1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Arguably Tim Burton’s best film, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) is a beautiful stop-motion animation-musical about the king of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, who accidentally stumbles upon Christmas Town. “What’s this?” he notes. “There’s children throwing snowballs instead of heads, they’re busy building toys and absolutely no one is dead!”
Tired of leading the same ghoulish celebrations every year, Jack decides to participate in Christmas, and take the warmth and joy back to Halloween Town. But the ghosts, vampires, witches and werewolves are confused by this and instead, Jack announces they will take over Christmas, while he will usurp Santa Claus.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a less clichéd festive film and perfect for those looking for a quirky take on this holiday.
2. Home Alone
This 1990 comedy hit is a perfect hit of nostalgia. MaCaulay Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy who is accidentally left behind when his family jets off on their Christmas holiday. He’s overjoyed to be left to his own devices. When two burglars decide to rob his house, Kevin turns his house into a booby trap palace.
After its release, Home Alone became the highest-grossing live action comedy film of all time in the United States, and also held the record worldwide until it was overtaken by The Hangover Part II in 2011. MaCaulay Culkin, who descended into obscurity after the Home Alone sequel, was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
3. It’s a Wonderful Life
This 1946 classic will give you all the feels. This fantasy comedy-drama stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who is about to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. His guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) appears to convince George that his life is worth living, showing George all the lives he has touched.
The film was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture.
4. Love Actually
Love Actually is a ‘Marmite’ film – you either adore or abhor it. However, this 2003 British romantic comedy has become a Christmas staple. The film begins five weeks before Christmas and follows ten stories depicting people’s search for love ahead of the holiday. It’s a cheesecake of corn BUT there’s something compelling and sweet about the crooked and obstacle-ridden path to love.
The film features a great ensemble cast including Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightly, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Laura Linney, Martin Freeman, and Billy Bob Thornton.
5. Miracle on 34th Street
Both the 1947 original and 1994 remake of this film are worth watching and are perfect for the whole family. An old man who is hired to play Santa in a department store becomes so popular, he starts claiming he is the real deal. His mental health is questioned and the matter lands in court.
6. Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This 2000 film may have received mixed reviews but it is a highly enjoyable rendition of Dr Seuss’ tale about a green creature, called the Grinch (played by Jim Carrey), who hates Christmas and who tries to ruin it for all the people who live in Whoville. The story is told by little Cindy Lou, who discovers why the Grinch hates Christmas, and subsequently tries to save the holiday.
Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas won an Academy Award for Best Makeup and became the second-highest grossing film of all time after Home Alone.
If you’re a fan of slapstick comedy, this 2003 hit featuring Will Ferrell is for you. Ferrell plays a rambunctious elf who mistakenly lands up in the North Pole and is raised by Santa. He finally realises he is different and begins the search for his real father.
8. Die Hard
This is not a joke. There has been an ongoing argument for decades over whether this 1988 action film featuring Bruce Willis is the best Christmas movie of all time. Willis plays John McClane, a New York City cop, who has to become a hero when the Christmas Eve party he’s attending is interrupted by a group of terrorists.
This year, Forbes magazine placed Die Hard at number one in its list of the best Christmas movies in history. The magazine’s explanation: “It's a mix of the baddie from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas; the unbeatable hero who shows up to teach everyone a lesson from Miracle On 34th Street; the ghosts of past, present, and future who bring insight and change from A Christmas Carol; plus every redemptive struggle about family and personal evolution and good versus evil, all wrapped up in a big shiny box with a bow made of explosions and bullets.”
Similarly, Empire put Die Hard at the top of its Best Christmas Films list, ahead of It’s a Wonderful Life, calling Willis an unlikely Santa.