Throwing on your festive holiday pajamas, sipping some hot chocolate (while probably burning your tongue because you’re impatient), and sitting by the fireplace with friends and family to enjoy a classic Christmas movie.
This is what the holiday season is all about!
I grew a little worried that maybe people were pacing back and forth in their homes, waiting for some handsome man to make a top 6 list of the best Christmas movies, so here I am.
You might be asking yourself, “Wait just a second Michael! What exactly makes certain Christmas movies better than others? And who are you to tell me my favorites aren’t the best? It’s a matter of preference!”
Well the answer is simple.
In the words of the all time cinematic hero of our time, Jack Dawson: “Trust me”
(I really just wanted to quote Jack Dawson. There’s at least a 50% chance that he never says “trust me” in Titanic. And YES…it’s from Titanic! Ugh is this amateur hour?! This is exactly why you need my
top 5 top 6 list!!
What are the absolute musts that define an all time Christmas classic?
- Lasting power. I need to be able to watch this film every Christmas.
- Quality. It needs to be a great movie in its own right.
- Magic. The Christmas feels better be jumping out of the screen and punching you in the face!
- Music. It needs to have some original, classic Christmas music that you might even be willing to listen to outside of the movie experience.
Without further ado, lets begin!
6. Home Alone
Do you want to know why this is a “top 6” list, instead of a “top 5” or even a “top 10”?
It’s because I refused to exclude Home Alone and I simply couldn’t kick The Muppet Christmas Carol off the list. Problem is, there simply aren’t enough deserving Christmas films to make a top 10 (there’s about 7 or 8).
But not 10! There’s a drop off after 8.
At first, I was hesitant to include Home Alone, because I just didn’t think it was exclusively a “Christmas” movie. I always considered it a fabulous, family film in its own right. In my mind, the reason why everyone else in the world was distracted into claiming this to be the “greatest Christmas film of them all” was because of the brilliance of the great John Williams (composer).
Ive seen this film a million times, but it wasn’t until I watched it THIS week, that I realized I was wrong.
A friend pointed out to me how nearly all of the set design was made up of green and red colors. Watch it and take note, people. I can’t believe that for all these years, I completely missed that. Foolish.
A true commitment to the Christmas feel. Huge points for Home Alone.
And then there’s the music.
I consider John Williams Home Alone score to be the greatest Christmas music of all time. It’s beyond magical.
For this very reason, I thought that viewers were being hypnotized into a magical Christmas feeling, without even realizing that the plot itself really doesn’t have much to do with Christmas. I understand that the entire premise of the film centers around Macauley Culkin being left alone during Christmas time…but big deal. Plenty of films take place during this time of year.
However, after being made aware of this decision to go all in on the Christmas aesthetic, coupled with the already existing magical music, and the whole family being together during the holidays, my stance has finally been swayed to the other side of the fence (Home Alone was obviously already very close to winning me over, and it just needed one last push).
And just like that, this is a top 6 list.
5. The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppets are incredible. That much, we can all agree on. Adding them to anything instantly makes that program infinitely better.
Example: “A Very Muppet Silence of the Lambs”
You can’t tell me all that hilarious Muppet banter wouldn’t make the whole Hannibal Lecter situation a little less stressful.
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol is a classic story we’re all familiar with. You have Ebenezer Scrooge (wonderfully played by Michael Cain) dealing with some serious shit. Ghosts. Anger. Loneliness. Depression. Greed–and The Muppets.
Wonderful songs. Magical Christmas feelings. Great story + The Muppets make this movie a Christmas classic.
4. It’s a Wonderful Life
Oh, what’s that? You forgot about It’s a Wonderful Life?
This film is an all time classic. Forget about the whole “Christmas feel” (that yes, this film very much has). Even without that, it’s still one of the better movies I’ve ever seen.
It’s about a man named George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) who considers taking his own life on Christmas Eve, by jumping off a bridge. Suddenly, he sees a man drowning in the waters beneath him, whom he then scrambles to rescue. Bailey soon finds out that the man he saved claims to be an angel.
The angel walks him through town showing him what the world would be like if he didn’t exist.
Now don’t tell me this film doesn’t sound meaty! You can just feel the meat! You can feel the juice on your fingertips!
(People say that)
I’m not going to tell you what else happens because I know you’re already sold (Also, if we can just be honest for a minute…I don’t really remember what else happens). But if you’re not sold based on what you’ve already heard, then I’m sure it’s probably because your soul has already been sold to the devil.
(Way too much, and weird)
Anyways, go see the movie if you haven’t already. It’s a Christmas classic.
3. The Santa Clause
For me personally, The Santa Clause might contain the most Christmas magic of any film. I’m sure my connection to this movie greatly has to do with the age in which I was when the film was released, but there’s no denying the magic that drives the experience:
Tim Allen in his hilarious 90’s prime.
Best film ever made about Santa Clause (who’s by far the most important part of Christmas, NBD)
(Just kidding, JC)
That little cute kid who refuses to NOT believe in Santa.
The magical North Pole.
The music that was so unbelievable, that it leaves you in no denial to the existence of the big guy in red.
And of course, the classic nerdy step-dad who’s trying to be the mature father he thinks the kid needs… yet he’ll never be as cool as Tim Allen.
Any movie that features Will Ferrell’s A+ game is instantly going to be a classic. Combine that with an all-around, feel-good Christmas movie, and you have what easily could be the greatest Christmas film ever (if our #1 didn’t exist).
Elf is certainly one of Jon Favreau’s (the director) best films. It’s got all the feels, and most importantly, it has the brilliance of Will Ferrell’s “Buddy the Elf” innocence contrasted by the bitterness of his father, played by James Caan. Caan plays the definition of a harsh and cold-blooded New Yorker, and obviously “Buddy the Elf” couldn’t be any further from that.
Elf even has some great and original Christmas music, which if you haven’t learned by now, is an absolute Michael must!
(The requirements are written in stone!)
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t close well, and it’s a glaring misstep. It’s a perfect movie for so long, and then suddenly takes on a completely different feel in the third act. It also felt like it forgot that it was still a comedy.
If they could’ve successfully sealed the deal, then Elf probably would have been #1.
1. A Christmas Story
If this isn’t your #1, are you even a real person?
It’s the movie played over and over for 24 hours straight, from Christmas Eve into Christmas Day (on some network I forget).
The film perfectly encapsulates the struggles of an average, middle class family trying to not only make it through the holiday season, but enjoy it. The character development is out of this world, with every person seemingly carrying such an extensive story arch of their own.
And yes, I’m big on character development.
I might even consider naming my first born, “character development” if there wasn’t already a long and elite list of names ready to go. (Colonel BlackTooth, Mustache Madness, Angry Emily, and Borris the Anteater…just to name a few).
There’s someone for all of us to connect to in this film. You have Ralphie who just wants his Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. His little brother who hates his boring food he’s forced to eat. The stay at home mom who works her ass off trying to please both her children and her loud and outspoken husband at the same time. And of course, the husband, who is one of the great all time cinematic characters.
The leg lamp. The outspoken and dismissive father who truly loves his kids. The tongue sticking to a cold metal pole. The BB gun. Santa kicking Ralphie down the slide. The incredibly realistic family dynamic. The music. And of course, the Christmas magic.
It’s as good as it gets.
Fun facts (that yes, are fun):
- Jack Nicolson was originally considered to play the role of the father
- The actor who plays Ralphie was also in Elf (he’s a Christmas legend)
A Christmas Story personally reminds me of sitting around with my family when I was younger, with everyone laughing at various elements that we all connected with. Watching it at times feels like I’m watching a home video tape of my parents childhood, and I think part of the movie’s attractiveness is this ability to have a similar affect on most other people who watch it.
It is the ultimate, feel-good family Christmas movie that perfectly captures the magic of sitting around the decorated tree, creating life’s precious moments with special people.
Do you have any questions or disagreements?
Let me know in the comments!
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