Sunday 10 December 2017


The Christmas season is in full swing and as such there are many festive delights showing on a screen near you now. But what makes a Christmas movie? Is there a winning formula? What is the greatest Christmas movie of all time?

I love Christmas movies, well I love good Christmas movies. Morticia will watch any Christmas movie (which usually means I have to watch a lot too). So what is a Christmas movie? It it a movie which is set at Christmas time? If it is then films like 'Die Hard' and 'Lethal Weapon' can be added to the list. Is it the way it makes you feel? Can only Christmassy feel good movies make the list? If so then does 'Love Actually' count as a Christmas movie (I think it does)? There are no right or wrong answers, it's a matter of your own traditions and opinions.

So is there a formula? If you watch the Christmas24 channel (or Channel 5 most afternoons in November and December) then you might think so. Their output is mainly Canadian made (I think for Hallmark) gushy Christmas fayre that I think follows a number of distinct formulae. For instance it's either someone who's lost the Christmas feeling due to some tragedy or the like that meets someone and they fall in love and Christmas ensues or some sort of relative of Santa has to go to America/Canada and find a husband/wife. Usually they find a single parent and they live happily ever after. They sometimes do a slightly different take on classics, for example there are a number of Scrooge-esque tales. The good movies are a little more original thankfully.

So what is the greatest Christmas movie ever made? Everyone's list is personal and I'm not going to preach on what's the greatest. I will share my top 5 though, in reverse order of course...
5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
I've loved this since I was a child and it fits in with my love of classic cinema. Many I talk too prefer the 1994 remake starring Lord Richard Attenborough, and although it is a fine movie it's not quite as good as the original. 
4. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Nothing like someone's life turning to shit to make you feel good. It's just brilliant slapstick comedy at it's best. 
3. Love Actually
A well crafted multi-storied masterpiece from the pen of Richard Curtis. 
2. Bernard and the Genie
So what's this? So many people have never even heard of this one. It is a 'made for TV' movie that was originally shown back in 1991 and promptly vanished. It's never on TV and impossible to buy a genuine copy. I have a good copy on my PC but I'd gladly pay for a remastered version on DVD. 
Another feel-good masterpiece from Richard Curtis. 
1. It's a Wonderful Life
Yeah, a cliche I know. It doesn't stop this being the greatest Christmas movie ever made. I'm a massive fan of classic cinema and this is a magical feast that never fails to satisfy.
On a bit of a footnote, I never got the fuss about 'Elf', it doesn't even make my top 10. Sorry if that is controversial (it is when I mention it in conversation).

I'll follow up with my all time TV favourites as soon as the festive edition of the Radio Times comes out.

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