As a child I would get very excited for Christmas, now in my late twenties and being without children (I intend to keep it that way), that “Christmassy feeling” escapes me more and more as the years pass. So, in order to somewhat recapture that feeling every year, I have my go to Christmas films which I will share with you today. Some of these I grew to love as I got older whereas others were very special to me when I was young. If you disagree with this list, that’s fine, feel free to blame my parents for showing me the wrong films.
10. The Snowman (1982)
This short movie is an adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ book which is without dialogue and features only animation and music. For me, The Snowman is traditional and charming. Dealing with both friendship and loss all through the imagination of a child is simple yet effective. The soundtrack of this film immediately takes me back to my childhood and I am reminded of how emotional I would get at the ending.
9. Die Hard (1988)
I like to cut through some of the sickly sweet Christmas films with a little bit of cheese. As an angsty teen I would have turned my nose up at watching Die Hard, but now, how could I not watch this film at Christmas? It’s a laugh and it’s entertaining. What is also entertaining is listening to people argue over whether Die Hard is a Christmas film or not. Clearly it is, stick it on, stop being a snob, and enjoy yourself.
8. The Santa Clause (1994)
The Santa Clause may not be the funniest Christmas film, yes it can be a tad lame in parts, but what I liked most about it is how divorcee Scott (Tim Allen), whilst battling for custody of his son and taking on the role as a new Santa Claus, learns how to better relate to his son. He learns how to be a better Dad. It may be a little bit too maudlin for my tastes nowadays but I very much enjoyed this film as a child.
7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Holiday (1989)
This Christmas comedy is something that I watch every year and I’m sure it’s part of most film lover’s Christmas ritual. National Lampoon’s is just plain stupid comedy, which you need a little of every now and then. When Clark (Chevy Chase) tries to create a perfect Christmas for his family, things quickly descend into chaos, even though it’s a disaster, the film inevitably ends showing that all that really matters at Christmas time is your family. Even if it is the Griswolds.
6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
I like Jim Carrey, I find him amusing, even in the smallest ways, and even when he is making stupid kids films. I can’t praise this film for the morals it teaches, that’s down to Dr Seuss, but I can praise it for how it makes me laugh.
5. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Would you hate me if I stated that The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of the better adaptations of this story? You probably will, but for me it’s true. Scrooge’s character arc is performed impeccably by Michael Caine. As a child the muppet ghosts were successfully creepy and the rest of the film is such a good level of whimsy that I was enthralled by it. Now, as an adult, the film is a great bit of nostalgia that I will still keep watching.
4. Trading Places (1983)
Trading Places tells the story of how two morally bankrupt individuals are taught to be better human beings, albeit by being the butt of other people’s jokes. It’s commentary about race, poverty and wealth holds a mirror up to society in the 80’s all whilst being hilarious (and a tad cruel) at the same time. Both thoughtful and amusing, I highly recommend giving this one a watch this Christmas.
3. Scrooged (1988)
Scrooged is my favourite adaptation of Dickens’ tale, and much like everyone, I love Bill Murray. Whilst working on a production of “A Christmas Carol”, Frank Cross is faced with his very own ghosts of Christmas past, future, and present. The reasons this film is disliked by some is that Murray’s character is too unlikable, but that’s the whole point. Murray does a better job at being unlikable than most depictions of Scrooge before him. Scrooged is funny and quiet dark, which is why I thoroughly enjoy this take on a “done to death” Christmas tale.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
A film that is almost the antithesis of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which is probably why I prefer it. A kindhearted man who is at the end of his tether, contemplates suicide. Thinking everyone would be better off without him, he is visited by an angel who comes down to show him what life would have been like if he had never existed and to remind him of how important he is. Quite simply put, this film is lovely, heartwarming, and a must watch for everyone at Christmas time.
1. Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
Santa Claus: The Movie was my favourite as a child and still is. I’m not sure what I found so endearing about it as a child. Maybe it was the traditional wooden toys, maybe the reindeer or the lollies that made you fly. I cannot recall, but I can tell you now that I love this film for quite a few good reasons. I love the Santa origin story, how a philanthropist toy maker, whilst journeying in a severe blizzard dies with his wife from exposure, who is then offered immortality as Santa Claus. Hundreds of years pass and Santa is faced with an evil toymaker who wishes to make Santa redundant. It’s traditional Christmas versus Commercialism, and is still very relevant today.