Christmas films to watch in Oxford 2023

Christmas has landed in cinemas with an overflowing sack of choices. For the perfect film to escape the festive shopping or the December chill, Daily Info has collected the movies you can choose from.

Something more modern

With the extended time off school and work, cinemas have a pair of blockbusters hoping to coax audiences in. In the red corner is the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel, Wonka. Directed by Paddington’s Paul King with an all-star ensemble headed by Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant, here’s hoping this sugar rush contains some of the nastiness that Roald Dahl’s original text contains. And in the blue corner is the DC superheroes sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the final film in the now defunct DCEU (its getting a reboot in 2025). Star Jason Momoa returns as does director James Wan for (fingers crossed) some suitably rousing superhero fare.

More festive-tinged newbies are Journey to Bethlehem, a musical retelling of THAT birth and the latest CBeebies Panto, this year’s iteration being Robin Hood. Oh and if you have time check out the preview for 2024’s The Holdovers. The festive set (bizarrely released in the UK in January) award contender looks to be a harkening back to 70s drama and could be a very good way to spend your Boxing Day (at the Phoenix Picturehouse).

And last year's Spirited is back in cinemas, in its all-singing, all-dancing, glossy festive form.

Classic crimbo

Two of the most beloved festive watches can be found back in cinemas. Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life teaches the power an individual can have on the community, whilst The Muppets Christmas Carol is, in this writer’s view, the quintessential take on Charles Dickens’ text. Bring tissues for both as they may well cause a tear or two to be shed.

The adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ beloved The Snowman is a firm festive staple and can be found in cinemas this month with its charming sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog.

And a classic that has felt slightly lost in recent years is Santa Claus: the Movie. The 1985 film, starring Dudley Moore and John Lithgow, has had a much deserved 4K re-release and is back in cinemas as it closes in on its 40th anniversary.

Classy crimbo

For those who like their festivities of a classy variety, Todd Haynes’ romance, Carol has you covered, with beautiful work from Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Sarah Paulson. Or you could go for Greta Gerwig’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. What better way to celebrate Gerwig directing the biggest film of the year then revisiting this masterpiece?

And for those who want their Christmas Carols with fewer Muppets, there’s Simon Callow’s one man filmed performance of the story, bringing the theatrical to the screen.

Romance at Christmas

In the 2000s you couldn’t move for seasonally appropriate British rom coms, and a trio of these can be found in cinemas. Questionable body image representation aside, Bridget Jone’s Diary is a terrific take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, with some great performances from Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. The screenplay is by Richard Curtis who is responsible for the all-star romance fest that is Love Actually (you’ll either love it or hate it), which is perhaps the most quintessential of 00s rom coms. And for those who want to mix snowy Curtis-esque idyllic British countryside with more sunny LA, then The Holiday is the one for you and is, thankfully, with a lower cringe count then Love Actually.

Something for the children

And there are, of course, a cacophony of family friendly releases. If there’s a Christmas film that has been released since the 90s for younglings, you can probably find it in cinemas. The big re-release is Elf, with the Will Ferrell starring delight turning 20 this year.

There’s also Jim Carrey’s slapstick heavy How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Tim Allen’s Santa killing comedy, The Santa Claus, and Aardman’s delightful Arthur Christmas.

For some the slightly terrifying The Polar Express is the seasonal watch for them. But really, it’s home invasion romp Home Alone (plus it’s lesser but still fun sequel) that means Christmas for a lot.

Something a little darker

But this writer often craves darker films this time of year. Henry Selick’s A Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion gem, spiky and meanspirited with some amazing animation. Martin McDonagh’s sweary In Bruges counts as a Christmas film, just one with a heart made of coal.

But Die Hard is the seasonal must watch. One of the finest action films of its era, a star-making work for Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, it’s become as Christmassey as It’s a Wonderful Life and The Muppets Christmas Carol.

Open air classics

Finally, for the brave, two pubs have open air screenings. The Victoria Arms has a robust collection of films, with showings of Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone, Die Hard, The Polar Express, and Home Alone 2.

The Town Arms in Wallingford are screening in December both Elf and Die Hard, and serve some of the finest burgers in Oxfordshire. So it may be worth heading out into the cold for a fun way to watch these classics.

Check out our event listings for even more films to check out this festive period.

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