Thursday, December 15, 2016

Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies

Between Halloween and Christmas, the kind of movies I find myself wanting to watch for the weeks (or month) surrounding them become dominated by the holidays. I love movies so much, and there are certain times of the year that become all the more full for me thanks to them. I dropped the ball with making a favorite movies to watch around Halloween list, so I'm not making that mistake again this year. Here are my favorite movies to watch around Christmas.

First, let me include a few disclaimers. For one, I don't necessarily watch any of these *on* Christmas, because I'm usually far too busy making snow angels out of shredded wrapping paper to think about watching movies, so these aren't ones I have a tradition of watching every single Christmas day itself. Does that matter? Not really, I just wanted to add a little bit about how I love Christmas so much that I don't generally even watch movies during that day. Yeah. It's serious business. Also, these are mostly movies I only watch around Christmas time, which mostly excludes movies I could watch any time of the year. There are movies set around Christmas that just don't make me *feel* the holiday spirit, so these are mostly just the ones I associate with the time of the year, with a few relative exceptions. And finally, this list does not include short films. The Grinch, Rankin/Bass stuff, Charlie Brown...I like those, but that's a list for another time.

So here we go, my 10 most favoritest Christmastime movies!

Die Hard

One of the most hotly-contested "Christmas" movies ever, and while I definitely consider it one myself, I can understand why others might not. Action movies aren't generally associated with Christmas, but that doesn't mean this one isn't totally drenched in holiday atmosphere. The music and decorations, story about the importance of family, quotes and uses of holiday me it's clearly a Christmas movie, and it's also one of the absolute best action movies ever made. Granted, I can watch it whenever, but I generally try to find the time to watch it in December.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Equal parts Halloween and Christmas, this stop-motion classic is impossible not to associate with a holiday (pick one), and is a great way to get you in the mood for some celebration. Filled with great and memorable songs, wonderful animation and design, and characters everyone knows and loves. Doing a more contemporary holiday movie in the stop-motion style of those Rankin/Bass specials (only far more fluid and high quality) was a perfect way to pay tribute to Christmas classics, but it never feels at all like something that isn't it's own creation. In fact, it's very inventive. I've never been as obsessed with this one as every emo girl is, but I still love it.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

While I was tempted to include the original Black Christmas on this list, it doesn't really have that Christmas atmosphere that I love in my holiday movies. At least, not like this one does. The build-up with this one is tremendous and totally immersive. Instead of including any other number of Christmas horror movies, this is the one that feels the most in-tune with the season, even moreso than last year's Krampus, which is about as Christmassy as you can get for a horror movie. This is a creepy movie with an ingenius fantasy set-up, perfect for anyone who doesn't mind some terror infused in their Christmas season.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

I don't recall a single Christmas in the past 10-15 years that I haven't watched this movie, either in its entirety or just in sporadic chunks. It's goofy and ridiculous in all the ways you could expect from a Vacation movie, but at its heart you have a movie that's just fun to sit down and experience. Even without the humor, this is just a movie that captures all the irritation and joy that family can bring to the holidays. As much as we love our families, they can be obnoxious and intrusive, and this movie does a great job at reminding us that in the end, they're still worth the effort. Also, it's just really funny.

A Christmas Carol

For years, this movie was an absolute requirement for me and my family to watch on Christmas eve. This was what I would see as the definitive version of this classic story (although that would change), all of which anchored by George S. Scott's intense performance as Ebenezer Scrooge. While there are a few rough patches and this version never makes me really give a crap about Tiny Tim, who is more of a crutch here than he ever should be to the story (pun SOOO intended), I still find it among the best versions of the story with my favorite on-screen depictions of Scrooge, Marley, and Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. A little unbalanced, but full of all the heart and charm you could ever hope for from A Christmas Carol.

Home Alone


To me and many others, Christmas has always been the time of year to reflect on our lives, appreciating the people, places, and experiences that have left the greatest impact: with a special focus on the positive side of things. Recognizing our mistakes, forgiving people who've wronged us, and coming together with the ones you love as a giant happy family. And few movies - holiday or otherwise - sum up these things quite so well as Home Alone, which starts off as astonishingly chaotic and alienating in its view of family, only to come around at the end showcasing the importance of family and how Christmas has the power to bring us all together. It's funny, touching, and features some great physical humor to boot. This is one of the few necessary Christmas movies for me, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

A Christmas Story


The has never been a Christmas movie that has such a massive following of people who love it to death or absolutely hate it as this movie does. We all have someone in our families who HAS to watch this every year, or can't stand watching it again. It's strange to me that there could be a Christmas classic that's this polarizing, but there you go. Obviously, I love this one. It has the perfect family dynamic, is chock full of unforgettable scenes and quotes, and has managed to remain one of the most consistently enjoyable and honest family holiday movies for over 30 years. I can understand how some people are burnt out on this one, but I still can't help but to love it.



I feel a little weird putting this one so high on the list, considering this is the first year I've ever watched it, but after going through a half dozen or so versions of the story leading up to this one, I was blown away by how much this version got right. There isn't a flaw I can think of, and though it doesn't have the most exciting depictions of some of these characters, the pacing and character development for Scrooge in this one is the absolute best I've ever seen. It's a beautiful looking movie filled with wonderful performances, particularly by Alastair Sim, who approaches the role with less fire than Scott but far more humility and emotion. This is the most complete and heartfelt Christmas Carol I've ever seen, and ultimately works better as a whole than even the '84 version.

Miracle On 34th Street

When I try to picture Santa Claus, my mind goes to Coca Cola and Edmund Gwenn. I know it's pretty sad that the first image of Santa comes from old soft drink advertisements, but the second one is essentially a giant Macy's advertisement, so at least I'm consistent. Gwenn is the perfect movie Santa, and is honestly about 90% of the reason to watch this one -- which is by no means an insult. It's as corny as you could expect from a '40s Christmas movie, and honestly that's part of what I love about it. This is a sweet, well-meaning movie that never relies on cheap cliches and dirty jokes. If anything, it just helped create these cliches. It's so wonderfully wholesome and adorably innocent.

It's A Wonderful Life


Generic pick? Absolutely. Do I care? Absolutely not. This is *the* Christmas movie, and one that I can't see myself ever getting tired of. Jimmy Stewart gives the performance of a lifetime (an incredible lifetime, I might add), carrying us through a story that we've seen play out 150 times before, and I could watch another 150 times in this movie alone. It's hard for me not to get emotional when it comes to this movie, as it appeals to me in the most nostalgic and personal of ways. I have often felt like George Bailey, and that if I had never been born, everyone would have been better off. Granted, I don't have an entire community of people who have been made better by my existence, but I can't help but to feel that this level of impact wouldn't be made by most people. And in a lot of ways, it's the fact that someone could think they don't matter at all that makes them question themselves like this, and the satisfaction of watching him realize that he has lived a wonderful life makes it just so sweet and wonderful. I don't think it's possible for me to get through this movie without getting misty-eyed, and the moment I do, I've probably already died inside.

So there you have it, my favorite Christmastime movies. This is a totally generic list, but that really doesn't matter to me. I love watching these movies around December, and that won't change anytime soon. I'll probably make a few more Christmas posts here over the next week, but in case I don't, I want anyone reading this to have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year.

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