Okay, this list is always going to be controversial. One man's 'Love Actually' is another mans 'Jack Frost'. There are as many Festive films out there as there are dodgy 'Christmas classics' blaring on the radio from November 1st. Some, however, stand the test of time. Inspire the season's spirit in young and old alike. Demand duvets and hot chocolates and closed curtains and open fires. These are the perfect way to switch off from the frantic study and forget about the woes of daily life. These films ARE Christmas! If there are any you haven't seen, we lay down the challenge now. Watch them this Christmas.
Check out your local cinema's for screening or try netflix, apple TV or your own streaming services to find them on the cheap. The IFI and Lighthouse cinema in Dublin are showing many throughout the festive period.
1. Home Alone
Who doesn't know and love this film? The tale of a boy in an enormous, hectic family who are heading to Paris for Christmas but with all the hustle and bustle of packing....they forget to pack their kid! Yet, We can forgive the terrible parenting and suspend belief in the lack of police assistance..for THIS is a David and Goliath story. Cute Blonde Boy Vs Clumsy Crass Criminals in a fight to the marble-induced back pain. Tricks, traps and ingenuity save the day. Starring a once cute Macaulay Culkin alongside a non-cursing Joe Pesci (how times have changed).... this is a True Classic. Keep the change you filthy animal!
A more modern classic with Will Ferrell at the helm, somehow managing to channel the very essence of innocence in Buddy the 'Elf' and drawing you in to the santa-loving spirit too. With an almost unrecognisable Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) singing songs loud for all to hear at every little opportunity, this is a film that mocks itself just enough so you can watch it wishing and hoping for the perfect ending every time. And it's always satisfying! You can not watch this film without smiling at the telly. And if you can, then you too need a trip to the candy cane forest for some festive cheer. SANTA!!! I KNOW HIM!!
3. Die Hard
Yup! YIPPEE KI YAY FILM LOVERS!! If warm and fuzzy isn't your thing then take a study break for one of the greatest action characters of all time. John McClane is not gonna add marshmallow's to your hot chocolate, but is he going to destroy the terrorist plot that is ruining your office Christmas office party. Barefeet, broken glass, crazy Germans with ponytails and machine guns. Nothing is going to stop this man from taking Hans down not even how manky his vest gets. He needs to save his wife. Her name is Holly. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?
4. It's A Wonderful Life
It's a wonderful life is the story of an Angel-in-training named Clarence sent down from Heaven to help show George Baliey that life is worth living. George hit's desperation and wishing he has never been born, but through Clarences eyes her sees that he has all the ingredients for happiness within his grasp. He also realises that his very existence has touched the lives of others. Frank Capra's classic black-and-white will be 60 years old next year but stands the test of time with it's warm wit and special energy that will make it part of your annual traditions.
5. Trading Places
This is up there as one of Eddie Murphy's greats and has a brilliant twist on a classic rags to riches tale. When the fusty heads of a Stock Exchange company decide to make life interesting by proving that 'Money maketh the man'. Billy Ray Valentine is plucked from his street-con-artist perch and swapped for a snobby silver-spooned stock broker to yield a film of iconic performances and unforgettable moments. With a young Jane-Lee Curtis, Dan Akyroyd, and Jim Belushi, these are comedy heavy-hitters who show a darker side to New York with the help of Inge from Sweden, a drunken Irish priest and a gorrila. Worth a watch for Eddie Murphy's laugh alone.... but you may not want to eat smoked salmon again. Be warned.
6. The Santa Clause
Another tale of a grouchy man seeing the light through the miracle of Christmas cheer. A divorced, top-business man with no time for frivolities inadvertently finds the jolly bearded man in a red suit has suffered a tragic death and starts magically turning into the big SC himself. He is transported to the North Pole but believes it's all a dream until his beard and belly start taking shape too. He must quickly figure out how to avoid looking like a mentaller, keep his new job secret and keep the magical mystery of Santa alive. This is one of those films that makes young and old insist that Santa is real again! Tim Allen makes a quality appearance in an easy-going classic that will perfectly pass the time. Exams, what exams..... there are toys to be delivered and we need to know the new Santa is up to the task!
7. Love Actually
Okay, first-off! Let's dispell the myth that this is one for the ladies only. It's romantically schmaltzy at points YES, but it beings a quirky level of Christmas-cringiness (chringe) to make up for it. Director Richard Curtis intertwines the complex romances of 8 different lives in this cosy cross-section of love at different points in life. From the little boy with an all-consuming school crush Colin Firth's language barrier and Pri-minister Hugh Grant's tension with his assistant we are all reminded of how awkward we can be when love is involved, how sometimes the most unlikely of people can turn out to be your soulmate and how telling the truth can set us free. For the walking dead fans you also get to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) with an english accent and a serious case of unrequited love. A brilliant cast with a heart-warming message. Snuggle down and leave you cynicism out in the cold...for just a little while.
A cynical yet TV-executive who dreads the thoughts of the seasonal TV programming except for seeing them as a rating opportunity, to sex it up a little. He tries to baa-humbug his way through a Charles Dickens adaptation of A Christmas Carol with no regard for the lives of the staff he cracks down hard on..... but You guessed it. The curmudgeon gets the Dickens treatment himself. Visits from a trilogy of ghosts ensue to freak him out and restart his festive engine in the timeliest of fashions. Frank Cross needs to re-evaluate his priorities, be less selfish and learn to love and live again. Success isn't always about winning, and Christmas is all about giving. Bill Murray is...well...Bill Murray, and that is ALWAYS a good thing. A modern take on a soul-filled classic, with a real late 80's comedy feel.
9. The Muppet Christmas Carol
As with Scrooged, this is another rework of Charles Dickens infamous tale, which itself has become a Christmas tradition in many a sitting room. The Muppet's keep a little truer to the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge with his miserly disdain for the thoughts of Christmas Day. Scrooge won't let up, give a day off, pay fairly or crack the cold-hearted facade BUT #begrand because Kermit, Miss Piggy, a load of furries will turn things around for Michael Caine to impart the true meaning of Christmas. More ghosts, but comical little guys with a distinct agenda this time, make Scrooge see the err of his ways in a way that you can't help but love. Muppets..... what more do you need! Watch it... You Muppet!;)
More small furry lunatics take centre stage in this iconic, but always bizarre, 1984 comedy horror. Not Christmassy yet, but bear with us. A father who needs a Christmas present has a browse in a Chinatown store (as you do) to find a small furry creature called a Mogwai named 'Gizmo'. The wise old store-owner Mr Wing refuses to sell it but his grandson decides to sell it behind his back. The Mogwai comes with three rules which his new owner, Little Billy must adhere to; don't expose it to bright light, don't get it wet, and DO NOT feed it after midnight. Seems simple enough, but as we all know nothing is ever so simple. How are they to know that cute little Gizmo could spawn mischievous and evil reptilian gremlins who are happiest torturing and destroying all that they can? Billy and his folks must figure out a way to stop the mayhem and overcome the gremlins. Along the way many lessons are learned though we aren't sure exactly what. We're thinking giving a kid a living animal for Christmas may not be the best plan now..... because you never know.. 'There might just be a gremlin in your house' Also, Cuteness can kill.
11. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Another dark twist on seasonal cheer but one that has inspired fan-fiction, art and tattoos since it's release! Even more apt as Christmas literally starts the day after Halloween these days, the story-line is propelled perfectly by Tim Burton's uniquely angular and spirited animation (making many think he should stick to the drawing board) creating a standalone, original Christmas Tale. In this Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween town is disparaged with the usual Halloween festivities and when one day he stumbles into Christmas town and sees the beauty of Christmas. He decides this is the celebration they should be putting on. The problem is how do you celebrate Christmas if you're raised on scariness... how do you understand what Christmas is? Jack enlists the help of his town's ghouls and goblins and along the way the true meaning of Christmas is lost and then found. This is a film with a difference that you won't regret taking the time out of essay writing or cramming for. (well not entirely anyway)
12. Miracle on 34th Street
A film for all of you Santa nay-sayers again, this time it's Santa defending himself, in court no less and it's not always an easy watch. This film really is all about believing in the modern meaning of Christmas and putting the worries of life aside. When a major department store's Santa get's drunk it's manager, Elizabeth Perkins needs to find a replacement asap! Swiftly she discover an old man, Kris Kringle, and desperately convinces him to be their Santa. He is phenomenal...the real deal even... until he runs into some legal trouble and his absolute belief in himself and Christmas must battle with the judicial system which creates a media frenzy and a real dilemma. You'll have to put some time aside to see the rest but trust us. It's a good'un. The late, Sir Richard Attenborough, IS Santa. His warmth personifies the spirit of Christmas. Truly a Christmas Miracle.
Share your own Christmas favourites with us on Twitter @StudentLeapCard or let us know what you think of our list. Which one's are we missing? Which one's haven't you seen yet?
Wishing you a happy cosy, stress-free Christmas from Student Leap Card