American and British Christmas Movies

What is your favourite thing to do during the holiday season? If you’re like me, one of the annual holiday activities you love is watching Christmas movies at home. I was crushed when I first moved to London because I couldn’t see all my childhood favourites on television regularly. However, this also led me to discover some specifically British Christmas movies.

Classic and New British Christmas Movies

A Christmas Carol

The most obvious title that you think of when listing British Christmas movies is A Christmas Carol. There’s an 80’s version with George C. Scott, a musical with Kelsey Grammer, the Muppet Christmas Carol and even Disney has jumped on the opportunity to make money from that most famous miser Ebenezer Scrooge.

Of course, this classic British movie (obviously based on the Charles Dickens novella) has inspired many parodies. Some of these are Scrooged with Bill Murray and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past featuring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner.

My family’s favourite is the 1970 Scrooge starring Albert Finney, thank you very much! Each year when I’m in Florida for the holidays, I sit down to watch it with my mom. Through most of the beginning I giggle about the hideous ‘special effects’ that were probably really terrifying when it was produced. However, the songs are really catchy and I usually sing them for a few days after we watch it together.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This is actually classified as an American film. However, it’s based on a popular British novelist’s book. And that is Roald Doal. If you aren’t familiar with his work, it also includes: James and the Giant Peach, the BFG and Matilda.

I’ve chosen to list it in the classic British Christmas movies category because it is one of the most popular items to watch on television on Christmas Day in the UK. That is- once the Queen’s Speech has been broadcast.

To be honest, it’s not one I would watch. I’ve seen both the one with Gene Wilder and the remake with Johnny Depp. Neither represent images I want to associate with the holidays. Each is a little creepy, in my opinion. But- you’re free to add your in the comments below!

Love Actually

How could I not include one of the most iconic romance films ever made? Love Actually features an unforgettable cast of stars and narrative that hits all those holiday feels we crave.

With the amount of long awaited airport reunions many of us are experiencing after the Covid impact that delayed our travel- this classic British Christmas movie will be even more moving this year! Don’t you agree?

The Holiday

Yeah, you got me again if you are searching IMDB to catch me on a technicality. However, if you’ve seen the film and researched it at all, you know filming took place in Surrey, England.

That counts doesn’t it?

I find this one has me watching every time I am flipping through the channels and need a tiny reason to stay on the couch. There are a LOT of issues with the editing that make me cringe, but I still love it. The concept on the surface is fun, but the narrative is very unrealistic. Some of the scenes just aren’t physically possible due to the georgraphy.

But romantic comedies aren’t supposed to really represent real life, right?

Get Santa

This is without a doubt my favourite British Christmas movie on this list. Mr Sunny and I discovered it the year the year after it was released. We love it!

The film is about a father and son who team up to save Christmas once they discover Santa Claus sleeping in their garage after crashing his sleigh and finding himself on the run from the police. If there was only one British Christmas movie on this list that I said, “You must watch it!’- it’s Get Santa. And yes, that was the link to it on Amazon.

Trust me, it has just enough suspense to keep you entertained and the ending is quite jolly too.

Last Christmas

This is a curious one. As a huge Game of Thrones fan, I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this film when it hit the cinemas in 2019. However, when it arrived with mediocre at best reviews, I decided not to drag Mr Sunny to it and instead waited for it to show up on Sky rentals.

In fact, one of the last major Christmas events I attended in 2019 to film for my Sunny News YouTube channel was the Covent Garden Christmas Light Switch On. Emilia Clarke and Emma Thompson were the featured stars who turned the lights on and it was quite a festive night. Little did we all know what was on the way in London.

Based on the George Michael song, which actually is my all time favourite Christmas song, the film was a flop initially.

Mr Sunny and I caught it in winter of 2020 when we were on lockdown and had already binged everything on Netflix. Twice!

It’s actually quite dreadful initially. Once you reach the end, the film does become very heart-warming. If you’ve seen it- pun intended!

So now I watch it nearly every time I see it in the television schedule. Let me know if you think Emilia Clarke can sing in the film. I’m voting no, but I do find the scenes when she does float a tune to be endearing to the narrative.

American Christmas Films

I hope you aren’t let down by the quick list at the end. But aren’t you already familiar with the plethora of American Christmas films available?

Highlights include:

  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • A Christmas Story
  • Home Alone
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Die Hard
  • Elf
  • Santa Clause
  • Bad Santa
  • Fred Claus (my personal favourite)

Which of the above would you say is your favourite? Which films aren’t on the list that you are shocked I didn’t include?

Final Thoughts:

Something that has really surfaced as an entire genre of American Christmas movies in the past decade is the Hallmark Channel Christmas films. Netflix has tried competing with this canon of cheesy, predictable plots that showcase washed up 90’s television stars, but it hasn’t succeeded.

I’m guilty as charged when it comes to choosing them for holiday entertainment. Why? They are mindless and good spirited. Plus, as a person with media industry experience (how I met MR Sunny at NBC News London Bureau is on my About Me page) it cracks me up that this formulaic narrative with scripts predictable down to the minute has seized such an accessible demographic. Their marketing strategy at Hallmark is pure genius.

If you don’t know what I mean, you can catch Movies24 on Sky to see past Hallmark Christmas movies. Sadly this year, they haven’t featured any of the new ones that are airing in the USA. It’s actually really puzzling because they are debuting 41 of them in the 2021 holiday season!

However, I do think you can use Amazon Prime to watch a lot of the Hallmark Christmas movies. Have any of you tried it? My plan is just to binge them when I am in Florida in December- and then again for their ‘Christmas in July’ run.

At least it’s safe to say I don’t have to worry about any internet spoilers. They’re all the same!


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