By Rebekah Froggatt
It’s that time of the year again: the mince pies are out, the naughty elves are getting ready to spread some Christmas cheer, and the classic argument of when to put the Christmas tree up is upon us, which by the way, is definitely not November. I often feel as if there is this pressure to jump on into this Christmas season and deck the halls but sometimes you just want to ease into it. In fact, there is one thing you can do to gradually get into the Christmas spirit: watch Christmas films! I have put together a watchlist of films that you can watch during this festive period, Christmas films and non-Christmas, horrors and comedies, and even the classics; this watchlist has it all. So, let’s take a look at Your 2023 Christmas Watchlist.
- A Disney Christmas Carol (2009)
This one is a classic in my opinion, from the magical soundtrack to the amazing work of Jim Carrey, you won’t want to miss this one. Follow Scrooge’s journey of redemption as he is whisked to the past, present and future of his life, so he can repent his sins.
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Not a massive favourite of many, but I absolutely love it. This film is all about being thankful for all you have, and as we follow George Bailey throughout his life, he is forced to see how others would have been affected if he was never born.
- Jingle All the Way (1996)
“I’ll be back…” sorry, wrong film, but the right actor! Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this funny and lively Christmas madness, where he promises to buy his son a Turbo Man action figure, the most popular toy at the time, but every store is sold out.
- The Polar Express (2004)
The magic of The Polar Express is something that is so unique, I remember experiencing it as a 4-year-old, and it’s something I will never forget. The Polar Express is a magical train that takes children, who are pondering their beliefs in Santa, to the North Pole to meet him. The aim of the trip is to bring back the children’s Christmas spirit, but the train ride doesn’t go as smoothly as they’d like.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005)
Just admit it, you went to the back of your wardrobe to check if you could get into Narnia, didn’t you? I believe everyone did. Now this is not actually classed as a Christmas film, but it’s snowy and Santa does actually make an appearance, so I think it qualifies. This film follows the Pevensie children as they make their way into the countryside to escape the war that’s happening in London. In doing so, the house they take refuge in holds a magical wardrobe that takes them into the world of Narnia.
- Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Tim Burton never fails; his films are truly exceptional and Edward Scissorhands is an example of this. This American gothic fantasy tells the story of a scientist that builds an artificial human, called Edward, who has scissors for hands. A compassionate saleswoman comes across Edward and takes him under her wing. However, his hands and extroverted ways make him an outcast to everyone around him.
- Jack Frost (1998)
I feel as if this movie is often forgotten about, but it’s one you must watch. A young boy called Charlie, unfortunately loses his dad in a car accident. A year later, the father comes back as a snowman and has the chance to set things right with his son before he disappears forever. It sounds really sad, but it’s actually a comedy and has a very cute dog in it, yay!
- Gremlins (1984)
I know what you’re thinking, what on earth is the Gremlins movie doing on this list? It’s for my horror lovers out there, and it’s set during Christmas. A young boy called Billy gets a Christmas gift from his father, a ‘mogwai’, and the animal is just the cutest thing you ever did see. However, there are strict instructions in regard to looking after the animal; Never expose him to bright light; never expose him to water; never feed him after midnight. Unfortunately, all these things do happen and therefore the Gremlins are created.
- The Holiday (2006)
Calling all romance lovers, this one’s for you! Starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, this story is about two women with guy-problems who switch houses in each other’s country to escape their troubled lives. However, they both end up meeting someone while on their holidays and fall in love.
- Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas! (2011)
I was a Disney Channel child growing up, and I absolutely loved it when my favorite TV shows would create Christmas movies. Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas! Follows the Duncan family on their trip to California, where they will be spending Christmas with Amy Duncan’s parents. However, Amy and her daughter Teddy get separated during the trip and they both find a way to California in time for Christmas Day.
- Elf (2003)
Did you really think I wouldn’t put this on here? This comedy follows Buddy the elf, who’s not actually an elf, who goes to New York to try to find and connect with his biological dad. It’s funny, there’s some romance, there’s Santa (I know him!) and it has a brilliant recipe for chocolate and syrup spaghetti… just watch it, you’ll understand.
- Home Alone (1990)
What’s the definition of a Christmas film? It’s Home Alone ya filthy animal! Without a doubt this inimitable film is one you should watch every year because it never gets old. When a young boy is accidentally left at home by his family as they make their way to Paris, the boy has to learn to look after himself. However, there are thieves that are planning to break into his home and the boy must come up with a plan to defend it. (If you haven’t watched the film, I didn’t insult you in that first sentence, you just don’t get it).
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Hmmm…Ahhh…Oooo…Nope not going! Jim Carrey must like doing Christmas films, because this is another one that’s on this list that stars him. Carrey acts as the grumpy Grinch that hates everyone and everything to do with Christmas, but that begins to change when he meets sweet Cindy-Lou Who, a Christmas lover that helps change him.
- Arthur Christmas (2011)
Ever wondered how the elves do it all in one night? Arthur Christmas will tell you how it’s done. James McAvoy voices the character Arthur, who is Santa’s son, and due to a technical fault, one little girl might not get her Christmas present. Arthur makes it his mission to deliver the gift to the girl before it is too late.
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1998)
Why am I the only one that knows about this film? It’s a great one to watch with the family. I’ll Be Home For Christmas follows a young boy, Jake, who is promised by his parents that if he comes home, New York, for Christmas dinner he will get a shiny new Porsche. However, his football team dumps him in the middle of the desert, and Jake must find a way home for Christmas or he won’t get his car.
- The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992)
It’s a Christmas Carol but with the Muppets. So, there’s singing, dancing, and comedy. A perfect watch for the family, starring Michael Cane as Scrooge, this one will hit you in all the Christmas feels.
- Krampus (2015)
Just one more for my horror lovers out there, this comedy horror is a perfect one for you. The demon Krampus visits the neighborhood after Max, a boy who is fed up with his family’s arguing, summons him by accident, and the family must fight against the demon before it kills them all. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Enjoy!
- The Gruffalo (2009)
They show this every year, and I definitely agree, although it’s not a Christmas film, you should still watch it as Christmas; it will bring out that inner child of yours. The Gruffalo is about a mouse that takes a stroll through the deep dark wood, encountering scary animals that want to eat him along the way. The mouse tells these animals about a Gruffalo, a made-up creature, in hope it will scare them away. It seems to work, until the mouse actually runs into a Gruffalo.
- The Snowman (1982)
Just like The Gruffalo, The Snowman is another one that will awaken your inner child. This beautiful film follows a young boy called James who builds a snowman. This snowman then comes to life and the two set off on an adventure to the North Pole to meet Santa. The music is magical, the visuals are nothing like anything else – it’s a must-watch from me.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Is it a Halloween film or a Christmas film? Highly debated this one, but I think it’s both and therefore it belongs on this list. Another great story from Tim Burton, we are transported into Halloween Town, the home of Jack Skeleton, the pumpkin king. We see Jack begin to get bored of Halloween and want to try something new. He comes across Christmas Town and tries to make his own version of it, but Halloween and Christmas shouldn’t really mix like that, and things don’t go to plan.
Well there you have it, Your 2023 Christmas Watchlist! I hope you enjoy making your way through my list, and hopefully find some films that you had never watched before. If you want to know how to get in the Christmas spirit via music, check out Eloise Churchmans article Your Essential Christmas Playlist. Merry Christmas! (P.S sorry if Gremlins gives you nightmares).