It is the most wonderful time of the year after all.
As we descend into the festive season, The Write-Up is starting celebrations early with a Top 10 list of the greatest Christmas films ever. Make sure you check these delights off your watch list this year. Try not to scream SANTAAAAAAA though. Enjoy!
10. The Nightmare Before Christmas
A festive classic for both Halloween and Christmas, Tim Burton’s surrealist cult classic is a darkly comic, visual splendor to behold. Beneath its gothic dreamscape is a toe-tapping, beating heart, the wonderful and beautiful like of which is a delight 24 years on.
9. The Santa Clause
A Dad accidentally kills Santa, he puts on the suit, goes to the North Pole and slowly transforms into Santa. A simple premise brought hilariously to life by Tim Allen’s deadpan delivery, placing this lovely film firmly on your annual viewings. How good does that cookie from the sleigh looks?
Monsters aren’t usually associated with the holidays, but Gremlins bucked the trend, delivering a wickedly funny slice of terror. A seminal, nostalgic treat that brought cinema’s cutest heroine in the form of Gizmo into our lives, tugging on my heartstrings eternally.
7. The Polar Express
Robert Zemeckis’ joyous yet gently somber train ride to the literal North Pole is a heartwarming tale of friendship, family, and generally, love. Tom Hanks is spectacular in multiple roles including an utterly terrifying puppet and a charismatic train conductor with an affinity for “hot, hot, hot , hot chocolate”. Remember, “believing is seeing.”
6. The Family Stone
The ultimate underrated Christmas movie. Telling the story of a dysfunctional family coming together for the holidays, with a cast including Diane Keaton and Sarah Jessica Parker, this sharply written tragi-comedy blends humour and heartbreak expertly. Watch out for the cringe-inducing, hilarious dinner scene, and don’t forget tissues.
5. Die Hard
A timeless action epic with an often forgotten festive relation, Die Hard is more than a Christmas movie; it’s a kickass thrill ride for the ages. Bruce Willis is our relatable hero, John McClane, and the late Alan Rickman is the remarkable, villainous Hans Gruber. “Yippee-ki-yay!”
4. It’s a Wonderful Life
There’s a reason this tearjerker tops all the lists. James Stewart’s endearing performance throughout this tale of happiness overcoming adversity is engrossing and importantly, purely human. This is Frank Capra’s magnum opus; a bloody brilliant film with a legacy that cannot be debated – just, perfect.
3. Love Actually
It is a bit sappy, perhaps a little naive, and even morally troubling at times. But that’s love, right? Love Actually is a rom-com with a real wit, more than capable of provoking some huge laughs and also stealing your heart. Lead by an all-star cast – including Hugh Grant’s dancing – prepare to fall in love.
2. Home Alone
The penultimate entry on this list is an adored family classic. Transforming Macauley Culkin into a worldwide star, John Hughes’ holiday beat-em up is a lovable, raucous and surprisingly smart romp. Even its sequel, Lost in New York, is a brilliant successor (forget the atrocious sequels thereafter).
Elf triumphs over the rest for one big reason; it brings together everything that’s great about Christmas into one perfect package. You have elves, Santa, snow, New York and… Will Ferrell? Telling the story of Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) and his conquest to find his real dad in the Big Apple, it’s a slapstick masterclass and heartwarming treat from director Jon Favreau.
Ferrell’s mightily enthusiastic, child-like performance as fan-favourite Buddy the Elf carries the film throughout it’s packed narrative. Carrying the comically huge elf with such innocence and unflinching happiness, it’s a marvellous performance in which Ferrell doesn’t break a sweat (except when he’s throwing a thousand snowballs).
Aside from Ferrell, there’s a star cast, featuring James Caan as Buddy’s dad, Bob Newhart and last but by no means least, Zooey Deschanel, who charms and wins us over with her gentle tones in a fantastic rendition of ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’. Favreau has a firm hand on what makes audiences cackle; whether it’s Buddy enjoying the exhilarating thrills of revolving doors, learning about bathroom etiquette or obliviously crossing the big city’s busy roads.
But what’s key here is the film’s message – what’s Christmas without Christmas Spirit? Don’t be a cotton-headed ninny muggins, make sure you watch Elf this year.