My Top 10 Christmas Films of All Time

Christmas is my favorite time of year. There are so many things I love about the season: the Christmas lights people put up on their houses, Christmas trees glittering in windows, random people saying “Merry Christmas” to me as I pass them, Christmas decorations in stores, turning on the radio and hearing Christmas music, Christmas episodes on my favorite TV shows, wearing my Santa Claus hat outside, receiving Christmas cards from my family members and taking my own Christmas photos. 

I especially love watching Christmas movies with my family, so I’m sharing my top 10 Christmas movies.

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 and 2000)

This movie takes place in Whoville, where a Grinch who hates Christmas decides to try to steal Christmas from the Whos. The 2000 and 1966 versions differ slightly; the 1966 movie sticks to the original story written by Dr. Seuss, while the 2000 version starring Jim Carrey is a bit more bizarre, giving the Grinch a backstory of abandonment and rejection from his classmates. Also, in the 2000 version, Cindy Lou Who, the Christmas-loving girl the Grinch encounters, plays a more pivotal role than in the 1966 version. Both stories end with the Grinch reconciling with the Whos, learning to love Christmas and seeing that the true meaning of Christmas wasn’t its materialism, but the joy it instills in others. I love both versions, and I can’t decide which I like better. The 2000 version has more of a plot and character development to contribute to the classic Grinch story, while the 1966 version sticks solely to the book which upholds its classification as a classic.

Favorite Song from the soundtrack: Welcome Christmas (1966) and Where are you Christmas? (2000)

Favorite Quote: “Welcome Christmas while we stand. Heart to heart and hand to hand.” (1966)

Favorite Scene: When Cindy Lou Who meets the Grinch (2000)

Both stories end with the Grinch reconciling with the Whos, learning to love Christmas and seeing that the true meaning of Christmas wasn’t its materialism, but the joy it instills in others.”

2. Home Alone & Home Alone 2  (1990 and 1992)

Home Alone 1 & 2 both star Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a boy who is separated from his family twice as they attempt a Christmas vacation. In the first movie, McCallister is accidentally left at home after being mistaken for another boy as his family travels to Paris. In the second movie, Kevin is separated from his family at the airport due to a bag and ticket mishap, and his family leaves on a plane to Florida while he boards a plane to New York. The main antagonists in both movies are the “wet bandits” who change their name to the “sticky bandits” in the sequel: Marv and Harry. In the first movie, they attempt to rob Kevin’s home along with other houses on Kevin’s street, and Kevin must stop them. In the second movie, the bandits escape prison and are planning to rob a toy store that plans to donate money to the Children’s Hospital, so Kevin helps to thwart their plans. I personally prefer the sequel better due to its setting in New York and Tim Curry’s amazing performance as a Grinch-like hotel concierge, but these two movies are always on my watch list for the holiday season. Kevin’s snarky lines, the music, the imagery, the shenanigans between Kevin and the bandits, and the wholesome endings always bring my family together.

Favorite Song from the soundtrack: Christmas Star by John Williams (Home Alone 2) and Somewhere In My Memory by John Williams (Home Alone 1)

Favorite Quote: “‘Say goodnight Kevin.’ ‘Goodnight Kevin.’” (Home Alone 2) “‘Kids are scared of the dark.’ ‘You’re afraid of the dark too, Marv.’”

Favorite Scene: When Buzz is “apologizing” to Kevin, when Kevin first arrives in New York, and when Kevin leaves in the limo (Home Alone 2)

I personally prefer Home Alone 2 due to its setting in New York and Tim Curry’s amazing performance as a Grinch-like hotel concierge, but these two movies are always on my watch list for the holiday season.”

3.  A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

I love all the Peanuts holiday specials, but this Peanuts holiday movie is a close favorite, just beating It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. This movie is based on the comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. Throughout the movie, Charlie Brown navigates his struggle with not feeling “Christmas cheer” and lamenting the commercialization of the Christmas holiday. Charlie Brown also struggles to figure out the true meaning of Christmas, which is told to him by Linus toward the end of the movie. After Linus’ speech, Charlie Brown decides to choose a small, real tree for the Christmas play rather than a fake one. He takes the tree home and decorates it to show his friends that the tree is sufficient, but the weight of the ornament bends the tree, discouraging him. Linus and Charlie Brown’s friends follow him, realizing that they have been too hard on him, and they decorate his tree. Charlie Brown returns to see his tree decorated, and his friends shout ‘Merry Christmas!’ as they begin to sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Favorite Song from the movie’s soundtrack: Greensleeves by Vince Guaraldi Trio

Favorite Quote: “And that’s what Christmas is all about.”

Favorite Scene: Linus’ speech when he explains what Christmas is really about

Charlie Brown also struggles to figure out the true meaning of Christmas, which is told to him by Linus toward the end of the movie.”

4. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer takes place at the North Pole in Christmastown while the elves prepare for Christmas Eve. Rudolph is born with a red nose, and his father tries to hide his abnormality due to Santa’s warnings. Rudolph’s nose is eventually discovered during flight practice, the other young reindeers make fun of him, and he is ostracized from everyone. While he is running away, he meets an elf named Hermie who left his job because he wanted to become a dentist. On their journey, they also meet a prospector named Yukon Cornelius, and the three travel to the island of Misfit Toys in an effort to escape the abominable snowman. The toys ask that Rudolph stop there on Christmas Eve so they can play with other boys and girls. Rudolph returns to Christmastown in an effort to save his friends from being found, due to his red nose alerting the abominable snowman of Hermie and Cornelius’ whereabouts. When he returns, he finds that the abominable snowman has captured his family, and Hermes and Yukon Cornelius come up with a plan to stop the abominable snowman. The movie transitions to Christmas Eve, and a snowstorm impedes Santa’s ability to fly his sleigh. Santa decides to cancel Christmas, but notices Rudolph’s red nose that can help lead the way. Santa Claus asks Rudolph to lead his sleigh, and they travel to the Island of Misfit Toys to pick up and deliver the abandoned toys. 

Favorite Song from the movie’s soundtrack: The Most Wonderful Day of the Year by Videocraft Chorus

Favorite Quote: “Oh well if that’s all – What? You don’t like to make toys? Hermie doesn’t like to make toys!

Favorite Scene: The Island of Misfit Toys introduction scene

When Rudolph returns, he finds that the abominable snowman has captured his family.”

5. Frosty the Snowman (1969)

During the school day, the teacher hires magician Professor Hinkle to entertain her class for their Christmas party. After failing at multiple attempts to perform tricks, he throws his magician’s hat away with his rabbit, Hocus Pocus. When class is dismissed, the children build a snowman outside, and a girl named Karen decides to name the snowman Frosty. Hocus hops out of the school with the hat, which is put on Frosty’s head, bringing him to life. Hinkle realizes the hat is magic and takes it back, refusing to give it despite the kids’ pleas. Hocus brings the hat back to the children, and brings Frosty back to life again. The children celebrate, but Frosty feels the temperature rising and fears he will melt. The children then suggest taking him to the North Pole and traveling through town to the train station, but they have no money for tickets. Hocus, Frosty and Karen board a northbound train’s refrigerator car while Hinkle schemes to steal the hat back. Frosty the Snowman has been one of my favorite Christmas characters since I was little, and I love to watch this movie every year.

Favorite Song from the movie’s soundtrack: Frosty the Snowman by Jimmy Durante

Favorite Quote: “‘Oatmeal!’ ‘Oatmeal?’”

Favorite Scene: When Frosty and the children travel through town after Frosty comes to life

The children celebrate, but Frosty feels the temperature rising and fears he will melt.”

6.  The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

I know this is technically a Halloween movie, but I watch this for both Halloween and Christmas. This movie starts with Jack Skellington, who is bored with the monotonous task of preparing for Halloween every year, and is looking for something new. While traveling, he encounters doors that are portals to different holidays, and he enters into Christmas Town. Here, he falls in love with Christmas, and returns to Halloween Town with plans to take over the Christmas holiday. Sally, a rag doll, repeatedly attempts to deter his efforts but fails, and the whole town begins to prepare for Christmas Eve, abandoning Halloween. Jack gives Boogie’s children the assignment of stealing Santa Claus so he can take his hat for his Santa Claus costume. Jack flies off to deliver toys after all the preparations are made, but his toys begin to attack the households he delivers them to, and he is hunted and shot down. Jack realizes his faults, and rushes back to Halloween Town to save Santa and save Christmas. Santa and Sally have been captured by the Boogieman, but Jack saves them in time, and Santa saves Christmas Eve. He returns to Halloween Town to deliver a snow shower, and Sally and Jack realize they are meant for eachother.

Favorite Song from the movie’s soundtrack: Jack’s Lament by Danny Elfman

Favorite Quote: “‘For it is plain as anyone can see, we’re simply meant to be.’”

Favorite Scene: The ending scene where Jack and Sally finally realize that they were meant to be together

Jack flies off to deliver toys after all the preparations are made, but his toys begin to attack the households he delivers them to, and he is hunted and shot down.”

7. Elf (2003)

This movie is about an elf named Buddy who returns to New York to help his father, Walter, get off of Santa’s naughty list. Buddy was initially found after crawling into Santa Claus’ toy bag on Christmas Eve, and was adopted by the elves. Due to his human size, he is unable to work as efficiently as the other elves, and soon learns from Papa Elf that he is human. Walter takes a DNA test and discovers Buddy is his son, and Walter takes him home. Walter’s company begins to fail, and Buddy intrudes on Walter’s meeting, unintentionally insulting one of Walter’s colleagues, embarrassing his father and prompting Walter to disown him. Walter discovers Buddy’s note and realizes that Buddy has gone, so he decides to quit his job to find Buddy. While Walter is looking for Buddy, Santa’s sleigh crashes in Central Park from an engine malfunction due to the lack of Christmas spirit. Walter apologizes with Buddy and Michael, Walter’s other son, proves to everyone Santa is real. Jovie, Buddy’s love interest, leads everyone in singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town to power the broken-down sleigh, a feat which hadn’t been accomplished in years.

Favorite Song from the movie’s soundtrack: None

Favorite Quote: “SANTA!”

Favorite Scene: The Gimbels department store scene where Buddy is mistaken for an employee by the manager

Buddy was initially found after crawling into Santa Claus’ toy bag on Christmas Eve, and was adopted by the elves.”

8. The Polar Express (2004)

I personally love this movie because of the visuals and the characters, and when I was younger I enjoyed riding a mini “Polar Express” with my family. The movie begins on the night of Christmas Eve with a boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus. The boy sees a train pass in front of his house, and approaches. The conductor states that the train plans to travel to the North Pole, and the boy hesitantly boards. There, he sees other children who are also traveling to the North Pole. On the train, he attempts to return a ticket to a girl that she had dropped. The ticket hadn’t been punched by the conductor. When the train arrives at the North Pole, the conductor states that one child will be chosen to receive the first Christmas present from Santa. At the North Pole, the boy discovers a bell that flies from the reindeer’s reins of Santa’s sleigh. He initially cannot hear the bell ring because of his doubts of Santa Claus’ existence. Eventually, he finds it within himself to believe. He brings the bell to Santa, and is selected to receive the first gift of Christmas. Santa lets the boy keep the bell, but loses it due to a hole in his pocket. On Christmas morning he finds a present containing his lost bell. He and his younger sister ring the bell, while their parents, not believing in Santa, can’t hear the bell. The boys’ friends and sister eventually can’t hear the bell as the years pass and their beliefs fade, but the bell still rings for the boy even in his old age. 

Favorite Song from the movie’s soundtrack: Hot Chocolate by Tom Hanks

Favorite Quote: “Sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

Favorite Scene: The scene where the conductor gives out hot chocolate to the kids on the Polar Express

The boys’ friends and sister eventually can’t hear the bell as the years pass and their beliefs fade, but the bell still rings for the boy even in his old age. ”

9.  A Christmas Story (1983)

I love this movie, and my family and during the Christmas season, we often visit the Christmas Story house downtown where the movie was filmed. The movie is narrated by adult Ralphie Parker reminiscing on the Christmas season when he was nine, and the best present he has ever received: the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Ralphie continuously pesters his parents for the rifle, but his mother, teacher, and the Santa Claus at Higbee’s Department Store all  warn him that he’ll “shoot his eye out.” On Christmas morning, Ralphie is disappointed that he does not receive the presents he really wanted. His father then motions toward one last present that he had hidden for Ralphie: the Red Ryder gun. Ralphie takes the gun outside to play and fires the BB. The bullet ricochets back and knocks his glasses off. While searching for them, Ralphie steps on them and breaks them. He lies and cries to his mother that a falling icicle had broken his glasses, and Ralphie sleeps with his gun by his side. The adult Ralphie narrates that this was the best present he ever received.

Favorite Song from the movie’s soundtrack: None

Favorite Quote: The whole conversation during the flagpole scene

Favorite Scene:  Scene where Ralphie’s friend gets his tongue stuck on the Flagpole

The Christmas Story is narrated by adult Ralphie Parker reminiscing on the Christmas season when he was nine, and the best present he has ever received: the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle.”

10.  A Christmas Carol

There are numerous versions of this classic film, but my personal favorite is the 2009 Disney’s A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carey as Ebenezer Scrooge. This 3D computer-animated Disney film is a thrilling revival of Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic. Scrooge is a businessman who is stingy with his money and loathes Christmas. Scrooge begrudgingly agrees to give his loyal employee Bob Cratchit a day off for Christmas. Scrooge is invited to his nephew’s Christmas party, but he quickly declines stating that he doesn’t want to engage in the Christmas festivities. Scrooge also refuses to give money to charity. When he returns home, his dead business partner, John Marley, visits him, warning him to give up his greedy and wicked way from his way so that he is not condemned in life like he is, as he is forced to carry heavy chains for all eternity. The Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future all visit to try to deter Scrooge from going down the wrong path, and Scrooge sees and begins to pity Cratchit’s ill son Tiny Tim, who dies in the Ghost of Christmas Future’s vision. When Scrooge awakens on Christmas day, he is full of glee and happiness, and attends his Nephew’s party and brings food for Cratchit’s Christmas dinner.

Favorite Song from the movie’s soundtrack: None

Favorite Quote: “And they ought to do it, decrease the surplus population.

Favorite Scene: Scene where Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Future and travels to the future where Scrooge is dead

Print Friendly, PDF & Email