Caitlin’s Top 5 Nostalgic Christmas Films

Written by Caitlin Cooper December 17, 2019

Not everyone is a fan of Christmas movies, and sometimes even I find myself a little put off by the overwhelmingly sweet and non-stop Hallmark holiday movies that are shown from October until the New Year. I say this, but I’m also guilty of watching cheesy movies because sometimes what I want to indulge in around Christmas is exactly that type of feel-good or funny story. Sadly, a lot of these movies aren’t diverse and I’m well aware of their failings in that regard. Netflix has started making their own Christmas movies every year and they do better with diversity and have sappy stories, which a lot of people love this time of year. Some people have Christmas traditions, and for me that means watching some of my favourite – admittedly cheesy – Christmas movies. Here are the top 5 films I like to watch every year to celebrate the warmth the holidays can bring.

5. Home Alone (1990)

You might be wondering what this one is doing on my list, given that it’s more a comedy than a sappy movie. Honestly, this one became an accidental favourite. But what’s so great about it is that despite the depressing premise – a child being forgotten at home by his large and loud family -,  it’s a funny movie. If you want comedy with a dark twist, nothing can really beat this. (Though Gremlins is a good one, too). Improbable though it may be, it doesn’t lack in comedy and fun and danger. It’s a classic for a reason, folks. And if you like the first one, Home Alone 2 is just as good. Though how he gets forgotten by his family a second time is beyond me.

4. Christmas at Castlebury Hall (2011)

This one won’t be everyone’s cup of tea since it’s exactly that type of Christmas movie that makes some people groan or cringe: it’s a Hallmark movie. I even find myself cringing at some of the most awkward and over-the-top moments, but overall the story is one that I enjoy and the cast does a pretty good job with the material. You might be surprised to learn that Roger Moore (yes, the Roger Moore played James Bond) and Sam Heughan (who’s now well-known as the male lead in the award-winning TV show Outlander) both star in Christmas at Castlebury Hall. The film is about a young woman who recently adopted her sister’s two kids after she passed away. When they’re invited to spend Christmas with some estranged family, they’re forced to confront some uncomfortable memories. They also get to know one another and support each other. Of course there’s a romance, and yes it’s pretty damn cheesy. But the story is balanced with some heavier moments, and makes the happy ending a comfort.

3. Love Actually (2003)

This is probably one of the most depressing Christmas movies, but it also feels real. It’s messy, and at times it’s ugly, but we get to know the characters and care for them as they struggle with loss, first love, new love, love that’s slowly cracking under the weight of emotional cheating. This one’s all about love, in some of it’s best and worst forms. Again, the couples aren’t really diverse and of course they should be. I won’t excuse that. I’ll just say that despite its shortcomings, the story is one that hits you in the feels and makes you care. Christmas is a time of year that makes you think about loved ones, and this movie knows that. It knows people are messy and complicated. The cast is pretty stellar, and that only makes the movie stronger. There’s a reason why this movie is loved by many, including me.

2. The Holiday (2006)

I love The Holiday so much that it was a close call for this being the top movie on my list. It’s romantic, sad, heartwarming, and funny. The first time I watched it, one of the most unexpected things for me was that Jack Black is playing a love interest in a holiday romcom. But he plays it so well, and you can tell that director Nancy Meyers wrote the role with him in mind. The story is woven together in such a way that we’re kept on our toes, wanting to see what’ll happen next: if Iris (Kate Winslet) will finally reach a healthy place after being in a bad relationship; if Amanda can take the time in a remote English cottage to finally focus on herself. These characters are flawed but charming, and the cast is honestly phenomenal. With a stunning score composed by Hans Zimmer, this is such a quintessentially classy Christmas movie sure to put a smile on your face.

1. Elf (2003)

And coming in at number one is the movie I look forward to the most each year. Elf is that mix of a nostalgic nod to those classic claymation films I’m sure we all grew up with, and a story about finding your family. Buddy (Will Ferrell) is so pure in his happiness and love, and his love of Christmas is so genuine. It’s refreshing to see a character that isn’t jaded and has no inkling of being self-conscious about how warm he is to everyone he meets. He gets into some funny shenanigans, but he also brings people together and radiates joy to those around him. Will Ferrell does a fantastic job playing the lead, so much so that it seems like the role was made for him. It never fails to make me laugh, no matter how many times I watch it. I can’t think of a better Christmas movie to watch, settling in with a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. Maybe even some cookies, which Buddy would approve of since he pretty much lives on sweets.

If you’re in the mood to watch some sappy Christmas movies, I hope you enjoy the experience. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope the rest of 2019 is wonderful. If nothing else, this time of year is a reminder that we all deserve joy.

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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