We are now less than 10 sleeps away from Christmas. The decorations are up, the Christmas jumpers have been dug out of the wardrobe and the festive tunes are being overplayed on the radio.
One of the most common things to do this time of year is to get cosy on the sofa with a nice hot chocolate and a Christmas movie, but which one should you watch? No worries, I can give you 10 potential options as I count down the best films to watch this Yuletide season.
From Christmas demons to romantic love stories to one-man killing machines, it is safe to say that some of these movies won’t necessarily be for the whole family, and you probably won’t agree with all my picks…. Enjoy!
10: LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
The movie that spawned the wave of holiday-themed ensemble movies, such as; New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. For such a big cast list, the movie does a good job of balancing multiple stories to create a very cheerful rom-com.
There was a mix of veteran actors and some younger, less experienced ones but everyone gives a solid performance. The script is very clever which produces some funny moments and the music was entertaining.
Love Actually is a fun and amusing homage to love and it does a good job of making you feel Christmassy. It’s an ideal sappy romcom to watch this holiday season.
9: KRAMPUS (2015)
At the helm for this twist on Christmas was Michael Dougherty, director of another brilliant holiday-horror in Trick ‘R’ Treat. Here he takes a stab at the famous Christmas legend that is Krampus, a half-goat, half-demon who punishes kids who have misbehaved during the Christmas season.
What we get is a very fun “horror” movie, I say it like that because nothing in this film is scary, but it does have a couple of good creepy moments. The creature design of the title character was great as it was all practical effects. His size was very intimidating and menacing, add in his little demonic minions and the result is we got some very frightening moments.
It’s a good mix of horror and comedy and it doesn’t take itself too seriously resulting in a very enjoyable movie. A fun throwback, reminding me of another great Christmas-horror which we’ll talk about later.
8: THE HOLIDAY (2006)
Two women do a holiday house-swap and find unexpected love on the other side of the world. I feel like the settings were designed to be stereotypical representations of what Americans think of British houses, and vice versa. A scenic English country house and an extravagant LA mansion equipped with a swimming pool.
It is full of clichés but that’s what makes it a perfect Christmas rom-com. It is a very light-hearted and fun movie with good performances from its four leads (Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black).
The couples have great chemistry and all the relationships in the movie were well-developed (Winslet’s relationship with the old man was especially touching), the supporting cast were all very entertaining and it has beautiful scenery. The ending was very predictable but at the end of the day it’s fluffy fun for a winter evening.
7: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1994)
Yes, this is a remake of the 1947 film of the same name but I’m not going to compare the two. If this version of the Christmas classic doesn’t warm your heart, then I don’t know what will. It is a traditional festive film about courage, faith and hope.
Richard Attenborough comes across as a genuinely kind and caring man, with nothing but kindness to offer. Who else would you want as Santa Claus?! He gives a very heart-warming performance and Mara Wilson, as well as the supporting cast, also do a fine job.
The score is very good, the costume design and the camera work are all top-notch. Overall, it is a delightfully, charming movie with a great message; if you really believe, anything can happen.
6: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000)
This is a great light-hearted family comedy that has things to make the kids laugh as well as the adults. The movie is carried by a fantastic Jim Carrey performance and it definitely fills you with festive cheer.
The outlandish antics wouldn’t have worked with any other actor, Carrey was perfect for this role and he absolutely nailed it. He fully immerses himself into the character, he is hyper, energetic and spouts some very funny lines.
The costume and set designs were outrageous, so full of colour, life and energy that fully suck you into the world. The supporting cast all do a fine job, but it really is Carrey who steals the show. Director Ron Howard has created a heart-warming Christmas classic.
5: GREMLINS (1984)
I know what you’re thinking…how is this a Christmas movie, but google Christmas movies and you’ll see. A very unusual but cute Christmas gift turns out to spawn little demon-creatures that cause mayhem and anarchy across a cosy, snowy town. Ho Ho Ho…
The creature design was fantastic. The special effects and make-up for the Gremlins was great, they looked quite scary but also provided a lot of humour in the antics they get up to. Fun fact; Chris Columbus was actually inspired to write this movie after listening to rats scampering around his apartment during the night.
The score is great, creating a wacky sense of mayhem, they even throw in a few Christmas numbers to accommodate the festive setting of the film. The acting is all very over-the-top but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delightful to watch. Gremlins is good, dark fun for everyone.
4: THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)
This one gets a watch every year no question. It is a holiday classic if ever there was one. It does a perfect job of making you feel like a kid again, listening out for the clatter of reindeer on your roof on Christmas Eve, or sneaking downstairs to see if Santa has eaten your cookies yet.
The director puts a funny and emotional spin on the classic tale of jolly ole Saint Nick. The relationships that Scott Calvin/Santa (Tim Allen) has with his son, ex-wife, ex-wife’s new boyfriend are all examined in a relatable way. Allen is fantastic as the title character, he is very funny, sarcastic and he keeps the character grounded, which gives the story more heart.
The rest of the cast all give great performances. Eric Lloyd (Charlie) gives a very delightful performance, capturing the feeling of being a kid at Christmas very well. David Krumholtz was the stand-out for me, he was brilliant as head-elf Bernard. Overall, this is a magical film what will continue to enchant its viewers for years to come.
3: HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK (1992)
I know what you’re going to say…how can you choose the sequel over the original? The first one is great, but I just enjoyed the second one more, it’s just funnier. It’s the exact same plot but features a lot more laughs, I watch this every year and my sides still hurt from laughing so much.
Obviously, you have to ignore how terrible the parents are to leave their kid behind again, and how Marv can take four/five bricks to the face and walk it off. The traps are more painful and nasty, but it makes it more amusing for us. But my favourite parts are any time Tim Curry’s suspicious concierge and co are on screen. They were all brilliant and the crazy antics in the Plaza Hotel were hilarious.
It has a lot of heartfelt moments, from Kevin reaching out to the Pigeon Lady in Central Park, to Mr Duncan giving Kevin a magical Christmas morning. The slapstick humour is dialled up to 11 and Macaulay Culkin was once again a mischievous delight to watch. Home Alone 2 is entertaining holiday fun.
2: ELF (2003)
This one was an instant holiday classic that should be watched every year! It’s a perfect movie for the whole family with plenty of jokes that both kids and adults will enjoy. It has so many great moments but falters whenever Will Ferrell isn’t on screen.
Speaking of the loveable man-child…Ferrell was fantastic in this role. He nails the fish-out-of-water moments and he makes the character extremely funny without going over the top and becoming annoying. James Caan is great as well, getting plenty of laughs and the rest of the supporting cast give fun performances.
This is undeniably a fun film and the script doesn’t try too hard to make us laugh, the energy and flow of the film does a great job in keeping it going at a frenetic pace. The ending is very formulaic and super cheesy but overall, this movie does a fine job of getting you into the Christmas spirit.
1: DIE HARD (1988)
Yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie, google it…There is a massive debate as to whether this can be considered a Christmas movie, as a lot of people say it’s just an action movie set during Christmas. However, ponder this…Home Alone is set during Christmas no doubt, but take away the festive setting and it’s actually about how a kid is neglected and abandoned by his parents and likes to build heinous traps to torture his victims. Now where was I….
The action is jaw-dropping, the acting is sublime, and the humour is witty. What’s not to like? There are plenty of Christmas references littered throughout, from the elevator corpse sporting a festive new addition to the Christmas jumper collection (“Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.”), to the great soundtrack of jolly tunes (Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis, Vaughn Monroe’s Let It Snow and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which is usually played at this time of year). There are plenty of signs that point towards Xmas film.
It also has a bevy of quotable lines and it gave us one of the greatest movie villains of all time, who ruined Christmas for the workers at Nakatomi Plaza by taking them hostage, so there’s another yuletide link for you.
YouGov conducted a poll asking the question, and the result is 52% of people asked didn’t think Die Hard was a Christmas movie, 30% did and 18% didn’t know. I guess I fall into the 30% then…Merry Christmas!