christmas-crackered-top-11-festive-films

Christmas Crackered Top 11 Festive Movies is Here!

christmas-crackered-top-11-festive-films

Well, it’s Christmas Crackered’s favourite time of year (no surprise there!), so it’s a good reason for listing the Christmas Crackered best Christmas Films EVER!

Now I know this is a contentious issue, and many will disagree with my Top 11, but I think it’s all about the mood we were in when we first watched the films.

The 11 listed here hold some magic memories for me and my family and we watch them every Christmas to really get in the mood!

To show you how difficult this list was to compile, the famous seasonal film “White Christmas” didn’t even make it into my Top 11…in fact, I could have run the list into the hundreds!

Please have a browse and let me know if you agree or disagree or perhaps you have a particular favorite I haven’t mentioned here. And please be aware – There are plenty of Spoilers below!

1 – Scrooge (A Christmas Carol)

christmas-carol-scroogeChristmas Crackered’s number one film for Christmas is Scrooge (A Christmas Carol). The Charles Dickens story of a miserly old man who’s only mission in life is to accumulate as much money as possible, and not to spend a penny of it!

His life was once happy, and in his teenage years fell in love, but he also found the joy of greed which overtook his life and ended his relationship with his sweetheart.

As time goes on, Scrooge becomes obsessed with money and his emotions disappear leaving him a lonely, bitter old man.

He goes home one Christmas Eve as bitter as ever, but is visited by his old partner in greed, Jacob Marley. Mr Marley died 7 years ago to the night, so appears as a ghostly vision in the early evening. Marley warns the terrified Scrooge that if he doesn’t mend his ways he will for eternity be wandering a sad and guilty afterlife with no end to it.

Marley warns Scrooge he will be visited by 3 ghosts who will take him back through his life and show him what an impossible, mean and unloved person he is.

Sure enough, Scrooge is woken throughout the night by these 3 apparitions who reveal just what an abominable man he has been.

Scrooge begins to realize his life has been wasted and understands the suffering he has caused to so many people in his life. His final visitation shows his unkempt grave which terrifies him so much that he awakes full of remorse for his past miserable life.

He soon realizes it’s Christmas morning and he has a chance to redeem himself . We now see for the first time Scrooge happy, and the happiest since his youth. He dances around full of joy at being given this gift of a second chance.

Scrooge becomes a valuable figure in the community and overly generous to the folk around him and so enjoys the rest of his life with a happiness he could have never imagined.

This is only a brief summary of the film; what is really amazing is the performance of Alistair Sim. His adaptation of Ebeneezer Scrooge is one of the best performances I’ve seen in a movie. You really believe a man can be so mean and scary, yet later, be so joyful and loved.

If you’ve yet to see this version, I plead with you to see it. Watch the acting and feel the atmosphere. Feel the misery and ultimately the joy.

My Number One Christmas Film EVER! Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

There are so many version of Charles Dickens Christmas Carol, but I really think this one stands out. There is even an option to watch the film in colour, which is quite novel, but I do prefer the good old black and white version!

2 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

christmas-vacationFor sheer laughs, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation takes some beating!

I first saw this back in 1991 and remember how much it cheered me up! Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Clark Griswold wants to have a good old fashioned family Christmas for his long suffering wife and two kids and invites his in laws to join in what he feels will be the best family Christmas ever. What could go wrong?

Well just about everything! From the very start, the luckless Clark (Chevy Chase) is beset with bad luck including an over-sized Christmas tree, a squirrel, Christmas house lights, tetchy in-laws, uninvited guests, Christmas dinner and a years supply of Jello instead of the big cash Christmas bonus from work he was expecting.

The best character, I feel, is Cousin Eddie played beautifully by Randy Quaid. He and his family are the uninvited guests who arrive for the holiday season out of the blue, much to Clarks disbelief. The crass attitude and behavior of Eddie sends the Christmas festivities into chaos.

But Clark won’t have his plans denied no matter what goes wrong, not even the kidnapping of his boss by cousin Eddie! The determination and motivation to carry on when all around him is falling apart is admirable.

All the characters in Christmas Vacation are superb and work together well, ensuring they have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas they’ve ever had.

Although there are parts of the film which are not suitable for very young viewers, it still comes out as a great family Christmas film. There are edited versions that cut out some of the swearing, so look out for those if easily offended.

On the whole, the Griswold family Christmas goes from one disaster to the next, but ends happily for all concerned. Once seen, you’ll want to watch it every Christmas for years to come.

Out of all the National Lampoon Vacation series, this is my favourite, and my second choice of favourite Christmas films ever! Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

The popularity of Cousin Eddie managed to bring a spin off. Christmas Vacation 2, Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure and was a pretty lame film, hurriedly put together and altogether worth missing!

3 – Home Alone

home-aloneHome Alone What can be said about this movie?

One of the great Christmas films that I think everyone loves!

The stage is set in the McAllister household at Christmas time with the family and in-laws preparing to leave and spend the Christmas holidays in Paris, France.

During the evening before they are due to fly away, young 8-years old Kevin McAllister causes mayhem in the kitchen after being a pain all day.
This is the last straw for his mum and she sends him to bed in the attic room and is told to not come out until morning.

Kevin’s last words to his mum are that he hopes he never sees his family again!

Morning comes and the family have overslept and in the rush (including a miscount of kids) they leave Kevin and make their way to the airport.

Kevin meanwhile has also overslept and wakes to an empty house. After freaking out for a while, he starts to enjoy himself by ordering home delivery pizza’s, jumping on beds and going through his brothers personal things.

Soon though, things turn serious for Kevin as he realizes that two burglars are trying to break in. This is where the film really takes off with the two hapless thieves Harry and Marv being foiled at every attempt to outwit Kevin’s defense of his family home.

It truly is a very funny movie, filled with great Christmas music and festive scenes.

I think most people have seen and enjoyed this classic Christmas movie and watch it every year, but if you’ve never seen it, or have youngsters in the house who’ve yet to experience the joys of this film, go get it! It is an all time classic! Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

If ever there was a Christmas film or CD to own, it’s the Home Alone one! This movie made 3 sequels with Home Alone 2 also making it into my Top 10. The 3rd and 4th in the series were OK, but they didn’t have the ‘feel’ of the first two, I think.

4 – It’s a Wonderful Life

its-a-wonderful-lifeIt’s A Wonderful Life is an excellent feel-good movie worth watching at anytime of the year, but especially at Christmas time.

The story is about George Bailey (wonderfully played by James Stewart) and his desire to leave small town Bedford Falls to experience the sights of the World. Bailey has spent most of his life helping the folk of this small town making him a very well liked character.

He has longed to get away and gets his chance when he marries his childhood sweetheart Mary.

On their way to their honeymoon, the town goes into panic after a major financial crisis involving a banking collapse. He rushes back with his new wife to see what he can do and ends up spending his honeymoon money saving his own bank from collapse.

Fortunes go awry again in the next few months when George’s forgetful uncle loses $8000 of the company’s money after a visit the bank to deposit it. Unbeknown to Bailey, the money was left in a newspaper and picked up by the towns other banker and unscrupulous developer Mr Potter.

The loss would mean an end to his Buildings and Loan Company and bring disgrace on the Bailey name with George being sent to jail by the bank examiner.

Mr Potter, being the nasty man he is, keeps the money and realizes it’s his chance to take over the town and shape it to his liking. George is beside himself and realizes that his life insurance policy is worth more to his family if he was dead and decides to drown himself in the Bedford Falls River.

He feels his life has been a waste and has only brought trouble to the world. George is just about to jump when he hears the shouts of help from the water below and jumps in to save the drowning man. After saving him, he finds out that this man is, in fact, George’s Guardian Angel called Clarence who then sets out to show George what life would have been like if he hadn’t of been born.

Needless to say it sounds heavy stuff and not at all like a joyous Christmas film, but this is where the movie really kicks into gear and opens up a wonderful story.

I won’t spoil it for you, because I believe there are still people who haven’t seen this film, but I can guarantee it will leave you with a wonderful feeling and Christmas viewing will never be the same again! Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

It’s A Wonderful Life is typical of Frank Capra’s direction. His films always had a moral tale with a cozy feel-good-about-yourself flavour. When released, the film did OK, but didn’t really take off as a seasonal favourite until well into the 70’s. It’s now recognised as a huge Christmas Classic!

5 – A Christmas Story

a-christmas-storyI watch A Christmas Story at least once a year around Christmas.  The cult classic has gained status as one of the most loved and watched Christmas movies right up there with It’s A Wonderful Life.

Who knew this rough-edged film about a boy’s longing for a Red Ryder range-model BB gun starring a foul-mouthed family and friends would become a “family” movie? Mind you, foul-mouthed may be a wrong description…it’s all mumbled by Ralphie’s dad just like the wet bandits in Home Alone.

Fans of the movie all somehow find a way to relate to the film and I think it is because it is not a Christmas movie showing the “perfect” family with the “perfect” Christmas.  This is a family that does not always get along, but in the end they pull together and “everything is right in the world”.

There are some great characters here all played beautifully! Including the bully Scut Farkus played by Zack Ward who incidentally follows Christmas Cracked on Twitter!

It’s a Christmas movie that doesn’t age. Made in 1983, it’s sure to go on to be included in many top 10 (or 11) lists for many years to come. Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

Jean Shepherd’s writing style was often compared with Mark Twain, but it was his screenplay for A Christmas Story that he is most remembered for. He started out in radio at the age of 16 doing sportscasts on a weekly basis for the local radio station in his hometown of Hammond, Indiana. Shepherd published several books of his stories with the most popular being “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” and “Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters”. Jean Shepherd passed away at the age of 78 on October 16, 1999 A little trivia tidbit that I picked up while perusing his obituary online was that he had hoped to title “A Christmas Story” as “Satan’s Revenge.”

6 – How The The Grinch Stole Christmas

the-grinch-christmasThis version of the great Dr Seuss book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is my preferred choice of the two, but only just!

The animated version is also superb and is reviewed in my Top 11 later, but for now, Jim Carrey was born to play the Grinch!

Being from the UK, the Grinch was never in my childhood and I didn’t discover him until my late 20’s. I saw the animated version once and only bits of it, so the Jim Carrey version was my proper introduction to the Grinch, and how I loved it!

The Grinch, an outcast from Whoville, takes it on himself, after being humiliated at school, to leave the quaint little town to live alone on Mount Crumpit. He hates the Who’s so much that he decides to steal their Christmas, which is a huge celebration down in Whoville, and deny them the pleasure they so obviously get from Christmas every year.

He hatches a plan and takes his dog Max along for the ride, steals Christmas (presents, trees, baubles – everything!) and is pretty happy about the whole thing. But he is dismayed that the Whos aren’t too bothered about the theft, they’re just happy that Christmas has come.

The Grinch realists that Christmas is not all about receiving presents, it more about being a family.

His heart grows 3 sizes and for the first time he feels happiness. He realizes what a huge mistake it was to steal Christmas from the Who’s and goes about putting everything right.

The feel of the film is so festive and the costumes are superb. Jim Carrey is the Grinch; I don’t think anyone else could get within a mile of his performance.

How The Grinch Christmas is a joy to watch. Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

OK OK, I know a lot of people think the animated version is better, but to me, the Jim Carrey version just pips it. Maybe if I’d been brought up watching the cartoon version I would think differently, but it was hardly shown in the UK which was a great shame.

7 – Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

home-alone-lost-in-new-yorkA second Home Alone movie? Well, I make no apologies for putting the sequel to Home Alone in my Top 11, it’s just as good as the first!

Here we find the McAllisters a year on with the same intention of going away for Christmas, this time to Miami.

Kevin, this time though is not left Home Alone and makes it to the taxi first, making sure he won’t get left behind again. The McAllisters oversleep yet again, and now it’s a mad rush to get to the airport. With all the rushing going on, and the family worried about missing the flight, they race through the airport and onto the plane. But did Kevin make it?

No!

He’s managed to get on another flight bound for New York and only realizes his mistake on landing. His parents also only realize their mistake when they can’t find him at the Miami airport.

Kevin’s mum then finds out that Kevin is in New York after investigations show Kevin has used his dads credit card to book into a New York hotel.

Back to Kevin, and being the ingenious little fella he is, has found his dads wallet, booked into a hotel and found out his auntie has a place in New York. When he tracks down the house, he finds out no-ones there and the house is being refurbished.

Meanwhile, our bandits from the first Home Alone movie, Harry and Marv, have escaped and find themselves also in New York bumping into Kevin in the City (what are the odds?) He overhears their plans to break in and steal all the Christmas takings from Duncans, a huge Toy Store in central New York.

So, Christmas Eve comes and the bandits are in place within the store, hidden amongst the toys. Kevin’s is outside with a camera and a brick to smash the window and a note tied to it for the police.

He smashes the window and manages to take a photograph catching them red handed and a chase ensues. Kevin manages to lure the wet bandits back to his aunties now booby-trapped house in which again, the bandits try to get in to get at Kevin.

This again is where the calamity and hilarity begins as the hapless thieves fail miserably to overcome our plucky 9 year old.

That’s enough of the spoilers, you will just have to go and see this great Christmas movie (if you haven’t already) to find out how it all ends.

The story will be seen as a copycat version of the first film, and that’s a shame because Home Alone 2 has plenty of original content in it to make the film stand out on it’s own. They maybe should have stopped here and not gone on to make 3 and 4 though!

Home Alone 2 is favoured by a lot of people over the original Home Alone, which just goes to show what a great sequel it was!  Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern and Macualay Culkin really work together well. Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

Incidentally, did you know Daniel Stern was the narrator of all those TV shows ‘The Wonder Years’? And also was the original Ben Frankenstein in Tim Burton’s 1984 original Frankenweenie?

8 – The Muppet Christmas Carol

muppets-christmas-carolWhat? Another Christmas Carol Film?

Yes, but the Muppets Christmas Carol is so different, it’s unrecognizable apart from some of the dialogue!

Where do we start? Well, first of all I’m a big fan of the Muppets, so if you marry them to my favorite Charles Dickens novel and the put them together in a film about my favorite time of year… you have a winner!

The story, as you know, is about a miser so mean he would cut his own nose off to spite his face. Come Christmas and he’s even meaner than ever and cannot understand what all the hoo-ha is about Christmas.

He is visited by (in this adaptation) by his old business partners Jacob and Robert Marley as ghosts, played by Statler and Waldorf who tell him to change his ways or he will be forever wandering the earth in misery.

As with Dickens novel, he is told he will be visited by 3 ghosts who show him his past life in flashbacks.

Michael Caine gives a great performance as Scrooge, showing what an adaptable actor he is. His meanness in the first part of the film shows the cruel side of Scrooge, whilst later, he shows a real happiness and warmth of the renewed character.

The Great Gonzo narrates the movie as Charles Dickens and is ably assisted by Rizzo the Rat. Kermit is Bob Cratchitt with Miss Piggy in the role of his wife, Mrs Cratchitt.

The scenes are set in Victorian London with plenty of mirth and merriment, and really gets you in the mood for Christmas.

This is still my sons favorite Christmas movie, and he won’t thank me for saying so, being a 14 year old ‘Medal of Honor’ devotee!

The soundtrack is almost as good as the film with songs such as ‘One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas’, ‘Marley and Marley’ and the finale song ‘It Feels Like Christmas’

A Great Christmas movie for young and old alike! Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

Did you know the voice of Miss Piggy and Fozzy Bear are both Frank Oz, as well as Sam the Eagle? Michael Caine will be 84 in March 2017 and his real name is Maurice Micklewhite. Towards the end of the movie, Scrooge passes a shop called Micklewhites! Coincidence or something for film buffs to look out for?

9 – How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Animated

how-the-grinch-stole-christmasI may have ruffled some feathers here by putting this version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas lower down than the Jim Carrey one, but as explained earlier, this version didn’t get to me until I was in my late 20’s!

Saying that, there is not much between the two in my preference, both are extremely well done and both are real festive giants.

Chuck Jones’s animation of Dr Suess’s Grinch is superb! I can see how this 1966 movie would have appealed to all kids of that time, it has a sort of 60’s feel.

The narration is also second to none, with Boris Karloff giving an amazing performance, especially with the song ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch’

This is a lot shorter than the modern version at 26 minutes and probably shouldn’t be in a films section, but I class it as a movie rather than a long cartoon.

It shows it is more popular with audiences around the world with the IMDB giving it a huge 8.4 out of 10, whilst the Jim Carrey version gets a lowly 6 out of 10.

Carrey’s version is my favorite though (just!). Buy it here on amazon.co.uk

A new version will be out in 2018 with Benedict Cumberbatch supplying the voice of the Grinch. I can hardly wait!

There is a real hatred of Ron Howard’s modern version, which I think is a shame. I think both are great, but the purists think the latest one is just a big budget flop and feel insulted that such a classic should be treated that way! I think if you have youngsters you should show them the original first, then show them Carrey’s version the year after and see what they think, it would be a good experiment! On a side note, Boris Karloff acted in over 200 movies, mostly as a villain or monster, it’s kinda cool to see him here narrating such a heart warming story.

10 – Santa Claus: The Movie

santa-claus-the-movieThis may be a surprise entry in some people’s eyes because it was deemed as a massive box office flop when it was released in 1985. It’s Santa Claus: The Movie

I feel it’s an under-rated little movie and ideal to watch with very young kids. I remember watching it when my kids were 4 or 5 (could have been 14-15, time flies!) and seeing how much they got involved with the characters and how much they enjoyed the whole story.

The film itself, in the first half, tells the story of how Santa Claus came to be and how the whole system works. The second half brings us up to date and is set in the modern world.

It’s a tale about how greedy manufactures are when making cheap toys for kids, and how they break so easily with no imagination gone into their production.

Patch the elf (played by Dudley Moore) is magical in his hero role. And John Lithgow as the evil, greedy manufacturer plays his part to the full.

The film can be a bit soppy and sentimental at times, but isn’t that all part of Christmas?

The scenery and acting is wonderfully over the top, and although the movie was slated when it first came out, I can see a generation of kids who were aged between 4 and 12 when this came out saying it was one of the best Christmas movies ever!

These youngsters would be in their mid thirties or early forties now and it would be interesting to see how many would vote this their favourite Christmas film. Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

Santa Claus: The Movie cost an estimated $50,000,000 to make with Dudley Moore being paid around $4,000,000 for his role. An expensive flop? I suppose at those figures it didn’t go down well with investors, but on the other hand, it’s starting to become a bit of a classic. The Soundtrack was mainly performed by Henry Mancini, but did you know there were also tracks from Sheena Easton and , wait for it, Kajagoogoo?

11 – Miracle on 34th Street

miracle-on-34th-streetThe last film to make it into my Top 11 Best Christmas Films EVER is Miracle on 34th Street, the 1947 version. This simple tale has all the ingredients that make a Christmas film special. A real Kris Kringle!

It all starts out when the City’s Thanksgiving parade for the store Macy’s is marred by a drunken Santa! He is immediately fired and a replacement is sought.

Enter Kris Kringle. This old fella with a white beard applies to be the new Macy’s Santa for the parade and store grotto. All goes well, but the cynical special events organizer, Doris, feels he’s just a mad old man and could make Macy’s a laughing stock.

Kringle, being of no fixed abode, manages to stay at a fellow workers apartment for the festive season, just across from unbelieving Doris’s apartment and in the process endears himself to Doris’s young daughter, Susan.

Doris, who has taught Susan that Santa is just a big phoney, is concerned that he may not be the safest companion to her daughter and gets the stores doctor to investigate him.

Well, the Doctor comes to the conclusion that Kris means no harm, and as he’s such a hit with kids who visit him (and making money for Macy’s) he can only be a benefit.

Doris is not happy and decides to take Kringle to court to prove he’s not Santa Claus. But what do the courts decide?

I won’t spoil the decision because a lot of people may not have seen this endearing family Christmas film, but is there ever a Christmas film without a happy ending?

Beautifully acted throughout, the film was one of the earliest block busters for the Christmas season and if you have not seen it yet, Go! Buy it here on Amazon.co.uk

The young girl playing Susan in the film is a very young Natalie Wood. Director George Seaton started life as a gag writer and worked on a couple of Marx Brothers films ‘A Day at the Races’ and ‘A Night at the Opera’. He also claimed he coined the catchphrase “Hi-Yo, Silver” for the Lone Ranger when working at a Detroit radio station because of his inability to whistle! Edmund Gwenn who played Kris Kringle was awarded an Academy Award for his role in this film.

Over To You!

So, that’s the Christmas Crackered Top 11 festive films done! There will be a lot of shaking of fists and howls of ‘philistine‘, but hey, we all have our opinions. If this was a horse race, there would be a short-head between all of them on the list, and a neck further behind would be another 100+ festive movies!

What would you include in you Top 11? Comment away!

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