It’s the most wonderful time of the year and therefore time to watch some of the most wonderful films! Here is a list of what I deem as the top 10 Christmas features that will get you into the Christmas spirit one way or another. Feel free to comment if I missed your favourite or maybe I’ve yet to see it! These are only my personal favourites. Enjoy!
10. Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003)
“Buddy, the elf. What’s your favourite colour?”
I basically never like Will Ferrell’s style of comedy but Elf is an exception. For once, his inappropriate and child-like behaviour is what his character calls for in this film and it’s actually PG so if you have kids, they can watch without you feeling guilty about it. For the biggest Christmas laugh, watch Elf. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but here’s a reminder anyway.
9. Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003)
“But the truth is I’m in love and there’s nothing I can do about it”-adorable British child.
For all the Rom-Com fanatics out there, Love Actually is the best one to watch around Christmas time. It’s surprisingly good despite it being an A-List cast film because the 8 couples explored in the film all tell a decent story and give the film some substance while also getting you into the Christmas spirit. It’s not complete bull like other films with an unnecessary amount of A-listers *cough* New Years Eve *cough*.
8. Die hard (John McTiernan, 1988)
“Yippe Kay-yay, motherfucker.”
So if the cheesey, cheerful and/cheeky Christmas films aren’t your thing and you prefer a film that’s more about the entertainment thrill and a little less about feeling the Christmas spirit, Die Hard should do the trick. It’s an awesome action film starring younger, and less bald Bruce Willis in all his glory battling against the twisted terrorist villain, Alan Rickman. Who wouldn’t want to see that? It’s a not-so-Christmasy Christmas classic that you should probably watch, or watch again anyway.
7. Polar Express (Robert Zenekis, 2004)
“Sometimes, the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”
There’s always something a little bit off about this film but at the same time it is alluring because of how beautiful it is. The animation technique that is used can make the characters a bit freaky looking because of how realistic they seem. This is because the live-actors’ movements are mimicked in the characters as they talk and move. Technology, I know! That’s why the first time you watch the film and realize that the Polar Express’s Ticket collector doesn’t just sound like Tom Hanks, he is Tom Hanks. This is a very magical film with an interesting look at Santa’s lair and I must warn you: the film makes you crave hot chocolate so be sure to have some with you as you watch. Seriously though, the visual effects are stunning. But most of all this film makes me want to go back to being a child believing in Santa Claus.
6. A Christmas Carol (Robert Zemekis, 2009)
Zemekis did it again. The animation in this film is generally the same as Polar Express except it’s even better. The film is very colourful and happy at times while at others much darker than you would have prepared yourself for in Scrooge adaptation. It’s also another film starring Jim Carey and I must say he portrays Scrooge perfectly. This film tries and succeeds to get as creative as it can with a story that we’re already so familiar with in order for it to stand on its own. The multiple ghosts that come to visit him during the night are definitely not what I was expecting to see which was a pleasant surprise. It’s a wonderful film and a modern, yet classic, adaptation.
5. A Year Without a Santa Claus (Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr., 1974)
“I’m too much.” bah da da da
This is a stop-motion animation film that is short enough to make sure you don’t get too much of the excessively lame and cheesy Christmas vibe. It’s simplistic and sweet and perfect for getting you in the right mindset for Christmas. Everything about this film screams authenticity, innocence, and joy. Besides, you can’t miss Heat Miser and Snow Miser’s classic musical introductions. Watch it!
4. Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990)
“Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.”
Another film you shouldn’t go one Christmas without watching is Home Alone. Not #2 or the ones with that kid who isn’t Macaulay Culkin. No, this one is the greatest and the only one worth watching. Watch the sequel only if you’re prepared to see the exact same movie except a little less good. Chris Columbus who first brought Harry Potter’s world to screen proves to be a professional at bringing out the star quality in child actors because Kevin is extremely amusing and seems to be perfect for this role. Home Alone is fun, exciting, and definitely contains the perfect amount of feel-good Christmas themes like love and family to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
3. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Ron Howard, 2000)
“Help me…. I’m Feeling!”
Jim Carey is another comedic actor who I normally can’t look at without cringing. I’m sorry I’m just not a fan of the way over-the-top awkwardness that he is so great at. But again, by playing the Grinch, his disgusting and obnoxious character acting is what’s needed. The hilarious one-liners in this film are too many to count and it’s a script that people of all ages can find things to laugh at. The Grinch is classic and you should not go another Christmas without watching it.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
“All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”
Do not be coerced. This film may be black and white and made in the 40s but that does not make it any less capable of giving you everything you should want in a Christmas movie. It’s an inspiring and heartwarming story of a man who loses sight of what’s important in life and unlike Scrooge, the protagonist in this film is a much more relatable character. It’s the perfect Christmas movie with an amazing message that is perfect to watch with the people you love most.
1. Miracle on 34th Street (George Seaton, 1947) or (Les Mayfield, 1994)
“I’m not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and effects a jolly demeanour. You know, I I I’m a symbol.”
Now for this one you can either watch the original from 1947, or the modern adaptation from 1994. The original is classic and authentic and wonderful, but it also has more of a Twelve Angry Men feel to the narrative while the newer adaptation feels warmer and lighter yet still has its very emotional and more downbeat moments. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the visuals and I allow myself to be swooned by all the Christmassy, shimmering colours and beautiful cinematography that the 1990s had to offer which the 40s did not. Plus, Richard Attenborough as Santa Claus, how can you beat that? Matilda is in it too, adorable as ever! Anyway, this is my favourite Christmas movie that provides the perfect amount of depth, joy, love, cuteness, and cheesiness to get you into the Christmas spirit and you cannot go wrong in choosing one version or the other.
Bonus: A Claymation Christmas Celebration (Will Vinton, 1987)
“Here we come a-waffling among the leaves so green!”
There was no way I could just not mention this one. It’s a TV program that aired in 1987 and I have no idea how popular it is but the only reason I was fortunate enough to watch it is because my parents had taped it. I’m sure you could find the full version somewhere online but if not, there are a bunch of clips on YouTube you should check out. This program highlights all of the Christmas traditions and joyful Christmas carols that we all know by heart. Aside from being amusing for how adorable it is, there are also many sequences that are hilarious. This one program provides you with everything Christmas that you could ask it of. There’s even a special appearance from the California Raisins! Did I mention that everything in the film is made out of clay? Because that’s pretty cool too.