With only a short while to go now until Christmas, what better to put you in the mood than a fantastic festive film? These are my top 10 favourite Christmas movies and along with a glass of port, a mince pie and the smell of pine trees, get me into the spirit of the season;
The Snowman / The Snowman and The Snowdog
Although technically a short-film this is the charming animated tale of a boy’s adventures with his snowman that’s he’s built in his garden. The 26 minute wonder first aired in 1982 and captures audiences old and new each Christmas, especially with its heart-warming famous scene “Walking in the air” where the boy flys over towns and countryside. There’s an emotional ending in sight though as the snow melts away…
Update - Look out for the special 30th anniversary edition titled The Snowman and the Snowdog which is a remake of the animated favourite. Airing on Christmas Eve on Channel4 in the UK, opinion is sure to be divided. Leave your comments below on which version you prefer.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
The 2000 Grinch movie was born from the Dr Seuss book and starred Jim Carrey as the lead character. Grinch lives in ‘Whoville’ and despises Christmas until the villagers and in particular, the young girl Cindy, persuade Grinch to open his heart. This is actually the second highest grossing Christmas film of all time.
Jingle All the Way
I love a healthy dose of cheese at Christmas and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the lead character in this 1996 movie certainly delivers! His character Howard Langston is an absolute workaholic and all he has to do for the festive season is secure a ‘Turbo-Man’ action figure toy for his son. Needless to say it doesn’t go smoothly as fierce rivalry with his neighbour Ted ensues. Cue a suitably heart-warming message. Best line comes from Arnie’s son when he phones home to speak to his wife but his son answers and says “Mom’s next door petting Ted”.
One of my favourite directors, Robert Zemeckis, once again teams up with mega-actor Tom Hanks in the 2004 computer-animated fantasy The Polar Express. The basic plot is that a young lad doubts the existence of Christmas and Santa Claus until a magical train arrives in the night and whisks him away to the North Pole to meet the big man.
Miracle on 34th Street
Originally a 1947 movie (which I haven’t seen) this was remade in 1994 and tells the story of a too-cute-to-be-true six year old girl who again doubts that Santa Claus exists… gasp. Until that is, the real deal appears at the mall. Very sweet tale.
Will Ferrell is fantastically funny as Buddy, a human raised an elf in the North Pole who begins to suspect that he is a little different. He sets out to find his real dad in the US with some real laugh-out-loud and touching moments too. Buddy also falls in love with a girl for the very first time, played by Zooey Deschanel.
After countless follow up movies and spinoffs Home Alone 1 from 1990 is the original and, in my opinion, still the best version. Who doesn’t admire plucky 8 year Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, who is accidentally left home alone by his family at Christmas, only to have to fend off 2 idiotic burglars. Cue lots of cute one-liners and absolutely ingenious methods to deter the burglars.
Boasting a huge line-up of big name actors including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Laura Linney, Love Actually explores the meaning of love through 10 interwoven stories. The 2003 film is set during the run up to Christmas and is touching, warm, funny and uplifting. It’s become a modern classic and is worth watching regularly as, depending on where you’re at emotionally, the story catches you in different ways.
A Christmas Carol / Scrooge
From the novella of 1843 by Charles Dickens, Christmas Carol has appeared in many different variations on stage and screen, both in short and animated versions. I like both the 1951 version which was released as Scrooge and really captures the stark Dickensian era. I also like the musical version from 1970 which brings to story more life being in colour. That said I have seen the 1999 TV movie starring Patrick Stewart more though and it tells the classic story of the miserly businessman in London in the 1840s. Scrooge is visited one night by three spirits that show him his past, present and future, forcing him into action to change his life. Fantastic heart-warming classic tale.
Definitely one for the grown-ups! Bad Santa from 2003 stars Billy Bob Thornton as a miserable conman who along with his dwarf sidekick poses as Santa and his Little Helper in order to rob department stores across the US. Cue lots of sharp one-liners, lots of drinking and cussing and you’ve got a great alternative Christmas movie. Depending on your sense of humour, you’ll either love this movie or hate it! A traditional this film isn’t!