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The best Christmas movies to watch this holiday season

'Tis the season for silly Santas, snow-filled smackdowns and cheesy holiday romances that'll put you in the festive mood

Mean Girls
Photograph: Paramount Pictures Mean Girls
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Christmas isn't complete without festive films. With both Frozen 2 and Last Christmas hitting the cinemas this month, our voracious appetite for such films is anything but satisfied. Thanks to Netflix, there are plenty of frothy movies, including originals like the animated Klaus and yet another Vanessa Hudgens holiday special The Knight Before Christmas, to binge watch in your ugly Christmas jumper.

Whether you're in the mood for a cheesy rom-com, a cult classic or an action-packed blockbuster, the most wonderful time of the year is best done with Christmas movies – besides the prezzies and turkey, of course. Relive your childhood, grab a bowl of popcorn and fix your eyes on the telly with eggnog in hand this holiday season.

RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Christmas in Singapore and the best upcoming movies in Singapore

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Photograph: Touchstone Pictures
Film, Animation

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Real talk: is this Tim Burton classic full of visual tricks and treats a better fit for Halloween or Christmas? While you ponder on that, see Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, ditch Halloween for a chance to stand in for Santa. Complete with a cracking score and songs by Danny Elfman, we're totally cool with a belly-less Santa this Christmas.

Home Alone
Photograph: 20th Century Fox
Film, Comedy

Home Alone

Now here's a Christmas flick for ya filthy animals. Compressed with a life lesson – always be careful what you wish for – Home Alone sees precocious tyke Kevin McCallister left by himself for Christmas. But it's not all fun and games when a bumbling pair of burglars target the house. With innovative stunts to protect his home, Kevin truly fulfilled every eight year old’s fantasies, making them believe they could pull them off too.

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Gremlins
Photograph: Warner Bros
Film, Fantasy

Gremlins

More naughty than nice, Joe Dante's 1984 horror-comedy about Gizmo the mogwai comes with instructions – as do many Christmas presents – that are looked past: never expose to bright light, never add water and, crucially, never feed after midnight. Moral of the story? Follow the instructions.

Elf
Photograph: New Line Cinema
Film

Elf

There's something just not right about Buddy the elf. Like the ones you see at Santa's Grottos around Singapore, he's not an actual elf. In fact, he's a human raised by elves in the North Pole. Follow him to New York City in search of his dad while discovering that life beyond Santa's Workshop is less than merry.

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how the grinch stole christmas
Photograph: Universal Pictures
Film

Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Skip the 2018 computer-animation this season, and stick on the 2000 live-action film on the telly instead. The latter has loads of improvised humour, gross cheese-eating scenes and green hair – and no one pulls it all off quite like Jim Carrey as the mean one. Ron Howard’s big-screen adaptation of the beloved Dr. Seuss book trails after a shaggy, potbellied green yeti with an attitude problem who casts a baleful eye over the ersatz yuletide spirit in Whoville (sounds familiar?).

The Polar Express
Photograph: Warner Bros
Film, Drama

The Polar Express

"Well, are you coming?" "Where?" "Why, to the North Pole, of course. This is the Polar Express!" exclaims Tom Hanks as the conductor. This surreal, hallucinogenic, kaleidoscopic marvel ticks all the boxes for the ultimate Christmas movie: stunning visuals, narrator, train, reindeer, elves and snow. The coming-of-age movie also takes you on an adventure of self-discovery on Christmas Eve, en route to Santa's Workshop. Truly magical.

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The Muppets Christmas Carol
Photograph: Walt Disney Pictures
Film, Family and kids

The Muppet Christmas Carol

What's Christmas without The Muppets? This witty, heart-warming and fantastically zany musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' immortal classic sees Michael Caine as Scrooge, Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens, and Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit. Whodathunk that as an actor Kermit could corrugate his forehead vertically? Good fun.

Love Actually
Photograph: Universal Pictures
Film, Comedy

Love Actually

Is that Rick from The Walking Dead? It sure is. This star-studded ensemble rom-com of eight (or nine) plotlines stars everyone from the late Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson to Keira Knightley and Hugh Grant to Bill Nighy – as an old rocker with a Christmas comeback single, no less – and Mr Bean. Alternating between sentimental and silly, the film is ideal for a cheesy night in. But whether it's an unbearable yuletide schmaltz or a festive heart-warmer, we'll let you decide on that.

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Edward Scissorhands
Photograph: 20th Century Fox
Film, Fantasy

Edward Scissorhands

Another Tim Burton classic to stay in for, this bittersweet 1990 fantasy spotlights a very pale, leather-clad, scissor-handed, Johnny Depp – who could easily be mistaken for a member of The Cure – shunned from the community. While Danny Elfman's score helps catch feels, Edward Scissorhands is truly a visual treat filled with pastel-hued houses, surreal shrubbery and outlandish outfits. Plus, what screams "winter wonderland" more than the scene where Winona Ryder dances around the ice sculpture and the ice shavings are falling like snow?

Mean Girls
Photograph: Paramount Pictures
Film, Comedy

Mean Girls

Make 'fetch' happen this Christmas with Cady and The Plastics. While it's not a Christmas film per se, fans have religiously tuned in during the holidays for a Santa-clad Damian handing out candy canes, going "You go Glen Coco!", and The Winter Talent Show where The Plastics throw some shapes (and kicks to the stereo). As Kevin G would wrap up his rap: "Merry Christmas, everybody!"

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Die Hard
Photograph: 20th Century Fox
Film, Action and adventure

Die Hard

We don't want to hear it – Die Hard is a Christmas movie, period. This action-packed blockbuster begins on Christmas Eve at a Christmas party-gone-wrong. And as far as bad Christmas parties go, nothing beats one that's crashed by a couple of machine-gun-wielding baddies spearheaded by the sadistic smoothie Hans Gruber (RIP Alan Rickman). With memorable set pieces, iconic characters, plenty of snow and a soundtrack that includes Winter Wonderland, John McTiernan’s crowd-pleasing action film is the hard-R gift that keeps on giving.

scrooged
Photograph: Paramount Pictures
Film

Scrooged

If Netflix's Have a Murray Christmas solidifies your Bill Murray fan status further, you'll want to add this modern-ish update on the Dickens classic to your watch list. There's no denying that his deadpan delivery as an arrogant TV exec overseeing the live production of A Christmas Carol is made for this festive tale.

 

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Bad Santa
Photograph: Columbia Pictures
Film, Comedy

Bad Santa

Here's one department-store Santa that deserves to be on the naughty list. A cynical alcoholic with a penchant for sex and a wholly unconcealed dislike of kids, Billy Bob Thornton's foul-mouthed Saint Nick is far from a saint. No doubt, this black comedy shakes up the mood by injecting some nasty deviancy into the Yuletide season. But it does showcase a Christmas miracle: even bad Santas can turn into sympathetic heroes.

The Night Before
Photograph: Columbia Pictures
Film, Comedy

The Night Before

If A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas doesn't quite cut it, perhaps this stoner-Christmas flick will do the trick. Starring stoner movie essential Seth Rogan, The Night Before is great for all you adult Peter Pans out there who just refuse to grow the heck (pardon our French) up. Squeeze into your ugly Christmas jumper and join three mates for a night of debauchery and hilarity as they search for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties in New York.

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Black Christmas
Photograph: Film Funding
Film

Black Christmas (1974)

If you're tired of those cheesy festive films, break the routine with this slasher movie. Forget the 2019 remake, and hit play on the 1974 OG Black Christmas. This cult staple ropes you into a snowy college campus where a bunch of sorority sisters are harassed by a killer creep. The mood is icy and ominous; it doesn’t lift even after you turn on the lights and warm the eggnog.

Get off the couch this Christmas

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