So Christmas is just around the corner, the halls have been decked and the trees have been put up and you’re looking for a film to put you in the Christmas mood. In this countdown I’ll be looking at some of the most famous Christmas films. I will be ranking them based on how much I feel they either embody the spirit of the season or to what extent they get me excited for Christmas coming.
10) Jingle All the Way (1996). Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad and Jake Lloyd.
Released during the period in the 90’s when Schwarzenegger was involved in numerous family films such as Junior and Batman and Robin, the film tells the story of a busy father who attempts to buy his son the most sought after Christmas toy, on Christmas Eve. The film takes inspiration from both the Power Rangers craze of the 90s, the action figure Turbo Man has a TV series not unlike the power rangers programme, and the craze for Cabbage Patch dolls during the mid-80s where parents fought tooth and nail to find the right doll for their children and retailers were criticised for holding back stocks. However despite attempting to be an interesting look into the issues of consumerism around Christmas there is little seasonal cheer or goodwill to be found in it. Plus the final 15-20 minutes of the film are just completely ridiculous.
9) The Nightmare before Christmas (1995) Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon and Catherine O’Hara.
Tim Burton’s stop motion vision of Christmas, the film shows the king of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington, stumbling into the Christmas world and attempting to make Christmas himself along with his friends back in Halloweentown. There will be some debate about how much this is actually a Christmas film or a Halloween film, I however think that because it shows that Christmas can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone it falls firmly into the Christmas category. This is one of my favourite films but seeing as it isn’t a true embodiment of the Christmas spirit it sits at number 9.
8) Elf (2003) Starring: Will Ferrell and James Caan
Starring Will Ferrell as the titular ‘elf’, Buddy, who finds out he isn’t really an elf he then returns to his home in New York to find his real Dad. I personally didn’t like the film and found Buddy to be simply a Will Ferrell cookie cutter character, simple, loud and annoying, despite this and the crazy twists and turns in the final act of the film which I found predictable even the most hardened scrooge cannot fail to find Christmas cheer in Buddy’s naïve joy about the Christmas period and especially the visit of Santa to the department store he ends up working in.
7) Four Christmases (2008) Starring: Vince Vaughn and Reece Witherspoon
The most recent film on my countdown, Vince Vaughn and Reece Witherspoon play a couple who after years of going away for Christmas have to stay at home and decide to visit all four of their divorced parents in one day, leading to the usual trials and tribulations of visiting family on Christmas, although further exacerbated as their families seem to be full of over exaggerated characters. The film does tap into a part of Christmas that most films ignore, the problems of meeting up with family that most of the time are only seen during the festive season.
6) The Santa Clause (1994) Starring: Tim Allen
Starring Tim Allen as an overworked, divorced father… are you noticing a trend in these Christmas films? Whilst looking after his son on Christmas Eve, Allen accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall off the roof and then puts on the iconic red coat and finishes delivering the presents. However he finds out that due to the Santa ‘Clause’ he will now become the spirit of Christmas. The film deals with both Allen’s character, Scott Calvin, coming to terms with both his responsibility to his young boy and also his impending responsibilities as Santa Claus.
5) The Grinch (2000) Starring: Jim Carrey and Anthony Hopkins
Starring Jim Carrey this live action retelling of Dr. Seuss’ ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ brings the story of the children’s book to the big screen, narrated by Anthony Hopkins the film feels like the book has come to life: the characters speak, for the majority, in Seuss’ trademark rhyming style and the comedy from the book is further heightened by Jim Carrey’s acting style. This is another film that shows that Christmas spirit can belong to anyone, even someone whose heart is two sizes two small.
4) Home Alone (1990) Starring: Macaulay Culkin and Joe Pesci
One of the classic Christmas films, Macaulay Culkin is Kevin, the youngest member of the McCallister family who after an argument with his older brother, wishes his family would disappear. This is granted when he wakes the morning after to find the family have gone to Paris without him. He then pits his wits against two hapless criminals, who are breaking into houses in Kevin’s neighbourhood, defending his home with some nearly lethal traps and the help of the scary old neighbour. Full of constantly quotable lines, a personal favourite being “keep the change you filthy animal”, and scenes featuring a young boy running wild home alone, the film also brings the festive cheer as it reaches its denouement.
3) It’s a Wonderful Life (1947) Starring: James Stewart and Donna Reed
The oldest film on my countdown, but still proving that the old films are the best, is the classic tale of George Bailey, James Stewart’s character, a small town banker dreaming of seeing the world, who after a series of setbacks tries to kill himself and is shown by angel second class, Clarence Odbody, how much of an affect he has had on the people of Bedford Falls, New York and how wonderful and important his life really is. The film is one of the classic films of all time and as a good Christmas film can brings the joys of the season and Christmas cheer to any part of the year.
2) The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) Starring: Michael Caine
The Penultimate film on my countdown, this is one of my personal favourite Christmas films retelling the famous Dickens story with the addition of musical numbers and the addition of the Muppets as various characters from the story, including Kermit as Bob Cratchitt, whilst Michael Caine is brilliant as the miserly Scrooge. The film is full of the Muppet show’s trademark humour and visual gags. I have no problems with this film it just simply isn’t, to me, as good a Christmas film as my number one.
1) Miracle on 34th Street (1994) Starring: Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson
To me this is the greatest Christmas film ever made, a remake of the 1947 original, this version makes a couple of changes from this original film, bringing in some interesting debates about the idea of Father Christmas, played brilliantly by Richard Attenborough, for those who haven’t seen it the film tells the story of the Cole’s department store Santa, who may or may not be the real thing, who attempts to persuade the young daughter of his manager, child-actress Mara Wilson, who is six going on sixty and doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. The film never fails to make me excited for Christmas and it’s become almost a tradition for me to watch it in the run to the big day.