Screening Room

Ailsa McDonald is a 2nd year BA Film student and blogs for Your Universe.

Since the beginning of December, Christmas films have been exploding all over the place on Amazon Prime, on Netflix and of course on T.V, which is no surprise. They are always popular at this time of year and whether you like Christmas or not, they always seem to be unavoidable, especially with new releases each year - one recent example being The Grinch. So, with Christmas just around the corner, I thought I’d give my very own opinion on my personal top 5 favourite Christmas films to watch this winter. In reverse order…

5. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

This is such a classic that it’s hard to miss this film on television each year (both the original version and the remake). The remake is my personal favourite (I have yet to see all of the original, which came out in 1947), but it’s hard not to resist the smile Richard Attenborough puts on my face as Kris Kringle. Written and produced by John Hughes (whose name you may be seeing again on this list), the story of a little girl and a lawyer trying to help prove that Kris Kringle is the real Santa Clause is one of pure Christmas joy. This is a very warm Christmas film which lifts your spirits with the typical seasonal delight we all know and love.

4. Die Hard (1988)

Who says Christmas films can’t have explosions? One of the films on my list which strays away from your usual festive viewings, Die Hard is one of my personal favourite action and Christmas films. Directed by John McTiernan, whose films seem to dabble in action a lot, it’s hard not to enjoy watching John McClane in his famous tank top, trapped in Nakatomi Plaza with terrorists Hans Gruber and his gun yielding henchmen, run around blowing things up on Christmas Eve. It’s a fun film to enjoy, mainly because it proves that not all festive films need to be family themed comedies, fantasies or love stories. At Christmas, Die Hard is a breath of fresh air amongst the endless stream of feel good Christmas films that are normally viewed at this time of year.

3. Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

I’ll admit that I only saw this for the first time a year or two ago (I know, how can I have lived most of my life and somehow avoided seeing this film?) and I generally was never keen on the Grinch story, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Jim Carrey as the Grinch cannot be missed during the festive season. Just like Santa Claus, the Grinch has become a character which has been fully embroiled within our festive fantasies. Directed by Ron Howard, the Grinch’s attempts to spoil Christmas never fail to make me laugh. Jim Carrey’s hilarious moments within the film, which are now scattered all over the internet in memes and gifs, further reinforce The Grinch’s power as an unmissable festive treat.

2. Elf (2003)

It was extremely difficult picking the first place between my last two choices, but I’ve decided to place Elf at an extremely close 2nd place. Directed by Jon Favreau, Elf follows the character of Buddy, an Elf who leaves Santa’s Grotto in search of his real father in New York. Buddy is such a loveable character, which is partially what makes this film so great. His huge love for Christmas, his horrendous eating habits, and his way of unknowingly annoying people is probably one of the reasons why people seem to love Buddy so much. It’s impossible not to be on his side.

1. Home Alone 1&2 (1990, 1992)

So, I’ve kind of cheated a bit here by including two films, but I feel you must watch both instead of just one or the other. As they are part of the same franchise (with a continuing storyline) I’m going to count them as one.

Home Alone 1 and 2 are must-see staple festive films which must always be watched at Christmas (in my household anyway). Both are directed by Chris Columbus, written by John Hughes (I promised his name would come up again didn’t I?) and star Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. The endless sets of comedic gags never seem to grow old and tired, and instead I find myself laughing harder and harder each time I see these films. If I was to place one as the better film, I would suggest Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Mainly because it builds on the familiar humour and antics of the first film, and a film set at Christmas time in New York is pure bliss (in my opinion, as it’s one place I’d love to visit at Christmas). It’s hard not to fall in love and be envious of the lifestyle Kevin adopts when he lands in New York. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of my favourite Christmas films: because of my own aspiration to experience the Christmas dream in New York…and because it is one of the most incredibly entertaining holiday films ever, in my opinion.

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