Most of us have a favorite holiday movie – one that really makes the season special. Here is a list of Christmas movies that have become solid tradition – and there are so many to choose from- is yours on this list? Share with us which holiday movie makes the time special for you, brings back those warm memories, or just rounds out the season and makes it complete.
10. Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
This is not so much a Christmas film as a Christmas scene: faced with moving away from their beloved St Louis, Missouri, Tootie Smith (yes, they really called people “Tootie” back in 1904) is distraught. Her older sister Esther (Garland) tries to comfort her, and sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, but Tootie refuses to be mollified and runs outside to vandalise the snowmen she’d built earlier in the day, the little hooligan. Still, there’s a Christmas miracle when their father sees this outburst, realises that his family is not entirely onboard with his plan to move to New York and decides to stay in St Louis after all. Hurrah!
9. White Christmas (1954)
The song had been used before, in 1942’s Holiday Inn, but what with that being a wee bit racist around the edges, it got upcycled into this rather better and thoroughly Christmassy romp instead. Crosby and Kaye play soldiers-turned-entertainers, who travel to their former commanding officer’s inn to put on a show, help him out and romance a couple of sisters with their own musical act. Cue skating, singing, romantic entanglements and one of the best Christmas songs ever. Sure, it’s sappy, predictable and a little OTT, but the Irving Berlin songs are good enough, and the energy high enough, that you won’t really care.
8. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Probably the least scary version of A Christmas Carol out there, this has a certain nostalgic appeal for those who grew up on it – and boasts Scrooge McDuck as Ebeneezer himself which, it turns out, is a good thing. Something about the combination of Scottish accent and wizened old duck beak fits Dickens’ famous character rather well. And making Bob Cratchit a mouse fits his personality too. Perhaps this is best seen as an entry-level Christmas movie for the very, very small.
7. The Polar Express (2004)
Robert Zemeckis’ first feature-length effort in performance capture, The Polar Express may get a lot of grief for dead eyes and its plunges into the uncanny valley, but it does have some rather thrilling action scenes (especially in 3D on the big screen) and some moments of uncanny beauty aboard the magical train that takes children to the North Pole to meet Father Christmas. It also gives Tom Hanks the chance to play six different characters in somewhat offbeat movie that manages to make the audience feel good at the end.
6. The Santa Clause (1994)
We’re assuming that our younger readers feel nostalgic about this one, because there’s little else to explain its entry given that horrendous pun in the title. Still, Tim Allen manages to inject some pathos into the tale of a divorced father who can’t seem to get things right for his son until the day when he accidentally knocks Santa off his roof and finds himself forced to take Father Christmas’ place. While the set-up and characters are as clichéd as it comes, there’s still some fun for fans in Judge Reinhold’s stepfather figure and David Krumholtz’ elf. Weenie Whistles anyone?
5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
This is a real love it or hate it movie. Jim Carrey definitely makes the Grinch his own in this adaptation of the Dr Seuss poem. While it takes a few more liberties with the story than the 1966 animated version, that’s compensated for by the stunning design and make-up (which won Rick Baker a well-deserved Oscar). And it’s also rather funny – Carrey improvising away despite all the big-budget shenanigans going on around him. Fun fact: adorable moppet Cindy Loo Hoo grew up to be Gossip Girl rock chick Taylor Momsen.
4. Miracle On 34th Street (1947/1994)
Whether the 1947 original or the 1994 remake, either is a worthy addition to the list. The original manages to conceal some of its “cutesiness” behind black-and-white photography and a sheen of age, but the remake is entirely respectable despite its more mdoern “yuppyish” edge, thanks to Richard Attenborough’s spot-on Kris Kringle. A true feel-good movie that always makes the season official.
3. Home Alone, 1 and 2
This series has a rare sequel that doesn’t shame the original, so something of a rarity right off the bat. Unlike Macaulay Culkin, Home Alone movies never get old (ouch!), and are always fun to watch for the kids and adults alike. Joe Pesci is just fantastic in all roles, and proves that he can play comedy just as well as the scary psycho that made him famous in Raging Bull and Goodfellas.
2. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Everything we need to know about life we learned in Charlie Brown.
This movie has been winning a place in everyone’s hearts over nearly 50 years. Charlie Brown finds himself depressed as the Christmas season approaches and can’t figure out why he isn’t onboard with the decking the halls and being jolly. After consulting Lucy (in her psychiatrist mode) he gets involved in directing the school nativity play, but with the other children running wild and still depressed, finds things rather difficult. In the end, however, everyone rallies round, helping Charlie to decorate his tiny, real tree (he rejects the fake, tinselled ones) and remembering what Christmas is really all about with a singalong to Hark The Herald Angels Sing. Heartwarming stuff.
1. Trading Places (1983)
It’s a Christmas-set story where a couple of evil old bankers get their comeuppance, but the Frank Capra comparisons end there. After all, George Bailey never hung out with hookers, nor did he have the fast-talking street-slang of Eddie Murphy in his prime. Still, this is a morality tale, and while it doesn’t all take place over Christmas, that marks the low point in the fortunes of disgraced stockbroker Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd) after his bosses, the Duke Brothers (Ameche and Bellamy) ruin his life on a whim. The best scene is the disheveled mean Santa that steals the salmon from the Christmas buffet. Classic.