Top 10 Christmas Movies

By: Jason Colthorp
By: Jason Colthorp

I'm sure you've had your fill of Christmas movies right about now, so let's count them down-- the top 10-- according to me.

Here's the criteria: I've had to have seen the movie, which eliminates "Four Christmases" (2008), "Holiday Inn" (1942), "The Santa Clause" (1994), "Prancer" (1989), "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993), "White Christmas" (1954), "A Very Brady Christmas" (1988).

The movie has to largely be about Christmas not just set during the season, which eliminates "Die Hard" (1988), "The Chronicles of Narnia" (2005), "Batman Returns" (1992), "Trading Places" (1983), "Ghostbusters II" (1989), "The Ref" (1994).

Made-for-TV Christmas movies are eligible, so here we go.

10.  "Bad Santa" (2003)
Billy Bob Thornton is an evil Santa that offers a masterful performance to anyone sick and tired of watching Jimmy Stewart yell out "Merry Christmas, Movie House!" for the 12th time.  It's not even close to a kids movie which makes it even funnier.  That said, it's tough to find a clip without swearing in it, so here's one edited thoroughly where Thornton (out of Santa suit) is playing checkers with a kid he moved in with.

9. "Dr. Suess's How the Grinch Stole Christmas" - animated (1966)
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.  So much to like about this story about all the little Whos down in Whoville.  Especially the little dog the Grinch makes his reindeer.

8. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947)
Classic story, but the nod goes to the original simply because Natalie Wood is adorable as the little girl.  Plus, it's nice when Santa has to actually get out and make sure everybody knows he's a real dude.  Here's Santa trying to convince Natalie Wood why having an imagination is the best part of childhood.

7.  "Frosty the Snowman" - animated (1969)
Don't even try and tell me you didn't cry the first time you watched Frosty melt.

6. "Scrooged" (1988)
Much more American, enjoyable version of "A Christmas Carol."  Bill Murray is hilarious as the TV exec jerk whose heart is eventually softened in the end.  Here's the opening of the movie.

5. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - animated (1964)
Not every good kids movie has to be done by Pixar.  Sure this is claymation-- or whatever-- but I defy you to find a better Christmas Eve movie for kids that includes Yukon Cornelius.  I didn't think so.

4. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989)
If that thing had nine lives, she just spent 'em all.  The Griswolds invade Christmas and once you get past the fact that the kids are younger and wildly different looking than the first "Vacation" movie you're fine.  I don't laugh harder than when Clark's dad yells, "SQUUIIRRRRELLLLLL!!!"  Watch here--

3. "A Christmas Story" (1983)
Ralphie's quest for a glorified B.B. Gun.  Classic.  From the double-dog dare of licking the pole to Christmas dinner at the Chinese Restaurant to an awful Santa saying, "You'll shoot your eye out kid.  HO! HO! HO!"

2. "Home Alone" (1990)
The last hour is hilarity at its finest.  Physical comedy the Stooges would be envious of.  Sow me one person who doesn't love this movie and I'll show you our Fox producer Matt Ondecker.  He's a bit of a Scrooge and a Notre Dame fan so you can understand his sour disposition on life lately.  Anyway, pre-drugs Macaulay Culkin is great as he thwarts Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern-- who's scream when the spider is on his face is the greatest scream ever.

1. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)
Say what you will, I've loved this movie since i was a kid.  Before NBC bought the rights and so capriciously started showing it only on Christmas Eve, I would watch it every day on TBS, then WGN, then another station and another, everyday until Christmas.  I know every line to the movie and still, after 50+ times seeing it, tear up at the end when George gets the book from Clarence.  "That's a Christmas present from a very dear friend of mine." 

Honorable mentions:
"Fred Claus" (2007)
Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti are hilarious as Santa and his angry brother.  This is just about tied with "Bad Santa" for #10.

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)
Jim Carrey is funny as always, but there's just something a little creepy about the costumes of the real-life Whos down in Whoville.

"The Family Stone" (2005)
Good movie, but a little too sad to make the list.  It's also just barely considered a Christmas movie.

"A Christmas Carol" (1954, 1984)
The classic Dickens' story but never did much for me.  My wife loves the George C. Scott version-- and for good reason-- he's great.

The worst of the worst:
"Jingle All the Way" (1996)
Sinbad and Schwarzanegger... enough said.

"Christmas in Connecticut" (1992)
Again Ah-nuld takes on the holidays... oh boy.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Tim Burton on Jan 7, 2009 at 06:16 AM
    You've never seen Nightmare Before Christmas? How sad.
  • by Jeff Location: The Couch on Dec 30, 2008 at 03:10 PM
    Your list is garbage. Absolute garbage.
  • by kaci Location: working... unlike you on Dec 26, 2008 at 02:11 PM
    i can't believe you haven't seen "The Santa Clause"... and you have kids!! Don't let another xmas go by without seeing that one. One of my favorites, not mentioned here, probably cuz you're a guy and not into the warm, fuzzy stuff... is "Love Actually". It follows the lives of several british folk during the days leading up to christmas-- a nice romantic-comedy for the whole family. sorry if i just made you puke.
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