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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Must-watch Christmas movies this festive season

More than ever, Christmas this year is a time for family, and a time for a good Christmas film. 

And, throughout the days off work and keeping the children occupied during summer holidays, the festive period is always a good time to put on a classic. 

Newcastle Weekly’s Calum Thomson lists his top 10 Christmas movies to watch this summer:

1. Home Alone (1990)

Classification: PG

Where can I watch it? Foxtel Now or Disney Plus 

Some would say Home Alone is the Christmas movie. Alongside a great performance from Macaulay Culkin as the iconic Kevin, Joe Pesci stars in a comedic berth much different from his roles in GoodFellas and Casino. A must see, especially for Kevin’s elaborate booby-trapping skills. 


2. Elf (2003)

Classification:

Where can I watch it? Stan

In my household, Will Ferrell divides opinion. In the role of Buddy the Elf, Ferrell stars as a human adopted by Santa’s elves, who departs for New York City in search of his biological father. Perhaps more popular with the kiddos, scenes include a memorably long burp and Buddy working at a department store.  


3. Love Actually (2003)

Classification:

Where can I watch it? Foxtel Now, Binge, Stan, Amazon Prime Video

A star-studded affair, featuring the late, great, and ever-iconic Alan Rickman. Probably best remembered for Hugh Grant’s dancing, Love Actually is a favourite for many. Intertwining stories of love at Christmas time, after watching Love Actually, I was able to feel the Christmas spirit in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.


4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Classification: PG 

Where can I watch it? Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video

A Dr. Seuss tale from 1957 with now numerous iterations, the 2000 version starring Jim Carrey is the pick of the bunch. The Grinch is a Christmas hating creature who lives away from the villagers of Whoville atop mount Crumpit. Six-year-old Cindy tries to befriend the Grinch and teach him the true meaning of Christmas. 


5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Classification:

Where can I watch it? Stan, BeamaFilm 

There’s a reason that this one is a classic and still beloved 74 years later. James Stewart stars as George Bailey, a man who has given up on his dreams to help others in his town of Bedford Falls. Whilst George contemplates suicide, a guardian angel Clarence shows George what he means to the community. 


6. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Classification:

Where can I watch it? Disney Plus 

What better introduction to the work of Dickens is there? Kermit the Frog plays Bob Cratchit, loyal employee of Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Michael Caine. Scrooge, much like the Grinch, hates Christmas. Three ghosts visit Scrooge in the night to convince him to change his ways and become a better person. 


7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Classification:

Where can I watch it? Disney Plus

The first film on this list to win an Academy Award, it picked up three Oscars at the 1947 ceremony. Richard Attenborough stars as Kris Kringle and steps in to play Santa at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after the man assigned to play him is intoxicated. Kringle becomes a hit and a regular fixture in the Macy’s store. But the question is, is Kringle the real deal? 


8. The Santa Clause (1994)

Classification:

Where can I watch it? Disney Plus

One of the first Christmas films I remember watching, Tim Allen plays the lead in his debuting role in the first instalment of the Santa Clause trilogy. Probably Tim Allen’s best role outside of Toy Story, in this jump-off-the-roof-laughing (JORL) classic Santa falls off a roof and Tim Allen’s Scott must deputise. The Santa Clause is a tale of the Christmas grump having their mind changed, this one will be a useful tool for parents to explain all the curious Christmas questions from the kiddos. Watch out for a brilliant throwaway explanation of how Santa gets around all those houses.


9. Bad Santa (2003)

Classification: MA15+

Where can I watch it? Foxtel Now

A black comedy that revels in being rude and offensive, Bad Santa isn’t for everyone. The story of a conman and his helper who pose as Santa and his little elf to rob department stores, their plan is foiled by the security guard, played by the late, great, Bernie Mac. Despite the adult themes throughout the movie, this one is a guaranteed laugh for the bah-humbugs amongst us. 


10. A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

Classification: MA15+ 

Where can I watch it? Netflix or Stan

The most recent entry on this list, Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn ,and Kristen Bell shine in this one. The sequel includes appearances from Susan Sarandon, Cheryl Hines, and Christine Baranski as the trios nightmare mothers. The film deals with the trios rebuke of the traditional expectations placed upon mothers during the festive season. 


Bonus entries: Three bonus entries. These caused rigorous debate in the Newcastle Weekly office. 

Philosophically speaking, what makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie? 

Is it just a movie set at Christmas time, or is there something else that gives it that Christmas movie ‘vibe’?

You’ll have to argue amongst yourselves as to whether these count as Christmas films.

Bruce Willis in the 1988 christmas classic 'Die Hard'
Bruce Willis stars in Die Hard. Christmas movie or not? Photo: Getty Images

11. Die Hard (1988)

Classification:

Where can I watch it? Available to rent or buy on various platforms

Yippee Ki Yay Mother ‘Flipper’. On Christmas Eve, a New York police officer arrives in Los Angeles to reconcile with his estranged wife. Once again staring Alan Rickman in an unforgettable role as German terrorist Hans Gruber, Die Hard is perhaps the Christmas film for after the kiddos are asleep. 


12. Lethal Weapon (1987)

Classification: M

Where can I watch it? Quickflix, or also available to rent or buy on various platforms

Lethal Weapon opens to Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock, many may forget that Lethal Weapon is set at Christmas time. The ultimate buddy-cop movie, Danny Glover and Mel Gibson star as two opposites who are partnered together to catch a gang of drug smugglers. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound, and grossed $120 million. You’re never too old for this one. 


13. Trading Places (1983)

Classification: M 

Where can I watch it? Amazon Prime Video

This one also doesn’t fit into the traditional ‘Christmas movie’ category. But it does take place around Christmas – there’s also an office Christmas party, and a drunk Santa. Eddie Murphy stars as the beggar Valentine alongside Dan Aykroyd, who plays Louis Winthorpe. The film revolves around the question of why somebody is in Valentine’s position, and is said to be motivated by Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, as well as The Million Dollar Note. 


Bonus bonus entry:

14. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Classification: M

Where can I watch it? To rent or buy on Apple TV or the Microsoft Store

Who doesn’t love a left field entry? A 2003 release from acclaimed Japanese director Satoshi Kon, the film is a nod to the 1948 ‘3 Godfathers’, starring John Wayne. Perhaps another one for after the kiddos’ bedtime, on Christmas Eve three homeless people come across an abandoned newborn whilst looking for food amongst the garbage. The three must search to find the child’s parents.