The Bedstar Guide to the Best Christmas Movies

Perhaps we speak for everyone when we say what a dreadful year it has been! 

Not to worry, however: Christmas is nearly here. Hurrah! That means there will be lots of seasonal movies on the telly. Right now, people would welcome some festive films to lift their spirits while they have to stay indoors. 

With that in mind, we’ve picked out some of the best Christmas movies for which to keep your eyes open. Modern classics, such as “Elf”; family favourites, including “Home Alone”; golden oldies, amongst them “White Christmas”; and the Netflix picks in this Christmas movie list will all keep you in more pleasant spirits. You’ll also learn how to set up a bedroom for festive viewing. Before all that, however, we start things off by asking….

What makes a good Christmas movie?

It takes some special ingredients to make a Christmas film as great as it is. Below are a few with which Tinseltown sprinkles its movies to create those magical on-screen moments:

Christmas traditions

It doesn’t get more festive than featuring the traditions of Christmas within the movie as a key element of the plot. The Christmas tree, the Christmas lights, presents, Santa Claus, the turkey and other trappings of Christmas are all fair game. Take “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, in which the disaster-prone Clark Griswold invites his relatives to spend the Christmas holiday with the family and tackles various Christmas traditions with hilarious effect.

Family

Christmas is a time for families and for thinking about people less fortunate than ourselves. Family is a common element in many Christmas films. Take “A Christmas Carol”, released in 2009, in which we see the family of Bob Cratchit struggling to make ends meet, until the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge sees the error of his ways and gives them a Christmas Day to remember.

Another example would be “Little Women” (2019). The audience sees the March family, who the film is following, give their tasty-looking Christmas dinner to a family that is even poorer than themselves. Family provides an opportunity to tug on the heartstrings a little.

Romance

Where there’s Christmas and family, often there’s some romance. Sometimes a Christmas film is a straight rom-com and the plot centres around the romance between two people or various couples and the film happens to take place in a seasonal setting. A romance creates the chance for heartwarming moments and can take the audience on emotional highs and lows throughout the film.

How to enjoy a Christmas film from your bedroom

Of course, Christmas time is the perfect time to open a tub of Quality Street or other niceties, gather the family in the living room and sit down to a festive classic. Those aren’t the rules, though. If you’re feeling like a timeout from the festivities and family, you can wrap up warm and tune into a movie from your bed. Here are some tips for enjoying a movie from the comfort of your bedroom.

Consider the angle

If you want ultimate comfort while nestling down in front of that Christmas blockbuster, position your TV at a good angle. Don’t pop it on a small item of furniture or in the corner of your bedroom. Position it at the foot of your bed on a tall dresser, invest in a TV bed or mount your TV on the ceiling with some special hanging brackets.

Make sure you have plenty of comfortable pillows

Give your back plenty of support with some comfortable pillows while you’re watching the film. You can go for an angular wedge-type pillow filled with foam. You can prop yourself up easily on these pillows. You just lay back against the elongated side of the pillow. 

Alternatively, you can choose a “reading” pillow. These are sit-up type pillows and the manufacturers stuff them with foam. Some reading pillows even have armrests on them, plus a pocket for the remote control itself. Convenient!

Switch off the tech

All those email alerts, text messages, social media notifications, not to mention phone calls themselves… they’re a real distraction. Receiving too many while you’re watching your movie will disrupt your enjoyment. Switch your devices off for a couple of hours. Savour your favourite Christmas movie in peace and get back to your contacts later.

Family Christmas movies

There’s nothing like sitting down with the family at Christmas time and watching a movie that makes the whole family feel good. Check out some of the fantastic family Christmas movies below:

The Snowman

The animated TV film “The Snowman” is a Christmas classic, based on Raymond Brigg’s book of the same name. Really it’s a short film, but it’s just too magical to leave out. It’s the story of a boy who builds a snowman that comes to life and takes him to visit Santa Claus. The film features the famous song “Walking in the Air” which, although several people have sung it, audiences have come to associate with Aled Jones, who sung it for the movie.

The Muppets Christmas Carol

In the family favourite “The Muppets Christmas Carol”, the Muppets tell the classic story in their own inimitable style. The Great Gonzo stars as Charles Dickens and the narrator; the ever-lovable Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit; and Michael Caine as nasty Ebenezer Scrooge. The film is fun, festive and good-natured and features several songs, which will delight anyone who likes a bit of a singalong. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy it.

Miracle on 34th Street

There are two versions of this Christmas classic, the first one from 1947 and the remake from 1994. The popular remake stars the late Sir Richard Attenborough. “Miracle on 34th Street” is the story of the trial of a man who says he is Santa Claus and of a girl who doesn’t believe in Santa. As well as the magic of the original, there’s some romance in the later version. If you’ve somehow not seen it yet, we won’t spoil it for you.

Home Alone

In the classic movie “Home Alone”, Macaulay Culkin lived out potentially every child’s dream. Kids saw Culkin, starring as Kevin McCallister, the youngest in the McCallister family, have the house to himself and do as he pleased after his family mistakenly leave him behind when they go on their Christmas holiday. Mayhem follows when Kevin discovers two burglars are planning to break into his home and decides to defend it.

The film spawned an equally hilarious sequel, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”. This time the action takes place in New York and the “Wet Bandits” are back, but now they’re the “Sticky Bandits”. Some say the sequel is better than the original. Why not check out the second one, too, and draw your own conclusions?

Modern Christmas movies

Those are a few family favourites. Below are some modern motion pictures that will also go down as classics in the festive movie genre:

Elf

You can’t help but love “Elf”, a warm-hearted 2003 classic about Buddy, a human being who discovers he is raised by elves. In the film, the audience sees Buddy make his way to New York to meet Walter, his biological father. He then tries to help to remove him from Santa’s naughty list. James Caan stars as the reluctant Walter, who refuses to believe Buddy is his son at first, accepts him and then later disowns him before once again accepting him.

“Elf” is full of Christmas spirit and Will Ferrell delivers a sparkling performance as the eccentric, enthusiastic Buddy. Fun fact: the makers of the film almost cast Jim Carey for the role of Buddy.

Love Actually

The classic rom-com “Love Actually”, starring Hugh Grant and Keira Knightley, follows eight different couples in the weeks leading up to Christmas and loosely interlinks the different tales. Perhaps one of the most memorable (and funniest) moments is when David, the Prime Minister, goes knocking door to door in search of Natalie, one of his junior household staff. When some children answer one door and ask for Christmas carols, David obliges and finds out that his chauffeur has an unexpectedly splendid singing voice.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is a Christmas-themed comedy at its finest, with the central character, Clark Griswold, looking to give his family the perfect Christmas. Unfortunately, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. If you’ve not seen the film before, you might also want to check out the original “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and the follow-up “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” to get a flavour of what’s to come.

Old Christmas movies

Naturally, Christmas-themed films aren’t something the world has only discovered in the late 20th century and early 21st century. Film companies have been making them for longer than that. Below are some classic Christmas movies from yesteryear.

Scrooge

There have been several adaptations of Dickens’s classic tale, but maybe the best is the 1951 feature film “Scrooge” in which Alastair Sim plays the mean Ebenezer Scrooge. The film is in black and white, so don’t think there’s a problem with your TV set. Alastair Sim returns to the role in an animated version in 1971. Other popular adaptations of the tale include Scrooged (1988), starring Bill Murray.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Stretching back to 1946 with this one, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a Christmas fantasy drama about George Bailey, a frustrated man who learns what life would be like if he hadn’t existed. James Stewart stars as the frustrated Bailey. The film did poorly at the box office and even the director himself didn’t consider it a Christmas movie.

Don’t skip to the next film just yet, however. When the copyright expired in the 1970s, TV stations later began to broadcast it. Repeated broadcasts of the film in the 1980s changed its fortunes and many came to love “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In fact, there was even talk of a sequel in 2015, but copyright issues got in the way and the film didn’t go ahead.

White Christmas

It just wouldn’t be a Christmas movie list without “White Christmas” on it. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye star in this 1954 musical as two performing artists who team up with a sister act to save the Vermont Inn of their former military commander.

Although the film is renowned for its iconic song “White Christmas”, it wasn’t the first time that the legendary Bing Crosby had sung it on screen. The idea behind the film was also to reunite Crosby with Fred Astaire, with whom he’d worked in “Holiday Inn”,  but it wasn’t possible and the makers reworked the part for Danny Kaye.

Best Christmas movies on Netflix

Of course, Netflix is incredibly popular these days and we’ve seen some terrific films come out on the service. Why not check out the films below?

Klaus

“Klaus” (2019) an animated outing from Netflix, is the story of a selfish postman and a reclusive toymaker who team up to deliver a toy to a cold, dark town. The opening and closing acts are solid and the middle of the tale follows conventional storytelling. Essentially, it’s a festive origins story and carries a meaningful message about how a single act of kindness can spark another. It’s the kind of film you need at Christmas.

A Christmas Prince

“A Christmas Prince” is a rom-com about an undercover journalist who travels abroad to get a scoop on a handsome young prince set to become king. It’s a low-budget movie that has taken a sprinkle of elements from other romantic comedy plots and royal-themed movies. The photography is good and the film has a delightful charm that has made it a hit with Netflix viewers.

A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish

“A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish” is a teen comedy musical drama about an aspiring singer whose sisters and stepmothers treat her like a servant, but who gets her own Christmas holiday miracle. The film is an immensely uplifting, modern fairy-tale and balances humour, music and romance neatly while providing the magic of a Christmas film. It’s actually the fifth film in the “A Cinderella Story” series, which shows no signs of running out of steam.

A few final thoughts on Christmas movies

Christmas is truly a wonderful time of the year, as much on the screen as off it. The TV planners will be working overtime to schedule plenty of festive entertainment on the box, including memorable Christmas movies. They know families will be gathering around the TV set and looking to spend some quality time together.

It’s only around the corner and we can all take some time to settle down with an uplifting festive movie or two, whether it’s a Netflix Christmas pic, a DVD or a Christmas classic on terrestrial TV. What will you be watching this Christmas? Have a little think and then get ready to enjoy some magic on the small screen.

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