Your fork clanks on the plate as you finish the last piece of Pecan Pie on Thanksgiving, and everyone knows Christmas time has begun. Sure it started weeks earlier in every retail store in America, but once Thanksgiving ends we are free to begin our Christmas shenanigans.
This year, the Peanuts Christmas Special ran within the first week of December. The Christmas season seems to find a way to extend itself longer each year, and now has become an entire month long celebration of presents, spiked eggnog, Christmas specials, Will Ferrell in an Elf costume, Mick Foley’s Santa documentary (which was FANTASTIC), and the wife’s Christmas cookies.
The nearby mall transforms itself into hell disguised as a Winter Wonderland. Where Santa can’t seem to find his smile while our kids scream and cry on his lap, or stare up at him confused like mine. Who is this man? Little boy, this is Santa, the man who will bring you presents and joy each year if you are good, and find himself on every decoration in every household. And not only that, but he will also find himself trapped day after day, inside that 60 inch box that breathes life into our souls. The Television.
For some of us, the best thing about Christmas is family, or friends, or gifts, or the birth of that little dude in some barn far away. Some of us, don’t even celebrate the holiday, and instead of having lights along our gutters and front yard shrubs, a simple candle in the window expresses our holiday delight. Whatever your personal preference, the magic of the holidays will find its way into all our lives.
But, the one thing that brings everyone together, no matter what we celebrate or what we believe in, is good old fashioned TV. The one item every house owns, the one item we all take for granted, and also the one item that delivers us gifts like it was Santa Claus. Gifts in the form of Christmas specials, Christmas episodes of our current shows, but most importantly, Christmas movies. Stocking stuffers come as each television show premiers the special Christmas themed episode. It’s everywhere, even Netflix, where everyone reading this should run right now and watch A Very Murray Christmas, and then maybe Ernest Saves Christmas, or Bad Santa (which is never a bad decision).
Over the years, our culture has compiled an endless array of Christmas films. Films for the family, films for adults, films in horror, action, comedy, drama, no matter the genre, Hollywood has it covered. Want a Christmas movie about a sweet puppy, we got that. Want a Christmas movie about a killer Santa, we got that. Want a Christmas movie about zombie elves, yeah, we got that. How about a Christmas movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger? Who doesn’t want that!
No matter the taste or flavor, savory or sweet, Christmas films come in all shapes and sizes, since all of us come in different shapes and sizes. With my son being integrated into Christmas films, I have covered the vast library of children and adult movies alike, so this year I am ready. Finally, I am ready to determine if Home Alone 2 is better than the original Home Alone. Is A Christmas Story really the greatest Christmas film, or is it not worthy of playing on repeat for 30 days straight? Can Jingle All the Way truly be rated above It’s A Wonderful Life? Yes, the answer is yes, it certainly can.
Christmas is about enjoyment, about celebration, and this list will determine the most enjoyable Christmas movies of all time. Not the greatest or best films, because I don’t want a list with It’s A Wonderful Life (which still is a great movie), or Miracle on 34th Street, because you and I both know if you had the option to watch 34th Street or Home Alone, you’re watching Kevin McAllister’s family leave him Home Alone. Where do your favorites rank? There is only one way to find out. So, without further ado, get out the spiked eggnog and peppermint schnapps, have another cookie and throw the fruitcake out the window at some carolers. It’s time to spread a little Christmas cheer! And there is only one way to do that, singing loud for all to hear!
Horror Holiday Bonus
Christmas isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year; for some, it can be a real massacre. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for a bubbly unrealistic Christmas tale, so why not shift your attention to something a little, darker. Something, like Bill Goldberg jack hammering elves and spearing those without Christmas Spirit.
This has always been my go-to Christmas horror, and it’s spawned 5 or 6 sequels and a remake (don’t watch it). It scared me deep as a kid, and could be the reason for a handful of personal issues, but who cares, it’s the best Christmas horror film out there. (Until Krampus rules the world)
Black Christmas (1974)
Old school classic and Christmas slasher. Avoid the remake at all costs, and go with the original.
Santa’s Slay (2005)
Goldberg is a killer Santa. There is nothing more to say. Except for that fact that it’s awesome, and a must watch for any wrasslin fan.
I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s got all the right moves to be a Christmas classic. “Beer it is!”
Christmas Vintage Vault
All I want for Christmas (1991)
A not-well-known 90’s gem, but one that was a staple for my childhood. A great movie with a great cast, and features a very young Thora Birch and Ethan Embry.
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
I’m an Ernest mark! There should be an Ernest movie on every list, and this is probably the second best of all the Ernest films (Ernest Scared Stupid is always Numero Uno). Jim Varney could do no wrong, and even as I get older, somehow I seem to enjoy these films even more than I did as a kid.
Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
This is an 80’s greatest in all its glory. Dudley Moore as an elf, John Lithgow as the evil toy manufacturer. If you have never heard of this one, it’s a must-watch.
Christmas Comedy Corner
Paul Giamiatti as Santa, and his delinquent brother Vince Vaughn. Heartwarming, and just far better than it is given credit for. This flick is excellent, and is becoming one of those Christmas movies I watch every year. It just missed making the list.
Four Christmases (2008)
Another Vince Vaughn Christmas movie, and another Christmas classic (Eventually). Well, maybe not quite a classic, but its a damn good flick, and shows what really makes Christmas movies so great, the combination of heart and laughter. And Jon Favreau beating on Vince Vaughn, or Robert Duvall naming all his kids after the city they were conceived in. Just remembering this makes me want to watch it.
I don’t care what you say, this movie is AMAZING (just like Ben Affleck as Batman). It’s Batman vs. Tony Soprano, and it’s every bit as incredible as it sounds.
The Night Before (2015)
I haven’t laughed in a movie theater so hard since This is the End. Seth Rogen should just take mushrooms and film himself for 2 hours; I would pay to see that every time. I marked out when they decided the best thing to do right now is to break out the old Nintendo 64 for some Golden Eye action. Thanks for the nostalgia.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Also, just kidding. I thought it would be funny to visualize these two films beside one another. It’s a classic sure, but not for my list. I’m more of a It’s A Wonderful Life guy, but I didn’t want to tarnish either with my flickin fingers.
Bad Santa (2003)
It pains me not to include this in the Top 10, but it’s just the Dolph Ziggler of the group. Every year I watch at least a part of this film, and it’s always, “I can’t believe I forgot how great this movie is.” Billy Bob is beyond perfect for this role, and this raunchy laugh out loud comedy has the perfect balance of heart and hatred.
This is one movie that everyone should know, but not many do. It is the only horror film to almost make the list, and is well deserving. Santa Claus is uncovered in an archaeological dig deep in the Finland mountains, and instead of giving gifts, starts kidnapping children. Santa’s elves start killing to set him free, and if you’re not sold already, you won’t be. But you should be, because this movie is AWESOME. Rare Imports may be a foreign film with subtitles, but it is BY FAR the greatest Christmas horror film ever made.
What else can one say about a classic like Gremlins. It’s family fun, yet balances a darkness that few films can nail so perfectly. It’s a Christmas movie, it’s a comedy, a horror film, and a super classic. This is one movie that demands to be remade, and how about confirmation it is for an early Christmas present.
Jack Frost (1998)
No, I’m not talking about the killer snowman movie. This is the real Jack Frost. Michael Keaton with frosted tips dates this to the 90’s time period, but this heartwarming tale of father and son is one that makes me weep anytime I watch it. Being a father now, this one is almost unwatchable at times. Keaton’s character dies and comes back as a snowman to be with his son, it’s an emotional roller coaster and just an overall beautiful movie.
THE TOP 10 CHRISTMAS MOVIES OF ALL TIME
10. The Santa Clause (1994)
In Tim Allen’s peak of success in Hollywood, he hit the jackpot with this movie and all its sequels. From his transformation into the jolly old fat guy, to delivering the wienie whistle, its pure Christmas magic. Fun fact, Tim Allen is one of only a select few actors with a criminal record that made Disney waive its policy of not hiring ex-cons. Popo Gigio!
9. Die Hard (1988)
Everyone should know instantly where Hans Gruber and John McClane came from, since Die Hard is the greatest Christmas action movie of all the times. “Ho Ho Ho, Now I have a Machine Gun”, now that’s a great Christmas movie quote.
This is a classic for anytime of the year, clearly, but having it set around Christmas makes it even more appealing.
8. Scrooged (1988)
Another classic spawned from 1988, which would make me 6 years old at the time, watching Die Hard and Scrooged all holiday season long. This is one of Bill Murray’s best, and allows him to be the smug asshole we can’t hate but love no matter what. This one is all heart and laughs, and is just 80’s film making at its best. “You can hardly see them nipples”!
7. Love Actually (2003)
I’m not afraid to admit, this is one of my favorite movies. It’s just a wonderful film, and allows so many different stories to connect with on so many different levels. Whether its Rick from The Walking Dead trying to steal Chiwetel Ejiofor’s (HA! Nailed it) lady, Hugh Grant’s embarrassing dancing and falling for a King Ralph (If you get it your laughing), or Alan Rickman. But, nobody steals this movie quite like Bill Nighy. In one of my favorite quotes in movie history, “Hey kids, don’t buy drugs! Just become a pop star and they give them to you for free!” This is a rare special film that is full of heart, drop dead funny, and just a beautiful movie that always drops a tear and never gets old.
6. A Christmas Story (1983)
“Oh, Fudge!” Even I am surprised this flick isn’t number one, and I made the list! This is THE most classic Christmas movie of all time, everyone from the age of 0 to 100 has seen this and loved it. I would love to meet someone who doesn’t like this film, and just to ask them how it feels to live without the Christmas spirit. Somehow this film manages to capture our childhood exactly as it was, even if we grew up within a different generation. It’s timeless, it’s a classic, and it’s one of those movies that I couldn’t avoid watching even if I wanted to.
5. Jingle All the Way (1996)
“I’m gonna deck your halls, bub” says the Big Show before getting beaten down with a giant plastic candy cane by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is a personal preference pick, even though it should be this high on everyone’s favorite Christmas movie list. And, while Arnold is the man as Turbo Man, it’s a full team effort here. Phil Hartman, “Ohhh, your wife’s cookies”, “Put that cookie down!” if you could hear me laughing right now. I love this movie, it is pure childhood Christmas joy mixed into the real struggles of a parent’s Christmas.
It’s the ultimate Christmas struggle: Two Dads, One Toy, No Prisoners an unknown tagline once said. Sinbad is endlessly funny as the crooked mailman Myron puts this over the top, and his banter and war with Arnold is unforgettable in the best possibly way. One day, I know this film will be viewed as a Holiday Classic, and it’s well deserving.
4. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)
A Griswold family Christmas, oh how much I wish I had a seat at that table. The movie that teaches us the correct way to put up Christmas lights, how to find the perfect tree, the only way to go sledding, and exactly how to handle not getting the big promotion at work. The tropes in this film connect with any family, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, passed out elder, or drunk uncle. So grab a cigar, and set your Grandfathers toupee on fire, and watch out for that squirrel!
3. Home Alone (1990)
I’m starting to notice a pattern to my list, that each of these films within the top 10 are all the Christmas films I grew up with. And if there was one thing I could be called throughout my youth, it was a troublemaker. Whether it was when I first saw this movie at the age of 8, the same age as Kevin McAllister in the movie, or now at the ripe age of 33, I still connect wholeheartedly to this film. The combination of John Hughes and Chris Columbus is the equation for success, and trying to point out all the memorable and incredible moments in this film would be impossible.
So, let’s just point out a few for fun. The Wet Bandits, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, are the perfect villains for this movie, and there is no one, NO ONE who could have done a better job. Each Christmas I watch the big finale and each year I’m brought to tears with laughter. This film is all heart and soul, and it truly comes across as arguable the greatest Christmas film of all time. At one point it was, that is, before the sequel came out.
2. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
This is another bold move on the list, and some might lose their minds at the thought of this, BUT, Home Alone 2 is better than Home Alone. It’s insane to think a sequel could be better than the original, but right around this time, Terminator 2 came out as well, proving Aliens and Empire Strikes Back weren’t the only ones. This film takes the original, and brings every element to a higher level. Instead of roaming around the house and being afraid home alone, Kevin is an experienced young adult, who uses his experience alone in New York.
The scenes at the hotel are priceless, the Tommy Gun scene is taken up a notch, mostly because of Moe with the Gimpy leg, and of course, Phil. It also has something the original didn’t, and that’s Tim Curry who just rules at acting better than anyone else. The scary man next door gets replaced with the Pigeon Lady, who may be the only character who didn’t overpower their counterpart in the original. The grand finale of Lost in New York, is simply epic. It’s more violent, it’s more creative, and in every way it’s far more hilarious. Watching Daniel Stern get electrocuted, or fall through the hole, or Joe Pesci’s head on fire, or “It sounds like a tool chest falling down the stairs”, or “Harry, are you wearing after shave?”, it doesn’t get better than this. “Suck brick, kid!”
- Elf (2003)
And here we are at the GREATEST Christmas movie of all time, Will Ferrell, I mean, Elf. The film that taught us the four major food groups, Candy, Candy Cane, Candy Corn, and Syrup, where to find the world’s best cup of coffee, and in all the ridiculousness, how to find your Christmas spirit, be the best person you can be, and how to be a loving family.
One of the most quotable movies ever, Elf is a true Christmas classic in every sense of the word. Twenty, Thirty years from now, this will be held in the same esteem as It’s A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, except for the fact that Elf is just laugh out loud funny and a hell of a lot more enjoyable then those flicks.
“Cotton-Headed Ninnymoggins!”, “You sit on a Throne of Lies”, Santa! I know him!”, “Is there sugar in Syrup, then yes!”. I could go on with this forever, and just looking at quotes in IMDB, it goes on forever. This film is pure joy, heartwarming to even the coldest of hearts. It’s one of those movies that I just simply can’t accept someone who doesn’t love it. Elf is simply 2 hours of Christmas joy, no matter what time of year you watch it. Even with the monumental career Will Ferrell has had, this will always be his most iconic role, and one that made him into the movie star he is today.
Merry Flickmas, Ya Filthy Animal