Whether you're looking forward to a classic black-and-white film, a romantic comedy or even an action movie, there's a Christmas go-to for everyone - even in the newsroom.

We've compiled a list of our favourite movies that either take place at Christmas or are shown over the festive period.

David McCann, news editor

  • Love Actually (2003)

It’s saccharine, syrupy, brilliant nonsense.

Everyone I know hates it, so I don’t understand why it makes me feel so uplifted ­- particularly given the appallingly ill-conceived Emma Thompson storyline.

Stephen Naysmith, social affairs correspondent

  • Life of Brian (1979)

Is it a Christmas movie? Not really, although it starts with a botched nativity scene and a real one.

Can you recommend a blasphemous film for Christmas? Yes, because it doesn’t satirise Jesus himself, but rather the blindness and illogicality of the faithful. But mostly because it’s the funniest film of all time. 

Favourite line: “Thanks a lot for the gold and Frankincense, er, but don't worry too much about the Myrrh next time.”

Andrew Denholm, education correspondent

  • A Christmas Story (1983)

Set in 1940s American suburbia it’s the perfect mix of dark humour and childhood nostalgia as a nine-year-old boy sets about convincing his parents he needs an airgun for Christmas.

Martin Williams, senior news reporter

  • Brazil (1985)

When I first saw this in the 80s when I was younger, impatient and reactionary, I thought the director had to be off his head. It was a guargantuan (two hours and twenty minutes) surrealist sci fi trip of a movie that completely lost me. It was like hearing the Pixies for the first time: painful.

All I knew about it was that the writer and director was Terry Gilliam, the animation guy from Monty Python, for me the greatest comedy series of all time, and I had a deluded expectation of laughs.

But like with the Pixies I persevered and boy how it paid off.

Instead of bringing good tidings of comfort and joy, Gilliam brings a huge dose of reality, mixed with horror.

Repeated viewings led me to fall in love with this beautifully observed dark absurdist Orwellian satire,  which opens on an idyllic Yuletide scene - a mother telling her child about Santa's impending visit down the chimney. 

Oh and before anyone says, it's not really a Christmas movie, it lays into the materialist nature of Christmas, Santa features and there are twinkling decorations everywhere.

Helen McArdle, health correspondent, and Stacey Mullen, crime reporter

  • Scrooged (1988)

Helen: Black comedy twist on a festive favourite. Bill Murray makes it his own, and it combines just the right amount of laughs and schmaltz.

Stacey: Bill Murray is just brilliant in this film and it’s a real twist on a classic story. I also love Elf and Jingle All The Way – Arnie is a legend.

Alistair Grant, political correspondent

  • Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Miracle on 34th Street has everything: irritating child star, ridiculously suave couple and an idealised vision of 90s Manhattan where cavernous apartments are par for the course.

It’s also just a cracking story, as Richard Attenborough’s Santa Claus finds himself dragged through the courts to prove he is who he says he is. In the end, it’s God who saves the day, so no one can say it ignores the true meaning of Christmas. Nothing beats it.

Susan Swarbrick, senior features writer and Scott Wright, deputy business editor

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Susan: You can’t beat a bit of John Hughes at Christmas. This may be more crass and brash than the late producer and screenwriter’s other famed festive offering, Home Alone, but National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is every bit as wondrous to watch.

It is about a man, Clark Griswold aka Chevy Chase, aspiring to create the perfect good old-fashioned family Christmas. Sadly, the universe – along with a motley crew of hapless relatives, tightly-wound yuppie neighbours and a rogue squirrel – conspire to make it anything but idyllic.

Yet, in true festive spirit Clark ultimately realises that the path to joy can be found in glorious imperfection: the most important thing is spending time with those you love, yup, warts and all.

The brilliant cast includes a young Juliette Lewis (pre-Cape Fear), Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld and Veep).

The late Mae Questel, who began her career as the voice of Betty Boop in 1931, played sweet Aunt Bethany. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation marked her final film. Her line: “Play ball!” is my favourite.

Scott: When I first took in this Chevy Chase masterclass as a teenager, my enjoyment was driven purely by the comedic catastrophes which befell the hapless Clark Griswold.

Now, as a frazzled 42-year-old dad of two, I realise it's almost more with empathy than schadenfreude that I savour this classic of the Christmas comedy canon. Clark, you see, just wants everyone to have a great Christmas, and even if this means causing a city-wide power shortage thanks to his gratuitous display of fairy lights, then who are we to argue? It also serves as a timely reminder that we don't need parsnips baked in maple syrup or sprouts served with chestnuts for a happy family Christmas.

Kevin Scott (business correspondent), Jackie Brogan (production journalist) and Stuart Sandler(content manager)

  • Elf (2003)

Kevin: There are many classic Christmas films, those which radiate the scent of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and good will to all man. And then there’s Elf.

You never know when a ‘new’ film is going to slip into the festive consciousness, but Will Ferrell’s befuddled, hopelessly naïve and flawlessly good-natured Buddy, quickly became part of a lineage that includes George Bailey, Ebenezer Scrooge and Clark Griswald.

Adopted by an elf as a baby and brought up in the North Pole, Buddy has an existential crisis when he discovers he is human, and sets off to New York to find his real father.

The film is full of classic Christmas tropes from toy store baddies to sing-a-longs, but what makes Elf work is that it continues to make viewers laugh -whether it is attempting to get on an escalator or cross the road, or save Santa by restoring Christmas spirit in a cynical world.

The jokes become anticipated, they are re-enacted by parents and children in department stores. Cries of “Santa, I know him” are met with knowing smiles.

And if you don’t watch it at least 1,000 times this Christmas, and not just 85, you’re a cotton headed ninny muggins.

Jackie: I just love this film. Will Ferrell is great as one of Santa's elves, Buddy,  who learns of his true identity as a human and goes to New York City to meet his biological father played by James Caan, spreading Christmas cheer in a world of cynics as he goes.

I suppose the innocence of it takes me back to my childhood, but it’s just a funny film, with an abundance of heart and soul along the way that will put you in the mood for the big day.

Stuart: ​I love watching Elf over the festive holidays as it's hilarious and just gets you in the mood for Christmas. You can't help but smile when he shouts "Santa, I know him!"

Marianne Taylor, features writer and columnist

  • Trading Places (1983)

A Christmas film about prostitution, racial prejudice and corrupt capitalism might not immediately sound like a festive classic. But throw in Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd and a wickedly funny life-swap script, and you end up with one of the most hilarious films of the 1980s and, ultimately, a true evocation of the Christmas spirit.

  • The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

As a lifelong Dickens fan, I’ve watched countless film, TV and stage versions of the great man’s works. But none have ever bettered The Muppet Christmas Carol, which features Kermit The Frog as Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine as the best-ever on-screen Scrooge. If it doesn’t have you crying like a baby by the end, you’re just not trying.

Teddy Jamieson, senior features writer

  • The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

I guess if you’re hung up on Aristotelian unities of time, place and action then clearly Die Hard is the best Christmas movie.

But if it’s Boxing Day and I have already ODed on Thorntons toffee to the point where my burps are still chewy, I think I would want the glossy sheen of snow as caught on black and white film. I think I want a movie about regret and failure. In short, I think I’d want to watch The Magnificent Ambersons.

It’s not totally a Christmas movie, I accept. And worse than that it’s not even the movie it should have been, given that the studio RKO took it away from its director, reshot sequences without his input and cut more than 40 minutes from its running time.

But even in its mutilated form it is all kinds of wonderful. And frankly it makes for perfect festive viewing.

Why? Because it’s sad and beautiful. It has a great Christmas ball sequence where the camera seems to dance and it has sleighrides and automobiles and actors falling in the snow.

Why? Because it aches with a sense of loss and grief and the heavy weight of time passing. And isn’t that how Christmas feels every year?

Why? Because right at the end its director narrates the credits himself in that deep, amused voice of his. “I wrote the script and directed it,” he tells us. “My name is Orson Welles.”

Ann Fotheringham, senior features writer

  • Die Hard (1988)

While not technically a festive movie, this is my absolute favourite film and it is set at Christmas.

Bruce Willis! That vest! The amazing Alan Rickman!

It’s a proper feel-good, just-the-right-side-of-schmaltzy, baddies versus goodies romp, as terrorists take over a high-rise block without realising hacked-off cop John McClane is in the building. There’s some top class swearing and so many funny lines (mostly courtesy of the late, great Mr Rickman) too. Love it.

Caroline Wilson, senior reporter

  • A Christmas Carol (TV movie 1999)

The purists might love the Alastair Sim version but this one for me is the most atmospheric. My Christmas isn’t complete without it.

Laura Forsyth, reporter

  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

Such an iconic film with so many quotable lines in it!

Always wanted to be Kevin McAllister when I was younger and still do watching it now. Love how resilient those sticky bandits are - even a brick to the face won't stop them.

The heartwarming scene between Kevin and pigeon lady at the end also cements the true meaning of Christmas - best film ever!

Brian Donnelly, senior news reporter

  • The Great Escape (1963)

The Great Escape for me is difficult to beat as one of the best of the films that would be put on at Christmas in the seventies and eighties and you keep watching despite knowing what’s going to happen next.

Except that part of me still thought Steve McQueen might make the motorcycle jump. Plus the tune, of course.

Iona Turner, digital journalist

  • The Holiday (2006)

This film is not only my favourite Christmas film but my favourite film of all time.

Two heartbroken women swapping houses, finding new love and finding themselves - all at the most wonderful time of the year.

Kate Winslet's character, the fabulous Iris, who is an expert with unrequited love, has to be the best thing about this film but I owe the fact that I am no longer able to sing Mr. Brightside by The Killers without shouting "choking on your alibi" in the most English accent possible, to the beautiful Cameron Diaz.

I just can't feel Christmassy until I have watched this absolute belter. 

LInda Howard, online content editor

  • Gone With The Wind (1939)

Gone With The Wind has been on our screens every Christmas since it first aired over two days on Boxing Day, 1981 (BBC One).

As a nipper, I actively avoided this movie, but channel-hopping one evening over the festive season of '89, I stumbled across Making of a Legend: Gone With The Wind on BBC Two. It was narrated by the great Angela Lansbury and I was hooked from the start.

By the time the programme finished I was desperate to see producer David O. Selznick's finished picture for myself. 

Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard are perfectly cast in the leading roles (although I still think Paulette Goddard would have made a cracking Scarlett had she not been associated with Charlie Chaplin and reluctantly, I must also admit Howard was just a wee bit too old to be playing the youthful Ashley Wilkes).

The depiction of the playful, carefree Southern lifestyle before the break out of the American Civil War, the stark, brutality of conflict and the grim reality of trying to rebuild after so much devastation is presented over almost four hours of colourful, wonderuflly cinematic celluloid - all to Max Steiner's sweeping soundtrack.

I finally saw this film in the cinema on Boxing Day, 2015 and even though I could recite almost every line, the experience was absolutely magical. 

Gone With The Wind airs this year at 9.20am on Channel Five, Christmas Eve

And a few of the worst...

Martin Williams, senior news reporter

  • All Home Alone movies

There are enough brats being brats at Christmas in normal life, so why would I want to watch one on screen? 

Helen McArdle, health correspondent

  • Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

About as funny as a lump of coal on Christmas morning.

Stacey Mullen, crime reporter

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

I absolutely hate Nightmare Before Christmas. What is the point of it Tim Burton, I ask you? My Dad took me to see it at the cinema and we walked out half-way through. I tried to watch it years later and remembered why I hate it.

Caroline Wilson, senior reporter

  • Love Actually (2003)

Comparable to the feeling of overdosing on very cheap cake.

Jackie Brogan, production journalist

  • Jingle All The Way (1996)

I don’t know if it is something about the fact I can’t really take Arnold Schwarzenegger seriously at the best of times, but I just can’t watch him in this movie.

Maybe I would like it if the main part was played by someone else. Just all a bit too silly for me. I do remember battling for a Teletubby when my son was young but I certainly didn't go to these lengths!


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