Here’s my 10 best ever family Christmas movies. I’ve chosen them because I think they are films the whole family will enjoy and which perfectly capture the festive feeling. Some are obviously for families with younger children and some are for families with older children, so you’ll need to see the trailer if you want to be sure they are something your own kids would be interested in. They are in no particular order of preference.
Hope you enjoy my selection. If you think there are other good ones suitable for families, leave a comment and let us know.
It’s A Wonderful Life
This is the heart-warming and magical story of George Bailey who, one Christmas Eve, wishes he had never been born and has his wish granted by an angel. He spends the film being shown how the world would be different if he had never existed and finds out what good things he has actually done. Eventually he comes to realize just what a wonderful life he has – just in time for Christmas.
A Wonderful Life is one of the great Christmas films and if you haven’t watched it with your family yet, it’s time you did. Not really for toddlers, though.
A Christmas Carol 2009
There are several really good versions of Charles Dickens’ famous book but for me, the two outstanding ones are 1951’s Scrooge starring Alastair Sim and the Jim Carey’s 2009 version made by Disney.
Overall, my favourite is the latter. The animation is amazing and brings both the characters and the setting perfectly to life. If you can watch it in 3D then do so – it’s even more fabulous. However, even in 2D, it’s a superb version and Jim Carey’s portrayal of Scrooge is just as good as Sim’s. What I also like about this version is that they’ve not cut out half the story to make the film – it’s a good length and once you’re engaged you can’t take your eyes away.
Though nowhere near as well animated as A Christmas Carol, Polar Express is another essential family movie for Christmas. The kids will love it, though mine still get a little frightened when the little boy has to climb out on top of the train to rescue the golden ticket. It’s one of those real good old fashioned tales about belief, all symbolised by a tiny little bell that is given as a gift from Santa. Perfect Christmas Eve watching.
Rise of the Guardians
This is fairly new film that I’ve watched a couple of times now and keeps growing on me. It’s basically the story of how Jack Frost discovers his origins and transforms from a selfish boy to a guardian of goodness. He joins forces with Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy to battle against Jude law’s seriously sinister Pitch Black. There’s some excellent characters and heart-warming moments – especially as they all try to save Christmas.
We loved this film. Three generations of Santa here and the geriatric one is definitely my favourite. However, the pompous heir to the sleigh is magnificently played by Hugh Lawrie. Unfortunately, his pomposity is not what we really need in a Santa and it’s his bumbling but good-hearted younger brother, Arthur Christmas, aided by his grandfather, who saves the day. A fun film where modern life comes a good second to traditional values.
Miracle on 34th Street
One of the pictures that always come to mind when I think of Christmas is of walking down a city street in the evening with all the Christmas lights on and the windows filled with fantastic displays. Miracle on 34th Street reminds me of that. The story is charming. Is the man with the beard who works as Santa in the department store really the real Santa? And what is the miracle?
Short but beautiful. The Snowman is an awesome silent animation with a really atmospheric score that perfectly captures the season. It’s a modern day song of innocence and experience where a snowman comes to life and leads a little boy on the adventure of a lifetime. But snowmen, of course, are ephemeral, and soon melt away. Most UK readers will remember the song in the middle of the film, ‘Walking in the Air’, sung by a young Aled Jones.
This film is just downright funny. Buddy the Elf is actually a fostered human who was mistakenly taken back to the North Pole by Santa. Unfortunately, he doesn’t fit in. He’s three times as big as everyone and very clumsy. After discovering he’s really a human, he sets off on adventure to find his real family back in New York – except of course, he has no idea about people and his ignorance of society leads him into all kinds of scrapes. However, his kind heart and faith in Santa are what saves the day. Kids will love this film.
This is an animation of the Christmas story by ETA Hoffman which Tchaikovsky famously turned into a ballet. This version focuses closely on the story of the Nutcracker Prince who lives in a futuristic world until he is sent back in time by the evil Mouse King and turned into a wooden nutcracker.
Back in time, he meets Clara who helps him turn back into a human and together they return to his home world. After lots of magical adventures, he wins the battle with the Mouse King to regain his rightful place. This is a really good children’s action and adventure story with a traditional story underpinning it.
A warning here – this is either for families with teenage kids or for mums and dads to watch alone. It can be a little grown up in places, so if you don’t want your younger ones asking awkward questions wait till they have gone to bed. As a guide, if they still believe in Santa, it’s not for them!
However, it’s one of my favourite Christmas films. A truly British classic. Exceptionally funny and romantic with the odd tear jerking moment here and there. Some excellent acting, an outstanding script and perfect for this time of year. Oh, yes, and it’s all about love, actually!