Cracking Christmas films: your top 10

As voted by readers of The Courier, here are your favourite festive films

7th December 2015

10. Gremlins

Little cute yet evil creatures, a 1980’s soundtrack, that fit girl from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the directing talents of Chris Columbus would make anything worthy of a top 10 list, but Gremlins has the added advantage of being set at Christmas. This makes it pure cinematic magic. Although not your usual yule-tide tale, the Christmas backdrop creates the perfect amalgamation of sinister and humourous in this festive black comedy. Anyone who has seen Gremlins has instantly fallen in love with the main Mogwai Gizmo, anyone who hasn’t needs to. Even though the Mogwai have a mean streak, the films drama really stems from the main character, Billy Peltzer’s human error by ignoring the three crucial key rules of owning a Mogwai: keep them out of sunlight ; never get them wet; never feed them after midnight. So don’t let the rumours put you off, this film is a Christmas classic that is both naughty and nice.

Imogen Scott-Chambers

9. In Bruges

You may have heard somewhere that Bruges, Belgium is pronounced ‘broozh’, but not the heroes of In Bruges. Our heroes are Irish hitmen sent to Bruges by their boss for two weeks after a hit goes badly wrong. One is a young hothead, who sees no reason to be anywhere but Dublin, and the other is an older, gentler and curious traveller.

"It is one of my favourite films and it inspired me desire to visit Bruges"

It is one of my favourite films, as it inspired me desire to visit Europe’s best-preserved medieval city, Bruges. Here, Martin McDonagh made his debut as writer and director, and I must say, he did a marvellous job as its dark and human comedy with an unpredictable storyline that can only be enjoy with family and peers, and oddly, around Christmas too.

The irony of deaths in the film has irrefutable logic; that even professional murderers have feelings, which why In Bruges stands out from rest. Not the cheeriest Christmas film, but an essential one.

Salman Ali

8. Love Actually

Straight away the soothing voice of Hugh Grant is showing us how Love Actually is a perfect Christmas film. The different storylines means that no person watching is left out of the Christmas love and joy fest as something appeals to everyone. Likewise, the huge range of actors means that one of everyone’s favourites will be somewhere in the film, be it someone like Alan Rickman or Rowan Atkinson. Put simply, it is a film that represents the spirit of Christmas so well, whatever your opinion on the holiday is, with old couples, new couples and families all being brought together. Anyone who disagrees should be directed to this line from the film: love actually is all around. Hard to not agree with such a happy message, yes it’s cheesy but so is Christmas so put away the Grinch costume and join me in watching Love Actually for the 50th time.

Jenny Cooke

7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Why is How The Grinch Stole Christmas such a Christmas classic? Because it’s Dr. Seuss! He’s the genius that wrote many children’s stories like The Cat In The Hat, Horton Hear’s A Who - they just make you feel all happy and fuzzy inside. And that is exactly what all of us should feel on Christmas Day.

"it makes you feel all happy and fuzzy inside And that is what we should feel on Christmas Day"

We also can’t ignore the fact how visually pleasing the whole film is. How pretty Whoville is designed though? The cute architecture of the houses decorated with so many Christmas lights, just illustrates the Christmas spirit beautifully.  Everyone’s super adorable costumes too; just look at Christine Baranski’s bold fashion choices. They are spot-on. And not to mention each character’s to-die-for updos. But I personally think the best reason why The Grinch is in the list, is obviously because Little J (Taylor Momsen) is still in her pre-grudge-punk-reckless innocent self.

Gupita Prameswari

6. It's a Wonderful Life

Frank Capra’s 1946 timeless classic is a darker movie than many realise.  Suicide?  Drowning?  Bankruptcy?  It doesn’t sound like your average cheery Chrimbo flick. However, these dark moments (admittedly along with plenty of humorous ones) add up to an operatic tale of misery, greed and ultimately redemption and love. The inimitable James Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who has devoted his life to helping others, rather than following his own dreams.

The film begins with a series of flashbacks to George’s past.  As we witness how his life has panned out, we see just how much he has given up to help his friends and neighbours. On Christmas Eve, we find him drunk, broke and ready to end it all.  I won’t tell you how it unfolds, but it’s sure to bring a smile to even the biggest of Scrooges amongst us.

If you’re going to choose one Christmas film this year, watch this definitive, wonderful one.

Harry Musson

5. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Though Dickens’ holiday classic has been adapted for the big screen numerous times, it’s the version with our famous furry friends that stays in our memories.

"It’s the perfect introduction to the classic tale for younger viewers"

Released during the pinnacle of the Muppets movie career, the film stays true to its source whilst adding the anarchic humour we’ve come to know and love from Hollywood’s most iconic puppets. There’s no Bob Cratchit or Jacob Marley to be found here; instead, a whole host of your favourite characters like Kermit and Fozzie Bear fill in, breaking the fourth wall gleefully as they go. It’s the perfect introduction to the classic tale for younger viewers, featuring an array of Yuletide songs, and Michael Caine excelling out of typecast as the cold hearted Scrooge. Perhaps more heartwarming is the film’s dedication to Muppets creator Jim Henson who passed away before the film’s production. Overall, a surprisingly faithful adaptation that’s sure to wean the ‘humbug!’ out of you.

Zoe Godden

4. Home Alone

Encapsulating the allure of childhood fantasies, Home Alone reaches out to the inner child in us all; reminding us of a time when the tantalising prospect of independence promised empowerment and unlimited freedom, and when Christmas was still magical and full of mystery.

It has inspired kids around the world to slap aftershave on their face, order cheese pizzas and to devise their own fiendish plans to maim intruders. Yes, using disproportionate force to protect one’s property has never been so entertaining, it’s just a good job our mischievous little tyke Kevin didn’t live in the UK, otherwise the Occupier’s Liability Act 1984 may have put a bit of dampener on proceedings. Thankfully for us, Kevin wasn’t obliged to place signs warning Harry and Marv of his diabolical traps, so classic slapstick comedy could ensue, but with just enough heart and festive cheer to make Home Alone the timeless Christmas classic that we all love.

Christopher Little

3. Die Hard

Die Hard is a bit of an anomaly. It’s the only film on this list that is both a Christmas film and a ‘Summer Blockbuster’, and the only one other than In Bruges (which I fully object to being a Christmas film) released more than a month either side of our favourite holiday.

"its Christmas Eve setting and constant re-runs in the holiday season have solidified it as a festive classic"

Yet its Christmas Eve setting and constant television re-runs in the holiday season have solidified its status as a festive classic. Die Hard, I guess, is kind of like Santa in a way. It bestowed upon the world a most generous gift: a squinty quip-master by the name of Bruce Willis.

Creating an international superstar is no small feat, and Willis represented a more relatable action hero than the brawn of Schwarzenegger & Stallone. So thank you Die Hard, and Merry Christmas.

William Leng

2. Elf

Elf is a heart-warming Christmas comedy about an ‘elf’ called Buddy who finds out he is actually a human. He embarks on a festive adventure in New York City to find his biological father, and by default, himself.

There are many laughs and lots of silliness along the way such as brawling with a fake Santa Claus, mistaking whiskey for syrup and cramming eleven cookies into the VCR machine, but there is more to this film. At its heart is the problem of the lack of Christmas spirit, which at one point threatens to ruin the whole holiday itself, but with the help of Buddy, it is reawakened. This is paralleled in reality by those pesky humbug cynics, but just like Buddy this film oozes Christmas spirit and is the perfect way to get into the festive mood.  Grab some mulled wine and a mince pie and stick this on, it’s one of the best.

Emma Allsopp

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas

It’s been twenty-one years since the release of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and yet it still holds as one of the best Christmas films of our generation. Somehow it manages to capture the brilliant feelings that Christmas holds, in all its complexity. From the catchy songs to the beautifully crafted sets and character designs, there’s something about this film that seems to settle and capture our imaginations.

"it manages to capture the brilliant feelings that Christmas holds, in all its complexity"

Burton, writer, manages to give us a changed perspective of the holiday season, of course bringing with a totally enchanting, and enriched, ending, that seems to work perfectly with its nonconventional storyline and its wonderfully, wacky characters. The Nightmare Before Christmas is an easy winner, emphasising the elegance of stop-motion animation; and, just as Jack Skellington feels the simple curiosity towards Christmas Town, with its bright colours and its whimsical creatures, you will - no doubt, feel it too.

Jonathan Hastings

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