What do all awesome Christmas films have in common? Jingly bells? Check. Happy endings? Check. Snowfall at a really poignant moment of self-realisation? Check.
It should come as no surprise to know that I am an 80s child with the films that have made the cut in this list. There are some classics missing, I know, but they just aren’t brightly coloured or sickly sweet enough to really hit the spot for me. Maybe when I’m old and take joy in bleak stuff, sorry classics, but that time is not now. Onwards, with the list!
15. Arthur Christmas (2011)
A surprise hit from one of the very few new Christmas films made in the last decade. It’s a bit like Spy Kids meets Chicken Run, and a nice home score for Aardman Animation. The impressive cast includes voices from Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imedla Staunton, Michael Palin, Robbie Coltrane and James McAvoy.
14. The Santa Clause (1994)
The synopsis starts off like something from the Horror Channel but Tim ‘Buzz Lightyear’ Allen (he’ll always be Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor to me, grunt grunt) accidentally kills Santa on Christmas Eve and has to take Santa’s place to Save Christmas.
13. Deck the Halls (2006)
Classic Danny DeVito material in this 90s throwback flick (I mean that as a positive thing) about two neighbours (DeVito and Matthew ‘I Never Age’ Broderick) at war over who is the king of Christmas in the neighbourhood. I can see my dad being That Guy With All The Lights once he retires, and this film should serve as an instruction manual for how to accomplish this.
12. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
I really struggle with cringe-comedy and find I have to distract myself from watching scenes that make me physically recoil with awkardness. The Lampoon films are no exception, but I can’t miss watching the Dad’s (Chevy Chase) you’re going to do this and you’re going to enjoy it approach to the festivities. Flying squirrels, Ridley Scott turkeys and mad old people complete the madness.
11. Die Hard (1988)
Yes it is a bloody Christmas film, alright? John McClane (Bruce Willis) pops off Hans Gruber’s (Alan Rickman) baddies and puts Santa hats on them. Yippie-ky-yay, melonfarmer! As the pre-watershed version goes.
10. Scrooged (1988)
Okay kicking off the top 10 is the 80s remaining of A Christmas Carol where Bill Murray plays a so-80s-it-hurts TV exec visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve to make him see his selfish ways. Not sure who wears more eyeliner in this, Bill Murray or Karen Allen.
9. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
KEVIN! It happened again. Honestly who loses their kid twice? Kevin McCallister goes it alone against the Wet Bandits in a house of epic boobytraps once again, but not before living out every kid’s dream of living it up in New York City on Dad’s stolen credit card.
8. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Yes I did mean the 1994 version. I told you I’m an 80s child! Richard Attenborough is Kris Kringle who winds up in court to prove that Santa really does exist, and he’s it, obvs. I miss Mara Wilson, where did she go?
7. Jingle All the Way (1996)
You’ll probably see this film on a lot of “Worst Christmas Movies” lists, but don’t listen to them because they’re wrong. Arnold Schwarzeneggar plays a thoroughly modern workaholic father who constantly lets his son down with broken promises, missed appointments and lousy excuses. He thinks he can make up for a lifetime of not caring by getting this one hot toy of the season. Yeah you reckon.
6. Bad Santa (2003)
5. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Musicals! Tim Burton! Creepy stuff! What’s not to love? Claymation used to give me terrible nightmares as a kid, but Wallace & Gromit brought me round. Nightmare is funny and tender, and Danny Elfman’s soundtrack is a work of genius. I know the words to all the songs. ALL THE SONGS. If Christmassy films generally make you puke, this is a funked up take on the festive season.
4. Gremlins (1984)
Yes it is a Christmas film! Billy receives a fluffy little mogwai for Christmas and names him Gizmo. He has a cute song, big ears and bright eyes. It all goes downhill from there as the evil Gremlins ruin EVERYTHING. Prepare for some pretty gross ways of killing said Gremlins. Turns out they’re made of green gunge.
3. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1993)
2. Home Alone (1990)
Child abandonment has never looked so awesome. There’s magic and nostalgia by the bucketload as Kevin comes to realise how important family is, whilst defending his booby-trapped house from professional burglars.
1. Elf (2003)