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Our Favourite Christmas Films

Paul Francis

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Christmas will soon be here. By now, most of us will have heard Slade - again and again, for the 50th time - while shopping. Thankfully, online shopping eliminates this, though I must confess to being a Christmas Nut. I love nothing more than shopping for presents with my other half, enjoying a hot chocolate (preferably, a Black Forest one from Costa, but that's another story), then coming home, relaxing, grabbing a bite to eat, and watching a Christmas film.


I have A LOT of Christmas films at home on DVD. Dont get me wrong, some of them are bad, like really BAD, but others, probably due to nostalgia, demand regular viewing. 


Here's a list of the ITK team's favourite Christmas films:


Paul

Scrooged



Scrooged is a fantasitic rollercoaster of a film that takes elements from the horror, comedy and romance genres and creates, oddly, a feel good movie. Led by Bill Murray, with a slightly haunting score by Danny Elfman, Scrooged gives the classic ‘Scrooge’ tale a modern (well, 1980s modern) twist. Disclaimer: don't watch it with really young children, as some elements can be a little scary. 


Stephen

Elf



Released in November 2003, Elf became a critical and commercial success, grossing £200 million worldwide. It's regularly claimed to be a modern classic and commonly appears on similar 'Greatest Christmas Film' lists. On its release, however, it was beaten to the top spot in the UK by another Christmas film: Love Actually.



Chloe

Polar Express



Co-written and directed by none other than Robert Zemeckis, Polar Express was the first full-length feature film to animate human characters using live-action and motion-capture CGI. Consequently, the film was listed in the 2006 Guinness World Records for this achievement. Strange fact, Tom Hanks (who plays Hero Boy (adult voice), Hero Boy's father, Conductor, Hobo, Santa Claus and the Ebenezer Scrooge puppet) tried to get this film made as early as 1999. 



Diane

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation



Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, and Randy Quaid, this film debuted at No.2 at the US box office, behind Back to the Future Part 2. The story follows the hapless Clark Griswold (Chase) and his typically over-reaching attempts to give his family a perfect, old-fashioned Christmas. The film has been released on almost every single version of home media and was even re-released in Ultra 4K in November 2022. 



Mandy

Die Hard



'Christmas Starts for us when we watch Die Hard', she claims. Die Hard is an action Christmas film (YES, CHRISTMAS FILM!!) that was released in 1988. It revitalised the action hero genre, largely due to its depiction of McClane (Bruce Willis) as a vulnerable and fallible protagonist, which was, at the time, in stark contrast to the muscle-bound, invincible heroes of the same period. Strangely, the role of McClane was originally offered to Frank Sinatra; he'd starred in the 1968 film, The Detective, which was effectively a prequel to Die Hard.



Guy

Gremlins



Created on the back of the horror-comedy trend (sometimes referred to as Black Comedy) during the early 1980s, Gremlins is set in a small American town that becomes infested with little creatures that enjoy causing death and destruction. The film, which had Steven Spielberg at the helm, was the primary reason the US MPAA altered its film rating system; it created PG-13 because of the film's violent content. 



Cait

Home Alone



Directed by Chris Columbus and written and produced by John Hughes, Home Alone sees Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) accidentally left at home when his parents, siblings and wider family head to Paris for the holidays. Events lead to Kevin tackling two burglars in what could only be described as Tom and Jerry inspired scenes, in a bid to defend his home, using a series of clever booby traps. 




Alice

Planes, Trains and Automobiles



This is not technically a Christmas film, but it is set during what Americans call ‘the holiday period'. In the film, we see highly-strung marketing executive Neal (played by Steve Martin) and goodhearted but annoying shower curtain ring salesman Del (played by John Candy) attempt to travel across America to get home in time for Thanksgiving. A series of unfortunate events befall both characters in this heartwarming comedy. 



Connor

Santa Claus the Movie



A 1985 film staring Dudley Moore, John Lithgow, and David Huddleston, Santa Claus the Movie tries to chronicle the origins of the big man himself. The film can sometimes be a little confusing, as it shifts tones halfway through, to have Santa take on a greedy toy manufacturer (played by John Lithgow). The film itself didnt do too well upon its initial release, but through the years, it's become a firm favourite with those who watched the film as a child. As a consequence, it brings a wave of nostalgia to many adults today. 




Honourable mention(s)

Trading Places




The Christmas Chronicles




It's a Wonderful Life



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