? Santa has crash landed and 9 year-old Tom finds him in his shed. Tom and his father try to help Santa get back home in time for Christmas, but then the unexpected happens and Santa’s arrested and thrown into prison. Get Santa is a funny family film about father and son bonding while trying to save Christmas.

Still from Get Santa

5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Another Tim Burton film made it to our list. While The Nightmare Before Christmas is based on his shorter work, Edward Scissorhands is actually directed and written by Tim Burton. When the inventor (Vincent Price) suddenly dies, his creation Edward is left unfinished and ends up with sharp shears for hands. One day Dianne West’s character finds him and kindly takes him home. Here starts Edward’s real adventure, breaking stereotypes, and surviving in Suburbia as someone out of ordinary. The film’s plot stretches for a longer period of time, but memorable final scenes are set in the snowy atmosphere of Christmas.

Still from Edward Scissorhands

4. Go (1999)

Go found its place in the Christmas film category because it all starts on Christmas Eve. The film itself has an interesting storytelling of the events after a drug deal, told from three different points of view and every one of them leads to a Christmas rave. Ronna (Sarah Polley) tries to make her first drug deal happen before being evicted and is accompanied by her friend Claire (Katie Holmes) who becomes a reluctant partner in crime. Go is an entertaining Christmas film, a clever black comedy, for someone looking to watch a different kind of holiday film.

Still from Go

3. White Christmas (1954)

Bing Crosby is once again on our list, this time opposite Danny Kaye in a holiday treat called White Christmas. This musical romantic comedy follows a song-and-dance duo who romantically fall for a sister act team, and somewhere along the way they end up trying to save Vermont inn of their former commanding general. The Vermont Inn set is a refurbished version of the inn from Holiday Inn. It may be a bit cheesy and at times too sweet, but it does bring the holiday cheer all the way.

Still from White Christmas

2. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (2010)

Highly praised animated film based on the novel of the same name, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, starts ten days before Christmas, when Haruhi has an idea to do a Christmas party in the club room of the SOS Brigade. Things start to turn weird when Kyon wakes up the next day and finds himself in an alternate universe in which Haruki doesn’t exist and nobody remembers her. What could have happened?

Still from The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

1. Lethal Weapon (1987)

Lethal Weapon brings us probably the most known comedy/action duo – Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Both are cops, one doesn’t want to work with a partner and the other can’t wait for his retirement. It’s maybe hard to tell that this film is a Christmastime film, but actually the opening scene is set to “Jingle Bell Rock.” There are other Christmas scenes in the film, but because it’s L.A. and there’s no snowflake in sight, people often disregard it. It is an action packed holiday film, just like Die Hard.

Still from Lethal Weapon

You’ve read our list and we want to ask you: what are your Christmas favourites? What’s the most uncommon film that’s regarded a holiday title?

We at CinemaParadiso.co.uk are thrilled to bring holiday cheer to your doorstep so be sure to check out our new offer where you can get extra for your subscription, or get a free trial and share the experience with fellow film lovers.

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

11 Horror Films Inspired By Real People

Happy Halloween

The month of October is the perfect to set aside some free time and watch a good horror film. It’s the time leading up to Halloween when everything seems a bit scarier.

So, if fictional events can be terrifying, what about those inspired by real people? It takes the watching experience to a whole new level when you’re aware someone out there actually was involved or committed these acts of horror… Here are our 11 film recommendations for this Halloween.

11. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Released from prison following his mother’s murder, Henry supplements his job as an exterminator with a series of violent, indiscriminate murders. Crazed drug dealer and fellow jailbird Otis provides Henry with a willing accomplice. As Henry begins to form a tentative bond with Otis sister Becky events spiral towards a chilling and violent conclusion.

Henry’s character is loosely based on the real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who claims to have killed up to 3,000 people. It remains unverified, but he was at the center of 11 murder cases. Also, he blamed being bullied as a child as part of the reason he became a killer (later recanted his statement for serial killings).

Still from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

 

10. The Exorcist

The belief in evil – and that evil can be cast out. From these two strands of faith, author William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin wove The Exorcist, the frightening and realistic story of an innocent girl inhabited by a malevolent entity.

Based on a book which is on the other hand based on real life of a boy named Roland Doe who was possessed by demons in 1949. Roland Doe’s exorcism was so terrifying that there have been books written on people who witnessed it.

Still from The Exorcist

 

9. Dahmer

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (Jeremy Renner) was vilified when authorities discovered he’d murdered, dismembered, and even tried to consume the bodies of 17 young men in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Inspired by true life events, it takes you into the demented world of this lonely factory worker and examines the ways his twisted personal pain led to the most self-destructive extremes of human cruelty.

Still from Dahmer

 

8. Texas Chain Saw Massacre

First released to a shocked public in 1974, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a deserved reputation as a compelling part of a new wave of American horror films.Terrifyingly dark and based on factual events, Tobe Hooper’s controversial and chillingly atmospheric film involves the tragedy that befell a group of five teenagers one summer afternoon.

This film is loosely based on America’s infamous serial killer Ed Gein and nine human skin masks found in his possession at the time of his arrest.

Still from Texas Chain Saw Massacre

 

7. The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Two young lovers are savagely beaten and tortured on a back country road in Arkansas; three weeks later, two more people are killed in a similar way. When Deputy Norman Ramsey fears a pattern is developing he calls upon the help of Texas Ranger J.D. Morales.

A series of murders in the 1940s, called the Texarkana Moonlight Murders, were carried out by the so-called Phantom Killer. Over a ten week period, the Phantom Killer murdered eight people… and the killer was never found.

Still from The Town That Dreaded Sundown

 

6. The Amityville Horror

There’s no place like home…for blood-curdling horror! James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger fall prey to the powers of darkness in this terrifying tale of a house possessed by unspeakable evil.

The film is based on the events that took place in 1975 at 112 Ocean Avenue, the house of the Lutz family in Amityville. One of the most talked-about haunted-house stories of all time, The Amityville Horror will hit you where you live!

Still from The Amityville Horror

 

5. Wolf Creek

30,000 people are reported missing in Australia every year. Most are found within a month. Some are never seen again. Three young backpackers – Liz, Kristy and Ben – set out to explore Wolf Creek, a remote volcanic crater deep in the Australian outback.

Miles from anywhere their car breaks down and, as night falls, the trio are forced to accept help from a passing stranger. This film is loosely based on two men, Ivan Milat and Bradley John Murdoch and their crimes.

Still from Wolf Creek

 

4. The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door-unfolds in a quiet suburban town in the summer of 1958. 12-year old David Moran discovers that his neighbours have adopted two girls recently orphaned in a terrible car crash, leaving them in the care of their mentally unstable aunt Ruth. Aunt’s hostility towards the two girls soon escalates from verbal insults to physical abuse, involving her three young sons, the neighbourhood children.

It’s loosely based on a real life victim, Sylvia Likens, who was tortured and eventually killed by Gertrude Baniszewski in 1965.

Still from The Girl Next Door

 

3. The Hills Have Eyes

The Carter family are crossing the desert wastes of American heading for California when they are attacked by a group of savage cannibals. With the aid of their Alsatian dogs, the part of the Carter family start to turn the tables and revering to their own primitive instincts, they start to wipe out the cannibals.

Wes Craven wrote the script after getting inspired by the legend of Alexander ‘Sawney’ Bean, the head of a 16th century clan of cave-dwellers. The legend is that they lived in the caves for 25 years, and ate estimated 1,000 people before they were found out.

Still from The Hills Have Eyes

 

2. The Conjuring

Based on true events, ‘The Conjuring’ tells the thrilling story of ghost hunters Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson), who help a family terrorised by an evil spirit in their mysterious farmhouse.

Ed and Lorraine Warren are real life paranormal investigators and they’re inspiration once again in The Conjuring 2, investigating the Enfield Haunting – the most documented case in paranormal history.

Still from The Conjuring

 

1. The Dentist

Dr Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen) is a Beverly Hills dentist and is mad about perfection. Everything in his world, from his wardrobe to his marriage, has to be as clean, neat and orderly as a row of perfect teeth and when one fateful day things aren’t just so, the good doctor turns nasty… very, very nasty.

The film is based on a dentist who turned out to be a serial killer. Not a nice thought for your next visit to the dentist?

Still from The Dentist
Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

15 Romantic Films for Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine's Day

It’s another year where chocolates and flowers skyrocket off the shelves with every couple celebrating the day of romance. It’s a busy little day for specializing in all the lovey-dovey with the potential for grand public gestures and decadent dinners. But what happens when your plans fall through or you don’t happen to have that special someone in your life quite yet? Why not stay in and take in a romantic movie. Forget all the dressing up and hectic scheduling of dinner plans and horse carriage rides. Forget scouring dating sites and ploughing through your contact list finding something to do. Relax on the couch, pop in one of these romantic movies and gorge yourself on those heart-shaped containers of candy. Your favourite restaurant may be all booked up and your future sweetheart may still be waiting out there for you, but these movies will always be here. Not to mention Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year so that should entitle you to a little bit of relaxation.

15. The Spectacular Now

If the usual crop of romance aimed at the younger crowd seem far too artificial, The Spectacular Now is a welcoming breath of fresh air. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley play an unlikely pair of high school seniors that end up falling for each other. What follows is a high school romance that taps into all the pains and joys of youthful love that only writer Michael Weber (500 Days of Summer) could deliver. None of the dialogue feels forced and none of their actions feel manufactured. As far as young romances about transitioning into adulthood go, The Spectacular Now is one of the best for not condescending to its demographic.

Still from The Spectacular Now
14. Warm Bodies

Sure, we could put Twilight on this list as a shameless bit of horror romance, but Warm Bodies manages to capitalize on the cross-genre experience with the right amount of comedy. A zombie finds himself attracted to a human female in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. Evolving past his base needs for human flesh, the zombie dubbed R learns to better himself for his Julie and perhaps cure the world of its bloody epidemic. Warm Bodies is not the first film to attempt such a concept, but it is the one horror-romance with the most charm and tenderness to actually run with such a love story and make it competent. It’s an easy recommendation as an off-beat romance for the horror lover.

Still from Warm Bodies
13. Sleepless in Seattle

If An Affair to Remember seems a tad too dated, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan provide a suitable modern remake of the 1957 classic. Hanks plays a single father seeking a better life after the death of his wife. His little boy calls into a radio program for help getting his dad a wife. Enter Meg Ryan as a Baltimore journalist genuinely interested in the man despite currently being married. It’s a long-distance love that eventually leads up to the infamous Valentine’s Day convergence atop the Empire State Building. With a fateful meeting and a cute kid, it’s an easy play for the heart.

Still from Sleepless in Seattle
12. Enough Said

One of James Gandolfini’s last films also happens to be his most tender performance for a man best known as an on-screen mobster. He connects with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as they are both divorced parents who begin to connect with wonderful chemistry. While Dreyfus perfectly plays a woman still hung-up on her ex, Gandolfini displays a kinder and gentler side as a sweetly funny man trying to deal with his empty nest. With its surprisingly sharp wit and genuine comedy, Enough Said is an exceptional bit of romance for the older audience.

Still from Enough Said
11. The Fault in Our Stars

Love comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be found anywhere be it a high school dance or, in the case of The Fault in Our Stars, a cancer support group. Hazel and Augustus are two patients who may have different types of cancer, but share in their love literature. Confused about the ending of a certain novel, the two set off on a trip to Amsterdam for the author to tell them in person. Without going too over the top with its dramatic scenario, the romantic journey of these two is treated with intelligence and humour that the sadness of a tragic end doesn’t feel so artificial. It’s a worthy tear-jerker for all its ambition.

Still from The Fault in Our Stars
10. The Best of Me

Nicholas Sparks’ bittersweet romance novels seem tailor made for Valentine’s Day since just about every film adaptation of his books is released around this time. The Best of Me is yet another title to add to that list. Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden play former high school sweethearts that find each other once again after 20 years apart. A friend’s funeral doesn’t exactly make for the best reunion and it turns out they both still have conflicting forces pushing them away from each other. Directed by Michael Hoffman, The Best of Me delivers on all the expected melodrama we’ve come to expect from a Nicholas Sparks story.

Still from The Best of Me
9. Say When

For the young woman who just isn’t quite ready for that big commitment, Say When offers up a pleasing bit of dramedy for the quarter-life crisis. Keira Knightley ends up making friends with a younger Chloe Grace Moretz when she finds herself pulling back from the future. She receives a proposal for marriage, but backs out into a world of playful childhood which will not last for long. Directed by Lynn Shelton, Say When is an all-too-relatable coming-of-age scenario for any woman on the brink of a romantic crossroads.

Still from Say When
8. When Harry Met Sally

Easily the most famous of all movie romances for its unforgettable deli scene about sexuality. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan play two very open individuals about how men and women connect. Over the course of a drive, they bounce around ideas regarding if sex can get in the way of the opposite sexes being just friends. Director Rob Reiner provides a personal touch having made this film after his recent divorce. The result is a romantic comedy with perfect chemistry and hilariously telling lines. It’s a film immortalized by one of cinema’s greatest punchlines “I’ll have what she’s having” in response to Sally faking an orgasm in a deli.

Still from When Harry Met Sally
7. P.S. I Love You

For the grieving widow or a lover who just wants to cry, P.S. I Love You carries the idea of how a loved one can stay with you long after their passing. Hilary Swank plays a wife who loses her husband Gerard Butler to a brain tumor. But after his passing, Butler leaves Swank a series of messages designed to help her climb out of her hole of sadness. Based on the best-selling novel by Cecelia Ahern, P.S. I Love You is a bit of a fantasy given how many messages Butler leaves behind, but what woman wouldn’t want this extra adventure to feel just a little bit closer after losing their own partner?

Still from P.S. I Love You
6. If Only

Jennifer Love Hewitt and Paul Nicholls connect as a couple in London. But when their storybook love is cut short by Hewitt’s passing, Nicholls is surprisingly given a second shot at love for one day. In what he believes to be his last day with the woman he loves, Nicholls takes Hewitt out on the town for the time of her life. Mostly ignored by critics, If Only is a bittersweet tale romance built for the tears by director Gil Junger (10 Things I Hate About You).

Still from If Only
5. The Notebook

When it comes to romantic tear-jerkers, The Notebook is the go-to title for weeping rivers. It’s a story of how the love of Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) can transcend several barriers. From ignorant parents to World War II to the unfortunate effects of dementia, these two always end up back in each other’s arms. For it’s tale of love that lasts the ages, The Notebook is sure to please all romantic viewers from the love-crazy teenagers to the cosy elderly couples.

Still from The Notebook
4. Love Actually

Though seemingly built more for the Christmas season, Love Actually is the romantic movie equal of a box of chocolates. You open it up and you’re presented with a variety of love tales. With more than a dozen different characters followed on Christmas in London, there is plenty to love in a stellar cast that includes Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman just to name a few. It’s a sweet bit of comforted joy presented by master romance director Richard Curtis (Notting Hill).

Still from Love Actually
3. Notting Hill

Continents collide when Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts fall for each other in Notting Hill. Rather than go straight for the sweet stuff, director Roger Michell teases the audience by letting their romance blossom on screen for a longer period of time than normal. The chemistry of a female movie star and a London bookseller plays out slowly, giving us plenty of time to buy into their characters as real people. For most audiences it would be enough to see Grant and Roberts hook up quickly on screen, but Notting Hill doesn’t skimp on the character development to make it believably evolve and be naturally funny.

Still from Notting Hill
2. The Vow

In another test-your-marriage scenario, a happily married couple is put to the test when the wife suffers memory loss from a car crash. Rachel McAdams plays the unlucky wife who cannot remember her husband played by Channing Tatum. She instead ends up falling for her former fiancé played by Scott Speedman, so it’s up to Tatum to romance his wife back into his arms. Based on the real life Carpenter couple, The Vow displays just how far a man will go to rebuild the woman he loves. A note to the guys to be ready for that moment after the movie where your partner asks if you would change anything about them. Take a cue from Tatum on this one.

Still from The Vow
1. Le Week-End

Who says romantic movies need to be relegated to the young and passionate? Le Week-End finds an English elderly couple played by Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent traveling to Paris. Their relationship is on the rocks, however, and the two find themselves bitterly bickering in the city of love. But some much needed spontaneity ends up rekindling some of that old spark. It doesn’t turn them into a rejuvenated couple overnight and still leaves some patches left to be mended, but these two ultimately end up falling for each other with all their faults. A fantastic recommendation for an older-aimed romantic comedy with a remarkable amount of honesty and emotion.

Still from Le Week-End
Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

Top 15 Must-See Christmas Films

Merry Christmas
Christmas time brings with it a wave of emotions. From the warm and joyful experience of cozying up by the fire to the depression and anxiety of the hectic shopping, it’s a holiday that consumes our lives and shapes our mentality for the winter season. A movie can be a great way to find some nourishment for whatever we’re feeling. Whether you want something light and fluffy or dark and cynical, here is a list of Christmas movies to fit just about any mood.

15. Arthur Christmas

Whereas most Christmas movies tend to display Santa as the magical brain behind a mostly one-man operation, Arthur Christmas takes a unique perspective of portraying the Christmas night gift giving act as a multi-person operation. The family unit that keeps the holiday going is only as strong as its weakest which happens to be the well-meaning Arthur. When one girl is missed by Santa Claus, Arthur decides to take it upon himself to dole out the final gifts of the night to one last child left high and dry. Per usual for an Aardman Studio production, Arthur Christmas is packed with plenty of sly wit and a genuinely warm and fuzzy tone. It takes an old myth and fixes it up with some new interpretations and charmingly lovable characters to carry out Santa’s will.

Still from Arthur Christmas
14. A Merry Christmas Miracle

In one of the final and more different roles of Robin Williams, a bitter father accompanies his son played by Joel McHale on a road trip to save his family Christmas. McHale plays the straight man to Williams’ grumpy old man persona. Throw in some scenes of port-o-potties and a drunken Santa Claus played by Oliver Platt and you have one crazy concoction of holiday madness. It’s certainly off-color with its various gross-out gags and strange characters peppered into the plot. At one point, Williams’ character decides the only way to deal with a Santa Claus they hit on the side of the road is to break out the chainsaw. That should tell you everything you need to know about this movie.

Still from A Merry Christmas Miracle
13. The Grinch

Jim Carrey gives Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas character a manic makeover in Ron Howard’s otherworldly live-action adaptation of the famous special. This is almost like a dark origin story revealing the truth behind the Grinch’s hatred of Christmas amid Carrey’s eccentricities for the role of a spiteful scrooge. Unlike the cartoon version, this is a much more active hermit Grinch who will venture down from his cave to stir up hysteria as the monster of the region. This version, much longer than the heavily revered holiday special, takes its time to bask in the Grinch’s insanity of malice before pumping his heart up three sizes. Being a hermit never looked so silly, but at least Carrey pulls the role back from being darker and more twisted version that it could have been.

Still from The Grinch
12. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

You don’t see too many Christmas anthology movies, but Disney has managed to provide a stellar collection of holiday shorts in this direct-to-video animation special. The first segment revolves around Donald Duck’s nephews having their wish of a never ending Christmas come true (with disastrous results). The next involves Goofy and his son Max trying to keep the magic of Santa alive and well. The final piece is an adaptation of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi with Mickey and Minnie Mouse playing the leads that make the mistake of selling their belongings for gifts. It’s a not-too-shabby animated anthology with some memorable Disney characters in terrific holiday stories.

Still from Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas
11. A Christmas Story

The setting of A Christmas Story may be dated in the time of radio, but its tale is a timeless one of youth. Every kid can relate to little Ralphie’s desire for a BB gun Christmas gift and every adult remembers this experience as well as narrator and writer Jean Shepard. Expertly directed by Bob Clark with an exceptional cast, A Christmas Story not only embodies the realistic joys and frustrations of a suburban holiday season, but captures the magic of childhood and family in a manner most amusing. From the awkward moments of sitting on Santa’s lap to the tongue stuck to the street pole to the clunky basement which keeps blowing a fuse, there are just too many memorable scenes and lines to quote. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone able to resist one kid’s struggle with a world that shoots down his Christmas dreams with a single sentence: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

Still from A Christmas Story
10. The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppets’ take on the Dickens classic works exceptionally well for two reason. One is that the story is mostly played straight with fitting songs and comedic jabs inserted without hampering the plot. The other is the well-done performance by Michael Caine as Scrooge, playing the character with a bitter chill and emotional realization. He is not trying to fit in with the silliness or ribbing of the Muppets since that’s a tough act to follow. Caine gives a remarkable performance as if he were doing a Christmas Carol sans Muppets. The Muppets themselves, however, have some great lines and pleasing songs of varying emotions, making for a darker as well as one of the more festive Muppet movies ever made.

Still from The The Muppet Christmas Carol
9. The Polar Express

Based on the popular kid’s book, The Polar Express is a magical ride built specifically for the young and young at heart. A group of kids are visited on Christmas Eve by the Polar Express, a train meant specifically for transporting children to the North Pole to witness and take part in the first gift given of Christmas. Along the way, the train gets into all kinds of off-the-rails thrills including a bumpy ride across a lake of ice and a musical number for hot chocolate. The motion capture animation looks a little off, but it only adds to the strange and haunting nature of the experience. Tom Hanks should be noted for his notable performances that includes the train conductor, a traveling hobo and Santa Claus among others.

Still from The Polar Express
8. Home Alone

Home Alone is every middle-child’s fantasy and nightmare combined. When Kevin’s massive family forget to bring him along on their Christmas vacation, the little man has the house to himself. With it comes all the fun and fright of having complete solitude. He learns to cook, run errands, face his fears and defeat the absent-minded burglars trying to break into his home. Kids will love the film’s slapstick violence and how such a young boy is given so much freedom with complete control of his domain. Adults will adore the smart wit of this little boy and the heartwarming tone caked on at the end.

Still from Home Alone
7. Elf

As far as cute Christmas comedies go, Elf is so sweet it’ll rot your teeth. Will Ferrell plays an elf who doesn’t quite fit in at the North Pole and ventures out into the human world with starry eyes of wonder for New York City. He shows off his expert snowball fight skills and approaches every situation with a childlike innocence. It’s a simple concept that could have gotten old fast, but Ferrell delivers the exact amount of exuberance to make this character lovable and charming. Directed by Jon Favreau and featuring an all-star cast (James Caan, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart), Elf is the Christmas picture sure to bring a smile to any family. Just keep it in moderation or you might end up with cavities.

Still from Elf
6. Scrooged

Of all the Christmas Carol adaptations out there, Scrooged is one of the first to do a successful job translating that tale into a modern setting. Bill Murray plays a thoroughly despicable network executive who receives the Christmas ghost treatment by some rather strange characters. The Ghost of Christmas Past is gravely speaking cab driver, the Ghost of Christmas Present is an eccentrically violent fairy and the Ghost of Christmas Future looks more like something out of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Directed by Richard Donner with a dark charm echoing Tim Burton, Scrooged is a delightful dark comedy that updates A Christmas Carol with modern absurdity and humanity. Most importantly, it’s just so much fun with Murray chewing up the scenery (as well as destroying it). The movie ends with Murray encouraging everyone in the audience to sing along. Even if you don’t, Bill knows how to maintain our smiles.

Still from The Scrooged
5. A Christmas Carol

Disney’s CGI animated take on the overly-replicated Dickens novel stands head over heel above its competition. It’s one of the few animated adaptations that manages to stick closer to its source material, yet still manages to toss in some thrilling sequences. Despite the studio and the animated format, this is certainly not a movie that pulls its punches. There are several visually disturbing moments as when the Ghost of Christmas Present withers away his skin and a visit from the Marley ghost that seems like something straight out of a Sam Raimi horror film. Director Robert Zemeckis, who was on a bit of a motion capture kick at the time, creates a strangely surreal vision of A Christmas Carol that is sure to entertain as much as it’ll shock its key demographic.

Still from The A Christmas Carol
4. Bad Santa

If the whole Christmas season seems a little too sugary and sweet, Bad Santa is the darkly comedic prescription for the cynics. Billy Bob Thorton and Tony Cox play a mall Santa and elf who stage a heist every Christmas eve, but only if Thorton’s character can keep his non-stop depravity and vulgarity in check long enough. This is not a heartwarming tale that results in a happy ending, remaining cynical and shocking up to the very last frame. Nothing is compromised as several characters involved are lewd, disgusting, ignorant, foul-mouthed and oh-so-hilarious for all those traits. Needless to say, this is not one for the whole family. Chances are you don’t want the kids seeing a drunk Santa smash a plastic reindeer to death as the children in this movie did.

Still from Bad Santa
3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The Griswald family takes a break from vacations to have a nice family Christmas at home. But if they won’t venture out to seek craziness, the crazy will come to them in the form of their insane relatives. Bitter, ignorant and crude beyond belief, they make their holiday anything but peaceful. The Christmas lights go awry, the sewers back up with radioactive waste and the Christmas tree is set aflame. Poor Clark has his house, finances and mental state ripped apart so violently that it mounts up to one of the most memorable Chevy Chase rants of all-time. It’s so bleakly amusing and packed with enough laughs to please the most jaded of holiday Scrooges.

Still from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
2. Rise of the Guardians

Why celebrate one holiday with a movie when you can honor all the icons in one animated production. Rise of the Guardians takes most of the classic characters of children’s mythology and turns them into a beefed up justice league. Santa Claus is a burly Russian, the Easter Bunny is a lightning fast underground traveler and the Tooth Fairy commands an army of pixies. They’re going to need all their magic and the help of their newest hire Jack Frost as they do battle with the Boogie Man, a darkly cloaked figure that seeks revenge on the guardians by invalidating their status with children. This is a very creative and unique animated film that redefines the look and feel of the characters children love to believe in.

Still from Rise of the Guardians
1. Merry Christmas (aka Joyeux Noel)

Not all Christmas tales have to be schmaltzy works centering around the jolly fat man. Joyeux Noel is a prime example taking place during World War 1 on what was known as the Christmas truce of 1914. French, German and Scottish soldiers cease fire at the battlelines to come together as human beings and enjoy the holiday season. They sing songs, play games and swap goodies. But when the truce ends, will it just be back to business or will the joyous season gathering sway their military duties? It’s an incredibly human experience of this true story set against a tense war with music being a key component in what tethers one to another. As far as unconventional Christmas movies go, this is certainly one of the best.

Still from Joyeux Noel
Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

Halloween Giveaway: Win a Halloween 1-5 DVD Boxset

Would you like to win a Halloween 1-5 DVD Boxset? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Simply enter via the Rafflecopter form below, you’ll get extra entries for liking us on Facebook, following us on and Twitter, and you can get a bonus entry every day for tweeting about us!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment