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A few months back I did a post listing what I felt were the 24 best movies. I kind of borrowed the idea from this fella, who I think had much better reasons for his movies. Still, I kind of dug writing up my list. So, I thought I’d share a new list to celebrate the holidays. I’m 24 and here are the 24 best Christmas movies (as far as I’m concerned).

24. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993 dir. Henry Selick) – The only reason this isn’t higher is because I tend to think of it more as a Halloween movie and less of a Christmas movie. My girlfriend disagrees with me. It makes me sad to live with someone who is so often so very very wrong. Anyway, I love this movie, it’s clever and fun and just damn well made.

23. Ernest Saves Christmas (1988 dir. John R. Cherry III) – Yes, Ernest. Ernest, the lovable buffoon saves Christmas. What’s not to love about that. Quit rolling your eyes, they will get stuck that way. I recall enjoying this film as a kid, as I enjoyed many Ernest movies. Yeah the humor was stupid and the plot was obvious, but it was a sweet movie and Jim Varney was a funny funny man.

22. The Santa Clause (1994 dir. John Pasquin) – I’m not a huge Tim Allen fan. Didn’t watch Home Improvement, and haven’t seen too many movies I liked him in. Except for this movie and Galaxy Quest. The Santa Clause was a pretty standard: regular guy has to save Christmas because Santa is out of commission with the nice twist of him now permanently being bound to the job. Actually, I think the end of the movie was good. They didn’t cheat. There was no loophole or out that he exploits or is introduced at the end that he uses to live happily ever after as a normal guy.

21. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992 dir. Chris Columbus) – I remember seeing this in the theater as a kid. The worst parents in the world leave their kid in New York City on “accident.” Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern did a good job as the pair of goons out to get the kid, though really the main difference between this movie and the original was the setting. It’s a fun holiday movie, but not a particularly good one.

20. Lethal Weapon (1987 dir. Richard Donner) – This is the first of three movies you may have forgotten have Christmas associated with them. Christmas doesn’t really have a lot of importance to the plot of Riggs and Murtaugh’s first outing, but the first of four quality action movies, the highlight of the buddy cop genre, and the movie that brought us “I am too old for this shit” deserves a place on the list because it’s at Christmas dinner in the final scene of the movie that we see that Riggs and Murtaugh have really bonded. It’s a stretch, but it’s enough to be number 20.

19. Die Hard (1988 dir. John McTiernan) – “Ho, Ho, Ho now I have a machine gun.” I love Die Hard, and though that it happens to be Christmas isn’t vital, it allows for some nice gags and sets a nice backdrop for my favorite action movie. Plus, in the end we learn the true meaning of Christmas: “Yippee-ki-ay Mother Fucker.”

18. Gremlins (1984 dir. Joe Dante) – I just rewatched this the other week and discovered my girlfriend’s entire personality seems to be derived from Gizmo. It’s creepy. Still, this is a damn fine movie. It spans many many genres being a parody, a Christmas movie, a horror movie, a sci-fi/fantasy movie, a family movie (sort of), and a “don’t buy foreign products or they will kill you and destroy your pristine small town” propaganda film. That’s the spirit of Christmas.

17. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962 dir. Abe Levitow) – It’s Mr. Magoo as Scrooge! This is our first listing of a Christmas Carol for this list, but it will not be the last. This one earns it’s place for having both the lovable Mr. Magoo and being a fun take on the Classic Christmas tale. You cannot go wrong with that.

16. Home Alone (1990 dir. Chris Columbus) – I wouldn’t list the sequel without listing the original movie about the worst parents ever “accidentally” abandoning their brat over Christmas. I really did enjoy this movie and watched it many times as a kid and actually distinctly remember the music for it, which I still think was good. The movie is also a nice release for kids who have fantasies about creating elaborate traps to injure adults. Not that I knew any kids like that. I’ll bet the kids who loved this movie grew up to be big fans of the Saw series.

15. Love Actually (2003 dir. Richard Curtis) – I quite liked this movie. Bill Nighy doing a character very much like the one he did in Still Crazy was charming for me. I didn’t go and see it when it first came out and didn’t get around to watching it until the girlfriend pretty much forced me too last year. I’m glad she did, it’s a sweet movie with a lot of actors I like … and Keira Knightly, who, amazingly, I didn’t hate in this movie.

14. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974 dir. Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.) – The Snow Miser and the Heat Miser. I don’t remember the movie well, but all those elements stuck with me, plus the way they did the claymation is kind of classic Christmas now. If you see Rankin/Bass work it’s almost guaranteed to make you start thinking of Christmas.

13. Elf (2003 dir. Jon Favreau) – This is one of the best Christmas movies to come out for a long while. It’s a perfect balance of syrupy sweet and utterly goofy. Jon Favreau found a way to harness the goofiness of Will Ferrell and funnel it and shape it perfectly in this movie so it didn’t seem ridiculous or bizarre but perfectly natural. Also, Bob Newhart as Buddy’s adopted Elf father was a nice touch.

12. Scrooged (1988 dir. Richard Donner) – Probably the best adaptation of a Christmas Carol that is an update. It seems like with other attempts to update the story they don’t stray too much from the source material. Scrooged builds something a bit more around the basic story that helps develop the character beyond being just your average horrible bastard. You sympathize with him and there are times you can even see why he may have made the choices he made. The movie’s better than you probably remember it being.

11. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964 dir. Kizo Nagashima and Larry Roemer) – From the same folks who brought us The Year Without a Santa Claus it’s everyone’s favorite Christmas under-dog, or under-reindeer, I guess. The classic tale in that classic Christmas style. It’s wonderful and sweet.

10. Frosty the Snowman (1969 dir. Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.) – Happy Birthday! Who didn’t want their snowman to come alive when they were a kid? How cool would that be? Build an army of snowmen, who can apparently conduct legal marriage ceremonies. It’s a sweet movie based around a well-loved song (one of my favorite Christmas songs from when I was a kid).

9. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 dir. Bill Melendez) – Good grief! Only 8 more to go! It’s Charlie Brown, it’s Christmas how can you go wrong. The saddest little bald boy on the block and all his pals gather round a twig with a single ornament on it.

8. Christmas Vacation (1989 dir. Jeremiah S. Chechik) – I don’t generally find Chevy Chase funny. With other people I don’t find that funny, I can see why others find them funny. Not Chevy Chase. I genuinely don’t get people thinking he’s funny. Christmas Vacation, though, is probably the only time I’ve found him funny. It’s a good fun movie about a dysfunctional family trying desperately to seem perfectly normal. Good, clean-ish holiday fun.

7. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992 dir. Brian Henson) – Our third instance of A Christmas Carol, can you tell I’m fond of the story? This one is a musical with the Muppets. It’s like taking something good, like an Oreo cookie for example, and making it better, like frying it for example. Muppet’s Christmas Carol is the deep fried Oreo of Christmas movies. Michael Caine is delightful as Scrooge, and the songs stick with me for a good week after I watch the movie.

6. A Christmas Story (1983 dir. Bob Clark) – “You’ll put your eye out!” This movie is filled with quotable moments. I will concede, though, that I have only watched all the way through one time. Still, that one time left enough of an impression for the movie to be my number 6.

5. A Christmas Carol (1999 dir. David Hugh Jones) – When I was a kid the Public Radio station would play Stewart’s reading of A Christmas Carol ever Christmas eve. For a few years my family actually gathered around the radio and listened to it. That’s highly unusual for my family. We’re not really too big on the family time gather around stuff. So, this TV movie version starring Stewart will always have a special place, since it reminds me of sitting in the living room with my family with the radio on listening to the story.

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 dir. Chuck Jones and Ben Washam) – Boris Karloff reads and sings songs in this Chuck Jones directed adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ book. It’s got all kinds of good stuff going for it. Someday, I hope my heart will also grow three sizes.

3. Bad Santa (2003 dir. Terry Zwigoff) – Bad Santa is kind of an anti-Christmas movie, yet at the end it manages to still pull off being kind of sweet and endearing. A naive little boy actually teaches a truly vile man the “meaning of Christmas.” Plus Lauren Graham repeatedly panting “Fuck me Santa” fueled many a fantasy for me.

2. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946 dir. Frank Capra) – Y’know what? Shut up. I know this is an obvious choice, but there is a good reason for it. This is a really sweet and very well done film. Sure the bits about what life would be like without George and his subsequent joyous run home clutching Zuzu’s petals is nice, but my favorite part is George wooing Mary. The bit about roping the moon and pulling it down for her is really sweet and Jimmy Stewart is, as always, incredibly endearing.

1. A Christmas Carol (1951 dir. Brian Desmond Hurst) – Alistair Sim does the definitive version of Scrooge in this version of the classic Dickens tale. Sim’s portrayal of Scrooge has informed pretty much every other on-screen portrayal since. Patrick Stewart is one of my favorite actors, forget Trek and X-Men, he’s by far one of the best actors out there, and his version of Scrooge is the only time I would ever call one of his performances derivative. Not that that’s entirely bad, Sim’s Scrooge is delightfully spiteful at the film’s opening and absolutely heart-warming at the film’s close as the damn near boyish and giddy reformed Scrooge. It’s about as good as it get as far as A Christmas Carol and Christmas Movies go.

Let me tell you, coming up with 24 movies was a pain in the ass, so some of those may have been a bit of a stretch. I’m surely missing something you love or placed your favorite movie somewhere you think is wrong. Tell me so, that’s what comments are for.


One Comment

  1. Fantastic list 🙂

    So many of my favorites are in your list.

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  1. […] Uncle Sean reads his list of the top 24 Christmas movies of all time. […]

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