Home Alone, Love Actually, The Grinch and Elf. Chances are you’ve seen these films before, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve watched them multiple times and fancy something a bit different this Christmas. Fortunately, there are hundreds of Christmas films out there, even more than you can imagine. Some of them may be films you’ve heard of before but have never gotten round to watching, like Miracle On 34th Street, Edward Scissorhands and Gremlins, while others may be completely new to you. If you really can’t sit through Love Actually et al for the fifth year in a row, here are some equally festive alternatives:
1. Miracle on 34th Street
Number one on my list of lesser known Christmas films is Miracle on 34th Street. It’s one of those movies that becomes an instant classic and can be watched every year. Miracle on 34th Street is such a heartwarming film and is set in New York, which looks so magical around Christmas. Mara Wilson (who is known for playing Matilda) portrays six-year-old Susan Walker who has grown up believing that Santa Claus does not exist. However, after a mysterious man called Kris Kringle enters her life, Susan starts to suspect that Santa Claus may be real after all.
2. Babes In Toyland
Based on Victor Herbert’s operetta of the same name, Babes In Toyland takes the audience to a Wizard of Oz-like land where a young girl called Lisa (Drew Barrymore) ends up during a snowstorm. She arrives just in time to stop a wedding between Mary Contrary and the evil Barnaby Barnacle, who wants to take over Toyland. With the help of Mary Contrary, Jack Be Nimble, Georgie Porgie and the Toymaster, Lisa tries to stop Barnaby from getting his way
3. A Christmas Prince
It’s not Christmas without a cheesy made-for-TV movie. Netflix has joined Hallmark and Lifetime this year with its own Christmas film, A Christmas Prince. A journalist is sent to a small country called Aldovia (which sounds very similar to ‘Genovia’ in The Princess Diaries) to find out about the prince, who is a presumed playboy. Due to a mix-up at the palace, Amber ends up as a tutor to the prince’s younger sister and soon uncovers the truth about the royal family. A Christmas Prince may be predictable and unrealistic, and a little similar to films like The Prince & Me and A Princess For Christmas, but it is a feel-good romance that will have you hooked the whole way through.
4. Christmas Inheritance
Christmas Inheritance is another Netflix original that you won’t be able to resist watching this Christmas. In order to prove that she’s capable of taking over her father’s business, Ellen (who you may recognise from either The 100 or The Sleepover Club) is sent to Snow Falls to deliver a Christmas card to a family friend. Here Ellen falls in love and realises that there’s more to life than money and partying.
5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Narnia is one of my favourite films of all time. It is based on the bestselling book series by C. S. Lewis and follows four siblings who are sent to live with Professor Kirke to keep them safe during the war. While they are away from home, the youngest sister Lucy stumbles upon Narnia, a magical world that is trapped in eternal winter. Although sceptical at first, Lucy’s older siblings Edmund, Peter and Susan join her in Narnia. They befriend the lion Aslan and team up against the evil White Witch to free Narnia from snow. Narnia stars Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy and Jim Broadbent, and features the voices of Liam Neeson, Dawn French and Rupert Everett.
6. Little Women
Like Narnia, Little Women is also based on a book. There have been a number of film adaptations of Little Women, but the one I love the most is the 1994 version, in which Winona Ryder, Trini Alvarado, Kirsten Dunst and Claire Danes portray the four sisters. Little Women is set in America and follows the March sisters as they come of age in a small town in Massachusetts while their father is away at war. There’s kind Meg, feisty Jo who longs for independence, fragile Beth, and artistic Amy. They live with their mother and make up plays and socialise with their neighbours in order to pass the time. Little Women is a real tearjerker that is great for girls and women of all ages.
7. The Family Stone
The Family Stone is the perfect Christmas film for fans of Love Actually. It’s funny and sad – and it’s got a lot of famous names, including Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes and Sarah Jessica Parker. Everett Stone decides to bring his girlfriend Meredith home one Christmas to meet his family. However, Meredith and the Stones couldn’t be any more different; while Meredith is quite uptight and conservative, the Stones are more liberal and openminded. Meredith is keen to fit in, although Everett’s family, especially his younger sister Amy, make it very difficult.
Although Serendipity is not a Christmas film per se, the festive season is central to the plot of this film. Serendipity is about two strangers who feel an instant connection whilst stopping for gloves in Bloomingdale’s. The only problem is that they are both already in relationships with other people. After going out for frozen coffee and ice skating, the pair decide to go their separate ways, hoping that one day fate will bring them back together again in the future.
9. Fred Claus
This hilarious comedy features Vince Vaughn as Santa’s troublemaker brother Fred, who returns to the North Pole in order to earn the money that will bail him out of jail. Fred tries to convince his parents that he is just as capable as Santa and helps his family stop Christmas from being shut down.
10. Edward Scissorhands
Can’t go wrong with a bit of Tim Burton, right? While Tim Burton is most commonly associated with Halloween, Edward Scissorhands is similar to The Nightmare Before Christmas in that it doubles up as a Christmas film (much of the film is set in winter). In Edward Scissorhands, Johnny Depp stars as a man who has scissors as his hands, hence his name. He is taken in by a family and falls in love with the daughter, who is portrayed by Winona Ryder. Edward Scissorhands is one to watch with your other half.
11. A Christmas Carol
I can think of many animated Christmas movies, but one I’ve only recently discovered is Disney’s A Christmas Carol. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, who is known for Back to the Future and Forrest Gump, A Christmas Carol is about Scrooge, the infamous miser who hates Christmas. One Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three spirits who take him on a journey through his past and future, hoping that he will learn to be nicer to others. A Christmas Carol has fantastic visuals and is the ideal Christmas film for all the family, although some parts may be a bit creepy for younger children.
Last but not least is Gremlins, one of my all-time favourite Christmas films. Gremlins is rather dark compared to the other films on this list, but it is still quite festive and will make you laugh and cry, which is exactly what a Christmas movie is supposed to do. When Billy Peltzer receives an adorable Mogwai for Christmas, he instantly falls in love with his new pet and names him Gizmo. Unfortunately, Billy is unaware that Gizmo is no ordinary pet; when Gizmo accidentally touches water, he starts multiplying, producing hundreds of small green monsters that wreak havoc on the town of Kingston Falls.
Let me know your favourite Christmas films! Have you watched any of the films I’ve mentioned?
I won’t be posting again until late next week so Merry Christmas!