It is a big question. Just what is the best Christmas film? Well this is exactly the right time of year to address that. And rather than simply do a Top 5 with one guest I asked a few people to share their thoughts on their favourite Christmas film, and share the experience with as many people as possible, which is really in the Christmas spirit. I got all manner responses, short and long, tongue in cheek and serious, and even the most meta appraisal of Love Actually you will ever see. I hope you enjoy reading about many of my friend’s favourite Christmas films, as I really appreciate everyone who took a few minutes out of their day to write me something at pretty short notice.
Akira Jeffers: The Nightmare before Christmas – A film that combines both Halloween and Christmas and it is bloody amazing! You can watch it on Halloween or at Christmas and it is relevant! Jack Skellington AKA the pumpkin king, a tormentor who is tormented by himself, suffering an identity crisis. He hijacks Christmas and shit hits the fan on earth, I for one think he made it better. This is a slightly darker film, which is still family friendly, with great songs to sing along to and very unique characters such as Oogie Boogie.
Alex Hayler: Love Actually – Love Actually has everything a Christmas film needs. The intertwined short stories are mostly funny, and sentimental without being cloying. The star-studded cast is used to good effect, with stand out performances from Snape and that bloke from My Family. Hugh Grant plays the same character as he always does, but he’s Prime Minister this time so that’s a bit different. Also it’s got Rick from the Walking Dead in it, and he wants to fuck Keira Knightley, even though she’s married to the slave from 12 Years a Slave. Jojen Reed also appears, but seems depressed, presumably because he has seen the future, and is aware that he has to fight animated Scarecrows in a WWI era boarding school before being murdered by wights. The crowning moment of the piece was definitely when Doctor Watson simulates sex with Stacey from Gavin and Stacey. I was also pleased to see that Colin Firth had gotten over his debilitating stutter.
Alice Hammonds: The Holiday – Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, both unlucky in love, decide to house swap in the hope of escaping more heartache at Christmas time. While the story line is nothing new or unseen, there are both magical and hilarious moments throughout the film. The four actors have undeniable stage presence and the end of the film leaves you with a fuzzy and warm festive feeling.
Andy Manning: Love Actually – Having only seen a handful of Christmas films I am clearly wildly under qualified to comment, However, ‘Love Actually’, from my limited experiences, is the best Christmas film ever, and maybe even the greatest film of all time. Hugh Grant’s dance scene is one of the few moments of any film that not only has me laughing out loud, but has also inspired so many of my best dance moves. The casting is incredible and the intertwined nature of the story line ensures that there is something for everyone. And how could you not fantasise about Hugh Grant as prime minister after the 2016 we have had?
Anthony Levitt: The Polar Express – This was the first film I’d ever seen in an Imax theatre. This means that it is a film that always holds a special place in my heart. But it is not just that its simplistic story still manages to showcase the strong and individualised leads and give us a good story with great characters.
Becky Pritchard: Home Alone 2: Lost In New York – I first watched this film last year when I visited the Birmingham Christmas Market and since then it has been my favourite Christmas film. I love the scene where Kevin meets the Pigeon Lady and we get a magical moment where we see childlike innocence versus a cynical adult view when she talks about how her heart has been broken and she is afraid to trust again. Something that Kevin likens the situation to him not wanting to ruin his new rollerblades but he waits so long he ends up outgrowing them and never being able to enjoy them. You find yourself getting pretty emotional as Kevin tells the Pigeon Lady she can trust him and he promises never to forget her. This film perfectly captures the magic, humour and mischief we all experience in some way at Christmas.
Cameron Hoy: The Nightmare Before Christmas – The Nightmare Before Christmas is my favourite Christmas film due in part to the great musical numbers and sometimes freaky and strange undertones. Of course it has some brilliant characters; Oogie Boogie is amazing as is the lead Jack Skellington.
Chris Bolland: Die Hard – Die Hard breaks the monotonous insincere Christmas cheer that I cannot stand. As an 80’s action movie it’s absolutely full of great one-liners. (It’s definitely a Christmas movie btw).
Chris Murphy: Elf – With the crushing weight of existence in a world that cares not, what better way to alleviate the never ending pressure than to watch a grown man in an elf suit get beaten up by Peter Dinklage?
John Parker: Bad Santa – The story of a con man and his partner who annually take on the guise of a department store Santa and his elf in order to burgle it on Christmas eve. This is a wonderfully funny and dark film, a nihilist view of Christmas seen through the eyes of Willie (Billy Bob Thornton). Its strong adult humour is brilliantly contrasted with the innocence and naivety of The Kid (Brett Kelly) whom is used this year by Willie to achieve his endeavour. The Kid’s innocence and love of Christmas helps to bring out the best in our sex addicted, alcohol fuelled protagonist resulting in him doing the right thing in the end. Thornton plays his part superbly; deadpan, crude, given up on life, drinking, drugs, robbery and swearing- there is little to be admired about the character of Willie. But he is, strangely, undeniably likable especially in the scenes alongside his partner in crime Marcus (Tony Cox). There are a few stock characters such as the Thai Bride of Marcus-Lois played by Lauren Tom, and the confused grandma played by Cloris Leachman. These add to the charm and crude humour. Make no mistake; there is nothing intelligent in the comedy. It is a crude, rude and brutal reflection of all that is bad about Christmas- commercialism, alcoholism, and extortion. This is my go-to Christmas film; it never fails to make me laugh, is brilliantly acted, exactly my kind of humour. It is thoroughly entertaining and seasonal.
Melissa Grierson: Love Actually – Whilst too sickly sweet and cheesy for many, this has got to be my favourite Christmas film. A heart-warming film with some brilliant British actors that reminds us of what is important at Christmas time! I would talk about a favourite scene or moment but there are too many iconic ones to choose from. Although, to be honest, any film with Hugh Grant is a winner for me.
Nye Rees: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas – My favourite Christmas film of all time has to be The Grinch. The film, generally speaking, captures perfectly how we’ve always dreamt Christmas would be and fully embodies the spirit of the season. It’s makes me feel like a big, hairy child and simultaneously makes me feel like that’s okay. Also, it’s always nice to see Jim Carrey do what he does best.
Ronni Blackford: It’s A Wonderful Life – My favourite Christmas film has to be the inimitable It’s A Wonderful Life staring James Stewart as a husband and father who believes that ending his life is the best decision for his family, only to be persuaded by his haphazard guardian angel-in-training that the world is much better off with him in it. It’s a true Christmas classic in black and white, complete with delightful 40s American accents, as well as a real tradition in my family – we watch it together every year with snacks a-plenty and tissues for the amount of tears it never fails to provoke!
Will Ingram: Die Hard – “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho”. It’s a Christmas film. Die Hard is awesome, John McClane is great, and Hans Gruber is wonderful. This isn’t to say I don’t like traditional Christmas films; it’s just that Die Hard is better.
Shuggie Says: Lethal Weapon – You’ve seen a few people defend Die Hard’s status as a Christmas film, but two years before that we had another action classic set at Christmas. Lethal Weapon. Written by Shane Black (who has a thing for films set at Christmas) and directed by the legendary Richard Donner, this is still the king of buddy cop films. With the loose canon Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and the older cop Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) we have the perfect combination. And in this first installment we see them come together and find friendship and family in each other. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Friends and family. And of course fighting Gary Busey shirtless on a front lawn…
So thats some of our picks for the best Christmas Film of all time. What is your favourite film to watch over the festive period? Is there anything you would have liked to see included on this list? Let me know in the comments.