With Christmas just around the corner. We have made our list (checked it twice) and now present you with the 10 Best Christmas films ever. Now, much like a real Christmas, feel free to debate, argue and vow not to come back next year.
1. The Muppet Christmas Carol
Everything you need in a Christmas film. Exciting, funny, great songs, Muppets. Along with an ending that will bring a smile and a tear to even the biggest Scrooge. Brilliant and beautiful in every way, The Muppets take on Dickens oft-told tale is pure heart-warming perfection.
Christmas Cracker: In the final musical scene, a store in the background is called “Micklewhite”. Sir Michael Caine’s real name is Maurice Micklewhite
Originally intended as a vehicle for Jim Carrey’s gurning. Elf has become a festive favourite. Spawning an animation movie and even a Broadway musical smash hit. Its star, Will Ferrell so enamoured with the character he turned down 30 million dollars to return for a sequel. Shame he didn’t do the same for Anchorman 2.
Christmas Cracker: Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in the 1983 holiday classic ‘A Christmas Story’, plays Ming the Elf
3. Home Alone
Amazingly still the highest grossing live-action comedy of all time. Home Alone and its sequel have become holiday staples since its release 27 years ago (oh god I am so old) Making Macaulay Culkin both the definitive child superstar and cautionary tale. The pratfalls of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as they come up against their biggest challenge, an eight-year-old left behind by his family during Christmas vacation never cease to draw a smile.
Christmas Cracker: The movie that Kevin watches featuring the iconic line “keep the change ya filthy animal” is not a real film, but made specifically for the film. It was called “Angels With Filthy Souls”. In Home Alone 2, he watches that film’s sequel, “Angels with Even Filthier Souls.”
4. Die Hard
The only thing more tedious than the debate of “is Die Hard a Christmas film?” is the new trend of arguing with people who argue with the people who say it isn’t. Bored? Me too. Die Hard is set at Christmas, takes place at a Christmas party, ends with ‘Let it Snow’, John McClane whistles Jingle Bells and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. It’s as Christmas as it gets.
Christmas Cracker: This was the film debut of Alan Rickman, who had previously only appeared onstage and on British television. Rickman was 41 at the time.
5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Based on a short story called “Christmas ’59” by legendary director John Hughes. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation spawned the term “Griswold House” thanks to the demented amount of lights that Clark Griswold adorns his house with. His quest to have a happy Christmas even if it kills him is both hilarious and oddly endearing.
Christmas Cracker: Chris Columbus was the original director of this movie. He left after two meetings with Chevy Chase, and told Writer and Producer John Hughes, “There’s no way I can do this movie. I know I need to work, but I can’t do it with this guy.” He was sent the script to Home Alone in its place.
6. Batman Returns
With wave upon wave of samey superhero films hitting the screens in recent years. Batman Returns is ageing like a fine wine. Something truly unique from a director and a character who stood out in their own fields. A grotesque villain who bites peoples noses off and another who dresses like a dominatrix. Not to mention Christopher Walken towing the line of sleaze and charisma as only he can. The film effectively killed the Burton Batman series. There isn’t much demand for a happy meal with a toy with the Penguin coughing up black ooze. With what came after(and continues to) Burton’s Christmas classic looks better than ever.
Christmas Cracker: David Bowie was offered the role of Max Shreck before Christopher Walken. He turned it down to do Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
A modernization of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Scrooged sees Bill Murrays at his comic best. Given one of his first leading roles, Murray excels at being both outrageous and reflective. Making his eventual redemption believable and uplifting without ever seeming like a cynical attempt at emotional blackmail. Carol Kane as the psychotic Ghost of Christmas Present is fantastic. As is Bobcat Goldthwait of Police Academy fame as a shotgun branding version of Bob Cratchett.
Christmas Cracker: Bill Murray’s characters full name is Francis Xavier Cross. Ironically Saint Francis Xavier took a vow of poverty and chastity. A massive contrast to Frank’s material lifestyle in the film.
8. Miracle on 34th Street
One of my all-time favourite cinema experiences was watching a mass exodus of parents from the cinema when Susan (Mara Wilson) reveals she knows there is no such thing as Santa Claus. The cinema manager reassured the parents with a better review than I ever could “It looks a bit bad for a while. But don’t worry everything works out wonderfully in the end”
Christmas Cracker: The film was written and produced by John Hughes who could make a case for owning Christmas as he also wrote National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Home Alone 1&2.
9. Trading Places
Vulgarity, Nudity and casual racism (at one point Dan Aykroyd “blacks-up” to play a stoner Jamaican) they don’t make comedies like they did in the 80’s anymore. In spite of, and because of the film remains one of the funniest Christmas has to offer. Bad Santa re-introduced the world to the art of the adult-oriented Christmas film. But Trading Places remains the original and the best.
Christmas Cracker: Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were cast initially. When Pryor dropped out and Eddie Murphy was cast, he had Wilder replaced because he didn’t want people to think he was just trying to be another Pryor.
10. Love Actually
The ultimate Christmas rom-com. Moments of absolute comic genius “Ant or Dec” fit perfectly alongside very real moments like Emma Thompson trying to collect herself before returning to her children as the realization of Alan Rickman’s infidelity hits her. All while Joni Mitchel’s ‘Both Sides Now’ provides a haunting narration. Not all the intertwining stories land. Walking Dead basically makes a ‘me time’ tape of his best friends wife and the ginger lad harassing women in the workplace looks particularly jarring now. But overall this film is far more hit than miss with a belter of a soundtrack to boot.
Christmas Cracker: Billy Bob Thornton has a fear of antique furniture. Which is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard.
- Andy McCarroll