Now, you tell me good readers is there any better feeling than to cuddle up on the sofa with a loved one, with, for me a Baileys Coffee, a hot drink, with the weather outside being suitably seasonal and watching a classic Christmas film ? For some this Classic can be in the form of Die Hard, others It’s a Wonderful life, whereas others Christmas isn’t Christmas until they’ve watched Elf. So we sat down as a team at CMTM and came up with our definitive Advent Calendar of Christmas Crackers of movies to see you through to the big day. Seat back, relax and enjoy
Arthur Christmas – Released in time for Christmas 2011, this animated joy came from a deal with Aardman Animations, and Sony Pictures and had a soundtrack including a track from Justin Bieber, but don’t let that put you off. A star studded cast supplied the voices including James McAvoy, Bill Nighy and Jim Broadbent. If you haven’t seen it, get it on the list !
Home Alone – Can only be described as a modern Christmas Classic. Obviously raising all sorts of child care and safe guarding issues but hey this was back in 1990, by the great Chris Columbus. This film as we said raised all kinda questions including what did Mr McAllister do for a living to afford THAT house, plus pay for his entire extended family to spend the holidays together is Paris, no less.
Die Hard – Yippy Ki yay blip, blip ! Christmas isn’t Christmas unless this highly contentious, is it a Christmas film or not film has been seen. Back in 1989, we first met detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) and the events that unfold at the Nakatomi tower at the hands of international terrorists Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman RIP).
The Grinch – Have to say the character of the Grinch from the mind of Dr Seuss, is, for me, equally as scary as Freddie Krueger, Michael Myers or Charlie Mason. In recent years, like a number of Christmas classics, have had different reimagining of the story of “The Grinch who stole Christmas”. There is something in the character of the Grinch that people love which we only have to look at the popularity of Primark’s collaboration this season. Who is your Grinch, Jim Carey, Walter Matthau Benedict Cumberbatch or even Boris Karloff ?
The nightmare before Christmas – Ahhhh Tim Burton’s incredible gothic fairytale from 1993. Like he normally does, he is a disruptor in every sense of the word, this time with animation. Telling the story of Jack Skellington, King of Halloweentown and his unique love of Christmas and bringing his unique interpretation of Christmas to Halloweentown.
The Holiday – This Film directed by Penny Marshall in , always raises lots of questions including no way does she live in a house/cottage like that and I go gonna do that next Christmas ! Once again, a star studded cast of, kinda, interlinked characters sick of being done wrong and definitely not, but kinda yeah, looking for love.
Home Alone 2 – Now if the McAllisters hadn’t learnt their lesson back in 1990 and took the adventurous decision to try another Christmas away, AGAIN, with all the family, a mere 2 years later, the unthinkable happened again. This time Kevin winds up in the Big Apple and has to fend off the newly released from Prison, Wet Bandits.
Elf – The story of Buddy the Elf, uniquely played by the brilliant Will Ferrell and director Ed by Jon Favreau (The Mandalorian, Iron Man) and after being raised by elves in the North Pole and struggling with those ideas of not quite fitting in embarks on the quest to find his human family, in the shape of his father played by James Caan.
It’s a Wonderful Life – “When a bell rings, an angel gets its wings”. This film is often cited as one of the greatest motion pictures ever made and probably the oldest movie from our selection but what a goodie and still very relevant in these troubling times. James Stewart plays, George Bailey, a man tired of life and has almost given up altogether. When Clarence, an Angel, is sent from Heaven, to show George things really aren’t as bad as he thinks and he is very much valued.
Bad Santa -He knows when you’ve been sleeping and he knows when you’re awake. Well, Billy Bob Thornton, plays a rather unscrupulous shopping Mall “Santa” is this cracker of a classic, who changes his ways after befriending an 8 year old kid. Laughs, political incorrectness a plenty and that timeless Seasonal tale of a grifter, learning the error of his life just in time for the Yuletide, warming the coldest of hearts with belly laughs along the way.
Die Hard 2 – Boy this film hasn’t aged well, with the smoking in doors, the fax machines and clear security issues at Dullas Airport. I remember the first time watching this film, in a pub in the depths of the West of Ireland in the middle of Summer and nearly choking on my Guinness and falling off a bar stole when THAT plot twist is revealed. Simply a brilliant Christmas film MFs ! Tip – and a little or a lot like Home Alone, leave this Film franchise at its second outing.
Office Christmas Party – There’s a good chance a considerable number of you are unfamiliar to this Yuletide offering. Please change that and you will truly thank us for introducing you to the unconventional Yuletide yearn. Jennifer Anniston plays a hard nosed business Scrooge where Christmas parties are off the agenda for this software company who haven’t had the best of years. Her brother, played by T.J Miller, has other ideas and a crazy farce ensuing including a run in with suburban drug dealing mum and a crazed HR exec played by the brilliant Kate McKinnon.
Gremlins – Like Die hard this film is endlessly lamented upon as to whether it falls into the Christmas movie category. For us this game changer from back 1984, written by Chris Columbus unquestionably does. When a guy looking for the ultimate in a festive gift in the form of an unusual pet, remember a pet isn’t just for Christmas folks, comes across Gizmo accompanied with 3 simples rules not to ever be broken. When he inadvertently, but obviously does he unleashes a horde of mischievous, malevolently monsters on a small US town at the Yuletide.
The Christmas Chronicles – Netflix struck Gold when they cast the unconventional Kirk Russell, what Snake from Escape from New York !?! in the titular role. This time we have two siblings who are at that troubled age of whether they believe or not and set out to catch Santa in the act. Trouble ensues and they all have team up to save the day. The day, of course, being the biggest day of the year !
Santa Claus the Movie – This Yuletide offering tells the origins story of how good olde St Nick and how back in the 14th Century this kind elderly gent would make toys for the local village people, but gets lost in the Winter snow storm and is rescued by the elf folks of the North Pole. Fast forward to the 20th Century the legend of Santa is feeling a little stale and I’m need of a PR makeover. In steps the unscrupulous toy manufacturer played by, the great,John Lithgow, and the misplaced effects of Patch the elf played by the inimitable Dudley Moore.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Like every great film or TV franchise, at some point they create a Christmas special, with varying degrees of success. I mean let’s not even discuss the Star Wars TV Special of on 1978, let’s keep that hidden in the archive. But the same can’t be said for this great, following the Griswold’s misadventures in trying to organise the ultimate in Family Christmas gatherings and catering to that Mish-Mash of family personalities and quirks.
The Night Before – Like “The Office Party” this wonder of Christmas Cinematography may have so far escaped you, until now ! The unusual trio combination of Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph-Gordon Levitt have enjoyed every Christmas Eve together, until Rogen and Mackie’s characters feel like they have outgrown their usual Yuletide shenanigans, but Levitt has other ideas and is confident he can change their minds.
The Snowman – Raymond Briggs Festive narrative of a young boy’s magical experience with a Snowman who is brought to life through the magic of Christmas. Originally shown in the UK on Channel 4 and accompanied with eternal Choir boy Aled Jones, “Walking in the air”. An essential part of many people’s Festive Festivities, all sat round watching this with their family while slowly destroying a box of Quality Street all washed down with one too many Snowballs.
Nativity! – This Christmas series of movies spawned a whopping 4 sequels! However, the first in the series is by far the best. In that great British tradition of the Carry on’s this silly farce can’t help but put you in the festive spirits. Martin Freeman, with the original, in the lead role as the teacher put in charge of staging the Nativity Play and the daft Mr Poppy, Marc Wootton, playing the classroom assistant messing up all the best laid plans, surely the Nativity play won’t go as planned ????
Love Actually – Before we start, I have a confession to make, I agree Love Actually is a nice film and if it’s on, I will most probably watch it, but I just don’t get the way people rave about this movie. Richard Curtis’s (Four Weddings, ) 2003 narrative of eight interlocking couples played by a star studded ensemble of Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kiera Knighley etc etc), is many folks idea of a Christmas Classic, so check it out and see what you think ?
Deck the Halls – Back in 2006, before the cost of living or energy crises and maybe before any sustainable considerations, people would and some still do ornately decorate their homes in preparation for the Festivities. This is one such tale of neighbours trying to out do each other in the decoration stakes. Danny DeVito’s crass OTT character pitted against Matthew Broderick’s up tight, Conservative neighbour.
White Christmas – Surely the most famous of Classical Christmas movies dating back to 1954 has to be White Christmas? The premise is a simple one, two friends, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, help a ex-army pal’s failing hotel or inn by staging a Christmas show with the help of two recently befriended Sisters.
Jingle all the way – Back in the 90s there was a horrible trend for each Christmas they being a must have toy and sections of society deemed you a good or bad parent on whether you did or didn’t manage to get your kids that particular “IT” toy, think the Tellytubbies, Tracey Island, the original PlayStation etc. now this film tells that story, this time the toy in question is Turbo Man and the parent is none other than The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Polar Express – One of only a few animations to make it onto our list. This Tom Hanks vehicle, gave scarily accurate facial features to its characters and Hanks the opportunity to play numerous characters throughout the film, which tells the story of a boy embarking on a journey to discover Father Christmas and the true meaning of Christmas.