My Essential Christmas Films

Seeing as how it’s Christmas and all, I thought I’d share with you my favourite Christmas films.

Santa Clause: The Movie santaclausbdcap3_original

A film that didn’t do too well at the box office, it went on to become a cult film of sorts. Investigating the origin story of Santa Clause, the movie (albeit thinly) answers all the questions as to why the great man came to be. The special effects are terrible and the script forgettable so why’s it on the list?  Well it’s fun and very warm. Plus John Lithgow’s pantomime portrayal of Santa’s corporate rival is so over the top you can’t help but love to hate him.

kinopoisk.ruHome Alone 

Rumour has it that a top studio exec was fired for passing on the chance to produce Home Alone. Considering it made $17 million in its opening weekend it doesn’t fall into the realms of improbable. When the McCallisters go on holidays for Christmas they leave behind their 8 year old son Kevin (Macauley Culkin). At first it’s all fun and games however he starts to miss his family and finds himself the unlikely guardian of his home when burglars Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern come to visit. Chaos ensues and millions are made.


Before Will Ferrell only did sports comedies, in 2003 he played Buddy the Elf in John Favreau’s comedy. Raised in the North Pole, Buddy realises he’s not like the other elves and discovers he’s in fact a human. Armed with the knowledge that James Caan is his real father, Buddy tracks him down in New York and teaches his dad a thing or two about family and Christmas. He also manages to attract the attention of Zooey Deschanael along the way which is never a bad thing.

nightmare-before-christmas-nightmare-before-christmas-494173_800_494The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington is worshipped as a hero in his home of Halloween Town. He wants more though as he starts getting bored with the same old frights and scares. When he learns about Christmas Town and a man named Santa Claus, Jack decides on a change of vocation. As well as he means, Jack almost ruins Christmas which results in a mad last dash to put right to his wrongs. Filled with memorable songs and fantastic stop motion animation, Henry Sellick’s film is as fresh today as it was in 1993.


Bill Murray stars in this updated version of A Christmas Carol which also serves as a parody of Charles Dickens’ classic. Frank is the president of a TV network who only cares about money and himself. He’s visited by three ghosts, he reluctantly learns the true meaning of Christmas, he…well you know the story. Throw in some greats gags and you may have the definitive movie version of A Christmas Carol.


Kingston Falls gets a special treat one Christmas when a local inventor brings home a Mogwai for his son Billy. The Mogwai, christened Gizmo, is the epitome of cute. Unfortunately he has a allergy to sunlight, multiplies with water and turns into a demonic little monster if he eats after midnight. Filled with so many plot holes that even the sequel makes fun of it, Gremlins shows a darker side of the holidays albeit with a black humour. Funny and scary is a difficult balance to pull off, but Joe Dante’s work sets the template for the genre.

Die Hardjohn-mcclane-zippo-lighter-die-hard-blu-ray-cap

A film that tends to divide opinion on whether it is a Christmas film or not, there’s always room for debate. New York Cop John McClane (Bruce Willis)  finds himself celebrating the holidays at an LA Christmas party killing terrorists while he enrages everyone from the villains, the cops and his estranged wife. A film about miracles, faith, families coming together and good triumphing over evil, how could it not be classed as a Christmas film?

joye noelJoyeux Noel

World War I was infamous for it’s brutal battles fought in the trenches. Many films have documented the horrors of this period however one decided to show it from another angle. Set on Christmas Eve in 1914, an unlikely truce breaks out between the German, French and Scottish regiments when they agree to a ceasefire and even fraternise. Presents are exchanged and a game of football is played on no man’s land as the futility of war is explored. Uplifting, humerous and ultimately thought provoking. An unbelievably true story.

It’s a Wonderful LifeIts-a-wonderful-life

No list would be complete with Frank Capra’s timeless classic. George Bailey (James Stewart) is a man that has the world continually thrust upon his shoulders and who is always putting others before himself. So, it should come as no surprise that he eventually snaps and thinks of throwing it all away, however would life really be better for everyone if he was never born? Humerous and sad, It’s a Wonderful Life keeps the audience entertained until the final act when it delivers a flurry of knockout punches that tests the resolve of the hardest heart. If you’re not filled with Christmas cheer before the credits roll then you have no soul.

Follow me
Latest posts by Thomas Simpson (see all)

5 thoughts on “My Essential Christmas Films

  1. Great list. Santa Clause: The Movie is one of my all time favourite Christmas films, I used to watch it when I was very young and loved scenes from the North Pole, it made Santa seem more real to me! I did watch it this Christmas and found the special effects highly amusing today, but the film does still have a charm and is great for kids (or big kids like me!).
    I was a bit of a late appreciator of Will Ferrell, and I still think he is tedious rather than funny in some films, however Step Brothers and Elf made me warm to him. Elf is quite simply hilarious, the one liners alone are ridiculously funny. It’s one of the very few films where absolutely everyone else in the film is normal apart from Buddy, yet you become convinced that everyone else is wrong (without it turning into a physcological thriller), after it the world is a better place because you have laughed so hard and you almost believe in Santa again.
    Scrooged was one of those weird films I used to watch when I was young (I still like the weird ones), again I watched it again this year. It is actually pretty dark and I remember it being quite scary when I was younger. It really does feel like you are in Bill Murray’s nightmare and the modern take on the 3 ghosts was pretty cool, my favourite being the violent fairy.
    Home Alone for me is all about nostalgia, when I watch it, it takes me right back to being a kid when Christmas was all about the presents and all your daft family coming over. It’s also very funny and touching.
    What can I say about It’s a Wonderful Life except I think it might just be my favourite film of all time? It’s a ritual for me to watch this every Xmas. It’s like life; there is a lot of suffering; it’s so unfair it’s aggravating; people you hate and people you can’t quite hate ruin everything; you spend a lot of it thinking it should of worked out the way you wanted it to but it never; and for the most part it’s quite depressing, but if you didn’t go along with George through that journey, you would never appreciate in the same way the few minutes of human kindness that make it all worth it and year after year make me cry tears of happiness. The end of that film every year reaffirms my faith in the human race, special.

    • I highly recommend Joyeaux Noel for next year. Amazing and inspiring but also manages to convey the horrors of war without bloody battle scenes.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.