50 Unmissable Christmas Movies

6. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

It’s a Wonderful Life Review

It’s a Wonderful Life was the first film made by Liberty Pictures, a short-lived production company formed by filmmaking giants William Wyler, George Stevens, and the film’s director, Frank Capra. Shockingly, it didn’t find much success upon release and was a relative financial disaster for its newly formed studio, only earning its status as a certified all-time great Christmas fable in the decades that followed once it was re-evaluated by audiences in the age of television.

The striking visuals and haunting story play like any timeless holiday tale, illuminating anti-capitalist themes to celebrate the ideas of community, love, friendship and honour and that underpin our communities and each of us. With a striking lead performance by one of the era’s great leads, James Stewart, and featuring one of the most wholesome and memorable narratives of any Christmas movie in history, It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas film with an enduring quality. JW

7. It Happened On Fifth Avenue (1947)

This comedy musical about two homeless men moving into a house whilst its owners are away for the winter is an obvious “good will to all” Christmas story, but one that still holds decent weight all these decades later.

Messages of community and found family are at the heart of this seasonal favourite, with one of its key takeaways being how a man’s worth is not dependent on how many dollars are in his wallet but on how many people he can call his friends. JW

8. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind”.

A Macy’s Department Store Santa who goes by Kris Kringle claims to be the real Mr Claus and must convince not only a cynical mother and daughter but the whole world in a court of law.

This is such an iconic Christmas story that the later version with Richard Attenborough and Mara “Matilda” Wilson isn’t even the most famous version. Edmund Gwenn deservedly won an Oscar for his warm but resolute portrayal of Kringle and the film deftly balances magic with realism, comedy with darkness and what Christmas has become vs what it should be. SSP

9. Scrooge / A Christmas Carol (1951)

Ebenezer Scrooge’s lifelong cruel and miserly ways are put to the test on Christmas Eve when three ghosts show him the impact of his actions in his past, present and future.

The definitive big screen adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic festive fable is rightly iconic and best remembered for Alastair Sim’s frosty, funny take on the greatest skinflint in literature. No other version to date (except perhaps The Muppets Christmas Carol) gets under Scrooge’s skin as effectively, fleshing him out as a real, flawed human being and serving up some iconic, moody Yuletide imagery to boot. SSP

Recommended for you: A Christmas Carol Movies Ranked

10. White Christmas (1954)

Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) directs this film about a song-and-dance team attempting to save a failing inn from imminent closure, its most famous export being the 2nd rendition of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, which debuted in Holiday Inn 12 years earlier.

The first film to ever be presented in the famous VistaVision format, White Christmas is bursting with colour and shine, with every frame radiating the energy and spirit of Christmas we’ve come to recognise in more modern seasonal cinema. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney are simply magnificent in their communication of the joy and pleasure of performing, as well as classical in their presentation of romance, making for a nostalgic and traditional Christmas movie presentation. JW

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Leave a Comment