The Christmas season is upon us folks, and with it comes those beautiful films glittering with snow, trees, and holiday cheer. That’s right, holiday movies have taken over and I am here to help you navigate those frigid waters! I will use a rating of jolly Santas: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 with 1 meaning don’t waste your time, and 5 meaning rent, stream, torrent, or VHS immediately. Here is a comprehensive list of some of the best and worst of this holiday’s flicks in no particular order. Hope you enjoy!
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This movie is possibly one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life-ever. The dynamics of George Bailey’s character are so intricate and so tangible that it’s hard not to relate to him. Who hasn’t felt so at the end of their rope that they just want to give up? Who hasn’t been spinning so many plates in the air that at any moment they’ll just come crashing down and you feel that everyone will blame you? This is absolutely my favorite Jimmy Stewart performance, and I have many. The fact that God sends in an angel with a few “marks” on his record proves humorous, but also makes you want to root for George even more. His angel, Clarence, the goof that he is, is genuine and kind, and wants him to succeed and you do too. This one is at the top of my list for a reason.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (Ring those bells! Give those angels wings!)
- White Christmas (1954)
With co-stars like Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, what’s not to love? There are beautiful dresses, amazing dance numbers and catchy songs. There are also cigarettes and cigars in almost every scene, but what are ya gonna do? Christmas joy mixed with a true romance story that those folks at Hallmark could only dream of writing, this one is absolutely classic. I love it. It’s a great one to cuddle up with your dog (or I guess significant other, if you have one of those) on the couch with and watch with hot cocoa.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (Classically wonderful)
- Home Alone (1990)
I remember seeing this when I was about seven in the theaters in Tulsa, OK. I loved it. It did everything it was supposed to for a child of my age. Freaked me out when the parents left, made me think of how cool it would be to actually be home alone. Made me think of how horrible it would be to actually be home alone. I believed Joe Pesci was evil for about 10 years. Good stuff. The excitement for this movie hasn’t changed much. I still love it, I just ask different questions, like, “Where’s the mess he made while booby trapping the house?”, “Where are all his neighbors?”, “Did his parents really have NO friends to check on their kid?” Ah, who cares anyway, right? Movie magic.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.)
- Gremlins (1984)
I hear you now, “Shelley! This is ridiculous! This is not a Christmas movie!” Look, it’s Christmas time in the movie, they’re drinking eggnog, there’s snow on the ground. The Gremlin is a CHRISTMAS GIFT! Is it a cuddly-feel-good movie? Well, depends on who you are, I guess. 💁♀️ It’s a great 80’s flick and will caution you to listen to directions! You really shouldn’t feed your pets after midnight…
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅 (It is a bit bloody for Christmas, I have to admit)
- Die Hard (1988)
Look, I included it. Give me that.
Rating: 🎅 (Alan Rickman is the only good thing about this movie.)
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
This one battled with the first one for me for top place for quite a while throughout my childhood due to the fact that it was just so much fun. He got to hide in a toy store! He got to eat gobs of ice cream! He got to hang out in NYC! However, the older I got, the more sympathy I felt for Kevin. Sure, he’s a turd, but that’s no reason to keep leaving him places. Get him a leash.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅 (Watch your kid! Just because you’re rich, this doesn’t give you a free pass to let you lose your annoying child.)
- The Santa Clause (1994)
I remember seeing this as a kid and thinking this was the funniest thing to hit theaters since Home Alone 2. A. Tim Allen was fat and that was funny. 2. Tim Allen was hilarious. 3. I guess I just loved Tim Allen. Anyhow, this movie is great. It offers skeptics their much needed “evidence”, kids their magic, and families laughs all around. Plus, Tim Allen in his prime!
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅 (I rated it a 4 for the cheese factor)
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
This is a beautiful film, a true classic. It shows how some people can be mean, but how true Christmas spirit shines through and how humanity can come through for people in the roughest of times. We could all stand to watch this right now I think!
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (all the feels)
- A Christmas Carol (2009)
Yes, the CGI is a tad bit creepy. Yes Jim Carrey plays “serious” roles throughout. Yes it’s Disney, but listen, it’s good. The reason it’s so good is because it sticks so closely to the book. The language, the dress, even the silent parts. I LOVE A Christmas Carol, probably because I love ghost stories so much, and Dickens nails this one. It really is a creepy tale and it really hits you in the gut. Get past the fact that it’s animated and watch it for what it is, a really good story.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅 (a 4 due to the creepy CGI in some parts, excellently done, though)
- A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
We know I love the story. Add Muppets and it’s that much better, but maybe not as heavy. Plus, the ineffable Michael Caine.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅 (Though I love this movie, it is the Muppets doing A Christmas Carol. It’s not Shakespeare.)
- Scrooged (1988)
Now here is a take on the tale that you can’t help but love. I’ve never seen a better take on Scrooge than TV exec Frank Cross. This movie is like if A Christmas Carol met Ghostbusters and they had a baby…but on Christmas.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (Can’t go wrong with Bill Murray)
- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Who loves traveling over the holidays? Who loves traveling with a loud, snoring, cuddly shower-curtain ring salesman? Not Steve Martin. But when your family is relying on you, you gotta do what you gotta do! I rank this one up with Christmas Vacation and Home Alone as far as humor and awkwardness goes. If you haven’t seen it, please give it a watch! SO FUNNY.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (R.I.P. John Candy)
- Frosty the Snowman (1969)
Yup, that sums it up.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅 (a little corny and dated, but still fun)
- Elf (2003)
I don’t HAVE a favorite part of this movie because there are TOO many favorite parts to have. It’s the most quotable movie ever (besides The Big Lebowski) in my book and I watch it year round. I once made my friends watch this on my birthday and my birthday is in August. This is Will Ferrell in his prime: dressed as an elf, parading around in tights. It simply gets no better than this. If you disagree with me, I’ll call you a son of a nutcracker.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (I rank this up there with It’s a Wonderful Life)
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
I had high hopes for this one because I really like Jim Carrey and I really like the original cartoon. My hopes were kind of crushed though, because it just wasn’t that great in my opinion. It was funny, yes, and ticked off all the boxes, but it just wasn’t amazing. I don’t know what I was expecting. Not Jim Carrey’s fluffy green butt, I guess. There are some good one-liners, yes, but overall, just not my cup of tea.
Rating: 🎅🎅 (Meh. I feel the same way about the “Where are you Christmas?” Song that came from it. Meh.)
- A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
This is just a good ol’ classic feel great flick. This is something you and the fam can watch while the ham is in the oven and you’re munching on cheese ball or whatever. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If you want to tell me otherwise, I will say you have no soul.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅 (It’s a classic. I love it, though Peanuts admittedly aren’t my favorite, it’s still great.)
- Batman Returns (1992)
I have Die Hard and Gremlins on here and you think I’m not gonna put up Batman Returns? It’s set at a Christmas party!! Catwoman is luring him in under mistletoe! Penguin is all icy! Granted, it’s not as heartwarming as last one on this list, it’s still fun to watch at Christmas-time! As an added bonus it is a good Batman too, you know, a Tim Burton one with Michael Keaton, before the series was destroyed by Val Kilmer and George Clooney.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅 (For a Christmas, feel good movie, probably not your best choice.)
- Christmas With the Kranks (2004)
You know the classic story: daughter goes out of town and leaves her parents empty nesters, so they decide to go on a cruise, but wait, she is actually coming home! She expects ALL the Christmas trimmings to show her new boyfriend!!! (Brat) SO, instead of telling her no, said parents rush to have Christmas put together in a week. Not any Christmas, the Christmas of a lifetime. Hilarity ensues. So do botox and spray tans. I love Tim Allen in Christmas movies apparently.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅 (Go easy on that Botox, please)
- Jingle All the Way (1996)
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad attack and race each other for a “turbo man” action figure for 90 min. It’s basically an all male version of black friday.
Rating: 🎅 (Maybe Arnie should stick to weights.)
- Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
“‘Twas a long time ago, longer now than it seems in a place perhaps you’ve seen in your dreams. For the story you’re about to be told began with the holiday worlds of auld. Now you’ve probably wondered where holidays come from. If you haven’t I’d say it’s time you begun.”
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (all the yeses)
- The Polar Express (2004)
This was one of those movies I was skeptical about due to the fact that it was based off a 32 page GORGEOUS Chris Van Allsburg book that is just an absolute classic and I didn’t want to see it ruined. When I saw the previews, however, I was floored. Then, I saw it in the Omni theater…in 3D. That did it. The fact that Tom Hanks was everyone was a little off-putting to me for some reason, I don’t know why. I still love it though. Excellent message. Could have done without the creepy clown puppets though!
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅 (Tom Hanks is the best)
- The Holiday (2006)
Now, nobody would accuse me of being too romantic, but this movie just gets me. I love all the actors associated with it, the plotline, and the way it’s executed. If I were Cameron Diaz and just wanted to relax in a cozy English cottage and wound up finding Jude Law, I honestly don’t know what I’d do. Cry probably. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Kate Winslet or Jack Black in my book. Ever.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅 (I want to swap houses and meet the love of my life.)
- Any Hallmark Christmas Movie Ever
Unqualified, yet successful girl who has a handsome boyfriend somehow finds herself in a small town for some reason (probably to promote a festival of some sort for said job) only to meet *gasp* another really handsome dude. The two either don’t like each other initially or have immediate chemistry. She drinks a lot of cocoa, ponders her life choices in the snow, bakes cookies with a perfectly placed girlfriend and there are snowball fights, near kisses and walks among christmas lights. Trees are trimmed, carols are sung and cookies are decorated. There is always a food drive or some charitable event and guess what? She ends up with the right guy. My eyes are rolling so far back in my head I can see my brain.
Rating: 🎅 (Save yourself, please.)
- Love Actually (2003)
This is one of my top three favorites. The stories are rich with love and life. They are real, raw, and pure. You can see how they could actually happen and you root for the characters. You hurt for them, and you want them to succeed to find love. This is another Christmas movie I would watch year round. It’s just so real. The way each tale is interwoven into the next is seamless and you can’t help but keep watching. It’s gorgeous. Plus, all the celebrities! It’s like a Harry Potter dating pool.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (LOVE REALLY IS ALL AROUND, PEOPLE)
- Christmas Vacation (1989)
This reminds me of my Daddy. We had a big blazing Texas on our roof with a blinking star where Midland was with “Merry Texas Christmas Y’all” out to the side amongst all the other lights that lined the house and trees. Clark Griswold was his muse. Thankfully he was only his muse as far as Christmas lights went. We watched this movie so many times and it never, ever gets old. I still die laughing after his “Where’s the tylenol?” rant and whenever cousin Eddie shows up.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (Here’s to all of you with cousin Eddie’s)
- A Christmas Story (1983)
Absolutely one of the best. Just watch it. I have no words except, drink your ovaltine, don’t say fudge, keep your tongues away from frozen poles and keep your cooked turkeys away from the neighbor’s dogs.
Rating: 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅 (I hope you get your Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, whatever that may be.)
I hope you enjoyed my list of movies and that you find it somewhat helpful this Christmas season. I had to pare it down from a greater list that included greats like Four Christmases and Earl Saves Christmas, but you can find those and make your own decisions! Happy watching!!