Yes, it’s that time of year again! With 2016 going down in history as one hell of a miserable 12 months, it’s only fair that we try and bring some joy to those who felt let down. And, what better way than to celebrate with Christmas, that one time of year where everybody, briefly, feels A-OK. Yep, with the holiday season upon us, along come a number of other amazing and fantastic shiny paraphernalia. From the mouth watering roast and cloudy mashed potatoes, to the crisp cold snowflakes and magical memories, the month of December becomes a wistful affection for the past. However, it’s Christmas movies that really pull at your heart strings, delivering fond and happy souvenirs.
That’s right, ever since we were a twinkle in our mother’s and father’s eye, Christmas films have been a major part of family life, entertaining and charming kin all over the world. But why? What is it about these little snippets of Christmas glory that we find so captivating? From real and uplifting stories, to Mr and Mrs. Claus, Christmas movies are as heart warming as they are heartbreaking. Yes, they may be sentimental, but that’s the point! What’s the Holiday season without a little cheese and crackers anyway? Adding that sense of fermented nostalgia, and sentimentality is what makes Christmas so special, even if it is so overwhelmingly tacky and over the top. So, to celebrate those days of lost youth and Christmas yearning, here are 15 Christmas movies you were completely obsessed with as a kid.
Not your average Christmas movie, Scrooged has become something of a cult classic as of late, especially with regards to its ‘hero’. I mean who doesn’t love Bill Murray, right? The man, the myth, the legend, Murray is undoubtedly one of America’s national treasures, with fans all over the world. Taking on the classic Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, Murray plays Frank Cross, a tormented TV Network executive, who hates Christmas. Embodying the role of Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge himself, Cross revels in destroying people’s lives and drinking himself to death. Gifted with that special charm of molding humor with severe grumpiness, Murray and the movie excel with his best ‘bah humbug’. Now a must-see for a number of families over the holiday season, Scrooged has cemented itself firmly within the Christmas canon of nostalgic past. Again, who doesn’t love Bill Murray?!
Frank Cross: “It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!”
14. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
What’s Christmas without Chevy Chase? Much in the same way the universe loves Bill Murray, Chase has certainly cemented himself as the Father of Christmas himself, especially with his turn as Clark Griswold, the grumpy patriarch of the National Lampoon franchise. Directed by 80s legend John Hughes, the movie follows the Griswold family on a mission to hold the perfect Christmas. However, with things not quite going according to plan, chaos erupts, with Chase driven to despair as he watches Christmas blow up, quite literally, around him. Plus, if it’s not Chase stealing the funny, it’s the rest of the cast, with the likes of Johnny Galecki, Juliette Lewis and Randy Quaid all putting in a stellar performance. Extremely funny, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is now considered to be a Christmas classic, with many families across the world regarding the movie as a ritual among Christmas traditions.
Bethany: “Is your house on fire, Clark?”
13. A Christmas Story
We all remember this one, right? Released in 1983, A Christmas Story was actually based on a short story. Now considered the ultimate Christmas classic, the movie is screened continuously over the holiday period, with some channels holding A Christmas Story marathons. Focussing on the story of nine-year-old boy Ralphie Parker, the film revolves around his yearning for a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle, whatever that is. Refused by his mother, Ralphie is told that the gun is too dangerous, with his teachers and Santa Claus all seemingly agreeing. Sweet, satisfying and dipped in a sugar coated dream, A Christmas Story instantly takes you back to the excitement and anticipation of the morning itself, forcing your parents to wake up at 6am, eagerly awaiting to see what Santa had delivered.
Ralphie: “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!”
Now seen as an unofficial Christmas movie, Gremlins most definitely delivers with regards to Christmas spirit, and terror. But why? Depicted as a thriller/horror, Gremlins doesn’t really sell itself as the notoriously cheesy Christmas spill, with death, fear and weird creepy music being the focal selling point. However, among the freaky undertone, producer Steven Spielberg managed to produce a Christmas classic, garnering fans all over the world. Focussing on mad cap inventor Randall Peltzer and his quest to find the perfect gift for his son Billy, Peltzer stumbles upon a small, furry creature in a Chinese antique store. Acquiring the critter, on the condition he follow three small rules, Petlzer takes the gift home, which results in total chaos. Not your average Christmas movie then….
Chinese Boy: “First of all, keep him out of the light, he hates bright light, especially sunlight, it’ll kill him. Second, don’t give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight.”
11. It’s A Wonderful Life
Probably the number one Christmas classic of all time, despite its dark and depressing tone, It’s a Wonderful Life continues to be played throughout the holiday season year after year after year. Starring James Stewart as the suicidal George Bailey, the film focusses on the struggles of down and out father and his Angel Clarence. In some ways similar to that of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life focuses on the good guy instead of a scrooge, showing that sometimes life can really be a sack of shit. Based on the short story The Greatest Gift, the movie was directed by Hollywood god Frank Capra, who was nominated for an Oscar for his troubles. Routinely watched during Christmas, among a variety of households all over the world, It’s a Wonderful Life is not only extremely heart warming, but also exceptionally poignant.
10. Die Hard
Again much like what Gremlins did before it, Die Hard has also been labelled an unofficial Christmas movie, yet seemingly crossed with one of the biggest action flicks of all time. That’s right, not seen as the ultimate cult classic, Die Hard centers around the heroic police officer, John McClane, played by the equally epic Bruce Willis. Displaying all the mettlesome moans and groaning grunts you would expect of the valiant Willis, the movie is a firm favorite among many, and not just for its connections to Christmas. Taking place on Christmas Eve, the plot sees an office Christmas party go terribly wrong, when a number of employees are taken hostage. With Alan Rickman as the perfect Grinch to top off this Christmas tale, Die Hard remains an instant holiday classic. In fact, Die Hard is so ‘Christmas-y’ that it even has a bunch of Christmas songs to accompany it, with the soundtrack so jam packed with Christmas fever, it even rivals Judy Garland.
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Released in the early nineties, The Nightmare Before Christmas instantly became a classic in its own right, standing tall as one of the must-sees of the holiday season. Directed by notorious quirk Tim Burton, the movie follows the life of Jack Skellington, a resident from the equally nightmarish Halloween Town. Somehow managing to find his way through a portal to another dimension, Skellington ends up in Christmas Town; eventually deciding to embrace the holiday as a whole. Using stop motion animation, the movie is as visually exciting to watch as it is entertaining, with Burton’s masterful direction written all over it. Plus, with the movie also a musical, the soundtrack is just as incredible and wonderfully scored by legendary composer Danny Elfman. Successful among audiences, the film still wows today, with new generations capturing the same magic that arrived upon its initial release.
8. White Christmas
Come on sing along, you all know it. Inspired by the song of the same name, White Christmas is also one of the most famous Christmas movies to have ever been made. Released in 1954, a number of families grew up on this old classic, making it traditional viewing year after year. Starring the beautiful Bing Crosby, the movie follows the story of two men’s quest for love after the second World War. Intended to reunite Crosby with pal and previous co-star Fred Astaire, the magical match unfortunately fell through, with producers having to find a second lead. Replaced by Danny Kaye some time later, the two hit it off, thus creating one of the most memorable bromances in cinema history. A slow starter, the film did reasonably well upon release, however, it is now considered to be one of the best if not the best Christmas movies ever recorded.
7. A Charlie Brown Christmas
Debuting on television on December 9th in 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas instantly became a Christmas must-see for years to come. Based on the original Peanuts comic strip, the film centers on Charlie Brown, a young boy with the mind of a sixty-year-old, depressed despite the holiday cheer. With the goal designed to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the movie touches on certain themes such as commercialization and secularism. Receiving extremely high ratings and world wide acclaim, the television short has been aired annually ever since, developing into somewhat of a cult classic. In fact, A Charlie Brown Christmas was so popular, that the movie inspired a number of other television classics, from Frosty the Snowman to How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Charlie Brown: “I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.”
6. Miracle On 34th Street
Although it may be difficult to fault the original, the remake just manages to out-do it with that extra bit of Christmas schmaltz and cheesy sentimentality. Starring the wonderful Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle, and child star supreme Mara Wilson, the movie revolves around the mystery of Father Christmas himself. Is he real or is he not? That’s the important question, with the movie exploring one of life’s most enchanting mysteries. Drenched in magical overtones, Miracle on 34th Street is not only just for children, with adults allowed to ponder the same old questions, proving it’s never too late to believe. Cementing itself firmly into the American Christmas canon, Miracle on 34th Street will continue to be adored, until the next remake that is…
Kris Kringle: “You think I’m a fraud, don’t you?”
Dorey Walker: “Fraud is a bit too strong of a word.”
Kris Kringle: “But you don’t believe in me.”
5. The Muppet Christmas Carol
A staple in the homes of many, The Muppet Christmas Carol, is by far one of the greatest Christmas films of all time. Able to touch anything and make it funny, creator Jim Henson along with a team of experts seemingly do it again, with The Muppet Christmas Carol one of their most favored films to date. Again based on the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, the movie sees the Muppets joined by a number of famous faces, with the mighty Sir Michael Caine among them. Hilarious to say the least, the movie was received extremely well, developing into an instant cult classic. Now often topping polls of Christmas movies all over the world, The Muppet Christmas Carol will continue to be a standard ritual within a variety of houses, exciting the next generation of children decade after decade after decade.
Gonzo: “Hello! Welcome to the Muppet Christmas Carol! I am here to tell the story.”
4. The Snowman
Not the most well known of Christmas movies, but for those who do know it, it has most definitely become a staple part of their Christmas traditions. Originally starting life as a children’s book by English author Raymond Briggs, The Snowman was first published in the United Kingdom. Garnering worldwide fame, especially due to the illustrations, the book was quickly turned into a TV short, debuting on British TV in 1982. Extremely popular, The Snowman even earned itself an Academy Award nomination, once more due to its beautiful animation. Depicting the dreams of every young child at Christmas, the twenty-six-minute movie sees a young boy build a snowman that later comes to life. Spending the rest of the night hanging out and having fun, the Snowman then takes the young boy to visit Father Christmas, ending with them both returning home and hugging his new friend goodbye. What comes next is probably one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Christmas history, yet also one of the most poignant. Bring tissues!
3. Love Actually
OK, so it may be a relatively new Christmas movie, released in 2003, but it is by far one of the best to have been made in a long time. Directed by the already king of schmaltz, Richard Curtis, Love Actually follows in its father’s footsteps, displaying a layer of sentimental cheese that drips from its inner core. However, although it may sound exceptionally awful, don’t be so fooled, with the movie actually showcasing some real tender moments. That’s right, also presenting a stellar cast from Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson and the late great Alan Rickman, the movie weaves through the lives of a number of characters, each caught up in their own Christmas drama. Now, already considered to be a Christmas classic, Love Actually has already cemented itself into a number of family television sets over the holiday period, with the children of today claiming it as their very own It’s a Wonderful Life.
2. Meet Me In St. Louis
“‘Clang clang clang’ went the trolley!” Everybody’s favourite musical, Meet Me in St. Louis has become something of a Christmas classic ever since its release in 1944. Starring the one and only Judy Garland, the movie begins in the summer of 1903, showcasing a year in the life of the Smith family and their humble abode in St. Louis. Directed by Vicente Minnelli, who later married Garland, the film is also famed for its memorable musical pieces such as The Trolley Song, The Boy Next Door, and the ode to Christmas itself, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. In fact, the latter is so successful that the song has been covered ever since its release, with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sam Smith and Mr. Santa Claus himself, Michael Bublé all putting their own mark on the Christmas classic.
1. Home Alone 1 & 2
With both movies just as amazing as each other, it was certainly extremely difficult to choose between the two. Therefore, it seems only fair that both take the top spot with regards to Christmas movies we were, and still are, obsessed with. Both incredible Christmas marvels, Home Alone is just as important as a Christmas tree and a Christmas pudding, making it feel as though the holiday season is finally complete upon watching. Penned from Mr. Christmas himself John Hughes, both movies are soaked in so much Christmas spirit. Detailing a stellar cast with the likes of Macaulay Culkin, as the now iconic Kevin McCallister, Joe Pesci, Catherine O’Hara, and John Heard, the movies became the highest grossing Christmas flicks of all time, along with a fantastic soundtrack that becomes instantly recognizable upon hearing, most likely never to be replicated.
Kevin McCallister: “This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys. Nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie, and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?”