It’s almost Christmas people! That time of year where we go insane for shopping (for our sins!), enjoy copious amounts of mulled wine, eat until we’re full to the brim and, of course, indulge in those all-time classics that are festive movies.
From black-and-white treasures, to animated joys, and even some that many like to argue against being Christmas movies in the first place, we’ve all got our favourites that we love to share in this holiday season. And here at Filmoria we’re no different, and that’s why we’ve banded together to give you our personal favourites.
Be sure to let us know in the comments what you’re favourite Christmas movie is and enjoy our choices below!
Die Hard (1988)
As the awesome Andy Williams croons, Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, with kids jingle belling, marshmallows for toasting… and a nice bit of murderous mayhem to really mix it up.
Die Hard is one of my favourite Christmas films of all time. And yes, Die Hard IS a Christmas movie. The 1988 thriller directed by John McTiernan (The Predator, The Thomas Crown Affair) makes wondrous viewing. We see NYPD Officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) rock up to see his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) at her Christmas party. Party gate-crashers in the wickedly delectable form of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his rag tag gang of strapping Euro musclemen hold the party to hostage, and it’s up to our hero McClane to save the day.
I think this is one of the best action films, with snappy dialogue and a zippy, tighter than May’s leather trousers, plot to boot. Die Hard is based on Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing Lasts Forever. I wonder if the author imagined Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, who made the role his own.
There are too many highlights to mention. From McClane’s legendary line “Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker!” to the gripping finale which sees Karl, Gruber’s main henchman resurrected, this film is pure joy to watch.
If you haven’t seen Die Hard, do yourself a favour; cut a large wodge of Christmas cake, sit down with a mulled cider and enjoy. It’s one hell of a ride.
Ria Amber Tesia
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s A Wonderful Life captures everything that Christmas is really about – the company of family and friends, coming together in times of need, and spending time with the people you love, doing what makes you happiest in the world for a short period of undisturbed time before it’s back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Led exceptionally by the charming James Stewart, who gives a brilliantly natural performance to make this one of the sweetest, most romantic, but also heart-achingly sad films of the Christmas season, even you will want to be throwing every penny you own at him towards the end.
It’s A Wonderful Life is a real beauty of a film, wonderfully written with a powerful and relevant message behind it that makes you sad at first, but then so overcome with happiness by the time the credits appear.
Everything about this film is just so likeable, and that’s exactly what you want from a Christmas film. It’s pretty much perfect in every way.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
For me, it’s simply not Christmas if I don’t sit down to enjoy this specific retelling of the Charles Dicken’s classic. Narrated by Gonzo and Rizzo the rat, The Muppet Christmas Carol follows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Michael Caine, as he is held accountable for his dastardly ways by three spirits; Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
The story is well known, but there’s something about teaming classic literature with the Muppets that gives this tale an additional dimension. Gonzo and Rizzo’s narration teams Dickens’ words with slapstick comedy, while Michael Caine plays Scrooge with a dramatic flair. There’s no subtle winking at the camera from him; Caine is straight-laced with his performance.
A surprise departure from my usual horror-fueled standards, The Muppet Christmas Carol has become a Christmas tradition in my house. A far cry from the sweltering temperatures that Australia is producing this time of year, this snowy tale is best enjoyed beneath the air conditioner (that’s for us Southern Hemisphere dwellers) and truly is fun for the whole family.
Rhiannon Elizabeth Irons
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Christmas is a time of year for family get-togethers and, of course, plenty of laughs. Hence why my favourite Christmas movie features the most hilarious Christmas light reveal ever and has one of the greatest Chevy Chase performances known to man. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is an absolute riot and perfect antidote to the fallout of a belly-bursting festive dinner.
Providing belly laughs aplenty and really capturing the chaotic preparations of the 25th December, Chase, Beverley D’Angelo and Randy Quaid (especially) combine to create comedy gold at the Griswold’s annual family celebration, and solidify this in the must-watch section for those cold winter nights.
It’s warming, hilarious and downright craziness, and you can’t help but love every moment of its insanity!
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1994)
Neatly filling in that troublesome time between holidays, when you’re not sure whether you should be getting rid of the rotting pumpkin on your doorstep, or putting up the tree and decorations, comes the film that can do both, covering both Halloween and Christmas, it is of course The Nightmare Before Christmas.
This stop-motion musical has become a staple of the Christmas movie schedule and it is one you can feel fully justified watching in late October/early November, when you’re really only just beginning to think about the Christmas festivities rapidly approaching!
Telling the story of how the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington tries to create a Christmas all of his own in his home of Halloween Town, The Nightmare Before Christmas is entertaining, wonderful to look at, with plenty of little background details to look out for, and with a host of toe-tapping song and dance numbers. The animation style still holds up remarkably well, and it is still refreshing to watch something using this dying art form, as opposed to the CGI-fests we so often get today.
Not as overtly Christmassy as some of the other festive offerings, The Nightmare Before Christmas continues to delight and spook, 23 years after it was first released, and it simply wouldn’t be Christmas (or Halloween!) without it.
Jingle All The Way (1996)
Every Christmas I attempt to keep as much the same as when I was little, to recapture as much of that childlike excitement as possible. I open my advent calendar every morning in the lead up, I highlight the television listings, and, without fail, I watch Jingle All the Way.
I love It’s a Wonderful Life as much as the next guy, but no film transports me right back to being a child at Christmas like Arnie’s masterpiece.
Jingle All the Way follows Schwarzenegger as Howard Langston, a businessman who forgets to pick up the must-have toy for his son in time for Christmas- and also forgets to be a decent person, neglecting his wife (Rita Wilson) and son (a pre-Anakin Skywalker Jake Lloyd). Howard goes to great lengths to track down a Turbo Man doll, searching all the toy stores, surviving a bomb scare at a radio station, and fighting a policeman and lots of Father Christmases, before finally becoming involved in the street parade in the ‘epic finale’. Will he get his hands on one? Will he stop creepy neighbour Ted (a brilliantly smarmy Phil Hartman) eating his wife’s cookies? Sit back and enjoy the ridiculous hijinks.
I cant say for sure whether I’d love this film if I hadn’t first seen it when I was little, but I like to think I would. It’s genuinely hilarious throughout (and most of this is actually intentional), super quotable, and the fact it centres around a superhero doll helps make it still seem pretty relevant, for a film that’s now 20 years old.
I know what I want for Christmas, and my dad says he’s picked one up for me…
Love Actually (2003)
Adopting a multi-stranded rom-com narrative template that has seen many of its genre counterparts borrow to often dismal, diminishing results in recent years, Richard Curtis’ Love Actually released in 2003 remains fantastically festive. As Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister lays out his initial ‘statement’ referencing the 9/11 atrocities, in an exceptional year of desperate doom and gloom across the political landscape, the tainting of the rhetoric that we live in a world simply full of hatred and greed counter-balanced through seemingly less newsworthy acts of love, is perhaps needed more than ever.
Instilling the quirkiness and novelty value that we Brits embrace at this time of year. From a down-on-his-luck and disgruntled rock star chasing the Christmas #1 in Bill Nighy’s outrageously funny Billy Mack with his crass twist on Wet Wet Wet’s Love Is All Around. To the unlikely characters incorporated into the nativity play (I’m first lobster!) as Liam Neeson’s son Thomas Brodie-Sangster falls for his school sweetheart. The film also is a terrific showcase of our finest acting talents we possess with Emma Thompson’s beautifully-handled heartbreak as she deals with the betrayal from her on-screen husband, the late great Alan Rickman a fine example. Relentlessly plugged on the likes of ITV2 could easily harm further viewings, yet it’s still as cosy as the family home and as satisfying as a Christmas roast.
Home Alone (1990)
It simply isn’t Christmas unless Joe Pesci’s head is being set on fire. In fact, the festive season just wouldn’t feel as festive if it wasn’t for Home Alone; Chris Columbus’ side-splitting home invasion comedy which sees a young Macaulay Culkin use his remarkable smarts in order to withstand two extremely persistent burglars.
Every single year the film reduces this writer to tears with its broad physical humour, and cringe-inducing injuries. Seriously, the amount of pain and torment bandits Harry and Marv are subjected to at the hands of little Kevin is almost beyond comprehension. Nail through foot? Check. Steaming iron in face? Check. Slipping on ice-laden steps? Check. Then throw in a tarantula, swinging paint tins, an air rifle, and a molten-hot doorknob for good measure, and you have the makings for the funniest murder scene of all-time.
Columbus’ film is laden with so many fantastic character moments, too. When Kevin is initially left (an accident by his clumsy parents who go on holiday to Chicago with about 900 children…), he does all the things a young boy would now he has immense freedom. Eat tons of junk food, raid the brother’s secret stash of goodies, jump on the bed until the springs break, test out Dad’s shaving equipment, and watch R-rated movies. The construction of Kevin the protagonist is as brilliant as the many booby traps he plants across the family home.
Home Alone is one of the most rewatchable Christmas flicks. It provides endless laughs, smarts, and warmth, as well as sporting one of the coolest movie quotes of the 1990s: “Keep the change, you filthy animal!”
Arthur Christmas (2011)
The majority of general folks will always go to one of a handful of films when asked what their favourite festive film is. But one I rarely see noted – is the Aardman animation – Arthur Christmas.
It’s a simple story, one perhaps done to death – Save Christmas. But it’s just how it plays out that makes it so compelling and enjoyable. It captures both the traditional essence of Christmas that we’re familiar with, but also a more modern and contemporary side too. A family at odds – it just coincidentally happens to be the Claus family.
This is fleshed out by 3 generations of Santa Claus. The soon to be retiring Santa – Malcolm (Jim Broadbent). Next in line – Steve (Hugh Laurie), who is the militaristic/tech-reliant commander of operations. And Grandsanta the patriarch of the family – steeped in nostalgic saltiness (a standout performance from Bill Nighy). Across from them is Arthur (James McAvoy) – he’s for want of a better term, The Black Sheep. Stuck in the mail room, he’s clumsy and cumbersome and at odds with his family. But at heart truly caring, compassionate and is the only one who seems to have not been deterred from the magic and wonder that Christmas brings in people.
The characters are undoubtedly the driving force of the film’s plot. But it boasts the typical Aardman charm with cleverly paced comedy (that’ll be the British), endearing moments between the leads, with a host of fun support and a wonderful production on animation. By no means is Arthur Christmas a perfect film, but it captures everything I admire about the festive season. With a relatable and timely message.