Welcome to HITC Gaming’s 12 films of Christmas. A pick of festive classics for those less inclined to wade through It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Day.
Not all Christmas movies have an exasperated-looking Hollywood celeb wearing a Santa hat either, although they are inevitable in the internet’s lists of Christmas greats. A lot of films make it into said lists by virtue of being set around the festive period. Whether that makes the film a legitimate Christmas movie is a moot point, but it does give licence to talk about some great films that in various ways conjure up Christmas nostalgia.
Then there are the movies that don’t reference Christmas that perform a similar function. One that immediately springs to mind for us is Flash Gordon. Looking back, that seemed to always be on the telly at Christmas (when we were growing up at least) - that would be a revealing list to put together: ‘Films that in no way reference Christmas but make you think of it.’ We’ve got some we’re kicking around, let us know if you have any and why (doesn’t have to be just because they were on telly at Christmas)
Anyway, here are the definitive 12 movies of Christmas that the HITC gaming writers agreed upon by consensus. If you’re feeling a bit Bah Humbug, or indeed just fancy watching something decent and vaguely ‘Christmassy’ these are worth a look.
Will Ferrell looking hilariously awkward in an elf outfit and playing a role that fits in perfectly with his man-boy energy. A brilliantly funny wholesale Christmas classic.
A twisted social experiment sees a street hustler and a city suit swapping lives. A bit darker than your average Christmas comedy, but done with an 80s lightness of touch and quotable one-liners to boot: “Merry New Year!”’
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Another movie that puts a darker edge on Christmas, this time with musical aplomb. Tim Burton’s tale of Jack Skellington‘s Santa usurping has a hearty, cross-generational appeal, and for a stop motion animation, hasn’t aged at all badly.
Tim Burton again, with arguably the last decent 90s Batman film. Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken put in great performances and Danny Devito’s Iconic Penguin has yet to be challenged in mainstream cinema.
Die Hard and Die Hard 2 both find places in the internet’s top Christmas movie lists, but seeing as Die Hard established John McClane’s festive misfortunes and had Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber (the best Die Hard Villain by a country mile) we consider it more noteworthy
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Chevy Chase’s attempt at "the most fun-filled old-fashioned family Christmas ever." sees the perpetually-harassed Clark Griswold facing unwanted relatives, exploding turkeys and an unexpected Kidnapping, a true Christmas cult comedy classic.
The Ghostbusters returned with a shiny new overtly feelgood polish, bad accents and rivers of goo. Not as good as the first one, but the Ghostbusters got to do Christmas and this is enough!
Jingle all the Way
OK, this film is supremely bad, but that’s really what makes it so good. This is Arnie's attempt at showing some scope at its absolute hammiest (cue the Arnie accent) "It's Turbo Time!"
Santa Claus the Movie
Great performances from Dudley Moore and John Lithgow in a story of an unscrupulous toy manufacturer’s bid to take over Christmas. This one is also a manual for Santa believers, as the movie explains away how his reindeer fly and how he can get down chimneys. Also, this movie effortlessly takes our "most cultured Santa beard in cinema award."
A film teaching the importance of good exotic pet husbandry that's rich with cuteness, menace and mischief. If you’ve bought your kids a Furby for Christmas, remember not to feed it after midnight!
Quintessential, Aled Jones-powered Christmas feels. Raymond Briggs’ picture book is beautifully brought to life and the ending gets you every time. We’re undecided on the one with the dog however.
Classic 80s Bill Murray in a role that suits his deadpan to a T. A stylish and memorable take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Should the need arise for some sit-down, seasonal reinvigoration then these films are the ones we’d be reaching for. There is a veritable lorry-load of other seasonal greats to choose from and we’d love to hear what your definitive Christmas movies are.
In the meantime, we wish all our readers a very merry Christmas, a prosperous new year and an enjoyable holiday whether you get out the Christmas movies or not.