Best Christmas movies ever

It's that time of the year when the only thing that says festive season, apart from presents, eating too much and of course religion are – Christmas movies. 

We have compiled a list of what we think to be some of the best old-school and new-school Christmas movies. 

They appear in no particular order and while some of them are classics, others might be best described as guilty pleasures – enjoy!

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

A moving tribute to the power of the individual, Frank Capra’s snowy festive classic is a true delight, as entertaining as it is message-driven.

James Stewart puts in the performance of a lifetime as a potential suicide who’s given a chance to look at life with fresh eyes. Merry Christmas George!

The Santa Clause (1994)

Tim Allen stars in this festive comedy about an ordinary man who must step into Santa’s shoes after an accident.

A trip to the North Pole follows, along with various comic scenarios as he physically morphs into Santa in front of his disbelieving ex-wife (Wendy Crewson).

Love Actually (2003)

This is either unbearable schmaltz or a festive heart-warmer, depending on who you ask. Love is certainly all around in this ensemble comedy-drama set in the holiday season: even a school nativity play is an opportunity for romance.

Comic standouts include Bill Nighy as an ageing rock legend who’s reduced to competing in the race to land a Christmas Number One.

The Polar Express (2004)

Robert Zemeckis sprinkled his family-friendly magic on this performance-capture animation starring Tom Hanks in multiple roles, including narrator, train conductor and Santa Claus.

This one ticks a lot of boxes for Christmas fanatics, including reindeer, elves and a whole heap of snow.

Holiday Inn (1942)

This musical is the ultimate ’40s cheerer as Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby sing and dance their way into the ladies’ hearts.

The set up is pure Broadway: they’re a musical troupe who only perform on holidays, from Easter to Christmas. The film scored an Oscar for the now iconic song ‘White Christmas’.

Die Hard (1988)

Cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) was hoping for a quiet Christmas, but sinister kidnapper Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) has other ideas.

‘Die Hard’ made an action star out of TV actor Bruce Willis, and made many subsequent holidays just as challenging for our hero.

The Holiday (2006)

Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swap houses for Christmas and conveniently meet Jack Black and Jude Law respectively.

There’s romance, there’s an unfeasibly large country cottage and there are light laughs from an attractive cast. This is the kind of slushy movie you can get away with watching simply because it’s Christmas.

Bad Santa (2003)

‘You wanna see some magic? Here, let’s watch you disappear.’ Billy Bob Thornton’s drunk, grouchy, thieving store Santa is the perfect antidote to saccharine Christmas movies, while sneaking in a bit of heart behind the humour and crime comedy thrills.

A Christmas Carol (1938)

This early version of Charles Dickens’s much-told story remains one of the finest, with Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge and Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit.

There’s something oddly comforting about watching snow fall in black and white.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Michael Caine as Scrooge, Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens, Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit – just three of many reasons to love this witty, warm-hearted take on the classic story.

Despite the presence of Muppets, it is – believe it or not – one of the more faithful versions of the book.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

The ultimate in cuddly Christmas afternoon movies, this original stars Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle, who must prove he is in fact Santa Claus – not least to a young girl (Natalie Wood) who has lost the true meaning of Christmas.

Home Alone (1990)

‘Home Alone’ is such a perfect kids’ fantasy, it’s a wonder nobody thought of it before.

Parents go on holiday, forget a kid, he can eat ice cream and watch movies as much as he likes, before getting the chance to invent some booby traps to catch burglars. Four sequels followed.

Elf (2003)

A gift to Christmas TV programmers, this festive comedy makes full use of Will Ferrell’s man-child charm by casting him as a naive human raised by elves and thrown into a cynical modern-day New York.

Highlights include a duet of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ with an unwitting Zooey Deschanel as she sings in the shower.

Jingle all the way (1996)

Workaholic Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wants to make things up to his son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd), and wife, Liz (Rita Wilson). He promises to get Jamie the hottest toy of the season, Turbo-Man -- even though it's Christmas Eve and the toy is practically sold out.

As Langston hunts down the elusive gift, he runs into mailman Myron (Sinbad), another father on the same quest. With the clock winding down, Langston's moral code is tested as he starts to learn the real meaning of Christmas.