• Christmas movies form a major part of TV schedules – some are more classic than others
  • We all love a villain getting his comeuppance in a Christmas movie
  • Sentimentality and the feel-good factor are seen as key ingredients

One of the highlights of the festive season is getting home to a warm house, parking yourself on the couch with your loved ones – with a veritable feast of snacks on the coffee table before you – and switching on a Christmas movie.

So, what is it about Christmas movies that makes us feel so good? We've looked into it and have come up some ideas. It was hard work watching all these brilliant movies, but someone had to do it. Enjoy.

Great bad guys

From Bill Murray's acerbic Frank Cross in Scrooged to Bill Bob Thornton's immoral Willie in Bad Santa and Jim Carrey's chaotically mischievous Grinch in the namesake flick, there's nothing quite as entertaining as watching these baddies get their comeuppance. It's all the sweeter when they redeem themselves too.

Classic Santa Claus

Although Santa is not necessarily the rule in great Christmas movies – he doesn't quite figure in Die Hard for example – we all love seeing the big man with a beard pop up. Classic appearances include Santa Claus: The Movie (John Lithgow is great in this) and The Santa Clause.

Ludicrous plots

In Jingle All the Way, Arnie and another guy positively destroy New York in the name of a toy; Trading Places sees some bored businessmen switch the lives of a homeless man and a commodities broker; while Elf is about a human who thinks he is an elf and goes on a journey of self-discovery. Christmas movies is all about escaping into some of the most bizarre plotline imaginable.

Nothing like sentimentality

Feel-good is often used to describe Christmas movies and there is nothing like festive sentimentality to win our hearts on the chilliest of nights. It's a Wonderful Life always has you bawling your eyes out, the moment that Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon first kiss in Love, Actually is something sweet and the moment The Snowman comes to life, well, they're very special moments.

Have we mentioned your personal favourite? Always a controversial topic about which are your favourites and which film signals the start of Christmas for you, let us know what your favourite is.