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15 greatest Christmas films of all time

15 greatest Christmas films of all time

As John Lennon says in his song: “So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one has just begun, and so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun!…” It’s Christmas time, my friends! We have survived this uncertain time where the “new normal” changed our lives forever but, a thing the virus won’t take away: Christmas spirit and its tradition. It’s time to reunite our families and friends (of course following COVID-19 safety guidelines) at home, exchange presents around the tree, have a fantastic Christmas dinner (turkey, gravy sauce, potatoes, carrots and sprouts, desserts… yummy), Christmas crackers, and binge- watching classic Christmas films on TV. 

Have a look at my favourite Christmas films’ list I’ve created and remember some of the most popular and cult films of all time:  

15. The Polar Express (2004)

The film tells the story of a young boy Billy who begins to doubt the existence of Santa Claus, but on Christmas Eve, he sees a mysterious train bound for the North Pole stop outside his window and is invited aboard by its conductor. The boy joins several other children as they embark on a journey to visit Santa Claus preparing for Christmas. This is an adventure about friendship, courage and the Christmas spirit.

This computer-animated adventure film was co-written and directed by Robert Zemeckis, based on the 1985 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. The film features human characters animated using live-action motion capture animation. The film stars Tom HanksDaryl SabaraNona GayeJimmy Bennett and Eddie Deezen in supporting roles.

14. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The animation follows the saga of Jack Skellington, a fantastic being who lives in Halloween City, where everyone spends the year organising the celebration. One day, Jack gets tired of doing the same thing every single year and finds a portal that takes him to a different festival: Christmas. Then, he convinces the residents of Halloween Town to hold their own Christmas party. However, it will be necessary to kidnap Santa Claus.

It’s a 1993 American stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy film directed by Henry Selick and produced and conceived by Tim Burton.

13. Elf (2003)

Buddy was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa’s sack and ended up at the North Pole. Later, as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father, Walter Hobbs. Hobbs, on Santa’s naughty list for being a heartless jerk, had no idea that Buddy was even born. Buddy, meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City (and human culture) as only an elf can. When Walter’s relationship with Buddy interferes with his job, he is forced to reevaluate his priorities.

The film is a landmark in the United States, cementing Will Ferrell as a movie star. In addition, the film raised so much money that director Jon Favreau came into Marvel’s sights – they decided to give him the opportunity to direct his first major project: Iron Man. I mean, if it weren’t a Pixie in New York it is possible that the Marvel Universe would be quite different.

12. Jingle All The Way (1996)

Meet Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a salesman for a mattress company is constantly busy at his job, and he also constantly disappoints his son, Jamie, after he misses his son’s karate exposition, he tries hard to come up with a way to make it up to him. Jamie says he all he wants for Christmas is an action figure of television hero Turbo Man. Unfortunately for Howard, it is Christmas Eve, and every store is sold out of Turbo Man figures; now Howard must travel all over town and compete with everybody else including a mail man named Myron to find a Turbo Man action figure, and to make it to the Wintertainment Parade, which will feature Turbo Man.

11. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Another recommendation for this Christmas is “The Man Who Invented Christmas” that is available on YouTube. It was written by Susan Coyne, based on the book that bears the same name as Les Standiford, with the direction of Bharat Nalluri. Critics considered the film magical, with a soft, revisionary touch to a classic Christmas tale. In the year 1843, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens), who is a writer, is having a hard time supporting his family, as his last three books were a failure, he encounters a creative block and publishers start rejecting him. The film is about the process of creating one of his most famous work, in which he creates characters that are unforgettable and that changed Christmas forever since its creation.

10. Bad Santa (2003)

Not every Santa Claus is a good old man as we are used to seeing on television, some are quite the opposite, of what we created in our imagination since childhood. This is a comedy film, written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, and directed by Terry Zwigoff. The review gave the film a good rating, considering it a cheerfully offensive, good black comedy, but it is not suitable for all audiences.

In the story, we know a very different Santa Claus, because during the Christmas season, Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton), alongside Marcus (Tony Cox), works in department stores, as Santa and Leprechaun. Willie T. Stokes is a convicted con man who’s led a miserable life. He drinks heavily and constantly embarrasses himself publicly. He only works once a year dressed as Santa. But then come to Christmas Eve, he and his pint-sized helper dwarf Marcus stage elaborate robberies and take their department stores for everything they got. They’ve been doing the same thing for years, but now their plan is under threat: Willie is becoming more and more a Santa Claus who drinks and be gentle with the children. Due to the Santa Claus’ bad behaviour, the manager of the store in which they are working, Bob Chipeska (John Ritter), becomes suspicious of him and his partner.

9. Get Santa (2014)

Here it’s another comedy film about Christmas. The movie was written and directed by Christopher Smith and follows the story of Tom Anderson (Kit Connor), 9 years old who is a Christmas lover. He discovers that Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) is hiding in his garage because he had an accident and hit his sledge. Tom and his father decide to help Santa Claus to return home. However, things do not go as well as they have planned. The mission to return home goes out of control when Noel begins to be pursued by the police.

8. The Santa Clause (1994)

A publicist accidentally kills Santa Claus and, without having a choice, ends up taking the place of the Good Old Man. One of the biggest highlights of the feature starring Tim Allen is the transformation of the protagonist into Santa Claus – he starts to gain weight, beard and his hair begins to turn white.

The film was a hit in the 1990s and won two more sequels. Unfortunately, they failed to repeat the magic of the first.

7. Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

For the first time, Luther Krank (Tim Allen) and his wife Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) are about to celebrate the holidays without their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo), who has just left for the Peace Corps in Peru. Luther sees a Caribbean cruise poster in a Chicago travel agency window, and he begins to plan the trip. First, he must see how he will pay for the trip, so he comes up with an idea that if they skipped Christmas, they could go. He will save money by not buying a tree, having a party, or putting up decorations. The neighbours think he is crazy and they want him to at least put Frosty the Snowman on his roof for the local decoration contest. The battle begins between the Kranks and their neighbours. Then Blair calls and tells her parents that she is flying home for Christmas with her fiancée. They have twenty-four hours to put up all the decorations and prepare for the Christmas party.  

The movie was based on a John Grisham book, ‘Skipping Christmas’. 

6. Scrooged (1988)

Francis Xavier Cross is a cynical, mean spirited television executive, he treats his loyal assistant with contempt. He just sacked a member of staff on Christmas Eve for simply disagreeing with him, and he’s alienated himself from his brother who still insists on inviting Frank to Christmas dinner despite him refusing to go every year. However, Frank is forced to learn the true meaning of Christmas when he’s visited by three ghosts.

The movie, a spoof version and modernized adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, was released 145 years after Dickens’ source novella had been published.

5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

It’s Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark’s continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon. 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the third sequel of  National Lampoon magazine‘s Vacation film series. Christmas Vacation was written by John Hughes, who based it on “Christmas ’59”, his short story published in National Lampoon. The film stars Chevy ChaseBeverly D’Angelo, and Randy Quaid.

4. Love Actually (2003)

Christmas is a time of love and it spreads everywhere, melting the coldest hearts and thus allowing people to be more tolerant and even forgive some mistakes made during the year, it is the famous “Magic Christmas! ”.

In “Love Actually”, we have a romantic comedy written and directed by Richard Curtis which follows ten different stories of love that they are connected in any way. Among the narratives presented, we see Manoel Golden (Hugh Grant) who has just been appointed British Prime Minister and ends up falling in love with his employee. We also met Sarah (Laura Linney), who, by dedicating her life and routine to her brother, ends up complicating her love life. There are several stories presented here, as well as that of Harry (Alan Rickman), who is married but is increasingly interested in his secretary. Love lives in romantic London blend together on a beautiful Christmas night.

3. Christmas Chronicles (2018)

If you are looking for a film that reminds us of the good old magic of Christmas, which brings out all those good feelings that this date sends us, surely this film will serve your purposes. The “Christmas Chronicles” is a comedy, written by Matt Lieberman and directed by Clay Kaytis. This is one of those films that makes the whole family entertain in front of the TV and have a good laugh. 

The plot tells us about the adventures of two siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) that they have the intention of catching Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and it ends up jeopardizing the gifts of children around the world. In the middle of the bust, the two try to film Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) more closely and they get into his sledge, causing an accident that ends up damaging the vehicle. Now the two will have to join Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) in a race against time to save Christmas.

If you fell in love with the premise of this story, you can check it out on Netflix. It is also worth mentioning that Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, is also already available on Netflix streaming. It debuted on 25 November 2020.

2. How the Grinch stole Christmas (2000)

The story of Grinch is a classic, especially after its feature film released in 2000, starring Jim Carrey as Grinch, actually the most famous version of it. In 2018, the story came back in 3D animation, produced by Illumination Entertainment. Grinch is based on the story of the children’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” published in 1957, by Dr Seuss. 

For those who still do not know the famous Grinch, he is a green being, who does not support Christmas in any way and every year, he needs to swallow, that the residents of Whoville celebrate the date with great joy and festivities. So, he plans to invade his neighbours’ house and destroy everything related to Christmas, with the intention of ending the festive date.    

1. Home Alone (1990)

The director Chris Columbus, with a screenplay by John Hughes, gave Macaulay Culkin the best role of his career in this comedy that a large family travels and, in the midst of the confusion of the game, they leave behind the youngest son. Kevin, an 8-year-old troublemaker, on his own, at home – where nothing is missing and what is missing can be ordered over the phone thanks to a credit card that has been forgotten -, keeps making the best of the situation, until the most stupid and clumsy burglars in the hemisphere, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, thinking the house is empty, decide to rob it. They didn’t know what they were going to get into … sequel New York

1. Home Alone has become the biggest Christmas movie hit since it was released in 1990. It’s the most remembered Christmas movies during this holiday. It has a sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York that was a tremendous success as well. 

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I am a script and creative writer, journalist, producer, and marketing content developer with over 9 years of experience in Media (TV / Film Production), Communication, Journalism and Marketing. I worked for companies such as MTV, Animal Planet, Band, Discovery and, Fremantle Media. I am from Brazil, but I've been living in Dublin, Ireland, since 2017. I am also maniac for entertainment and pop culture.
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