The Only Top-Ten Christmas Movie List You’ll Ever Need!


By: Scott Muller

It’s that time of year again! The time when every website, entertainment show, and magazine gives you its “Top [insert number here] Christmas Movies of All Time” list. Well, ignore all of those lists, fellow nerds, because I’m going to provide you with the end-all-be-all top Christmas movie list. Well, maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but I think this list is pretty good…or at least better than average. As an added bonus, I’ll even throw in a few movies that you should avoid like the plague!

So, without further ado, let’s get to the list!

#10: Jingle All The Way (1996)

Okay, I might be killing my credibility right away by starting my list with this not-exactly-Oscar-worthy film, but hear me out. This movie, which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and 80s comedian Sinbad as two dads out to get an elusive Turbo Man toy, is the perfect movie to catch on cable or if it pops up on one of your streaming sites because it’s just funny enough to justify the 90 minutes or so it’ll take to watch it. While this isn’t going to be on anyone’s “Christmas Classics” list, there are a few things that make this movie funny. First, Phil Hartman steals the show as Arnold’s scumbag neighbor. Second, Curtis Armstrong (Booger from Revenge of the Nerds) is in it; that guy is never in a bad movie. Third, Sinbad is actually funny in it – and a funny Sinbad movie is about as common as a purple unicorn. Finally, listening to Arnold say, “Turbo Man,” and shout, “JAMIE!” (his son’s name) never gets old. While this movie won’t have you rolling on the floor laughing, it’ll give you the giggles once or twice.

#9: Gremlins (1984)

Come on, people; be honest. Tell me you haven’t seen this movie and seriously thought about whether or not you could own a mogwai. Despite the fact that people might argue that this isn’t a true, “Christmas movie,” nothing could be further from the truth. This movie is essentially about a creative Christmas gift gone wrong…sort of like a Magic Bullet in the wrong hands.
This movie had it all: humor, action, suspense, cuteness to the point it made you sick, an old lady in an automated chair flying through an upstairs window, and Phoebe Cates. ‘Nuff said.

#8: Rocky IV (1985)

Is this another stretch Christmas movie? This exchange says it all:

Reporter: What date?
Rocky: December 25th.
Reporter: Why Christmas?
Rocky: It’s what I was told.
Reporter: Where?
Rocky: In Russia.
Paulie: Are you nuts?

I realize that some people probably thinks that this isn’t even the best Rocky movie, but I have fond memories of this film. When I was kid, people in the theater were actually going bonkers when Rocky started winning. When the “fight” was over, the crowd went crazy. It was just a fun movie experience. Cheesy? Yes. But who doesn’t have a cheesy movie memory or two?
Oh yeah, Dolph Lundgren ruled the school as Ivan Drago. “If he dies…he dies.” Classic.

#7: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Okay, four movies in and I’m finally including a movie that’s a mainstream Christmas classic, and a classic that you need to make some time to watch. To sum it up, a department store Santa claims to be the real thing. Society being as it is, they declare the guy insane. Some true believers stick by the guy, while others want to lock him up in the loony bin. Even though the movie came out in 1947, it’s still immensely watchable. It’s funny and touching and all the stuff you want out of a Christmas movie.

By the way, they did a remake of this movie in 1994 starring the old man from Jurassic Park, the lady who falls for adult Josh Baskin in Big, and Bobby Donnell from The Practice. I can’t speak on this version of the movie; I saw the original, and I highly recommend it.

#6: Home Alone (1990)

This is the first movie on this list that I seem to watch every year. It’s one of those movies that you can’t seem to pass when it comes on TV. Yes, every sequel got progressively worse (did you know there were actually FOUR of these?), but the original was a classic. Yes, it’s an idiotic premise. Yes, the mom should have been arrested at the end of the movie. And, yes, the two robbers should have just shot the kid and gotten it over with, but it’s all about suspending disbelief around the holidays, isn’t it?
There are about a dozen funny scenes in this movie, my favorite being the “Keep the change, ya’ filthy animal,” scene. I also really liked the sub-plot with the creepy old neighbor (played by Roberts Blossom). It was probably the most underrated part of the movie, and definitely heartwarming. And really, who doesn’t need a little heartwarming from time to time?

#5: Christmas Vacation (1989)

I’m sure a lot of you are going to consider it blasphemy to rank this movie this low, but I’m not as big a fan of it as some people. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a funny movie. I also believe this is the one Christmas movie on the list that I can really relate to. Not a year goes by where something happens to me that happened in this movie (mostly related to the Christmas lights), but there are just some parts that make me go, “Meh.” Most of them revolve around Cousin Eddie, who I think is a lot funnier in Vegas Vacation. I don’t know…I just can’t put my finger on why I can’t rank this movie higher, but I can’t.

Despite the fact that many of you will think I ranked this criminally low, I will give this movie a special award: Best Scene in a Christmas Movie. When Clark doesn’t quite get the bonus he thinks he’s going to get, he goes into what could be one of the most hysterical rants of all time. Do yourself a favor and rent this movie – the television version of this scene doesn’t do it justice.

Finally, here’s a movie fun fact! There’s actually a sequel to Christmas Vacation! Yup, some movie executive thought it would be a good idea to do a sequel to this starring everyone’s favorite paranoid schizophrenic, Randy Quaid. Pick up Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure at your local gas station movie bin! Do it for someone you dislike immensely!

#4: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Okay, technically, HTGSC (the cartoon version, not the blight on our existence that is the Jim Carrey live-action version) isn’t a Christmas movie…it was a 30-minute television special. I feel sort of bad bumping an actual movie off the list, but I had to include it because it’s been a part of my Christmases for over 30 years now.

First, let me talk about how awesome How The Grinch Stole Christmas is. How can you not enjoy a movie with lines like:

And they’ll play noisy games like zoozit and kazay, a roller-skate type of lacrosse and croquet!

If that’s not enough for you…try this one…

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch / With a nauseous super-naus / You’re a crooked, jerky jockey and you drive a crooked hoss / Mr. Gri-inch! Your soul is an appalling dump-heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots!

Seriously, I can’t see anyone but those with no souls not enjoying this movie. If your tear ducts don’t tremble a little bit at the end of this movie, you might want to test your pulse.

#3: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Okay, now we’re getting to the cream of the crop. The top three movies I have in this list are absolutely must-sees. I can’t stress that enough.

It’s a Wonderful Life is an absolutely timeless classic that you must make it a priority to see. It stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. George is probably one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet in your life. In addition to being nice, George is a dreamer who wants to go to college and see the world. The only problem? After George’s father dies, the town’s old, rich dickweed, Mr. Potter, threatens to shut down George’s father’s building and loan company, which would put most of the town on the street. Without giving too much more of the plot away, George eventually learns what his hometown (and the people in it) would be like if he had never existed.

I can say in all seriousness that the world would be a better place if everyone watched this movie every Christmas. If you’re pissed off about how “commercial” Christmas has become, bake a batch of cookies, invite some family or friends over, and watch this movie, and for a couple of hours, you’ll see what Christmas should really be about.

#2: Die Hard (1988)

I’m probably going to catch hell for this, but Die Hard is indeed my second favorite Christmas movie of all time.

Christmas purists may cry foul on this one, but any movie that starts with RUN DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” and ends with a fantastic rendition of “Let it Snow” by Vaughn Monroe has got to qualify as a Christmas movie. If that doesn’t do it…CARL WINSLOW’S IN IT!! Nothing says Christmas like Reginald Vel Johnson! As my last piece of evidence, every great Christmas movie should have a classic line like, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”

For the uninitiated, Die Hard is about a police officer who…you know what? If you don’t know the plot of Die Hard, I don’t even want to talk to you.

Whether you agree or not, I love this movie and I watch it every year. Nothing is better after a full day of fighting with rude Christmas shoppers and inconsiderate store employees than to watch this movie and cheer as John McClane single-handedly routs a dozen or so terrorists in his bare feet. Plus, Alan Rickman is GAWD!

#1: A Christmas Story (1983)

I don’t really have to defend ranking this movie this high, do I? Any movie that you can show for two full days straight at Christmas must by pretty good, amiright?

What’s great about this movie is that it’s really just a series of Christmas-related skits. Whether it’s Flick sticking his tongue to a pole, Ralphie’s old man getting his “major award” (I still say “Fra-jee-lay” every time I see a box with the word “Fragile” on it), Ralphie decoding his Little Orphan Annie message, Ralphie going to see Santa, or Ralphie finally getting the Christmas gift of his dreams, there isn’t a scene in this movie that isn’t memorable.

For the six of you that haven’t seen this movie yet, do yourself a favor and take some time to watch it on TBS this Christmas. If you don’t, I’ll send Scut Farkus over to your house to beat the tar out of you. And, yes, it’s “Scut,” not “Scott.” Don’t even try my obscure movie trivia skills.

Others Receiving Votes

In addition to the movies on the preceding list, there are a few other Christmas movies that I liked, but didn’t include on this list. These movies include the following:

The Santa Clause (This movie missed out by a hair…maybe next year.)
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Home Alone 2
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Scrooged (This is another that should have made the list…so close.)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (Mystery Science Theater 3000 version)
Elf (Yes, I know this should’ve made the top ten, but I’m just not as thrilled with it as everyone else.)
Love Actually (Yes, I like this movie. Don’t judge me. Besides, Alan Rickman’s in it!)

Christmas Movies to Avoid Like The Plague

There are a few Christmas movies that I really truly have hated. It takes a lot for me to utterly despise a movie, especially at Christmas, but a few stand out as being ridiculously bad.

First, Deck the Halls. I watched about half of this movie and turned it off. I’m not even going to waste time listing the dozens of reasons why this movie is horrible – and I have a crush on Kristin Davis. If there were 5,000 Kristin Davises in this movie, it wouldn’t be enough. I would rather sniff reindeer poop for a month than sit through this movie again.

Next up, Surviving Christmas. I saw this movie a couple of years ago and barely remember anything other than the fact that it had Tony Soprano, Kelly Bundy, and Ben Affleck. I remember being bored out of my mind when I watched it, so I’ll tell you to avoid it and save you the trouble…and $2.00.

Finally, Christmas with the Kranks. Ugh. This movie, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen as a couple who decides to “cancel” Christmas, does nothing to make me happy about the holidays. It’s almost agonizingly bad.

Wrapping Things Up (Get It?)

Well, that’s about it for my Christmas movie roundup. I hope you find at least one movie that becomes part of your annual Christmas watch list. I know I probably left one of your favorites off, and if I have, my apologies. If you have a movie to recommend, feel free – I’m always up for seeing a good Christmas movie. While I’m probably going to avoid likely stinkers like Ernest Saves Christmas and Bad Santa, if there’s something that you’ve seen that you really think is good, I’d love to hear about it.

In closing, I really hope all of you have a fantastic holiday season. In the semi-immortal words of Bill Murray in Scrooged:

It’s Christmas Eve! It’s… it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we…we…we smile a little easier, we…w-w-we…we…we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!

Here’s hoping you get a chance to be the person you always hoped you’d be.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

    One Comment

  1. Pam dDecember 21st, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    1&2 top Christmas movies. Die hard and love actually. Happy you included that on your secondary list. Fun fact. Both include Alan Rickman. One of my top 10 actors

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