Film, TV + Theatre

9 Best Christmas movies of all time


By Zoe Yang

9 Best Christmas movies of all time

Getting into the festive spirit is incomplete if one does not watch any Christmas filmsit almost feels as if watching these holiday films is a tradition, almost compulsory, but in a good way. While It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is one of the most timeless Christmas films, there are many other festive titles to consider, too. However, if you have not seen the said movie, it should be the first one you must get onto describe the story, it’s a thought-provoking, heartwarming, and definitely, one of the sweetest, festive films out there. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into the list below:

Home Alone (1990)

Genres: Comedy | Family

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Catherine O’Hara and Daniel Stern

The debate of the better one between the first and second film series is never endingsome prefer the former and some, the latter. Instead of picking one, why not both? They are just as good. In the first film, the day before the McCallister family fly to Paris for Christmas, 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) had an argument with his uncle, making his mother (played by Catherine O’Hara) upset with him. Out of spite, he wished for his family to disappear. The next morning, the whole family woke up later than expected, and had to rush to the airport in order to catch their flight, accidentally leaving Kevin behind without realisation. Kevin wakes up a little later, only to find that he is, literally, home alone. While he thinks about all the fun he’s about to have, two dim-witted burglars, Harry (played by Joe Pesci) and Marv (played by Daniel Stern), decided to rob Kevin’s house, after finding out that the “entire” family is in Paris. Can an 8-year-old boy defeat and protect himself from the two scheming burglars?

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

Genres: Adventure | Comedy | Family

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Stern and Tim Curry

In Home Alone 2, the McCallister family wakes up late again and had to rush to the airport. This time, Kevin is with them, but mistakenly follows a man who wears a similar outfit to his dad. He boards on the wrong flight, and lands in New York instead of Florida. Cool as a cucumber, Kevin is rather excited to spend Christmas alone in the Big Apple. While his family members spend the holiday worrying about him in rainy Florida, Kevin has all the fun exploring the city, visiting toy stores, and staying at one of New York’s finest hotels, The Plaza Hotel. Unexpectedly, Kevin and the same two bandits, Harry and Marv, crossed paths again and the cat-and-mouse game begins. Will the two criminals succeed this time?

Elf (2003)

Genres: Comedy | Family | Fantasy

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Bob Newhart and Daniel Tay

The film follows an orphaned baby boy who crawled into Santa Claus’ sack and brought back to the North Pole. The elves were surprised to discover a baby in the sack, but they accepted him, and named him ‘Buddy’ after the brand label of his diaper. Papa Elf (played by Bob Newhart) adopts Buddy (played by Will Ferrell) and raises him. Growing up in an elf community, Buddy actually thinks himself as an elf. However, his human-sized body sometimes restricts him from doing what elves do. One day, Papa Elf reveals the truth about his birth background and told him that his father, Walter (played by Daniel Tay), is in New York City. Buddy decides to go to New York to find his dad. With his eccentric and naive character, Buddy will have to get used to the unfamiliarity and differences in New York, compared to times when he was in the North Pole. While in search of his father, he meets Jovie (played by Zooey Deschanel), and both of them seem to like one another. As Christmas approaches, will Walter accept Buddy as his son? Will Jovie and Buddy be together?

Love, Actually (2003)

Genres: Comedy | Drama | Romance

Starring: Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Rowan Atkinson, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant and Martin Freeman

It is a complete no-brainer, that this is a must-see film every December. In this Christmas-themed romantic comedy, Love, Actually explores nine relationships, where the characters’ stories intertwine with one another, making the film more wholesome and connected. The narratives range from heartbreaking to cheeky, hilarious and heartwarming. Aside from the iconic soundtrack in the film, don’t miss out on a few of Britain’s impressive ensemble castforever iconic Harry Potter series actor Alan Rickman, Oscar winner Emma Thompson, Oscar nominee Keira Knightley, Oscar winner Colin Firth, Golden Globe winner Laura Linney, and more. P/S: The film’s ending might be a tearjerker moment for you; prepare some tissues!

The Polar Express (2004)

Genres: Adventure | Animation | Comedy

Starring: Tom Hanks, Nona Gaye, Eddie Deezen, Daryl Sabara and Jimmy Bennett

Based on children’s author Chris Van Allsburg’s novel, the film adaptation follows a young boy, also known as Hero Boy (voiced by Daryl Sabara) who feels skeptical about the existence of Santa Claus. While sleeping, he suddenly hears a locomotive and runs outside. The train conductor (played by Tom Hanks) steps out of the train and tells Hero Boy that the train is headed to the North Pole to see Santa. Initially, he rejected the offer, but he ran immediately and managed to hop aboard as the train departs. From there, Hero Boy embarks on a journey to discover his belief and faith in Santa on Christmas Eve. If you need more convincing, you most certainly don’t want to miss out on Tom Hanks’ character and a group of magical, dancing waiters performing a musical scene and serving up some fresh, delicious hot cocoas! Without question, this is one of the most festive films out there.

The Holiday (2006)

Genres: Comedy | Romance

Starring: Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law

Directed by Nancy Myers, the film follows two women who are broken hearted and thought they should take a break from everything. A business executive who owns a company that produces movie trailers, Amanda (played by Cameron Diaz), one day, found out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with his receptionist. Without any hesitation, she breaks up with him immediately, rejecting his excuses and blame. On the other hand, Iris (played by Kate Winslet), who is a wedding columnist, still has feelings for her ex boyfriend, even after he cheated on her. To make things worse, her ex is also her colleague at work. After realising her ex is engaged, she goes through a heartbreak. As the two women feel the need of a major life change and the need to get away during the holiday season, they went on a home-exchange website and coincidentally find interest in each other’s homes. After their chat, they agreed to do a home swap. With Amanda’s bungalow in Los Angeles, America and Iris’ cottage in Surrey, United Kingdom, the two experience a new and different environment as well as lovers.

Arthur Christmas (2011)

Genres: Adventure | Animation | Comedy

Voice cast: James McAvoy, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie and Eva Longoria

The film tells the story of Arthur Claus (voiced by James McAvoy), a young boy who is truly passionate and enthusiastic about Christmas, but is also seen as clumsy and incompetent to his family members and the elves. While Arthur’s dad is Father Christmas (also known as Santa) and his eldest brother, Steve (voiced by Hugh Laurie), is an accomplished, militaristic chief operating officer, Arthur feels different than his family members. During their family dinner, Arthur learns that a mishap took place during his father’s gift deliveries missionone little girl’s present was not delivered. Knowing that the little girl will be saddened by her missing gift, Arthur is determined to deliver her gift from the North Pole to England. Arthur sets foot on his own “secret” mission, accompanied by his reckless grandfather (voiced by Bill Nighy), a hardworking elf (voiced by Ashley Jensen) and a team of untrained reindeer. What’s more, the animated movie shows the characters’ use of high-tech devices to help ensure Santa’s presents delivery operation goes smoothly, which makes the film more fun and interesting to watch!

Will Arthur be able to deliver the little girl’s present in time to save her Christmas spirit?

Last Christmas (2019)

Genres: Comedy | Drama | Romance

Starring: Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh

Written and produced by iconic Oscar winner Emma Thompson, Last Christmas is bound to be a hilarious and witty film! Kate (played by Emilia Clarke) is an employee in a year-round Christmas store and dreams to be a successful singer. One day, she meets Tom (played by Henry Golding) and they quickly became friends. Tom does many volunteer work at shelters, and through their friendship, he influenced Kate to do good in her daily life too. As they spend more time together, she becomes less miserable and insensitive, slowly turning into a charismatic and friendly person. She likes Tom, but he rejects her whenever she tries to make advances. Feeling heartbroken, she stops seeing him for a while. Until, when she tries to find him, she discovers something unexpected; things are not what they seem to be. Be prepared for a plot twist when you watch this film!

Die Hard (1988)

Genres: Action | Thriller

Starring: Alan Rickman, Bruce Willis and Bonnie Bedelia

Another timeless classicif you’re not up for a Christmas-themed romance, or animated films, this might just be the movie for you. Die Hard is an action-packed film that follows NYPD detective, John McLane (played by Bruce Willis) who joins his estranged wife, Holly (played by Bonnie Bedelia), for a Christmas Eve party at her workplace. Unfortunately, on the same night, the office building is infiltrated by a group of German terrorists, led by the main leader of the gang, Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman). As the terrorists gather the hostages in one spot, John manages to leave quietly, hide, and get a gauge of the situation; until, he gives away his presence. With Gruber’s men hot on his trail, John must go through a series of attacks as he attempts to save the hostages in the building. This film has been a long-time debate if it’s even considered a Christmas film. Watch it for yourself and decide if you felt the festive vibes in this movie!

READ: 5 New Christmas shows and movies to get you in the festive spirit this 2021

For more holiday content, visit our guide to the year-end festive season!

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