I know, I know. I’m not the first person to make a list of Christmas movies, and this won’t be the last one foisted upon you this year. I’m even sure I’ve done it, I’m just too lazy to go look. But parking myself in front of the TV is a big part of how I love to celebrate holidays.
I don’t expect that there are any big surprises here, but I hope this adds to your enjoyment of the holidays. I hope it enhances your holiday spirit.
Home Alone (1990)
If you haven’t seen Netflix’s The Movies That Made Us episode on this one, get thee to a screen. It sums up all my feelings about this movie. From the red and green set dressing to the Polka King of the Midwest, this one’s a gem.
Die Hard (1998)
Yes, it is. Christmas is no less at the center of this movie’s plot than your average Hallmark movie, so don’t come for me. A cop takes on a group of terrorists (led by actual sex god Alan Rickman) at his estranged wife’s Christmas party.
Bad Santa (2003)
I feel like if you haven’t already seen this one, it’s probably not for you. Two conmen dress up as a mall Santa and elf to rob stores on Christmas Eve. It’s definitely Rated R.
The Hebrew Hammer (2003)
A beloved Hanukkah classic (“It’s not even a high holiday!”) The evil son of Santa (played by Andy Dick, natch) is trying to destroy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in a plot to force everyone to celebrate Christmas. It’s ridiculous, but oddly delightful.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
The only tolerable adaptation of this work. I will not be taking questions at this time. Hyuck.
Is it a Christmas movie, or is it a Halloween movie? … yes. I emotionally kick in the door of fall with this one, but the plot stands firmly in Christmas Town territory.
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
An angel shows up to help a bishop find his way only to – oops – a little bit fall in love with dude’s wife. A lot of people find this one less charming than I do. The remake, The Preacher’s Wife, stars Denzel and Whitney Houston (directed by Penny Marshall, who I like to pretend was my surly great aunt).
I truly believe that when they sat down to make this one, they just made a list of their favorite elements of every iconic Christmas movie and found a way to add them to the mix. This movie is an absolute charm bomb with an incredible cast. Mr. Narwhal saying, “Bye Buddy, hope you find your dad!” probably runs through my mind at least once a week.
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Look, I have to put some respect on a hometown boy. The “Ernest” movies were very much a part of my childhood, so this is just a nostalgia pick for me.
Another nostalgia pick, and claymation to boot. We had this on VHS, so I’d watch it every year growing up. Angela Lansbury sounds like an actual angel.
I mean, duh? If you’re not in it for the heartwarming story, the fabulous style or Max, the Goodest Boy, you absolutely have to give it up for Boris freakin’ Karloff.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Classic rom com. James Stewart just… talking.
This movie manages to be hilarious without ever forgetting that it’s a Christmas movie. They managed to cram a lot of nostalgia into this can, and it’s a classic for the effort. But remember: being an adult means you suddenly find yourself sympathizing more and more with Todd and Margo.
The Family Stone (2005)
I love this movie. You love to hate Sarah Jessica Parker in this, but also you feel kinda bad for her, but then you hate her all over again. It’s got all the family feels without really getting too saccharine. It’s not exactly a comedy, not really a drama, but it’s good.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
I have a heart, don’t I?!
I am not prone to a lot of “so bad it’s awesome” viewing. But this is… otherworldly. It transcends “bad.” Yes, there’s a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 ep. I’m not prone to that, either, but yeah. You should.
If I had to pick one claymation Christmas movie for everyone to see, I would have a really hard time and probably have some sort of emotional crisis from which I would not recover for several days. But after a healing trip to Mexico, I think I would probably swing around to Rudolph. It’s got lots of charm and a whole freakin’ Bumble. It’s the claymation movie that started it all. And while some of the others have my favorite musical bits (come on… Heat Miser/Snow Miser?!) this one still brings the holiday cheer like nobody’s business. And that’s what it’s all really about.