ScreentoSeen’s Top 10 Christmas Films

Without sounding like the voice over in Bridget Jones, I Love Christmas. I love the trees, decorations, laughter, crackling fires, the songs and above all, the films. Having studied film, I thought I’d ruined all films for myself. I can’t seem to watch one, without saying “That’s reminiscent of the French New Wave” or “Mise En Scene!!”. Truthfully, I block out these thoughts this time of year, and *allow* myself to enjoy the magic of Christmas cinema. This list will no doubt change next year, I’ve yet to see Happiest Season (2020), and I know I’m going to love it. (Um Dan Levy?!) but until then, drum-roll please…….. Here are my (my, don’t be mad) top ten festive flicks.

  1. Its a Wonderful Life – 1946, Frank Capra

Its the most beautiful film. Regularly ranked in lists of the best films ever made, Its a Wonderful Life stars (My favourite) actor, James Stewart as George Bailey, who spends the film looking at his life. That’s really all I can say without ruining the fantastic script and ending, oh the ending. A total flop when it was first released, it actually lost money, but has since grown into a Christmas cult classic that millions across the globe watch every year.

2. Home Alone – 1990, Chris Columbus

Ahh Kevin, a potentially evil kid, torturing two thieves. I mean every year I watch it I just think that Harry and Marv would have almost died? But, it’s a kids Christmas film and despite it’s premise, it truly is a great film. I’m a sucker for John Williams and John Hughes, both of which worked on this film, a collaboration of the greats. Again with the ending, you can’t help but cry! The beautiful score, and the family walking through the door. Pure comedy, and pure heart.

3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – 1989, Jeremiah S. Checknik

You may have not even heard of this masterpiece, in fact; if you are around my age (early 20s) you won’t have. Chevy Chase (Clark Griswold) is trying to make 1989, the best Christmas ever. Its a pretty mild story line, or so you think. The Griswolds, are every part of your family you pretend doesn’t exist. They are loud, argue and rude, but it makes a perfect film in every sense. There are in fact around five films in the Griswold franchise, including a recent one. After John Hughes screenwriter wrote a short titled ‘Christmas 59’ Warner Bros decided that a feature of this chaotic family would be better. I’ll leave you with just one quote; “The shitter’s full”.

4. ELF – 2003, John Favreau

This is my most quoted holiday film. That’s a sad fact to reveal to the internet, but hey ho. On a $33M budget, it grossed $220M worldwide. Will Ferrell (Buddy, The Elf) was raised as a human in the North Pole; but he doesn’t know this and when the truth comes out, he sets off to New York City to find his real dad James Caan (Walter Hobbs). With an impressive list of outside forces, such as stop motion, CGI and improvisation, ELF is truly a joy to watch.

5. Love Actually – 2003, Richard Curtis

Its a Richard Curtis film so its bound to be romantic and soppy, with big heartfelt gestures. That, is what I require at Christmas from a film about the importance of everyone around you. I absolutely adore how this film connects up and suddenly your’e like “Oh, shes related to him and he’s the Prime Minister, but is in love with her”. The impressive cast is Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Thomas Sangster and so so many more. Honestly, watch it for the cast alone, the beautifully connected stories and the *incredible* ending song they choose.

6. White Christmas – 1954, Michael Curtiz

Me and endings. I purely watch White Christmas every year, just to cry at the ending. Its the type of film that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney. It was the top money maker of 1954. Irving Berlin wrote all the music, and let me tell you now; there is a lot of songs. Irving used White Christmas as the title song, in which he’d also won an Oscar with in 1942 for Holiday Inn, both productions released by Paramount Studios.

7. The Santa Clause – 1994, John Pasquin

My sister and I would watch this film over and over again on VHS. (shout out to you if you know what VHS is). Tim Allen accidentally becomes Santa Clause, after the real one falls of his roof, and well… dies? Allen, who is a prominent ‘business’ man in the city, does not want this role and does everything he can to ignore it. Yet, a beard grows over night, he gains a massive amount of ‘Santa’ weight and is suddenly has a love for cookies and milk. It’s all very light hearted, but I remember it being completely magical when I was younger!

8. The Snowman – 1982, Diane Jackson

Raymond Briggs The Snowman was bought to life in 1982 by Chanel 4, in the use of pictures, animation and music by Howard Blake. Scored to the frosty hills of the English country side, its the tale of a young boy making a snowman, which comes alive in the early hours of Christmas day. They embark on a trip to the North Pole to meet other snowman’s! I remember watching it every year growing up on my neighbours sofa at our village Christmas eve party; trust me, its perfection.

9. Meet Me in St. Louis – 1944, Vincente Minnelli

This film is a little unusual. Taking place over the four seasons, it’s hardly classed as a Christmas film, yet the winter period is so beautiful and magical; it had to make this list. Judy Garland (Esther) sings “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” and you just feel yourself melting into the screen. Aside from the music, the sets, costumes and script is fantastic. It’s a classic movie you should watch all year round, but especially at Christmas.

10. The Holiday – 2006, Nancy Meyers

Full transparency, I love to hate this film. It’s corny, cheesy and totally unbelievable. In fact, my mum and sister hate it, so why do I have to watch it every year? I think it’s the love I have for cute little English cottages, snowy roofs and open fire places; matched with the LA humid air and sunshine. I don’t think for a second it would ever happen in real life, or maybe it has and I’m being cynical! Whatever the attraction is to this film, I’m fully in. A perfect number 10.

Well, there you have it. My wonderful Christmas tick list of cinematic treasures.

I’m wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Honourable mentions:

The Grinch – 2000

Die Hard – 1988

Gremlins – 1984

Miracle on 34th Street – 1947

The Nightmare Before Christmas – 1993

Trading Places – 1983

Scrooged – 1988


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