Written by Isabelle Osbourne, Third year BA English
As the nights draw in and Christmas is only just around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to grab a mug of your favourite hot beverage, curl up with a blanket on the sofa and enjoy a magnificent movie marathon. But when there’s so much choice, where do you start?
Below are a range of movies spanning different genres and themes that you can enjoy over the Christmas holidays, a few of which you may recognise as being filmed near and around some familiar spots...
Written and directed by UCL graduate and acclaimed director and screenwriter Christopher Nolan, Inception is a captivating and mind-bending sci-fi movie that will keep you guessing throughout. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it moves between the characters' subconsciousness’, and is full of action and adventure. Scenes from the film were shot in UCL’s Front Quad, the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre and the Main Library, so DiCaprio may have visited your frequented study spots!
Starring James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch and Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement is based on the novel by Ian McEwan. Against the backdrop of the Second World War,the film follows the lovestruck Cecilia and Robbie who are torn apart by Robbie’s arrest after Briony, Cecilia’s younger sister, makes a catastrophic misunderstanding that changes all their lives forever. It’s a tearjerker, so make sure you have tissues to hand. And, spot UCL’s Physics Yard as one of the filming locations if you can.
One of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time, Love Actually is a joy to watch. Following the inter-connected lives of a stellar cast of actors and actresses, it weaves comedy and entertainment value with thought-provoking messages into one brilliant movie. Not only is the film set in London, with scenes taking place in Downing Street, Selfridges and along the South Bank, one of the most famous scenes between Keira Knightly and Andrew Lincoln was shot in St Luke’s Mews in Notting Hill, a picturesque spot not far from UCL campus - definitely worth a visit this Christmas for some wonderful Instagram content.
The Dark Knight
Another Nolan classic, this movie is based on the DC Comics character Batman and is the second movie in the The Dark Knight Trilogy (which means there’s plenty more in the story to get stuck into!). Set in Gotham City, the film stars industry legends Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman ,and has achieved critical acclaim in the movie world. If that’s not enough to convince you to check it out, some scenes were filmed in and around UCL that you may recognise.
This rom-com is a delight to watch. Set in near-by locations to UCL including Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, and St Marylebone Parish Church, we follow Emilia Clarke as she builds a relationship with the mysterious but loveable Tom Webster. It has a heart-breaking twist, but it’s an amazing movie that will make you laugh just as much as it will make you cry. And that’s not all: the film is inspired by the music of George Michael, so there’s many opportunities to have a boogie with the family to some iconic tunes.
One to watch with all the family, this charming story follows Paddington Bear as he heads far away from his home in Peru to meet the Brown family in London. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi and more, it’s perfect for all ages young and old and will make you smile at every twist and turn. Scenes were shot in Paddington Station, Chalcot Crescent in Primrose Hill and The Natural History Museum, all of which are excellent spots to visit not far from Bloomsbury.
Bridget Jones’ Diary
This hilarious reinterpretation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is the perfect movie to watch this Christmas. Starring Renée Zellweger alongside Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, it follows Bridget as she navigates the world of romance. The Royal Courts of Justice and Tower Bridge make an appearance, as does St Pancras railway station. It will leave you in hysterics, and if you love it there’s two more films in the franchise: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Bridget Jones's Baby.
The Harry Potter Movies
A movie marathon would not be complete without at least one of the magical, haunting and brilliant Harry Potter films. Visit Hogwarts with Harry and his friends as they navigate the troublesome wizarding world; the Christmas feasts they enjoy in the Great Hall are especially spectacular. Whichever one you choose to watch (though watching all eight in succession is highly recommended), it's sure to get you into the cosy festive spirit. The Hogwarts Express takes off from Kings Cross Station, a stone’s throw away from UCL - why not head over there and take a picture with Harry’s trolley at Platform nine-and-three-quarters?
A Christmas Carol/Scrooge
A Dickensian classic, there’s no better time of year than now to dust off your favourite adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Following the miserable miser Ebenezer Scrooge as he learns to appreciate the spirit of Christmas after three ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve, the movie transports you into the cold, wintery environment of Victorian London and, in true Dickensian fashion, acquaints you with a range of memorable characters, including the loving Cratchits and the spooky ghoul Jacob Marley. A personal recommendation amongst the many adaptations of the story is Scrooge, starring Albert Finney; it has a fantastic musical score, and Richard Beaumont as the loveable Tiny Tim is exquisite.
Have a wonderful Christmas, and make sure to find some time to enjoy a delightful mix of entertaining movies!