The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)
Another of the Marvel Cinematic Universes Special Presentations, this time centering on the titular Guardians at Christmas. It’s soaked in the spirit of the season, demonstrates these characters at their best and has a heck of a soundtrack. This got several viewings.
Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
This Jim Carrey classic has been a yearly tradition since childhood. It’s bombastic, ridiculous and manages to make The Grinch a relatable character but that’s what makes it unique. It’s not for everyone but I quote it year round. Full review HERE.
Home Alone (1990)
What is there to say about the iconic John Hughes film that hasn’t been said already? It’s full of heart, Christmas vibes and another belter of a soundtrack from the legendary John Williams. It’s no surprise that it’s become as beloved as it has. Full review HERE.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
This sequel shares a lot of similarities to the original, which annoys a lot of viewers. It’s also clear that Macauly Culkin isn’t as uncorrupted by Hollywood as he once was. But the Christmas vibes and spectacular soundtrack are still present as well as a truly iconic Tim Curry performance. Full review HERE.
Prep & Landing (2009)
This Disney short film about a couple of elves, one of whom is tired of his job, is similair to Arthur Christmas but not so much that it’s just the same story. It’s cleverly designed and written, with a few solid voice performances.
Prep & Landing: Secret Santa (2010)
The elves return in this very short short-film, which isn’t so much a sequel as it is a palette cleanser between releases. Again, it’s very clever with it’s visuals but it’s the Mission Impossible style task and object that they’re retrieving that makes this so good.
Prep & Landing: Naughty Vs Nice (2011)
This sequel is a lovely little follow up. It features a genuine threat with some darker visuals but the villain isn’t truly a villain. Slightly more obnoxious with the introduction of it’s new elf but a sibling rivalry is diifcult to mess up.
The Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker Live (2022)
Ballet is absolutely magical. Throw Christmas on top of that and it’s no shock that this particular story has been around for a century. I’ve only ever seen film/tv adaptations and, having seen the original, they all pale in comparrison however it is not the easiest story to adapt to another medium. May have to make this a yearly tradition too.
Violent Night (2022)
Not the last time you’ll see this on a list this year because this is an instant Christmas classic. Truly a spiritual successor to Die Hard, with a more comedic edge and some no-holds-barred violence. Also has a really interesting and unique take on the Santa mythos.
Office Christmas Party (2016)
Best watched with a friend and some alcohol, this is one of those ridiculous, raunchy comedies aimed at teens. It has the added benefit of featuring Jason Bateman and Kate Mackinnon, who are always giving 100% to their performances. Not great, but damn good fun.
Die Hard (1988)
This top tier Christmas classic has been a yearly staple since I ws considered old enough to watch it. Sure, it has great acting, brilliant action and some great music but it’s an annual reminder of just how brilliant the late Alan Rickman was. Hans Gruber only has perfect lines, that are quotable year round. Full review HERE.
Die Hard 2 (1990)
Just as good as the original. With a different location and different threat, it does what sequels should do by upping the stakes. John Maclane is even more out of his element here and the third act twist is brilliant. Full review HERE.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
This is Disney as it should be. There’s no capitalism on focus on IP, there’s just a story designed to entertain and some heartfelt vocal performances. It perfectly condences the age old story into around 20 minutes and has the warmest vibes of any adaptation. Utterly lovely. Full review HERE.
Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (2002)
Skipped out on the third installment this year and found myself missing it because this film is not good. Feels exactly how an early 2000’s ABC Studios direct-to-tv film in the worst way. Full review HERE.
This Disney film stars Anna Kendrick as the unappreciated daughter of Santa and Bill Hader as the reluctant heir to the Santa throne. It has as much charisma as those two performers ever have and it’s wonderful. Heartwarming and smile-worthy. These two actors are just so great.
The Simpsons in Feliz Navidad (2022)
3 minutes long and not worth a single second. Disney was willing to pay for The Bocellis to sing in what is a glorified advertisement for their incresingly capitalistic empire. Throw in a joke about how it’s “for Disney+ so nobody’s getting paid” from the company who is as guilty of crunch time in animation as anyone else? Appaling.
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
A new Christmas tradition going forward and one that others have been enjoying annualy for quite a while. Featuring all the Henson TV characters and all the humour they bring with them, it’s a shining example of why they are so loved. Numerous festive songs and plenty of laughs, it warms the heart.
The Polar Express (2004)
Another yearly watch, although it isn’t for everyone. I’ve never been bothered by the animation that some have called “scarring” and the musical numbers, while infrequent, are delightful. Tom Hanks singing about Hot Chocolate is the kind of absurdity that should be in a film based on a picture book. The design of the North Pole is pretty good too.
A Garfield Christmas Special (1987)
Yet another new tradition going forward that others have been enjoying for years. It may be simple but it is so pure of heart and quintiseentially Garfield that it’s impossible not to smile at. The voice cast are all perfect but, of course, special props go to Pat Carroll who recently left us. What an absolute star.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The earliest of my traditions, this one has been a staple of my Christmas for as long as I can remember. The VHS Tape got plenty of love and the DVD copy has gotten just as much, as will the 4K copy when that is eventually bought. Although there’s something about the grainy quality of the footage that hits the nostalgia just right. Full review HERE.
The Santa Clause (1994)
The only part of the franchise that I found some time for this year, despite the recent release of the TV series. It’s exactly entertaining enough to have warrented two sequels, with particularly solid performances by Tim Allen and David Krumholtz.
A Pinky and the Brain Christmas (1992)
Of all the things on this list that will elicit tears, this may be the most surprising. It’s your typical Pinky and the Brain fare, with a Christmas twist, but it’s the ending that really drives it home. Never has a character so sweetly broken into the heart of someone so harsh. Beautiful.
Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
The original adaptation and the best. Masterfully illustrated by Chuck Jones and his team with a marvellous narration from Boris Karloff and an iconic song sung by the voice of Tony the Tiger. It is relentlessly charming and has itslef influenced the adaptations that followed. Marvellous. Full review HERE.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
A recent addition to the yearly Christmas watchlist that truly deserves to be a staple of everyone’s Christmas. It’s more of an American institution, continuing to be shown on TV every year, but it’s simplicity is its brilliance. Good shoutout to the original meaning of Christmas too.
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
What if Shaun of the Dead was set on Christmas day with teenagers and was a musical? You’d end up with this underappreciated festive treat. Aside from making the most of the medium in terms of choreography, it stars an all-British cast with some excellent songs and a top tier lesbian.