More than ever, Christmas 2020 is a time for family, and a time for a good old-fashioned festive season movie.
And, throughout the days off work and keeping the children occupied over the summer holidays, it’s always a good time to put on a classic.
Newstate Media’s Calum Thomson lists his top 10 Christmas movies to watch over the 2020 festive season.
1. Home Alone (1990)
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)
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)
Where can I watch it? Foxtel Now, Binge, Stan, or 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 and “feel it in my toes”.
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Where can I watch it? Netflix, Stan, or 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)
Where can I watch it? Stan or 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)
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)
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)
Where can I watch it? Disney Plus
One of the first Christmas films I remember watching, Tim Allen plays the lead in his film debut, in what is the first instalment of the Santa Clause trilogy. Sitting alongside Toy Story as one of Allen’s best roles, in this classic, Santa falls off a roof and Allen’s Scott must deputise. The Santa Clause is a tale of the Christmas grump having their mind changed and is a useful tool for parents to answer all their children’s curious Christmas questions. Watch out for a brilliant throwaway explanation of how Santa gets around all those houses.
9. Bad Santa (2003)
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 adult themes throughout, this one is a guaranteed laugh for the bah-humbugs amongst us.
10. A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)
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 trio’s nightmare mothers. A Bad Moms Christmas deals with the trio’s rebuke of the traditional expectations placed upon mothers during the festive season.
These caused rigorous debate in the 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.
11. Die Hard (1988)
Where can I watch it? Available to rent or buy on various platforms
Yippee-ki-yay mother … On Christmas Eve, a New York police officer arrives in Los Angeles to reconcile with his estranged wife and “come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs” before things take a turn. Starring 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)
Where can I watch it? Quickflix, or also available to rent or buy on various platforms
Opening to Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock, it’s easy to 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)
Where can I watch it? Amazon Prime Video
Another that isn’t a traditional Christmas film but takes place around late December – it also features an office Christmas party, and a drunk Santa. Eddie Murphy stars as the beggar Valentine alongside Dan Aykroyd, who plays the privileged Louis Winthorpe. Trading Places revolves around the question of nature vs nurture 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)
Where can I watch it? To rent or buy on various platforms
Who doesn’t love a left field entry? A 2003 animated release from acclaimed Japanese director Satoshi Kon, Tokyo Godfathers is a nod to 1948’s 3 Godfathers, starring John Wayne. Perhaps another one for after the kids go to bed, 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.