Everyone loves a Christmas film. FACT. It’s December, so we can finally work our way through watching our favourites. We have to stay at home more due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, so what better time to stay safe and curl up with a good movie? Here’s a countdown of my top 20 Christmas films:
20. ‘White Christmas’ (1954)
This 1954 musical film centers around a group of entertainers during World War II keen on spreading the holiday spirit to save a failing Vermont inn. The costumes were created by an icon, renowned costume designer Edith Head. It always reminds me of my Grandma, who got me into loving musicals as much as I do today.
19. ‘Gremlins’ (1984)
In this 80s Christmas comedy horror classic, a gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the `mogwai’ but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. Of course, all of this happens and mayhem ensues. Here’s something you might not know though – there was no CGI at the time of Gremlins, the creatures were animatronic puppets.
18. ‘Bad Santa’ (2003)
In this dark comedy, Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) and his partner in crime (Tony Cox) meet up once a year for a holiday con. Posing as a shopping mall Santa and his elf, they rip off shopping outlets on Christmas Eve. This year, however, Willie is falling apart. He’s depressed and alcoholic, and his erratic behavior draws the suspicion of mall security (Bernie Mac). But when befriending a small boy brings out his kinder side, Willie begins to wonder if there is still some hope for him. Let’s be real: Bad Santa isn’t for the easily offended. Make sure the kids are asleep and leave this one for the adults.
17. ‘Princess Switch’ (2018)
In this Netflix exclusive, one week before Christmas, a duchess switches places with an ordinary woman from Chicago, who looks exactly like her, and they each fall in love with the man in each other’s lives. As Belgravia is not a real kingdom or country in our world, this was actually filmed in Romania. Even though the opening scenes are of Chicago, none of the movie was actually filmed there. Interesting, huh?
16. ‘Die Hard’ (1988)
Some people say ‘Die Hard’ isn’t a Christmas film, but I beg to differ. If it’s set at Christmas, it’s a Christmas film. This one is about a New York City policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his estranged wife and two daughters on a Christmas Eve holiday party. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise, and everyone in it. Of course, he is the only one who can save the day. Did you know that ‘Die Hard’ was actually Alan Rickman’s feature film debut? Yipee-ki-yay.
15. ‘Jingle All The Way’ (1996)
Workaholic Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) promises to get his son the hottest toy of the season, a Turbo-Man — even though it’s Christmas Eve and the toy is practically sold out. As Langston hunts down the gift, while trying to outrun another desperate dad, his moral code is tested as he starts to learn the real meaning of Christmas. It’s only because of this film that I know the name’s of all of Santa’s reindeers. Just saying.
14. ‘The Santa Clause’ (1996)
When a man inadvertently makes Santa fall off of his roof on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place. Yes, Tim Allen is that man. He *is* the new Santa Claus. Tim Allen underwent 4-5 hours of makeup and prosthetic applications to transform in Santa (and that doesn’t count the two hours it took to take it all off). He also had to wear multiple fat suits during filming, which took place in the middle of summer. Brutal.
13. ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ (2017)
This is a comedy must see. Having finally gotten used to each other’s existence, Brad and Dusty must now deal with their intrusive fathers during the holidays. This is obviously the kind of feel-good movie that ends with everyone hugging out their differences at the end. And it’s got Will Ferrell in it, so you know there will be a good few laughs along the way too.
12. ‘Deck The Halls’ (2006)
In this comedy, starring Danny Devito and Matthew Broderick, two neighbors have it out after one of them decorates his house for the holidays so brightly that it can be seen from space. Did you know Matthew Broderick is married to Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis (his on screen wife’s) co-star and good friend from the ‘Sex and the City’ franchise?
11. ‘Nativity Rocks!’ (2018)
In the 4th film in the ‘Nativity!’ franchise, the staff and students from St Bernadette’s Primary School in Coventry are back again to audition for a place in a rock opera musical competition. And it doesn’t disappoint. The kids make this film, and while entertaining, it explores the importance of acceptance, friendship and family. This one’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine.
10. ‘Love Actually’ (2003)
This Christmas movie staple follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives, in various loosely inter-related tales all set during the frantic month before Christmas in London, England. Personally I love the carolling scene, when Hugh Grant, as Prime Minister, looking for the colleague he’d fallen for, Martine McCutcheon. I also *love* that the airport greeting footage at the beginning and end of the movie is real. It makes me want to cry.
9. ‘Holidate’ (2020)
This is another great Netflix exclusive. In this film, fed up with being single on holidays, two strangers agree to be each other’s platonic plus-ones all year long, only to catch real feelings along the way. It’s that feel good kinda movie that always puts a smile back on your face when it’s so dark and cold outside.
8. ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ (2000)
In this film, on the outskirts of Whoville, lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans to ruin Christmas for all of the citizens of the town below. Though something you may not know about the film is that Jim Carrey’s Grinch suit was covered in yak hair, which was dyed green and sewn onto a spandex suit. The prosthetic make-up Jim Carrey wore took about two hours to apply and one hour to remove. He must have the patience of a saint.
7. ‘Miracle On 34th Street’ (1994)
This one is a classic. A 6 year-old little girl, Susan, discovers dreams do come true if you really believe. She has doubts about childhood’s most enduring miracle, Santa Claus. But after meeting a special department store Santa who’s convinced he’s the real thing, she is given the most precious gift of all, something to believe in. This film is just so magical. Here’s a fun fact for you – the major American department store chain, Macy’s, refused permission for its name to be used in this movie. This is why the department store was renamed as Cole’s.
6. ‘A Bad Mom’s Christmas’ (2017)
I was a big fan of the first installment so this one was bound to make this list. As their own mothers drop in unexpectedly, our three under-appreciated and over-burdened moms rebel against the challenges and expectations of the most magical – and stressful – time of the year, Christmas. One thing to look out for is on the ballerina display outside of Amy’s house, you can see an image of the actress Mila Kunis’s face – this is a nod to the role she played as a ballerina in ‘Black Swan’ (2010).
5. ‘Home Alone’ (1990)
It wouldn’t be Christmas, without watching ‘Home Alone’. In this iconic movie, an 8 year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family when they head off for a flight to Paris after sleeping in. Fun fact for you all – almost every piece of furniture and decor in the McCallister home (including the wallpaper, carpet and tile) contains the colors red and green.
4. ‘The Holiday’ (2006)
My other half and I absolutely love this one. wo women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love. Did you know this is the first movie Kate Winslet ever used her own accent instead of developing one specifically for a character? She also dated her cast member who played Jasper, in real life. You learn something everyday.
3. ‘Last Christmas’ (2019)
This is so good I saw it in the cinema twice. And cried both times. It’s about a self-absorbed wannabe singer who meets a mysterious young man during the Christmas period, who brings out the best in her. But is he too good to be true? You’ll need to watch it to find out! It’s from the director of ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘A Simple Favor’ so you know it’s going to be worth a watch. The soundtrack is by George Michael too, centered around the Wham! festive favourite, ‘Last Christmas’.
2. ‘Nativity!’ (2009)
This is one of my absolute favourite Christmas films. It’s about an uptight but secretly heartbroken primary school teacher’s little white lie about Hollywood coming to see his class’ nativity play, which grows like wildfire through his small Coventry primary school. Most of the film is improvised, with the producers telling the actors what would happen in the scene, and the actors acting it out, with no script – the kids are absolute gold though. It took me the longest time to realise that Pam Ferris, the headteacher, previously played Mrs Trunchbull in ‘Matilda’ (1996). She’s certainly a much nicer, kinder teacher in this movie!
1. ‘Elf’ (2003)
‘Elf’ is my favourite Christmas movie ever. In this epic comedy, after discovering he is a human, a man (Will Ferrell) raised as an elf at the North Pole decides to travel to New York City to locate his real father. I was so disappointed to discover that plans for ‘Elf 2’ were scrapped because Will Ferrell turned down the role. This would be a really hard movie to top, so I can see why.
What are your favourite Christmas films? Please comment below.