Merry Christmas! You’re probably sat at home doing absolutely nothing at the moment, and want to put a film on. Well, here’s a selection of the top 10 best Christmas movies of all time, why not give one a go on Christmas Day?
10. Christmas Vacation (1989)
The third film in the National Lampoon Vacation series is now a staple festive watch in America, and although it’s not the best film ever, it’s a clever subversion of the Christmas genre.
Yes, Christmas Vacation may focus mainly on Chevy Chase falling off of buildings, but the best thing about it is that it looks at how Christmas can bring families together, and then cause them to bicker and rip each other to shreds.
It’s not a depressing or dark film in any way, it’s actually a very light holiday comedy, but it makes fun of the preachy messages of most Christmas movies, and shows off the general knowledge that Christmas can often cause more family rifts than bring them together.
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
In reality, The Nightmare Before Christmas is more of a Halloween film, but its story does develop into a more festive-related thing.
It’s a musical all about the mayor of Halloweentown who learns the true meaning of Christmas, and although it’s not really the most spectacularly enjoyable film, it is a visually ingenious one.
Showing off the Tim Burton-y stop-motion animation style, it brilliantly echoes the darkness of Halloweentown, and that does contrast well with the well-meaning nature of the people who believe in Christmas, making for some good laughs too.
8. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)
Well, I think that the title and that picture sum up perfectly what this film is.
In beautiful Z-movie fashion, the ridiculous Santa Claus Conquers The Martians tells the story of a group of aliens who kidnap Santa, take him to Mars and force him to give presents to their children, and it’s just as terrible as you’d expect.
With terribly flimsy set and costume design that you can only get from the 60s, it’s a marvellously awful comedy sci-fi family adventure. At least it has some good laughs, but there’s simply no denying how idiotic a film this is.
That said, if you fancy some alternative Christmas watching this year, and want a good laugh, try this one out…
7. Trading Places (1983)
Trading Places is one of the most genuinely funny Christmas movies of all time. Yes, it’s got the preachy message about not being a grinch and giving goodwill to all men, but it’s a brilliantly written film, and you’ll be laughing all the way through.
Following the story of two billionaires who make a bet that they can transform a poor man into a prestigious businessman, and vice versa. With the excellent comedic value of Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, there are laughs absolutely everywhere in this festive classic.
It’s also a pretty interesting premise, and as well as being hilarious, it’s fascinating to watch the way that the two men change as a result of their ‘trading places’, making it a much more satisfying watch than most of the generic festive stuff you get every year.
6. Love Actually (2003)
Richard Curtis’ Love Actually is the mother of all romantic comedies. Featuring, at times, over ten separate romantic stories, each as cheesy as the next, it’s not a film for the faint-hearted, so if you’re not a fan of the rom-com, it’s probably best to avoid this one.
Having said that, this film isn’t as painful as you’d expect. Yes, the romance is always cheesy and completely preposterous, but what often prevails is the excellently witty comedy, and the hugely pleasant and light-hearted atmosphere that fits in perfectly with the Christmas feeling.
What’s more is that it’s over two hours long, which may sound daunting for some, but it really does pass very quickly, and can easily waste some time after Christmas lunch when you don’t want to do anything at all.
5. Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone is the quintissential modern family Christmas comedy. Everybody knows it, and there’s good reason for that, because it’s just bonkers, and so entertaining.
In the role he’ll forever be known for, 8 year-old Macaulay Culkin shines, putting in a hugely likeable and funny performance that so many kids just can’t pull off in movies, and seeing as two-thirds of the film are based around watching him mess around while stuck at home, alone, it makes it all the more entertaining to watch.
Beyond that, however, we get an insane action-ish finale when Culkin covers his house in convoluted booby traps to prevent two incompetent burglars from getting in. Those two burglars are played by Joe Pesci (who somehow doesn’t swear at all), and Daniel Stern, and watching them be consistently outsmarted by a young boy really is a treat like no other.
4. Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
The phrase: ‘They don’t make ’em like they used to’ has never been more appropriate. 1947’s Miracle On 34th Street is simply one of the most heartwarming and delightful films ever made, and it’s a perfect Christmas classic.
The whole movie centres around a lovely old man who is labelled as insane for claiming he is the real Santa Claus, and nobody believes him except for one little girl, who convinces a young lawyer to defend Santa in court to prevent him from being sent to a mental institution.
This is an incredibly lightweight film, but it shows off the amazing ability of Old Hollywood classics to be so genuinely delightful. There was a remake in 1994, but nothing will ever compare to the original.
3. Elf (2003)
Every year, Christmas comedies come and go, and are very rarely remembered. That definitely isn’t the case for Elf, which is arguably the best modern Christmas movie of all.
It’s an absolutely hilarious film about a man, raised as an elf in the North Pole, who returns to New York City to meet his birth father. However, his excessive cheerfulness annoys his father, a grumpy businessman, so Buddy the elf then begins to question whether people really do have the true spirit of Christmas.
Yes, it’s that old chestnut again, but beyond being a really funny comedy, Elf also succeeds where so many others fail, by making a genuinely heartwarming and meaningful story about Christmas. It’s one of my ultimate guilty pleasure movies, because I cry every time I watch everyone band together to sing ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’. I know, weird, but it’s just such a delightful scene.
2. Die Hard (1988)
HA HA! For those who hate the holiday, or those who are just as irritatingly smug as me, Die Hard is often considered the greatest Christmas film of all.
It’s not really about Christmas, but it is all about a NYPD cop who gets caught up in a terrorist takeover of a skyscraper in Los Angeles, ON CHRISTMAS EVE! Honestly, though, Die Hard is the ultimate action movie, and still hasn’t really been topped for its originality and excitement.
Die Hard is the film that created the modern action blockbuster, where explosions and violence reign supreme, and it makes for a truly thrilling watch. However, what it does so well that action movies nowadays have forgotten is give us a brilliant main character to watch take on the bad guys.
John McClane isn’t some type of Superman, he’s just a normal guy who doesn’t actually want to be there, having to save everyone. Therefore, it’s so easy to relate to him, and it makes for an even more engrossing watch.
Die Hard is definitely the one to watch if you don’t want cheesy Christmas nonsense.
1. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Could there really be anything else? It’s A Wonderful Life is replayed in cinemas and on television incessantly all across the globe, and has become the ultimate sign of the festive season.
But it’s not just that that makes this the best Christmas movie of all time. The film is a hugely emotional story about a nice man who, frustrated with his grinch of a boss, meets an angel that ultimately shows him what life would be like if he never existed.
In that, we learn so much about our main character, and come to love and care for him so much. Only the great Jimmy Stewart could have ever played such a delightful man, and we’re certainly glad he did, because this is the film that will undoubtedly move you, and really make you feel the true spirit of Christmas like no other movie can.