Top Christmas movies (and others)

It really is a wonderful life.

‘Tis the season to sit down and watch the tube. My 10 favorite Christmas movies are:

1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). This classic is at the top of most people’s lists. It’s hard not to shed a tear when the town turns out to support George Bailey in one of the best endings in the history of Hollywood.

2. A Christmas Story (1983). It may be one of the most over-played movies during the holidays (TBS has a 24-hour marathon), but it’s just not Christmas without watching Ralphie in his quest for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. It also contains one of the best lines in film history: “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” The unveiling of the major award – the infamous leg lamp – is another classic movie scene.

Ralphie eyes a Red Rider.

3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989). Every time I watch this movie I catch another one-liner missed from the year before from Chevy Chase (Clark Griswold) and his cousin Randy Quaid (Eddie).

4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947). What a movie. Not only does it star a young Natalie Wood, it features the only performer playing St. Nick who won an Oscar; Edmund Gwenn won the Best Actor Award.

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). Who knew a bunch of animated characters could teach us about the real meaning of Christmas. Today, small, skimpy trees are known as Charlie Brown trees because of the tree in the school’s Christmas pageant directed by Chuck.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). Boris Karloff, not Jim Carrey, is the real Grinch. The animated version is much better than the film.

7. A Christmas Carol. Take your pick because the film has been remade throughout the decades. The 1951 version starring Alastair Sim is among the best. George C. Scott of Patton fame is also a good Scrooge.

8. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992). I was forced to watch this film within the past few years and really liked it. This may be the oddest of dozens of screen adaptations of Charles Dickens’ classic. With Michael Caine as Scrooge, most of the magical Muppets turn up in the film.

The season of miracles.

9. White Christmas (1954). Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general in another Christmas classic. The music is great, but the title song was a hit in another holiday movie, Holiday Inn.

10. Home Alone (1990). Although Macauley Culkin (Kevin) has a way of getting on your nerves, the first Home Alone film has become a holiday favorite.

Did you notice only one of the top 10 was made during the past 20 years?


Frosty the Snowman (1969) and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) are among a series of stop-action animated Christmas films made in the 1960s and 1970s that are still shown today.

The Polar Express (2004) is a great story featuring the talents of Tom Hanks.

Holiday Inn (1942). I have a hard time keeping this one and White Christmas straight in my mind because the title of the other movie was a hit in this movie, the music of Irving Berlin was featured and Bing Crosby starred in both.

The Santa Clause (1994) is the first of three films starring Tim Allen as St. Nick. The other two are not worth mentioning.

Love Actually (2003). In the I haven’t seen it but others say it is good category.

Fred Claus (2007). This is definitely not a classic, but it has its moments. Vince Vaughn stars as Santa’s older brother who hates Christmas.

Elf (2003). People either love or hate this film. Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf is a little over the top for my taste.

Gremlins (1985). People forget this film takes place around Christmas. Although extremely violent, the movie scene where the Gremlins stop their rampage to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is great.


Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Tim Burton needs to stick to Halloween.

Bad Santa (2003). Although there are some funny scenes in this film, it seems wrong to have a criminal dressed as St. Nick.

Jingle All The Way (1996). Arnold Schwarzenegger works hard to obtain the perfect toy for his son; too bad the film doesn’t work.

Jack Frost (1998). Michael Keaton dies and comes back as a snowman.

Christmas with the Kranks (2004). This film, starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Ackroyd, has its moments but overall is not memorable.

Some I found on internet lists include: Santa Claus The Movie (1985) and Surviving Christmas (2004), which went to DVD two months after its release.

Among all the lists I read, one film lands at the top as the worst of all time: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964). I guarantee I won’t be watching this one.



6 Responses to “Top Christmas movies (and others)”

  1. Teresa Rodriguez Says:

    Oh, Ron. The list was so thorough – EXCEPT – for 1988’s immortal classic “Scrooged” with Bill Murray. The holidays aren’t complete without a “top-of-the-line Pioneer VCR” or getting smacked around by the Ghost of Christmas Present.

  2. Ron MacArthur Says:

    You are so correct. In fact, I watched the movie last week. I wouldn’t put it on my top 10 list, but it does deserve a mention. However, this is way down on the list of my favorite Bill Murray films.

  3. Mary Jane MacArthur Says:

    I liked your list. My number one Christmas movie is the same as yours. I would like to add another one of my favs that did not make your list. The movie is called Prancer….if you have not not seen it….try it it will also bring a tear…. Merry Chritmas….

  4. Denns Says:

    Thanks for reminding me of all these great movies. I have to get busy!

  5. Kara Says:

    You forgot about Die Hard – the best Christmas movie of all!

  6. Ron MacArthur Says:

    You are right. It all started during a Christmas party.

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