The 12 Christmas Movies of Wowcher

christmas-films

Merry greetings to you all, Wowcher blog readers! Tis’ the season for mulled wine, mince pies and, of course, Christmas movies. We all have our ‘go-to’ festive flicks that we like to watch every year without fail, be it favourites from childhood or more recent releases. This being the case, we had the idea of finding out what the most popular Christmas film amongst all of us at Wowcher would turn out to be. So, the poll was sent out, the votes counted and verified, and we’ve compiled a definitive ranking of the best Christmas movies ever committed to celluloid. Did your favourite make the cut? Read on to discover our favourite festive flicks, and who knows, there may be one you’ve yet to discover… Merry Christmas and happy watching!

 

The Nightmare BEfore Christmas
12. The Nightmare Before Christmas
(Dir: Henry Selick, Walt Disney Pictures, 1993)

Creeping on to our screens in 1993 – and let’s not forget the mention in everyone’s favourite Blink 182 ballad ‘I Miss You’ – The Nightmare Before Christmas is the frightful festive film that is arguably Tim Burton’s best work. Bored with the same ‘scare and scream’ Halloween routine, we follow Jack Skellington’s quest to spread the joys of Christmas, which turns out to be a little more menacing than merry. Visually stunning and riddled with characters that give you the heebie jeebies (yes Oogie Boogie, I’m talking about you) this picture gives you all the best parts of classic Christmas films – a love story, snow and Santa – along with all the best parts of Disney classics – lovable characters, hidden mickeys and a good ol’ singalong – with a delightfully dark twist, making The Nightmare Before Christmas a trick and a treat. – Jenni Trotter 

 

snowman

11. The Snowman (Dir: Dianne Jackson & Jimmy T. Murakami, Channel 4, 1982)

With charming picture book animation, heart-warming scenes of friendship, and a little bit of magic, The Snowman captures the true spirit of Christmas. The wordless, 27-minute animation adapts Raymond Briggs’ poignant tale of a little boy and his snowman, who miraculously comes to life. Together they embark on an extraordinary adventure marked by humour, curiosity, hope, and ultimately, crushing heartbreak and despair. Unlike many festive films, The Snowman is not suffocated by soppy sentiment or forced lessons on the true meaning of Christmas. Far from offering a happy ending, the final scene has the power to make even fully grown men cry. Spoiler alert: Their whirlwind friendship comes to an abrupt end when Billy awakes to find the snowman has melted, leaving behind nothing but his scarf and hat. It is testament to this touching film that even thirty years on, in a world of CGI and 3D, a flickering animation with no dialogue remains a delight to viewers of all ages. This beloved children’s classic has become as much a part of Christmas as turkey, mince pies and dodgy knitted jumpers! – Louise Dubuisson 

 

jingleall

10. Jingle All the Way (Dir: Brian Levant, 20th Century Fox, 1996)

There are many quotes from Christmas properties that have entered the pantheon of popular culture over the years. From ‘Bah Humbug’ to ‘Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal’, there are many quotes which have taken pride of place in our collective cultural minds. But no one quote perhaps illicit so much seasonal joy or nostalgic warmth as exclaiming in your best Austrian accent ‘PUT THAT COOKIE DOWN! NOW!’ I am, of course, referring to Jingle All the Way and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stressed-out, nigh on neglectful father, Howard Langston, who finds his parental worth tested by his son’s desire to receive the hugely popular Turbo Man action figure for Christmas. The only problem; it’s Christmas Eve and Howard hasn’t bought one yet. Holiday hi-jinks ensue. Jingle All the Way perfectly captures the consumerist insanity that grips many people during the holiday season, addressing how affection in the nuclear family can only be measured by the prestige of the products you buy your loved ones. Deep rooted social commentary aside, it is also a hell of a lot of fun, with Santa brawls, charging reindeer, bomb scares and a shopper’s riot that puts Black Friday to shame. There aren’t many Christmas movies that can match the mad-cap energy evoked by this swinging mad bauble! Just stay away from my cookies.  – Andrew Gaudion 

 

miracle
9. Miracle on 34th Street
(Dir: Les Mayfield, 20th Century Fox, 1994)

There comes a time in most of our lives where we are forced – however begrudgingly – to accept that Santa Claus doesn’t really exist. It can happen at different ages for different people (heck, some of us still haven’t accepted it), but sooner or later we all have to deal with it. For the two hours that it takes to sit through Les Mayfield’s remake of the 1947 classic Miracle on 34th St, though, you almost start to believe again. Through the delicate combination of Mara Wilson’s ineffable naivety and the late, great Richard Attenborough’s unflappable belief, this movie brings to life all of the seasonal goodwill associated with the holidays and wraps it in an irresistible package. It’s sweet, tear-jerking and outrageously affirming – the perfect accompaniment to those lazy Sunday afternoons eating mince pies and drinking brandy. In Miracle we trust! – Josh Glenn



muppets
8. The Muppet Christmas Carol
(Dir: Brian Henson, Walt Disney Pictures/Jim Henson Productions, 1992)

They say it’s in the singing of the street corner choir, it’s going home and getting warm by the fire. It is true, wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas. And wherever you find Christmas, you’re bound to find a Dickens adaptation, and this version of A Christmas Carol featuring Jim Hensons’ creations ranks amongst the best of them. A pure hit of Christmas joy, The Muppet Christmas Carol has become a staple holiday fixture in the 24 years since its release. With incredibly catchy songs, characters which both warm the heart and chill the spine (looking at you creepy doll-esque ghost of Christmas past), it is as vital as putting up the tree when it comes to Christmas traditions. A master stroke of casting from Michael Caine as Scrooge to Gonzo as Dickens himself, it is no over-exaggeration to say that this is not only probably the best Muppet movie, but it is also a superior and surprisingly faithful Dickens adaptation. Bah humbug? Not likely. – Andrew Gaudion 

 

holiday
7. 
The Holiday (Dir: Nancy Meyers, Columbia Pictures, 2006)

Christmas is the time of year when we suspend our belief and warmly embrace a jolly, round man into our lives. That happy, hefty man in question? Jack Black. Yes, folks, Nancy Meyers’ festive delight convincingly gives us Jack Black as a romantic partner to Kate Winslet. A far, far cry from Leo, and proof that it’s hard in Hollywood for the gals. Kate and Jack play just one unlikely couple, brought together by disappointing life choices and unrequited love. Cameron Diaz – of ‘sperm-as-hair-gel’ fame – gets a slightly better sack in her stocking in the form of pre-bald Jude Law. The plot may be paper thin – like Jude’s hair now – but there’s something undeniably charming about this tale of romance and renaissance; it’s never too late to start again, to achieve a dream or to find someone who loves you. It’s sweet, it’s harmless and at over two-and-a-half hours long, it’s the perfect excuse to ignore your family for a while this festive season. – Jack Slater

 

wonderful
6. It’s a Wonderful Life
(Dir: Frank Capra, RKO Pictures, 1946)

The granddaddy of bona-fide Christmas classics, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life is a film adored across generations, and for very good reason. It is a rare case of a Christmas film that is willing to dole out the whimsy, what with guardian angels and alternative timelines, but also isn’t afraid of being uncompromisingly bleak in the face of holiday cheer. The fact that the plot is thrown into action by Jimmy Stewart’s everyman George Bailey about to attempt suicide after losing a large bank deposit, only to be stopped by his guardian angel (Henry Travers) should give you some indication of the world this film takes place in. What follows is a demonstration of how the quaint town of Bedford Falls would look if George never existed, delivering the message that all anyone needs to succeed in this world is a strong spirit, the willingness to be selfless and do good by your fellow man. Those values just aren’t for Christmas, but It’s a Wonderful Life celebrates that certain magic in the air at this time of year where everyone seems that little bit cheerier, a time where we express our gratitude for one another, and where the most unlikely of miracles can occur. – Andrew Gaudion

5. The Grinch
(Dir: Ron Howard, Universal Pictures, 2000)

Not number 1? “It’s because I’m green, isn’t it?” His heart might be two sizes too small, yet this ‘who’ stands firm within our favourite Christmas movies! So what’s to love about the Grinch? Or should I say what’s not to love? Set in a snow-covered winter wonderland cum candy cane-filled paradise that even Willy Wonka would book for his annual Christmas vay-cay, this is simply a sugar-coated treat for all ages to enjoy. Courtesy of Dr Seuss, you know you are in for a mix of magical, if not sometimes a little mad Christmas fun. The Grinch himself is brought to life by our favourite gurning, voice distorting and gut wrenchingly funny Jim Carrey, breezily capturing the creepy sneer and cruel demeanour of the original cartoon and never short of a rhyme or a fabulously crude insult. This is a film the whole family can enjoy, as the spirit of the season is encapsulated by the realisation that even a green, hairy man-thing-creature can feel warm and fuzzy inside! “Maybe Christmas”, he thought, “Doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”.  – Sophie Williams 
diehard
4. Die Hard
(Dir: John McTeirnan, 20th Century Fox, 1988)

Before you say anything, yes, it’s a Christmas film. A truly great Christmas film, in which Bruce Willis survives losing his shoes to save the world (or at least, Nakatomi Plaza) from the confusingly-accented Alan Rickman, cracking wise as he goes. A classic of the 80s action movie canon that deserves its place in Christmas movie marathons the world over, it spawned a million Halloween costumes and created a blueprint for blue collar action heroes that survives to this day. Millennials, relax and discuss the anti-capitalist subtext. Movie buffs, enjoy the perfectly-paced action sequences. Christmas fans, take heart that your office party did not turn out like this one. Best watched with popcorn and dimmed lights, with everyone from your mates to your dad. Yippee-ki-yay, movie lovers! – Alex Payne

 


loveact
3. Love Actually
(Dir: Richard Curtis, Universal Pictures, 2003)

Love Actually has all the components of a classic British film, and not just because it stars rom-com heavyweights Colin Firth AND Hugh Grant. But it’s the not-so-classic aspects that have ensured it’s so highly ranked. What other Christmas movie contains full on nudity (work it, Judy!); threesomes (or was it a foursome? Fivesome? Let’s go with orgy); a potty-mouthed Bill Nighy who delivers the quote of the movie ”Oh! F*ck, w*nk b*gger sh*tting arse head and hole!”; Snape playing an adulterous bastard; Rick from The Walking Dead declaring his love for HIS BEST MATE’S WIFE – not cool, Rick, but bloody romantic (still awaiting the day someone confesses their unrequited love for me on a series of placards); and even god damn Ant and Dec. Sure, it’s not that realistic: Kris Marshall would never pull Elisha Cuthbert, there’s a serious lack in airport security as a 10-year-old manages to squeeze by a group of unsuspecting guards, and we’re supposed to believe people think Martine McCutcheon has thighs like tree trunks, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. OK, maybe I’d re-cast Keira Knightley, who I’ve hated ever since she almost ruined Pirates of the Caribbean, but apart from that, it’s a complete 10/10, and I’ll fight anyone who tries to tell me otherwise. – Emily Tye



elf
2. Elf (Dir: Jon Favreau, New Line Cinema, 2003)

Elf has become a firm family favourite in the Christmas movie genre, a cheery antidote to modern-day cynicism surrounding the consumerism of Christmas. The film follows the hilarious and often heart-warming adventures of Buddy (Will Ferrell), the titular elf. Bob Newhart’s delightfully deadpan Papa Elf serves as the narrator of Buddy’s story, recounting how, as a baby growing up in an orphanage, he stowed away in Santa’s sack and ended up being raised by elves at the North Pole. Eventually, after finding out his real father lives in New York City, Buddy leaves this magical land of undersized bathroom fixtures and talking narwhals to embark on a journey to the Big Apple. Buddy’s adorable naivety and relentless optimism get him into mishaps just as they endear him to the audience: he inadvertently instigates a scuffle with a mall-store Santa who ‘sits on a throne of lies’, angers a writer with dwarfism by calling said writer ‘an angry elf’, and generally embarrasses his no-funny-games-because-I’m-a-serious-businessman father (James Caan). Elf nails pretty much everything you could want from a Christmas film: it has a dash of Home Alone 2 in Buddy’s journeys around New York, a touch of The Santa Clause in his unconventional life at the North Pole, a bit of A Christmas Carol in the grumpy Scrooge-like figure being eventually won round by “the Christmas spirit”, as well as a whole lot of laughs, a festive romance, and a good old-fashioned Christmas singsong. The present we’re left with is a film that’s every bit as sweet as a plate of spaghetti covered in syrup and Pop Tarts. – Josh Wright

 

homealone
1. Home Alone (Dir: Chris Columbus, 20th Century Fox, 1990)

And at number one is… Well, you’re hardly surprised, are you? Turning 26 this year, and with a million imitators, parodies and references in its wake, Home Alone was never not going to win the coveted title of Wowcher’s Favourite Christmas Movie. Macaulay Culkin, donning a thick red sweater and clutching his face in his hands as he defends his home against the world’s most incompetent burglars, is as synonymous with the festive season as a million mince pies – but whereas pastries eventually go off, the tribulations of Kevin McCallister get better and better each year. Just try to imagine getting through the holidays without whistling John Williams’ twinkling score, or adding ‘ya filthy animal’ every time you wish someone a Merry Christmas, or falling out with your entire family and wishing they would all just disappear (okay, so maybe this one isn’t entirely attributable to Home Alone). You can’t, can you? This movie is an institution by now, just like A Christmas Carol, the Radio Times’ TV guide and Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’. It’s hard to imagine this time of the year without it, in all honesty. Now, do you guys give up, or are ya thirsty for more? – Josh Glenn