National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation [AKA National Lampoon’s Winter Holiday] (1989, dir. Jeremiah Chechik)

The Griswolds invite their extended family for Christmas, triggering an escalating comedy of errors. The best of the Vacation movies, this balances slapstick and subversion, with enough dark moments to give the movie substance.

We Bought A Zoo (2011, dir. Cameron Crowe)

A widowed father buys a run-down zoo, and battles to have it open in time for the summer. Sunny-enough feelgood comedy/drama/romance with absolutely no surprises but some neat moments and an impeccable – if over-used – soundtrack.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018, dir. Clay Kaytis)

After setting a trap to catch Santa, two squabbling siblings have to help him save Christmas. Patchy Yuletide offering with few surprises. Russell does what he can with an indifferent script, but this is no classic.

Elf (2003, dir. Jon Favreau)

One of Santas’s elves discovers he’s human; he journeys to New York to find his father. Generally solid Christmas comedy which keeps its single joke going for a good hour before a plot is hastily bundled in (the usual “save Christmas” one).

You’ve Got Mail (1998, dir. Nora Ephron)

An independent bookshop owner and a corporate bookstore exec fall in love pseudonymously by email. Slick update of (among others) Lubitsch’s The Shop Around The Corner, though now a 90s period piece itself in respect of its tech, its fascination with bricks-and-mortar retail, and some of its assumptions.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018, dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)

Six tales of the Old West, each taller than the last. Splendid Western anthology, packed full of quirky moments and character actors, with a few stars plainly having fun. Not exactly commercial, though; Netflix is a good home for this Coen brothers confection.

Downsizing (2017, dir. Alexander Payne)

A man is forced to re-evaluate his life after volunteering to be miniaturised. Quirky fantasy which can’t work out if it’s social satire, science fiction, or romance, but has a go at all three. Defiantly odd, though, which is no bad thing.