Christmas movies are kind of my thing. Actually, CHRISTMAS is kind of my thing. I’m like Clark Griswold (minus the crazy) meets Buddy the Elf meets Scrooge’s nephew Fred. Holy crap do I love Christmas.
So, unsurprisingly, I spend the entire two months leading up to the big day listening to Christmas tunes, putting up Christmas decorations and watching Christmas movies. Because of this unfailing annual dedication, I consider myself the Roger Ebert of Christmas flicks.
With that being said, I think you can count on my definitive ranking of Christmas movies to be the best one ever compiled. EVER. If you disagree, I’m happy to a have a lively, festive debate with you in the comments section. Fire away with alternative opinions. 😉
Here is it, my list of Christmas movies, ranked in order from 20 to 1. Because Christmas movies make me happy, and I hope the same is true for you. Feliz Navidad.
(Honorable mentions: Ernest Saves Christmas (may he RIP), I’ll Be Home for Christmas (JTT!), The Preacher’s Wife (Whitney at her best), All American Christmas Carol (epic) and 12 Christmas Wishes for My Dog).
20. Bad Santa
This movie *almost* didn’t make the list because, um, it’s sorta disgusting. On the other hand, it has a happy ending, so it redeems itself in my eyes. And I can’t deny that Billy Bob Thornton kills it as a royally screwed up Santa. Plus, that kid steals the show.
19. Love, Actually
This was actually on my naughty list for a long time, mainly because I couldn’t deal with the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman storyline. SO depressing. Personally, I expect happy stories in my Christmas flicks. On the other hand, almost everything else about this movie is pretty damned adorable … (almost). What really makes it, of course, is Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon. Christmas cuteness for days. Clearly, that’s now how British government works, but who said movies had to be anything resembling realistic?!
18. Switchmas (aka Ira Finkelstein’s Christmas)
This is a Netflix gem about a Jewish kid who’s obsessed with Christmas. He manages to switch places with another kid and head to Christmastown, Washington (I wanna go there!) where he leads the town pageant and basically warms hearts all over the place. “Christmas is for everyone” is the tagline. ‘Nuff said.
17. Disney’s A Christmas Carol
Yet another version of the old-school story, this 3D version is full of eye-popping animation and features Jim Carrey as cranky cheapskate Scrooge. It runs a little long (particularly when the Ghost of Christmas Past gets involved), but I think it’s one of Jim Carrey’s most enjoyable turns. When it comes to Carrey, I’ll take him as Ebenezer over the Grinch any day. Oh, and it’s also *slightly* creepy, which adds to its appeal.
16. Just Friends
Amy Smart makes another appearance as the irresistible Jamie Palomino — high school obsession of Ryan Reynold’s formerly chunky Chris Brander. With Anna Faris and Chris Klein in unforgettable supporting roles, this flick is a Millennial classic. And how ’bout Faris with the toothpaste, huh? Priceless.
15. A Christmas Story
Ralphie in a rabbit suit, leg lamps and frozen tongues — we’ve gleaned oodles of pop culture fodder from this flick, and it never gets old (even though TBS is trying to make us hate it forever).
14. A Miracle on 34th Street (the original)
Natalie Wood was a DOLL, plain and simple. Forget Cindy Lou Hoo, she would have melted the Grinch’s icy heart in no time. Every time I see it, this flick makes me long to live in ’40s era Manhattan. That hair! Those clothes! The retro Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade!
13. Jingle All the Way
It’s mind-boggling to consider what was allowed to make it to the big screen in the mid ’90’s. This is Arnold at his best: ridiculous. Everything about this movie is entirely unbelievable, which is what makes it so utterly entertaining. Also, Sinbad and Phil Hartman. Miss him!
12. Trading Places
This is a little risque as Christmas flicks go (not that everyone hasn’t seen Jamie Lee Curtis topless in one movie or another), but a comedic classic nonetheless. When Dan Akroyd gnaws on salmon in his dirty Santa suit, it may be the shining moment of his career. And pre-Nutty Professor nonsense, Eddie Murphy was at his best. Theirs was a heck of a bromance.
11. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original)
In general, my affinity for Dr. Seuss extends only as far as Cat in the Hat. I respect the genius of Seuss, but my loyalties have always tended to lie elsewhere. Growing up, I was never a Grinch girl, but his transformation from hateful hermit to big-hearted, honorary Who has definitely grown on me. Plus, I adore little Max and his strap-on antlers.
10. A Charlie Brown Christmas
Forever and ever will I believe in the magic of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Character over perfection, any day, any time, anywhere. Charlie Brown knows what counts.
9. It’s a Wonderful Life
Iconic, classic, unforgettable — all of these words apply to Frank Capra’s classic (which, btw, was a bomb when it first came out). I love George Bailey as much as the next girl, but I’ve always been a bit bothered by the undercurrent of the virtues of self-sacrifice. Yes, George did wonderful things to help others, but should he really have had to give up ALL of his own hopes and dreams to do so? Who knows though — perhaps he used some of that cash money to (finally) take Mary on a trip around the world.
8. A Christmas Carol (with Sir Patrick Stewart as Scrooge)
As we’ve established, there are an incalculable number of versions of A Christmas Carol floating around — some better than others. This is one of the best, because Patrick Stewart is THE MASTER of everything he does. That moment when he figures out how to laugh again … I mean REALLY. Oscar worthy.
7. A Muppet’s Christmas Carol
I own many versions of Dickens’ classic tale — animated, modernized, puppeted. With heart-warming songs like It Feels Like Christmas, the antics of Rizzo the Rat and Michael Caine as Scrooge, this is Christmas gold. Besides, Kermie makes the perfect Bob Cratchit.
6. Home Alone
Kevin McCallister + aftershave = classic Christmas memory for all Millennials.
5. Home Alone 2
Some people may take issue with the fact that I rated this above the original, but here’s why: any Christmas movie set in Manhattan automatically earns bonus points. Manhattan is the Christmas capital of the universe. Besides, how awesome is Duncan’s Toy Chest? It puts FAO Schwartz to shame. And who else was obsessed with the Talkboy because of this movie?
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Nothing says relatable like a totally dysfunctional family Christmas. Welcome to America. Add the kidnapping of Bill Murray’s brother, lights that’ll burn out your eyeballs and singed cats and you’ve got a timeless classic. Clark Griswold’s adorably misguided attempts to craft a Christmas straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting age oh so well.
Because Bill Murray you guys. Best. Scrooge. Ever. And the fact that it’s totally dated and screams 1988 (right down to the Tab soda) makes it that much more of a classic. Also, Bobcat Goldthwait.
2. 12 Dates of Christmas
You’ve probably never heard of this movie (unless you’ve watched every Netflix holiday offering at least three times, like some of us). It stars the adorable Amy Smart and former Saved by the Bell heartthrob Mark Paul Gosselaar. It’s about a girl who clings to a rigid notion of how things should be, refusing to embrace what’s new or different. That is, until she’s forced to live Christmas Eve over and over again, a la Groundhog Day (but twinklier). It’s adorable, funny and touching in a totally lighthearted way.
Hands down, Will Ferrell’s best movie. To me, Bob Newhart will always be Papa Elf, Ed Asner will always be Santa and Zooey Deschanel will always be Jovie. This movie is the definition of sweetness and light. It’s everything I want the world to be — everything that’s good and bright and lovely in the world (fictional or not). It’s amazing, and I tear up EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. the hardened New Yorkers start singing Christmas carols. This is the best movie Christmas has ever (and dare I say, will ever?!) seen. In conclusion, “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.”