10 - Batman Returns (1992)
Ok, so it’s not a proper christmas film, but in our household there are more nerds than youngsters!! After the spectacular success of his first ‘Batman’, Tim Burton had carte blanche on this sequel – and boy did he go to town. As snow falls on Gotham, Bruce Wayne finds himself facing not just the creepy, grubby Penguin and his flippered minions, but a psychotic Catwoman and Christopher Walken in a crazy wig.
9 - A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
It’s only 25 minutes long, but this beloved cartoon manages to pack in more warmth, more wit and more honest seasonal spirit than most full-length Christmas movies. It’s largely down to Vince Guaraldi's flawless, jazz-tinged score, a key part of any self-respecting festive record collection.
8 - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Another hard-quipping festive shoot-’em-up from ‘Lethal Weapon’ writer Shane Black, as Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer play a ham actor and a private dick on the trail of a missing woman while sleigh bells ring out over LA. The dialogue’s fast and funny, and somehow the constant gunplay never dents its Christmas spirit.
7 - The Snowman (1982)
Raymond Briggs’s book came to life once a year throughout many childhoods, as the animated film was shown on British TV with religious precision. Nominated for an Oscar, the short film tells of a boy whose snowman magically becomes real – but not forever. Add the haunting song ‘Walking In The Air’ and you have a true Christmas classic.
6 - Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Christmas is a time of both joy and fear for Edward (Johnny Depp) after he and his new host family are ostracised from the community. It’s a typically bittersweet story from Tim Burton which, with Danny Elfman’s score, has a magical festive feel: just picture Winona Ryder dancing around that ice sculpture.
5 - 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.
4 - Gremlins (1984)
Is there a more memorable soliloquy in the Christmas movie canon than Phoebe Cates’s tearful recollection of her father’s death – suffocated in the chimney, wearing a Santa suit? It’s the dark heart of Joe Dante’s timeless monster movie, a film that takes all those twinkly festive classics you loved as a kid and vomits – lovingly – all over them.
3- Bad Santa (2003)
It’s a brilliant scheme: Billy Bob Thornton dresses as Santa, hires himself cheap to desperate shopping malls then robs them blind with the aid of his foul-mouthed elf sidekick. A flop that became a cult Christmas classic, ‘Bad Santa’ may be gleefully tasteless but it’s also brilliantly sarcastic, enormously funny and – in the scenes with Billy Bob’s goofy kid sidekick Thurman Merman – impossibly sweet.
2 - 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.
1 - 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!
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