“The best way to spread Christmas cheer…”
The holidays are among us! So in preparation for a time of year where our bank accounts suffer as do our nicely fitted pants, we here at Night Film Reviews have compiled a list of our top ten Christmas movies of ALL TIME! So, cuddle up with your favourite blanket, grab your go-to warm drink and enjoy the time of year where spending all day in front of the TV doesn’t make you feel guilty.
The best part of the holidays for me growing up (beside all the presents, obviously), were enjoying all the wonderfully magical holiday films. Luckily for me, good holiday films are never far from reach, so much so that sometimes, you might not even notice when films are actually centred on or take place during the holiday season. Some of them might surprise you, and some of them go without say.
So without further ado, snuggle up and enjoy Night Film Reviews Top 10 Christmas Films…OF ALL TIME!
10. Jack Frost (1998)
If I could choose one film purely justified by simple childhood nostalgia, Jack Frost is that entry. It may not be the most renown Christmas film of all time, but it really captures the essence of what the holidays are supposed to be about. Michael Keaton plays Jack Frost, a local Colorado musician who realizes his faults as a father and husband much too late. When Jack is magically brought back to life as a fluffy, warm-hearted snowman by a magical harmonica that his son Charlie was given (Joseph Cross), Jack must make up for lost time before the winter ends. The film is a highly manipulating and cheesy Christmas entry, but it’s also a sweet and endearing children’s film. Frost may not know jack about masterclass acting, but it sure thaws it’s way into our hearts.
9. Millions (2004)
I’m sure this is one Danny Boyle film you didn’t know existed. The fact is, Boyle made Millions in 2004, after his genre defining 28 Days Later… zombie film. The film is set around Damien (Alex Etel), a young dreamer who often has deep conversations with some of the most revered saints in the Catholic faith. One day, while playing with his brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) beside a railroad track, a bag filled with millions of pounds comes crashing into the brothers’ world. Set in England during a fictional time where the Pound is being converted to the Euro, the boys must decide how to use the soon to be extinct currency, figure out where the money came from, and challenge the true meaning behind Christmas. Wrought with emotionally charged performances by the child actors and James Nesbitt, Millions is the ultimate Christmas-giving parable.
8. Jingle All the Way (1996)
Ok, I lied. I have two nostalgic entries to this Christmas list. There is nothing more fun than watching a reindeer, Sinbad, midget elves, and children give big, bad action-hero Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money. Jingle is a comical look at the not-so-comical lengths parents go to make their kids ecstatic come Christmas morning. Consumerism is bad, we get it, but Arnold makes it look so good it simply makes your teeth rot.
7. In Bruges (2008)
What may be the most bizarre and abstract entry to the list, director Martin McDonagh mixes murder, humour, and little people in a neo-noir, topsy-turvy wonderland of insanity surrounding Christmas. The only black comedy on the list is also one of Colin Farrell‘s most memorable performances which also won him a Golden Globe. Frigid with an overwhelming amount of dry humour, In Bruges is a peculiar Christmas entry well worth it’s classic cult status and delvers the second best Christmas dynamic duo with Farrell and co-star Brendan Gleeson.
6. The Holiday (2006)
It’s sweet, endearing and has Jack Black in a Christmas movie, what more could you ask for? The Holiday is my favourite holiday romantic comedy by far. Featuring charming turns by its lead cast Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, and directed by the queen of the genre of the 2000’s, Nancy Meyers, The Holiday is a lavish Christmas getaway of a film.
It’s raunchy, racy and racist…but since their 2004 munchies escapade to White Castle, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn), manage to deliver one of the funniest and crudest entries with little ol’ Saint Nick, to ever hit the screen. From babies high on everything, naked nuns, some bad-ass 3D, and the always hilarious NPH (Neil Patrick Harris), Harold and Kumar become the only two red-flagged American immigrants to shoot Santa and get away with it. Paying homage to so many Christmas classics as well as reinventing a cliched narrative arc, 3D Christmas is an unapologetic festive treat. With appearances by Machete himself Danny Trejo, Wafflebot, RZA, Jake Johnson, Patton Oswalt and others, 3D Christmas is the most cherished outcast-Christmas movie of our generation.
4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Ever wonder why Iron Man 3 takes place on Christmas? Well, rest assured because the man behind that is director Shane Black, considered to be a pioneer of the action genre and the man behind Lethal Weapon, The Last Action Hero and The Last Boy Scout, sets many of his films in or around the Christmas season. In his directorial debut, Black ingeniously teams up Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. (in a role that reinvented his career after his stint in rehab) and creates two of the most unorthodox, yet memorable bumbling idiots in Christmas film history. A by-the-numbers noir film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang may sound like a hardcore porno, but instead, the film is a quickly paced whodunit, lightly decorated with witty humour, interwoven mystery and perfectly wrapped one-liners. When Harry Lockhart (Downey Jr.) fatefully makes his way to an audition for an upcoming film, he is partnered with gay cop consultant Gay Perry (Kilmer). While at a party, Harry runs into his childhood crush Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan) and his shot into a muder-mystery he has no idea how to solve. One of the many reasons you’re sure to fall in love with this film is simply because it has arguably become the film that made the current Robert Downey Jr. we see and love today. The film revived Downey Jr. before his reputation as a troubled actor and heavy drug user, but thanks to writer/director Shane Black and his impeccable holiday neo-noir film, Downey Jr. has become the box-office sensation he is today. Hopefully, the same could be done for Kilmer sometime soon, although very unlikely.
3. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
The only straight-up sequel on this list and first one to be featured in the cinematic holiday paradise of New York City, Home Alone 2 is my preferred of the Home Alone series. Between the city itself and the use of some of the wonderful stores and landmarks, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York is a wonderful, picturesque holiday postcard of a film. Everything happens the same as the first film, Culkin isn’t quite as cute as he is in the first movie yet the film is as charming and warm as its predecessor. Home Alone 2 is everything I wanted in the first film, just with the added charm of the Big Apple, and apparently, that’s all it needed! There is just something so magical about a Christmas film set in New York. Oh, and make sure to check out this trailer of the first film that will have you on the floor laughing with realization that everything they say is completely true!
Drum roll please…AND..The Number One Spot Is a Tie, between…
1. Elf (2003)
It was really hard spot to fill, but after much thinking and handfuls of candy clarity, I have decided to tie the last two spots for number one. The first spot, Elf, is the BEST straight-up commercial American Christmas film. The budget of the film, at a mere $33 million, but despite the quite modest budget, the film became a HUGE hit thanks to Buddy the Elf himself Will Farrell. In one of his best performances to date, Farrell shines on screen thanks to the loveable script by David Berenbaum. Cheerful one liners, a scrooge-like James Caan and the adorably carolling blonde, Zooey Deschanel, Elf became an instant holiday hit! Directed by Jon Favreau (another Iron Man alum), and featuring a star-making cameo by Peter Dinklage, Elf is a welcoming holiday film that will surely have you giggling, reciting favourite lines and is sure to make smiling your favourite thing to do too, for years to come!
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
The power of cinema can, simply stated, be just beautiful. It’s A Wonderful Life is not only a spectacular Christmas movie, but a wonderful piece of American cinema. Set in New York, the film is a reflective piece of the value of life and the reminder that no man and no life is greater or more poignant than the other. Jimmy Stewart shines as George Bailey, a down-on-his-luck family man whose life has endured a recent string of bad luck. No film highlights the importance and true meaning of Christmas better than It’s A Wonderful Life; reminding audiences that it isn’t the presents we receive under the Christmas tree that stay with us forever, but the wonderful memories of the holidays instead. Highlighting the importance of family, friends and the people that touch our lives everyday, Life is one of those memorable films that as old as it is, I love to watch year in and year out.
Hope you guys had as much fun going through our favourite Christmas movies as we did counting them down. Let us know what you think about our list and if there were any classic holiday films we missed.
…and last but not least, HAPPY HOLIDAYS from all of us at Night Film Reviews!