As I said in my Christmas bucket list, you can’t have Christmas, nor properly immerse yourself in the build-up, without Christmas films! So I’ve collected a list of what I believe are the best movies for Christmas. Perfect for kids (I’ve specifically included a ‘for kids’ section below) and adults alike, these films will get you in the Christmas mood and inspired for the festive season.
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!” – Dr. Seuss
Feel-good & classic Christmas films
A Christmas Carol (whatever your favourite version)
A classic. I’m a Dickens fan, so of course, that includes A Christmas Carol. Here, you’ve got tons of versions to choose from (here’s a handy list) to suit whatever your taste and mood. As a child, I loved The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992), but as I’ve got older, the Jim Carrey adaptation (2009) has quickly become my favourite.
Possibly the most wholesome and peaceful Christmas film ever, The Snowman is a mute film (it has music – beautiful music – and sound effects, but none of the characters speak) that tells the story of a boy and the snowman he builds in his garden. It’s sweet, comical and just a really pleasant watch. As a kid, this film was extra special to me, as it’s based in my home city of Brighton and features a number of Brighton monuments in some scenes.
The Polar Express
This is my family’s traditional Christmas Eve film so I know it like the back of my hand. It’s so SO Christmassy and such a fun, original story. I love the songs (I’m known to sing ‘hot choc-o-laaaaaaaaaaate’ all year round), the characters and the story, and it always leaves me ready for snuggling into bed on Christmas Eve.
It’s a Wonderful Life
This, admittedly, is still on my to-watch list, but I’ve had so many glowing recommendations for it that I had to include it. This black-and-white tale dives into the frustrations of everyday life, that will help you take a step back and feel a little more humbled and appreciative of the world and life you’ve built.
I haven’t yet seen the 2018 adaptation with Benedict Cumberbatch, but from the trailers, it does look like a good modern adaptation. But, I’m speaking about the 2000 adaptation, again starring Jim Carrey. The character is so excessive, the comedy half for kids and half for adults makes for a really fun film, retelling a classic, creative Dr Suess story.
Christmas comedy films
Home Alone 1&2
In my opinion, two of the funniest, most charming Christmas films. I do prefer the first, but only slightly, and I think the sequel, as uncommon as it is, really holds its own (let’s not talk about 3 and 4 though). The Home Alone films cleverly use childish, cartoon-ish slapstick in a way that still makes me giggle today, and throws in some really nice, wholesome moments too. Add a stellar performance from young Macaulay Culkin and you’ve got yourself a pair of Christmas classics.
This film is as much your Christmas bread and butter as Mariah Carey. With a real star-studded cast, this very British comedic story follows multiple plots, characters and romances that all lead up to the big day. I’m not usually one for romcoms, but I really do love this film.
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
This is a bit of a love or hate film (we have a family divide), as Chevvy Chase has a particular kind of humour that might not be caught by all. But, it’s a film I’ve always watched (and quoted to death) with my dad and one that he and I giggle about the whole Christmas season. Playing off of the classic Christmas woes we all face when trying to create the perfect Christmas. I love how this film plays through the entire season, as it feels like a real build-up to Christmas, and the ridiculous comedy makes me laugh every time.
Christmas films for kids
Miracle on 34th Street
This was my favourite Christmas film as a child. I adored Richard Attenborough’s Kris Kringle, the very stereotypical bad guys and the interesting, unusual dynamic within the starring family too. I’ve always enjoyed Mara Wilson’s performance, as well as the premise of the film (I won’t spoil it, but if you’ve never seen it, I’d say it’s worth a watch for the adults too).
The Santa Clause
I haven’t watched this one since I was a kid, but it’s again on my watchlist for this year. It’s an interesting take on a Christmas film, where an ordinary man gets thrown into the responsibility of being Santa Clause and of course, doesn’t take to it too well. It’s funny and festive, what more could you want?
The Night They Saved Christmas
Another of my childhood favourites, The Night They Saved Christmas really brings out that fantastical image and feeling of Santa Claus and The North Pole. The story sees Santa enlisting a woman and her children to convince an oil company to move their work away from Santa’s home at the North Pole. Add in some kick-ass child characters and a bunch of snowmobiles and as a kid, I was pretty hooked.
Christmas films that aren’t really about Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Okay, so we can debate on and on about whether or not this is a Christmas or a Halloween film, but sue me – I like watching it twice. I’ve always loved the premise of this film, I mean, Christmas and Halloween squished together? What could be better? Basically, a town full of Halloween folk discover the idea of Christmas and go about making their own version – it’s got quirky characters, Tim Burton’s iconic animation and style, catchy, clever songs and a twist on Christmas that’s a little bit different.
Again, this one is still on my watch-list, but also again, I’ve had it recommended to me time and time again. I love a good character by Johnny Depp and as such an iconic character, I’m excited to see just where the film goes.
Another Halloween/Christmas classic. Gremlins is only a Christmas film because it’s set at Christmas time (and this is made pretty clear in the movie), but I think it qualifies if you fancy watching an only slightly Christmassy film that’ll make you laugh your socks off.
I’m adding this to the list for three reasons, 1) it’s played so frequently at Christmas, that I think it’s become a Christmastime watch, 2) because the warming, fantastical scenes of Hogwarts at Christmas that appear in a few of the films make me feel so festive and in love with Christmastime, and 3) because you’ve got lots of time off and the weather isn’t great, so what else are you going to do but a Harry Potter marathon?
Of course, this list could go on forever, but I wanted to recommend my genuine favourites (and a few I’m excited to watch for the first time). I hope this list of my best movies for Christmas helps you get into the Christmas spirit, I know it will me!
Love, Ella-Rose xx