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Feature
When To Watch Your Favourite Christmas Movies
A guide to festive viewing this holiday season

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If you’re reading this, you probably quite like Christmas movies. You may even be the kind of person who has done all their Christmas shopping already and wears a reindeer jumper from November onwards. But either way, you have to struggle with a thorny question: when is it OK to watch (or admit to watching) the many Christmas movies out there? When should you programme in Elf, and what’s the right time for It’s A Wonderful Life? For your convenience, we’ve assembled a Christmas timetable below…

WORDS HELEN O'HARA
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Halloween
The Nightmare Before Christmas The Nightmare Before Christmas
The perfect bridge between Halloween (Town) and Christmas (Town), the Henry Selick / Tim Burton stop-motion classic comes into season at the spookiest time of the year.
November
Brazil Brazil
Terry Gilliam's demented dystopian thriller is, technically, a Christmas movie. It just doesn't feel quite like any other, so watch this if you secretly need a Santa fix but can't admit to it.
 
Edward Scissorhands Edward Scissorhands
Another stealth Christmas movie, this seems sunny and non-seasonal through most of its running time before hitting Christmas hard at the end. That final scene will make you impatient for snow.
 
Lethal Weapon Lethal Weapon
Shane Black has a peculiar obsession with Christmas – most of his scripts feature the holiday – and after all the mayhem, here there are presents and a tree and family togetherness. Hurrah!
Thanksgiving
Miracle On 34th Street Miracle On 34th Street
The fourth Thursday in November is America's Thanksgiving, and since Miracle On 34th Street starts with the Thanksgiving Parade, it's now in season. Original or remake: your call. (You might also choose purely Thanksgiving movies here: Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Pieces Of April and The Ice Storm are options.)
Early Dec
Meet Me In St Louis Meet Me In St. Louis
This story takes place year-round, with an aggressively pastel spring section. But it works well to start December because of that knockout Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in the third act.
 
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Another Shane Black Christmas joint, this comedy noir is smart, sarky and sees Michelle Monaghan wear a sexy Santa costume for much of the running time, if that's your bag. For everyone else, there's Robert Downey Jr.
 
Batman Returns Batman Returns
As the Christmas lights are switched on by C-list celebrities, watch this and reflect that they probably could have found someone dumber for the job – and the Penguin could have murdered her.
Before Xmas Shopping
Scrooged Scrooged
You're going to need a dose of Dickens' Christmas Carol to get through the shopping experience without losing your mind / goodwill towards men, and this one's just cynical enough to be useful even early in the month.
 
Bad Santa Bad Santa
If braving the high street has left you snarling, you will feel right at home with Willie's attitude here. But it will also perk you up and restore your faith by the end, so it's a double win.
Putting Up Decorations
Christmas Vacation Christmas Vacation
Your lights may have tangled themselves since last year and your tree may mysteriously list to one side, but we can guarantee that Clark Griswold has it worse than you. This will put things in perspective.
 
Elf Elf
Will Ferrell's dementedly good-natured starring turn will put whatever decorating you do to shame, but only a son of a nutcracker could possibly hold out against its Christmas spirit.
After The
Office Party
Trading Places Trading Places
You may have decided you can't bear your boss after making you conga twice around the pub, but at least he or she didn't make you destitute and homeless for a bet. We hope.
Mid Dec
While You Were Sleeping While You Were Sleeping
When you're dreading the prospect of time with your family, watch this and remember that it's better to have a family than not. As a bonus, contains Bill Pullman explaining how to lean.
Late Dec
The Muppet Christmas Carol The Muppet Christmas Carol
The definitive adaptation of Dickens' classic tale, at least as far as we're concerned, this will remind you what's important this time of year, and also to be nice to small frogs.
Xmas Eve
It's A Wonderful Life It's A Wonderful Life
The quintessential Christmas movie, this will put anyone and everyone in the right frame of mind for a perfect Christmas. It's the attempted suicide, grinding despair and yet happy ending that gets us every time.
Xmas Day
Die Hard Die Hard
Because nothing says goodwill to men like slaying terrorists and swinging off buildings on a fire hose.
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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1 The Prestige!
The Prestige is one of my Christmas favs, along with Batman Returns. Excellent stuff. More

Posted by Rich Empire on Friday December 14, 2012, 21:29

2 Giddy as a schoolboy!!!
So where's Alister Simm's "A Christmas Carol"? More

Posted by Trisanddad on Thursday December 13, 2012, 15:40

3 Giddy as a schoolboy!!!
So where's Alister Simm's "A Christmas Carol"? More

Posted by Trisanddad on Thursday December 13, 2012, 15:39

4 Umm...
...Bronson anybody, I watched that on christmas eve last year, definitely one to put you in the christmas spirit More

Posted by edjones95 on Wednesday December 12, 2012, 21:49

5 What makes a Christmas movie?
Does the subject matter have to be about Christmas or does the story (not Christmas related) just have to take place at Christams time? More

Posted by DarthMaxxx on Tuesday December 11, 2012, 17:39

6 Just a fly in the ointment, Hans.
You've got it all wrong, Empire... Die Hard has to be watched on Christmas Eve! Preferably whilst wearing a vest. And walking around on the carpet making fists with your toes etc. More

Posted by Melanoma Head on Tuesday December 11, 2012, 10:48

7 Just a fly in the ointment, Hans.
You've got it all wrong, Empire... Die Hard has to be watched on Christmas Eve! Preferably whilst wearing a vest. And walking around on the carpet making fists with your toes etc. More

Posted by Melanoma Head on Tuesday December 11, 2012, 10:13

8 well its the big show
if i fancy watching the big show fight arnold schwarzenegger when is that allowed? More

Posted by mike234 on Sunday December 9, 2012, 10:36

9 So many missing!
The Grinch is my Christmas eve movie every year! and Gremlins is for that day (about the 22nd) when you realize you've forgotten to buy/wrap/send about 80% of your Christmas presents, i watch it and think, well things could be worse, at least i'm not being attacked by little demon Yodas... More

Posted by Swedle on Saturday December 8, 2012, 10:59

10 dont forget...
die hard 2, the long kiss goodnight, gremlins, home alone, arthur christmas, Santa Claus: The Movie, The Hogfather, Toy Story (final scene set on xmas day), More

Posted by bnicholson50 on Friday December 7, 2012, 17:21

11
and the Grinch?!?! More

Posted by bjgreek on Thursday December 6, 2012, 01:41

12
Deffo would swap die hard and it's a wonderful life the other way around More

Posted by bjgreek on Thursday December 6, 2012, 01:41

13 Gremlins
Definetly gremlins. Its such a christmas film, that they even re-released the film on DVD and blueray with festive pictures. The original art work is gone, now its either gizmo in a christmas hat or a gremlin popping out of a present. New tag line "feel festive!" And wasn't Gizmo a christmas present to Billy? More

Posted by palerider_uk on Wednesday December 5, 2012, 18:25

14 Followed by three words:
Home Alone 2!!!!! More

Posted by chrisharrison2011 on Wednesday December 5, 2012, 13:06

15 Followed by three words:
Home Alone 2!!!!! More

Posted by chrisharrison2011 on Wednesday December 5, 2012, 12:54

16 Two words:
Home Alone???? More

Posted by dayboy76 on Wednesday December 5, 2012, 12:51

17 Seriously Empire???
Have you even watched or at least 'Googled' the movies you mention here??? It is Bill PULLMAN in 'While You Were Sleeping', not Bill PAXTON. It's Game Over Empire... More

Posted by chrisharrison2011 on Wednesday December 5, 2012, 12:45

18 On Her Majesty's Secret Service!
I mean, what is Christmas without a bit of Bond? And OHMSS is the ideal Crimbo-Themed Bond film! More

Posted by TPM007 on Wednesday December 5, 2012, 11:31

19 Original and best
Agree with much on list, but ommission of the best version of Christmas Carol - Sim as Scrooge. A total joy (so long as NOT colourised) Also, for tradition sake, the recent Nativity Story (2006) - beautifully shot and with a moving and realistic rendering of the Bethlehem scenes. More

Posted by LaughingGravy2 on Tuesday December 4, 2012, 20:41

20
The last three films are so perfect...but I need a Love Actually fix at some point More

Posted by Matt. on Tuesday December 4, 2012, 19:35

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