Christmas is a busy time. You have to juggle your family, your friends, your job (if you have one), and for some students, revising for exams. It’s difficult, and sometimes it’s not as magical as the year promises it will be. However, a work-life balance is the ultimate necessity, and these Christmas films will give you chance to curl up on the sofa with family or friends, a roaring fire in the background and eggnog (whatever the fuck that is) in hand, to soak up the spirit of Christmas. The beauty of Christmas movie’s are their variety – from comedies to classics, to action-thrillers to animated shorts, there is something for everyone!
Die Hard (1988)
Director: John McTiernan
It’s set at Christmas, ok? That makes it a Christmas film. I have watched this movie most Christmas Eve’s since I was 14, and I will continue to do so whilst forcing my future children to do the same. You cannot go wrong with a bit of action and Christmas combined, what better than baubles and bombs? Gift-giving and guns? Carols and karate? Bruce Willis’ bald-headed John McClane doesn’t much embody Santa Claus – he shoots gun and swears like a trooper – but what better Christmas gift than a group of terrorists being literally wiped off the naughty list as they attempt to take over the Nakatomi Plaza during a Christmas party in order to carry out an elaborate theft? If you want to go a little bit hardcore this Christmas, then watch Die Hard, but stay clear of its sequels, watch another film on this list instead. Yippee-ki-christmas motherfuckers!
The Snowman (1982)
Director: Dianne Jackson
The Snowman, whilst not a feature, is often quoted as people’s favourite Christmas film. This wordless piece-of-perfection is based on the children’s book by Raymond Briggs, chronicling the tale of a boy who makes and then befriends a snowman. Together, they play with toys, go on a motorcycle ride, and then they fly to ‘Walking in the Air’ – a moment which makes everyone’s tummy tingle as it fills up with nostalgia. If you don’t watch it on, or at least around Christmas, then I have to ask you – do you even Christmas? It’s as essential to a British Christmas as much as a plate of loathed brussels sprouts. With its 30 minute running time, and its wide circulation on TV every Christmas day for the past 30 years, it’s easy to squeeze this one into your busy day of opening presents and eating copious amounts of sprouts. There is also a sequel called The Snowman and The Snowdog, which isn’t as good (sequels rarely are to be honest), but is also worth a watch.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Director: Frank Capra
This is the Christmas classic, starring the brilliant James Stewart as George Bailey, a man just trying to do the right thing for his family, and finding his options gradually depleting. Directed by Frank Capra, this film often hits the top spot on the “best Christmas” film lists. George Bailey’s imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. Through this angelic intervention, we see George’s life turn from a nightmare of despair, despite his well-intentioned efforts, into one that is relished by the whole community. It is sometimes quite depressing, but do not despair! The ending is so good, and so happy, that when it does come, it’s going to hit you so hard in the feels you cry like a melting snowman. If you haven’t seen this classic, I urge you to make this Christmas your first time.
Director: John Favreau
This film is hilarious, joyful and oh-so Christmassy. I have to watch every Christmas, and Summer, and Spring, and Autumn – I watch this movie all the time. Will Ferrell and a blonde Zooey Deschanel star in this film about a human who has been grown up under the idea that he is an elf. When he finds out he is not, he goes on a journey ‘through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then through the Lincoln Tunnel’ into New York City to find his birth parents. What ensues is a tonally perfect Christmas film, expertly directed by Jon Favreau. Buddy the Elf is (bar Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy) Will Ferrell’s most quotable and funny character, and James Caan (of The Godfather fame) puts in a great performance as his reluctant birth father. You just have to go all out and sing along, as “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing aloud for all to hear”, and you have to enjoy it – if you don’t, you’re a cotton headed ninnymuggins.
Home Alone (1990)
Director: Chris Columbus
Before Macaulay Culkin turned into a garbage human, he gave us the gift of Home Alone. The film is a cartoonish, slapstick romp based around a young boy who gets left at home for Christmas. It’s big and brash, clever in its own foolish sort of way, and emphasises the importance of family just as much as It’s A Wonderful Life does. As in Capra’s film, being deprived of family makes the young Kevin McCallister realise how much he needs them, despite his competence in fending off burglars. His hijinks and pranks are implausible and audacious, but it’s that element disbelief that makes Christmas so magical, right? Like James Caan’s change from gangster to Christmas softy, the film sees crime heavyweight Joe Pesci try his hand at a children’s Christmas outing, which does not disappoint. From a hot iron in the face, to a whack from a snow shovel, Home Alone is perfect Christmas fodder for the whole family.