The 25 best Christmas movies to watch this festive season

Christmas is so close you can almost taste the candy canes (I know - 2017 sure passed quickly, right?) and while that means overindulging on festive food and fizz, it's also the best time of year to shut the drapes against the cold night, snuggle up under a blanket, and make the most of that bonus time with your favourite people. Whether you're looking to laugh together or get a tad teary-eyed together, what's better than settling down to a good Christmas movie to get into the spirit? 

From heartstrings or hilarity - or straight up horror - we've got the best Christmas movies to match any mood. From It's a Wonderful Life to Die Hard (yes, it's a Christmas movie!), there's a flick to suit any holiday mood. Whether you're looking for an excuse to spend time with - or away from - your family, fire up one of these many excellent options with our definitive list of the absolute best Christmas movies. 

25. The Ref (1994)

The film: The decorations are up and the family's on the way. A popular go-to for holiday flicks is the amusement wrung from the mounting pressures of entertaining family. For Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis, that stress gets kicked up a notch at Chrimbo when Denis Leary's fast-talkin' thief decides to bust in and hold them hostage. Joke's on him, naturally, as he discovers the dysfunctional couple's even more dysfunctional family is en route. 

Most Christmassy moment: As the nitpicky sister-in-law, Christine Baranski nevertheless makes an effort to consider what the season is truly all about: "The spirit of Christmas is either you're good, or you're punished and burn in hell." Indeed!

24. Black Christmas (1974)

The film: You know what really makes it feel like Christmas? A good old-fashioned slasher, that's what! Black Christmas kicked off the festive stalk n' slash tradition, and remains the best of its kind. A masked killer terrorises the girls of a sorority house during their annual holiday party, really dampening the spirit of goodwill by leaving a trail of corpses. Tut tut.  

Most Christmassy moment: A victim's screams are drowned out by the jolly sound of Christmas carollers outside. Really festive, that. 

23. 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.

22. 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 to this Technicolor marvel, as that's when dad Alonzo (Leon Ames) announces the family will have to leave St. Louis. From the glorious romance, majestic dancing and a quintessential vision of a snow-covered holiday season, you simply cannot beat it. 

Most Christmassy moment: Esther (Judy Garland) uses the power of song to tell kid sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) to - everybody! - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas..."

21. The Polar Express (2004)

The film: Step aboard the Polar Express' first stop, The Uncanny Valley! A grandiose CGI animation that features a cracking motion-capture performance from Tom Hanks, who also leads the voice cast as the jolly conductor of The Express, 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. 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. It's easy to knock its overwhelming cheesiness, but buried beneath all of the sentiment and sap, there's a sweet always-relevant tale of goodwill to all men. Love Actually sums up the spirit of Christmas in that warming way you'll never admit to in front of your mates, but it's OK, we won't say anything.

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.

19. Scrooge (1951)

The film: Commonly judged to be the definitive 'straight' adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. While the funnier riffs on the material are a hoot, this is the real deal. Alistair Sim is so good as the miserly Scrooge, he reprised it in voice form for the 1971 animated version. (You should also check out Albert Finney's 1970 movie of the same name, too, if only for the 'Faaank you very much!' song...)

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. Go (1999)

The film: Writer-director Doug Liman (yep, he of Bourne and Edge of Tomorrow fame) delivers a brilliant slice of action comedy set during the 24-hour period between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In the vein of Shane Black's festive movies, this involves a frantic web of plottings told from three separate angles. Things kick off when Sarah Polley's supermarket girl Ronna decides to hustle some extra cash via a yuletide drug deal.  

Most Christmassy moment: Ronna and Claire (Katie Holmes)' best friend at work Mannie really gets into the spirit of things - before necking a ton of ecstasy - by totally Griswolding his car. It's seriously festive. 

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 whimsical, cookie-cutter 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. That and the fact that he gets to engage in a fistfight with Gary Busey that's beautifully lit by Christmas lights!

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!"