Any list of “Top 10 Christmas Movies” tends to be subject to both cheers and derision as these compilations are inevitably driven by the reader (or writer’s) tastes. This one’s no different. I chose movies that I felt best portrayed the true meaning of Christmas, in one way or another. I didn’t put these together in any sort of specific order, other than that in which they came to mind:
ELF: This movie is one of my “musts” every Holiday Season. The plot is simple, a man named Buddy, who was raised from infancy as one of Santa’s Elves, comes to NYC as an adult to find his biological father. Hilarity ensues as he spreads Christmas cheer in a world full of cynics. This movie is heartwarming and focuses on the true meaning of the season … the SPIRIT of Christmas. Slashfilm calls this “a damn delightful Christmas movie.”
Home Alone 1 & 2: Yes, they are 2 separate movies, but both are equally entertaining, and go hand in hand. In the first movie, 8-year-old Kevin McCallister gets mistakenly left home alone after badly misbehaving the night before his family leaves for Christmas vacation. Chaos ensues as he tries to thwart 2 would-be bungling burglars, and eventually succeeds.
In the 2nd movie, 10-year-old Kevin makes it on a plane, but it’s not the same one as the rest of his family. I Instead, he gets on a plane for NYC, and uses his father’s credit cards to check into The Plaza Hotel. Once again, he encounters the same bungling burglars, who have escaped from prison, and stops them from robbing Duncan’s Toy Store.
Both these movies are truly comical, highly entertaining, and the only 2 of the series that used the same cast.
It’s a Wonderful Life – An oldie, but definitely a goodie. George Bailey is a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel Clarence. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched, and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born. This film is regarded as a classic and is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema having become traditional viewing during the holiday season.
The Grinch – The Grinch is a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature, with a heart “two sizes too small” who is living as a hermit on the snowy Mount Crumpit, a steep high mountain just north of the town of Whoville, home of the merry and warm-hearted Whos. His only companion is his unloved, but loyal dog, Max. The night before Christmas, the mean old Grinch sneaks into Whoville and steals all the presents. At dawn, the Grinch thinks everyone in Whoville will be bitter and crying but is confused to hear them singing a joyous Christmas song instead. It dawns on him that “maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more” than just presents and eating, and his shrunken heart suddenly grows three sizes. The Grinch has second thoughts and returns to the village to give back all the Christmas items. He is then warmly invited to the Whos’ feast, where he has the honor of carving the Roast Beast.
A Christmas Story – The film is presented in a series of vignettes, with narration provided by the adult Ralphie Parker reminiscing on one particular Christmas when he was nine years old. Ralphie wanted only one thing for that Christmas: A Red Ryder Rifle. Ralphie’s desire is rejected by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a Santa Claus at the department store, all giving him the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Christmas morning arrives and Ralphie dives into his presents. Although he gets some presents, he enjoys, Ralphie ultimately is disappointed that he did not receive the one thing he wanted most. After it appears all of the presents have been opened, Ralphie’s father directs him to look at one last present that he had hidden. Ralphie opens it to reveal the Red Ryder gun he wanted.
The Family Stone – One of my absolute favorites. The plot follows the Christmas holiday misadventures of the Stone family in a small New England town when the eldest son Everett brings his uptight girlfriend Meredith home with the intention of proposing to her with a cherished family heirloom ring. Overwhelmed by the hostile reception from most of the rest of the Stone family, she begs her sister to join her for emotional support, triggering further complications. This comedy-drama is full of unforseen surprises, twists and turns, and a surprise ending.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – The first time I watched this movie, I laughed until I cried. The movie starts with the Griswold family cutting down their annual Christmas tree. Family members, (both invited and uninvited), start arriving for the holiday, and that’s when the fun really begins. Some of the most hysterical moments happen when Clark’s cousin Eddie unexpectedly shows up with his family. From lights that don’t work, to a burnt-up turkey, to a burnt-out tree, to a sewer full of combustible gas, this flick is such a hoot!
The Santa Clause – Scott Calvin is a non-believer in Santa Claus, however, he still wants his young son Charlie to believe, despite his ex-wife and her new husband’s wishes. Scott accidentally kills Santa when he knocks him off the roof, then finds a card in his suit pocket that states “If something should happen to me, put on my suit, the Reindeer will know what to do”, and the body disappears. Then Scott unwittingly becomes Santa Claus. He grows facial hair that won’t go away no matter what he does and gains 45 lbs. in a week. The changes keep coming, and so do the laughs.
Love, Actually – This Christmas-themed rom-com delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of which are shown to be interlinked as the tales progress. Filmed on location in London with a huge ensemble cast, the story begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, with an epilogue 5 weeks after. This movie is heartwarming and charming, also fun and exciting. A true “feel-good” movie!
Fred Claus – Santa’s younger brother Fred is a very bad boy. The movie shows how Santa works furiously to salvage everything that Fred accidentally sabotages as the flick progresses. Then Santa gets in a pickle, and Fred steps up and saves the day! It’s the story of how sibling rivalry transforms into brotherly love.
Honorable mentions go to White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Holiday, and Scrooged – all very fine Christmas movies. Happy Holidays!
Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected]