Thanks to streaming giants jumping on the bandwagon and producing their own, there is now an absurd number of Christmas films out there. The Knight before Christmas (Netflix) is so bad-its-funny that it might as well have come from that Christmas 24 channel. So if you’re spoilt for choice but don’t feel like watching Die Hard again - fear not! I’m advocating for some festive feel-goods you might have forgotten or overlooked.
Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! (2012)
First things first, I’m supporting a sequel. Controversial, I know, but Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! doesn’t get the credit it deserves, despite the dreadful title (no-one's perfect, I guess). This time, the kids drag another poor, unsuspecting teacher (Tennant) out of the classroom, and travel to Wales to compete in a "Song for Christmas". Sure, we can be a Grinch about it and point out how many similarities there are in key plot points, but tugs at all the same heartstrings that the 2009 original does. And maybe it’s the Whovian in me, but I even like David Tennant a little more than Martin Freeman… Nativity 3, however, gets a sack of coal.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Michael Caine. Muppets. What can go wrong? A lot according to some – but The Muppet Christmas Carol belongs in the so-bad-its-good category. The retelling of the Dickens classic is just the right level of absurd for Christmas. And yes: it’s a musical. So there’s an album and Kermit has his own song and did I mention Michael Caine? 2011’s Arthur Christmas also falls in this unexpected gem category for me. The heart-warming animation about Santa's somewhat clumsy and despite the hideous green jumper and my originally low expectations, it’s become regular Christmas viewing.
White Christmas (1954)
A 1954 classic, (and one of my family’s favourites) White Christmas features Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, a song-and-dance team who join forces with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to save the Vermont inn of their former commanding general on the brink of closure over Christmas. It’s my favourite on the list, and I worry that it gets forgotten thanks to the number of modern films available on streaming platforms – it’s well worth finding a physical copy, if not just to see Bing Crosby sing in the tear-jerking opening sequence alone.
You've Got Mail (1998)
So Nora Ephron's classic rom-com You've Got Mail isn't technically a Christmas film (cue the Die Hard debate), but rather sees Tom Hank's superstore bookstore chain threaten to take over Meg Ryan's independent "Shop Around the Corner". And whilst the two characters might hate each other in real life, their relationship blossoms online over email (give them a break, this came out in 1999) during the festive season. If you don't fall for the romance? Just laugh at the size of the phones and those computers instead - and you might even recognise a certain Tom Hanks gif.
Honorary mention also goes to Jingle All the Way – but if you’re all struggling to agree on what to watch… I guess there’s always John McClane and the Nakatomi Plaza.