With the first of December just about to creep around the corner, it’s fitting that a list of (in my opinion) some of the best Christmas films should appear on your computer screens. So let’s kick-off the festive fun with a Dr Seuss classic…
10: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Ron Howard, 2000)
In a cave high on the slopes of Mount Crumpit above the weird and wacky town of Whoville, Jim Carrey can be found – in the greenest and hairiest form. Lovers of the Dr Seuss book will not be disappointed by Howard’s big screen adaptation, and nor will anyone else. As a film mainly targeted at children, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is heart-swellingly Christmassy, and has enough madness and insanity in it to fulfil every hardcore Carrey fan’s needs. At first glance, the long eyelashes and wispy green fingertips are unlike any other character Carrey has played, and he is scarcely recognisable. But give it a few more minutes and suddenly all is well with the world. Balancing clever poetry, snow, presents, madness and sadness, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is definitely worth a watch during the festive season.
9: The Holiday (Nancy Meyers, 2006)
House-swapping vacations have never before proved so bountiful. When Iris (Kate Winslet) swaps homes with Amanda (Cameron Diaz) to escape from her man problems, she finds love unexpectedly – and so does Amanda. Jude Law drops in to effortlessly sweep Diaz off her feet, whilst Jack Black and his quirky musical charm presses all the right piano keys for Winslet. Love is truly in the transatlantic air – and coupled with the side story of Arthur and his lifetime achievement award, there won’t be a dry eye in the house. Admittedly, it’s a cheesy Hollywood romance, but if you watch it expecting corny lines and a predictable plot then you won’t be let down. Oh, and it takes place over Christmas too…
8: The NeverEnding Story (Wolfgang Petersen, 1984)
I know, I know – Petersen’s The NeverEnding Story is in no way Christmassy. Furthermore, Christmas is not mentioned once in the film. But, I assure you that this Christmas, The NeverEnding Story will be shown on British television (I can’t be sure about America). Without fail, ever since I can remember, I have associated Petersen’s film with Christmas. Whether this is nostalgia, or love of the story, I don’t know. However, I do know that the story is so magical, so fantastical, that it can hold its own on any Christmas film list. Look out for it on your TV Guides.
7: Bridget Jones’ Diary(Sharon Maguire, 2001)
Is it really Christmas without Colin Firth and Hugh Grant throwing themselves through restaurant windows and pathetically trying to hit each other down a London backstreet? Beginning and ending with snow and Mark Darcy, the film is packed full of laughs, loves and let downs – the biggest one being Grant’s cocky, self centred Daniel Cleaver. The most wonderful thing about this film is it’s ability to capture the importance of love and family at Christmas time… and also Renee Zellweger running down a street in animal print pants and a cardigan.
6: The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993)
It’s true. For those who did not know, The Nightmare Before Christmas is not a Tim Burton directed feature. Shocker right? Nevertheless, Selick’s wonderfully creative use of stop-motion animation bring Christmas and Halloween together in the most unusual way. After Jack Skellington’s misguided plan to kidnap ‘Sandy Claws’ from Christmas town turns bad, it is up to Sally and him to save Santa and Christmas. Since Nightmare, Selick has proven his ability to provide the world with films that are truly terrifying to adults – even though they are aimed at kids (see Coraline to find out why). For any Burton-ites out there as well, it is well worth watching to notice his inspiration for Corpse Bride…
5: Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003)
Will Ferrell dressed as a Christmas elf. Need I say more? When Buddy (Ferrell) finds out that he is not actually an elf (you’d never have guessed it), he sets out on an expedition to New York to find his real Dad – only problem is, he’s on the Naughty List! Filled with fun, laugh-out-loud moments and the chance to watch someone experience revolving doors and escalators for the first time, Elf is sure to bring a smile to your face this Christmas season.
4: An Affair To Remember(Leo McCarey, 1957)
Again, I’m breaking the rules of my own list. The only scene in this film that is even vaguely Christmassy is the ending, when Nicky Ferrante (Cary Grant) finally goes to see Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) at her apartment. There is something so heart warming about the reunion of the couple after they have been separated for so long, that it is near impossible not to love this movie. New York, Cary Grant, snow – I know what I want for Christmas.
3: Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990)
In my opinion, if you don’t watch Home Alone at least once this Christmas then the festive period is not complete. Macaulay Culkin is the loveable lead, left at home accidentally by his parents when they leave to go on holiday over Christmas. Hilariously, and unbelievably, his mother (Catharine O’Hara) only notices Kevin’s (Culkin) absence when their plane lands. And so begins some of the most ridiculous events in Christmas cinema history. The young boy fights off two, admittedly terrible, burglars using anything and everything – paint pots, an iron, a tarantula… you name it. There is a genuine sadness when Kevin realises he is potentially going to be alone on Christmas day, only to be lifted by Harry and Marv’s incompetence at their trade.
2: Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003)
From the creator of such comedy gems as The Vicar of Dibley, and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually is yet another triumph that Richard Curtis can add to his list. With an enviable cast of famous faces, such as Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson, the film follows a series of stories that all happen over Christmas. Thompson finds out that husband Alan Rickman bought an expensive necklace for another woman, Neeson is trying to recover from the untimely death of his wife, Grant – rather typically – the Prime Minister and sister to Thompson… these are just a few of a whole range of narratives that all combine to produce good old fashioned entertainment, with some tears thrown in along the way.
1!!! Miracle on 34th Street (Les Mayfield, 1994)
That’s right. My all-time number one Christmas movie is Miracle on 34th Street, the remake. I’ll admit now, I have never seen the original 1947 film, but anything with Richard Attenborough in is an automatic win for me. There is nobody more qualified, or with more of a cheeky twinkle in his eye than Attenborough to play old Saint Nick. Watching him sit with the children as they tell him what they want for Christmas even lulls the audience into believing that he actually is Father Christmas. It breaks your heart to see such a lovely, kind hearted old man sat alone in a hospital room when everybody believes him to be crazy. Finally, when it is proved in court that Kriss Kringle (Attenborough) is in fact the real Santa the feeling of justice and Christmas magic is overwhelming. Also, when he looks into the camera over the top of his half-moon glasses, it really does feel like he knows what you would like for Christmas. This is a film that deserves to be number one on any festive movie list.