It's been a long, challenging year, so there's no harm in seeking out a little early festive cheer. With this in mind, here are 10 heartwarming holiday movies set in the U.K., a place that doesn't get quite as many white Christmases as movie-makers might have us believe. Enjoy!
1. Scrooge (1970)
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been turned into numerous movies, but this one really stands out. Albert Finney gives a brilliant performance as Ebenezer Scrooge, the tight-fisted miser who despises the holiday season, and the supporting cast is packed with top British thesps including Alec Guinness and Edith Evans. After watching Scrooge, you'll have no excuse to say "bah, humbug!"
2. The Snowman (1982)
Based on a book by Raymond Briggs, this animated TV movie about a boy who befriends a snowman has become a British Christmas institution. It's only 25 minutes long, but there's something completely magical about it, from the introduction featuring David Bowie (which was actually recorded for its U.S. broadcast) to the wistful Christmas song "Walking in the Air."
3. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Is this a Christmas movie? Of course it is – there's a memorable scene involving Christmas jumpers. Plus, there's something comforting about watching Renee Zellweger's title character bumble charmingly through life while weighing up whether earnest lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) or caddish TV producer Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) is right for her. This one never gets old.
4. About a Boy (2002)
This isn't a Christmas film per se, but it's definitely a warmhearted movie set partly during the holidays. Hugh Grant stars as a wealthy but apathetic Londoner who lives off the royalties from an enduringly popular Christmas song written by his father. He eventually finds a romantic connection with Rachel Weisz's Fiona, but his unlikely friendship with socially awkward teenager Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) proves to be equally meaningful.
5. Love Actually (2003)
Richard Curtis's Christmas-themed romcom features multiple interlocking stories, many shot on location in London. Bill Nighy's jaded rock star and Hugh Grant's dancing Prime Minister are scene stealers, but perhaps the most emotional moments involve Emma Thompson and her philandering husband played by Alan Rickman. No, you have something in your eye.
6. The Holiday (2006)
As you'd expect from a Nancy Meyers movie, this Christmas romcom looks good enough to eat. Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz star as women from opposite sides of the pond who find love – with Jack Black and Jude Law, respectively – when they arrange a festive house swap. Winslet's character lives in a cute cottage in an idyllic English country village, adding to the film's considerable charm.
7. Nativity! (2009)
Martin Freeman gives a terrific performance in this British Christmas movie as a stressed teacher organizing his school's nativity play. Along the way, he accidentally suggests that his ex – a Hollywood exec played by Ashley Jensen – might drop in to watch the kids in action. It's a little bit silly, but if you can't resist Nativity!, there are three sequels to check out (including one with David Tennant).
8. Get Santa (2014)
This charming British Christmas flick has a heartwarming premise. Rafe Spall plays a disillusioned ex-con who rediscovers the festive spirit when a man claiming to be Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) turns up in his family shed. It's a fun watch with lovely supporting turns from Jodie Whittaker, Stephen Graham, and Warwick Davis.
9. Last Christmas (2019)
Named after a Wham! song and featuring the music of George Michael, this holiday romcom really makes the most of its London setting. Emilia Clarke stars as an apathetic Christmas store worker whose faith in humanity is restored when she meets a mysterious stranger played by Henry Golding. The script, co-written by Emma Thompson, has a high-concept final act twist, but there's plenty of festive cheer along the way.
10. A Boy Called Christmas (2021)
This new addition to the Brit Christmas canon premieres next Friday (November 24) on Netflix. Newcomer Henry Lawfull plays a boy nicknamed Christmas who heads north to a magical elf village in pursuit of his father. With Jim Broadbent, Sally Hawkins, Stephen Merchant and Maggie Smith in supporting roles, it looks poised to spread a little early festive cheer.
Do you have a favorite British Christmas movie?