Christmas is almost upon us and maybe you are struggling to get into the festive spirit, fear not this happens to us all at sometime or other. What you need is the perfect set of films to ease you into the Christmas mood. Take a look at my carefully selected 11 Christmas films you should watch every year feature. After all these are the very movies I watch in the run-up to the big day and they never fail to raise my spirits.
LAST UPDATED 4TH DECEMBER 2023
Here’s my selection of Christmas crackers that has something for everyone to enjoy.
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven, The Bishop’s Wife is a somewhat underrated film that maybe suffers from coming out a year later than It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). That said I personally marginally prefer it over the James Stewart classic. It’s a slightly underplayed not as big in scope and works all the better for it. David Niven plays Bishop Henry Brougham whom seems more interested in building his new cathedral than in his wife Julia played by Loretta Young. Then one day Dudley (Cary Grant) arrives seemingly answering the Bishops prayers.
Die Hard (1988)
The film that really launched Bruce Willis into the big time and one that just happens to be set on Christmas Eve at the Nakatomi corporation building which is hosting a Christmas party where NYPD Detective John McClane is meeting his wife. Perfect viewing this Christmas and the best of the Die Hard films.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
A must see film that tells the story of George Bailey (James Stewart) a guy that is desperate to leave his home town of Bedford Fall to pursue his dreams. Fate means poor old George will never fulfil those dreams but maybe he already has something far more valuable in his life if only he realised it, enter Clarence…
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
What could be better than the Muppets doing A Christmas Carol with plenty of great songs and an excellent performance by Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s backed up by Kermit the Frog playing Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit and The Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens / the narrator. Simply perfect!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Join the Griswold’s as Clark and the family (Chevy Chase) prepare to have the best Christmas ever, you know that will never happen but if this film can’t put you in that festive mood nothing will. Plenty of laughs throughout!
A Christmas Carol (1984)
There are many versions of Charles Dickens classic story and this one starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge is thoroughly enjoyable.
Most of my 11 Christmas films you should watch every year will be on television but you can also pick them up rather cheaply now on glorious Blu-ray.
Santa Clause The Movie (1985)
The film stars Dudley Moore as Patch, an elf that tries to bring some excitement to Christmas by inventing new toys for the children using more of a production line approach as opposed to the craftsman’s one. Put simply this has to be the perfect family film this Christmas Eve.
If you are looking for a new twist on Charles Dickens classic story A Christmas Carol then Bill Murray’s Scrooged is a must every Christmas.
Bill Murray plays Frank Cross the IBC Television president that is preparing for extravagant live Christmas Eve broadcast. However Frank’s world seems to be falling apart following the vision of his former now dead boss. I think you can guess what’s about to happen next.
It’s perfect and will have you rolling around in laughter (or is that just me!)
I simply couldn’t leave out Gremlins it’s in many ways the perfect Christmas film. The intro titles have you in the festive spirit with the song “Christmas (Baby please come home)” sung by Darlene Love. Is there a better introduction to a Christmas movie?
The Snowman (1982)
Christmas in the UK simply wouldn’t be Christmas without watching the excellent animated short film The Snowman based on the book by Raymond Briggs. It’s a magical story of a boy who builds a snowman only for it to come to life and take him on an adventure of a lifetime. With the amazing song “Walking in the Air” sung by Peter Auty, not Aled Jones he recorded it later and had a commercial success, it’s both a joyous and sad film in equal measure.
Starring the great Alastair Sim this is without doubt my favourite Christmas film and the definitiive version of A Christmas Carol. It captures the bleak cold atmosphere perfectly whilst Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge has never been surpassed in the role. The only thing I would say is beware as some television channels have the cheek to show the colourised version which completely ruins the feel and mood of the film. Stick to the original black and white version.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
I know whilst technically not a Christmas film, we in the UK don’t celebrate Thanksgiving so I begin my season of Christmas movies with Planes, Trains & Automobiles every year. I cannot express just how much I love this watching Steve Martin and John Candy as Neal Page and Del Griffith trying to make their way home using any available transport and getting into the most ridiculous situations.
Cash on Demand (1961)
Now here’s a film that I’ve only just discovered due to its 2018 Blu-ray release from PowerHouse Films. It stars the great Peter Cushing as a kind of Ebenezer Scrooge fellow. He’s a bank manager and doesn’t treat his employees particularly well. However when a man visits the bank on Christmas Eve his whole world is turned upside down. I highly recommend this one and would have included it in the main list had I seen it prior to compiling it.
11 Christmas Films You Should Watch Every Year
You will note that there aren’t any films included in my 11 Christmas films you should watch every year feature past 1992, that said these are simply my favourites.
I could have fitted in The Polar Express (2004) or Arthur Christmas (2011) but to be honest I have many more older films that I could have include such as Miracle on 34th Street (1947) & (1994), Trading Places (1983), Lethal Weapon (1987) and Batman Returns (1992) to name just a few.
However the ones I’ve chosen are there to put you in the right mood, enjoy and have a happy Christmas!