I have a confession to make. I love Christmas films. Eleven months of the year I allow the cynic in me to reign supreme but as soon as December first rolls around I turn into a blubbering mess at the sight of mistletoe and matching reindeer jumpers. I have some childhood favourites which completely reflect my 80s upbringing, as well as some vintage classics and modern version thrown in for good measure. Strangely enough, the 60s and 70s really didn’t produce any great Christmas classics. So here it is, my picks for getting you in the Christmas spirit.
Holiday Inn (1942)
A musical delight with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire which follows the ups and downs of four performers as they stay and perform at the Holiday Inn.
A great film for: some classic toe tapping fun.
Meet me in St Louis (1944)
The film follows the Smith family with their four daughters in 1903 – on the eve of thee World’s Fair. There’s romance, family drama, much singing and a stunning Christmas Eve ball.
A great film for: fabulous costumes!
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
A writer, who has fabricated a life with a husband and child in Connecticut, is asked by her employer to host a Christmas party for a returning soldier. She arranges to marry a friend of hers who has a lovely house in Connecticut (as you do) but before it can occur the soldier arrives. Of course they fall in love and the lies begin to unravel.
A great film for: good old fashioned romance.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Possibly the most well known Christmas film, filled with sacrifice and the love of family, we follow George Bailey as he seemingly looses everything only to discover that he was the richest man in town. I cry at the end, every time, without fail.
A great film for: making you grateful for your friends and family.
The Bishops Wife (1947)
Cary Grant as an angel is sent to help a Bishop raise funds to build a new cathedral but begins to fall in love with his wife played by Loretta Young. Set at Christmas, any excuse to watch Cary works for me!
A great film for: Cary Grant.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
A man put on trial by a society who does not believe he is Santa Claus. There is a 1994 remake but you really can’t go past the original.
A great film for: rediscovering the child-like wonder of Christmas.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
This film has been remade so many times and in so many different ways – I believe there is even a Muppets version – but you should really experience the original.
A great film for: realising the true meaning of Christmas.
White Christmas (1954)
Old war buddies, Bob and Phil are working the entertainment circuit when they come across performing sisters Betty and Judy. Smitten, they all head for an Inn in Vermont but due to the lack of snow there are hardly any guests. As a tribute to their old General, they decide to put on a big concert and invite all their old soldier buddies. It’s a bit of a tear jerker.
A Christmas Story (1983)
‘You’ll shoot your eye out!’ I don’t know what it is about this film – the adult narration as he reflects on his childhood, the pink bunny onesie, the embarrassing parents, the tormenting children – but it’s fabulous. Poor Ralphie.
A great film for: realising your childhood could have been worse.
Who didn’t want a Gremlin as a pet when they were a kid?!? Receiving a cute little gremlin for Christmas, Billy names him Gizmo. Everything begins to go pear-shaped when his mate accidentally spills water on him – one of the three must-not-do rules. Evil gremlins emerge and wreck havoc.
A great film for: a Christmas film that’s not your traditional Christmas film.
Bushfire Moon (1987)
A more obscure one, it’s one of the rare films that deals with an Australian Christmas. A young boy meets a swagman and believes that he is Santa Claus.
A great film for: an Aussie Christmas experience.
Possibly one of the better modern adaptations of a Christmas Carol, Bill Murray plays a TV executive who makes his staff work over Christmas. He is visited by all the ghosts and has an epiphany about the meaning of Christmas.
A great film for: Bill Murray comedy gold.
Home Alone (1990)
No list is complete without this classic film which saw kids the world over actively attempt to be left Home Alone over Christmas. Crazy to see just how young Macaulay Culkin was.
A great film for: a strong kick of nostalgia and learning the best way to booby-trap your house.
A Mom for Christmas (1990)
Ok, so don’t make fun of me for loving this. I went through a big Olivia Newton John phase and this film was part of it. A young girl who has lost her mother, a mannequin who comes to life to be her mom for the holidays, a race against time – this film is classic 90s gold.
A great film for: remembering why the 90s were so great and remembering what Olivia looked like before all the plastic surgery.
Love Actually (2003)
Love it or hate it, there something special about Love Actually, and not just the ridiculous list of celebrities involved. Worth struggling through some frankly stupid story lines to see Hugh Grant dance through 10 Downing Street to Girls Aloud.
A great film for: feeling the love.
I admit to not being the biggest Will Ferrell fan but this is the only film I can really stand him in. A grown man who is raised as an elf and then seeks out his real father in the real world – it’s a recipe for hilarity.
A great film for: a good old belly laugh.
The Holiday (2006)
The best thing about The Holiday has to be Jack Black. He is hilarious and really endearing as Kate Winslet’s love interest in this romantic comedy. Also I did happen to see this for the first time after a break-up and there are certain points that hit a little too close to home and I bawled like a baby.
A great film for: a bit of mindless romance and happily ever afters.
A Princess for Christmas (2011)
If you want a guaranteed corn-fest where the happy ending is a given then look no further than the Hallmark Channel TV movie. A Princess for Christmas sees Jules become guardian to her niece and nephew when suddenly their long lost wealthy Grandfather makes contact. They head over to visit, hilarity ensues, as well as romance, and they all live happily ever after.
A great film for: the chance to see Sam Heughan before he became James Fraser in Outlander and that chick who was eaten in Jurassic World.