A review of the 2022 Christmas Film World Cup
The Organising Committee felt it was unable to resist the sheer number of new titles that had emerged into the Christmas film genre over the past four years, especially after a record breaking number of new releases in the 2021 diary. There were some coherent objections to the risk of lowering the quality bar and the possibility that titles of quality might not have gained significant exposure or enough time to build affection with an audience. The most adamant voices in the spray snow filled rooms insisted no Hallmark productions should be allowed through the net.
The consistently poorest performers in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 events were gathered together to be assessed for their automatic places or being relegated to a pre qualifying vote off, competing alongside some overlooked hits, newer titles and left field recommendations.
Voting was open for a week in November before the top four were rewarded third seed places and the second quartet were to be given fourth seed slots. The story that emerged was that In Bruges clearly had a dedicated cult following and of the new releases 8-Bit Christmas had the strongest showing. Otherwise five of the the remaining six slots were taken by lower tier existing qualifiers and a wild card submission, The Tomorrow War. The prequalifying did not provide much in the way of fresh blood, in fact wild card allocation of seeding to debutants saw more fresh faces hit the group stages. Further feedback over the course of the month saw vigorous process from American pressure groups over the absence of 80s classic A Christmas Story. Committee members then briefed against each other over the lack of a wildcard place for the excellent but little seen Fatman. The intensity of the conversation spilled over the well understood battle lines of Inclusionists and Purists and the stark question of whether the committee desired a popularity contest or a artistic merit assessment. This led to some noises regarding major changes being suggested for not only the seeding system, but in fact the entire ranking system and competition structure, but more on that later.
The group stages were slow to maintain inertia in the voting this year, organisers jealously sneered at the encroachment of the pig bladder kickers, stepping out of season to steal the attention. In fact the scoring compared to 2018 was so low that seven third placed films from the last competition would have scored enough to qualify this time round and two fourth placed films would have done the same. This caused the recriminations to begin early on as the war of words in the committee became apparent. It was felt the quality had dipped and most people could see an obvious pairing to emerge from each group while the opponents began to provide a rather different theory. Christmas films have become subdivided in genre types and are almost impossible to compare.
The vociferous voices were briefly silenced when the group stage produced some intriguing outcomes.
Four Christmases shocked the fans by overcoming Love Actually to take the group top spot as the fourth seed. To seasoned watchers this shouldn't have been such a surprise as in 2018 the comedy stole a march on Home Alone as fourth seed to also top the group. Clearly a tidy group performer. The Group A outcome saw a lacklustre showing by Love Actually and White Christmas went home along with the Grinch. In fact the trend is seeing less success for the classics and the Grinch, while a reasonable middle weight with three Last 16 showings under his belt was humiliated into fourth position.
In Group B the entertaining cameo by In Bruges nearly paid off while newcomer Last Christmas was followed by The Holiday into the knock out stages. Scrooge is another classic that is fading from popularity and clearly struggles in a field that sees Scrooged and Muppets Christmas Carol.
Home Alone cruised to a comfortable top place and Muppets had to work to see off Miracle but 8 Bit Christmas was out of their depth.
Die Hard and Trading Places are two firm 80s favourites and the draw put them alongside two of he jewels of the Netflix crown with a Boy Called Christmas and The Christmas Chronicles. While starting a sub debate on the validity of sequels, which are still not entitled to enter according to committee rules, the Netflix pair stood no chance and were slaughtered.
Elf was in cruise control and it came down to the head to head twitter poll for Jingle to see off the Kranks. Bad Santa, while popular seems unable to stand up against the support base other films have.
In Group F there was an extraordinary display by The Tomorrow War that almost saw the quirky entry rewarded with a Last 16 place but eventually Krampus took the second slot behind Scrooged. Tomorrow's strong showing sent home Nightmare who once again seems to struggle to find their feet with just one Last 16 appearance to show for their efforts.
Plucky Prequalifying Brit flick Get Santa was one of the stories of the round, overtaking The Polar Express to find themselves in dreamland. Gremlins dominated the group but Polar Express may now be in doubt for a third seed in the next competition and Klaus found no traction at all.
Group H had the best dramatic twist as it turned into a group of death that Wonderful Life only won in the final stages of the last day. The Snowman was bumped into second place for qualifying and left to wonder what could have been on the other side of the draw as first place qualifier. The Santa Clause is much loved and was devastated by elimination after a good campaign, but Family Man continues to be an enigma.
For all the talk of new comers and surprises there was only really one lower graded film in each quarter of the draw. Four Christmases needed to see off The Holiday on the first match and was narrowly second best in a tense affair.
A1 Four Christmases 43%
B2 The Holiday 57%
Home Alone had little problem seeing off Trading Places and romped into the Quarter Final
C1 Home Alone 71%
D2 Trading Places 29%
Elf saw off the relatively inexperienced Krampus with relative ease the following day
E1 Elf 67%
F2 Krampus 33%
Gremlins meanwhile were called upon to see off The Snowman in what was fairly routine in the end.
G1 Gremlins 70%
H2 The Snowman 30%
As we turned to the second side of the draw we were treated to the tie of the round. An all London affair as the young pretender took on the might of the all star Love Actually. How the Curtis crew would have fared against Vince Vaughan and Reece Witherspoon is irrelevant now as they found themselves in this challenging tie and were given a shock. In a result that made it the closest run match in CFWC history Last Christmas, the apprentice, defeated the master.
A2 Love Actually 46.%
B1 Last Christmas 53.5%
The Muppets had dumped Elf out in the Last 16 round in 2018 and some thought something similar was possible here, but Die Hard is made of sterner stuff and marched upwards to the next floor of the Plaza!
C2 Muppets Christmas Carol 36.5%
D1 Die Hard 63.5%
Bill Murray comfortably steam rolled Arnie on his way to the Quarter Finals in an after the Lord Mayor's show feel on the final day of the round.
E2 Jingle All The Way 12.5%
F1 Scrooged 87.5%
Get Santa had been the competition underdog, with the longest running participation in the competition, coming through pre qualifying to then emerge from the group, but the fairy tale was cut short at the Last 16 stage as Frank Capra's crew sent the home.
G2 Get Santa 25%
F1 It's A Wonderful Life 75%
The Holiday v Home Alone (33% - 67%)
The foursome were finally up against a big hitter in their quarter final match but they were not able to resist the Kevin McCallister juggernaut and their holiday was over.
Elf v Gremlins (Elf won 5-3 on penalties)
An extraordinary contest that made history as it went to a dead heat of a 50% voting split. Penalties were required to get an outcome and in the first shoot out in Christmas film world cup history Elf triumphed.
For those who wish to know, a penalty shoot out is carried out by randomly selecting reviews from imdb and rotten tomatoes.
Last Christmas v Die Hard (29% - 71%)
Another fairy-tale came to a crushing end as the impressive Last Christmas finally came up against a challenge too far. Last Christmas had been an impressive newcomer but with their exit all the semi finalists will be returning final four visitors.
Scrooged v It's A Wonderful Life (57% - 43%)
A clash of champions at the quarter final stage was a tight run affair, but Scrooged had enough in the tank to see off the last of the classics
Two mouthwatering ties were served up as we got one step from the final. Elf had been on a solid roll throughout, as had Home Alone, looking to repeat the feat of their 2018 visit to the final. A previous match at the quarter final stage in 2014 saw Elf come out victorious and that was the repeat of the outcome here.
Meanwhile, Scrooged had to lift themselves for yet another clash with a former champion, and this time, the Daddy of the Christmas Film World Cup. Die Hard had always reached the final in the past three outings with Scrooged beating them in the 2010 final and Die Hard avenging that in the 2014 Quarter Final. What fallowed set records and resulted in a slim victory for Scrooged.
Elf v Home Alone (57.4% - 42.6%)
Scrooged v Die Hard (53.5% - 46.5%)
Scrooged took the crown for the second time after a Brexit margin of victory emerged in the dying minutes of Christmas Eve. It seems Elf fans were far too dedicated to the magic of Christmas to keep that voting figure up as Scrooged fans took the chance to back their humbug!
The Crystal Tree was handed over to Bill Murray for a second time and the whole travelling circus was packed away for another four years....or are there changes afoot?
Competition restructuring proposals
There has been a great deal of disquiet this year as the scale of recent Christmas films and the ranking system have come in for criticism. The Pre-Qualifying round did nothing to adequately address these issues and radical restructuring proposals are now under discussion.
A major proposal under consideration is to introduce a conference system where films are divided according to genre. This may see some pre-qualifying to wittle down genre choices and then see those choices reduced to enter the Last 16.
Proposals for Conferences
As of now, there is an enthusiastic debate over how the genres will be divided and clear rules will need to be introduced to find the correct conference classification for each one. Some genres may be considered sub genres and will need a pre-qualifying tournament to progress.
Early suggestions include the following for consideration:
It was felt a new releases genre will give new films a chance to find an audience, so new releases may feature in this category if they are released after the last World Cup for example. After wards they may move into a new category to fight it out with the rest.
Potential Qualifying tournament
Another suggestion has been to introduce a new minor competition in the year prior to a World Cup to introduce newcomers and/or overlooked titles to the audience before the major event follows the year after.
The new ranking list is out and the scores are combined with audience and metacritic scores to reflect success outside the Christmas film world cup showdown. This is reflected in some changes from the original scoring system and that is shown in the table below. Die Hard managed to narrowly hold on to top spot due to the addition of critic and audience scores.
The major winners are the classics who had been drifting from the points in the last couple of events, with Holiday Inn leaping up into the seeds positions. Bridget Jones also gets a boost after failing to qualify this year. The Woman in Black and A Christmas Story have surged up the rakings to reflect the popularity they have despite not making a finals in the past twelve years.
It's A Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Muppets Christmas Carol
Bridget Jones's Diary
The Santa Clause
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
The Family Man
The Woman in Black
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
A Christmas Story
Santa Claus: The Movie