This month, in the lead-up to Christmas I have watched a range of Christmas movies. The list was created by my daughter as a Christmas movie Advent calendar list. Some are animated television movies, some are feature films. All have appeal to particular age groups, many have cross-generational appeal. I hope the countdown to Christmas is interesting to you, my dear reader. If there are Christmas films not on the list that you think should have been included please comment so we can watch it next December. I finished the month with a non-seasonal selection.
1. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town 7.5/10
Stars: Mickey Rooney and Fred Astaire
This Rankin/Bass children’s movie special has all the characteristics of the productions by this company. Great animation and a storyline with appeal for children makes it a timeless classic worth re-watching each year.
2. Miracle on 34th Street 8/10
Stars: Edmund Gwenn and Maureen O’Hara
This Christmas classic has timeless appeal and includes strong performances by the cast. Gwenn is excellent as Kris Kringle and the story is well structured and entertaining.
3. Barbie in the Nutcracker 6/10
Stars: Kellie Sheriden and Kirby Morrow
While the music and the story are relatively sound in this animated movie, the animation is not of a high standard. The redeeming feature is the choreography to Tchaikovsky’s classical Nutcracker Suite.
4. Scrooged 6/10
Stars: Bill Murray and Karen Allen
Not one of Murray’s better roles but there is some comedic merits in parts. Sadly, this movie is a little dated.
5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer 8/10
Stars: Billie Mae Richards and Burl Ives
Another Rankin/Bass made for TV children’s classic with some memorable melodies. The message that being different is not a disadvantage has timeless merit.
6. Eloise at Christmastime 7/10
Stars: Julie Andrews and Sophie Vasselieva
This is one of a series of made for TV movies and there is a certain appeal in its storyline. The young actress in the title role gives an excellent performance and Andrews is perfect as the nanny.
7. I’ll Be Home For Christmas 7.5/10
Stars: Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Jessica Biel
A fun Christmas tale with Thomas and Biel giving steady performances. Some quite humorous moments as well as good cinematography made this enjoyable viewing.
8. Santa Claus: The Movie 6/10
Stars: Dudley Moore and John Lithgow
This is a mildly entertaining children’s movie that traces the beginning of Santa’s career as the immortal giftgiver. Moore is slightly annoying as the elf, Patch.
9. Polar Express 6.5/10
Stars: Tom Hanks and Chris Coppola
This movie is visually good but seemed a little too long for a children’s movie. There are some quite tense moments but the story moves towards a predictable ending.
10. The Santa Clause 7/10
Stars: Tim Allen and Judge Reinhold
A reasonably strong story and good performances plus some quite humorous dialogue makes this an entertaining Christmas offering. Good performance as well by a young David Krumholtz.
11. Frosty the Snowman 7/10
Stars: Andy Griffith and Shelley Winter
Another Rankin/Bass children’s movie that has withstood the test of time. Cute songs, good animations and a quick movie story based on the Christmas song make it a fun watch.
12. The Muppet Christmas Carol 7/10
Stars: Michael Caine and Dave Goelz
This Muppets offering has the usual host of cameo appearances and all the regular Muppet characters. Caine gives a steady performance as Ebenezer Scrooge.
13. White Christmas 7/10
Stars: Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye
Good performances by all and Irving Berlin’s classic song “White Christmas” make this enjoyable viewing, although it’s not really a Christmas movie.
14. The Grinch 6.5/10
Stars: Jim Carey and Taylor Morrison
Though I am not a huge fan of Carrey, he does a good job in the tile role of this live action adaptation of the Dr Suess story. Excellent make-up effects for all characters,
15. Alvin & The Chipmunks 7/10
Stars: Jason Lee and Justin Long
Very good animation and strong performance by all make this an entertaining offering. The songs are catchy and the storyline in this movie version of the cartoon series moves steadily along.
Stars: Chevy Chase and Beverley D’Angelo
These movies have little attraction for me but I acknowledge that fans might find this one very humorous. The sequesce with the Christmas lights was funniest in my opinion.
17. Die Hard 8/10
Stars: Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman
A Christmas movie purely because it’s set on Christmas Eve but an entertaining action movie and one of the leaders in the genre.
18. The Little Drummer Boy 7/10
Stars: Jose Ferrer and Ted Eccles
Another Rankin/Bass children’s special made for TV. The music is good and the classic song of the title is performed well. A nice interpretation of the nativity story.
19. It’s a Wonderful Life 8.5/10
Stars: James Stewart and Donna Reed
This classic should be part of everyone’s Christmas viewing. Stewart gives his usual highly polished endearing everyman performance and Reed is likable as his wife. Strong story and a good cast.
20. Elf 7.5/10
Stars: Will Ferrell and James Caan
I was quite surprised to find this movie entertaining but it has a certain something that makes the story enjoyable and the cast likable. I especially liked Caan’s performance as the busy executive.
21. Arthur Christmas 8/10
Stars: James McAvoy and Jim Broadbent
A cute animated Christmas movie with some poignant moments. Entertaining and worth watching. Should be on every Christmas movie list.
22. Love Actually 8/10
Stars: Hugh Grant and Bill Nighy
A romantic comedy with a strong cast who give very good performances. Some quite funny moments and a Christmas motif make it worth watching
23. A Charlie Brown Christmas 8/10
Stars: Peter Robbins and Bill Melendez
A good message in this classic Peanuts special as Charlie Brown seeks the true meaning of Christmas. Worth re-visiting as a reminder that the spirit of giving is more important than the commercialism that surrounds the season.
24. How the Grinch Stole Christmas 6/10
Stars: Boris Karloff
A classic Christmas special with great music composed by Albert Hague and lyrics by Dr Seuss this children’s story has a cohesive plot and is typical of the time in which it originally screened.
25. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 8/10
Stars: Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig
This remake of the 1947 movie was entertaining. Some great scenes, especially Mitty’s daydreams, but the cinematography on his real adventures was superb.
26. The Land Before Time 7/10
Stars: Gabriel Damon and Judith Barsi
The first of the franchise and certainly the best this movie has some moments that seem slightly scary for a very young audience but holds a certain attraction for school-aged children. It flows well and has no unnecessary plot areas.
27. You Instead (aka Tonight You’re Mine) 6/10
Stars: Luke Treadaway and Rebecca Benson
A music festival scenario gives a lot of opportunities for some excellent music excerpts. Great cinematography captures the excitement of this sort of event. Not one for everybody but still entertaining/
28. Atlantis: The Lost Empire 7.5/10
Stars: Michael J. Fox and Leonard Nimoy
This Disney movie is a little different to their usual offerings with themes that moved it from a G to a PG classification. It’s a little dark and serious which makes it an interesting movie to watch.
29. Kill Your Darlings 7.5/10
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan
A thoughtful look at the events that led to the careers of poets Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs with fineportrayals of these literary figure by Radcliffe, Jack Huston and Ben Foster. DeHaan also gives a strong performance as the fourth member of their group of iconoclasts.
30. American Hustle 7/10
Stars Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
A little slow moving to begin with but picked up momentum after a while. Great performances by Bale, Cooper and the rest of the cast. Some very funny moments made it entertaining
31. Saving Mr Banks 10/10
Stars: Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks
I couldn’t find anything to fault in this movie. The cast is excellent, the storyline is humorous and, at the same time, moving, there’s the classic Mary Poppins songs and great direction. Special mention to Annie Rose Buckley as Ginty (the author P.L.Travers as a child)