Our Pick of the Best Christmas Films to Watch This Year
The Living North Team pick the best Christmas films to get you in the festive spirit
Faye Dixon, Arts & What’s On Editor
We challenge you to hold back the tears when Emma Thompson opens that Joni Mitchell CD. Don’t act like you’ve never tried to copy Hugh Grant’s dance to The Pointer Sisters’ Jump (For My Love). With an all-star cast (which is pretty much unbeatable) including Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Alan Rickman and Rowan Atkinson, there’s no wonder why ITV are bringing Christmas Day to an end with this iconic rom-com from 2003. It follows the lives of eight couples in London, who are all somehow linked, and all trying to deal with their relationships in different ways. If you really love Christmas… you’ll love Love Actually.
The Santa Clause
Charlotte Cooper, Food & Drink Editor
Tim Allen gets himself in a bit of a Christmas crisis in this 90s favourite. He accidentally causes Santa Claus (who – fun fact – is played by his actual stunt double Steve Lucescu) to fall from his roof on Christmas Eve. Now Scott (Tim) has to become the new Santa but how is he going to keep his secret safe? It’s so good there’s two sequels and, almost two decades since the release of the third film, Disney has brought The Santa Clause back as a limited series for Disney+ where Tim will reprise his role as Santa.
Ellie Patterson, Designer
The only festive rom-com on par with Love Actually is The Holiday. Cameron Diaz, a very handsome-looking Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Jack Black lead the cast of this 2006 film. Iris and Amanda, two women from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, decide to swap houses (and essentially lives) over the festive period in the hopes of escaping their heartbreak. But they never expected the romances and friendships that are about to form.
Emily Rickerby, Property Editor
Fred (Vince Vaughn), Santa’s older brother, is in jail. But Santa agrees to bail him out if he comes to the North Pole and makes toys for Christmas. Chaos unfolds and Christmas is almost destroyed until he proves he isn't the loser that Santa, and many others, have always believed him to be. Starring rapper Ludacris as an elf and Sylvester Stallone’s brother Frank, it always promises to make you laugh out loud.
Janet Blair, Editor
We were about to call this a modern favourite until we realised it came out in 2009! Where has the time gone? Martin Freeman plays a primary school teacher who is asked to produce the year's nativity play. But when a white lie that a Hollywood producer will be turning the play into a movie grows bigger and bigger, things get out of control. It’s a heart-warming British favourite with catchy tunes, and its sequel (starring David Tennant) is just as good. We’ll ignore the third one (sorry Martin Clunes).
The Polar Express
Jess Moore, Advertising Executive
This movie, which is a bit like marmite, is based on the 1985 children's book of the same name. On Christmas Eve, a boy boards a mysterious train to the North Pole and embarks on a journey to see Santa. Along the way he encounters special people that make his journey memorable. Sadly the inspired train ride at Wensleydale Railway is sold out for this year – but there’s always next Christmas.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Hannah Colley, Digital Manager
Always a fantastic choice (just ignore that 2018 remake – nothing beats Jim Carrey’s performance), How the Grinch Stole Christmas will at least make your heart grow if it doesn’t have you speaking in rhyme. A trip to Whoville is a must at Christmas. The Grinch plans to ruin Christmas for all of the citizens of the town, but Cindy Lou Who will put a stop to that.
Lauren Waugh, Business Development Manager
Living North’s very own Grinch has picked an arguably not-Christmassy film. It’s often shown at Christmas and it features a snowman so that counts, right? We’re not going to argue it, just Let It Go. Anna sets out on a journey with iceman Kristoff, and his reindeer, Sven, to find her sister Elsa – but they need to be careful, she’s got the power to turn anything to ice. Olaf, an inanimate snowman created by Elsa and Anna in their childhood, comes to life to help them along the way.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Lana Kelly, Fairs & Events
In this classic black and white film from the 40s, an angel is sent from heaven to help a frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed. It’s based on the short story The Greatest Gift, which is in turn loosely based on the 1843 Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol.
Abbie Lye, Advertising Executive
An eight year old Macaulay Culkin is left home alone at Christmas when his family head off to France, not realising he isn't on the plane with them. He’s quite happy with that, until he has to protect his house from a pair of burglars. Luckily, he’s pretty smart-witted and they’re no match for him. The sequel is even better (yes, they really did it again), but ignore anything after Home Alone 2, the films go downhill from there.
Sarah Connolly, Fairs & Events
Buddy, a human, is raised amongst elves at the North Pole, but when he discovers that he is in fact not an elf, he travels to New York to search for his real dad. Don’t act like you don’t go through Christmas shouting ‘Santa, I know him!’ and calling people a ‘cotton-headed ninny muggins’. That’s all thanks to Will Ferrell. He’s starring in a new Christmas film in cinemas now (Spirited), but we doubt it’s any match for this one.
Daisy Moss, Advertising Executive
Billy's dad gets him a pet with three very specific instructions, but when he doesn’t follow them, it unleashes monsters. It might not sound very Christmassy, but Gremlins has everything you want in a Christmas film – snow, carolers, decorations, and toys galore (although you may have been watching this pick since Halloween).
Christmas with the Kranks
Steve Wardle, Graphic Designer
You can’t go wrong with a film starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, and this one is hilarious. The Kranks decide to skip Christmas. Their Christmas-obsessed neighbours, who are determined to win the annual best decorated street competition, don’t like that and when their daughter decides to come home, they’ve got to quickly turn things around.
Miracle on 34th Street
Kate Foley, Assistant Editor
In this Christmas classic, Kris Kringle fills in for Santa and proves such a hit that it becomes a regular thing. When he surprises everyone by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to find out the truth. There’s both the 1947 version and the 1994 version (starring Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire star Mara Wilson) to choose from – we love both.
Pat Graham, Office Manager & Janis McConville, Accounts
After helping sisters escape from their landlord, singers Bob Wallace and Phil Davis ask them to perform in a joint Christmas show to put a failing inn back in business. Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, this 1954 musical is a true classic.