There are many wonderful things that come with the festive season – mince pies, love and understanding, turkey with stuffing – but chief amongst these is the Christmas movie, a film set on or around the birth of Jesus that reminds you of the joys of this overly-commercialised holiday. Navigating the snowy labyrinth of Christmas-themed films can be overwhelming, so I’ve helpfully compiled a list of some of the best the genre has to offer, and made the job that little bit more difficult for myself by awkwardly setting it to the lyrics of the iconic carol. God bless us, everyone!
12 hours of brilliance (All three extended editions of The Lord of the Rings)
Is there a better way to celebrate having time off work/university than to settle in and marvel at all 714 minutes of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings? Probably not. While they are not technically Christmas movies, this is maybe the only time of year you’ll have the time to dedicate to watching all three masterpieces back to back.
11 years ago (The Holiday)
Make yourself feel old by realising that Nancy Meyer’s delightful transatlantic rom-com was released more than a decade ago. A great cast and a sharp script make this the perfect accompaniment to a snowy afternoon.
10 scissor fingers (Edward Scissorhands)
Tim Burton’s attempt at a Christmas film was never going to be entirely conventional, but he surpasses himself with this melancholic tale of impossible love and loneliness. Stylised to within an inch of its life, Edward Scissorhands is the perfect festive fairytale.
9 ladies directing (Take your pick!)
Do your bit to smash the patriarchy this Christmas and enjoy some cinema directed by women. Start with Patty Jenkins and Kathryn Bigelow if you want more mainstream entertainment, or explore the work of Lynne Ramsay, Sofia Coppola, and Ava DuVernay if you’re after something more arthouse and thought-provoking.
8 English treasures (Love Actually)
No list of Christmas flicks would be complete without the ensemble joy of Richard Curtis’ Love Actually. While it may be painfully cheesy in places, its heart in definitely in the right place, and anything with Alan Rickman AND Emma Thompson is sure to win over even the Grinchiest of Christmas sceptics.
7 tears a-shedding (It’s a Wonderful Life)
Frank Capra’s 1946 classic is the key ingredient to Christmas for every generation. It’ll probably be showing on every channel for all of December, but you could also round up the whole family for a trip to see this on the big screen at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
6 kids offended (Bad Santa)
With its impressive record of almost three swear words a minute, this blackest of Christmas comedies is best enjoyed on your own, late at night on Boxing Day, while you finish off the last of the festive booze. Billy Bob Thornton’s acerbically inebriated Father Christmas is definitely not for children.
5 Muppet ghosts! (A Muppet Christmas Carol)
By far the best interpretation of Dickens’ timeless tale of Christmas redemption, A Muppet Christmas Carol has everything you could possibly want: Rizzo and Gonzo narrating, Kermit the Frog as the downtrodden Bob Cratchit, and Michael Caine singing his heart out. Perfection.
4 laughs a minutes (Elf)
For a certain generation, this is the quintessential Christmas movie. It is packed with quotable lines – “the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup” – and it is probably the funniest item on this list. Anyone who says otherwise sits on a throne of lies.
3 rubbish sequels (Home Alone)
It was all downhill from here, with the success of Macaulay Culkin’s resourceful hero launching a series of terrible attempts at recapturing the magic of this 1990 romp. Watching as an adult, you realise there’s no way Harry and Marv would have survived the punishment Kevin inflicts upon them, but it is a testament to the brilliance of the film that this doesn’t distract from the festive fun.
2 hours of madness (Mad Max: Fury Road)
As pointed out on Twitter by @CharlotteOfOz, we can’t definitively prove that Fury Road is not a Christmas movie, as the dystopian society of the future have dispensed with calendars. So stick on George Miller’s modern masterpiece after lunch and watch your gran’s head explode. What a lovely (Christmas) day!
And a Christmas yippee ki-yay! (Die Hard)
What is Die Hard if not the story of a man trying to get home to see his wife and children at Christmas? Yes, he does have to kill several international bank robbers and blow up a skyscraper in the process, but at its core this is a heart-warming tale about the importance of family. With explosions.