1. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) Dir: Frank Capra
First up is probably the most traditional Christmas film on our list – It’s A Wonderful Life. Known for it’s realism and sentimentality, the American classic, based on Phillip Van Doren Stern’s “The Greatest Gift” is one of James Stewart’s most iconic roles, and centres on George Bailey, who’s attempt at suicide is thwarted by a guardian angel, who shows him why his existence isn’t as insignificant as he imagined.
It’s A Wonderful Life is a personal favourite of Courses Manager Rory: “People in the office moaned that this was too obvious when I said it (people who haven’t actually seen the film most likely). It’s obvious because it’s never been bettered. Each viewing you forget how dark it gets, which is what makes it’s ending so perfect. The only film I still cry at the end of every time I watch it, regardless of knowing exactly what is going to happen.”
2. The Greatest Store In The World (1999) Dir: Jane Prowse
Next up is The Greatest Store In The World and is the only TV film on our list. It follows rough sleeper Geraldine and her two daughters Livvie and Angeline, who take up residence in a Selfridges-esque department store where they live a life of comparative luxury by attempting to avoid suspicion from the security guard.
The Greatest Store In The World is first choice of Raindance Marketing Manager, Joe: “On the surface, The Greatest Department Store in the World is your classic sickly-sweet Christmas film, but beneath it all, this TV movie is firmly rooted in the stark realities of this increasingly-commercialised holiday – particularly the mounting pressures faced by parents to provide a perfect Christmas experience. Featuring a Home Alone-style attempted robbery on the store and cameo appearances from S Club 7, the film is a lot of fun, but also acknowledges how difficult a time Christmas can be, which is refreshing (It also stars Brian Blessed.”)
3. Edward Scissorhands (1990) Dir: Tim Burton
A dark romantic fairytale about a boy with scissors for hands doesn’t sound like your atypical Christmas film, but apart from being a science experiment, Edward’s character is symbolic of what it means to be an outcast, which is particularly moving given the Christmas period setting.
Edward Scissorhands is an all time favourites of Alice, Content and Communications as “Watching Edward Scissorhands is like a tradition over Christmas – I have lots of personal memories of watching it with my brother, and we see it every year.”
4. Catch Me If You Can (2002) Dir: Steven Spielberg
When you think about Spielberg’s 2002 bio-graphical crime drama, Catch Me If You Can, you don’t instantly think “Christmas film” – but the movie, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken, that’s based on the real story of how a 19 year old, successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a Pan American pilot, a lawyer and doctor, uses Christmas as a motif throughout, which explains why the worldwide Christmas Day release was the 25th December 2002.
Catch Me If You Can is the Christmas favourite of Yasmeen, Content and Communications: “I admire this film for so many reasons including Leo’s performance as Frank Abagnale Jr, the stylishness of the 60s and Christopher Walken being extremely cool (as always), and talking nonsense about two mice in a bucket for every on screen opportunity. But, I guess what I love most, is the storytelling, and how beneath the surface Catch Me If You Can is really all about the complexity of family life and the lead character’s desire of putting his back together.”
5. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) Dir: Shane Black
Next up is the neo-noir crime comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Written and Directed by Shane Black, this R rated film blurs the lines between genres and follows a thief posing as an actor, a private eye and an actress as they become implicated in a murder case filled with deception, betrayal and romance.
This Christmas choice belongs to Filmmaker in residence,Harvey: “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the perfect movie to get you into the Christmas spirit, sort of. The film is a blend of genres and features great performances from the cast (though it’s Robert Downey Jr, so what did you expect?) It has mystery, murder, a dark sense of humour and Christmas hats, and if that doesn’t spell out Christmas Day to you, then we obviously come from very different households.”
6. Filth (2013) Dir: Jon.S Baird
As you’ve probably noticed our choice of Christmas films are pretty out there, and Filth is not an exception. Based on the hit novel by Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting,) Filth stars James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson, a mentally ill policeman, whose manipulative and shocking antics carry this dark and stylish film to it’s climatic end.
Filth is a favourite with Office Administrator Mirella: “Arguably, Filth does not offer the most festive perspective on relationships, even co-existence. Only bearably lighter than the Welsh-book, I love the fuelled by exquisite ensemble work, and the way the film slowly drifts towards the depths of existential darkness, balancing Christmas cheer, family values, and forced normalcy in the background. Shredding his boyish charm, McAvoy also marches forth to dramatic greatness to the sound of Clint Mansell’s (Requiem For A Dream, 2000) haunting score.”
7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Dir: Jeremiah S. Chechik
Next on our list is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Written by John Hughes and starring Chevy Chase, the movie is commonly thought of as a Christmas classic, and perfectly captures the family dynamics and Christmas spirit of the festive season.
This choice is a hit with Mary-Beth, Content and Communications: “My favourite Christmas movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) directed by Jeremiah Chechik. It tells the typically disastrous Christmas story that we all know too well. Every Christmas season, I gather with my obnoxious family to watch the Griswolds gather with their obnoxious family, a relatable irony I find with sentiment of the holidays.”
8. Home Alone (1990) Dir: Chris Colombus
Next up is possibly the most popular Christmas franchise of all time- Home Alone. Known for Macaulay Culkin, it’s slapstick comedy, and for perfectly embodying the Christmas spirit, the movie which was also written and produced by John Hughes, is commonly regarded as the ULTIMATE Christmas film, and is also the highest-grossing live action comedy film of all time in the US.
Home Alone is the favourite for Raindance Festival Co-ordinator Julien, simply because”It’s fun, it’s stress, and it’s Christmas.”