Express & Star

The Big Debate: The best Christmas film of them all

What’s the best Christmas film of all time? Dan Morris and Andy Richardson put forward their festive movie top picks.

Home Alone

Dan Morris: Die Hard and Home Alone

The best Christmas film? For once, ladies and gentlemen, there are two correct answers...

The jewel in the crown of 1988, John McTiernan's Die Hard gave us a festive flick with a difference, with a film that was marketed at the time as '40 stories of sheer adventure'. Sold!

A traditional entry in the Christmas-movie pantheon, this one is not. Yet with Bruce Willis's John McClane taking on tower block terrorists on Christmas Eve, it is a tale of good versus evil, the triumph of the underdog, and of sacrifice, faith and courage achieving glorious victory in the face of adversity (albeit with help from a machine gun... ho, ho, ho...). If that doesn't stir the Christmas spirit, I don't know what does. Except, wait... yes I do!

Not your particular brand of Baileys? How about a cute kid kicking burglar behinds?

Though it's somewhat disturbing to think that its leading star is now 43, Home Alone gave us a timeless Yuletide treat with a 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin front and centre.

There's no pre-teen on the planet that hasn't dreamed of doing some of things Mac gets up to in this absolute Christmas cracker, and there's nothing I love more than wheeling this one out every year and getting back in touch with my inner child. That, of course, is what Christmas is really all about.

So here's to my two Christmas heroes, John McClane and Kevin McCallister – a festive force of war from which there is no escape.

Joe Pesci, Alan Rickman and other assorted bad guys be warned; you're gonna' get your turkey trimmed.

Andy Richardson: It's A Wonderful Life

George Bailey is all of us. The lead role in Frank Capra’s iconic It’s A Wonderful Life is the man who has given up his dreams to help others. Things don’t pan out, of course, because they never do. And when George reaches his lowest ebb, when he decides to call it a day, his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, arrives and persuades him to keep going. He achieves that by showing George how many lives he’s touched and what the world would be like if he didn’t exist.

With good reason, It’s a Wonderful Life is considered one of the greatest films of all time, and among the best Christmas films ever. And there’s a simple reason for that: it’s relatable.

We all get down on our luck, especially at Christmas, a time when we have to buy presents we can’t afford, spend time with relatives we don’t like, commit to work we don’t want to do because it eats into time that we might otherwise be spending with family we do like – oh, yes, and it’s always cold, wet, and dark – but never snowy.

And yet. And yet. It’s A Wonderful Life is a film about perspective, about counting our blessings, about realising that life is far from perfect – but those imperfections make it, well, wonderful.

It’s an everyman film that encourages us not to be hard on ourselves and to look for the joy in the small, everyday stuff that we take for granted. Call it sentimental – it is – but it’s is a film that shows how good guys sometimes win.

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