The Christmas season is upon us – cue advent calendars, Christmas songs and goodwill all around. Many of us spend the build-up to the holidays watching our favourite beloved Christmas films to get us into the spirit of the season. Here are five films you shouldn’t miss.
5. Love Actually (2003)
A Christmas film for the teenage and adult audience, Love Actually is a heart-warming and hilarious British comedy from the king of the genre, director Richard Curtis. The film follows eight interlinked stories about different relationships in the months building up to Christmas, starring a huge ensemble cast with the likes of Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson. Everyone who has seen the film has their own personal favourite story, but a particular highlight has to be Rowan Atkinson’s painfully funny Christmas wrapping scene. Some stories delight, some will make you cry, but ultimately Love Actually achieves what it sets out to do – it shows that if you look hard enough, you’ll find that love actually is all around.
4. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
No list of top Christmas movies is complete without the inclusion of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic. The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is given a brilliant twist as The Muppets put their own spin on the story with this charming musical. Michael Caine wears the nightgown and night cap as Scrooge alongside The Muppets regulars, including Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit as well as The Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens, narrating the story with the help of Rizzo the Rat. A fantastically fun adaptation that will delight children and adults alike.
3. The Santa Clause (1994)
When thinking of films for all of the family, one cannot help but picture the multitude of Disney films that have been released since 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. With The Santa Clause, Walt Disney Pictures created another timeless classic. Tim Allen stars as Scott Calvin, a toy designer who, one fateful Christmas Eve, hears a clatter outside his house and, fearing a burglar, steps out to investigate. Scott discovers not a burglar outside, but Santa Clause, and after inadvertently causing Santa to fall off of the roof, finds himself and his son being whisked away to the North Pole where Scott is told of the Santa Clause, a magical contract that means he becomes the new Santa.
2. Elf (2003)
When Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell), who has lived in the North Pole with elves for as long as he can remember, discovers he is actually a human (unsurprising, as he is six-foot-three and had a beard since he was fifteen), he is told of his human father, Walter, who lives in New York and is on Santa’s naughty list. Buddy sets out to New York to find Walter and to teach him the meaning of Christmas spirit and to try and get his father onto Santa’s nice list. Will Ferrell is brilliant as Buddy, who is astounded by most human normalities such as an escalator and taxi cabs. Elf became an instant classic upon release in 2003 and it is hard to believe that it is now over a decade old.
1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Simply put, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one of the greatest Christmas films of all time. Those who are yet to see this holiday classic are missing one of the most hilarious, heart-warming and enjoyable festive treats out there. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase, on top comedy form) is a devoted husband, a family man and a huge fan of Christmas. One fateful year, he invites both his parents and his in-laws to stay with him and his family for the holidays. From the time they arrive, everything that can possibly go wrong, from an exploding turkey on the table to a disastrous sledging incident, goes wrong, and Clark desperately tries to get everything in order in time for Christmas. This is pure joy that has stood the test of time since its release in 1989 and can still be enjoyed by families today.
Editor’s Note: Look out for Jamie Jobanputra’s review of Love Actually coming in the next couple of days, right here on the Big Lens!