The 10 Greatest Christmas Films Ever Made

Contains no Macaulay Culkin. Promise

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Part of both the joy and ordeal of Christmas is that it forces you to live through a cultural time warp, experiencing the same songs, TV shows and films every year thanks to a combination of tradition and lazy scheduling.

The ordeals are well known and often moaned about – Cliff Richard's logs on the fire, the Vicar of Dibley's multiple turkey dinners – whereas the joys are usually consumed in smug silence, with a belly full of everything and a tight grip on the remote control.

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Here, we celebrate the latter – specifically, the Christmas films that you'll flick past at some point and feel the unmistakable glow of Christmas cheer.


01 | Le Martien De Noel (1971)

French-Canadian classic which, until the advent of the internet, topped lists of childhood stuff you suspected you might have actually imagined.

02 | Trading Places (1983)

A bemused Dan Aykroyd stumbling around New York in a flea-bitten Santa suit, Eddie Murphy when he was still funny and, of course, the utterly gratuitous Jamie Lee Curtis shirt-changing scene – the gift that keeps on giving.

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3 | The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

The Jim Henson Company's finest hour and surely the best ever film adaptation of the Dickens classic. That's right, better even than Scrooged.

4 | Gremlins (1984)

The most disturbing scene amongst all the gruesome monster mayhem is when Phoebe Cates' Kate explains why she hates the holidays: because when she was a little girl, her dad disappeared on Christmas Eve, only for his red-suited body to be discovered weeks later stuck in the chimney.

05 | Die Hard (1988)

No amount of heavily armed terrorists can stop Bruce Willis from making it home for Christmas.

6 | It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

The definitive festive film – but it's easy to forget how dark it gets before the tear-jerking ending.

7 | Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

Strictly speaking, Steve Martin and the late, great John Candy's characters are trying to get home for Thanksgiving, but this still qualifies as a Christmas movie. The twist at the end is as moving as the "They're not pillows!" scene is hilarious.

8 | Miracle On 34th Street (1994)

Remade innumerable times, but this version, with Dicky Attenborough as the Macy's Santa who just might be real, is as good as any.

9 | Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Spooky, funny, stop-motion brilliance.

10 | National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

Not the best of the Griswold family film franchise, but, the mere sight of Chevy Chase in a Santa hat is enough to start the laughter.