During the holiday season nothing is better than the family getting together, and what better thing to do than sit back and watch a movie. When it comes to Christmas movies, there is a lot of debate as to what makes a movie a Christmas a Christmas movies (a topic I will touch on another day). So for this Top 10 I will look at movies that specifically deal with the celebration of Christmas as the main focus, so there will be no Die Hard. I want to keep it from 1980 to present so it will feature movies more people will have seen, so no animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or It’s a Wonderful Life After All. Now these are all just my opinions so don’t be too angry at me.
10. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a rare movie that truly works for two holidays, but at its core it is a Christmas movie. The movie centres around the celebration of Christmas, though the characters are inherently Halloween as they do live in Halloweentown. The movie is about Jack Skeleton, who stumbles upon a Christmas village, and brings the celebration to Halloweentown. The film is a classic with an amazing score by Danny Elfman and but the duality of Halloween and Christmas causes it to be lower on the list than maybe it could be.
9. Scrooged (1988)
The first of two versions of a Christmas Carol on the list, is the Bill Murray classic. Set in a modern day setting dealing with Murray as Frank Cross a selfish and cynical TV executive (Scrooge character), who experiences the three ghosts in order to recapture his Christmas spirit. The film also stars comedian Bobcat Goldwait and Karen Allen. The film is a staple of the holiday season and may not be popular with the younger audience but to those who watch it will be glad they did.
8. Bad Santa (2003)
The only Christmas movie on the list for mature audiences is Bad Santa which stars Billy Bob Thorton as a mall Santa by day but a thief by night along side his elf assistant (played by Tony Cox). When a naive child believes he is the real Santa it leads to an interesting turn of events. It’s not the most Christmasy movie on the list but is quite hilarious if it fits your sense of humor.
7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
In at number 7 is a movie that has stood the test of time and is still a favourite to watch at the holidays. Of course National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation would be on the list, thought I do not have it ranked as high as others may it. It is still an amazing and hilarious Christmas classic. The movie stars the Chevy Chase as the patriarch of the Griswold family in the third installment of the Vacation’s movies. The movie sees a young Johnny Galecki (Leonard from the Big Bang Theory) in the ever changing role of Rusty (both children always have changed). If you haven’t seen this Christmas classic you are truly missing out.
6. The Santa Claus (1994)
The Santa Claus is a family film with Tim Allen in his fist starring acting role, where he plays Scott Calvin, and after Santa has an accident, he puts on the suit and is now the new Santa Claus. Scott is changing and needs to convince his family the he is now Santa. This is the movie that spawned a trilogy and though it is not seen as a much watch at Christmas to many, it still holds up 25 years later.
5. Jingle All The Way (1996)
Not always the first film to come to mind at the holidays, but one that is needed to be seen if you hadn’t before. A movie about a workaholic father played by Arnold Schwarzenegger as he tries to acquire the must have gift of the year for his son, a Turbo-Man action figure. The only problem is he becomes embattled in a feud to acquire it with a postal worker played by stand up comedian Sinbad, and features a cameo by Paul Wright aka professional wrestler Big Show. The movie is a great representation of the gift culture and the lengths parents will go to for their kids.
4. The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992)
The second of the Christmas Carol’s to appear on the list, and is a great version for audiences of all ages, thanks to the muppets. It stars Michael Caine as Scrooge, with a mix of muppets and and live action actors fill the roles of the iconic characters including Kermit as Bob Cratchet, with Gonzo narrating and playing the author Charles Dickens with Rizzo the Rat by his side. The movie features some great musical numbers that are used sparingly and may get stuck in your head. If not for a few movies this one could be number 1 on the list.
3. Home Alone (1990)
Here is a classic that takes the bronze medal but to some it is the gold. The story of a child of a big family who is often forgotten or neglected by his family gets left behind when the family leaves heads to spend Christmas in Paris. At first Kevin (played iconically by Macaulay Culkin) enjoys being away from his family, but once two burglars come about he must gear up to defend himself and his house. The film has Joe Pesci as one of the burglars which helps make it the movie it is, it doesn’t hurt having Canadian comedy legend Catherine O’Hara as the mother, acting along side fellow SCTV alumni John Candy in a minor role to add to the greatness of the film.
2. Elf (2003)
Taking the runner up spot, which might be the gold for most and is the new classic and standard setter, the Will Ferrell led Elf. Elf is about an orphan baby who ends up in Santa’s sack and is raised by an elder elf named Buddy for the Buddy brand diapers he was wearing, who grows up believing he is an elf. Upon learning the truth that he is human, and finding out about who his parents are, he travels from the North Pole to the New York City to meet his father, who happens to be on the naughty list. Hilarity ensues as Buddy tries to adapt to life as a human, while coping with life in the big city. The movie boasts a big cast with James Caan as Buddy’s biological brother, comedic acting legend Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, and a young up and coming Zooey Deschanel as Jovie (Buddy’s love interest). If somehow you haven’t seen this one, it is a must watch over the holidays.
1. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (2000)
Now the Grinch coming in first might be a controversial decision, but anyone who knows me knows nothing tops this movie during the holiday season. The movie stars Jim Carey as the Dr. Seuss created character, who hates Christmas. This movie takes the classic cartoon and goes in depth into how the Grinch came to hate the holiday and why he despises the Whos down in Whoville. Cindy Lou plays a more central and inquisitive character who tries to figure out about the Grinch and wants to reunite him with Whos. The movie doesn’t boast an all-star cast (apart from Carey, and being narrated by Anthony Hopkins) which allows the story to be told without the actors stealing focus. It has memorable moments of comedy, but the in depth look and overall message of the movie has it topping Elf out for the number 1 spot.
What Christmas movie did I leave out? What is your favourite Christmas movie from 1980 to the present?