There’s not a long list to choose from
Australians do love to watch (and re-watch) a good Christmas movie. So you can’t say we’re an unsentimental bunch. But we’re not the USA or the UK. We don’t have a cultural tradition of Australian Christmas movies, actually.
IMDb lists only 18 Australian feature titles with any mention of Christmas at all. Google finds 11. Wikipedia lists 10. The full roundup is 28 at a stretch. That’s 28 for 113 years of movie and film production in Australia. To compare, the Hallmark channel has released a record 40 new Christmas movies in 2019 alone.
A Southern Hemisphere Christmas
The Southern hemisphere reversal of seasons is surely to blame. Scorching heat can be magical onscreen. But if you’re already down to your short shorts and still sweating into your Mum’s couch… You might need to escape to a land of falling snow and cozy coats – before you’re ready to have your heart ‘warmed’.
Plus, securing international distribution for a Christmas film minus the snow could be a challenge! (Hallmark writers say it’s a non-negotiable part of their formula).
The famous Australian cultural cringe must also play a part. On the one hand, Aussies have taken the Christian midwinter festival with Pagan roots and made it our own. But the European vision of Christmas still holds strong. So when it comes to seeing Australian Christmas traditions reflected back to us on celluloid, there is often evidence of self-consciousness. But this can be part of the fun.
With Trump and Brexit dominating the headlines in 2019, we might just be ready to lean in to the cringe.
Here’s our pick of 7 Australian Christmas movies to suit every taste:
1. The Crowd-pleaser: Babe (1995)
Pros – Genuinely charming film, Magda Szubanski. Cons – Might put you off the Christmas ham.
2. The Quirky Comedy: Crackers (1998)
Relatable. Whose family doesn’t have a few ‘quirks’?
3. The Cultural Cringe: Bushfire Moon (1987)
A Christmas Carol meets Miracle on 34th Street, on a drought-stricken sheep station. Vice named it their ultimate Aussie Christmas movie.
4. The Tearjerker: Little Sparrows (2010)
A mother and three daughters confront their own issues leading up to what will be their last Christmas together.
5. The Nostalgia Trip: Bush Christmas (1983).
A Christmas adventure for children. Watch the 1983 version to see Nicole Kidman in her first film credit. The 1947 version stars Chips Rafferty.
6. The Gritty Thriller: Boxing Day (2007)
A father on home detention hosts his estranged family on boxing day. Kriv Stenders low-budget feature was filmed in long takes to create a real-time feel, like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope.
7. The Goofy Slasher: Red Christmas (2016)
Matriarch Diane (Dee Wallace) gathers the family to celebrate Christmas. They’re visited by a cloaked stranger with religious views and an anti-abortion message.