We're all stuck indoors - so catch up on some of this lot...
Disney + are streaming both the original Home Alone and the sequel, quite possibly the greatest Christmas films of all time. Kevin McCallister is a proper little shit but you can’t not love him as he copes with being on his own and runs rings around a couple of dum-dum burglars. The best person in the whole thing is his big brother Buzz – who’s flat top has become a thing of legend over the years.
You might question the validity of this being a Christmas film, but as soon as Robin Williams’ ‘Peter’ gets to London to visit an old Wendy – you’re firmly in a land of snow, tinsel and George Lucas and Carrie Fisher kissing on Westminster Bridge. Hook is a weird film, and certainly one of Spielberg’s most polarising. He made some mad choices in the script but ultimately the idea of following Peter Pan after he’s grown up is a stroke of genius – helped by Williams’ electric energy and a fantastic turn from Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins as Captain Hook and his ‘wife’ Smee.
A modern retelling of the classic Charles Dickens tale of a miserable bugger getting his comeuppance from a trio of time-bending ghosts. This version transports ‘Scrooge’ to New York City in the 80’s and it’s the legendary Bill Murray who picks up the mantle as the title character. The film is very funny, with plenty of energy and some big doses of 80’s excess and shoulder pads. A classic.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Definitely in the top 3 best Christmas films of all time, the Muppets manage to take a well-known story and inject some much-needed humour and songs into the proceedings. Michael Caine is perfect as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Kermit the Frog is almost perfectly cast as his frog/puppet-looking partner Jacob Marley. I’m not sure they’d have been able to find another frog out there who could act and sing as well as Kermit – so well done everyone.
Dr Seuss’ The Grinch
Not to be mistaken with the pretty mad live-action one starring Jim Carrey on acid – this is the CGI version of the classic Dr Seuss story about a green fella who bloody hates Christmas. It’s VERY American, despite the lead character being voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, and it’s mostly for kids. But if you want something brainless while you drink a bottle of Baileys – this is perfect.
Even though Chevy Chase has been exposed in recent years as being a complete bastard, there’s nothing denying the brilliance of his ‘Vacation’ movies of the 80’s – and Christmas Vacation is no exception. The Griswalds are a typical American family, except for the fact that the dad is a complete tool and makes everything they do a disaster. Sure, it’s not as funny as the original, and it’s not the funniest film on this list – but it’s a great Christmas movie nonetheless.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Is this a Halloween film or a Christmas film? It’s both as Jack Skellington decides that he’s mastered Halloween and so wants to prove that he can ‘do’ Christmas too – even going so far as to kidnap Santa and take the reigns of the sleigh himself. Naturally it all goes a bit tits up, with plenty of catchy songs along the way.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square
As much as I hate to admit it, this film is absolute trash. It’s only saving grace is the fact that Dolly is in it and she’s such a ray of bloody sunshine that she will perk you up in no time this Christmas. The story is pretty much ‘A Christmas Carol’ but with Dolly playing an angel instead of the Ghosts of Christmas Past/Present and Future. You’ll probably struggle with this one – so I suggest you just watch the excellent Dolly Parton documentary on Netflix instead: Here I Am.
Okay so this film is set primarily on the 2nd February, in fact, it’s the 2nd February for around 300,000 years for Bill Murray in this film, but it’s also really rather Christmassy too. There’s snow, there’s cute little animals, there’s redemption and there’s a love story. It’s a cracking film and one of Murray’s best – although quite why people thought Andie McDowell was a decent leading lady in the 90’s I don’t know.
The Polar Express
This film is part of the weird group of films that Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis was playing around with in the mid-noughties – including Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. Perhaps he’s lost his head because none of them really work – with noticeably freaky-looking CGI renditions of famous actors – and in this case – Tom Hanks. The story is about a magical train that takes you to the North Pole and it’s all very twee and quaint. Have a shot of tequila every time Tom Hanks speaks to make it 100x better.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
Certainly, the weakest of the Die Hard trilogy (4 and 5 don’t exist), Die Hard 2 shifts the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ scenario to a Washington airport over Christmas as Detective John McClane attempts to save his wife (and thousands of people) from a pretty nasty plane crash. It’s about as Christmassy as the first one, but nowhere near as good. But then again – most films are nowhere near as good at the first Die Hard so it’s not that much of a negative really.
Of course this is available on Disney +, as well as the sequel (which I’ve not even bothered with). Kids love Frozen, and it’s set as Christmas. In fact, one of the characters is a bloody snowman – it doesn’t get any more festive than that.
A sordid story of police corruption, murder, vice and sex – all set at Christmas in the early 50’s. It’s only really set at Christmas in the first half of the film, with the famous true life ‘Bloody Christmas’ event providing the backdrop to the windy-twisty story. This is a truly fantastic film – perfect for the evening of Boxing Day after slugging out on the sofa for hours.
It may sound like a terrible film, but it’s actually decent, and a great hangover watch over Christmas. With what turns out to be a mostly improvised script, the film follows a teacher (played by Tim out of The Office) who’s been tasked with creating the best nativity play of all time. It’s definitely not the best nativity play of all time but it’s half-decent, only spoiled by the fact that it includes children – 60% of which are really annoying.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch And the Wardrobe
A film that features the Big Man himself, turning up in a sleigh and giving kids some presents, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a story that’s synonymous with Christmas nowadays – and this recent adaptation of the story is actually pretty decent. The child actors aren’t too bad – especially Lucy and Edmund, although Peter lacks any sort of acting ability so you end up not caring if he gets his head chopped off by a monster or not.
The Santa Clause
Tim Allen put down the bottles of scotch to play Santa in this Disney movie, which, surprisingly – I’ve never watched the whole way through. It’s actually not too bad though, I’m usually just either too tired or too drunk to see the whole thing through. It’s very Christmassy though (obviously) and if you have kids to entertain – it’s perfect.