The 10 Best Christmas Movies


Sep 26, 2004


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The Bottom Line From sentimental to silly, this list showcases the best movies for the Christmas season.

Introduction

I don’t know about anybody else, but for me Christmas movies are not completely limited to the immediate pre-Christmas season. I ‘usually’ reserve my Christmas movie viewing for the month of December, but that’s not a hard and fast rule.

My children, on the other hand, really don’t care about seasons. If they happen to be in the mood for a Christmas movie, then that’s the movie they’re going to ask for and watch.

I would be willing to bet that most people who celebrate Christmas also enjoy movies about this wonderful holiday. And for as many people as there are who enjoy Christmas movies, there are just as many compilations of ‘top 10' lists.

So, for anybody interested here are my favorites!

#10–Barbie in the Nutcracker

I have an almost four year old daughter, and she loves the pink princess and anything associated with her. A year and a half ago I purchased her this movie ‘Barbie in the Nutcracker’ and it has been viewed nearly non-stop–year round. I am one of the increasingly rare moms who like Barbie and don’t think she’s a bad influence on little girls. In movies like this, she’s actually a very good role model! It’s an excellent children’s adaptation of a classic tale!

The Story
Most people have at least a passing knowledge of the story of the Nutcracker, though many variations abound. In this movie Clara (Barbie) and her little brother Tommy are being raised by their grandfather–Drosselmeyer–after the passing of their parents. Clara is given a wooden nutcracker by her aunt, and the Nutcracker comes to life and must battle the Mouse King. The Mouse King shrinks Clara who must go with the Nutcracker into his world to find the Sugar Plum Princess who can return her to her normal size.

#9–The Santa Clause

Christmas can be a sentimental time, but it can also be a great time for humor. Movies like ‘The Santa Clause’ can bring you a combination of the two that will tickle your funny bone and tug on your heartstrings. I normally don’t associate Tim Allen with ‘warm fuzzies,’ but he really did an excellent job of this movie.

The Story
Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is divorced, but at least he gets to have his son for Christmas. It’s not most people’s version of a traditional Christmas, complete with dinner at a diner rather than turkey at home, but that really doesn’t bother Scott. What does bother him is when Santa falls off his roof and dies. As directed by his son (after reading a card in Santa’s pocket) Scott puts on Santa’s suit and takes on the persona of Santa Claus. Scott really doesn’t think he wants to be Santa, and his ex-wife becomes scared of his odd behaviors and her son’s insistence that Scott really is Santa.

#8–The Star of Christmas

Yes, this is yet another children’s Christmas movie on my Top 10 list. I love children’s movies, especially those related to Christmas. With four little ones, children’s movies are the movies I see most. I LOVE all things VeggieTales, so when I saw that they had released this movie I grabbed it. I didn’t read the back, didn’t research the story, just paid full price and took it home. That’s how much I love and trust the content of VeggieTales videos. In ‘The Star of Christmas’ the people at Big Idea Productions don’t disappoint, they deliver a hilariously silly tale that gets down to what Christmas is really all about!

The Story
Millward Phelps (Larry the Cucumber) and Cavis Appythart (Bob the Tomato) are song writers in London–long ago. Cavis really wants to teach London how to love, and what better way to do that than to produce a huge musical spectacle complete with electric lights? When the church next door decides to hold a Christmas pageant the same night–December 24–Cavis is upset. When he finds out they will have the Star of Christmas-–a treasured artifact–in their show he’s terrified. Nobody will go to their show if they can go to one that has the Star. If there’s only one star, and the church has it, how can they get it? What will they learn when they do?

#7–The Ref

As much as I love a sappy, sentimental Christmas movie there are times when something a little ‘different’ is in order. “The Ref” is the most ‘un-Christmas’ Christmas movie I’ve ever seen. It’s smart, witty, and leaves you cheering for the villain.

The Story
Gus (Denis Leary) is a cat burglar who botches a job and ends up taking hostages. What does he get? A bickering couple on their way home from a therapy session. How could he know that this kidnaping will bring him into the most dysfunctional family every? The family is trying to go on with their Christmas Eve dinner to avoid rousing suspicion, but the attempt is hilarious–as Gus is forced into pretending to be a marriage counselor so the extended family won’t catch on.

#6–Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

I know most people find the original version of “Miracle on 34th Street” to be the finest version of this film, but I am one of the few who prefers the 1994 remake. It follows the original story pretty closely, but it’s got a different feel and a magic that’s all it’s own. Through in the adorable Mara Wilson and for me this is a top choice!

The Story
Kris Kringle gets a job as the Cole’s Department Store Santa for their main store after their original Santa showed up drunk for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kris believes that he’s Santa, but Dory (the head of special events for Cole’s) thinks he’s crazy. Santa’s not real, and everybody knows it–even Dory’s young daughter Susan. After everything Susan sees she wants to believe in Kris, but she’s not sure. She decides to ask Kris for something that nobody else could give her, and if she gets it she’ll know that truth. Just days before Christmas some employees of a competing department store set Kris up to discredit Cole’s, and Kris is on trial to prove whether or not he’s insane. How can Kris continue to give the world something to believe in?

#5–Family Man

Okay, now we’re getting to the sappy movies on my Top 10 Christmas Movies list! When I saw commercials for “The Family Man” starring Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni I thought it looked kind of cute, but it was definitely a renter. When I finally got around to seeing the movie, about two years ago, I fell in love. It was a sweet, tender, touching story of how sometimes what we think we want isn’t really what we want.

The Story
Jack Campbell (Nicholas Cage) is a high-powered investment broker, with money to burn and too many women to count. There was a time when his life was simpler. His girlfriend hadn’t wanted him to go overseas to study, but he did and they split up. A guardian angel of sorts sends Jack Campbell into an alternate reality, to the life he would have lived if he hadn’t made the trip. Gone is the posh apartment and the fancy car, in it’s place is a home, a wife, and some kids. At first he’s miserable, but by the time his ‘angel’ sends him back to his real life he isn’t sure he wants to go.

#4–Annabelle’s Wish

My mother-in-law bought this movie for my children to view when they are visiting her, and they fell in love quickly. I’ve seen it many, many times myself and it’s got everything a movie needs to be truly great–heart. A hero who loves so completely that they sacrifice their own happiness for another. It’s such a good lesson for little kids, whether it’s at Christmas time or all year long!

The Story
Billy can’t talk, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying life. Well, life everywhere but in the barn of his grandfather’s farm. Then Billy gets a heifer calf from Santa for Christmas and his fear of the barn is forgotten. When Billy and Annabelle accidentally break through a neighbor’s fence while sledding the mean-spirited neighbor demands Annabelle as payment. Billy’s grandfather sells a very sentimental music box (it belonged to Billy’s mother) to an antique shop to get the money to pay for her and get Annabelle back, Billy needs her. Also, Billy’s got a rich aunt (his father’s sister) who originally hadn’t wanted Billy but now decides she does, and she ALWAYS gets what she wants. Aunt Agnes even convinced a judge that the farm is unsafe for Billy because he cannot talk. Without his voice, Billy will have to move in with Aunt Agnes. Is there enough magic in Santa to give Billy back his voice?

#3–The Toy That Saved Christmas

Yes, I know that this is the second appearance of VeggieTales on my Top 10 Christmas Movies List, but who wouldn’t love a Christmas movie filled with talking vegetables, super-silly songs, and a toy with a fully functional buzz saw built into his right arm? Last year, just before Christmas my youngest son had a serious ear infection my son decided to watch this movie over and over until he felt better. I’m not kidding, I saw this movie more times than a sane person should. Just a warning, after repeated viewing you’ll find yourself saying things like, “I’ve come to step on your chickens...and soil your quilts!”

The Story
Mean ol’ Mr. Nezzer has a toy factory, and he’s made a television commercial designed to convince all the kids that they just won’t be happy without a Buzzsaw Louie–a toy with a fully functional buzz saw and a voice box that says things like, “Billy has more toys than you.” Why? Because according to Mr. Nezzer that’s the true meaning of Christmas. Then a group of veggie kids stumbles over a runaway Buzzsaw Louie who just doesn’t like the words that are coming out of his mouth. They all go in search of the true meaning of Christmas, but can they get the message to everyone in time?

This movie is punctuated by an extremely silly song featuring Larry, a bank robber, a ‘savage’ Norseman (he’s the one in charge of chicken stepping and quilt soiling) and Santa (Bob the Tomato).

#2–National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

My husband is the type who really doesn’t like to watch holiday movies year-round. For the most part, he doesn’t really like to watch holiday movies. The rare exception to this is “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” This movie is quite likely the funniest Christmas story ever told, taking a humorously irreverent angle on one of the most popular holidays in America!

The Story
Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) is intending to plan the PERFECT holiday get together, complete with all the family. That’s his wife and two children, his parents, his in-laws, and other assorted family members. Everything that can go wrong does–from the Christmas lights on the house not lighting to the overly dry turkey to the Rottweiler chasing a squirrel through their living room. The only thing that keeps Clark going is the thought of his bonus check, the one he’s already written a check against to cover the cost of an in-ground pool for his family. What will happen when he finds out the bonus check isn’t coming?

#1–It’s a Wonderful Life

Okay, okay, okay, I know you’re all disappointed. I’m sure everyone reading this knew that I’d have this movie as my number one choice. Just about everybody I know has this movie high on the list–if not atop it. I just cannot help but fall in love with the magic of Frank Capra’s tale of one man who thought his life was worthless. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, and it makes me think–how many lives have I touched that I might never know?

Yes, it’s sugary sweet, but that’s why I like it. It is an enduring tale that has been loved for almost 60 years–and will likely go on being loved for many generations to come.

I don’t own this movie yet, but I’ve rented it time and time again–in addition to my yearly Christmas season viewing on television. I will ONLY view the original black and white version. I’ve seen colorized versions of this movie advertised, but it’s the type of movie I don’t want to see tampered with at all.

The Story
For anyone who has somehow missed this wonderful movie, the story is quite simple. “It’s a Wonderful Life” opens with some angels (shown only as stars in a night sky) discussing a man in danger–George Bailey. Through a ‘flashback’ of sorts we get filled in on George’s life–saving his brother’s life only to lose his hearing, keeping the local druggist from giving a boy the wrong prescription, keeping a small time savings and loan open to offer people a choice that doesn’t involved the greedy town banker, and so much more. The George gets a chance to see what nobody else has–what the world would be like if he had never been born.

Conclusion

Whether you like sweet and sappy Christmas movies or smart and snappy Christmas movies, I think that just about anyone of any age can find a movie they’ll like off of this list!

As always, I would love to have your comments on movies you think I’ve overlooked!

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About Me: My Christmas Picks: The 10 Best Christmas Movies.