It’s the holiday season and the festive buzz is in the air: the streets are decorated with twinkling lights and people are acting nicer to each other. To get you pumped for Christmas, here is a list of my personal favorites to watch every day. I save the best for last, so I hope you like it. Note: You’re not going to find The Family Stone or Tim Allen’s, Santa Clause in this list. Also, some people put Love, Actually in their holiday list, but I didn’t . (Sorry Michael Friedman) Okay, here we go…
01. SANTA WITH MUSCLES (1996)
Synopsis: An evil millionaire (Hulk Hogan) gets amnesia and then believes that he is Santa Claus.
The description here is enough. This movie is so bad, it’s good. It’s ridiculous and it’s a perfect way to dip your toes into this movie marathon. I would watch it with a glass of cocoa and some Slim Jims. Duh.
02. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992)
Synopsis: The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser’s redemption on Christmas Eve.
Okay, now we are getting into a bit of the classics. This film stars our favorite Muppets and who doesn’t love them? It’s a little low on the list, I know. That’s just cause I ranked my movies by watchability and after seeing this once, I’m like done… for a whole year. Sorry Muppets. If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t even put Mickey’s Christmas Carol on my list. So there.
03. JINGLE ALL THE WAY (1996)
Synopsis: A father needs to get a Turbo Man action figure for his son just before Christmas. Unfortunately, every store is sold out of Turbo Man figures, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else to find a Turbo Man figure.
Okay, okay. You’re probably wondering how on earth this could rank higher than The Muppet Christmas Carol?! The only reason is because of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yup. The man is a legend and that adds a lot of weight. Although, this movie is pretty horrible so that’s why you’re watching it so early in December.
04. THREE DAYS (2001)
Synopsis: Ten years ago, Andrew married his childhood sweetheart, Beth. Now Andrew’s a high-powered literary agent, but his relationship with his wife has not fared as well. When Beth is tragically killed just days before Christmas, an angel gives Andrew the chance to relive the last three days his wife was alive. But he can’t change fate and Beth will still lose her life. However, Andrew can still discover the gift Beth needs most from him.
Alright. I’m assuming that most of you have never seen this movie. I believe I caught it on Lifetime one rainy Saturday afternoon and I balled my eyes out. Yes, it’s a made for TV movie but it’s got Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) in it so it’s totally watchable. Trust me. Now, go get some tissues so you can bawl your eyes out.
05. FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1969)
Synopsis: A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman’s magic hat.
I’m bringing it back, people. Yes, sorry about that Lifetime movie yesterday. I’m pulling the reigns back in for the animated Christmas classics. With a cup of egg nog, this movie will make you feel like a kid again.
06. RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964)
Synopsis: A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them.
So when you look up Frosty the Snowman on IMDB, Rudolph is suggested as another movie you might like. I mean, duh. These are both CLASSIC. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is higher on the list because of how it’s filmed: stop motion. You don’t see it as much nowadays so it makes it special (although there is another movie later in the list that is also filmed with stop motion animation).
07. TRADING PLACES (1983)
Synopsis: A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.
You might not think of this movie when you think of holiday films, but it’s filmed during the season and it ties into the plot nicely. Plus, it’s got Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in it– what a nice way to finish one full week of movies!
08. HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK (1992)
Synopsis: One year after Kevin was left home alone and had to defeat a pair of bumbling burglars, he accidentally finds himself in New York City, and the same criminals are not far behind.
This movie ranks slightly higher than Trading Places because it’s more overtly Christmas themed. I figured two movies filmed in New York City back to back could be fun to watch also.
09. DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1966)
Synopsis: A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville.
Not that horrible 2000 remake starring Jim Carrey. Eww. I’m talking about the animated film that we grew up with. I mean, even Kevin is watching it in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York! It’s tradition to watch this movie. Better get on board.
10. THE NUTCRACKER (1993)
Synopsis: On Christmas Eve, a little girl named Marie falls asleep after a party at her home and dreams herself (or does she?) into a fantastic world where toys become larger than life. Her beloved Nutcracker comes to life and defends her from the Mouse King, then is turned into a Prince after Marie saves his life.
Okay, when I was a kid my mom would take me to see this ballet every year during the holiday season. It has sentimental value to me and it’s also a beautiful film to watch. The ballerinas are like magic in this movie– it made me wish I was a ballerina. I did not grow up to be a ballerina, just FYI.
11. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)
Synopsis: Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept.
Remember that other stop motion movie I mentioned? Well this is it. Tim Burton really wowed me with this movie. I watch it all the time – it can pass anytime between Halloween and Christmas. I also love the music in this movie; the score is pretty incredible.
12. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947)
Synopsis: When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.
Okay, so in 1994 they remade this movie and Mara Wilson played Susan. That version is okay, but you need to watch the 1947 version because it’s hella better. (And it’s the one I personally own) What do I love about this movie? I love that the Macy’s Santa is drunk and they randomly hire this no-name dude to do the Thanksgiving Day parade. I love the scene when the postal service deliver all the letters to Santa at court. I love that it’s a black and white movie. I love that this movie makes you wonder is Kris Kringle really Santa Claus and does it matter?
13. GREMLINS (1984)
Synopsis: A boy inadvertantly breaks 3 important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Not your typical Christmas movie, but I like to mix it up. In fact, this movie was originally planned and scheduled for a Christmas release, but the film was rushed and released in the summer so it could compete with Paramount’s blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Columbia’s Ghostbusters (1984).
14. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS (1965)
Synopsis: Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas.
Another animated classic to make you feel like a kid again. Plus, it’s a nice change of pace from Gremlins. The best part of this movie is when Charlie Brown hangs his one sad red ornament on his tree (if you can call it that) and it falls over. Then the gang pitches in and helps decorate it even more and it’s suddenly not a twig but a full tree capable of holding multiple ornaments. That sh*t is a Christmas miracle in itself!
15. DIE HARD (1988)
Synopsis: John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
Oh boy, who doesn’t love this movie? It is so good! I mean, who doesn’t love a little office work party? A little bubbly? A little kick assness fighting terrorism? Bruce Willis makes this movie. Plus, the bad guy, Hans Gruber, is good too if you’re into Professor Severus Snape from Harry Potter! (Please tell me I just blew your mind there). Some people put Lethal Weapon in their holiday list. Sorry. Die Hard is better IMO.
16. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
Synopsis: A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation.
Okay, okay. I promise this is my last Christmas movie that can also pass for a Halloween movie. This film also takes place during the holiday season which is why it makes it’s way into so many Christmas lists. But you want to know what the Christmas miracle is about in this movie? Drew Barrymore was considered for the role of Kim Boggs and by some miracle, Winona Ryder got it instead.
17. SCROOGED (1988)
Synopsis: A selfish, cynical T.V. executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.
Many people try to retell the Christmas Carol, but it HAS to be this one. Why? Bill Murray’s why. This movie is a tradition and it’s 9 days out from Christmas at this point of our list so it’s time we start to get super serious about this list.
18. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
Synopsis: An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.
I have a crush on Jimmy Stewart. I have seen so many of his films, I seriously love the man. He’s even been quoted as saying that of all the films he’s made, this is his favorite. It’s crazy to me when you think that this film flopped when it came out in theaters in 1946 because it’s such a well known film now. If you’ve never seen it, crawl out from that rock you’ve been living under and give it a watch.
19. HOME ALONE (1990)
Synopsis: An 8-year old troublemaker must protect his home from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.
You’re probably wondering why Home Alone is above It’s a Wonderful Life? It’s simple: If you came to me RIGHT NOW and asked me which one I would watch, I’d pick Home Alone because it’s fun. I would say that generally I’m not always in the mood for a serious film. Don’t get me wrong, Home Alone is NOT a better movie. It’s just got a bit more of a watchability factor for me. You have to be in the mood for It’s a Wonderful Life and for Home Alone, well… you can always be in the mood for that.
20. HOLIDAY INN (1942)
Synopsis: At an inn which is only open on holidays, a crooner and a hoofer vie for the affections of a beautiful up-and-coming performer.
Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, and Virginia Dale. Need I say more? This film is a fun musical comedy about an Inn that is only open on holidays and the chase for romance. You could even lump this into your Valentine’s Day list if you wanted to but it also is a Christmas classic because it shows a simpler time in history in a feel-good and endearing light. I owe this one to my grandma and it has sentimental value to me.
21. BAD SANTA (2003)
Synopsis: A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.
Hands down the funniest Christmas movie I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if I’d watch this with the family though – probably not appropriate. But I don’t have tiny tots running around so it’s perfect for me and anyone else allowed to see Rated R movies. The kid in this movie is beyond amazing and his chemistry with Billy Bob Thornton is what makes this such a success. From the hand carved pickle to the repeated “Can I make you a sandwich?” question to the candy corn in the advent calendar… I can’t say enough great things about this film.
22. ELF (2003)
Synopsis: After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity.
This one is totally family appropriate so there’s that. Here’s why I ranked it high on my list: this is Will Ferrell’s best movie. That’s right. I said it. The guy is hit or miss with me, but this movie is like pretty much the only redeeming quality he has. He was good in Step Brothers and just okay in Anchorman, but this film is his shining glory. Plus the film is oozing with the Christmas spirit so it’s perfect to play a few days before Christmas.
23. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989)
Synopsis: The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.
When this movie is on your TV, you know it’s Christmas time. If you don’t like this movie than you’re just a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?
24. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
Synopsis: Ralphie has to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s.
Just like the movie above, when this is on TV, you know it’s Christmas time. This movie is so classic that it pretty much airs non-stop on basic cable from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Day. You can’t NOT have Christmas without this movie. I absolutely LOVE this movie and it was a very hard decision to put this in the number 2 spot. I grew up on this movie and the iconic moments in this film: the tongue stuck to the flagpole, beating up Scut Farkus, the leg lamp, the meatloaf scene, reverse climbing up the Santa slide in the mall, the pink bunny pajamas, actually shooting his eye out, the Chinese duck Christmas dinner… the whole movie is perfection!
25. WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
Synopsis: A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general.
Well, here it is! It’s the movie to watch on Christmas Day! I can thank my grandma for this one. I remember watching this in middle school with her and being completely mesmerized (it was Vera-Ellen’s waistline that baffled me also). But I remember thinking, “Wow! Actors in the 40’s and 50’s could not only act, but sing and dance too!” This movie has my favorite costumes, dance numbers, and songs of any musical I’ve ever seen. I mean Vera-Ellen alone is pure movie magic. Get it gurllll! Don’t hurt nobody!!! Plus, I single handedly can sing every song in this movie because I love it so much. Ahem, “Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister. And lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!” CLASSIC. I love all the skits that they put on in the Inn, but I also love the romantic backstory that moves the film along and the chemistry between the actors. I remember that my grandma’s favorite scene is the last scene in the movie when they open the doors to the snow falling. There’s something about snowfall that calms the earth. That calmness juxtaposed to how this all started (with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, decorating, entertaining) might make someone take a moment and reflect on what the holiday truly means. That is, until this movie is over and I put on Commando.
(Movie synopses via IMDB)