The season of generosity is upon us, and so is wholesome, heart-warming, touchy-feely goodness on screen. Along with family squabbles, burglars, BB guns, drunken Santas and methane gas explosions. Pour some eggnog and choose your poison…
The Fitzgerald Family Christmas (2012)
Writer/director Edward Burns tells an American indie-style story of adult siblings endeavouring to cope with the return of their estranged father who walked out on the family 20 years ago.
Thomas & Friends: A Very Thomas Christmas (2012)
Friendship and teamwork are at the top of the agenda onboard Thomas’s tank engine, of course, as snow hits the line and the perfect Christmas tree must be located. (Comprises four linked, holiday-themed episodes.)
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Last year’s highly praised British-American yuletide animated comedy reinvents Santa’s sleigh as a modern, mile-wide, super-high-tech military operation with Santa’s clumsy son Arthur at the helm. Featuring the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Michael Palin, Laura Linney and Eva Longoria.
The Heart of Christmas (2011)
The true story of a family determined for their terminally ill son to experience one more final Christmas, despite knowing that he probably won’t last until December 25.
Four Christmases (2008)
All Reece Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn want for Christmas is an exit strategy, to avoid any family contact at all cost. Problem is: all flights out of town (to anywhere) are cancelled. Yep, every single one of them.
Christmas is Here Again (2007)
A disabled orphan embarks on a quest to find Santa’s stolen toy sack. Without the sack, kids all over the world had apparently forgotten about Christmas altogether and the Christmas spirit had been somehow lost in the process. Jay Leno narrates this animated movie about compassion, hope and loyalty.
This Christmas (2007)
Families may physically, geographically reunite at Christmas but that doesn’t mean they always come together. This no-family-is-perfect tale stars Idris Elba, Chris Brown, Loretta Devine and Delroy Lindo.
Deck the Halls (2006)
Neighbours Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick go head-to-head over who’s got the biggest and best Christmas decorations.
The 12 Dogs of Christmas (2005)
It’s Hallmark-style singalong time for the whole family when a 12-year-old girl (Jordan-Claire Green) uses dogs to teach people about the true meaning of Christmas during the Great Depression.
The Polar Express (2004)
Tom Hanks plays six different characters in this beautiful, action-packed computer-animated cult favourite about a magical train that takes kids across the frozen Arctic Ocean to Polar City to meet Father Christmas.
Surviving Christmas (2004)
It’s Christmastime and Ben Affleck returns to his childhood home, where James Gandolfini now lives, and offers a big lump of cash to be allowed to stay a while and relive his childhood memories.
Susan Sarandon, Penélope Cruz, Paul Walker, Alan Arkin and Marcus Thomas play five strangers whose paths cross and become interlinked at various points throughout Christmas Eve.
Will Ferrell’s hyperactive elf who devours spaghetti with chocolate syrup is one of the most adorable comedy creations in recent memory. Zooey Deschanel leads the citizens of Manhattan in a Christmas singalong to help restore the Christmas spirit that’s required to power Santa’s sleigh.
Eight Crazy Nights (2002)
Adam Sandler’s animated alter ego is an alcoholic who’s sentenced to community service under the supervision of an elderly basketball referee in Sandler’s adult-content Hanukkah comedy.
Call Me Claus (2001)
After 200 years on the job, Santa seeks a replacement, finally deciding upon Whoopi Goldberg, a grouchy shopping-channel executive at the Shop-A-Lot TV station in Los Angeles. Needless to say, her Christmas spirit is not in pristine condition.
Jack Frost (1979)
An invisible elf who’s responsible with providing the world with winter weather seeks to become human after he falls in love with a human girl in this song-filled, timeless and beloved animated TV special.
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Arnold Schwarzenegger desperately tries to track down a Turbo-Man action figure for his son on Christmas Eve after every shop in town has sold out.
Mixed Nuts (1994)
Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson and Anthony LaPaglia star in Nora Ephron’s absurdist slapstick tale about a crisis hotline staffed by people more depressed and troubled than the callers.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Bill Murray gets stuck in a time loop and relives the same day again and again until he is forced to examine his life. Not technically a Christmas film, but a “holiday movie” nonetheless that always comes back to haunt us every Christmas. Explain that.
Home Alone (1990)
An abandoned Macaulay Culkin thinks that all of his Christmases have come at once. He is finally left alone in the house to scoff down junk food, watch gangster movies, jump on the beds and set booby-traps for burglars in this live-action cartoon caper costarring Joe Pesci and Catherine O’Hara.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Instead of being trapped in the house, Macaulay Culkin gets stranded alone in a Manhattan department store in this worthy sequel.
All I Want for Christmas (1991)
Two kids scheme to reunite their divorced parents for Christmas by enlisting the help of Santa Claus (Leslie Nielson) in New York City. Starring Lauren Bacall, Thora Birch and Andrea Martin.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Only Chevy Chase could get away with this many mishaps in one movie. This modern classic finds the Griswold clan up to their necks in chaos as the bumbling Chase attempts to provide “a good old-fashioned family Christmas” that only a SWAT team could extinguish – but not before a methane gas explosion blows all of Chase’s Christmas decorations sky high.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Never dare a friend to stick his tongue to a frozen flag pole. Living with the guilt might be too much. In fact, life itself is too much for nine-year-old Ralphie in this nostalgic 1940s-style classic. He’s always getting into trouble at home and being bullied at school. He really really wants a BB gun for Christmas but mom is dead against it. You’ll shoot your eye out, after all. So Ralphie tries to enlist the support of his schoolteacher and Santa Claus.
A Christmas Story 2 (2012)
There was a sequel? Yup. Ralphie is now 16 and all he wants for Christmas is the keys to a 1938 Hupmobile Skyline convertible.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Why can’t we ever get enough of this? This first ever primetime cartoon TV special remains a popular classic after nearly 50 years. Based upon the Charles Schulz comic strip Peanuts, and featuring an equally famous and beloved soundtrack by jazz composer Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas takes a clever stab at the over-commercialization of Christmas, was made on a shoestring budget and ended up landing an Emmy Award.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Nine-year-old Natalie Wood is totally convinced that the Santa Claus in Macy’s department store is the real McCoy, but the authorities disagree and take the old guy to court to have him institutionalized. Regularly cited as the best Christmas film ever.
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
A very respectable remake with Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle, and with Cole’s subbing for Macy’s.