When its cold outside, and you’ve spent all your money on presents and booze, there are few better things to do than sit on the couch and watch films until pay day. Your biggest challenge then is choosing which of the thousands of Christmas films out there to watch.
Christmas films don’t have to be fine works of art, and they don’t even have to be about Christmas. All they have to do is put you in the Christmas spirit, whether through over the top sentimentality, or good old-fashioned nostalgia.
Try one of these 20 fantastic Christmas films this year.
Babes in Toyland (1934)
IMDB Score 5.4/10
The first movie on this list is also the oldest, but this Laurel and Hardy silent classic has lost none of its charm over time. The pair play two bumbling apprentices to the master toymaker of Toyland who decide tat they need to raise money to help Little Bo Peep and her sweetheart Tom Tom.
Bad Santa (2003)
IMDB Score 7.1/10
This movie is a great antidote for anyone who needs a break from the serious side of Christmas. It stars Billy Bob Thornton as a thief who dresses up as Santa during Christmas in order to scam happy Christmas shoppers. He gets his desires job as a mall Santa, but can he keep up the required pretext, and can any of the children he meets during his day job teach him a little something about Christmas?
Black Christmas (1974)
IMDB Score 7.2/10
A festive film for fans of the horror genre, this classic slasher from director Bob Clark stars Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey as lonely sorority sister cheering themselves up with a Christmas party in their sorority house. Little do they know that a mad killer on the loose who has his eye on them. The inspiration for the likes of Scream, this film is smarter than your average slasher flick, with bells on.
Die Hard (1988)
IMDB Score 8.2/10
The classic Christmas film, and still the best thing to watch on Christmas eve, Brice Willis takes on terrorists that have taken over his estranged wife’s office block during a Christmas eve party. The late, great Alan Rickman plats our German villain in this shoot ‘em up Christmas romp.
IMDB Score 6.9/10
This Will Farrell Christmas comedy is one of those ones that is great to kids, but has layers that adults will appreciate as well. Ferrell plays a man who was adopted by Christmas elves as a child, and grew up as an elf. When he finally goes in search of his father (James Caan), be does not find what he expects. Should he change to fit into his father’s world, or is it his father than needs to change?
IMDB Score 7.3/10
This is one of the first horror movies that many of us watches as children, and certainly does not have the bite of the horror movies that I watch today, but it will always be nostalgic. A father buys his son an unusual Christmas present from a Chinese store, but despite the stern warnings, doesn’t follow all the instructions, and before we know it, there is a monster on the lose at Christmas.
The Grinch (2000)
IMDB Score 6.1/10
This classic retelling of the famous Dr Seuss story combines expert story telling with an hilarious, but heart felt performance from Carrey. The film will have you feeling sympathy of the green lead, and it manages to speak about the spirit of Christmas without getting overly sentimental.
Home Alone (1990)
IMDB Score 7.5/10
If you didn’t watch Home Alone as a kid at Christmas, what were you doing? The music, the decorations, Macaulay Culkin as Kevin at the height of his child stardom, and the underlying theme that it is family that makes Christmas means that this flick actually has everything. What would happen if your eight-year-old self was accidentally left home alone at Christmas?
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
IMDB Score 8.6/10
Surely the most famous Christmas movie of all time, it stars James Stewart who has the opportunity to see what the world would be like if he was never born. But can he win back his life in time to spend it with the people he loves? Despite performing badly at the box office when it first came out, this is now the most popular Christmas movie of all time.
IMDB Score 6.2/10
Another Christmas classic for those who appreciate a few good scares, even in the Christmas season. Toni Collette and Adam Scott star as the parents of Max, a young boy who becomes disillusioned with Christmas because of his family’s fighting. His lack of Christmas spirit unwitting releases the Krampus, an ancient force that punishes those who lack the festive spirit.
Love Actually (2003)
IMDB Score 7.6/10
People seem to have a love-hate relationship with this collected stories film starring an impressive British ensemble cast. While some of the stories that it tells about love are downright depressing, and a little gross, if you think about them too much, director Richard Curtis does so a good job of tying them together into something very heart warming and funny, if you just don’t think too hard about it. Bill Nighy is a standout star.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
IMDB Score 7.7/10
This Muppet masterpiece is how many children learnt about Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Starring Michael Caine as Scrooge and Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, this film is not imaginative, but it is fun, and anyone who enjoyed watching the muppets as a child will find it nostalgic, and the subtle in jokes rewarding.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
IMDB Score 7.6/10
The popular Griswold family return for their third adventure in this Christmas themed comedy. Starring Chevy Chace and Randy Quaid, this is not smart comedy, but it matches solid laughs with just enough heart to make it a classic.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
IMDB Score 8/10
This Tim Burton stop-motion animation mashes up Halloween and Christmas to create something that is nothing short of magical. What would happen when the creatures of Halloween discover Christmas, and what would Christmas look like in their world? Surprisingly, Johnny Depp does not appear in this film.
The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
IMDB Score 5.5/10
Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston together in a Christmas film, you know that this is just going to have something about it. Washington plats an angel trying to help a struggling preacher, who also happens to be married to Houston, who our angel starts to fall for. Houston expertly sings a couple of classic gospel numbers along the way. A little like The Bodyguard for Christmas.
The Santa Clause (1994)
IMDB Score 6.4/10
When Tim Allen was one of the most popular actors on television thanks to Home Improvement, he made this Christmas romp about a father who goes above and beyond to prove to his son that Santa Claus is real. However, when he accidentally kills Santa in the process, he is forced to take on the job himself!
IMDB Score 7.10
Another Christmas Carol-based film, this time starring Bill Murray at the height of his comedic fame. The film brings Scrooge into the future as a television executive who is also the meanest and most depraved man on earth who will do anything for ratings. Can the ghosts of Christmas teach him that there is more to life?
The Snowman (1982)
IMDB Score 8.2/10
While this 30-minute Christmas special may not seem like the most exciting choice, there is a reason why kids will just want to watch it over and over again. A faithful retelling of the classic Raymond Briggs story about a young boy and his snowman, Briggs himself lent his voice to the film, alongside none other than David Bowie
Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
IMDB Score 7.9/10
If you are looking for something a little bit different to watch at Christmas, then try this anime feature from Japanese filmmaker Satoshi Kon. Set in Tokyo on Christmas Eve, three homeless friends have their lives turned upside down when they find an abandoned baby in a garbage dump. As they look for the baby’s parents, they are forced to confront their own pasts.
White Christmas (1954)
IMDB Score 9.2/10
This 1950s classic starring Bing Crosby has been gracing our television screens for longer than most of us have been alive! It is a romantic musical tale that takes place in a Vermont lodge, where the Christmases are always white, well, almost always.