THE TWO STUDIO’S TOP 20 CHRISTMAS MOVIES
Christmas signifies a special time of year for all creatives…
It’s a chance to take our wonderfully minimalist and considered home environments that we lovingly sculpt for 335 days of the year, and fill them with the brightly coloured tat and chintz that would only normally be reserved for a bar in Shoreditch, leaving us for the month of December with a warm, happy feeling inside usually only experienced with a healthy serving of Ready Brek…
The Christmas movie plays a big part in the celebrations. Everyone has a favourite, for many it’s a sign post that signifies the official start of Christmas. So, in time honoured tradition, we decided to take the discussion out of the kitchen and put it to the vote. Here’s our top 20 countdown!
20. The Holiday – 2006
Two women, one (Cameron Diaz) from America and one (Kate Winslet) from Britain, swap homes at Christmas time after bad breakups with their boyfriends. Each woman finds romance with a local man (Jude Law, Jack Black) but realises that the imminent return home may end the relationship.
This one is a personal favourite of Anna’s, here’s what she had to say: “Jude Law swooning at you across a country pub, nuff said! Oh, you want more reasons, Mr Napkin Head, he’s romantic, his eyes… oh, I’m still on Jude, But seriously It’s a heart warming romance and Christmas isn’t complete without watching it at least 20 times.”
19. Gremlins – 1984
A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the “mogwai” but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.
Our 3D animation guru Steve, said: “For me Gremlins brings back memories of breaking up from school and walking home in the snow where, after eating, I’d have friends over and we’d all head upstairs to watch the film on my very small TV. I enjoyed horror from a young age and so loved the imaginative gremlin death scenes throughout the film. A great mix of fantasy, horror and Christmas. Love it!”
18. White Christmas – 1954
Singers Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) join sister act Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont. There, they run into General Waverly (Dean Jagger), the boys’ commander in World War II, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So what’s the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that’s sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!
Our in-house Aussie, Cam, had a twinkle in her eye reminiscing on this one “A throwback to the old school, White Christmas is an absolute classic Christmas musical. Full of sass, glitter and Christmas cheer I never quite know whether to watch this with a mug of hot chocolate or a dirty martini.. but either way, this is always a Christmas treat!”
17. A Charlie Brown Christmas – 1965
To get in the holiday spirit, Charlie Brown takes Lucy’s advice and directs the Christmas play. And what’s a Christmas play without a Christmas tree? But everyone makes fun of the short, spindly nevergreen Charlie Brown brings back – until the real meaning of Christmas works its magic once again!
Simon declares this is his personal favourite “…It brings childhood memories flooding back, and every time I watch it I get a little lump in my throat… The first day of the school Christmas holidays consisted of Flash Gordon, An Elvis Movie, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. For me it represents everything that’s good about Christmas ;-)”
16. It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946
After George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes he had never been born, an angel (Henry Travers) is sent to earth to make George’s wish come true. George starts to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted, and how they would be different if he was never there.
Even with a young family and a business to run Warren finds time to squeeze this one in, although I think he may have been channel surfing during the ad breaks… “We start off with our hero John McClane, an off-duty police officer visiting his estranged wife at her work Christmas party at the Nakatomi Corporation… only joking. Pretty much the only black & white film I can watch, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of those films that if you catch it on TV, no matter how much you have missed you have to watch it to the end. It’s a film of comedy, high emotion with a darkness that you would find in the best of traditional festive films like a Christmas Carol (not the Muppet one!). Christmas isn’t Christmas without watching it!”
15. Trading Places – 1983
Upper-crust executive Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and down-and-out hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) are the subjects of a bet by successful brokers Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy). An employee of the Dukes, Winthorpe is framed by the brothers for a crime he didn’t commit, with the siblings then installing the street-smart Valentine in his position. When Winthorpe and Valentine uncover the scheme, they set out to turn the tables on the Dukes.
This 80’s classic has a long history in Edwins household, “Before a 56k modem was installed in my house I used to look forward to the Christmas tv guide that would come with the newspaper. The first time I watched Trading Places I was walking by the tv when I saw the scene where the bothers are laughing as Billy Ray (played by Eddie Murphy) has just made them a profit by breaking a vase and then offers to break something else. After laughing at their reaction, I sat myself down and watched the rest of the movie. This is why year after year in the tv guide, Trading places had a big circle around it.”
14. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – 1989
As the holidays approach, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants to have a perfect family Christmas, so he pesters his wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and children, as he tries to make sure everything is in line, including the tree and house decorations. However, things go awry quickly. His hick cousin, Eddie (Randy Quaid), and his family show up unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property. Even worse, Clark’s employers renege on the holiday bonus he needs.
Roberto says, “Christmas is the time to spend time with your loved ones and relax… Not for the Griswolds!
- For starters, picking a Christmas tree. This should be a fun family drive to the store… not for the Griswolds, who end up almost totalling their car on the freeway.
- Everyone knows how cats love to play with the Christmas tree, you just need to make sure they don’t end up fried by the lights!
- The best part about Christmas is the snow, and what a better way to spend the day than sledding. Just make sure you know how to stop!
- Finally you reach the time when you need to decorate your house with Christmas lights, you just need to make sure you don’t use so many that you could light up an entire city!
It’s amazing how even the simplest tasks that everyone does at Christmas, can go horribly wrong!”
13. Batman Returns – 1992
The monstrous Penguin (Danny DeVito), who lives in the sewers beneath Gotham, joins up with wicked shock-headed businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) to topple the Batman (Michael Keaton) once and for all. But when Shreck’s timid assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out, and Shreck tries to kill her, she is transformed into the sexy Catwoman. She teams up with the Penguin and Shreck to destroy Batman, but sparks fly unexpectedly when she confronts the caped crusader.
Here’s Luke’s heart warming memories of a not so obvious Christmas classic, through the eyes of a 90’s child, “An inimical, razor welding Catwoman. A monstrous, wisecracking villain. This darker Batman was my perfect 90’s Christmas film: Snow, mistletoe, TOW Missiles, and bad guys roasting on an open fire!”
12. Bad Santa – 2003
In this dark comedy, the crotchety Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) and his partner (Tony Cox) reunite once a year for a holiday con. Posing as a mall Santa and his elf, they rip off shopping outlets on Christmas Eve. This year, however, Willie is falling apart. He’s depressed and alcoholic, and his erratic behavior draws the suspicion of mall security (Bernie Mac). But when befriending a small boy brings out his kinder side, Willie begins to wonder if there is still some hope for him.
Cavan said, “I love this film because you slowly go from hating to loving the main character as he finds a purpose in life, and you almost root for him to do the right thing.”
11. The Nightmare Before Christmas – 1993
The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life — he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.
Gabs is a fan of this one… “I say nay to the debate this is not a “Real” Christmas movie…What doesn’t say Christmas then the King of Halloween trying to out-do the Father of Christmas! Awesome bit of animation for all the family.”
10. Jingle All The Way – 1996
Workaholic Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wants to make things up to his son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd), and wife, Liz (Rita Wilson). He promises to get Jamie the hottest toy of the season, Turbo-Man — even though it’s Christmas Eve and the toy is practically sold out. As Langston hunts down the elusive gift, he runs into mailman Myron (Sinbad), another father on the same quest. With the clock winding down, Langston’s moral code is tested as he starts to learn the real meaning of Christmas.
Andrew loves this film, although it seems to conjure up more sad memories than happy… “This film reminds me of the time my parents were running around trying to find a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s high flying blimp vehicle…..which I never got in the end :D”, poor fella, I’m on eBay now mate, Santa’s gonna get you that TMNT blimp thing…
9. Miracle on 34th Street – 1947
In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) fills in for an intoxicated Santa in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle proves to be such a hit that he is soon appearing regularly at the chain’s main store in midtown Manhattan. When Kringle surprises customers and employees alike by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity.
Luis gets mushy with this one, “It Inspires the most genuine feelings of family and hope. A movie that can remind us that life is not only about responsibilities and day to day real stuff, sometimes the most childish dreams like Santa can bring love and hope to life.”
8. Scrooged – 1988
In this modern take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a wildly successful television executive whose cold ambition and curmudgeonly nature has driven away the love of his life, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). But after firing a staff member, Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait), on Christmas Eve, Frank is visited by a series of ghosts who give him a chance to re-evaluate his actions and right the wrongs of his past.
Luke said, “I discovered this update to A Christmas Carol later in life. It has since become a ritual to return home on Christmas Eve, full of Xmas spirits and stick this one on.”
7. The Polar Express – 2004
Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”; “Cast Away”) reunite for “Polar Express,” an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.
Our awesome newbie, Zara, said “I first saw the Polar Express film at the BFI cinema in London. Being immersed in the 3d world of this film made it seem all too real. I loved the way the train went through the snow, it felt like it was going to cover oneself! The adventure that the hero boy goes on (Chris) takes you right into the world of make believe and it almost feels real. Plus the hot chocolate they had on the train looked delicious!”
6. Die Hard – 1988
New York City policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and two daughters on Christmas Eve. He joins her at a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business she works for. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise, and everyone in it. Very soon McClane realizes that there’s no one to save the hostages — but him.
Picture a pre-pubescent Killian, “Its Christmas Eve, I’m 11 and desperately overexcited about a day of eating whatever I want and chasing my sisters around the house with the Jurassic park dinosaur I’m hoping Santa has deemed me worthy of receiving. With my young sisters in bed after what would have been a long evening for my parents of 3 kids bouncing off the walls and a muppets Christmas carol on loop; I am allowed a short reprieve on my bedtime. My dad announces that “Diehard is on, Killian you will like this.” This I took as my queue to sit down and take heed, I might get to stay up longer after all! He was not wrong!
One bare footed man, single handily saving Christmas on Christmas Eve, while leaving a trail of destruction in his heroic wake; what 11-year-old boy wouldn’t love that? Then the cherry on top, that line, the one all mums would shriek at and demand the channel is changed, me and my dad in a conspiratorial smile and turning the tv up and my mum remaining in mock horror.
This is why I love Diehard, it ticks all the boxes for a great action film AND it has tinsel, snow, swearing, huge teddy bears and for the rest of my life as soon as I hear “let it snow” I’m one exceptionally short sleep away from a huge dinosaur toy and all the chocolate I can eat!”
5. Love Actually – 2003
Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. Among the characters explored are David (Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, and Harry (Alan Rickman), a married man tempted by his attractive new secretary.
This one is a big favourite with Camilla… “Lets be real, we all have a soft spot for this one… You can’t go past Hugh Grant shaking his booty through No. 10 Downing Street and snogging Natalie backstage. The little blonde kid breaking all kinds of laws sprinting through Heathrow to give his crush a mumbled goodbye. The couple that met on a porn set? Love Actually brings out our inner romantic, inner weirdo and inner Christmas spirit. What’s not to actually love!”
4. The Muppet Christmas Carol – 1992
The Muppets perform the classic Dickens holiday tale, with Kermit the Frog playing Bob Cratchit, the put-upon clerk of stingy Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine). Other Muppets — Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear and Sam the Eagle — weave in and out of the story, while Scrooge receives visits from spirits of three Christmases — past, present and future. They show him the error of his self-serving ways, but the miserable old man seems to be past any hope of redemption and happiness.
Aithne loves this one… “By far, my all-time favourite Christmas film. The perfect mix of Muppets, catchy sing-along songs and Michael Caine. I watched it religiously every Christmas, so much so that I wore the VHS version out, thank god for MP4.”
3. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas – 2000
In this live-action adaptation of the beloved children’s tale by Dr. Seuss, the reclusive green Grinch (Jim Carrey) decides to ruin Christmas for the cheery citizens of Whoville. Reluctantly joined by his hapless dog, Max, the Grinch comes down from his mountaintop home and sneaks into town to swipe everything holiday-related from the Whos. However, the bitter grump finds a hitch in his plans when he encounters the endearing Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen).
A story with a moral that clearly spoke to James, “Who doesn’t love a story about self redemption? The Grinch may have hated Christmas but stole my heart the day it was released on my birthday. It was humorous, colourful, relatable & the definition of Christmas.”
2. Elf – 2003
Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.
Tom said, “love Elf and it’s significant to me because this was the first film Amy and I watched when we moved in together. Neither of us had seen it before and we’ve watched it countless times ever since (only at Christmas of course!). When Christmas is on the horizon, Elf is the first film we think of.”
1. Home Alone – 1990
When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (Catherine O’Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. But his excitement sours when he realises that two con men (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence, and that he alone must protect the family home.
Zoe declares, “Nothing beats sitting down with the family around a cozy fire watching Home Alone. It’s pure comedy gold and Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it!“