Top 10 Christmas Movies

Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I share something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life.

Last night, I did something I’d never done: I watched A Christmas Story (1983). Yep, the movie where Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

Since its release, I’ve had numerous people tell me that it’s a must-see, a classic! Yet somehow I managed to make it 30 years without seeing A Christmas Story. And now, here’s my summary of the experience:

Didn’t like it.

Before you start throwing tomatoes and insisting I get my head checked: (1) I’m thrilled others enjoyed it. Hey, different strokes for different folks, right? (2) I was not alone, as my whole family was unimpressed.

But that got me to thinking about people’s favorite Christmas movies — how they run the gamut from sweet tales to quirky comedy to action-packed. Below is my Top 10 list, and hope you’ll share your favorites in the comments.

10. Die Hard (1988). Hostage-taking at the office Christmas party isn’t a typical holiday theme. Yet this film does not disappoint with its action-packed story of New York cop John McClane fending off terrorists to save his estranged wife and her coworkers — through smart strategy and sheer grit. And like any good Christmas story, the naughty get their “lumps of coal” in the end.

9. The Santa Clause (1994). I was prepared not to like this movie, since Tim Allen seems to fare better on television than film. But for me, this was a winsome tale of a man stuck with the unenviable job of substituting for Santa. In the process, he learns a lot about his family and himself.

8. Gremlins (1984). Released just one year after A Christmas Story, I definitely caught this one on screen when it came out and at least twice since. A teenage son gets an unusual Christmas present from his father, a “gremlin,” along with three instructions for its care: Don’t expose the gremlin to bright light, don’t get it wet, and never, ever feed it after midnight. All three rules eventually get broken, and chaos ensues. The film is less scary than fun, but a classic in my book.

7. White Christmas (1954). I’m a sucker for musicals. While I also love Holiday Inn (1942), this musical seems to address Christmas more specifically. Also, I have a real fondness for Danny Kaye and adore hearing Rosemary Clooney sing. What’s the plot? Song-and-dance men, sister act, they get together, blah, blah. Really, it’s not so much the story as the engaging characters and the wonderful music.

6. The Family Man (2000). Single and successful Jack Campbell wakes up on Christmas morning to find himself married with children. It’s the classic alternate-timeline story, where Jack gets to see what his life would have been if he’d made different decisions along the way. Starring Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni, this film is a heartwarming tale about what really matters.

5. The Shop Around the Corner (1940). Haven’t heard of The Shop Around the Corner? Sure, you have. It was called You’ve Got Mail (1998) — in the popular, updated remake. The original stars Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as gift shop employees who can’t stand one another at work, but fall in love as pen pals. The twosome get together during the Christmas holidays.

4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947). Miracle on 34th Street is the quintessential Christmas movie. Doris Walker needs a Santa to fill in for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and recruits a man who calls himself Kris Kringle. Walker thinks the whole Santa deal is a lot of hooey and won’t allow her daughter Susan to believe such nonsense. But when Kris Kringle claims to the be the real Santa Claus, Walker must decide what she really believes about Christmas.

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). From the interesting mind of Tim Burton comes an animated Christmas movie unlike any other I’ve seen. I loved it! Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, is tired of being all about his holiday and decides to hijack Christmas instead. He’s sure he can pull it off and enlists the help of other Halloweentown residents, but Christmas isn’t quite the same that year.

2. While You Were Sleeping (1995). Lucy is tired of being alone, even on holidays. Unbeknownst to him, she’s in love with one of her toll booth customers. When he slips into a coma, she’s mistaken for his fiancée and welcomed with open arms into his family and their holiday plans. But there’s this brother . . . Anyway, the story unfolds all around Christmastime, and Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullham are the couple to root for throughout.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Yes, I know it’s cliché, but I don’t care. There’s a reason this film tops many Christmas movie lists — because it’s terrific. With the help of an angel, George Bailey gets his Christmas Eve wish: to have never been born. When he gets a glimpse of life in Bedford Falls without him, George realizes how great his life really is and how much he wants to live it. I’ve watched this movie more times than I can count and smile like a dope every single time that bell ornament rings because the angel got his wings.

To be fair about my list, I’ve never seen National Lampoon: Christmas Vacation, Elf, Polar Express, Love Actually, Home Alone, Scrooged, or Bad Santa. And I’m sure there are a few others I’ve missed.

Now for my second-to-last update for A Round of Words in 80 Days.

ROW80 Update

1. Finish YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, by completing three chapters each week. In my final update next week, I’ll be focusing on my progress, not banging myself over the head for not getting this one done. There are reasons — some even good reasons — why this hasn’t happened.

2. Take Short Stories 101 course from Young Adult RWA. Took the course, wrote two short stories, and now in the midst of a third. I’ll be self-publishing these young adult paranormal stories in 2014.

3. 10 1 1/2 fiction books and 2 -1 nonfiction books. I’m halfway through Linger by Maggie Stiefvalter, the second in her Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

How is your holiday season going? What have you accomplished lately? And what are your favorite Christmas movies?

37 thoughts on “Top 10 Christmas Movies

  1. Favorite Christmas movie hands down is Friday After Next. It never gets old. The Ref, Bad Santa, and Better off Dead are in my top ten. I keep intending to watch A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas but haven’t yet. I like to see something funny, edgy and irreverent. As I mentioned on Facebook, I watch Less Than Zero on the years I’m depressed at Christmas.

    My husband is just the opposite. He likes to see feel good movies that evoke the traditional Christmas spirit. He watches It’s a Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause, Jingle All The Way every year without fail. And we watch A Christmas Story together. I went to see that at one at the movie theater. So I’ve been watching it every year for 30 years.

    I wish Netflix had The Shop Around the Corner! I’d so much rather watch that than whatever Christmas movie he’s picked out for us tonight.

    1. I didn’t know that Friday After Next was part of a series! I just looked it up again. It’s tough when you and your family members don’t agree on what to watch! I’d love to watch White Christmas, but I’d probably sooner get them to dance an Irish jig for my Christmas gift than watch a 40s musical with me! LOL.

      Hope you enjoy tonight’s movie choice after all, Catie! Thanks.

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like A Christmas Story. I couldn’t even get through it. White Christmas is my favorite, but I’m very fond of The Santa Clause, too. The Nightmare Before Christmas is also right up there. I’ve seen Die Hard on everyone’s list this year, I guess I didn’t realize it was a Christmas movie.

  3. OMG, I absolutely HATE A Christmas Story. It’s an entire movie about verbal abuse. I cannot FATHOM why they feel compelled to run it ALL FLIPPING DAY on Christmas Day. White Christmas and While You Were Sleeping are two of my very favorites.

  4. I favor many of your Christmas Movies. I love Jimmy Stewart in his prime and will have to seek out The Shop Around the Corner. Good luck with getting your WIP finished. I had mine stall this year alos, but I am determined to make it a top priority with the new year reboot.

    1. Hope you enjoy The Shop Around the Corner. I don’t know where to find it, since I watched the movie by renting the video from a store many moons ago. Surely, it’s out there somewhere since it’s such a good movie!

      Best wishes with the New Year reboot, Joe!

  5. I like quite a few of your Christmas movies, too! I’ve never had even a minute urge to see A Christmas Story and your opinion seals it for me. I’ve also never liked Love, Actually (Was turned off by the cheating portion of the story, among other things).
    Here are 10 of my favorites in no particular order:
    10. The Ref (Kevin Spacey AND Dennis Leary? Hilariously irreverent)
    9. The Holiday
    8. Better Off Dead (I want my two dollars!)
    7. Home Alone (What can I say? A lot of that was filmed in my home town.)
    6. Die Hard
    5. Trading Places
    4. It’s A Wonderful Life
    3. Lethal Weapon
    2. The Sound Of Music
    1. White Christmas

    1. Better Off Dead is a Xmas movie? I need to see that! Oh, and Trading Places was marvelous! I’ve also never seen Lethal Weapon — any of them. I don’t know why…

      The Sound of Music is a classic as well. Great choices, Kitt!

      And we watched Love Actually tonight. My opinion? I liked it, but I loved some storylines and felt meh or negative about others.

      1. I think you hit the nail on the head with your storyline explanation of Love Actually. For me, the 1 or 2 story lines I liked were not enough to combat the rest that I was either ambivalent to, or hated.

  6. Nice selection, Julie, It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite, Miracle on 34th st (original with Maureen O’Hara) and The Bells of St, Mary’s (with Big Crosby) though it’s not really a Christmas story, it used to be shown around that time, come in second and third.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Julie!

  7. I cannot believe you left out the kid-friendly ones: Elf and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Boris Karloff version…never seen the Jim Carey one). Elf is the BOMB. 🙂

    1. I’ve never seen Elf, and I purposefully didn’t include shorter shows in my list — just movies. Otherwise, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (of course, the Boris Karloff version!) and A Charlie Brown Christmas would have topped the list! 🙂

      Now I guess I must see Elf, Jenny! Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. I have seen The Christmas Story and I get that it’s a classic, but it’s not one I feel the need to see over and over again. Now, that said, I do have to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation each year for a good laugh. And Bad Santa (it’s a raunchy/dark comedy). And you know me–I need a slasher, so I like to watch 2006’s Black Christmas. 🙂

    1. I haven’t even heard of Black Christmas, Tiffany! There are Christmas slasher movies? Guess I’m out of that loop. LOL.

      I’m surprised that I haven’t seen Christmas Vacation, because I love Chevy Chase. Fletch is one of my favorite comedies. I must see that! Thanks.

  9. I’ve seen bits and pieces of A Christmas Story – it’s not for me. Love Miracle (the original and the one with the little girl from Matilda and Mrs.Doubtfire). My kids loved both. I loved You’ve Got Mail, and plan to get around to Shop Around the Corner. The Santa Clause was a favorite here when my son was 4-7 or so.

    I’ve seen Die Hard once. I’m not a huge Bruce Willis fan, but I accidentally met him once, when I was waitressing at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone while he was shooting a movie there. He was looking for food, but we were closed. He was polite, and alone, and dressed like pretty much everyone else – baseball cap, T-shirt, jeans, and hiking boots. I had no idea who he was until someone else told me.

    It’s A Wonderful Life is my favorite too. My husband isn’t on board, but he’s a chef and works nights, so I can usually watch it at least once without him having to face yet again that no one takes that $8000 from Potter. He can’t accept that.

    I haven’t seen Elf. Will Farrell in that role disturbs me for reasons I can’t explain.

    I love A Christmas Carol – especially the Patrick Stewart one, and my very favorite – The Muppets Christmas Carol. That one keeps me in stitches…Michael Caine as Scrooge is a perfect foil for the Muppets’ silliness.

    I loved this tour and your update. You seem to have a good handle on where you are and where you’re headed.

    May you enjoy all your favorite movies, and oodles more merriment, besides!

    1. I don’t know about Love Miracle. I’ll have to look that one up! Thanks for the recommendation.

      As to A Christmas Carol, I haven’t seen the Muppet one, but I’ve enjoyed all three other versions I’ve seen: with Alistair Sim, George C. Scott, and Patrick Stewart. I’ve also seen the story as a play, and that was marvelous.

      Enjoy your holidays! Thanks for the well wishes.

  10. I have to watch Miracle on 34th Street every year. It isn’t Christmas without it. That Man has to watch A Christmas Story. I rather blah about it myself. All in all, I’d rather catch the classics (White Christmas, etc.) than any of the remakes or new this year movies. And give me the Grinch Who Stole Christmas cartoon any day 🙂

    You’ve had a fantastic round Julie. Congrats! Wishing you and yours a fabulous holiday.

    1. I’m with you, Raelyn. I specifically decided to talk movies instead of shorter shows, or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas cartoon would be waaaaay up there on my list. Who can resist Dr. Seuss, Boris Karloff, and Max the dog in one show?

      (I’m now singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in my head! 🙂 )

      Merry Christmas!

  11. Love your movie list but you must include Bad Santa, Elf, and Christmas Vacation!

    Also, as a side note all the animated specials like Year Without a Santa Claus are on my list. Heat Miser and Snow Miser!

    1. Yes! I didn’t include those TV-show-length offerings, like The Grinch, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and The Year Without a Santa Claus (one of my faves too!) — just movies this time.

      It seems that I have plenty more Christmas movies to see!

  12. Agree with you about the Red Rider bb gun movie. Loved It’s a Wonderful Life and Shop Around the Corner, although I liked You’ve Got Mail better. Sorta like I thought Sleepless in Seattle was tons better than An Affair to Remember.

    1. Oh no! How could you like the remakes better?! I just loved the originals. Oh well, at least we agree on the wonderful stories themselves.

      Enjoy your holidays, David! Have a lovely time.

  13. There are parts of A Christmas Story that will stay with me forever, including a few great one-liners. That said, I’d agree that the characters can be a bit unlikeable yet something about them rang true (sadly). I like your selection, especially Home Alone, A White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Shop Around the Corner. Great movies all.

    Merry Christmas, Julie. 🙂

  14. It’s A Wonderful Life will always be my tops for Christmas. It’s just a fantastic story. And I also enjoyed the Nightmare Before Christmas, even though I didn’t think I would.

    I’ve seen some of the other ones on your list but it’s been a long time. Perhaps I need to have a Xmas movie marathon this year.

    Merry Christmas, Julie!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. A Christmas movie marathon sounds wonderful! I also wasn’t sure about The Nightmare Before Christmas until I saw it…and fell in love.

      Have a lovely holiday, Patricia!

    1. It freaked me out then too! It was even more fun to see my kids freak out a little when we showed it to them. 😉 They’re weren’t terrified, but just weirded out…like I was.

      Merry Christmas, Kathy!

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