The Best Christmas Films Of All Time

Film & TV / November 7, 2018
by Johanna Roelich

We know what you’re thinking, “it’s too early to think about Christmas” and maybe you’re right but here at scotts we’ve had it (screaming) in the back of our minds since January… (and you think i’m joking)

But you can’t argue that there is no more festive time of year than Christmas, which over the years has been the backdrop for plenty of old-school classics and modern favourites hitting our screens. You could however argue the following; Home Alone is the greatest Christmas film of all time… Or is it Die Hard or The Nightmare Before Christmas? The options are endless. To kick off the debate that goes ahead every year, we thought we’d round up our favourite Christmas films.

6. The Snowman

The Snowman is an absolute classic. Even if this isn’t totally your idea of a great movie, you have the appreciate it’s charm. Nominated for an Oscar, the short film tells of a boy whose snowman magically becomes real – but not forever.

It’s less than 30 minutes long, wordless apart from a song sung by a boy soprano, and features a frankly weird David Bowie introduction, with the Goblin King wearing a scarf covered in snowmen. And yet, despite or because of all these things, this is as necessary for Christmas as mince pies and binging on Quality Street. The pencil-drawn animation is gorgeous, the music unforgettable and the story much less schmaltzy-happy than you might expect for the season. In fact, it’s likely to move small children, and indeed grown men, to tears. Still, it has to be watched or you’re not allowed your Christmas.

5. Elf

A fairly recent entrant onto the Christmas chart, but one that went straight to the top of everyone’s affections and deserves to be there. When it screened on British TV one Sunday last December it trended worldwide on Twitter, such is its popularity and extraordinary quotability. Buddy the Elf is, along with Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell’s finest comedy creation and is bound to be one of those iconic Christmas characters in future years. You’d have to be a ‘cotton-headed ninny muggins’  not to love this one.

4. Miracle on 34th St.

You can’t go wrong with this perennial Christmas staple about the trial of a man claiming to be Santa Claus (the original is great, but the 1994 remake starring Richard Attenborough is pretty good, too).

Unlike other Christmas movies that are simply set in the festive period, this one is actually about Christmas without being cynical, over-the-top or a vehicle for the main star to be ‘hilarious’ (Elf, I’m looking at you).

Miracle On 34th Street is a giant bear hug of a Christmas movie that you can, and should, watch over and over again. It’s poignant without being preachy, sweet without being schmaltzy and it should go down in history as the best Christmas film of all time.

3. Die Hard

Arguably the greatest action movie ever made, and now (whether you like this or not) is referred to as one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made, too. Bruce Willis’ John McClane may seem like an unlikely Santa Claus but what better Christmas present is there than the gift of terrorists getting taken down as they try to take Nakatomi Plaza hostage during a Christmas party in order to carry out an elaborate theft? Of course, some people won’t agree that this is a Christmas movie, however there are some strong Christmas themes in Die Hard: not only is the terrorist dressed in a Santa suit, but there are plenty of Christmas trees on view amidst the shooting.  At the end of the day, nothing says deck the halls like jumping off a roof tied to a fire hose, and nothing says season of goodwill like a machine gun. Right?

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Tim Burton produced this dark and malevolent stop-motion fable, which charts the odyssey of Jack Skellington after he inadvertently winds up traveling from his Halloween Town home to the decidedly less spooky Christmas Town.

The wonderful thing about Tim Burton’s stop-motion classic, is that you can legitimately watch it any time from Halloween on, which enables you to cope with those early Christmas cravings. What’s more, as Pumpkin King Jack Skellington learns about Christmas, Burton manages to both undermine all the ‘cuteness’ and underline the bits of Christmas that really matter – like the bit where your toys don’t bite you or turn into snakes. That bit’s really important.

1. Home Alone

Basically a live-action cartoon with a John Hughes script, Home Alone may not be big or even clever but it’s a lot of fun and, in its own way, emphasises the importance of love and family just as much as It’s A Wonderful Life. As in Capra’s tale, being deprived of family and safety makes little tyke Macauley Culkin realise how much he needs them, and fending off burglars all alone gives him a unique appreciation of the Christmas spirit. Also, he gets to drop a hot iron on someone’s face, so that’s nice.

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