It’s that time of year! The weather gets a little colder but our hearts grow a little warmer as the festivities of the season begin. One of our cherished traditions here at the Movieclips Blog is that of watching our most beloved holiday-themed movies. What better way to express that joy than with a review of some of our favorites? Blog contributors, Fraisia Logan and Sheldon Price share their thoughts on this Top Ten Christmas Films list, agreed upon by the Movieclips bloggers, along with a little help from fellow blogger Alex Barker.
1 – Lump of Coal, 2 – You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, 3 – 3 so-so French Hens , 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings, 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy
10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Fraisia: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings Such a classic! There are quite a few on this list. The Grinch is yet another Christmas film I grew up with. There was no shortage of Christmas movies in my house as a kid (and still isn’t!). The Grinch goes hand in hand with A Charlie Brown Christmas for me, even though I saw The Grinch first. It’s just one of those vintage animated Christmas favorites that always puts me in the holiday spirit.
Sheldon: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings. You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch. And that’s exactly why I love you. Now, the live-action Grinch movie starring Jim Carrey is decent, but only because Carrey crushes it as the Grinch. The rest of that movie is missing the heart and the fun of this original animated one. Yes, it’s only half an hour long, but that’s all that this movie needs. The art feels like what would happen if Dr. Seuss came to life, and the songs are a welcome addition that mesh into the world and advance the plot at the same time. Max with an antler on his head and the Grinch’s creepy smile will always be etched forever in my mind. The narration is phenomenal as well. I think it’s hard for any narrator to speak in rhyme without distracting from the action, but Boris Karloff nails it.
9. Home Alone (1990)
Fraisia: 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy There is so much that is great about Home Alone that a small little blurb definitely wouldn’t do it justice. All I’ll say is that it is still one of the most fun, action-packed, exciting, and surprisingly sweet Christmas movies out there. I watch Home Alone multiple times every year and it’s just as enjoyable and fun as the first time I saw it. I will adore this movie forever.
Sheldon: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than watching two jerks get what’s coming to them. Every time I watch this movie, I notice something different. That’s the mark of a good film in my mind. Also, as I age, I see things in a different light than when I was a child. I now see the true danger of a little boy being abandoned by his family, and the horror of two criminals that could potentially kill this kid, instead of simply loving how creative Kevin is at keeping the baddies at bay. One of the great things that this film does is work with foreshadowing in a subtle way. All of the defenses Kevin puts up have shown up earlier in the movie, and when he finally meets the creepy man across the street, it’s a nice surprise to find that he’s a kind human being.
8. The Santa Clause (1994)
Fraisia: 2 – You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out I kind of can’t stand this movie. I know I’m probably in the minority here but I find this film to be kind of dumb. I didn’t grow up with it and have only seen it in parts, never in one sitting, so I’m sure I’m biased. I know people that love this movie but I don’t get it. It’s just not for me. Also, the nostalgia factor, is something that drives my love for almost all Christmas movies (as well as a lot of regular movies) and since this isn’t a movie I grew up with, I tend to pass over it for something more familiar.
Sheldon: 3 – So-So French Hens. This movie may not hold up that well, but it’s a fun, harmless Christmas movie with a great twist. Holy cow is this a great concept for a movie. Santa has a dangerous job after all, so it’s good to know that there’s a way to replace him should an accident occur. It’s fun to see Tim Allen as Santa, and the holiday gags will evoke a chuckle but they’re quickly forgettable. And sure, the plot is a bit cheesy and contrived, but it’s heartwarming enough for me to forgive that. Plus, the set design for the North Pole is phenomenal; it’s what I usually picture when thinking about the location. At the end, like the best of Christmas movies, Tim Allen discovers the true spirit of Christmas. Spoiler alert – we should all just love and be nice to each other.
Alex: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings This film, starring Tim Allen, gives an interesting perspective to the history of Santa Clause – what if it the role of Santa was a job? Tim Allen plays a successful toy executive Scott Calvin, who is bequeathed the job of Santa, a person he long ago quit believing in. Through his son Charlie, Scott begins to better understand the importance of believing in the Christmas spirit, and the importance of what Santa means to those around the world. My number 2 for Tim Allen films (second only to Toy Story), it is filled with a magical sense of Christmas charm, and was produced during the heyday of Tim Allen’s “Tim the Tool Man” popularity.
7. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Fraisia: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings I’ve grown up with A Charlie Brown Christmas since I was a young lass. This is my favorite animated classic. You’d never guess that it debuted in 1965 which speaks to it’s timeless quality. My favorite part has always been the famous dance scene to the song Linus and Lucy, which has also become a Christmas favorite in it’s own right. This movie is so sweet and you can’t help but feel for little Charlie Brown who just wants to be joyful on Christmas. The movie reminds you to find joy in the little things like when Charlie Brown finds the small sapling tree and decides to care for it. It’s such a heartwarming film that always makes me happy.
Sheldon: 3 – So-So French Hens. The image of Charlie’s sad little Christmas tree is exactly how I feel about this movie. The intention behind it is there, and that’s beautiful, even if the entire product is pretty shoddy. I’m not sure why these movies are as popular as they are. It must have something to do with the nostalgia of Charlie Brown comic strips combined with the accurate depiction of suburban life. I don’t dislike this movie, but I don’t love it either. It has a really solid message to fight back against materialism, which especially applies in this day and age. However, when Charlie starts moping about and trying to discover the true meaning of Christmas, this film really starts to drag.
6. Love Actually (2003)
Fraisia: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings Love Actually is easily my favorite Christmas Rom-Com. I do also love The Family Stone and The Holiday which I felt needed at least a mention on this list. Love Actually even with all it’s cheesy rom-com nuances still gets me everytime. This movie is cute, sweet, heartwarming, funny, corny, and most of all, memorable. While Love Actually is a film one can watch year ‘round, I think it’s most relatable at Christmas time. It’s the film that started the multiple characters all intertwined in one storyline trend that films like Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting all tried to emulate but failed miserably. Nothing can top the warm and fuzziness that is Love Actually.
Sheldon: 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy. If you don’t tear up when Colin Firth professes his love to a woman that doesn’t speak the same language as him, you don’t have a soul. Not only is this one of my favorite Christmas movies, it’s also one of my favorite all-time movies. I personally believe that the best Christmas movies aren’t the ones that focus solely on the holiday but simply use it as a timepiece. We get the feeling of Christmas from the characters, and you see how it affects each of them differently. Each storyline is so captivating that it’s hard to choose which couple is my favorite, which is exactly what makes this movie so great. Plus this movie has EVERYONE in it. Snape cheats on Nanny McPhee, Liam Neeson has a son that doesn’t get kidnapped, Rick from The Walking Dead shaved and fell in love with Keira Knightly, Martin Freeman shows his butt, what more could you possibly want?
5. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Sheldon: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings. Michael Caine plays Scrooge! That alone deserves at least a 3, and the songs boost it up to a 4. They’re Marley and Marley, ooooooooooo! I’ve got a soft spot for the Muppets. They can do almost no wrong in my eyes, and this movie is no exception. While not as good of a literary adaption as Muppet Treasure Island, The Muppet Christmas Carol is quite good. Most iterations of A Christmas Carol can drag on. After all, it’s a bit of a weak plot that depends on three different ghosts to slap Scrooge in the face with dreams until he’s not grumpy anymore. But watching the Muppet version of movies is like watching the best community theatre you’ve ever seen. The play isn’t the same as you remember, but you absolutely love watching people (muppets) you know play roles they were born for, and you don’t mind at all that it’s been made into a musical with addicting songs.
Alex: 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy Never before have brightly-colored cloth and stuffing carried such heart and inspiration. Adapted brilliantly from Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas story, the first Muppet film produced after the death of their creator Jim Henson is a lovingly done ode to the beauty that is life. Michael Caine leads an all star cast – Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Rizzo the Rat (he’s there for the food), and Gonzo the Great and Charles Dickens himself. One of the best Christmas films in the past 3 decades, and my personal favorite film adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Michael Cain’s performance as Scrooge is as fun as it is heartbreaking, and seeing him interact with the Muppets in Dickensian attire is an irrepressible joy.
4. Elf (2003)
Fraisia: 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy Elf takes the cake as my favorite recent Christmas comedy. I love a good quotable funny movie and Elf nails it on the head. Throw in Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel (with that voice!) and you’ve got yourself one hell of a funny and endearing Christmas movie. Some of my favorite quotes include: “You sit on a throne of LIES!”, “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.”, and of course, ”The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”. Elf is a Christmas movie that brings out the kid in all of us and reminds us that the holidays are a time to spend with the people that we love the most.
Sheldon: 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy. “The best way to send Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” This is probably the most quotable Christmas movie out there. It plays on our knowledge of Christmas folklore, and puts a unique spin on it. This was right when Will Ferrell was at his best, and it shows. Every line he says evokes a chuckle, no matter how farfetched the joke might be (He’s an elf! They might put syrup on everything, I’ve never met one). Elf rocks an all-star cast, and helped launch the careers of Peter Dinklage and Zooey Deschanel, which I am extremely grateful for.
3. Christmas Vacation (1989)
Fraisia: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings Who doesn’t love Christmas Vacation? This movie is one of the best Christmas movies of the 80s with none other than Chevy Chase headlining as the hostess with the mostess. I think everyone can relate to the pressure that comes with Christmas. Who has the best decorations? Who is giving the best gifts? Who is the favorite family member? It’s madness! Watching poor Clark try so hard to give his family the best Christmas ever is painful at times but mostly sweet and hilarious. Christmas Vacation is such a wonderful testament to the chaos that comes with the holiday season and is relatable on so many levels.
Sheldon: 4 – Clarence Gets His Wings. Clark Griswold’s tirade when he thought he was going to get his raise is one of the best acting performances in a comedy I’ve ever seen. Now here’s a Christmas movie that’s timelessly funny. I love anything that John Hughes writes, and any movie where Chevy Chase does physical comedy. The schadenfreude runs rampant in this film, from the lights failing to the squirrel in the house. This movie tricks you into thinking it’s just going to be hysterical; it is a National Lampoon film, after all. But it’s surprisingly heartwarming. You see a bit of your family in each of the characters and their follies, and you realize that Christmas is just about being with your family, no matter how terrible it could be at the moment.
2. A Christmas Story (1983)
Fraisia: 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy A Christmas Story is my personal all time favorite Christmas movie. It wins the nostalgia factor for me. I’ve been watching this film since birth and it has become a Christmas standard in my family. While others might find the Christmas Day 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story on TBS annoying, my family always appreciates it and finds it heartwarming and nostalgic. It brings us together, as cheesy as it sounds. With classic lines like, “You’ll shoot your eye out kid!” and “FRA-GEEL-A…it must be Italian.”, A Christmas Story will always be the vintage Christmas comedy that brings back the best holiday memories of my childhood.
Sheldon: 1 – Lump of coal. Here’s hoping I can take a nap every time my family inevitably switches to it during the holidays. I’ll be honest, I loathe this movie. A lot of that hate derives from tv stations playing it nonstop around Christmas time but not all of it. I just don’t believe that this is a good movie whatsoever. I cringe every time I hear the bizarre voiceover that’s trying too hard to be childlike. There are a couple of redeeming moments: the visit to Santa, the child getting his tongue stuck to a pole, and the father’s leg lamp but that’s about it. It’s not humorous at all, and the plot is forgettable. He wants a BB gun. He gets one. Whoopee.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Fraisia: 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy Talk about a classic. I think it’s safe to say that. It’s a Wonderful Life is the classic film to end all classic films (okay that might be a stretch but, humor me). This is one of the most heartwarming films I’ve ever seen. Jimmy Stewart is the perfect George Bailey, full of life and spunk. So happy to just be alive. I absolutely love the dynamics and characterization of this film. It’s a Wonderful Life continues to be a worldwide favorite that truly stands the test of time.
Alex: 5 – Bing Crosby Singing and Dancing with Danny Kaye Level of Happy This film is not just a great Christmas tale – it is a moving, soul-stirring story that exults the value in each and every one of us. Frank Capra’s classic was deemed too dark when it’s less than successful theater run opened in 1946. Now, it is one of the best-loved American stories in the past century. For good reason too. George Bailey’s struggles become our own, and in his triumphs we cheer. When the credits roll, you too will believe in the value of a human soul, with each of us playing a part in this wonderful life. My favorite Christmas film, and my favorite film that I have ever seen.