Christmas is a time to get together with family and friends and this is more important than ever in 2021. Following the curtailed plans and Zoom calls of last December, this festive period is a chance to reconnect but also to relax.
If you’re looking to settle down with your loved ones to enjoy a festive film this Christmas, here are seven of the best.
1. The Snowman (1982)
Based on the classic story by Raymond Briggs and a perennial festive favourite, The Snowman is a truly magical tale.
While only 26 minutes long, the story of a young boy whose snowman comes to life is a joyous, hopeful, tender, and heartbreaking tale of love and loss.
It culminates in the classic Walking in the Air, made famous by Aled Jones but actually performed in the film by chorister Peter Auty.
2. Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
Santa Claus (David Huddleston) is growing older and finding the Christmas period increasingly exhausting. Hoping to relieve some of the pressure, he decides to hold a competition among his Lapland elves, in the hope of finding an assistant.
Despite the beautiful craftsmanship of his peers, it is the automated and highly-efficient system developed by elf Patch (played by Dudley Moore) that ultimately wins the day.
But, when the wheels (quite literally) begin to come off Patch’s toys, he flees Lapland and crosses paths with the evil toy manufacturer BZ (John Lithgow). As things go badly wrong for Patch, Santa will need to join forces with New York orphan Joe to save Christmas, with the help of Rudolf and his aerial acrobatics trick, the Super Duper Looper.
Great fun, this 80s classic is guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained.
3. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
The original Home Alone (1990) saw Kevin McCallister protect his home from burglars after being left on his own for the holidays.
Two years later, Kevin finds himself alone again. This time, however, he’ll have a whole city as his playground.
During a frantic race through the airport, Kevin is separated from his family and ends up alone in New York. He visits the home of a distant relative but finds only a derelict townhouse – as well as two familiar faces from the original film.
Co-starring Tim Curry and Brenda Fricker, Kevin attempts to evade Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s Wet Bandits, avert a robbery in a toy shop, and help a Central Park bird lady find the joy in life again. All while exploring the Big Apple at Christmas and secretly longing to be reunited with his family.
4. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Charles Dickens’ 1843 story A Christmas Carol has been filmed and interpreted many times, starring Albert Finney, Jim Carey, and Bill Murray (as Scrooge-alike Frank Cross) among others.
One of the most memorable versions of the story, however, is the 1992 version starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, alongside Jim Henson’s Muppets.
With Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Fozzie Bear as Mr Fozziwig (originally Fezziwig), and Statler and Waldorf as Jacob and Robert Marley, this charming and hilarious film is great fun and a wonderful introduction to the classic of Christmas literature.
5. The Polar Express (2004)
This computer-animated adventure from Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) follows the incredible journey of a young boy – named in the credits as “Hero Boy” – who boards the Polar Express, bound for the North Pole.
Based on a 1985 children’s book of the same name and starring Tom Hanks – as well as Michael Jeter in his last screen role – this beautiful film is a magical tale of bravery and friendship.
6. Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
While the original Mary Poppins, based on the books by P.L. Travers, has been captivating audiences since its release in 1964, the belated sequel does an excellent job of maintaining the spirit and magic of this film musical classic.
Directed by Rob Marshall and starring Emily Blunt in the iconic role made famous by Julie Andrews, Lin-Manuel Miranda co-stars to sing the songs of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
The plot follows a grown-up – and recently widowed – Michael Banks, who is struggling to manage debt and raise his three children. Thankfully, help is on hand!
7. A Boy Called Christmas (2021)
Out now in cinemas and available to watch on Sky Cinema, this retelling of the book by Matt Haig has an all-star cast including Dame Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, and Toby Jones.
A Santa Claus origin story, the film follows the adventures of a young Finnish boy called Nikolas who sets off on a magical quest.
Joining him, are his faithful pet mouse (voiced by Stephen Merchant) and the reindeer Blitzen, in a film sure to become a classic.