Feature: Top 10 Best Christmas Movies

With the holidays upon us, I felt it was my duty to bring some Christmas spirit to all. Below is a list of my favorite movies that embody what this time of year is all about — fun, family and friends.

Criteria: Theatrical release; have something to do with Christmas.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas [1993]

A strange tale of Jack Skellington (a.k.a. the Pumpkin King) as he tries to bring his own brand of Christmas to the world with the help of the ghoulies of Halloweentown. Nothing spells Christmas like seeing a “coffin sleigh” pulled through the sky by skeletal reindeer and a ghost dog with a glowing nose!


Movie: Elf [2003]

Will Ferrell is Buddy, a human raised as an elf in the North Pole sent off to search for his birth father. It’s great fun to witness his awkwardness and enthusiasm as he discovers what it is to be human, in of all places — New York City. Definitely one of Mr. Ferrell’s better comedic performances (Ron Burgundy and Chazz Reinhold being the others.)


Movie: Scrooge [1951]

The definitive adaptation of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Ebenezer Scrooge, meets three ghosts — Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future — and, well you know the story.

The Santa Clause

Movie: The Santa Clause [1994]

Ever wanted to take the place of Santa Claus? Neither did Tim Allen, but that’s what happens when he activates a little known clause in the Santa mythos (kill old Saint Nick, take his place.) An endearing comedy that’s great for the whole family.


Movie: Bad Santa [2003]

What better way to rob a department store than to dress up as Santa. That’s Billy Bob Thornton’s plan, complete with boozing it up, cursing like Bob Saget, and beating up little kids. Did I mention the backdoor sex in the crapper? It may not sound like it, but there is a goodwill message hidden somewhere within.

The Polar Express

Movie: The Polar Express [2004]

An animated feature that dives into the meaning of Christmas. If you can get past the bizarre facial expressions everyone in the film has (growing pains of the motion capture animation), you’re sure to feel good after viewing. Afterwards, let me know if you can hear the bell ring — I did for a day or two…

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Movie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation [1989]

The Griswolds return to make a disaster of the holiday, as only they can. If you need a laugh, look no further — you’ll get your fill and then some watching this good-intentioned family ruin everything they come in contact with. Watch for Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), he’s a scene stealer.

Miracle on 34th Street

Movie: Miracle on 34th Street [1947]

Leave it to America to put Kris Kringle on trial for claiming to be the real Santa Claus — even 50 years ago corporate snobs were sucking the life out of Christmas. But it wouldn’t be a holiday powerhouse if the nonbelievers weren’t shown the wrongs of their ways and led to believe. You’ll be led to believe again too.

A Christmas Story

Movie: A Christmas Story [1983]

Little Ralphie wants nothing more than a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa and lets everyone in his world know it. Director Bob Clark and screenwriter Jean Shepherd capture everything there is about Christmas from a kids point of view; no wonder it is the most televised movie during the week of Christmas (unsubstantiated claim), as young and old alike can relate.

It's A Wonderful Life

Movie: It’s A Wonderful Life [1946]

The timeless Christmas classic. James Stewart is a man contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve when he sees his world falling apart. His guardian angel pops down from the heavens to stop him and to show him how life would be like for those he loves had he never existed. It memorably drives home the point that as long as you have family, friends and good health there’s a damn good chance everything is going to be a-okay. And even though we tend to overlook it, this holds true even to this day.

Honorable Mention(s): Babes in Toyland.

Got some others? Share the spirit.

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'Feature: Top 10 Best Christmas Movies' have 11 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 6, 2008 @ 6:12 pm Jess

    I’ve never seen Bad Santa (Billy Bob aversion) but I love all the other ones on your list. I would add my own favs: Love, Actually; The Family Stone; The Holiday; and Die Hard 1 & 2. Less traditional, but als fun and gets you in the spirit.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 6, 2008 @ 6:12 pm Sammy Este

    Where is Home Alone?

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 7, 2008 @ 9:33 am Murray

    Good list. I’d have found a place for Scrooged though.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 7, 2008 @ 10:46 am sasori

    I would add my own favs: Love, Actually; The Family Stone; The Holiday; and Die Hard 1 & 2.

    I tossed around Love, Actually but ultimately decided it wasn’t top 10 material. Die Hards weren’t considered as I don’t equate them to Christmas. I never saw The Family Stone or The Holiday, so I’ll have to check them out.

    Where is Home Alone?

    Not on the list. It may have enjoyed widespread appeal, but I can’t stomach it.

    I’d have found a place for Scrooged though.

    Yeah, I liked Bill Murray and the updated “A Christmas Carol” theme, but for me it wasn’t strong enough to overtake any of the other 10 movies on the list.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 10, 2008 @ 5:56 am Andrei

    Well pity Home Alone didn’t make it.That movie sure was an Entertaining Christmas Movie for our family.The list here includes my favorite which is The Polar Express.I seen that movie countless times and never get bored watching it as it has a great meaning in it.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 21, 2008 @ 6:21 pm Bryce Zabel

    Over at MOVIE SMACKDOWN! we started last year by letting ten of our critics each nominate their film and then let our readers vote. The top three vote-getters last year were (in order of votes) A CHRISTMAS STORY, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, and LOVE ACTUALLY. This year we’re having a run-off and LOVE ACTUALLY is leading the pack. I do think that WONDERFUL LIFE is fading, CHRISTMAS STORY has probably overtaken it in the last few years and there’s room for a new fave like LOVE ACTUALLY. At least that’s how our readers apparently see it so far.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 24, 2008 @ 6:18 pm TY

    Loved your post!

    Here’s An 8 Minute Holiday Treat!

    One of my new favorite Christmas movies, “The Gift Wrapper”, that I saw in a film festival this year, was just posted on youtube for the holidays and thought you might like to check it out!

    Apparently they are only screening it for the holidays and then it goes back into the vaults till next year.


    Happy Holidays!


  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 27, 2008 @ 9:28 am Roger ZIJA

    I loved Polar Express even as an adult, some of these movies are really great to watch around Christmas. Bad Santa seems to be an interesting Christmas movie, but I haven’t seen it yet. The other movies are obviously classic, they will never look old and I am sure that it will be a while until someone makes a better movie than “It’s a wonderful life”

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 23, 2009 @ 3:29 pm weightlifting forums

    You have an excellent list. I agree that its a wonderful life should be number one. I think scrooge should be higher up on the list, that is one of my favorite all time.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 15, 2009 @ 8:57 pm robert riley

    Nothing beats classic movies. They are like wine appreciating with time. Those days actors used to express themselves with honesty and integrity when money was less important. You could see the real talent. “It’s A Wonderful Life” is one of my must-have collections.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 17, 2010 @ 12:33 am Award

    all the movies are good one but for the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” I will say 4 words: This Movie Is Epic.

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