‘It makes me cry with laughter!’: readers recommend 15 fabulous Christmas films | Movies

Alistair Sim's Scrooge.
Alistair Sim’s Scrooge. Photo: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy

The original Ebenezer is, of course, the Alastair Sim. Ideally, I’d love to watch this on an old videotape with the BBC’s logo and anchor in the early ’80s before the movie even started. Every Christmas, we’d watch Mr. Sim transform from a cold, tough guy with a pastry face into an cuddly uncle. Just thinking about it makes my eyes good. I sit with my kids to watch Scrooge as much as I can get away with it, and I’m always so impressed with this great movie.
Kate HurleyAlexander’s apprentice Technology Instructor and Home Care Provider, Mitcham

Meg Ryan at You got Mail.
Meg Ryan at You got Mail. Photo: Allstar Ltd./Alamy . Photo Library

I first fell in love with this movie at the age of 14, while staying at my cousin’s house for the Christmas holidays. One scene that comes to mind is Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) decorating a Christmas tree in her library window and remembering Joni Mitchell’s song, The River. I watch You Have Got Mail every year, but just last Christmas, in the midst of heartbreaking and deeply losing a loved one, I listened to what Kathleen actually says in that scene, as she talks about how she “misses” my mom so much that she almost She can’t breathe.” I paused the movie to listen to River, while tears streamed down my face. My heart has calmed over Christmas and into the New Year.
Mustafa AhmedWeb Designer, Manchester

Jaroslav Dusik and Eva Holopova in Bielski.
Jaroslav Ducek and Eva Holopova in the film Pelišky by Jan Hrybek. Photo: Christofel Group / Alami

Pelišky (Comfortable Dens, 1999)

This is a Czech film about families living in an apartment in 1967 in Prague. It revolves around the Christmas holidays and presents the struggles of generations with both humor and sadness. I watch it every year with my mother who is originally from Slovakia. We are the only family members living in the United States, and it helps connect us to our culture every Christmas.
Maya KavulikovaStudent, North Carolina, United States

John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in Serendipity.
John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in Serendipity. Photo: Picture Lux/Hollywood Archives/Alamy

For me and my wife, this movie starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale is the movie that heralds the holiday season. It’s a hugely underrated movie that has a big heart, great soundtrack, and brilliant dialogue. We watch it every year over the past weekend in November, and our bottom lips always tremble when Nick Drake’s awesome Northern Sky movie comes into play during the last moments of the movie. It was also the music we chose to play when we walked down the aisle.
James Take, thirsk

Lenny Henry and Alan Cumming in Bernard and the Genie.
Lenny Henry and Alan Cumming in Bernard and the Genie. Photo: BBC

Bernard and the Genie (1991)

Bernard and the Genie is a BBC movie from the 1990s. My mom recorded it on TV and my siblings and I loved it. Lenny Henry plays the Genie (who was a friend of Jesus). Discover the modern world and how fun Christmas is. Rowan Atkinson plays the bad guy, and Alan Cumming is the guy with no luck before he finds the lamp. It’s full of Christmas cheer – everyone should watch this time of year. Angelo Virciglio, Assistant Director of Operations at GP Clinic, Waltham Cross

A Christmas Story (1983)

Jeff Gillen and Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story.
Jeff Gillen and Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story. Photo: MGM/Allstar

I have a weakness in the Christmas story. It was filmed in Toronto, and although it was filmed in the 1940s in Cleveland, it reminds me of home. In some scenes you can see the old Red Rocket trams I used to take to college in the 80s. The snow and night sky in the movie look exactly like what we see in Canada. I can also relate to your mother freezing before facing the cold outside – the scene where Randy can’t lower his arms is accurate.
Adrian died, Artist, North Vancouver, British Columbia

snowman.
Snow trade is like… a snowman. Photo: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

Snowman always brings tears to my eyes. I watch it with my mother every Christmas night without fail, followed by The Bear (1998) – at which point she goes to wrap presents while I continue watching, like a child. The scene where the little boy and the snowman turn to hug each other and say their last goodbyes makes me laugh every time. Beautiful classic Christmas.
Anna Edgell, Graphic Designer and Illustrator, Leeds

Steve Martin on Planes, Trains and Cars.
Steve Martin on Planes, Trains and Cars. Photo: AA Film Archive / Alamy

Planes, Trains, and Cars (1987)

For me, a Christmas movie is the kind of movie you can watch whenever it happens – regardless of whether it’s just starting, halfway, or nearing the end. In that sense, Planes, Trains, and Cars is a great Christmas movie: it’s one of the best movies starring the great John Candy; It is very funny and touching. It never gets old. That the movie is all about Thanksgiving isn’t a problem for non-Americans—it’s still about time with family.
Ares Tecklenburg, Holland

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray in Remembering the Night.
Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray in Remembering the Night. Photo: United Archives GmbH / Alamy

Remember the Night (1940)

This is a movie that rarely makes Christmas movie lists – but it should be. It was written by Preston Sturges and it was the movie that convinced him that directing his work was the way forward – which led to some great spiral comedies, like The Lady Eve (1941) and Sullivan Travels (1941). But Remember Tonight is a brilliantly sad and brilliant piece of studio-era holiday counter-programs in Hollywood. It is the first and best of the four films that combine Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray. If saccharine holiday movies intrigue you, give Remember the Night: They capture the sorrows and joys of Christmas in equal measure—and how family can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.
Tim Palmer, University Professor, Wilmington, North Carolina, United States

Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy at Trading Places.
Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy at Trading Places. Photo: Everett Group / Rex Vito

Trading Places (1983)

I love trading places, because the madness on screen gives us permission to be goofy, and original in real life too. I love that, when the rich character played by Dan Aykroyd loses her money, he becomes as desperate as we can all be on a bad day; The scene where he was drunk eating smoked salmon in a bus while dressed as Santa Claus is etched in my mind. Every actor is great, every character is believable, and the manners in the tale are great – but most importantly, it’s just so funny. Magali Fradit, acupuncturist, javia, Spain

Bill Murray and Carol Kane in the movie Scrooged.
Bill Murray and Carol Kane in the movie Scrooged. Photo: Paramount/Allstar

I watched Scrooged at the cinema with my dad in 1988 and have watched it most Christmases since. It is Bill Murray’s most dangerous performance. He’s perfect as Frank Cross, a TV executive who is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, during a live broadcast. I laugh every time I see her. It features the best comedy set in the movie (when Frank leaves the restaurant), the best Karen Allen performance, and a lot of heart. True, it got cheesy in the end, but thanks to all the laughs, this movie gets away with it.
James KeatonAnd West London

Paddington (2014).
Bear Necessities… Paddington. Photo: Studiocanal/Allstar

Paddington (2014)

When Paddington was released, I was working in Australia. A delay with immigration delayed my return home, which meant I wasn’t sure I’d be back in Blighty for a family reunion. Fortunately, my visa arrived and I was back in time for a trip to the cinema to see Paddington. As we watched, my brother and I relived our youth, when we first heard the Paddington stories on a very old tape, narrated by Bernard Crippens. We were also fans of Paddington’s board game. There was a lot of laughter and nostalgia – and when we got home, we made marmalade sandwiches.
Helen, High School, Manchester

Caroline Grimes and James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life.
Caroline Grimes and James Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. Photo: Rko/Allstar

This is a great movie any time of the year, but at Christmas it has an extra flair. It deals with fate, memory, age, abandoned dreams and frustrated desires. It is about the value of life. It rests on a bunch of excellent performances, and after seeing it at such a young age, it took me so long to see it again that I started to think I dreamed of it. I only had to give it up once: it was after the death of my father, who passed on his love of movies to me. I sat down to watch it, but kept crying, so I had to stop.
Adam KimmelRetired, London

Will Ferrell in Elf.
Will Ferrell in Elf. Photo: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

My wife and I love the slapstick, frenetic pace, and gentle message of Christmas traditions in this movie. We also appreciate the acting, from Will Ferrell’s totally over-the-top characterization to James Kahn’s flawless portrayal of a long-lost father. Bob Newhart also plays a dead-end dwarf, which gives the movie a slightly hallucinatory feel. When Buddy is super excited about Father Christmas coming to Gimbel, we weep with laughter. It ticks all the boxes of Christmas movies: the humor, the sentiment, the snowmen, the elves, and the wonderfully special Father Christmas. As they get older, my daughters appreciate the different jokes in the movie too – it will always be a family favourite.
run outArchitect, London

Taylor Momsen and Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Taylor Momsen and Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Photo: Universal Pictures / Allstar

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

My dad took me to see this in the cinema when it first came out. We’ve watched it together every year since then, so we both now know the entire script by heart. As a kid, I loved Cindy and totally wanted to be her friend, but as I got older, the Grinch became more and more attached. He has some classic quotes that I use daily to disappoint my family. Humor is very much my taste – sometimes silly, sometimes dark, a lot of jokes with hidden meanings. It’s funny and timeless.
Unknown Blackburn

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