- Holidays and Celebrations
Top 10 Christmas Films
My Top 10 Christmas Films
Christmas will soon be here, and there's no escaping all the Christmas movies that will be swarming the TV channels once again. Even though we've seen them countless times, we still find ourselves sitting down with the family to watch them again...it's an annual ritual that never seems to get boring! Maybe it's because we only have to endure them once a year, but you can't watch a Christmas film without being left feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, as that is the general intended effect. Most of them tend to have a happy ending so you can't help but feel a bit of that heart warming vibe.
Here are 10 of my top Christmas films that I will definitely be sitting down to watch this Christmas:
1. The Snowman - I'm going to jump straight in there and contradict myself as this film always made me cry! But it still does have that feel good factor at the end so it's not all bad. It was originally a book that was published in 1978 by Raymond Briggs. It was a wordless book, told through picture and motion, and this is also the case for the short animation film by Dianne Jackson, all except for one song. It gained immediate success after it was aired late on the Christmas eve of 1982, and it was even nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 1982. It has been voted highly in Greatest Christmas moments ever since, and it's shown every Christmas. It's only 26 minutes long though so it's short and sweet. The only song that is played throughout the film is "Walking in the Air", which was actually performed by Peter Auty, who was a St Paul's Cathedral choirboy, and not Aled Jones, who recorded a cover version of the song in 1985, and often takes the credit for the song performed in the film.
The Snowman is a lovely, if not a little bit of a sad story, and tells a tale about a boy that builds a snowman one Christmas night, and when the clock strikes midnight the snowman comes alive! The boy and the snowman go on an adventure, first inside the house, and then they go outside where they take flight over the town where the boy lives, and then fly over the sea. When they land they walk through a forest together and come to see some snowmen having a party. Here they meet Santa Claus and his reindeer, and Santa gives the boy a present, which is a scarf with a snowman pattern. The boy and the snowman fly home, and the boy goes to bed. When he wakes up the next morning, he immediately goes outside to see the snowman, only to find that he has melted in the morning sun (usually the part where I would start crying)! When the boy discovers he still has the snowman patterned scarf that he got off Santa Claus, he realises it couldn't have been a dream.
This is definitely one of my favourite Christmas films, even if it does still make me cry! It just reminds me of being a kid at Christmas, as it is shown every year, and only being 26 minutes long it is short enough to hold children's attention. It is enjoyed by all ages though as it is so well presented and has a wonderful story behind it.
2. Gremlins - This film actually used to scare the living daylights out of me as a child, but it still remains one of my all time Christmas favourites. It was horror comedy made in 1984, and was produced by Steven Spielberg. Even though the film did receive good reviews, the film rating had to be reviewed at a later date due to complaints about some of the more violent scenes, so maybe not one for the little ones. But it's a bit different to the usual Christmas films that are around, and it is funny, and this is why I like it!
Gremlins begins with a man searching for a Christmas present for his teenage son, Billy, in Chinatown, where he comes across a Mogwai, which is a small cute furry creature. Never having seen anything like it before, he is intrigued and buys the Mogwai from the shop owner, who is at first reluctant to sell. The Mogwai comes with a few special instructions to follow; never expose it to bright light, don't get it wet, and never feed it after midnight. Well you can guess what happens can't you! The man names the creature Gizmo, and he gives the Mogwai to his son Billy for his Christmas present. Billy and Gizmo quickly bond, but accidents soon start to happen, and this is when the mayhem begins! First, a glass of water is spilt on Gizmo, and 5 fur balls sprout from his back. They soon hatch into Mogwai, and they definitely have a more sinister streak than the cute little Gizmo. The Mogwais, except for Gizmo, use their mischevious ways to get food after midnight, resulting in them turning into even more sinister creatures, bigger in size with sharp little teethand claws. They then go on a rampage around town, terrorising people and multiplying as they go. My favourite part is when a little old lady is launched out of her window from her stair lift after the Gremlins mess with the wiring and speed it up, and she lands in the snow head first with her legs sticking out of the ground! The victims of the Gremlin's finally regain control of their town, after much slap stick comedy, chaos and mayhem, which is all wrapped up with a touch of horror.
I wouldn't let the little kiddies watch it as it may result in a sleepless night, but definitely one for those who want to watch a light hearted, funny, classic Christmas comedy horror.
3. Home Alone - Made in 1990, this is another film I loved as a kid. It was a sell out when it first premiered, and child actor Macaulay Culkin became an instant star.
Kevin is an 8 year old boy, played by Macaulay Culkin, and being the youngest in his family, claims that he is forever "picked on". His extended family decide to plan a Christmas vacation to France, and the eve of the holiday is hectic. After alot of bickering between the children, Kevin gets into a scuffle with his older brother Buzz, who ate his cheese pizza. Kevin is deemed the trouble maker and banished to the attic room to sleep. On his way up, he tells his mother he wishes his family would disappear. Nothing more is thought of it and Kevin goes and sleeps in the attic room. The following morning it is chaos again as the family get ready for the vacation. In the madness Kevin is mistaken for a child neighbour that comes to see them off, and Kevin is actually left in the attic. When Kevin wakes up the family have gone, and he really starts to think that his wish must have come true! At first, Kevin has a ball, eating junk food, jumping on the beds, and pretty much doing all the things he wasn't normally allowed. But things take a turn for the worse when two burglars, who have had their eye on the house and believed it would be empty, try to break in. One part of the film follows Kevin defending his house in many funny ways against the robbers, and the other part follows the shock and horror when Kevin's mother realises what has happened, and she spends the rest of her time trying to get back to the house. Of course there is a happy ending when Kevin realises that he didn't want his family to disappear at all, and after managing to keep the robbers at bay, his mother finally arrives home on Christmas morning.
A great film which really captures the essence of Christmas, but in a comical way that is enjoyable for adults and children. Still shown every Christmas, I still sit down to enjoy it because it's got a great cast, and has a timeless feel to it. It's every kids dream to be home alone, but it makes you realise how important your family really are! Aaaw!
4. Elf - Who doesn't love Will Ferrell?! Another great comedy with the great actor as leading role. This film is hilarious and has a unique plot, which makes it a bit different to the usual Christmas film. Made in 2003 it is still a fairly recently made film, but it is fast becoming one of my favourites.
The story begins with Buddy, a young baby orphan who crawls into Santa's sack on Christmas eve. Unknown to Santa Claus, he finishes his annual round of delivering presents and Buddy is taken back to the NorthPole. Once discovered, he is adopted by Papa Elf, who looks after Buddy and shows him the ropes of the elf life. Unaware that he isn't an elf, it's not until Buddy grows full size that Papa Elf feels he should tell him the truth about where he is from. Buddy is told who he was born to and that he was put up for adoption, and that his father didn't even know he was born. Papa Elf also discloses that Buddy's father is on the "naughty list" and works in New York City. So without further ado Buddy, still dressed in his elf suit, sets off to find his father. The comedy of the film comes from Buddy's naivety and innocence as he wonders around New York, and we follow him getting up to allsorts. When he finally tracks down his father he has trouble convincing him that he's his son. After a DNA test it comes to light that Buddy is actually his biological son. Believing that he is mentally ill, Walter agrees to look after Buddy, with his wife and young son, until he has recovered. Because of Buddy's naivety in the real world, lots of mishap and mayhem follows. Buddy works in a department store and even falls in love with a colleague. He manages to ruin a deal between Walter and a prospective business partner, and Walter reaches the end of his tether and banishes Buddy to the streets, claiming he wants no more to do with him. A heart broken Buddy wonders around the streets and sees Santa's sleigh crash. When he finds Santa he tells Buddy that the last bit of Christmas spirit has gone, and that he needs his help to get it back. In the meantime Buddy's father has had a change of heart, realising his family is most important to him, and tracks Buddy down. With the help of his friends and family, Buddy manages to save Christmas, and spirit is restored. Roll on the happy ending and every one lives happily ever after!
Children love this film, with the main character Buddy being so lovable through his innocence and child like personality. The character is so well played by Will Ferrell, and this film is becoming a favourite Christmas movie among many people. Its a story that is unique, heart warming, and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
5. It's a Wonderful Life - A classic film produced and directed by Frank Capra, it is still mentioned every Christmas. Made in 1946, it was based on a short story called "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern. Even though it was a flop when it was first released, it was put down to the high production costs and also the stiff competition at the time. it was nominated for five Oscars but didn't win any, although the film has since been listed in the 100 best American films ever, by the American Film Institute, and came top of the list of their most inspirational American films of all time.
The story, set on Christmas eve, is about a man called George Bailey, played by James Stewart, who is very distressed and troubled. Many of his friends and family pray for him that night, fearing for his well-being. In order to earn his wings, an angel called Clarence Odbody, played by Henry Travers, is sent from heaven to save George. George had done many things in his life, but mainly for the benefit of others, sacrificing his own dreams to help other people. After many events in his life, the final straw comes on Christmas eve when he is wrongly accused of bank fraud and the future prospects of his company look grim. Fearing arrest, George goes home where he hurls abuse at his wife and children. Ashamed of himself he drowns his sorrows in alcohol and we see him driving through a wild snow storm. He crashes into a tree and stumbles upon a bridge, where he decides he will commit suicide. This is when Clarence shows up, jumping into the water and pretending to drown. George, being the person he is, jumps in to save him, and it is then that Clarence tells George he is his guardian angel. George expresses that he wishes he'd never been born. With this information, Clarence proceeds to show him what the town would be like if he hadn't been born, and the lives of his family and friends. He is shown how many peoples lives he has touched, saved and contributed to, and the town would have suffered without him. After seeing all of this, George begs God to let him live again, and his prayer is answered. George returns home to find his friends and family there, with money to save the business, and the warrant for his arrest was torn up. George realises what he has in life, and what his friends and family have in him also, and Clarence earns his wings.
A beautiful film with a poignant message, it's an old classic that will tug on the heart strings. Despite being over 50 years old, it is still as good today as it ever was, and the film gains new fans every year. Being a black and white film only adds to the effect and I urge anyone who hasn't seen it on the basis of it being "old" or "dated" to give it a try!
6. The Muppet Christmas Carol - A musical comedy adaption of the classic story by Charles Dickens, this film was produced by The Jim Henson Company and released by Walt Disney Pictures in 1992. Everyone loves the Muppets, and this was a fantastic re make which still mostly rang true to the original.
The story is narrated by Gonzo the Great (with a bit of input from Rizzo the Rat), who plays Charles Dickens, and he starts the story off on Christmas eve in 19th century London. While most people are enjoying the Christmas season, there is one man who is not celebrating. His name is Ebenezer Scrooge, and he is played by Michael Caine. He is sour faced and miserable, and not one for generosity or warmth. His employee, Bob Cratchit, played by Kermit the Frog, begs for Christmas day off, and Scrooge reluctantly agrees. At home that night, Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of his late business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley. They are shackled in chains and they warn him that it is due to their ill deeds they committed in their lives, and that Scrooge would experience the same fate, and worse, if he didn't change his ways. The ghosts warn Scrooge that he will be visited by three more ghosts during the night. Scrooge is obviously scared but dismisses the sightings and goes to bed. His first visit is from the Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes a skeptical Scrooge on a journey to his past as a young man. Here we see where Scrooge's obsession of money stems from, when it shows the break up of a relationship with his one love. Scrooge had said previous to the break up that he wanted to marry her as soon as he had enough money. But of course this never happened, and this contributed to his bitterness. Scrooge is taken home, where he is visited by the second ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present. This ghost shows Scrooge how other people are celebrating Christmas. He is taken to the home of Bob Crachit, where despite being poor and having a sick son, they are all thankful to be together to enjoy Christmas. Once again, Scrooge is taken home and is visited by a third ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. This time he is shown his future, which includes the death of Bob's son, Tiny Tim, as the family were too poor to get the appropriate care for him. He is also shown his own grave stone, and people talking about his death, with no remorse or sadness being shown. Scrooge vows to change his ways, and the following morning when he wakes up, he is true to his word and makes it the best Christmas yet.
With the whole cast of the Muppets showing an appearance, this really is a great Christmas film for the entire family. An old story with a new twist, the story is told in a way that children will understand and be able to follow. A real feel good movie with the happy Christmas ending!
7. Miracle on 34th Street - The original making of this film was in the year 1947, and there has been a few re makes since then, the most popular probably being the re make in 1993. This film has won many awards including Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Writing, Original Story and Best Writing, Screenplay. The original cast include Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Edmund Gwenn, and was set at Christmas time in New York.
The story begins at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, when a man named Kris Kringle finds the man assigned to play the role of Santa Claus is drunk. He complains to the director of the parade, Doris Walker, and she persuades Kris to replace the mans role. She is so impressed with Kris that she gives him the job of Santa in the New York Macy's store on 34th Street. This is when things begin to go wrong, as while Kris is working to encourage shoppers to the store, he is also suspected of being the 'real' Santa Claus, even by the directors own daughter Susan, who is being looked after by a neighbour and attorney named Fred at the time. When questioned, Kris answers that he is indeed the real deal. Fearing for his mental health, the director tries to sack him, but withdraws her decision after being promised a bonus due to booming business, which was mainly down to Kris. Kris is made to take a psycological evaluation, which he passes with flying colours. Afterwards, Kris learns that the man who gave him his psychological evaluation managed to convince another employee who also played Santa Claus, that he was mentally ill, just because he was kind hearted witha gentle soul. In a fit of rage Kris confronts this man and ends up hitting him on the head withhis cane. The director sees this and Kris is admitted to a mental hospital. Fred decides he wants to defend Kris and try and get him released, and claims in court that he is the real Santa Claus, and he will prove it. With a few clever twists and turns of the storyline, Kris is proven to be the real Santa, and the story ends with a bit of mystery and wonder, leaving you feeling happy that Santa saved the day!
The amount of re makes of this production show what a popular story it is, with an original plot and great cast. And whatever your age you are likely to have seen at least one version in your lifetime. It's certainly still a favourite of mine, and probably will stay that way for some time to come.
8. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Made in 1989, this Christmas Comedy has since been voted highly on many lists of Top Christmas Films of all Time. It is known as a classic, it has a fantastic cast including Chevy Chase and Juliette Lewis, and it's hilariously funny. Great for a tipsy giggle on a Christmas night!
The Griswold's are a family well known for their over the top holiday celebrations, and this film holds no exception. Chaos and calamity is pretty much the theme for this film, and it's from start to finish. Everything this family does is disastrous, from going to get a Christmas tree, or putting up Christmas lights round the house, to sledging in the forest. When the Griswold's extended family come to stay for the holiday season, things go from bad to worse, witha comical twist. The father of the Griswold family, Clark, is waiting on a Christmas Bonus cheque from his scrooge boss, as he's already put down a large deposit for a swimming pool in the back garden, as a Christmas present for his family. With family members driving him mad, and waiting for his bonus cheque, Clarks frustrations grow and he eventually reaches breaking point and has a rant about his boss to the rest of the family. This then leads to one of the family members kidnapping the boss, bringing him back to the Griswold home and being talked into seeing the error of his ways, and giving Clark his long awaited bonus. All ends well in the Griswold home....well kinda!
The story is pretty straight forward, but its not without explosions, destruction, kidnap, a SWAT team, and many many laughs. A really funny movie that is still entertaining today, to a wide range of people. Whether you are watching it for the first time or watching it for the 20th time, i guarantee that this film will make you laugh.
9. The Polar Express - Made in 2004, this Christmas film is probably one preferred by the younger children, but personally I think all animations are secretly loved by adults too. It is a remake of the book with the same name, by Chris Van Allsberg. With the familiar Tom Hanks playing the conductor of the Polar Express, this story takes you on a magical journey to restore faith in Father Christmas, with fantastic animation graphics. This Christmas film is a little bit different as a technique called "live action" performance capture was used, meaning that the human characters were animated, except for the waiters who perform tasks impossible to animated actors!
The story begins with a little boy on Christmas eve, lying in his bed, and thinking of Christmas and whether he believes in Santa Claus or not. He drops off to sleep only to be awakened by the sound of a train outside his home. He runs out to see what is happening and this is where he sees the Polar Express train, and meets the conductor. The conductor tells the little boy that the train goes to the North Pole, so after a bit of thought the boy decides to hop on. On the journey the boy meets a girl and another boy, as well as other children. The train ride is eventful, with lots of drama and mystery on the way. All the kids have a ticket, and the conductor punches a couple of letters into each ticket, holding no meaning at that time. Eventually they reach the North Pole, and after a run in with some elves, the children get to meet Santa Claus. Santa chooses the boy to give the first present of Christmas, and the boy decides to take one of the bells from Santa's sleigh. It is soon time to get back on the train, and the journey home begins. On the way home the conductor punches more letters into the children's tickets, each one now reading a personal message. On the train, the boy remembers about the bell, and reaches into his pocket to retrieve it, only to find he has lost it because of a hole in his pocket. Saddened by this, the boy is dropped off at his home, and goes inside and to bed. The following morning he wakes up and goes downstairs, and sees the bell under the tree with a note from Santa reading "still rings for me, as it does for all those who truly believe".
A beautifully made animation with a lovely Christmas message, it really does get you in the festive mood. A film that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of your age.
10. Santa Claus: The Movie - This film came out in 1985 starring an all star cast such as Dudley Moore and John Lithgow, and tells Santa's story, starting from how he first became known as Santa right up to the 20th century.
We first learn that Santa Claus started off as a regular middle aged man named Claus, working in the 14thcentury as a peasant woodcutter, who delivered his toys to the children in the village withhis wife Anya. After being rescued from a blizzard, Claus and his wife, along withtheir two reindeer fall upon the main toy making factory run by the elves, where they make toys for all the children around the world. Claus is told that it he is the one that has been assigned to deliver these toys, and that they have to prepare for Christmas. On Christmas eve, Claus, who has been renamed by the elves Santa Claus, sets off on his sleigh with all of his toys, and his now 8 reindeer, who can fly after eating a magical feed. Santa delivers the presents and the story then jumps to the 20thcentury. Becoming older and wearier, Santa decides to get an assistant, and an elf named Patch is chosen. On Christmas Eve, Santa befriends a 10 year old homeless boy, who he invites to travel with him delivering presents on his sleigh. On their journey they accidentally awaken a young girl, who had become friends with the homeless boy. On the morning of Christmas, Patch is upset when his toys are returned as faulty, and packs his possessions and leaves the North Pole. Patch ends up in New York and he meets the step uncle of the young girl, whose toy business is suffering because of his poor quality items. Unaware of this Patch goes into business with him and invents some amazing toys, which leaves Santa feeling unappreciated. When it appears one of the toys they created could be harmful, the step uncle keeps it a secret, and captures the homeless boy when he catches him listening in on his plans. Patch comes across the homeless boy who has been tied up and gagged, and they flee to the North Pole. The step uncle escapes the police. Finally reunited back at the North Pole, the homeless boy and his friend were invited to stay for a year, and Christmas spirit was saved.
Santa Claus: The Movie is a classic biopic of Santa Claus's life, it's a great film to enjoy with the family and tells of the importance of Christmas spirit. You'll certainly feel merry after watching this movie.
Whatever you will be watching have a very Merry Christmas!