Published: 15 December 2021

Surrey’s favourite festive films: Top 10 cinematic crackers countdown

Like unwrapping the biggest and best presents last, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – as we reveal Surrey's Top 10 festive films as voted for by University staff and students. Will your favourite film feature?

No.10: The Sound of Music

“Me and my sister probably watched this every Christmas as children with my gran up in Oldham when my parents went out with their friends. My gran had a beautiful voice and she used to be in the local amateur dramatic society, so she sang and danced along. Edelweiss still makes me cry!”

Professor Jane Ogden, School of Psychology

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

No.9: Elf

“My wife adores this film and my son adores this film. This means I was peer-pressured into watching it, but it’s now become a firm festive fave. Will Ferrell is Buddy, a human raised by elves in the North Pole, who travels to New York to find his biological father. Played by James Caan, his dad is a workaholic publisher who doesn’t do Christmas – until he realises the error of his ways and helps his son save Santa Claus and the whole festive season. You’d need a heart of stone coated in diamond to not love this movie.”

Paul Brooks, FEPS Faculty Content Officer

Where to watch: Sky Cinema

No.8: It’s a Wonderful Life  

“What other movie can it be? I'll be shocked if I'm the only one to pick this. It’s such an uplifting but rollercoaster ride of a tale. For me, it helps that it's directed by Frank Capra, who made the best film ever with Arsenic and Old Lace. James Stewart is perfectly cast and the script just oozes schmaltz, but in a good way. And try to stop that trembling lip when Clarence gets his wings.”

Dr Scott Turner, Department of Chemistry

Where to watch: 24 December, Channel 4, 2pm

No.7: Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

“I love this film! It’s a heart-warming family favourite and it definitely has the feel-good factor. It’s a perfect film to watch while wrapping Christmas presents and drinking Baileys. Seeing this film in London on Christmas Eve is one of my earliest cinematic memories and I still get a pang of nostalgia every time I watch it.”

Jolene Dyke, Marketing and Communications

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

No.6: White Christmas  

“We’d always watch this on Christmas Eve and, no matter how late we started in the evening, we weren’t ready for Christmas until we’d watched it. The songs, the dancing, everything is somehow perfect, magical and in glorious technicolour. Christmas seems to be well-suited to classic movies. Then again, the other film that always had to be watched at home leading up to Christmas was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation…”

Dr Carina Dunlop, Department of Mathematics

“This film feels more like a family member than a movie. I have beautiful memories of my Grandad crying happy tears at the end; cuddling up with my mum, dad and sisters on the sofa on Christmas Eve; singing Count My Blessings to my children when they were tiny; my lovely friends and family organising a special viewing at the London Winter Wonderland for my hen do… It’s comfortingly magical. Just like Christmas should be.”

Charlotte Wilson, Admissions

Where to watch: 25 December, Channel 4, 12.55pm

No.5: Love Actually

“I make sure I watch this every Christmas. It always makes me feel happy and warm – and a bit embarrassed but I try to look past the cringey bits. The scene where Emma Thompson is in her bedroom and has just realised Alan Rickman is having an affair is acting perfection. I also love Bill Nighy’s “Ant or Dec” line! And the airport scene at the start and the end makes me cry every time!”

Dr Emily Williams, School of Health Sciences

Where to watch: 25 December, ITV, 10.40pm

No.4: The Holiday

“This romantic comedy from 2006 stars Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law. Although some of it’s based in California, quite a bit of it was also shot in the village of Shere, which is just outside Guildford. It features beautiful scenery from both locations. And who doesn’t crave a holiday for Christmas 2021?”

Dr Bing Guo, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

“This is the perfect combination of romance, snow, sunshine, festivity, beautiful Surrey and a star-studded cast. It’s feel-good to the max and everything that you want to happen happens. It’s the ultimate Christmas wrapping backdrop and I challenge anyone to come away from that film not smiling and ready for the festive season!”

Richella Homer, Head of Marketing

Where to watch: 23 December, ITV, 11pm

No.3: The Muppet Christmas Carol

“Like an avalanche of bittersweet joy, this 1992 version of the Charles Dickens classic sweeps all other adaptations – and, in fact, all other movies – aside. There are songs, heartbreak, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as Bob and Mrs Cratchit, dance numbers and a rubber chicken factory. There’s also an actor called Michael Caine, who started his career in a theatre in Horsham before starring in The Ipcress File, The Italian Job and The Swarm. He may have won an Oscar, but his portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge alongside the Muppets is the highlight of his career. All movies should be this good.”

Paul Brooks, FEPS Faculty Content Officer

Where to watch: Disney +

No.2: Die Hard

“It’s not necessarily the most cinematically outstanding movie, but it has so many good memories attached. As a kid, we’d religiously watch it every Christmas. We’d excitedly grab the Radio Times, circle the film's listing with a big felt tip and look forward to it all week. Then as a family – well, my dad and my brothers at least (a bit gory for mum!) – we’d watch it. There’s a great mix of action, the best-ever bad guy and one of the best movie quotes of all time. We weren’t allowed to swear as kids, so we’d shout “Yippee-ki-yay…” then mouth the profanity that followed. Die Hard reminds me of those precious childhood memories.“

Dr Zoe Harris, Centre for Environment and Sustainability

Where to watch: 22 December, ITV, 10.45pm

No.1: Home Alone

“Christmas is a time for family and every year, without fail, our Home Alone movie marathon is the one night we can be sure that the social calendars will be cleared, and parents and kids will be there. Who would have thought a story about repeated child neglect could be so funny, heart-warming and full of the Christmas spirit? In our house, Yuletide is about good food, decorations, presents and Home Alone.”

Dr Andrew Crossan, Department of Computer Science

“Why is Home Alone my favourite Christmas film of all time? For me, it just has that complete festive feel that warms the soul on a wet and grey December afternoon. While its slapstick scenes are fun to watch, there are also some darker themes underneath Kevin’s entrapment of the Wet Bandits. For example, regret, forgiveness and repentance feature heavily throughout, and this, mixed with the slapstick comedy, just clicks! I also think, for me, there’s something extremely enchanting about films that can take on new meanings at different times in our lives. Growing up, I can remember my brothers and I begging our dad to watch it on repeat over the Christmas period. Now, a number of years on, I have two daughters who often demand to watch it on repeat with me! It’s incredibly nostalgic to hear them giggle and laugh at this movie like I did at their age. Magic!”

Dr Alex Seal, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Where to watch: 24 December, Channel 4, 6pm

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