Play Hard

What we’re watching in December

From new cinema releases to festive classics to stream…

Written by Chris Kingston
Published 13.12.2023

CINEMA

Wonka 2023

Wonka – 8th December

The prequel to the well-known Charlie and the Chocolate Factory follows Willy Wonka when he was a young man, years before he ever opened his chocolate factory.

Young Willy Wonka, played by Timothée Chalamet, embarks on a mission to spread joy through his chocolate, which quickly becomes a phenomenon. With dreams of opening a shop in a city which is renowned for its chocolate, Wonka soon discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers. If this doesn’t inspire Christmas holiday vibes then we don’t know what will…   

Godzilla Minus One – 15th December 

Japan, devastated after the war, is at its lowest point when it faces a new threat in the form of the giant monster Godzilla, baptized in the horrific power of the atomic bomb.

Shikishima, a surviving Kamikaze pilot, teams up with a large group of veterans, making it his personal mission to finally take Godzilla down. Make sure you see this one on the biggest cinema screen you can find.

 

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – 21th December

Let’s face it, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will probably not fare well at cinemas given the controversy surrounding it.

With both The Flash and Blue Beatle failing at the box office earlier this year DC will finally be hoping for a hit with Aquaman. Jason Momoa returns as the King of Atlantis in this long awaited sequel.

Having failed to defeat Aquaman first time round, Black Manta, still driven by the need to avenge his father’s death, will stop at nothing to take Aquaman down – and wielding the power of the mythic Black trident, Black Manta is more powerful than ever before. Can Aquaman protect the world from destruction? Nicole Kidman and rather controversially, Amber Heard, also star.

 

The Boy and the Heron (Dubbed) – 26th December

This new Japanese animated fantasy from Studio Ghibli looks absolutely gorgeous.

The Boy And The Heron follows a young boy named Mahito who is yearning for his mother he ventures into a world shared by the living and the dead. There, death comes to an end and life finds a new beginning.

We seem to be overrun with CGI animated movies and while it is no bad thing, it’s actually quite refreshing to see some traditional hand-drawn animation for a change.

Anyone but you 2023

Anyone But You – 26th December

This romantic comedy follows Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben. They look like the perfect couple, but after an amazing first date, Bea and Ben’s fiery attraction turns ice cold – that’s until they’re unexpectedly reunited at a destination wedding in Australia.

So, they do what anyone would do and pretend to be a couple…

 

Next Goal Wins – 26th December 

Next Goal Wins is a sporting comedy based on the 2014 documentary which follows Dutch- American football coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) and his attempts to salvage the American Samoa national team – widely considered to be one of the worst teams in the world (infamous for their rather brutal 31-0 FIFA loss in 2001).

With the World Cup Qualifiers just around the corner, Thomas is hoping he can turn them around…

Even if you’re not a fan of football or sport, you should find this heartfelt underdog story worth a watch.

 

Ferrari – 26th December

Follow Italian race car driver and entrepreneur Enzo Ferrari played by Star Wars star Adam Driver.

The film focuses on a middle aged Ferrari as he weathers family issues while preparing for the famous 1,000 mile race across Italy – the Mille Miglia in the summer of 1957.

Behind the spectacle of Formula 1, ex-racer Enzo Ferrari is in crisis. Bankruptcy threatens the factory he and his wife Laura built from nothing ten years earlier. Their volatile marriage has been battered by the loss of their son, Dino a year earlier, and Ferrari struggles to acknowledge his son Piero with Lina Lardi.

Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Patrick Dempsey and Jack O’Connell also star. We predict that Ferrari will be a major contender for next year’s Oscars with Adam Driver hopefully nominated for the Best Actor award.

CLASSICS TO STREAM

Love Actually

Love Actually

The romantic comedy to end all Christmas romantic comedies.

This classic follows the lives of nine people in various interrelated stories, set during the frantic month before Christmas, who are dealing with the complexities of that one powerful emotion that connects us all: love.

Part of our festive viewing schedule year after year.

 

The Holiday

A beloved Christmas, The Holiday sees Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet) swap homes for Christmas to find love and regain their confidence.

 

It’s a Wonderful Life

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without director Frank Capra’s timeless classic, and we’d say it’s the most iconic Christmas film on this list.

Guardian angel Clarence helps George Bailey, a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman who is beset with personal problems and finds his once happy life falling apart around him on Christmas Eve. Clarence shows him what life would have been like if he didn’t exist and George falls in love with his life again.

 

How the Grinch stole Christmas 

An early noughties classic.

He’s big, he’s mean, oh so green and lives high up on a mountain which overlooks the town of Whoville. He hates happiness, merriment, and most of all – he just hates Christmas.

One year, as the festive season approaches, he decides that enough is enough and makes plans to steal all the decorations and all the presents from the poor unsuspecting citizens below. However, a little girl named Cindy Lou might just have the power to change his mind…

Home Alone

Home Alone

Merry Christmas ya filthy animals!

All Kevin McCallister wants for Christmas is for his family to disappear. So, when he wakes to discover that they’ve accidentally left for their Christmas trip without him and that his wish has come true, he parties.

But when he learns that two dim-witted burglars, Harry and Marv, have a Christmas list of their own are working their way up the block, he is forced to defend the family home on his own and sets about decking the halls with ingenious traps to hold the thieves at bay until his family come home.

 

Home Alone 2 Lost in New York

The sequel moves the action to the Big Apple, where Kevin is once again pitted against Harry and Marv. Instead of flying to Florida with his family, Kevin ends up stranded and alone in New York, where he gets a hotel room with his dad’s credit card.

Kevin finds he has more important things to worry about when he runs into his old nemeses, The Wet Bandits and is determined to foil their plans once again, this time from a toy store being robbed on Christmas Eve.

 

White Christmas

An old school Christmas classic starring the great Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as two talented song and dance men who team up after the war and soon become one of the hottest acts in showbusiness.

They soon befriend and become romantically involved with the beautiful Haynes sisters who comprise a sister act. The movie features several memorable songs and is a beloved Christmas classic.     

 

The Polar Express

The Polar Express follows the story of a young boy who is struggling to believe that Santa is real and suddenly he finds himself on a magic train that is heading directly towards the North Pole.

Tom Hank provides his voice and motion capture for all the characters, which is pretty special to watch.

Elf film

Elf

When young Buddy (Will Ferell) falls into Santa’s gift sack on Christmas Eve, he’s transported back to the North Pole and raised as a toy-making elf by Santa’s helpers. But as he grows into adulthood, he can’t shake the nagging feeling that he doesn’t belong.

Buddy vows to visit Manhattan and find his real dad, a workaholic publisher who doesn’t know that Buddy exists and is in desperate need of some Christmas spirit.

 

The Muppets Christmas Carol

There have been many versions of A Christmas Carol over the years, but The Muppets Christmas Carol is without doubt the best of the many adaptations. Based on the classic novel by Charles Dickens Michael Caine stars as Ebenezer Scrooge, a selfish miser who cares nothing for anyone but himself, until he is visited by three sprits that tell him to change his ways.

Kermit the Frog plays Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy is his wife, and all of the classic muppet characters like Gonzo, Grumpy hecklers Statler and Waldorf, Fozzie Bear feature. Add to that some iconic musical numbers, singing vegetables, lobsters, penguins and a family of mice – what more could you want from a festive Christmas masterpiece.

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Is it a Christmas movie or is it Halloween? Both is probably a good shout…

The Nightmare Before Christmas follows the adventures of Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who stumbles upon Christmas Town while walking through the woods and is instantly enchanted by it, wanting to bring the holiday back to Halloween Town.

 

Die Hard

The ultimate Christmas action movie.

It is true that the festivities do not have much, if anything to do with the plot, however Die Hard does take place on Christmas Eve. New York detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives in Los Angeles with the aim of reconciling with his estranged wife Holly at the office Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza.

Soon the party is disrupted by a group of criminals led by Hans Gruber, an evil mastermind played by Alan Rickman. McClane must evade capture and soon begins a one-man war against the hostage takers who are posing as terrorists but are secretly planning to rob the corporation. Outmanned and outgunned McClane uses all his wits to outsmart them and save the day. Yippee-Ki-Yay and a Merry Christmas!

Christopher Kingston
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