Before Wilson and before the tooth-pulling scene that changed our world forever, a pleasantly plump (and overworked!) Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) exchanged gifts and Christmas pleasantries with FedEx coworkers. With a "Merry Christmas" and a swift peck on his girlfriend's cheek, Chuck was off to complete isolation for four years.
Golden lumps of coal: 6/10, with points taken away for the redemptive conclusion
Burl Ives, this is not. At the company Christmas party, Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman barks out, "Hey Hamilton, Have a holly jolly Christmas," with a Michael Scott twinkle in his eye. Reese Witherspoon bounds in with mistletoe and a cheerily-outfitted Vietnamese Potbellied Pig. Bateman dons a pair of reindeer antlers, and then the usual serial-killing business proceeds apace.
Golden lumps of coal: 8/10, for murder
Egg nog brings out the sexual deviant in all of us...right? An alluring Hungarian stranger at a Christmas party is what drives Nicole Kidman's yuppie Alice to confess thoughts of adultery to her doctor husband Bill (Tom Cruise). And then Bill goes nuts! Prostitutes and a creepy Kubrick-conducted masked orgy ensues. Bill escapes death and returns to go Christmas shopping with Alice.
Golden lumps of coal: 9 / 10, for repression, violence and adultery
Where better to spend the holidays than a a war-torn plantation? Ashley returns to Tara for Christmas in 1863, and his wife, Melanie, presents him with a hand-made tunic. "You won't let it get torn. Promise me." The subtlety is not lost on us. (The following year, Sherman would take Savannah on December 22 as a "Christmas present" to the North.)
Golden lumps of coal: 7/10, because we wish all depressing movies had intermissions
Frustrated inventor adopts mysterious "Mogwai" creature from wise old man. Inventor gives thing to son for Christmas. Mogwai asexually reproduces, producing an army of furry Gremlins that go on a killing rampage, thus ruining Christmas.
Golden lumps of coal: 6/10, with points deleted for occasional touches of cuteness
In what is likely the most depressing movie to be released in the last two years, Precious finds a moment of solitude in a daydream. Having permanently fleed her abusive mother with her son, she watches a choir sing a Christmas song inside a church. She imagines herself and a dream boyfriend singing the same song.
Golden lumps of coal: 9/10; amazingly, that's the happiest moment in the film
The film opens on Christmas Eve, 1989, with roommates Mark and Roger wondering how, indeed, they will pay the rent. The characters go on to battle AIDS, drug addiction, and an assortment of other maladies. One year later, on Christmas Eve again, rehab exile Mimi almost dies.
Golden lumps of coal: 5/10, because Mimi miraculously recovers (yawn)
"Merry Christmas!" Eddie Murphy cries as a homeless man entreating two wealthy brokers to help him out. Thus ensues a debate between the two: was his plight a result of nature or nuture? "Of course there's something wrong with him," one pipes in. They plot a switcheroo between the Murphy character and another wealthy man played by Dan Aykroyd, and seedy drug/sex/money comedy ensues.
Golden lumps of coal: 4/10, because Aykroyd and Murphy manage to unnecessarily infuse homelessness (of all things) with comedic value
The heartfelt exchange of Hallmark cards stuffed with hundred dollar bills almost makes "It's A Wonderful Life" seem seedy. Pacino as hitman "Lefty" Ruggiero and Depp as FBI agent "Donnie" are a mob family you'd want to carve turkey with.
Golden lumps of coal: 8/10, for touching interplay of hypermasculinity and Christmas cheer