Countdown to Christmas with these 24 festive films

CHRISTMAS.

It's the time of year known for sweltering summer days, it's the season of giving, kids look forward to presents and is best for spending time with loved ones.

It's also a time for film: some are good - think one of the funniest movies of all time in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and action classic Die Hard (it definitely counts), and there's a lot that are, to put it nicely, below average.

I've previously written about my Scrooge-like stance on early Christmas carols, and I still maintain Christmas Day is perfect for sport, but this year, we're trying something different at my place: a Christmas movie, every day of December until Christmas Day.

It sounds easy, but there's a lot that goes into a list like this.

You have to compile a list of more than 24 Christmas films, make sure your favourites are there, whittle them down to an agreed 24 then schedule them in a fair order.

You also have to be able to watch the films, so most of the list below are available on popular streaming services Netflix, Stan or Foxtel.

The beauty of this list, at least for the author, is most of these titles will be watched for the first time.

December 1: Pottersville (Netflix)

Michael Shannon, Judy Greer and Ron Perlman headline this 2017 comedy, set in the fictional town of Pottersville, which has struggled since the closure of the town's mill.

Set during the holiday season with a soundtrack of Christmas carols, a mistaken sighting of Bigfoot brings international media attention and a major tourism windfall.

December 2: Lethal Weapon (Foxtel)

The 1987 classic opens with a high-speed chase to "Jingle Bell Rock" so yes, it counts.

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are two very different detectives who have to learn to work together as partners to stop a gang of drug smugglers.

It might be a buddy cop, action classic but its Christmas backdrop makes for a perfect early December watch.

December 3: Christmas with the Kranks (Netflix)

Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis play a couple who, after the departure of their daughter suffer "empty nest syndrome" at Thanksgiving, decide they will skip Christmas for one year.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars of Christmas, they plan to go on holiday.

A flawless plan that will definitely not end with them rediscovering the Christmas spirit (it is a Christmas movie, right?), and might be perfect for any budding Scrooges out there.

December 4: The Christmas Chronicles (Netflix)

Kurt Russell as Santa Claus - need we say more?

This one could easily come later and closer to Christmas Day, but sheer joy and excitement surrounding its release have it in the first week of December.

A brother and sister try to catch Santa on camera on Christmas Eve but accidentally force ol' Saint Nick to crash out of the sky.

They'll have to save Christmas so all those well-behaved kids can get their gifts.

December 5: Four Holidays (Stan)

This one seems surprisingly relatable in 2018.

Vince Vaughn and Reece Witherspoon play a couple who struggle to visit and spend a joyous Christmas with their parents - all of whom are divorced.

Visit and joyous might've been too kind: they're stuck in town and after avoiding their crazy families, decide to visit all four.

December 6: The Night Before (Netflix)

You either like Seth Rogen films, or hate them.

This one appears to follow the Seth Rogen film trend of a group of friends finding a party, with a whole lot of shenanigans along the way.

Rogen reunites with childhood friends Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie in search of the best Christmas Eve party in New York City.

This should be a romp.

December 7: El Camino Christmas (Netflix)

It seems like the plot of a heart-warming Christmas film: a young man seeking out his father during the holiday season.

That is until he is barricaded in a liquor store with five other people on Christmas Eve.

It doesn't seem like one for the kids.

December 8: Bad Santa (buy or rent)

Another one that may not be suitable for children.

Billy Bob Thornton and his partner Tony Cox pretend to be Santa (and an elf) so they can rob a few shops.

If you can hire a babysitter, chuck in the sequel as a double feature, though we can't guarantee quality.

December 9: Gremlins (Netflix and Foxtel)

It is up to the parent to decide if this one's appropriate for very young children but there's something about this 1984 horror comedy that's unforgettable.

It might be the valuable life lesson of not eating after midnight because it makes you a monster, or it might be that cute little mogwai.

This is another you can throw in the sequel for a double feature, but nothing beats the original.

December 10: A Christmas Story (Stan)

This Christmas film is so important to people that it was selected for preservation in the United States' National Film Registry in 2012.

The 1983 comedy centres on a young Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), who tries to convince his parents that a Red Ryder BB Gun really would be the perfect Christmas gift.

He seems awfully young to warrant a BB gun but if it makes for a memorable Christmas film, I'm there.

December 11: Scrooged (Netflix)

Released in 1988, this Christmas film was Bill Murray's return to Hollywood after a four-year hiatus (caused by his struggle to deal with the overwhelming response of Ghostbusters).

Murray plays a cynical television executive, who is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve who try to help him rediscover his Christmas spirit.

Being a Bill Murray film, expectations can only be high, but Scrooged has a stellar reputation.

December 12: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Foxtel)

An Academy Award winner for best makeup, The Grinch starred Jim Carrey in the title role and oh boy, there hasn't been a more polarising Christmas film.

People either love it or they hate it - there doesn't appear to be any in between.

A revisit of this 2000 live action film could be followed by a trip to the cinema for the new animated Grinch film featuring the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch.

December 13: Deck The Halls (Rent or buy)

Two neighbours battle to see who can best decorate their house, to the point one can be seen from space.

What is not to love?!

Given that said neighbours are Danny Devito and Matthew Broderick makes it even better.

A truly classic, hilarious, and underrated Christmas film and the first traditional Christmas film that will be a revisit for the author.

December 14: Jingle All The Way (Netflix)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Christmas film. Need we say more?

The doyen of Hollywood action films is a stressed father who finds himself in a battle with a fellow dad, played by Sinbad, to secure the last Turbo-Man action figure during a Christmas Eve shopping spree.

Such a simple premise, that last-minute Christmas shop we've all experienced before, but turned up to 11 with these genuinely funny dudes.

December 15: Die Hard (Rent or buy, you probably should already own it)

Yippee ki yay Santa Claus, the Bruce Willis action classic is here on the list and smack bang in the middle of the month.

For those in the "Die Hard is not a Christmas movie" crowd, the entire premise of the film is that on Christmas Eve, and off-duty cop named John McClane is caught in a heist at Nakatomi Plaza.

It is one of the greatest action films of all time and would have been closer to Christmas Day if not for the need of other classics.

Oh yes, Die Hard counts. So does Die Hard 2, which also happens on Christmas Eve, so action fans: treat yourself to an explosive double feature.

December 16: Love Actually (Stan)

We're slowing things right down here with a rom-com from which a famous scene has become an underwhelmingly used meme.

Love Actually follows the lives of eight different British couples in the month before Christmas.

Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Colin Firth all feature in this classic.

December 17: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (Foxtel)

Boys and girls of every age, wouldn't you like to see something strange - it's a Halloween/Christmas mash-up told through Tim Burton's unique lense and it is fantastic.

An animated classic, it features the King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, accidentally stepping through a portal to Christmas Town, and deciding he kinda likes the place.

It's a film you have to see at least once.

December 18: Polar Express (Netflix and Foxtel)

It is the perfect Christmas Eve film for young battlers, but it's early on this list because of the quality that follows.

The 2004 3D computer-animated film follows a young boy, skeptical of Santa's existence, who gets on a train headed straight for the North Pole.

A Christmas classic which features Tom Hanks in six different roles.

December 19: Miracle on 34th Street (Netflix)

Miracle on 34th Street is revered as one of the quintessential Christmas films.

The existence of Santa is again up for discussion, except this time it ends up in court!

Whether you go for the 1947 or 1994 version, it will be a rewarding experience.

The last five days of the countdown

This is where it becomes super subjective, and you're best catering the list to suit your tastes.

For the final five days, you want to have the films you and your family love most. Whether it's nostalgia, a new movie to try or an old classic, these are the ones you remember and mean the most.

December 20: Elf (Netflix)

Will Ferrell's 2003 comedy of an elf's journey to New York City to find his biological father has become a modern classic.

A baby crawls into Santa's sack at an orphanage in 1973, and when discovered at the North Pole is adopted by Papa Elf.

He grows up believing he's an elf, but his human size makes life a tad difficult - both at the North Pole and when he arrives in New York.

December 21:  The Santa Clause (Foxtel)

Tim Allen makes another entry to this list as a dad who accidentally kills Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.

Rather than alert the authorities, he steals Santa's identity. He puts on the suit and is legally required to serve as Santa Clause from the following Christmas and convince his loved ones he is the real Santa.

December 22: Home Alone (Rent or buy)

A young Macauley Culkin is mistakenly left at home when his parents fly to Paris for Christmas.

His new-found freedom soon becomes the stuff of nightmares as two burglars try to make the most of the parents' absence.

The 1990 comedy held the title of the highest grossest comedy for 21 years, and with good reason.

It is equally entertaining for adults and kids, and is one of the most rewatchable films ever made.

December 23:Muppet Christmas Carol (Foxtel)

The best adaptations of A Christmas Carol is a list in itself, but there is only room for one version of Charles Dickens' novella in this countdown.

There's at least 11 adaptations, but Muppet Christmas Carol is the one that lands on December 23 courtesy of its nostalgic value.

Michael Caine is Ebenezer Scrooge, Gonzo narrates the film as Dickens and Kermit is Bob Cratchit.

Being the Muppets, there's plenty for musical numbers (Marley and Marley is unforgettable) and while you know it won't be a straight adaptation (it is the Muppets...) it follows the original story very closely.

It's fun, it's funny, and the whole family can enjoy it.

December 24: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Netflix and Stan)

It is possibly the greatest comedy of all time, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is guaranteed to leave you stitches.

The Griswolds are back for their third film in the National Lampoon's Vacation series, and their festive adventure is destined to go just as well as their previous attempts at fun.

All Chevy Chase's Clark Griswold wants is a big family Christmas for the family to enjoy.

It is a film that belongs in every Christmas movie collection, and will get plenty of playtime over December (check your TV guide, it will be there).

Close, but not quite there

There's a long list of films that didn't make the cut for a range of reasons not limited to accessibility, and simply being outranked in personal taste.

Frosty the Snowman, Santa Clause, the wide array of Mickey Mouse (and other Disney) films, The Holiday, The Man Who Invented Christmas, and A Very Murray Christmas didn't make the cut, as were the tenusously linked but December certainties (in some households) like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Rocky IV and Batman Returns.

A huge amount of made-for-TV/Netflix/Stan Christmas films weren't included either.

Let us know below or via Facebook if you do follow the countdown, and tell us which films would make your list.



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