The Ultimate Christmas Movie Checklist

Bryony Glover, Daniel Leigh, Yema Stowell, Chris Thomas 26 November 2013

The Classic – The Railway Children
Bryony Glover

Nothing captures the Christmas spirit more than the petticoat-waving, train-obsessed Railway Children. Even for those without a passion for ferroequinology, this film is essential Christmas viewing, if only for the festive scene in which the father, dressed as Father Christmas, hands out presents to his delighted children. Undeniably, the Christmas sparkle is temporarily suspended when he is accused of selling state secrets and hastily whisked away. But ultimately, The Railway Children has the perfect Christmas message: transported from their luxurious lifestyle and made to live in relative poverty, the children learn that money isn’t everything, that they can still spread joy and even save dozens of lives. We are shown the importance of family. The message may be somewhat undermined when we watch the film surrounded by our loved ones yet completely absorbed by our phones. But it is still there – and that’s the most important thing.

The Comedy – Life of Brian
Daniel Leigh

Every year I like to indulge in the blasphemous with Monty Python’s Life of Brian, the story of a man unlucky enough to be born on the original Christmas day. It doesn’t tend to be viewed as a holiday favourite for the main reason that it satirises the very foundation of not only the festival but indeed all religion. If you’re in search of an alternative Christmas experience, however, you can’t really get more alternative than this. And yet it contains many elements that people conventionally search for in a Christmas film: miracles, laughs and a happy resolution. The Christmas message of hope and redemption is surely more powerful when it comes from the top of a cross: the final defiance of death is perhaps the greatest feel-good ending in all of cinema.

The Family Favourite – Elf
Yema Stowell

It doesn’t matter how old you might be; there is something about Elf which makes it timeless. The naïve optimism of Buddy, portrayed by Will Ferrell, is heart-warming as well as hilarious. The overarching fear of the paucity of Christmas spirit in modern society, as well as Buddy’s rejection from his dad, creates a storyline full of emotion. Buddy is the most endearing eccentric character, and his enthusiasm for Christmas really emphasises what the next few weeks are all about.

The Action Film – Die Hard
Chris Thomas

Christmas films are jam-packed full of magic, kindness and goodwill to whatever child/elf/annoying primary coloured animal happens to be on screen. There is no better feeling, therefore, than settling down to watch John McClane blast his way through fifty floors of Euro-terrorists led by Professor Snape. Unless, perhaps, you were about to watch Willis takes his trusty Beretta to Buddy the Elf and his ilk. Die Hard is clearly a Christmas film. It’s set on Christmas Eve, has a soundtrack full of jolly carols, and embodies the holiday spirit of giving by having McClane gifting out fatal injuries to every terrorist in the building. What more could you want? Yippie ki-yay Christmas lovers.

The Rom-Com – Love Actually

Nathalie Redfern

Let's face it. It just wouldn't be Christmas without at least one (if not, more) viewings of Love Actually. In just one film, it has everything you could ever want for Christmas and more (although the most ridiculously cheesy line – "All I want for Christmas… is you!" – is guarenteed to make the whole room groan). Starring an inordinate amount of turtleneck jumpers, a stellar cast, Hugh Grant as the bloomin' Prime Minister, and a nativity play feat lobsters, an octopus, and a shark, Love Actually is the most heartwarming and humorous of Christmas films. With a rewatch of what really is a Christmas classic this December, it will become clear that love (or at least Christmas) actually is all around.