It's that time of year again, when we all fire up our favorite Christmas albums on our iPods and inject a little Christmas cheer into our lives. This year, TheBlaze.com staff picked out their favorite five Christmas movies, for your enjoyment. Chime in with your own in the comments below.
Total votes: Elf (8),It's a Wonderful Life (4), Die Hard (3), Scrooged (3), The Santa Clause (3), Home Alone (3), Christmas with the Kranks (3), Love Actually (2),Muppet's Christmas Carol (2), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1), White Christmas (1), Miracle on 34th Street (2), A Christmas Story (2), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1.5), Mickey's Christmas Carol (1), Jingle all the Way (1), Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1), Jesus of Nazareth (1), Four Christmases (1), A Christmas Carol (1), The Holiday (1), The Ref (1).
Leon Wolf, Managing Editor
1. Elf (2003) - Not even 15 years old and already a Christmas classic. Elf has fast become the definitive classic for bridging the gap between the old-fashioned sentiment that defines the Christmas spirit and the struggles of the cold, cynical modern world. In addition to Will Ferrell's best performance, the movie features James Caan and Zooey Deschanel in almost perfect complementary roles. If you can watch Elf and not catch the Christmas spirit, you probably smell like beef and cheese.
2. Die Hard (1988) - It's Christmas at the Nakatomi Corporation in Los Angeles, and Bruce Willis is here to welcome you to the party, pal. Although this movie was released in the middle of the year, the constant interspersion of Christmas cheer in the middle of this now-campy action flick made this the first action movie to go truly mainstream. Ho ho ho, now we all have a machine gun.
3. Scrooged (1988) - 1988 was a good year for Christmas movies, and this under appreciated Bill Murray classic still gets the job done. Murray's depiction of the Scrooge-like Frank Cross (n: a thing they nail people to) is a surprisingly effective role for Murray and the movie has a heart warming twist at the end. "For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!"
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - I'm not as huge of a fan of the Christmas classics, in spite of being a huge fan of Christmas. Director Tim Burton is at his best when he's walking the fine line between creepy and heartwarming and this is very nearly his best work, as the movie serves as another more modern reprisal of A Christmas Carol. "Why, you have *hands*! You don't have claws at all!"
5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - This movie makes the list for the sake of Clark Griswold's antics decorating his house alone. All of us aspire to be Clark every Christmas, and every Christmas we fall short. Poor Clark, though, only gets misery for his troubles but still he manages to save the holiday for his family. "Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?"
Chris Field, Senior editor
It’s a Wonderful Life
Though some curmudgeons will claim that Jimmy Stewart ruins movies (ahem, Leon), normal red-blooded Americans can’t get enough of his turn as George Bailey — a man who, through the power of a Christmas visitation, learns that it’s good to believe in his neighbors, his family and himself. (Ed. note — Jimmy Stewart ruins movies.)
The WWII-borne friendship and career of Wallace and Davis leads to a touching reunion with their beloved former commanding officer. With all of the singing and dancing, Christmas has never been more fabulous — or inspiring (not counting the birth of our Lord, of course). Make it a tradition for your family and every year you’ll echo the sentiments of Clark Griswold and have the “hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny F***ing Kaye.”
Miracle on 34th Street (1947 version)
First of all, the 1947 version starring the stunning Maureen O’Hara is the only one worth your time — the rest are garbage. Why fiddle with perfection? From Fred Gailey’s “proving” in court that a crazy old man is Santa Claus to hard-nosed Macy’s executive Doris Walker’s (O’Hara) and daughter Susan’s decision to let down their guard, this film is all about the hope and love that we experience in even larger doses at Christmastime.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
This 1983 Oscar-nominated short provides a faithful and fun Disney-ized adaptation of Dickens’ work, while keeping it short enough to hold the interest of any of the “littles” in your house — making this life-changing story fully accessible for crumb crunchers.
Yeah, yeah, it’s another rendition of the Dickens classic, but c’mon, it’s Bill Murray. His strangeness in the Scrooge role makes it worth it.
Home Alone (1 & 2)
The joy of watching Danial Stern and Joe Pesci get their holiday clocks cleaned in “Home Alone” was reminiscent of a classic “Three Stooges” short. But in a Hollywood rarity, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” provided a sequel that was even funnier than the first.
Leigh Munsil, Political Editor
“It’s a Wonderful Life” — The Frank Capra film from 1946 is a Christmas classic — uniquely heartwarming and inspiring in a way that newer movies often try to replicate but usually can’t. The movie deals with faith, purpose and family in a touching way, plus it’s impossible to get through the “richest man in town” scene without ugly crying all over your new Christmas Eve pajamas.
“Jingle All the Way” — Arnold Schwarzenegger as a workaholic dad desperately trying to track down a Turboman doll for his son in time for Christmas with the help of Sinbad as an overworked and nearly unhinged postal worker — what’s not to like?
“Love Actually” — Hilariously funny but also heartwarming when it counts, Love Actually doesn’t sugarcoat modern romance, instead using its multiple storylines to tell nuanced and diverse stories of characters that are all worth rooting for.
“Elf” — One of the most quotable Christmas movies of all time. If you don’t like this movie you’re a cotton-headed ninnymuggins.
“The Santa Clause” — Tim Allen is at his best as a divorced dad who unepectedly becomes Santa Claus after the real Saint Nick falls off his roof. Millennials grew up on this one, so it delivers the nostalgia factor as well as some genuine belly laughs.
Dave Urbanski, Front Page Editor
"It's a Wonderful Life” — The granddaddy of them all. Viewed unabashedly through Frank Capra’s sentimental lens, down-on-his-luck George Bailey is shown by a 2nd-class guardian angel what his world would look like had he never been born. No, it's not the least bit believable, and it's awash in full-on 1940s silver screen syrup — but the Norman Rockwell-ness of it all sucks me in every time. Atta boy, Clarence!
“Elf" — On an quest to find his birth father, Will Ferrell's underdog misfit elf wins just about everyone's heart he comes across — save for the stuck-up publishing whiz dwarf he unwittingly calls an "angry elf" and his dad (though James Caan's resistant character touchingly sees the light by the end). Add in Buddy's Christmas-wrapping and snowball-fighting skills, and you have a Yuletide hit that won't quit.
"Die Hard” — Bruce Willis leaping off an L.A. skyscraper on his way to defeating a gaggle of bad guys might not be on everybody's Christmas movie radar, but it'd be far from the same flick without the sights and sounds (or timing) of the season. Christmas lingo and imagery fill the screen from beginning to end — from chauffeur Argyle crowing about Run-DMC's Christmas hip-hop tune to Willis' jet-lagged New York cop to our hero using seasonal wrapping tape to hide a gun behind his back during the movie's conclusion. Yippee ki yay.
"Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol” — Charles Dickens' classic tale told through the eyes — pun fully intended — of a beloved, nearly blind cartoon character is a perennial favorite. Its 1960s animation has nothing on today's CGI tech, but Magoo's aristocratic tone perfectly captures the hopelessly lost greed of Ebenezer Scrooge. And the silent Grim Reaper ghost of Christmas future, starkly pointing toward what awaits the protagonist around the next bend, was a surprisingly unsettling scene when I watched this flick for the first time as a kid. Plus there’s unbeatable joy by the end.
"Jesus of Nazareth (Part 1)" — The epic TV miniseries is better known for Robert Powell's penultimate portrayal of Jesus as an adult, but it also takes great care retelling what led to that first Christmas. The initial portions focusing on biblical prophecy about the coming Messiah, the sociopolitical turmoil of the times — and shepherds finally kneeling at the foot of a baby king's makeshift cradle in one of the most non-regal spots imaginable — are as good ways to remind oneself about the reason for the season as any.
Tre Goins-Phillips, Reporter
1 - Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
2 - Four Christmases
3 - The Santa Clause
4 - Christmas with the Kranks
5 - How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)*
*The only Jim Carrey movie I'll watch.
(Ed. note - Tre chose the minimalist approach.)
Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Reporter
I write this list from an Ann Arbor brewery as it snows — so basically in the world’s most perfect setting.
The perfect combination of humor, love, family matters and snow, Elf not only perfectly embodies the Christmas spirit, but it’s a movie that is actually about Christmas — unlike the poser that is the Die Hard franchise.
Aside from the major food groups propagated in Elf — candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup, for those of you ignorant fools — Elf truly does showcase all of my favorite things: ice skating, snow, coffee, Christmas trees, love and revolving doors.
In fact, on one of our first winter dates, my eventual husband took me on a tour around Washington, D.C., reenacting Buddy’s date with Jovie. Our day even ended with ice skating in the park during a snow storm.
And while Will Ferrell’s talent – or lack thereof — as a comedian and actor can be up for debate for generations to come, the heartening of Elf is undeniable.
2. Muppet’s Christmas Carol
The Christmas Carol in and of itself is a venerable holiday story, but this is by far the best adaptation of the timeless tale — especially because who wants to be sad and depressed on Christmas as we reflect upon all the moments in our lives where we, too, embody Ebenezer Scrooge’s pre-Christmas spirits’ visits throughout the year.
Just make sure to have some tissues ready to sneak during the movie when Meredith Braun sings to a young Scrooge in the scenic snow.
Team Rizzo the Rat forever. <3
3. Any claymation Christmas film
Because claymation should only exist for old Christmas films, period.
I honestly feel sorry for those who have not grown up on Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and Frosty the Snowman. These movies are the best way to learn Christmas carols.
4. All of the Hallmark/Lifetime/ABC Family holiday love movies
Christmas is about love and the more I can see Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez fall in love over a cup of hot cocoa with a raging fire during a snowstorm, the happier I am.
5. Christmas With the Kranks
Tim Allen. Cranky neighbors. Tanning bed gone wrong.
Should be enough said, but in case it’s not, the dogged efforts by the Kranks to ensure their home is Christmas-ready in time for their daughter’s homecoming should inspire all of us and our inner Martha Stewarts to overcome turkey-induced laziness and get to decorating this holiday season.
The only thing wrong with this movie is how much it makes me want to forgo by Manhattan apartment and move to the suburbs where white Christmases are tradition and my neighbors are just as obsessed with Christmas as me.
Kate Scanlon, Reporter
A Christmas Story
Ralphie Parker’s quest for a Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle in the face of near-constant discouragement never gets old. My family watches this movie multiple times each Christmas. We even get Chinese food on Christmas Day.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Even though TheBlaze's Chris Field, our official Scrooge, told me this is a television special and not a movie, I think Santa Claus is Coming to Town deserves to be included on this list. In this claymation classic, Kris Kringle bravely battles big government forces who don’t want children to have toys. It also has a sweet message about putting others before yourself.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
This is the best version of A Christmas Carol. Even though the cast consists of mostly Muppets, it’s alternately funny, sad and touching. And the music is amazing.
I love Elf and I don’t care who knows it. Anyone who says this isn’t a good movie sits on a throne of lies.
Although it’s a romantic comedy, the best parts of this movie are Graham’s adorable little girls and Iris’ elderly neighbor Arthur.
Jon Street, Reporter
My favorite Christmas movie — without question — is "Elf." It's one of those flicks that makes you laugh just as hard whether you're watching it for the first time or, in my case, the 500th time. What can I say? It makes me smile, and "Smiling's my favorite."
"A Christmas Story" comes in a close second. It's a classic that my family has watched, literally on repeat, every Christmas Eve for as far back as I can remember. You could say our eyes are fixed to the TV screen much like Flick's tongue to the flag pole.
I remember when the first (and best) "The Santa Clause" movie came out. I've always been a big Tim Allen fan, but what makes this my third favorite Christmas movie is probably the fact that it reminds us that "seeing isn't always believing," but that "believing is seeing." Plus, what kid hasn't dreamt of his dad being Santa Claus?
And then there's "Home Alone." The first one is the best, in my opinion, and no, that's not because Donald Trump makes a cameo appearance in the second movie. Rather, it reminds us of the importance of being surrounded by family on Christmas, as a young Kevin McCallister learns the hard way.
Finally, what favorite Christmas movies list would be complete without mention of "A Christmas Carol?" Today, perhaps more than ever before, the world needs a good reminder to slow down, take a break from everything that occupies us year-round and focus on what matter most: our families, friends, colleagues, employees and neighbors. What better reminder of that than Tiny Tim?
Sara Gonzales, Staff Grinch
1. Elf – This is by far Will Ferrell’s best movie. It just so happens to be about Christmas, so that’s cool I guess.
2. Die Hard – Yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. And only the best Christmas movies have guns and explosions.
3. Love Actually – Because I’m a sucker for a good British accent. It also just so happens to take place at Christmas time.
4. Home Alone – Solid comedy from my childhood. It isn’t as painful to watch as the standard sickeningly sweet (and incredibly annoying) Christmas movies.
5. Bad Santa – Nothing says Christmas like inappropriate crude humor, obviously.
Brandon Morse, Reporter
1. A Christmas Story
2. A Christmas Story
3. A Christmas Story
4. A Christmas Story
5. The Grinch tied with A Christmas Story
Chris Enloe, Weekend Editor
None submitted. Please boo this man.
Sarah Lee, Weekend Editor
The Ref -- Dennis Leary's foul mouth and Kevin Spacey playing a normal person with mother-in-law problems is too odd not to be great. Christmas is the backdrop and provides the catalyst for the amazing climax where Spacey -- counseled by Leary's criminal -- finally finds his spine in his wife's purse, has a great freakout, and lets the family know EXACTLY what he thinks of them. Just like we all do at Christmas.
Elf -- Everyone knows why this movie is fantastic. The only thing I'll add is that the image of Buddy stalking through Central Park looking exactly like the famous image of Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest makes me laugh uncontrollably every year as if it's the first time I've seen it. Brilliant.
Scrooged -- Bill Murray as Scrooge doing an impersonation of Richard Burton in Cleopatra. Is there any more that needs to be said? Also, makes the best Tab and Vodka cocktail I've ever seen, and the ending is truly inspiring.
It's a Wonderful Life -- I watch it every Christmas Eve. It is as beautiful a film as they come with a message that, on the surface, is sugar sweet but is actually about regret, the complicated love for family, and the pain of missed opportunity. George Bailey is a legitimate American hero and this film is a national treasure. Jimmy Stewart definitely got his wings for this one.
Just Friends -- This film is why Ryan Reynolds is likely to go down as this generation's Cary Grant. It looks Rom-Com because it IS Rom-Com. It's also hilarious, adorable, sweet, and edgy. And Ana Faris has never been funnier.