1) Miracle on 34th Street
The ultimate feel-good movie for the season, whether you watch the old version or the new one, this flick takes the #1 spot. It’s the story of a little girl raised to not believe in Santa Claus, who finds this realistic approach threatened by the appearance of a man who seems strikingly like the real thing. Her innocent questioning is enough to open the humbuggiest of hearts, and the way that the entire city comes together to support the true spirit of the holiday is an inspiration for all ages.
2) The Grinch
The old cartoon was fun, but the new expansion of the tale starring Jim Carrey provides us with some background on the iconic green grouch-face. We discover the events that led the Grinch to be so anti-Christmas, and in effect we find a little sympathy for him. And Cindy Lou Who, with her lack of investment in the buy-buy-buy mentality, as she wonders what Christmas is all about…well, doesn’t that nudge at everyone’s inner child?
3) It’s a Wonderful Life
The only reason this movie didn’t snag the #1 spot is because it’s a little less Christmassy in theme. But as far as feel-good flicks go, hot dog, this one is a whopper! At the end of his rope, a well-meaning family man named George contemplates his own demise and wishes he’d never been born. In response to his existential crisis, an angel is sent down to show him just what the world would be like if George HADN’T been born. We discover how, just by living a regular life and putting others first, he single handedly kept his town afloat. Because of all his seemingly small good deeds, all of the people he’d helped throughout the years come together in the end to help him in return, and viewers are reminded what is really important in life: our relationships with other people.
4) Home Alone
This one is a knee-slapping heart-wrenching two-fold holiday flick. One the one hand, we have the comedy of a spunky kid getting the best of two bumbling foolish thieves. On the other hand, there is a message of the importance of family, even when they drive you up the wall and make you crazy.
5) The Nightmare Before Christmas
A genre-jumping movie, this Tim Burton cult classic illustrates to us that Christmas is for anyone and everyone who wants it…even skeletons and doll-people.
This one tends to slide out from under the eyes of the masses, but it heartily deserves a spot on our list. It’s the tale of a girl and her father, struggling to make ends meet on their apple farm. Young Jessica’s dilemma is this: maybe there is no Santa…and if there is no Santa, maybe there is no God, and if there is no God then there wouldn’t be a Heaven, and if there is no Heaven then where did her Mom go when she died? One day in town she sees a reindeer decoration fall into the street. It is Prancer, third in line, and later she discovers a wounded deer which she hides in the barn and attempt to nurse back to health in time for Santa to get him back for Christmas. She unswervingly believes this deer is Prancer, and her dedication to this belief along with her scheming wit and wisdom eventually affects the whole town.
7) The Polar Express
Based on the classic children’s storybook, this movie dives into the different Christmas experiences various children have. There is, of course, the main character…a young boy nearing the ‘questioning age.’ But also there is a boy who is all about the presents with a touch of the ‘gimme-gimme’ attitude, a boy who comes from a poor family, and a no-nonsense little girl with a sweet mothering streak. The visual effects are stunning and, dare we say it, magical; and the story is as warm as a cup of cocoa.
A comedic and more modern twist on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Bill Murray brings his brilliance to the screen as a nose-to-the-grindstone media boss-man who gets visited by three Christmas spirits to show him the results of the path he is currently headed down. It’s a fantastic movie with big names, big laughs, and a big message: as the song at the end states, “Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart!”
9) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
It doesn’t get more classic than the tale of the misfit reindeer who saves the day, but the claymation storytelling introduces us to more misfit characters and a fuller plot. Viewers are reminded that even misfits deserve to be treated with respect and that everyone has something to contribute…even Bumbles!
10) The Santa Clause
Tim Allen grows both a beard and a belly when he accidentally takes on the role of the red-suited gift-giver. While this movie offers enough laughs to make you shake like a bowl full of jelly, it also shows how the spirit of Christmas brings people together even under the most stressful of times.
“Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color?” How could we not love this flick about a human baby raised by elves who comes back to the regular world as an adult? We may not want to follow in his footsteps as far as his food choices and clothing style go, but his effervescent joy and unconditional love serve as an inspiration to us all.
12) A Christmas Story
From the pink bunny suit to the leg lamp to the BB gun, this movie makes it into almost everyone’s Christmas collection. The trials and tribulations of Ralphie Parker are so painfully awkward that the child in all of us cringes as we watch. Perhaps it’s a matter of schadenfreude that has made A Christmas Story such a staple to the holiday, or the amount of ridiculous antics that transpire, or the wide eyed desperate desire for that one coveted gift. Whatever it is, though, enough smiles continue to come out of this flick to ensure it a place on our list for years and years to come.