There are many traditions and duties that you need to get through before the big day; work parties, writing cards, making false promises to yourself about your calorie intake, laughing to yourself about how you always think that Jona Lewie’s singing voice sounds like Rodney Trotter and of course, watching some festive films.
The term ‘Christmas film’ is open to interpretation. Some believe it to mean a happy, uplifting and joyful cinematic experience. Others think that it can be any film with a late December setting. I certainly lean more towards the latter and place upon the definition this one additional rule: A film is only a Christmas film, if it would feel out of place watching it at any other time of the year.
Now with that in mind, I have created my festive film playlist. The Twelve Films O’ Christmas if you will. Chase away your holiday blues by enjoying these in the build up to Jesus’ birthday. If you start on 13 December, then you can enjoy the final one on the big day! Please bear in mind that I’m not listing the films in order of what I think is best, but merely what I believe will get you in the highest spirits come the 25th. Now go grab that eggnog and let’s begin!
12 – Scrooged (1988)
Have yourself a very Murray Christmas. The first of two entries based around the classic Dickens tale on the list, however here we shift from Victorian London to 1980s New York and focus on the evils of marketing and advertising. Bill Murray stars, so you know that it’s going to be great.
11 – Bad Santa (2003)
Billy Bob Thornton takes the lead in this devilishly dark, conman Christmas caper. He doesn’t care if you’re naughty or nice. Bernie Mac steals the show with each of his scenes in his funniest film role.
10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton’s mind, Danny Elfman’s music, Henry Selick’s direction & Jack Skelington’s curiosity create this beautiful stop-motion, musical classic. Worth watching for ‘What’s This?’ alone!
9 – Black Christmas (1974)
A horror film shouldn't really get you into the spirit of the seasonal festivities but who wants a list full of straightforward Christmas romps? The 1974 original is actually a fun horror slasher that predates the saturated 80s genre. It also provides a good few jolts and has a wonderful score. Avoid the 2006 remake at your own peril though.
8 – Batman Returns (1992)
Yes, it IS a Christmas film. Forget your Nolans, Bales, Ledgers and Hardys this month. It's December, with a billionaire who dresses up as a giant Bat, fighting a Cat and a Penguin. Could happen... Also contains Christopher Walken. You’re welcome.
7 – Miracle On 34th Street (1994)
One of the ultimate seasonal films of all time, with Richard Attenborough in possibly one of cinema's greatest pieces of casting. There's even a court case - it has it all! The original 1947 version is great, so either way you're on to a winner. But I'd go for the 1994 one solely because of Attenborough. He didn't half bounce back well after all his dinosaur problems the year before.
6 - Gremlins (1984)
What happens when little cute creatures turn bad because you didn’t follow the three specific rules you were given for keeping your pet healthy? TROUBLE! But what about when that happens around Christmas time? FESTIVE TROUBLE! A fun, violent, creature romp with lots of laughs (and nightmares for young’uns. Well I did anyway). One brilliant scene to look out for, two words: Stair Lift.
5 – The Santa Clause (1994)
Tim Allen in his other good film bar the Toy Story franchise. Brace yourselves though because the real Father Christmas dies... But it's all a big laugh so it's fine.
4 – It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
James Stewart running down the street shouting "Merry Christmas" is more Christmassy than Christmas itself. Cinematic perfection. Make sure to watch the black and white version though. Some things are best left as they were originally created *Cough* George Lucas *Cough*
3 – Die Hard (1988)
If you feel like some big explosions, helicopters, tanks, bombs, machine guns and a guy buying loads of Twinkies then this is the film for you! Oh and it all happens on Christmas Eve... Ace! Bruce Willis is the everyman who saves Christmas. Nice one, we’ll forgive you for those two albums you released now. (If you want to see this one on the big screen, vote here!)
2 – Home Alone (1990) & Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)
Everything in this film spells Christmas. Even when Kevin goes to the shop, everything on the shelf is colour co-ordinated to be mainly green and red to add to that festive feel. John Candy also turns up in the first film, now what can be cooler than this? I couldn't separate the two films really so I had to bundle them together. I think the first is slightly better but the second has Christmas in New York, which makes you feel even more festive, and of course the scene in which Tim Curry's face turns into the Grinch is amazing.
1 – The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
"We're Marley and Marley, WOOOOOOOOOAH!" We all have our favourites and this is undoubtedly mine. I watch it every Christmas Eve and it still makes me laugh every time. If this film doesn't make you at least crack a smile, check your pulse. The best way to sell this film to you if you've never seen it is probably this: Michael Caine as Scrooge. Simple. Surely that's a good enough reason alone to watch it? It's bursting with quality catchy songs too, so enjoy! Afterall, "Tis the season to be jolly and jooooooyooooous!"
I realise that there are many classics, which didn’t make the list, but alas Christmas is a time for sharing, so go spread the word of your favourites too.
Seasons Greetings and bring on 2016!
Find out what we're showing at FACT over the holidays, from White Christmas to Krampus.