Critic Gurnesha Bola walks us through her Top 10 animated Christmas movies

Written by Gurnesha Bola
Film section co-editor. English Literature + History student. I write things down from time to time...
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10. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer: The Movie (1998)

A film that seems to have slipped from the Christmas radar is this animated take on Rudolph’s rise from a bullied loner to an indispensable member of Santa’s team. Some surprise treats in the vocal talent including John Goodman and Whoopi Goldberg, this has all the visual charm of a 90s animation and is perfect for anyone in the throwback mood this seasonal period.


9. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)

An often forgotten instalment in the Beauty and the Beast saga; Belle endeavours to change the Beast’s aversion to Christmas which could have major repercussions in breaking his curse. It can sometimes feel at odds with its predecessor but has all the ingredients of an uplifting Christmas film. It is both funny and romantic but with the signature darkness of the original.


8. The Polar Express (2004)

The first motion-capture/ CGI film of the list is an adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book. A Santa-doubter is awoken on Christmas Eve and boards the Polar Express to the North Pole. Featuring Tom Hanks in multiple roles, the film broke records in animation budgets and was released as a 3D visual spectacle. Thoroughly entertaining, with both cheerful musicality, and some genuine moments of suspense.


7. Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas (1999)

A trio of tales to get everyone in the festive spirit, this is Disney at its most touching. Genuinely funny but still keeping true to its messages of charity and kindness it is a film that brings together all our familiar childhood favourites including Donald, Goofy, Minnie and the main man Mickey himself. This anthology of tales encapsulates all the Disney magic we grew up with.


6. Rise of the Guardians (2012)

As if Christmas alone wasn’t enough, 2012 brought us a family friendly release featuring the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and Jack Frost. Featuring an all-star voice cast including Hugh Jackman and Chris Pine, this modern festive tale sees tatted-up Santa assembling a task force to overcome evil spirit Pitch, who has been corrupting children’s imaginations. An aesthetic pleasure with a real depth of emotion.


5. Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

An adaptation of the Dickens classic starring Jim Carrey, uncannily reimagined for the big screen as Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts, from The Polar Express helmer Robert Zemeckis. A rich and impressively detailed retelling of the ultimate Christmas tale of redemption, tells the story of Scrooge’s enlightening adventures of one Christmas Eve night. Although a universally known story, this is a visually triumphant re-telling.


4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Adapted from Dr Seuss’ vibrant story, the Grinch attempts to steal Christmas from the inhabitants of Whoville who reside at the bottom of his mountain-top reclusive lair. At only 26 minutes running time this short-film is masterfully created in the images of Dr Seuss’ original tale. Narrated by Boris Karloff its old-school charm can still compete with any new animation tech.


3. The Snowman (1982)

The Snowman has become synonymous with Christmas. Telling the beautiful story of one boy’s adventure on Christmas Eve when his Snowman comes to life, this is one for all generations. Humour and heart bring Raymond Briggs’ picture book to life and create a festive story of friendship. It is a wordless animation soundtrack by the ultimate Christmas song – the go to choice for all eggnog induced falsetto wailing.


2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

A visually stunning stop-motion from Tim Burton has become a bona fide Christmas classic; blending his signature macabre style with all the goodness of a Christmas film. Jack Skellington attempts to hijack Christmas in order to bring some cheer into his gloomy existence. Unfortunately, his good intentions leave the fate of Christmas hanging in the balance. Musical and whimsical but intelligent and wickedly dark.


1. Arthur Christmas (2011)

In terms of talented voice ensembles, Arthur Christmas does not disappoint. Voiced by British acting heavyweights including James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Laurie, 3 generations of Claus’ face an unprecedented dilemma when a child’s present is accidentally left undelivered. However, this is no standard North Pole operation – Christmas has never been more 21st century: gadgets, spy-ware and military precision. This is a classic tale of finding a hero in the most unlikely of places but with some refreshing humour and inventive modern touches.

Which of these is your favourite?

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