It’s time to mentally prepare myself for a week today. So in that spirit, I wanted to share with you my top five Christmas films. These are not necessarily films about Christmas. You will probably not be surprised by two (three) of them. And I love all of these films – their stories and characters – a great deal. Here we go.

5. Home Alone (1990)

One of Christopher Columbus’s best films… I was quite young when this film originally released and I won’t deny that were several Christmases over the course of the 90s where I would have been happy to have been left home alone and not have to deal with the rest of my family. Kevin, as played by Macaulay Culkin, was someone I could identify with back then, especially on those Christmas Days where I was surrounded by a truck load of cousins. (I can’t say I could identify with Culkin himself, today, but I think his band is kinda cool.)  Home Alone  provided one of the best slapstick movies of the 1990s and easily outdoes  The Mask for levels of physical humour and John Hughes wrote some really fantastic lines for Culkin and his two bumbling nemeses.

4. In Bruges (2008)

My next entry is not a family film. In fact it is filled with graphic violence, swearing and a lot more.  In Bruges was written and directed by Martin McDonagh and while I do prefer his  Seven Psychopaths  more, this one is set in a very wintry, slightly festive, Bruges, Belgium. McDonagh’s first feature film, it follows hitman Ray (Colin Farrell) heading to Bruges with his professional partner Ken Brendan Gleeson), after a hit goes wrong and their boss wants them to lay low for a while. If you want a film that shows someone having a worse Christmas than you: this is probably one to go for. And don’t let that trailer fool you, this film is not a light hearted comedy by any stretch of the imagination – it’s dark, very dark. Still, it’s probably more fun to watch than the war film marathons that a bunch of the terrestrial UK channels have gone for in recent Christmases.

3. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Directed by Brian Henson and written by Jerry Juhl,  The Muppet Christmas Carol is my most favourite interpretation of Charles Dickens’  A Christmas Carol, (as demonstrated in last year’s Nerds Assemble extra episode about the story). The musically led retelling of this story and the emotion that it packs in makes it not only really accessible to younger audiences, but a stark reminder to adults who are better off as to the perils of being apathetic to equality. And aren’t those tunes catchy? And doesn’t Michael Caine make an excellent Scrooge? And aren’t Gonzo and Rizzo fabulous narrators? Yes, if I had to watch a more traditional seasonal film it would be this. But don’t expect me to have dry eyes through all of it.

2. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Adapted by Shane Black from the novel  Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday,  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang , like many Shane Black films, just happens to be set at Christmas. What, you haven’t noticed the time of year of  Lethal Weapon or  Iron Man 3 ? Well, they’re set at Christmas. For me, the pairing of Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr in this film works really well (and I’m not saying this because I loved Kilmer as Batman and RDJ as Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes (or am I?)) and provides for some great bouncing of lines. Its less than traditional heist gone wrong storyline works really well and allows for some very intriguing plotting with just the right amount of action and snarky humour…. Man, I think I need to try and get my hands on a copy of this before Christmas. P.S. You almost had  Iron Man 3 here instead.

1. Die Hard (1988)

I’m definitely a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas films, and there’s been a bit of a tradition between Paul B and I of watching  Die Hard on Christmas Eve before bed and seeing if we can try and get through the second film as well. Based on Roderick Thorp’s novel  Nothing Lasts Forever , this classic piece of 1980s action cinema, directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart, has enchanted me since I was first allowed to watch it. Bruce Willis is fantastic as John McClane, a cop with family problems, and Alan Rickman plays a delightfully sinister bad guy in the form of Hans Gruber. And the best thing about watching this? It’s set at Christmas and has a happy ending without Santa getting involved. Yippee-ki-yay…

Well, that’s it for my top Christmas films. Do let me know in the comments which are yours.

After something festive to listen to while you wrap presents? Then why not check out episode 117 of the Nerds Assemble podcast: Time for a geeky Christmas .