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The Best Christmas Movies Ever (according to brightfive)

19 DEC

It’s nearly here; Christmas is just days away!

In the run up to Christmas, we've also been sharing some clips from each of our favourite festive films on Facebook and Twitter. Now everyone’s had their say, here’s the definitive list of the Best Christmas Movies Ever (according to us, at least). So, in no particular order…

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

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Katie’s favourite Christmas film is an undisputed classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.

This is the story of down-and-out Everyman, George Bailey (James Stewart). Facing financial and personal ruin, George contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve. In steps George’s ‘Guardian Angel’ Clarence at the crucial moment and shows George how grim the lives of his family, friends and the entire town would be if he had never been born.

"The closing scene sees an invigorated George decide to live. He dashes home through the town to embrace his family and face his problems, knowing he will be arrested when he gets there. When he arrives he is greeted by friends from throughout the town, all with donations to save George and the family business. Among the piles of money and cheques is a book. Inside is a handwritten message from Clarence : 'Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends'. The film closes as the George sings 'Auld Lang Syne', surrounded by the friends and family who have made his life worth living again.

“The message is beautiful: life isn't always perfect but if you take the time to appreciate the things you have you'll be happy. This film is warm, funny, compassionate, full of love and very festive - all the vital ingredients for a classic Christmas movie! Don't be put off by the fact that it's almost 70 years old and shot in black and white. This is a timeless family classic and I will be sharing it with my daughter for the first time this year.”  Katie


National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)



Jamie nominated National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to add to our list…

“Christmas Vacation sees the likeable yet flawed paterfamilias, Clark Griswold, constantly thwarted in his attempts to have the ideal all-American family Christmas.

“Clark has to contend with unfriendly Yuppie neighbours (a pre Seinfeld Julia Louis Dreyfus), unwelcome relatives with their toxic camper van (and toxic children), as well as his own unenthusiastic offspring, some wire-chewing chipmunks and a set of fairy lights that could illuminate the furthest reaches of space.

“In amongst the humour, there is a rather sweet and surprisingly touching scene. Clark, accidentally locked in the attic, spends the day looking through old family pictures and home movies. It would bring a tear to a glass eye.

“It's also a very funny film. I like to watch it whilst wearing a reindeer jumper and drinking a cup of eggnog (I don't know what eggnog is).”  Jamie



Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

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My pick is Home Alone 2. 10-year-old Kevin McCallister (played by the then adorable Macaulay Culkin) gets separated from his family during the mad dash to the airport for their Christmas holiday...for the second year running. Cheeky and resourceful, Kevin finds himself in New York City (his family all the way in Florida) with only his father’s credit card for company. Naturally, he uses this opportunity to fulfil every child’s fantasies: eating sweets, buying toys and watching trashy movies in a 5* hotel. It all goes wrong, of course, when the Sticky Bandits (the pair of non-too-bright burglars Kevin outsmarted last Christmas) arrive in New York. Kevin uses his initiative, imagination and talent for creating sadistic Rube Goldberg machines to defeat the burglars once again.

I love both Home Alone 1 & 2 (the less said of 3/4 the better) but the film’s sequel narrowly beats it’s predecessor for me for a few reasons:

1. The oh-so-Christmassy backdrop of New York City ( the ice rink at Rockerfella Plaza, 20ft Christmas trees and that amazing toy store)
2. The idea of staying alone in a posh hotel as a 10-year-old! Jumping on the massive bed, ordering pay-per-view movies and a room service trolley full of ice cream. It became my life’s ambition after seeing this film
3. Tim Curry’s appearance as the snooty hotel concierge

In this scene, Kevin outsmarts the suspicious hotel staff using a VCR player (because it’s the nineties, don’t-you-know).


Batman Returns (1992)



New Boy Johnny’s pick is ‘Batman Returns’. It may not fill you with that warm, ooey-gooey Christmas feeling, but technically this film is set at Christmas, so it makes the cut.

Michael Keaton reprises his role as the masked avenger. Pitted against meglomanic tycoon Max Shrek,  warped outcast The Penguin and the mysterious Catwoman, Batman must save the snow-carpeted Gotham from a sinister plan to take over the city. 

“There's something for everyone in the second instalment of the Batman saga. Michael Keaton as Batman, Michelle Pfifer as Catwoman, Danny De Vito and Christopher Walken add to the all-star cast.

“There's nothing better than getting the family round the TV after Christmas dinner to enjoy some gritty, dark action with Tim Burton’s Batman Returns.

“Grandma will love it!"  Johnny



The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)



‘92 - what a year for Christmas movies! If Si hadn’t chosen this, I certainly would have.

Michael Caine plays perennial humbug, Ebenezer Scrooge. Despite living in colourful, Muppet-populated Victorian London, Scrooge is miserable and cruel to all he meets. On Christmas eve, a trio of ghostly Muppets visit Scrooge to teach him the true meaning of Christmas and offer him a chance at redemption.

“Of the many adaptations of A Christmas Carol, there are few (if any) that remain true to Dickens’ original. The Muppets manage to do this while injecting wit and slap-stick humour in true splendour! Examples of this can be seen in scenes featuring the omniscient narrator Gonzo (as Dickens) and Rizzo ( Rizzo).

“It has all the right Christmas ingredients: family friendly comedy, bucket-loads of snow, sing-out-loud over-the-top musical numbers, and above all is unashamedly sentimental.

“My favourite scene is early on in the film. Scrooge is visited by Beaker & Bunsen - two well-meaning gentlemen calling upon businesses to donate to the poor. Scrooge less-than-politely declines, booting the pair out. It's uncharacteristically sombre for The Muppets, which makes it stand out enough, but that’s not why I picked this scene. It’s Beaker's hand gesture as he exits - misread in my youth for something other than him pointing as Scrooge. I'll let you decide if this one snuck by the censors or is unintentionally, immaturely funny.”  Si



Elf (2003)

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Elf is Ellie’s festive pick. Starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a man raised by Santa’s elves, who travels to New York in search of his birth father. Buddy’s innocence and childlike wonder confuses, irritates and - eventually - charms the cynical New Yorkers he meets in his adventures in the big city.

“Elf is most definitely my favourite Christmas film. It's just so silly, yet totally believable from a child's point of view. I love watching this film with my children, although I must admit they are getting bored of watching it with me every Christmas!

“My favourite scene is the Santa announcement in the department store. Buddy is just so excited at the prospect of seeing Santa the next day. I remember feeling the excitement as a child at Christmas. I have to say there are so many funny scenes in this film, that I just giggle all the way through it. But I do cry near the end when everyone starts singing ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’"  Ellie



Edward Scissorhands (1990)

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Simon’s selected Edward Scissorhands. It’s easy to forget that this is technically a Christmas movie, as the main action of the film takes place in a sun-drenched American suburb. The movie begins and ends, however, with an aged Winona Ryder, explaining to her grandchild why it always snows in their town at Christmas.

This surreal, magical love story between a not-quite-finished experiment (Edward’s inventor died before giving him his real hands) and a beautiful teenage girl is in turn funny, touching and melancholy.

“Darker than it first appears, this modern day fairy tale is a Tim Burton masterpiece with sensitive convincing performances from Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. Add to that Danny Elfman's beguiling, gothic, wintery score and you have the makings of a classic. Interesting is the way pastel American 50s curtain twitching suburbia is satirically depicted with undertones of isolationism, race tension and fear. A delicate simple love story on one level, a sharp, sardonic tragedy on another. Grab your popcorn and tissues."  Simon


Have we missed your favourite Christmas movie? Share yours in the Comments below.