There are also debates to be had over what makes a great Christmas movie – a subject we cover in more detail in another blog – and discussions over whether you want to watch a classic or modern film, animated or live action, funny or dramatic, kid friendly or Die Hard (it’s usually Die Hard).
To help your decision making we opened up the big question to the Bowers & Wilkins team: what’s your favourite Holiday movie. The results are below, is your favourite there?
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
While It’s A Wonderful Life is now considered an absolute classic, and a must-watch Christmas movie in many households, on release it was something of a flop, and is still seen as the last great work of director Frank Capra. Based loosely on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, it tells the story of George Baily, a good man disillusioned with a life that he’s spent helping others rather than thinking about himself. The message, happiness is where you find it, is one that still rings true.
Dinner For One (1963)
This is a rather unusual choice, at least in the English-speaking world. If, however you are German, then this 18-minute-long two-hander will be incredibly familiar to you. It’s been shown on New Year’s Eve every year since 1972, and in English! It’s the ultimate example of a film that has become a Holiday staple simply through tradition – as it doesn’t feature Christmas at all but is a slapstick tale of a butler doing his best to make his aged mistress happy on her 90th birthday.
The Snowman (1982)
We all love an animated Holiday film, and there’s something very special about how Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman has been brought to life on screen. Completely wordless apart from the central song, Walking In The Air, The Snowman captures the magic of being a child at Christmas perfectly. It’s quite a short film, so you should consider adding the equally excellent Father Christmas for a very special double bill.
Like Die Hard, Gremlins is a movie that there is some doubt about whether it is a real Christmas movie. We’re not quite sure what that means, but we are certain it’s an almost perfect Christmas film – snow, carolling, festive music, a father buying his son a gift that goes wrong, what more could you want! Gremlins is yet another example of how 1980s Hollywood really understood Christmas.
Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard become a Christmas classic almost by accident; a summer release and a less than cuddly narrative rather battled against its festive backdrop. It’s a movie set at Christmas, not a Christmas movie is how the argument goes. However, legions of fans over the past 30 plus years have MADE Die Hard a Christmas movie simply through sheer will and viewing figures. Whatever it was meant to be, John McClane’s antics in Nakatomi Plaza are firmly on our Holiday viewing list.
Home Alone (1990)
When we asked the team at Bowers & Wilkins for their favourite Christmas film Home Alone easily came out as the most popular. Maybe that’s an age thing, as it definitely brought up a lot of childhood memories, but to be fair it has the lot – snow, childhood, carols, tension and comic relief, guilt and redemption. We won’t go into the story, because you almost certainly know it, and if you don’t, well what are you waiting for! It’s the ideal family fun.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton’s fantastic story of how the king of Halloween tries to take over Christmas is one of the darker Holiday movies on this list. But once the younger kids are in bed, this stop-motion animated masterpiece is definitely high on our must-watch festive list! It also has a score by Tim Burton, which is always a big plus to our mind.
Love Actually (2003)
Screenwriter Richard Curtis was on an incredible run of hits when he both wrote and directed this incredibly successful movie. An ensemble cast that features the great and the good of the turn-of-the-millennium British acting take on no fewer than nine intertwining stories all with love at their heart – all to the backdrop of London at a particularly wonderful looking Christmas.
Will Ferrell playing a human raised by Santa’s Elves who finds himself in New York City at Christmas time. That’s an elevator pitch for the ages, and one that resulted in a modern Christmas classic. It’s chock full of all the great gags and irreverent humour you’d expect from a Jon Favreau movie, with one of Ferrell’s best performances. Chaotic fun from start to finish.
The Polar Express (2004)
This computer animated tear-jerker definitely comes in at the shmaltzy end of the Holiday viewing scale – how could it not when you have a cartoon Tom Hanks directed by Robert Zemeckis. It aims for that sweet point where children start to doubt the existence of Father Christmas but still want to believe and are happy to be taken on a journey – literally in the case of the young hero of this story.