Every year we see the same American Christmas films being broadcast on the telly, from comedies like Home Alone and Elf, to fun thrillers like A Nightmare Before Christmas and Gremlins. But as Brits, it’s only fair to celebrate the best of British Christmas films. So pull the blanket close, pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and get into the Christmas spirit with these top 10 British Christmas films.
1. Love Actually (2003)
Probably one of the most romantic and heart-warming Christmas films ever made.
2, Bridget Jones (2001) Poor podgy Bridget is constantly battling with her weight as well as being on the look out for her Prince Charming. Starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, we have the privilege of seeing into Bridget's diary, which describes how this year she is determined to lose a few pounds and find a boyfriend. But for clumsy, bumbling Bridget, nothing seems to go to plan. The rom-com is based on Helen Fielding's novel of the same name.
3.Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, Narnia's stunning cinematography whisks you away to a magical kingdom covered in pure white snow. Directed by Andrew Adamson, the film is based on C.S Lewis' enchanting fantasy novel. It is one of the few Christmas films which has a Christian theme; C.S Lewis was religious and subtly based his characters on bible figures. Aslan the Lion is a discreet reference to Jesus; he sacrifices himself against the White Witch (who could be seen as the devil) before resurrecting from the dead. When we become head deep in presents, food and celebrations, this film brings us back to the true meaning of Christmas.
4. Arthur Christmas (2011) It's surely the best animated festive film of 2011. Directed by Sarah Smith, Arthur Christmas is a family fun animated movie which tells the story of Arthur Christmas (Father Christmas's son) and his mission to deliver a missed present before sunrise. Steve Christmas (Hugh Laurie), is Arthur's macho, military driven, espresso addicted, organised older brother who has changed the whole tradition of Christmas using high-tech gadgets rather than Santa's magic sleigh and reindeer. It is up to poor, bumbling, clumsy Arthur (James McAvoy) to save Christmas and remind his family of the old Christmas tradition.
5. A Christmas Carol (1999) Starring X-Men's Patrick Stewart, this British film is one of many interpretations of Charles Dicken's novel of the same name. It has a fine British cast which also includes the likes of Ian McNeice (White Noise, Oliver Twist), Saskia Reeves (City of Birds) and Elizabeth Spriggs (Sense and Sensibility). We see Stewart as grouchy Ebenezer Scrooge with Richard.E.Grant (Gosford Park) as Bob Cratchit. It's the classic Christmas story of how Scrooge turns from a money making miser to a giving and generous gentleman.
6. The Holly and the Ivy (1952) Many great British actors have had key roles in well known US Christmas movies (notably, both versions of the Miracle on 34th Street), but this film stars acting stalwart, Sir Ralph Richardson on home ground. The film tells the moving story of how an English clergyman neglects his own children in order to please and attend to his parish. This Christmas drama is certainly not a feel good film, yet it received good critical acclaim. Directed by George More O'Ferrall , the film was described as 'radiating a nostalgic glow, it is actually a revealing record of a country on the cusp of the dramatic social, economic and cultural change that has, sadly, made faith, fidelity and family feel like relics of a distant past'.
7. Don't Open Till Christmas (1984) This film is the perfect Christmas thriller chiller. Starring the film's director, Edmund Purdom, this horror film tells the story of a psychopathic killer, out to murder anyone dressed as Santa. It's up to Inspector Harris (Purdon) to track down this crazy killer with the help of Giles the Journalist played by Alan Lake who also had parts in Doctor Who and The Avengers.
8. The Snowman (1982) This beautiful and atmospheric short film is guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit. Based on the children's comic by Raymond Briggs, the film has no words, and instead, the story is portrayed through picture, action and music composed by Howard Blake. It's renowned for the song, 'Walking in the Air', which are the only words spoken in the film. The feature was nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 1982 and has been shown every year since. The classical music, combined with the snowy and dream-like animation, has turned it into the perfect festive and feel good film. It's just a shame it is only 27 minutes long. If you like this one, check out Father Christmas, the 1991 animation of another Briggs comic.
9. Nativity! (2009) This British comedy is full of laughs, childish humour and festive fun. Directed by Debbie Isitt, it tells the entertaining story of how Mr Maddens (an underachieving primary school teacher) suddenly gets the idea to produce the best school nativity ever, and for the first time, to beat their snobby private school rivals. Mr Maddens - played by Love Actually's Martin Freeman - hopes his nativity will be picked up by a Hollywood producer, who is played by Scottish actress Ashley Jensen (Arthur Christmas).
10. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (2007) You may never have heard of this one, but it has been described as 'deeply moving' and 'fast becoming a classic' by the Daily Telegraph. This British film is a sensitive adaptation of a breathtakingly beautiful book of the same name written by Susan Wojciechowski. Starring Tom Berenger (Inception) and Joely Richardson (The Tudors). Mrs McDowell (Richardson) and her son Thomas knock at woodcarver, Jonathan Toomey's door one snowy day, but yet again, they receive a frosty welcome. Jonathan (Berenger) has been mean and frosty since his wife and daughter died, but as the young boy watches the woodcarver at work, a miracle occurs which warms the woodcarver's sad heart. Directed by Bill Clark, the film was screened at eight film festivals, where it won Best Film of 2007 at Salt Lake City.