There are some classic holiday films that everyone has seen, loved, and warms the cockles of their hearts like It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th St., or any version of A Christmas Carol in the last 90 years. And no, I have not yet seen the newest incarnation from Disney, but it does look like fun. There are also new specials and holiday themed movies that come out every year and it’s hard to keep up with some of them. To be honest, some of them aren’t worth it. But the list of Yuletide mainstays goes on and you can ask me why [missing movie title] isn’t included if you would like. Depending on the movie, I can probably simply answer, “No sir, I just don’t like it.” Or I haven’t seen it yet. But it’s also difficult to rate the ones I have seen and liked, so given my mood at any given time, these ratings are subject to change.
10. The Thin Man – Not actually a Christmas movie, but it takes place during Christmastime. It’s about a detective and his wife investigating a recent murder in town. I love the wit, humor and banter of this married couple. I think The Thin Man series is underrated anyway, and I’m looking for the box set to be under my Christmas tree this year (hint, hint).
9. MST3K: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians – Technically, what I’m listing here is an episode of the cult classic TV show “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (MST3K). A group of guys riff and joke throughout really bad movies and incidentally make them hilarious and quite watchable. The plot of the movie isn’t all that important, I just suggest finding this on DVD if you can. Netflix is good for this. Also look for the “Santa Claus” episode as well.
8. Scrooged – Out of all the Christmas Carol stories out there, I liked this one the most. I’d say it’s one of the more modern versions of the story starring the brilliant Bill Murray as a Scrooge-esque TV exec.
7. Nightmare Before Christmas – Debate: Is this a Halloween movie, or a Christmas movie? I’d say both, but more on the Christmas side since that’s what the main character is obsessed with. Whether you consider this a Halloween classic or a Christmas classic, I would consider it a film classic for anytime of the year.
6. How The Grinch Stole Christmas – I am including the book, the cartoon version, and the movie. Hey, might as well include the song too. I love this story and I always get the warm tinglies when the Grinch realizes that Christmas comes without ribbons, tags, boxes or bags, and later how his heart grows three sizes in a day. And we can’t forget the song the Whos sing. I don’t know the words but I want some roast beast and Who hash.
5. Twas the Night Before Christmas – The animated Rankin/Bass classic that is a necessity every year. It features a clockmaker who makes a special clock for Santa, and the little clockmaker mice that help him. One of the reasons I like this special is due to the songs and nostalgia of simpler times. Not surprisingly, I could probably quote all the unsung dialogue in this as well. It’s also one of my favorite representations of the classic poem… that is until I saw a version that mixed this story with that of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.” (See here.)
4. Love, Actually – This is a Christmas-romantic-dramedy for grown-ups. It’s the only R-rated movie on this list, actually. But it’s equally charming, funny, warm, and maybe a bit painful for some. It’s an ensemble piece with interwoven tales of couples in and out of love around Christmas. A few of my friends started a tradition of watching this movie every year simply because there were some characters or situations we could all relate to.
3. Toy Story – I probably wouldn’t expect people to consider this movie a Christmas movie, although the story does end on Christmas Day. It makes me think of Christmas possibly because I got the movie as a Christmas present. And it’s about toys. Other than birthdays, when else do you get lots of toys?
2. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – I can hear the question now, what happened to the first one? Well, I owned Home Alone 2 and have only seen Home Alone a handful of times. Both are hilarious movies, but I like Home Alone 2 more. I’m also a fan of New York City and I think this movie is what helped cause my love for it at my young impressionable age.
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Surely you can’t deny this one. There isn’t really much I need to say because I’m pretty sure you may have seen it. If not, go now, immediately. Who hasn’t pointed out a “Charlie Brown tree” before? Or ever try dancing like any of the Peanuts kids (when they are supposed to be rehearsing a play)? And who hasn’t sung Christmas songs with wide open mouths and heads back towards the sky? Ah, good times. And let’s not forget the infamous scene where Charlie Brown, confused and frustrated with his play, commercialism and aluminum trees, asks aloud what Christmas is really about. Enter Linus, the scholar, quoting from the Bible and revealing the true meaning of Christmas. I’d also recommend It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown. It’s indeed a good follow up to the original.
Here are a few honorable mentions:
Any Rankin/Bass Production (Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Frosty the Snowman, etc.)
- The Preacher’s Wife
- Jingle All The Way
- The Santa Clause
- Edward Scissorhands
- Friday After Next