The Best Christmas Movies Of All Time
Nov 4, 2005 (Updated Jan 17, 2008)
The Bottom Line Christmas is a time of year for some great movie-watching, and this is a brief list of some of the best Christmas Movies and Specials of all time!
Sometimes there are seasonal movies that you just have to see at least once every year. For Christmas, there are a lot of movies that people want to see around that time of year, and they aren't limited to classics, nor cartoons, but rather run the gamut of nearly every genre that you can think of. There are a lot of these films that you will watch over and over again, and it doesn't matter if you have seen them 500 different times; when you sit down to celebrate Christmas, you find yourself turning on the same movies every December without fail. It's a lot like a child who can watch the same tape repeatedly; we as movie fans have the guilty pleasure of watching the same charming films each Christmas. No violence is necessary to make these films classic, and action is not needed to show what a great time of the year it really can be. Each of us has our own list of favorites, but here is the list that I have:
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Chevy Chase stars in this vehicle about the continuing story of the Griswold family. This time around they are celebrating a Christmas with all of their zany relatives at the Griswold home. When I first saw this movie, I found it to be one of the funniest movies I had ever seen, and even today, I will find myself laughing out loud to many of the scenes no matter how many times I have seen them before. Also starring Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis, and Randy Quaid Christmas Vacation will always be what I believe to be the funniest Christmas movie of all time. The Griswolds have been through two other funny vacation movies with Chase, that include Family Vacation (across the U.S.) and European Vacation. But, I find this one to be the funniest of the bunch, and definitely one that I will be watching for many more years.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Now the story has been re-done a couple of times, even including a major motion picture starring Jim Carrey. Despite that, I find that the short made for television version of the story was the best one to date. Created in 1966, this was an animated feature based on the book by Dr. Suess. It covered the exploits of "The Grinch", who had lost is spirit for Christmas over the years. His only goal in life now, is to rid the world of Christmas joy. In order to do this, he will attempt to remove all of the gifts and spirit from the small town of Whoville. The story is really well done, and appeals to a younger audience, but it is still one that I will watch if I ever come across it during the season. The animation was really pretty basic, but I still enjoy the story, and I still enjoy thinking back to the first time I saw it. It clocks it at only 26 minutes, but it still is able to pack a great little story into that time.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Charles Schulz brought his comic strip to life, by writing a made-for-television version of his Peanuts. A Charlie Brown Christmas was about his main character Charlie Brown, and what he and his friends go through one Christmas. This is another animated holiday special, but this one broke a lot of new ground when it was shown. The most important part, was that they used childrens voices in an industry that had been overwhelmed by adult actors playing the roles of the kids. In addition to that, there were biblical references in the story that helped talk about the real meaning of Christmas. Charlie Brown has been around for years, and will be around for many more years, but this was our first glimpse of him and his gang around the holidays. This is one that I own, and I think that it is one of the great stories that shows how children see and react to the true meaning of Christmas.
A Christmas Carol (1938)
Another one of the Christmas stories that has been redone a thousand times, I like the original version the best. Some people like the newer Patrick Stewart version, and some even like Scrooged (with Bill Murray) as a great one in the remade versions. I however, really like the original, simply because it seems like it should be in black and white, and the story seems better placed in the past. A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens, and tells the story of an old "scrooge" who wants nothing out of life but to make more money. He sacrifices his family and friends, and everyone that has ever loved him, in the pursuit of becoming richer. He is then visited by ghosts in his old age, attempting to show him the error of his ways, and hoping that he can go down a different path for his remaining days on Earth. It is another great story depicting the importance of being their for your fellow man on Christmas, and it does a great job of giving a scare while telling a deep story. Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" will always remain one of the most famous, and most well loved of Christmas stories.
A Christmas Story (1983)
In a break from the traditional holiday movies, A Christmas Story is a movie told almost entirely from the mind of a young boy during the 1940's. His voice is the narrator of the movie, as we see him go through the days leading up to Christmas, and ultimately Christmas day itself. The story is from the point of view of this kid, as he goes through his daily routine, hanging out with friends, running from bullies, and meeting Santa at the big mall. It is depicted as an average American family in the middle of an Indiana Winter, and really does a great job of showing the excitement of the season. From wanting a Red Rider BB gun, to standing in front of the toy store windows, to even having to eat Christmas Dinner out, this movie does a great job of putting a thousand little things into one movie. Being from a child's point of view, the film shows the true innocence of the season, and is one that I watch every year on TNT or TBS.
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
The essential film when it comes to Christmas, It's A Wonderful Life is a story about a man going through some hard times, and makes the wish that he had never been born. Feeling that the world would be better off without him, he wants to remove the pain of everyone around him, by removing himself. For a short time, and angel grants him his wish, and the chance to see what life would be like if he really had never been born. Frank Capra directs, and Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a family man, who has come across some tough times. The movie is really about hope, and the thought that everyone has something to offer, no matter how small we may feel we are in the scheme of things. The film attempts to show just how much one man can change the lives of everyone around him, and gives us the feeling that even the smallest of deeds can turn into the biggest of deals for someone else. It's A Wonderful Life if a classic Christmas film that has made some lists as one of the best movies ever made.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Is there really a Santa Clause? You bet there is, and this is the film that proves it! Another one of the classic films about Christmas, A Miracle on 34th Street surrounds a man who claims to be none other than Kris Kringle himself. Of course nobody believes him, and it is up to a lawyer and a little girl who must set aside their logical thinking just long enough to have faith that this man could really be THE Santa Clause. Edmund Gwenn as Kringle exemplifies everything we have ever associated with what Santa Clause would look like. He fits the part, and from the start of the movie, you want to believe that it is really him, but you have no proof to go along with your assumptions. It is one mans word, and we are taken through legal proceedings where he must prove who he is, or be deemed insane by the state. It is really a great story about the opinions that people have, and whether or not we are willing to believe something we can't see or prove for ourselves. Miracle on 34th Street is one that should not be missed if you haven't seen it yet.
The Santa Clause (1994)
When something happens to Santa Clause, Tim Allen's character must step in and take over the role in order to make sure that Christmas can continue. Not really accepting the role, and not looking anything like Santa Clause, leaves the man with a lot of doubt about his beliefs or anything he associates with the holiday. But slowly, he starts growing the beard and the belly, and soon enough he looks just like Santa Clause! Though the reason he takes over is a little dark for a movie like this, The Santa Clause does a great job of bringing a lot of humor to the topic of Christmas and everything it entails. The job of delivering presents to all of the children of the world over one night is not as easy as it seems, and for one man, that task has become his sole responsibility. This film is hilarious at times, and was done well enough to have a sequel 8 years later. The Santa Clause is another one of those Christmas movies that should not be missed. When it isn't funny, it is heartfelt and sincere, and truly is one of the better family movies of recent years.
Home Alone (1990)
When it hit theaters in 1990, nobody thought that Home Alone would turn out to be one of the most successful movies of all time. Home Alone is about a huge family that is going on a Christmas vacation with a truck load of kids. Unfortunately, on the morning of the trip, everyone wakes up late and ends up rushing around to try and make it to the airport on time. One of the kids (Kevin) is left behind, and when he awakes, he finds that he has a mansion size house all to himself. He had been mad at his whole family, and found himself happy to be left alone. Now he must run an entire house, and defend it against thieves who are attempting to rob his family. Through it all, he comes to realize how important his family really is to him, and he learns some valuable lessons about life and the love for the people he holds most dear. Home Alone is another one of those great family movies that puts a lot of humor into everyday events. I found it to be a great film back then, and even though I have aged a little since its release, I still find myself watching it when it comes on now.
Frosty The Snowman (1969)
Another of the great holiday animations, Frosty The Snowman tells the tale of a magical top-hat, that when applied to the head of a snowman, brings him to life. Named Frosty, this man made of snow shows the children of a small town everything great that the Christmas season has to offer. Though it comes it at less than half an hour, this Christmas Special really does a good job of presenting many different emotions in that short amount of time. You find yourself laughing out loud as he marches through town, and even sad at the thought that someone could keep Frosty from having his snowy fun. It is a far-fetched story if we are going to look at it honestly, but it is fun to watch, and it is endearing in everything that it presents. The best part though, is the theme song of Frosty, which is something I always end up singing during the Christmas season. Frosty The Snowman is one of the great animations that came out of the 60's around Christmas time, and still has a place in my home movie collection.
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