With the most wonderful time of the year comes a proper smorgasbord of festive watches for viewers to devour. As we stay inside a bit more this year and nestle down to see what's on, Daily Info have picked out ten of their must-watch Christmas films that can be found on streaming platforms right now. There are those perfect for the whole family and others that are just right for once the little ones are in bed. So let’s begin our journey through these cinematic wonderlands...
Arthur Christmas (Netflix)
Of course the geniuses at Aardman would create a fabulous Christmas film. Following the lesser child in the Claus family as he travels the world to deliver one last present, the film brims with charm and wit, as the schmaltz is wrapped in a terrific adventure romp. It helps that the voice cast is packed with some beloved British stars including the likes of Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen.
Batman Returns (Now TV)
Daily Info’s movie expert’s favourite in both the 'Batman' and 'Christmas film' categories, Tim Burton’s second excursion to Gotham is a thrilling, terrifying watch that nicely offsets some of the cheery festive watches of the season. Michael Keaton is back in the cowl and this time faces off against an iconic leather-clad Michelle Pfeiffer (as Catwoman) and the grotesque perfection that is Danny DeVito’s Penguin. It’s the kind of superhero movie that you absolutely would not see made today.
Die Hard (Now TV)
We can ‘debate’ forever whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas film, but one thing we can be certain of is that it is a fabulous watch at any time of the year. A lean action romp, Die Hard follows a police officer (Bruce Willis), as he sets out to save the day and take down the thieves that have crashed his wife’s Christmas party. Willis has never been more human than he is here, and Alan Rickman is immediately iconic as the villainous Hans Gruber.
And if you need even more Bruce Willis action, Die Hard 2 can be found on Amazon Prime and is a decent action movie, even if it doesn’t match the original.
Elf (Now TV)
“SANTA! I know him.” Will Ferrell’s glorious festive comedy is a bright, silly star that shines out amongst the films to be watched this season. Ferrell’s turn, as a man raised by elves at the North Pole who travels to New York to find his father, sees the actor at his most charming (and, for some, most tolerable), in a film that is equal parts ridiculous family caper and sweet story with the right message for Christmas.
Gremlins (Now TV)
For those who need something a bit meaner and more mischievous right now, Joe Dante’s tale of a unique pet that causes chaos in a small town at Christmas is a work that resides between family fare and something all-together darker and probably not suitable for younger viewers. There’s oodles of violence and a speech from one of the characters as to why they hate Christmas that is perhaps a tad too close to a horror. But then the puppetry and effects are extraordinary, and Gizmo is one of the most adorable 80s creations.
The sequel isn’t a Christmas film, but it is a fun watch that is also on Now TV.
Home Alone (Disney +)
Christopher Columbus (who wrote the script for Gremlins) is responsible for several festive films, having recently directed The Christmas Chronicles 2. But it is Home Alone (written by the mighty John Hughes) that is perhaps his best work. A home invasion romp that comes with cartoonish violence, a sweet message about the need for family and terrific performances from the likes of Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern and Catherine O’Hara (yes, Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek).
The sequels are also on Disney + and Lost in New York is at least worth a watch thanks to the presence of Tim Curry in the cast.
It’s a Wonderful Life (Now TV)
Arguably the greatest Christmas film ever made, it was famously a flop on release but found a place in film fans’ hearts over the decades since. The tale of a man who is shown how important he is to the community around him whilst at his lowest point, its message that everyone can have a positive impact on those around them is one we need to hear at what can be a difficult time of a difficult year. James Stewart is wonderful in the lead role and, across a mighty career, this is probably Frank Capra’s best work.
Perhaps the best festive watch of the past five years, Klaus is a reimagining of the Christmas story brimming with warmth and personality. The story of a postman befriending a toymaker as they set out to give gifts to the children of their local community and end a bitter age-old feud, Klaus comes with gorgeous animation, some offbeat humour that goes down a treat and exemplary voice work from the likes of Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones and Joan Cusack. Plus, there is a sequence in the film’s second half that makes this film fan choke up every time he watches it.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Disney +)
A story oft told, there is one adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale of seasonal redemption that, for some at least, stands head and shoulders above the rest. Michael Caine takes on the role of Scrooge, whilst many of the most recognisable Muppets perform the other key roles. With a soundtrack of brilliant songs, heaps of comedic touches from our favourite puppets and a second half that is willing to embrace the darkness that is part of Dickens’ work, this is a firm staple of many households’ Christmas film line-ups. And in a career filled with brilliant performances, this is perhaps Caine’s finest turn.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney +)
An autumnal delight, Henry Selick’s stop-motion musical is a perfect of transitions from Halloween to Christmas and feels just right for those looking for something that appeals to older children. A dark, strange marvel, The Nightmare Before Christmas combines toe-tapping songs with a host of characters that are equal parts horrifying and adorable. It’s a work quite unlike anything Disney put out before (or indeed since) and is a festive favourite of Daily Info’s.