With Christmas a mere week away, we’re all finally starting to wind down and look forward to sitting down and indulging in some festive entertainment. But what are the ultimate Christmas films, the ones that you get well-and-truly in the holiday spirit? Some are cheesy, some are funny and some are not traditionally Christmassy yet still manage to fit the formula for a festive film. From Elf to LA Confidential, the Culturefly writers pick their favourite Christmas films of all time.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – James McAllister
Of all of the interpretations of Dickens’ classic Christmas tale, The Muppet’s one is without doubt the best. Michael Caine’s superb performance exquisitely captures Scrooge’s transformation with wit and poignancy. The superb songs are certainly the icing on the cake, making The Muppet Christmas Carol a necessity after Christmas lunch.
Home Alone 1/2 (1990/1992) – Natalie Xenos
If there’s one film I always look forward to watching come the festive season it’s Home Alone. If you were a 90s kid there was simply nothing better than bringing out the Home Alone VHS and watching the mischief and adventure play out on screen. Macaulay Culkin is forever immortalised as the kid that got left behind at Christmas and single-handedly kicked some serious burglar butt.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Stephen Mayne
Back before he ran out of ideas and was stuck creating faux gothic bilge, Tim Burton was capable of dark, biting brilliance. The perfect film to sit down with the family at Christmas, it’s slightly creepy, full of great songs, beautiful to look at and great fun. You might think humming This Is Halloween is not particularly Christmassy, but you’d be wrong.
When Harry Met Sally (1989) – Sue Sheard
When Harry Met Sally is more of a romantic comedy but the contrasts between the successive Christmases they spend together and apart make it the definitive Christmas film for me. They first meet when Sally gives Harry a lift from Chicago back to New York following their graduation from University. Hating Harry with a vengeance, Sally is relieved to think she will never have to meet him again but life is like Christmas…it never works out the way you expect it to.
Nativity (2009) – Nell Young
Nativity is a refreshing, light-hearted Christmas film with bags of comedy and plenty of heartening moments. It really lifts the spirits, putting people in just the right mood for Christmas. It’s a great movie for children but also adults who really don’t want to grow up! Definitely my most recent festive favourite.
Elf (2003) – Amy Salter
Elf has rapidly become a classic Christmas movie, full of festive cheer, humour and heart. The characters are loveable, the comedy spot-on for adults and children alike and the magical premise is not quite as zany as other Christmas films, despite flying reindeer, talking narwhals and crowds en masse singing carols to turbo boost Santa’s sleigh. After watching, you’ll wish you had a friend like Buddy!
Die Hard (1988) – James McAllister
It may not be a traditionally Christmas film, but it’s still one of the best films to watch over the festive period. John McClane doing battle with terrorists in a tower block remains exciting and entertaining no matter how many times you see it, both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman were never better. For the ultimate indulgence, watch it back to back with Die Hard 2… YIPPIE-KI-YAY!!
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – Nick Gomez
How The Grinch Stole Christmas, or simply The Grinch, is my favourite Christmas movie because it epitomizes simple childish laughter, with a dark side. Jim Carrey is hilarious as the lover of hate and Taylor Momsen is adorable as Cindy Lou Who. Dare your heart not to get bigger.
The Polar Express (2004) – Natalie Xenos
As the only computer-animated film to appear on the list, The Polar Express stands alone against the more commercially popular Christmas offerings. It’s gorgeously visualised and magical from start to finish but what stands out is not the animation or the fact that Tom Hanks plays six roles (Cloud Atlas anyone?), but the film’s heart-warming message to always believe. Dedicated to Emmy-winning actor Michael Jeter, The Polar Express isn’t your standard merry-holiday film and in years to come it might even be considered, dare I say it, a classic.
LA Confidential (1997) – Stephen Mayne
Ok, so it’s not a traditional Christmas film, but it opens with a Christmas massacre. I first saw it on Christmas Eve 2003 and I’ve watched it every year since. James Ellroy’s bleak world comes to life, complete with authentic period details, in a sprawling crime epic that is never less than enthralling. Just don’t expect it to lighten your spirits because in this city, no one’s a nice guy.
What’s your favourite Christmas Movie?