Ten Films for Festive Fun!

We all love a trip to the pictures (please tell me if no-one says that anymore!). The huge bags of Revels that you'd never normally eat at one sitting, the giant Diet Cokes that mean you have to dash off to the loo during a 'quiet moment'. The giant screens, the 3D sound systems, the kids leaping up and down on the row in front are all part of the experiences (okay, maybe not the last bit). But at Christmas time it's the films we watch at home that matter. Surrounded by family & friends or snuggled up alone. Our hands grasping a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate. The Quality Street tin open. The answerphone on. The Christmas film experience is all about tradition. Why else would be arrange to watch the same films year after year? It's about cosy, comfortable, non-challenging, uncontroversial films. Or at least it is in our house. We all have different tastes when it comes to the types of films we love, but at Christmas it seems we all want the same thing. And while I wouldn't presume to produce a list of the top-ten Yuletide movies of all time, here is a list of ten fab films - that always seem to play a part in our family Christmas celebrations. So here they are, in no particular order, ten films for festive fun …

White Christmas (1954)

We all know the theme song - although it originally appeared in the black and white film Holiday Inn in 1942 - so how could any Yuletide be complete without an airing of this classic Christmas movie? Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney (yes gorgeous George's aunt) and Vera-Ellen, romance, snow (eventually) and a host of great Irving Berlin songs (Sisters, Snow and the title track) combine for the ultimate feel-good movie. It doesn't matter that the plot is as thin as tissue paper, or that you've seen it 20 times before. It's Christmas!

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

Set at Christmas time, this wonderful romantic comedy has a brilliant cast, a fun storyline, and covers all the essential themes of a classic Christmas movie: loneliness, finding someone to love, family (a charmingly dysfunctional one at that), a misunderstanding, snow, tinsel and the classic family-around-the-dinner-table scene.

Love Actually (2003)

A fabulous Richard Curtis comedy with a terrific ensemble cast and many interweaving storylines. Each one is about love in all its forms, whether romantic, familial, matey, unrequited, fading, blossoming, teenage angst, grief and so on. There's even a guardian angel. And a fab soundtrack.

A Christmas Carol (many)

The classic Charles Dickens story is surely the most-filmed of all Christmas stories outside of the Nativity. Because there are so many versions of this I'm not going to bother to suggest which one you watch. However, I will tell you my favourites: the 1999 version with Patrick Stewart and The Muppet Christmas Carol of 1992. Shakepearean actor versus crazy puppets? Well, you can't say my tastes aren't eclectic!

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Any film with John Candy is a shoo-in Chez Raggedy Ann Girl. Add in Steve Martin, a nightmare journey through terrible weather from New York to Chicago and just about every mishap you could ever imagine and you have a classic comedy. Okay, the characters are trying to get home for Thanksgiving not Christmas, but this matters not a jot and you'll laugh riotously throughout.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

This Frank Capra classic stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man driven to desperation on Christmas Eve. Trapped in his family's savings and loans business in the town of Bedford Falls, George has been forced by circumstance to give up his youthful ambitions to see the world. Now the business, and the town itself, face ruin thanks to the actions of an heartless shareholder. Saved from suicide by his guardian angel Clarence, George wishes he had never been born and so is shown the impact  on his family and on the people of Bedford Falls had he never have existed. It's a Wonderful film!

The Holiday (2006)

Two unlucky-in-love women - an American (Cameron Diaz) and a Brit (Kate Winslet) - swap homes at Christmas time to escape their romantic disappointments. Their contrasting lifestyles provide each other with surprises along the way and the snowbound cottage that Diaz rents is to die for … even if it is a fake built only for the film.

Jingle All the Way (1996)

Two dads, one of whom is Arnold Schwarzenegger, battle to get the last available stock of the must-have toy of the year for their sons.  Okay, it's not a classic, and it's stuffed full of well-meaning morality, but it's funny, it's Christmassy and it's Arnie!

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Although this was remade in 1994 this is by far the better version. Starring Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle - a man who claims to be the real Santa Claus when employed by Macy's as their in-store Santa - in a role that won him an Oscar, this film is an absolute Yuletide delight. Even if you don't believe the man in a red suit is real, you soon will do!

The Polar Express (2004)

The animation alone in this wonderful, live-action capture animation film, is reason to list the film. But the story - one of lost and restored faith, friendship and adventure is totally charming.