Joe Gill picks his top five festive movies
The Snowman (1982)
Based on Raymond Briggs’ book, this is probably the most magical of all children’s movies. The beautiful and wordless animation takes place on Christmas Eve when a snowman comes to life and takes a boy on a magical flight across the world. Poignant and touching, it will always be associated with the ‘Walking in the Air’ title song.
Trading Places (1983)
A couple of evil old bankers decide to settle a nature vs nurture wager by seeing what would happen if a pompous commodity trader and a poor black street hustler were to swap places. This heartwarming comedy is rightly compared to Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life and works brilliantly thanks to the outstanding performances of Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, the latter proving to be an unforgettable drunk and suicidal street Santa.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The Muppet’s version of Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol sees Kermit the Frog take the role of Bob Cratchit in this hugely entertaining moral of Christmas generosity. Loyal to the original story, Michael Caine plays Ebeneezer Scrooge who receives a visit on Christmas Eve from three spirits who help to show him the error of his stingy ways. An humorous and thought-provoking version for the whole family.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, accidentally discovers Christmas Town and wants to bring it back to his ghoulish home. Everything in Tim Burton’s stop-action animation looks strange and wonderful. The richness of the animation is breathtaking and the story and characters are delightful but be warned – it may scare the wits out of the little ones.
In an idyllic American small town, a father buys his son a super cute gremlin for Christmas from a shop in Chinatown. Except it isn’t so cute after all. What they don’t know is that feeding it after midnight or getting it wet turns it into a nasty – and rapidly multiplying – beastie. A witty modern fairytale that cleverly sends up a lot of Hollywood movie cliches.
AND here’s one you may not have heard of:
* Dinner for One
Filmed as an 18 minute one-take sketch in 1963, this English comedy written by British author Lauri Wylie has entered the history books as the most frequently repeated TV programme ever – yet many people in the UK remain unaware of its existence. Starring Freddie Frinton and May Warden, the seemingly timeless comedy is shown to families amassed round the TV predominantly in Germany on December 24 while countries throughout continental Europe and even South Africa either screen the original or have their own national version.