I love Christmas. I really do. The lights, the decorations, the food and drink, relaxing with friends and family, presents, festive jumpers, time off work and of course, films. Here are some of my festive film highlights:
10. Santa Claus: The Movie
Dudley Moore stars as Patch, Santa’s head elf. He wants more from life than just hanging out at the North Pole and decides to head out into the world and make a name for himself. Unfortunately, he ends up hitching his wagon to evil toy maker, John Lithgow.
I freely admit this isn’t the best film ever, but I remember it fondly from my childhood.
9. The Muppet Christmas Carol
There are myriad versions of the Dickens classic (there’s another one higher up my list) but I just had to include this one. Michael Caine stars as the infamous Scrooge, the tyrannical penny-pinching, people-hating, lonely old miser who, thanks to the appearance of four (Muppet) spirits, on Christmas Eve, learns the error of his ways.
Love Michael Caine. Love the Muppets. Love The Muppets Christmas Carol.
8. The Hudsucker Proxy
The Hudsucker Proxy is probably my favourite Coen Brothers film. It tells the story of Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) who finds himself promoted from the mailroom to president of Hudsucker Industries as part of a scam masterminded by Paul Newman’s Sidney Mussburger. Hudsucker harks back to the fast-talking black and white classics of the 1940s, with Jennifer Jason Leigh effectively channelling the ghost of Katharine Hepburn.
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton’s animated Christmas classic is decidedly Halloweeny and all the better for it. Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, happens upon Christmas Town and, tired of Halloween, decides he wants to get in on the festive action. The residents of Halloweentown can’t help but end up creating a slightly creepy Christmas.
6. Black Christmas (1974)
Slow paced, dated and with a relatively low body count, Black Christmas makes the list because it is the quintessential Christmas horror. Set in a sorority house at the start of the Christmas break, we quickly learn that someone isn’t feeling festive, so much as homicidal. Quite what the girls have done to warrant such a sticky end, is never really clear but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. Margot Kidder – Christopher Reeves’ Lois Lane – stars.
5. Rare Exports
This weird little film is a Finnish language gem. Deep in the mountains, an archaeological dig unearths Santa. And he isn’t the happy-go-lucky chap we’re used to seeing in the every year on reruns of The Miracle of 34th Street. He’s seriously evil!
4. The Life of Brian
This might not leap to mind as an obvious Christmas choice, but seeing as it centres on a man who was a) born in a stable on the same day as the baby Jesus and b) is mistaken for the messiah I thought it warranted inclusion.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that this is Monty Python at their best.
Another appearance by the classic Dickens story, this time with Bill Murray as Scrooge. This version brings the story up to date (well, it was up to date in 1988) with Scrooge working as a mean-spirited TV executive more interested in ratings and revenue than relationships.
The requisite ghosts are all present and correct, and Murray brings something new to a role you’ve already seen a dozen times before.
When Billy Peltzer gets an unusual furry critter from his dad for Christmas he’s given three simple rules to follow: don’t expose him to bright lights. Never get him wet. And never feed him after midnight. Sounds easy, right? Apparently not.
This isn’t just one of my favourite Christmas films, it’s one of my favourite 80s films, too.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
This black and white classic directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed is one of my all time favourite films. Watch it with on the sofa curled up with a blanket and a boozy hot chocolate or mulled wine. If you don’t love it, you must simply be dead inside.