Cringle all the way
The holiday season has rolled around once again, giving us the chance to listen to Jingle Bell Rock for the thousandth time while wading through the mass of humanity shopping for gifts. The run up to Xmas represents a truly magical time of year, bursting with glee, good will and some truly memorable tussles in the toy isle. "No Betty, gouge the eye, gouge the eye!". Whether you like giving or receiving gifts, or simply practicing wrestling moves on your fellow shoppers, there really is something for everyone at Christmas, and the same is true of your festive entertainment.
You might plan on spending the holidays playing a rousing game of charades with the family, but we all know you'll eventually give in to putting on a classic Christmas movie. And why wouldn't you? There's so many Xmas-themed movies to enjoy, and only a limited amount of time to watch them (we think January is the cut off point). Let us help you decided what to watch after your turkey dinner with our list of the very best Christmas films, from the whimsical and heartfelt, to the sad and strangely disturbing.
60. Love, Actually (2003)
The Film: Love it or loathe it, Richard Curtis' selection box rom-com might be the most Christmassy movie of modern times.
Most Christmassy Moment: Take your pick. All permutations are here, from grand romantic gestures (cue card-laden Andrew Lincoln in the snow) to quiet family bonds (Laura Linney and her mentally ill brother), to the raucous singletons' Christmas of Bill Nighy and Gregor Fisher spending the big day together getting drunk and watching porn.
59. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
The Film: Shane Black, the Hitchcock of inappropriate Christmas movies, adds festive trimmings to his Renny Harlin-directed tale about Samantha Kane (Geena Davis), an amnesiac housewife who remembers her past as hired killer Charly Baltimore.
Most Christmassy Moment: Samantha's 'cover' is blown when she is recognised playing Mrs. Claus in the local Christmas parade.
58. 8 Women (2002)
The Film: A wealthy homeowner is killed during the run-up to Christmas, putting the spotlight on eight female suspects - and if you're a fan of French actresses, all your Christmases have come at once.
Most Christmassy Moment: Everyone's equal at Christmas, as chambermaid Louise strips out of her uniform while singing 'Heads or Tails.'
57. Reindeer Games (2000)
The Film: Also known as Wild Christmas in some territories. Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise and Charlize Theron all star in this festive heist movie. Unfortunately for all of them and for director John Frankenheimer it was a commercial flop, which is a shame, as it's rather fun.
Most Christmassy Moment: The heist is set to take place on Christmas Eve, and the gang are all decked out in Santa gear. This idea would probably have worked better had the film not been originally released in February in the States and June in the UK...
56. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
The Film: Dr. Seuss' fable about a misanthropic creature (Jim Carrey) who plots to steal the Christmas gifts from the inhabitants of Whoville.
Most Christmassy Moment: The Grinch waits expectantly to hear the Whos crying at the loss of their presents, only to be flummoxed by a chorus of singing brought on by Christmas spirit.
55. We're No Angels (1955)
The Film: Three escaped convicts (Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov) hide out in a local grocery store, only to have a seasonal change of heart about their bad-boy behaviour.
Most Christmassy Moment: The cons make Christmas dinner for their hosts. Yes, the food might be stolen, but it's the thought that counts.
54. Nativity! (2009)
The Film: Primary school teacher Paul Maddens (Martin Freeman) has to put on the ultimate nativity play when a lie about Hollywood filming the event goes viral.
Most Christmassy Moment: The climactic performance in Coventry Cathedral, featuring schoolkid TJ dangling high above the ground on wires as the Angel Gabriel.
53. Go (1999)
The Film: A snapshot of what L.A.'s cool kids are getting up to on Christmas Eve - drug-dealing, Vegas benders and demented Christmas dinners.
Most Christmassy Moment: Simon (Desmond Askew) overindulges as he gate-crashes a wedding, has a threesome with two bridesmaids and sets fire to his hotel room. There's always one who takes things too far.
52. Jack Frost (1998)
The Film: A rare film that manages to be somehow both warm-hearted and utterly terrifying. Michael Keaton plays rock star Jack Frost who shirks his family in favour of recording a new single and pays the ultimate price he's killed in a car crash. Luckily a magic harmonica returns him to life as his son's snowman. As the saying goes, snow dad's better than no dad.
Most Christmassy Moment: The very final scene of this extremely strange film. Snow Dad has moved on, but there's a suggestion that the family will be happy once more, while surrounded by (thankfully less freakish-looking) snowmen.
51. Millions (2004)
The Film: Danny Boyle's modern-day parable revolves around two brothers who discover a bag of bank notes that are about to become worthless at the end of the year - do they spend, spend, spend or give the cash to charity?
Most Christmassy Moment: When the robbers ransack the family home for the money (which they'd originally stolen), dad Ronald (James Nesbitt) decides the best way to stop them getting it is a spending splurge on Christmas pressies.
50. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
The Film: The Coen brothers' parody of Capra-esque festive feelgood hinges on supposedly stoopid company boss Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) defying expectations by creating the smash-hit toy of the season.
Most Christmassy Moment: On a balcony outside the Hudsucker Christmas party, Norville bonds with undercover reporter Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) by imagining her as a gazelle. "Perhaps we met once, a chance encounter in a forest glade. I must have been an antelope or an ibex."
49. A Christmas Tale (2008)
The Film: A French family (including Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric) gathers for Christmas, only for all of their resentment and bitterness to emerge when Deneuve's mother reveals she has leukaemia.
Most Christmassy Moment: The whole thing rings painfully true for anyone who's ever had an awkward family Christmas.
48. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
The Film: As George Smiley (Gary Oldman) investigates a mole in the Circus, his mind keeps returning to the tobacco-stained memory of a Christmas party where he can replay the activities of the main suspects.
Most Christmassy Moment: An authentically horrible works do, with office affairs and terrible 1970s suits competing with a raucous sing-a-long.
47. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005)
The Film: The first and most famous - instalment in the Narnia saga made for a solid adventure movie. Some plucky youngsters step into a magic wardrobe and find themselves in a magical kingdom where they get chased by a witch, pestered by a fawn and make friends with Jesus the lion, Aslan.
Most Christmassy Moment: Narnia is trapped in an eternal winter that prevents Christmas from coming, but that spell soon begins to break. Father Christmas arrives bringing with him some handy magical gifts for the Pevensie children.
46. Rocky IV (1985)
The Film: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) takes on Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in a heavyweight boxing match. At stake - national pride and the memory of the late Apollo Creed. And when does this brutal grudge match take place? Christmas Day.
Most Christmassy Moment: Rocky gets exactly what he wanted from Santa, as he takes out Drago in the 15th round.
45. Joyeux Nol (2005)
The Film: The story behind one of the famous legends of World War One, as soldiers from opposing trenches agree to a Christmas Day truce to bury their dead and play football.
Most Christmassy Moment: The ceasefire begins after German private Sprink (Benno Frmann) sings Silent Night and is accompanied by a Scottish bagpipe player from across No Man's Land.
44. Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983)
The Film: Because nothing says Christmas more than a WW2 prisoner of war film set in Japan and starring David Bowie at the height of his fame
Most Christmassy Moment: The film's pivotal moment comes one Christmas Eve when Bowie's Maj. Jack Celliers and Tom Conti's Lt. Col. John Lawrence are released from their captivity, the title of the film being drunkenly shouted by the camp commandant.
43. Mon Oncle Antoine (1971)
The Film: A French-Canadian teenager comes of age on Christmas Eve, when the difficulties of living in an asbestos mining town bring him closer to his undertaker uncle.
Most Christmassy Moment: When the boss of the mine throws candy at the village kids in a false attempt at Christmas spirit, they do what anyone would do under the circumstances - they chuck snowballs back at him.
42. While You Were Sleeping (1995)
The Film: An unorthodox Yuletide romance, as Lucy Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) saves the commuter she's got a crush on (Peter Gallagher), pretends to be his fiance while he's in a coma and THEN falls in love with the man's brother, Jack (Bill Pullman).
Most Christmassy Moment: Christmas is as much a state of mind as an actual day, which is how Lucy manages to meet and fall in love with Jack when the family arranges a belated Christmas celebration.
41. Black Christmas (1974)
The Film: A Christmas party at a sorority house is the perfect excuse for a serial killer to go crazy, in the first and best Christmas slasher movie.
Most Christmassy Moment: A victim's screams are drowned out by the jolly sound of Christmas carollers outside.
40. A Christmas Carol (2009)
The Film: Robert Zemeckis brings his mo-cap expertise to bear in the ingenious decision to have Jim Carrey play the three ghosts as well as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Most Christmassy Moment: A lifetime of memory condensed into one stunning 12-minute take, as the Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge what he gave up in pursuit of wealth.
39. Die Hard 2 (1990)
The Film: aka "How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"
Most Christmassy Moment: Airport cop Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz) makes amends with John McClane (Bruce Willis) by ripping up his parking ticket. "Ah, what the hell! It's Christmas!"
38. The Family Stone (2005)
The Film: Sarah Jessica Parker stars alongside Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes and Diane Keaton in this daft, likeable Christmas comedy about a dysfunctional family reuniting for the holidays. The inevitable hijinks ensue.
Most Christmassy Moment: Christmas Day which sees the family end up at each others throats, before patching things up. Sure, it's predictable, but the film mines some good humour from its characters.
37. Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)
The Film: aka "How can the same shit happen to the same kid twice?"
Most Christmassy Moment: Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin) is reunited with his mom under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
36. Christmas In Connecticut (1945)
The Film: A classic '40s romance that finds Barbara Stanwyck's food writer, Elizabeth, agree to marry a friend who she doesn't love, while secretly falling for dashing war hero, Jefferson. Spoilers: it all turns out right in the end.
Most Christmassy Moment: On Christmas Eve Jefferson and Elizabeth bond while giving someone else's baby a bath, and then over a romantic dinner in a barn.
35. Arthur Christmas (2011)
The Film: What happens if Santa misses a gift delivery? Don't worry, Santa's son Arthur (James McAvoy) is on hand to take the reins.
Most Christmassy Moment: A family squabble outside a girl's home about who will deliver a present is resolved when everybody remembers that it should be down to the person most eager to make the child happy, i.e. Arthur.
34. Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
The Film: The underrated sequel to the greatest comedy of the '80s. Ghostbusters 2 has some weird moments and fewer funnies than the first instalment, but it's still fantastic to see the whole gang back together. What's that you say? It's not a Christmas film? Sure it is, it takes place over the holidays, climaxing on New Year's Eve.
Most Christmassy Moment: Bustin' makes you feel good. Especially when, like the Ghostbusters, you're wearing Santa hats.
33. Batman Returns (1992)
The Film: Tim Burton's second and last Batman movie is a flamboyant parody of Christmas movie conventions, with The Penguin (Danny DeVito) preying on seasonal goodwill to become Mayor and crooked businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) described as 'Gotham's own Santa Claus.'
Most Christmassy Moment: Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) gets Batman (Michael Keaton) where she wants him - under the mistletoe. "You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it," he warns. "But a kiss can be even deadlier... if you mean it," she replies, licking him from chin to masked forehead.
32. Eastern Promises (2007)
The Film: Yes, David Cronenberg has made a Christmas movie. His London-set thriller is triggered by the birth of a child, and ends as the girl is named Christine.
Most Christmassy Moment: They might be vicious gangsters, but Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his family know how to throw a Christmas feast.
31. Life Of Brian (1979)
The Film: Of course it's a Christmas movie. The whole point is that Brian (Graham Chapman) was born at the same time as Jesus.
Most Christmassy Moment: The wry opening sequence, in which three not-so-wise-men get hopelessly lost and arrive in Brian's stable.
30. The Santa Clause (1994)
The Film: Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) notices some unusual changes when a Santa-slaying accident forces him to step up to become the new Father Christmas.
Most Christmassy Moment: Scott inadvertently signs the Clause by putting on the Santa suit and taking the reindeer out for a spin.
29. The Shop Around The Corner (1940)
The Film: It's the busiest time of the year at a Budapest gift shop, and tensions are high between co-workers Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan). Little do they realise that they are also secret pen-pals who have fallen in love via pen and paper.
Most Christmassy Moment: The two finally declare their love on Christmas Eve.
28. Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
The Film: Despite the title, the emphasis isn't on Mr. Claus (David Huddleston) but on chief elf Patch (Dudley Moore), in a story that highlights the importance of keeping friendly with your workforce.
Most Christmassy Moment: Santa is introduced to the elf workshop - the big screen's most dazzling depiction of a global toy manufacturing factory.
27. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
The Film: With a Christmas tree in every scene, Stanley Kubrick's swansong provides an ironic reflection on gift-giving, as even man-who-has-everything Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) wanders off to find a little extra.
Most Christmassy Moment: The punchline to the film, as Alice (Nicole Kidman) tells Bill what she's going to give him while they're out Christmas shopping.
26. In Bruges (2008)
The Film: Two assassins (Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) are ordered to take leave in the titular Belgian city after Farrell's Ray accidentally kills a child, but the wintry splendour of Bruges can't assuage his guilt.
Most Christmassy Moment: The picture-postcard look of Bruges itself.
25. The Apartment (1960)
The Film: Goodwill to all men? Billy Wilder's poison pen letter to the modern world turns the Christmas period into a hotbed of adultery and attempted suicide.
Most Christmassy Moment: Brought low with the Christmas blues, C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is picked up by fellow lonely heart Margie MacDougall (Hope Holiday) for a Christmas bonus - only to find an even more depressed character, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) has attempted suicide in Baxter's apartment.
24. Brazil (1985)
The Film: There's no obvious reason why Terry Gilliam's dystopian nightmare is set at Christmas, except to reinforce the cold hand of a callous, bureaucratic state totally lacking in festive spirit.
Most Christmassy Moment: Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) gets a pep talk from a man dressed as Santa. Shame it's Minister of Information Helpmann (Peter Vaughn), offering just platitudes and clichs before Sam is led off to be tortured.
23. Meet Me In St Louis (1944)
The Film: Technically, the classic Vincente Minnelli musical covers an entire year in the life of the Smith family. But there's no denying how central Christmas is, as that's when dad Alonzo (Leon Ames) announces the family will have to leave St. Louis.
Most Christmassy Moment: Esther (Judy Garland) uses the power of song to tell kid sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) to 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.
22. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
The Film: When it came to his directorial debut about the farcical relationship between a theatrically-minded thief (Robert Downey Jr.) and a gay detective (Val Kilmer), there was only one time of year that screenwriter Shane Black was going to use.
Most Christmassy Moment: Michelle Monaghan in a Santa suit. Yowza.
21. The Polar Express (2004)
The Film: Step aboard the Polar Express first stop, The Uncanny Valley... A grandiose CGI animation with Tom Hanks leading the voice cast. The Express is an enormous train embarking on a journey to the North Pole. While not quite the smash hit everyone expected, the film is now widely-considered a bit of a classic.
Most Christmassy Moment: The encounter with Santa, where the nameless Hero Boy is presented with a bell as the first gift of Christmas. Sure you wouldn't rather have a PS4, mate?
20. Rare Exports (2010)
The Film: Ever wondered where the myth of Father Christmas came from? Jalmari Helander's sick rewrite of conventional wisdom suggests Santa is a nightmarish beast supported by an army of ravenous elves.
Most Christmassy Moment: True to legend, the 'real' Santa cares if you're naughty or nice... but only because he kills anyone who falls into the former category.
19. Scrooge (1951)
The Film: Commonly judged to be the definitive 'straight' adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with Alistair Sim so good in the role he reprised in voice form for the 1971 animated version.
Most Christmassy Moment: Scrooge orders Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) into his office - and then confounds him by raising the clerk's salary, and then bursts into uncontrollable laughter.
18. Fanny And Alexander (1982)
The Film: Ingmar Bergman's epic chronicle of a Swedish family in the early 20th century sees the world through the eyes of the titular children - and, inevitably, what kids remember most is Christmas.
Most Christmassy Moment: The opening Christmas celebrations, as Bergman maps out the family relationships against the backdrop of an astonishing, extravagant Yuletide feast.
17. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
The Film: A classic fairytale from a not-yet-insufferable Tim Burton. Johnny Depp is the man with scissors for hands, created by Vincent Price in his gothic mansion. He falls for Winona Ryder's Kim and is, at first, accepted by the residents of her bland town. But then it all goes wrong...
Most Christmassy Moment: While his adopted family prepare for the festivities, Edward uses his hands to whittle a block of ice into an enormous sculpture of his beloved. The shavings of ice fall like snow around Kim as he carves. With Danny Elfman's haunting score soaring, it's a genuinely moving moment.
16. Lethal Weapon (1987)
The Film: The Christmas season provides the backdrop to the first meeting of soon-to-be-inseparable cop partners Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover), giving the suicidal Riggs a newfound reason to be jolly.
Most Christmassy Moment: Riggs tells a joke unlikely to make it into any Christmas cracker - "What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let's get the flock out of here!"
15. Trading Places (1983)
The Film: Christmas is a time to remember those less fortunate than yourself. So spare a thought for Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) who is forced to take that literally when he trades places with street bum Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) as part of a wager.
Most Christmassy Moment: A disgraced Louis, disguised as Santa, is forced to eat the stuffing from his costume and is so down-on-his-luck he can't even get a suicide attempt right.
14. A Christmas Story (1983)
The Film: Watching Bob Clark's bittersweet rite-of-passage movie about a boy's obsession with getting a B.B. Gun for Christmas is an annual event in America, but strangely it's never taken off in Britain despite its wry realism.
Most Christmassy Moment: Despite nearly blinding himself with the gun, Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) contentedly goes to bed with his prize present by his side.
13. White Christmas (1954)
The Film: Not the first film to feature Bing Crosby's perennial classic - that would be 1942's Holiday Inn - but this is the better loved today by virtue of being built around the title song.
Most Christmassy Moment: All together - "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas."
12. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
The Film: How many ways can things go wrong for Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) when he decides to concoct the perfect family Christmas? Lots.
Most Christmassy Moment: Clark gets the best Christmas show on the street, by virtue of a methane explosion propelling his decorations into the sky.
11. Bad Santa (2003)
The Film: Terry Zwigoff declares all-out war on Christmas schmaltz with his feelbad parable about an alcoholic thief Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton), who cases his latest target disguised as a department store Santa.
Most Christmassy Moment: Having seen the light, Willie races home, cops in pursuit, to hand The Kid (Brett Kelly) a Christmas present.
10. The Snowman (1982)
The Film: Yes, it's only a short at 30 minutes long, but you show us a child born in the UK who hasn't seen this Christmas cracker. Entirely dialogue free save for the live-action intro that is tacked on some versions (which bizarrely features David Bowie) - it's a beautiful tale of a snowman coming to life and taking his creator to meet Father Christmas. The ending, as the sun comes up, is perfectly pitched and utterly heartbreaking.
Most Christmassy Moment: It's almost shocking when, after 16 dialogue-free minutes, the Snowman takes flight and Welsh warbler Aled Jones begins to belt out Walking In The Air. Truly magical.
9. Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
The Film: Susan Walker (Natalie Wood) is convinced that Macy's department store Santa Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwen) is the real thing. The authorities aren't so sure, and start court proceedings to have him locked up.
Most Christmassy Moment: Susan is sure her hunch about Kringle is right when he effortlessly slips into Dutch while speaking to a Jewish refugee girl.
8. Scrooged (1988)
The Film: It doesn't matter whether it's 19th Century London or 1980s Manhattan, there will always be humbugs like Frank Cross (Bill Murray) who need to have their worldview changed by the Christmas ghosts.
Most Christmassy Moment: Frank goes mad with joy, live on air, by preaching to his audience to switch off their sets and spend Christmas with their loved ones.
7. Home Alone (1990)
The Film: The McCallister family Christmas holiday checklist: tickets - check. Presents - check. Children - oh, bugger. Don't worry, folks. Abandoned Kevin (Macauley Culkin) is too busy reinventing Christmas as a child's playground of bed jumping and burglar bashing.
Most Christmassy Moment: The Kenosha Kickers, led by jovial Gus Polinski (John Candy) offer Kevin's mom Kate (Catherine O'Hara) a lift home on Christmas Eve so she can be with her son on the big day.
6. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The Film: A change of pace for the Muppets, as Kermit and gang play second fiddle to a commanding performance from Michael Caine as Scrooge in a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the Dickens classic - except here Dickens is Gonzo and Tiny Tim is a frog.
Most Christmassy Moment: The Ghost of Christmas Present has a crack at persuading Scrooge of the joys of Yuletide in festive anthem 'It Feels Like Christmas.'
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Film: Tim Burton-created, Henry Selick-directed stop-motion classic about a Halloween takeover of Christmas, which is usually the first Yuletide movie everybody watches in the run-up to 25 December. Mainly because you can also watch it on 31 October.
Most Christmassy Moment: Jack Skellington discovers Christmas Town. "What's this?" as every festive clich comes to life in joyous fashion.
4. Gremlins (1984)
The Film: See, this is what happens when you ask for an unusual Christmas present - a horde of malicious critters destroying your picture-postcard town. Moral of the story: shop at Argos next year.
Most Christmassy Moment: Where else is the final battle between cuddly Mogwai Gizmo and chief Gremlin Stripe going to take place at this time of year? In a department store, as would-be stocking fillers are put to uses their manufacturers never anticipated.
3. Elf (2003)
The Film: Will Ferrell achieved mainstream break-out playing Buddy, a human raised as one of Santa's elves, whose amiable goofiness bristles against curmudgeonly real dad James Caan.
Most Christmassy Moment: Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) leads New York in a rendition of 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' to restore the Christmas Spirit needed to power Santa's sleigh.
2. Die Hard (1988)
The Film: A Christmas Eve party in the Nakatomi Plaza is rudely interrupted by Alan Rickman's crew of thieves-disguised-as-terrorists. Only Bruce Willis' vacationing cop John McClane has the run of the building to stop them.
Most Christmassy Moment: Yuletide, L.A. style as McClane's chauffeur Argyle (De'voreaux White) plays rap in the limo. "Don't you got any Christmas music?" asks McClane. "This is Christmas music!" replies Argyle, cranking up Run DMC's 'Christmas in Hollis'.
1. It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
The Film: Frank Capra's fable of redemption, parallel universes and small-town life has been canonised as a feelgood classic. But its tale of a suicidal man (James Stewart) saved only by divine intervention is also darker than most remember, making it perfect seasonal fare whatever your view of life.
Most Christmassy Moment: George Bailey returns home on Christmas Eve to find that friends and family have bailed out the "greatest man" in town, while Clarence the second-class angel finally gets his wings.