Christmas isn’t Christmas without a few festive films to really get you into the seasonal spirit. Shaun and I decided in late November to tackle the mammoth task of watching and reviewing all the Christmas films we could find (afford) to compile a list of the top 20 Christmas Films Of All Time and share our thoughts with you all. Crazy, maybe. Fun? Defo! I have also teamed up with Panasonic to bring you this fantastic festive film collection. Panasonic have recently released the Panasonic Oled 4K TV with a sleek design and ultimate picture quality to really bring the Hollywood experience right into your very own home. So get ready because here comes The Top 20 Christmas Films Of All Time… (in the order watched)
We started our movie marathon with the 2003 Christmas Favourite – Love Actually. I have seen this one before so I know it is such an uplifting feel good rom-com and I was very happy to spend a cosy Saturday night in watching this one again. And anyway, who can turn down an evening with Hugh Grant? Not me. The film focuses on nine different relationships whose stories somehow intertwine whilst following the same theme: love at Christmas time. Love Actually is crammed with famous faces and comedy moments, leaving you with that warm, contented, awww-feeling. A great film to kick-start the festive season! Click here to buy Love Actually!
Main Cast: The Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), Billy Mack (Bill Nighy), Daniel (Liam Neeson), Jamie (Colin Firth), Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall), Harry (Alan Rickman), Juliet (Keira Knightley), Karen (Emma Thompson). Oh and Ant, Dec and Mr Bean!
Favourite moments: The Prime Minister, David (Hugh Grant) dancing around to Jump (For My Love), Mr Bean in the department store taking forever to wrap up that necklace & the carol singing scene. Oh, and any lines from the rockerstar, Billy Mack or Colin Frissell he he.
This film doesn’t need much explanation. Who doesn’t enjoy the 1990 Christmas classic which is Home Alone. In this well-loved festive comedy, troublemaker Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is mistakenly left behind as his family head off on a Christmas break to Paris. Kevin is living the 8-year-old dream as he discovers that he has the entire (massive) house to himself with no strict parents or annoying siblings to deal with. He watches gangsta films, eats junk food and even experiences being a grown-up by doing the weekly shopping. His excitement doesn’t last for long though, as he soon learns his house is going to be targeted by the two notorious burglars, Harry and Marv, on Christmas Eve. Kevin quickly steps into action and his mission to protect his home begins. In this entertaining and action-packed film, we watch as Kevin outsmarts the two crooks using carefully coordinated traps and childlike genius. This is one film I’ll never get bored of watching year after year, it has to be one of my all time favourites! Click here to buy Home Alone!
Favourite moment: That scene in the church where Kevin realizes he has to defend his home and the music of Carol Of The Bells kicks in. We know at that moment his adventure has began.
Next on the Christmas film agenda was the 1984 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol. I must have seen this one as a child as it is such a well-known Christmas tale. It is based on the 1843 novel by Charles Dickens where the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge (George C. Scott) meets the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Christmases Yet To Come. It is a simple, easy-to-follow and memorable story which has an underlining important message – it is never too late to change who you are. Be kind to people and spread some Christmas love. This is a must in any festive film collection. Click here to buy A Christmas Carol!
Favourite moment: When Scrooge buys Bob Cratchit and his family a MASSIVE turkey and wanted to keep it anonymous. I liked it as he was giving for the sake of kindness and not for his own reputation.
Zazu and I sat down one afternoon to check out this 2006 romantic comedy staring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. It is quite a sweet tale where two women, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) from Los Angeles and Iris (Kate Winslet) from Surrey in the UK agree to an impulsive house swap at Christmastime to get away from the stresses of their everyday lives. We watch as Amanda settles in to Iris’ quiet English countryside life whilst Iris starts living it up in LA mingling with the likes of Hollywood screenwriters and film composers (Jack Black). Both women have completely contrasting lifestyles but share one thing in common: they are escaping guy-troubles. The film flicks between life in LA and life in Surrey and like all good Christmas rom-coms, the story reaches a slightly predictable but pleasant ending leaving you with that ‘aww how sweet’ feeling. Zazu didn’t think much of it though as he slept through the entire film. Click here to buy The Holiday!
Favourite moments: Jack Black singing loudly in the DVD shop much to Iris’ embarrassment and when Iris finally comes to her senses and has her moment of gumption as she calls it.
This short little animated 26 minute cartoon is based on two books written by Raymond Briggs: Father Christmas and Father Christmas Goes on Holiday. It was released in 1991 and I remember many Christmases growing up watching this amusing little story. Father Christmas is voiced by the comedian Mel Smith and is portrayed as a grumpy old man who wants to get away from the stresses of being Father Christmas whilst saying ‘bloomin’ every 2 minutes. Shaun and I both agreed that this rather grouchy Father Christmas character is a cross between Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses and Jim Royle from The Royle Family. It’s a seasonal favourite guaranteed to raise a few smiles as we watch this cranky old chap handle the pressures of being Father Christmas. Click here to buy Father Christmas! It’s bloomin’ marvelous!
Favourite moments: Father Christmas and his unfortunate case of food poisoning, all the letters arriving and the Snowman Party.
My film critics (Shaun & the cats) were not available today, so I was left with task of watching another festive film on my lonesome. It’s a hard life. This one was the 2006 comedy – Deck The Halls. It stars Matthew Broderick as Steve Finch who the super organised, super traditional family man when it comes to Christmas preparation, being renowned in his neighborhood as being the King of Christmas. However, his Christmas enthusiasm is quickly dampened by his brand new neighbour Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) who is on a mission to get his house noticed from space via its sheer amount of Christmas lights. The film itself had a few laugh out loud moments with an entertaining story line. If you look deeper into it there is a message too – Christmas is all about family and friends not about competition. If you are looking for something light-hearted and fun, this film is worth a watch. Click here to buy Deck The Halls!
Favourite moments: When Buddy gets into the sleeping bag with Steve to warm him up, I actually burst out laughing at that scene. Also, stealing the Christmas tree from the town centre was pretty amusing.
I recognized the primary school teacher (Mr Maddens) from Nativity immediately. It was Martin Freeman, the guy who also appeared in Love Actually as John (the porn star stand in man). I’ve noticed that certain actors have a thing for festive films – Martin Freeman (Love Actually & Nativity), Danny DeVito (Deck The Halls & Home Alone). I am sure there will be tons more! I found Nativity (2009) to be quite a sweet, funny and charming film and I was really impressed with the kids singing and dancing talents. Mr Maddens is a very down to earth British school teacher who is in charge of producing the Christmas Nativity. He is soon assigned a larger than life teaching assistant (Mr Poppy) who is an eccentric bubbly character who injects a lot of fun and laughter into the performance. If you want to watch an uplifting entertaining Christmas film, this one is for you! Click here to buy Nativity!
Favourite moments: Mr Poppy and the kids warming up to Jackson 5 – I Want You Back. All the songs in Nativity were really catchy too!
It was a Saturday night and we had just put up the Christmas tree – what a perfect opportunity to have a cosy evening in watching another festive film with Shaun and Simba. We chose the 2003 movie Elf and heard we were in for a bit of lighthearted Christmas comedy. It stars Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf who is not your typical elf. He is in fact a human raised by Santa in the North Pole only to later find out he is different from his colleagues in the toy workshop. A confused Buddy then goes on an adventure to New York City in search of his biological father, but needless to say this isn’t as straight-forward as this kind-hearted elf would have hoped. This is such a sweet and funny film. Buddy is such a likable elf and I really hoped he would eventually find his place in the world and be accepted for who is really is. Click here to buy Elf!
Favourite moments: Buddy and his new work mate drinking in the post room, Buddy going to work with his father and the fight scene in the boardroom with Miles.
The next film of the weekend was The Polar Express (2004), which is based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. One Christmas Eve, a young boy who is beginning to disbelieve in Santa has the opportunity to jump on board The Polar Express – a train which is heading towards the North Pole. The train conductor, voiced by Tom Hanks, invites the boy on a magical mystery journey to discover the truth about Christmas. He shares the trip with a number of other children his own age who are also having their doubts about Christmas and has the chance to make some really strong friendships along the way. I have to say the graphics and animation of this charming fantasy story are absolutely amazing. There is always something spectacular to watch as we join the boy and his friends on this adventure of a lifetime. Click here to buy The Polar Express!
Favourite moments: I liked it when the boy chased the train at the beginning as we anticipate the excitement that lies ahead of him. I also liked the scene where the girl and Billy (the lonely boy) sing a song together at the train steams ahead through the snowy scenery.
I was eagerly anticipating watching this one as it was a 1994 Christmas classic I had not yet seen. Susan is a curious six year old girl played well by Mara Wilson – also known for her roles in Mrs Doubtfire and Matilda. Susan no longer believes in Santa Claus as her very down-to-earth mother put a stop to those ideas early on. However, when Susan meets a very realistic Kris Kringle (Sir Richard Attenborough) in a department store grotto, she starts to question what she really believes in. This film has some very adorable moments and brings back the magic of Christmastime to those who stopped believing in it. The story was quite predictable but I suppose Christmas films are all about the happy ending. If you want to watch a feel-good classic, click here to buy Miracle On 34th Street!
Favourite moments: When Kris Kringle meets the deaf girl in Santa’s grotto and communicates with her – such a lovely scene!
I had never seen or heard of Jack Frost (1998) before so this was just selected as a lucky dip film. Shaun and I read the film description before watching and initially had our doubts. Jack Frost (Micheal Keaton) a rock ‘n roll dad is on the verge of making it big with his band when he realizes that he is missing out on precious time with his wife and son Charlie. On Christmas eve, Jack has a change of heart and hurries back to be with his family only to find that his car spins out of control on an icy road and he never makes it home. A year later, Jack then magically returns as a snowman to make up for lost time with Charlie. Okay, it sounded good, but a snowman, really? I wasn’t sure how they could pull this off without it being just plain ridiculous. Anyway, they did – and this film turned out to be the saddest and loveliest Christmas film I have even seen. I actually had tears in my eyes. If a film can make you feel emotions then in my opinion that is a brilliant film. Click here to buy Jack Frost!
Favourite moment: When Jack and Charlie get revenge on the bullies together and the sad scene at the end… awww!
This is the most recent Christmas film in my collection. It was made in 2011 and you can tell because the graphics are incredible and Santa’s workshop is so high-tech. Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) has an urgent mission to deliver a forgotten present to a little girl in time for Christmas. With just two hours to spare, Arthur and Grandsanta have the great responsibility to fly all the way from the North Pole to Cornwall in the UK (an impressive 4000 miles) to bring a smile to a child’s face on Christmas morning. My earlier point about some actors having a thing for Christmas films remains true – Bill Nighy is the voice of the cranky 136-year-old Grandsanta whilst also having a leading role in the Christmas classic Love Actually. I would say this film is aimed at children although there are plenty of comedy moments and fabulous CGI animations for the whole family to enjoy! Click here to buy Arthur Christmas!
Favourite moments: I laughed when Arthur manages to send the lions into a trance with his light-up flashy reindeer slippers. The bike ride and Christmas wrapping moment was also very good.
The Snowman (1982) is a short but sweet animated Christmas tale based on the illustrated book by Raymond Briggs. The well-known childhood classic tells the story of a young boy who builds a snowman which magically comes to life on Christmas Eve. The snowman takes the boy on an unforgettable adventure to the North Pole, flying over the snowy covered towns and villages to take him to meet the other snowmen. It is a silent cartoon which relies on beautiful animations and the much loved and memorable song by Aled Jones: ‘Walking in the Air’. The Snowman is one that the whole family can watch and enjoy year after year that never fails to brings back all the cosy Christmas childhood memories. Click here to buy The Snowman!
Favourite moments: The snowman trying on the pair of false teeth and smiling at himself in the mirror and when they finally arrive at the snowman party.
This is a festive 1996 comedy staring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the dad who is on a mission to get his son a Christmas present on Christmas Eve (of all days). This last minute shopper needs to desperately find the very popular Turbo Man doll to win back the respect he has lost from his wife and son. Of course, this shopping trip isn’t going to go to plan and like all good Christmas films there is much fun and adventure along the way. The only questionable thing I could say about this is why can’t Arnold Schwarzenegger drop The Terminator act for this film? He punches a reindeer right in the face and knocks it clean out which I thought was going a bit far. I laughed then actually felt a bit shocked as the reindeer lay sparked out on the floor! All the same, it is worth a watch as it does have some funny moments and an overall nice message. Click here to buy Jingle All The Way!
Favourite moments: I did smile when Arnold Schwarzenegger chucked a burning rock through the window frightening the life out of a group of innocent carol singers. Also, what the kid did with the doll at the end was very sweet.
I have watched so many festive films lately, I am beginning to actually believe that Father Christmas is real. Tonight’s film was the 1985 classic: Santa Claus – The Movie. This film starts with Santa (David Huddleston) and Anya Claus (Judy Cornwell) taking the treacherous journey through blizzards and icy mountains to eventually find they were expected to arrive at the toy workshop in the North Pole all along. Santa and Anya settle into their new found roles with ease and preparations their very first Christmas Eve are made. Patch (Dudley Moore), one particular innovative elf impressed Santa so much he was quickly appointed as Santa’s Official Assistant. However, this title was later removed after faulty toys were getting returned to the workshop. Much to the elf’s disappointment, Patch begins to look for alternative ways to prove himself to Santa but naively gets caught up with an evil toy manufacturer in New York. As the story unfolds, we watch as Santa has to recuse his eager-to-please but misled elf in order to save Christmas for all the children! This is a charming little film which explains how the fable of Santa Claus came about. If you want to watch a traditional and magical Christmas film, this one if for the whole family to enjoy! Click here to buy Santa Claus – The Movie.
Favourite moments: Santa on a celery and soup diet because he thinks all the cookies are causing his big round belly. I also liked the scenes with Joe (the homeless boy) who builds a great friendship with Santa.
I love a film with a positive message and It’s A Wonderful Life has just that. George Bailey (James Stewart) has spent his entire life in Bedford Falls giving something back to his community. He passes up on life changing opportunities such as travelling and going to college as he focuses on preventing the money-mad Mr Potter from taking over and ruining his town. After a series of unfortunate events, George faces the daunting prospect of losing his business and going to jail. We see him at his lowest point contemplating taking his life, when he is stopped in his tracks by Clarence (Henry Travers), an angel who has been sent to Earth in order to earn his wings. Clarence shows George what life would have been like if he was never born and what a positive influence he has been on so many peoples lives. It’s A Wonderful Life is an old film from 1946 but remains inspirational to this day. No matter your circumstances, everybody has an important role to play in the world. Click here to buy It’s A Wonderful Life!
Favourite moment: I enjoyed the scene at the end where George runs through the town wishing everyone a Merry Christmas after Clarence has successfully completed his job.
If you are looking for a lighthearted, fun and silly Christmas film, Christmas With The Kranks (2004) would be just for you. The Kranks, Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) have just waved goodbye to their beloved daughter, Blair, as she departs for departs for Peru after joining the Peace Corps. Feeling lost, Luther and Nora make the unconventional decision to skip Christmas that year and escape on for a 10-day cruise around the Caribbean – leaving on Christmas Day. Their neighbours cannot comprehend why anyone would want to miss out on this magical time of the year and decide to make things difficult for the traitorous couple. The story turns as Blair and her brand new fiance call to say they are making an unexpected visit on Christmas Eve. We watch as the Kranks try and scramble together a last-minute Christmas with a little help from their neighbours. It’s a fun film not to be taken too seriously and I’m sure we can all relate to the mad panic that is part and parcel of Christmastime. Click here to buy Christmas With The Kranks!
Favourite moments: The police men playing guitar in the band during the Christmas Eve party and the kind gesture displayed by Luther towards his grouchy neighbour, showing there are no hard feelings.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) is a festive, cheery, feel-good film guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is a disaster-prone family man who decides to stay at home with his loved ones over the festive season in the hopes to create the perfect Christmas. Of course, if you know anything about the Grisworlds this is definitely not going to be the case. We watch as this unfortunate family experience catastrophe after catastrophe whilst adding a few unexpected relatives into the mix. There is pandemonium with the Christmas lights, exploding turkeys and to top it all off Uncle Louis sets fire to the tree! This is one to add to your collection to watch in the countdown to Christmas! Click here to buy National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!
Favourite moment: Eddie thinking he is a doing a good deed by kidnapping Clark’s penny pinching boss Mr. Shirley and how quickly that escalates.
Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is Bad Santa. In this 2003 outrageous Christmas comedy, Willie takes on the role of an unconventional, unhappy and very unfestive Father Christmas. With his partner in crime, a realistic elf-dwarf called Marcus, the pair set out to fool the children by day and rob the department store by night. Bad Santa is the opposite to whatever you thought a jolly Santa Claus character should be. He drinks, swears, dislikes children and spends more time thinking about females than festivities. Things start to change as Willie meets Thurman, an innocent kid who is the target of taunts by the skateboarding gang. This unlikely friendship slowly develops as the cynical Santa starts to feel sympathy for the kid and teaches him to stand up for himself in this world. The film is crude, rude and funny but has sweet and caring undertones holding it all together. Probably not suitable for the whole family, but if you are looking for an edgy Christmas film this year, Bad Santa is definitely the one for you. Click here to buy Bad Santa!
Favourite moment: When Bad Santa has a change of heart and reconstructs Thurmans advent calendar with his very nontraditional treats.
Last but by no means least, Shaun and I finished our festive film marathon with Fred Claus (2007). This was another underrated film which turned out to be one of the best. Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) is the bitter older brother of Santa Claus who always feels that he will never been good enough in his families eyes. Fred is the total opposite of his saintly sibling, always getting involved in shady schemes in a bid to get rich quick. One Christmas, Fred finds himself in a spot of bother and calls on the help of his long-lost brother Santa for bail. Santa decides that Fred actually needs to help him in exchange for all the cash he is asking for. Much to Fred’s resentment, he has little choice but to follow his brothers wishes and goes the lend a hand in the North Pole. The film is charming, and I especially enjoyed watching the very likable character of Willie the Elf, who learned a thing or two from his unlikely friend Fred. Click here to buy Fred Claus!
Favourite moments: Fred teaching Willie how to dance in order to impress the love of his life and the Elf dance party scene.
So that’s my Top 20 Christmas Films of All Time! I would love to know your thoughts and which festive film is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!
HMV Festive Collection
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