My feelgood festive flicks Simon Fitzjohn December 22, 2011 Opinion 1575 By Liz Cooley With Christmas only days away, I flipped through the Radio Times to see which of my favourite Christmas movies were on this year and found myself in a heated debate over which deserved top of the list. My tastes are admittedly quite traditional. My seasonal favourites tend to depict the perfect Christmas scene amidst plenty of singing and dancing.Â This is in stark contrast to the cries for the action of Die Hard and the creepy creatures of Gremlins that the men of the household put forward. Â Itâ€™s not that I have anything against puppets; youâ€™ll find Kermit and friends among my top ten, but I canâ€™t find anything funny or endearing about those particular razor toothed monsters.Â Helen Cowley, Head of Editorial & Digital Content at LOVEFiLM said: â€œChristmas movies are as plentiful as snowflakes at the North Pole. From the old classics likeÂ White ChristmasÂ to the less conventional ElfÂ and the delightful surprises of something likeÂ The Nightmare Before Christmas, there’s really something for everyone.Â â€œWhile the storylines vary wildly, one thingâ€™s for sure: Christmas films make us feel good and get us in the festive spirit. They bring the family together at a busy time of year and the holiday simply wouldnâ€™t be the same without them!â€Â So what is it that makes a good festive film? Â Ideally, it will contain a beloved Christmas character such as in Miracle onÂ 34th StreetÂ or Aardmanâ€™s new offering, Arthur Christmas.Â It also helps if it contains a little snow, so you can enjoy the magic and beauty of blankets of white from the warmth of your living room, complete with slippers and hot chocolate.Â It has to have a great soundtrack. Many of the best Christmas films contain our seasonal favourites, and have us humming those familiar tunes for the rest of the day.Â But all of this is just the wrapping. Once you strip away all the paper and tinsel, itâ€™s the message behind the story that counts.Â Often the events of the film will see characters questioning their faith and having to overcome various obstacles to find the perfect Christmas. Â In some cases the hopelessness is more profound than others, but it is always met with an overwhelming sense of restored faith as manâ€™s kindness and generosity shows through. Â On that note, here are my top ten to get you in the festive mood.Â White ChristmasÂ Personally, I think nothing beats this 50s classic. I have watched it every Christmas since I was six, when I first fell in love withÂ VermontÂ and the heart-warming tones of Bing Crosby. Directed by Michael Curtiz, also known forÂ Casablanca, it depicts song-and-dance duo (Crosby and Danny Kaye) as they team up with sister-act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to bring Christmas to theÂ empty inn of their former commanding general.Â Miracle onÂ 34th Street Â Whether you prefer the original 1947 black and white film or the full Technicolor of 1994, the person of Kris Kringle will fill you with the same hope of Christmas you had as a child. I grew up with Richard Attenborough as the beloved man in red and was as enamoured with him as six-year-old Susan (Mara Wilson) comes to be. WhileÂ Susan doesnâ€™t believe in Santa at the start of the film, her faith is restored as this kind and generous man fights against the commercialised shopping store persona and the state ofÂ New YorkÂ to give her something to truly believe in.Â Meet Me inÂ St. Louis Â Starring Judy Garland as Esther Smith, this seasonal musical boasts a beautiful soundtrack which will endure for generations. When a family with four daughters who love their home town are faced with a move toÂ New York, none of them take to the idea too well. Esther, who is in love with the boy next door, tries to comfort her youngest sister, Tootie (Margaret O’Brien), but Tootieâ€™s outburst finally shows their father thatÂ St LouisÂ will always be home.Â The Muppet Christmas CarolÂ Described by a friend of mine as â€œDickens with cherries on topâ€, this classic tale is brought to life by a colourful cast, narrated by Gonzo as Dickensâ€™ himself with Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. Visited by the Muppet ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, Scrooge is persuaded to change his ways, with a song and a dance along the way.Â Itâ€™s a Wonderful LifeÂ This bittersweet story is a household favourite, with its ability to make you laugh and cry. George Bailey (James Stewart) is a kind-hearted man who leaves his dreams of travel behind to run the family business. One Christmas Eve, when theÂ BaileyÂ BuildingÂ and Loan is in terrible trouble, the scrooge like character of Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore) refuses to help and George finds himself thinking his family and friends would be better off without him. He is saved by an unlikely angel who shows him what life would have been like if he hadnâ€™t been born.Â Nightmare before ChristmasÂ This Tim Burton creation has, unsurprisingly, a less traditional, darker take on the Christmas film, using plasticine to give life to its characters. Jack Skellington, voiced by Danny Elfman, is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. He grows tired with the same routine of Halloween every year and when he stumbles acrossÂ ChristmasÂ TownÂ he tries to recreate the merriment at home. However the residents ofÂ HalloweenÂ TownÂ donâ€™t quite grasp the magic and Jack usurps the role of Santa Claus to terrifying effect.Â Love ActuallyÂ Richard Curtis brings us the best of British in this feel-good film about the nature of love. Staring names such as Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Colin Firth, it shows Christmas from the different but interlocking perspectives of numerous Londoners as they navigate the holiday season. From a struggling marriage to lost and found loves, we are shown a little of what Christmas brings to each character while focusing on the central message that love is actually at the heart of it all.Â The SnowmanÂ Adapted from a book by Raymond Briggs, this simple story of a boy and his snowman and the adventures they have together is brought to life in wordless animation. Beautifully drawn and accompanied by the soprano of Walking in the Air, it has become a true part of our Christmas culture and shown every year.Â Home AloneÂ This slapstick comedy is fun for all the family and appeals to the child within. When 8-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is forgotten by his family who have gone toÂ ParisÂ for Christmas, he is far from upset at being left home alone. Kevin enjoys his new found freedom, eating pizza, jumping on his parents’ bed and making a mess of their beautiful home. That is until he finds that burglars, Harry and Marv (Joe PesciÂ andÂ Daniel Stern), are planning to rob his house on Christmas Eve. Rather than calling for help, Kevin manages to outsmart them with decoys and booby traps bringing them not only to justice but a fair amount ofÂ pain!Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Die HardÂ I do like a bit of action in its place and the Die Hard franchise certainly does the job. New York City Detective, John McClane (Bruce Willis) has arrived inLos Angelesjust in time to spend Christmas with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). But when a terrorist group, led byÂ Hans GruberÂ (Alan Rickman), takes the guests of a company Christmas party hostage, itâ€™s up to John McClane to save the day and win back the girl.