Warning: this post may contain spoilers
I have to be honest, over the last few years I haven't been into the whole 'it's the most wonderful time of the year' thing. I'd have been much happier if Christmas would skip right past me and leave me alone completely. Last year things changed, I changed. I stopped being such a Grinch and got into the whole Christmas spirit and I was much happier for it, I would even go as far as to say that I enjoyed it. In an effort to try and enjoy the season a bit more there are a number of movies that I watch every year in the run-up to the big day, and this year will be no different.
Santa Claus The Movie - 1985 (trailer link)
This is my favourite festive film, ever, and has been almost my entire life. Santa becomes overwhelmed by his workload and things start falling apart, leaving his longest serving elf, Patch, disgruntled. Patch leaves the North Pole and starts work in a huge toy making company in New York, and without knowing it puts Christmas is jeopardy. Dudley Moore as Patch and John Lithgow as the greedy toy company boss make for a funny film, that's also really touching. I can't imagine a Christmas without this film, it just wouldn't feel right. If I had to recommend 1 film off this list for the entire family, it would be this one.
I've watched this film every year since I was a child, and if anything I love it more now than I did then. With Bill Murray in the lead role, you know it's going to be funny, but it also tugs at those heart strings. Set in an ad company, it gives a slightly different perspective on the whole Scrooge story, and even though it was made in 1988, I think it still holds up pretty well today. My favourite character in the film is The Ghost of Christmas Present, she's absolutely hilarious. She's violent and rude, but is also very caring. If you've never seen this I highly recommend putting it on your 'to watch' list this year. This film is suitable for teens and adults, not one I'd recommend for younger viewers.
Home Alone - 1990 (trailer link)
I'd be very, very shocked if there's anyone reading this who hasn't seen this film, it's a classic, and with good reason. The first Home Alone of 4 (only the first 2 starred Macaulay Culkin), in my opinion, is the best. There are so many iconic moments in this that even if you haven't ever seen it, you'll still know most of it. I fell in love with the Christmas carol 'Carol Of The Bells' because of Home Alone, I find it so hauntingly beautiful, but for some reason it gives me the creeps too. This film is suitable for the majority of the family, but it might frighten very young children.
The Muppet Christmas Carol - 1992 (trailer link)
Considering I was 13 when this film was first released, it's surprising that I love it, I suppose I shouldn't ever have seen it really. Besides Scrooged, I think this is my favourite take on A Christmas Carol. Obviously being The Muppets it's going to be funny, and even though it's aimed at children I think it has a good message and is really well done. This would be a great film to watch with your little ones.
The Nightmare Before Christmas - 1993 (trailer link)
This has been one of my favourite films for almost 20 years now, and I've lost count of the number of times I've seen it. I've owned this on every format it's been released on; VCR, DVD, Blu Ray and Ultraviolet, and have worn out at least 2 of those. Being only 1 hour and 16 minutes long, it's perfect for putting on when I can't quite decide what to watch because it often triggers cravings for other Christmas films. I know almost every word to this and will happily be singing along again this year. This film is suitable for adults and children, but I'd use caution with younger children because some of the characters could be quite scary.
The Santa Clause - 1994 (trailer link)
I completely missed this when it was released, probably because I was 'too old' for these types of films at 15 years old, but I was happy to watch it a few years back. The film is based around a single Dad who accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit on Christmas Eve, what happens over the next few months is really comical. As with all Christmas films, it has its touching moments too, but this is just good clean family fun.
Miracle on 34th Street - 1994 (trailer link)
To my recollection, this is the first film that made me cry in a good way. It's about a little girl who has been brought up not to believe in Santa, but when her mother hires a man to play him for her store, things start to change. This film has everything you could ever want in a festive film; it's cute, amusing in places, touching and just an all around good time. Some scenes may be unsuitable for very small children, but I don't think they're the target audience anyway.
The Grinch - 2000 (trailer link)
This is one of the films that took me a while to get around to watching, but now that I have and I've seen how fun it is, I look forward to watching it every year, in fact this was the first Christmas film I watched this year. It's really silly, as you'd expect with a Jim Carrey film, but sometimes we all need a little silly in our lives. This may be aimed more at younger children, but it's something I think the majority of the family would enjoy.
Elf - 2003 (trailer link)
One of the funniest Christmas films of all time, in my opinion. I think this was an instant classic and it's one that I'll be pulling out year after year. Will Ferrell really shines in the role as Buddy the elf, and not only does this film make me laugh, but it makes me cry pretty much every time I watch it. I'm such a sucker for cheesy endings, and the whole 'he saves Christmas by believing' is festive cheese at its best. Elf is suitable for most of the family, but it does contain the odd (very mild) swear word.
Fred Claus - 2007 (link to trailer)
The newest film on my list, Fred Claus is the film I've watched the least on this list, but it's one of the first that I watched this year. This film is all about Santa's brother, Fred, a boy who grew up to resent his brother for being so perfect and his parents for favouring Nicholas. It's modern, funny and tugs at the heart strings. There is the occasional bad word (very mild) but other than that I think this is a slap-stick comedy that could be enjoyed by the whole family.
I'm currently very happily working my way through this list, as I do every year, but if you have any other suggestions for me I'd love to hear them. What Christmas films do you love watching every year?