‘Tis the season to be jolly, indeed. With Christmas songs a-ringing, Christmas trees a-trimming, lights a-twinkling, eggnog a-flowing, chestnuts a-roasting, carollers a-singing, gifts a-wrapping, and in-laws visiting, one can really get into the festive spirit. And as you plan your Christmas dinner, we're here to give you a list of classic Christmas movies you and your family can enjoy. From timeless classics in black and white to animated clay figures, every film on this list has the potential to charm and entertain. While these may not be the best present ever (that would be a yacht filled with bacon, sailing in a giant pool of ice cream), they are still sure to make you ho-ho-ho this season.
And while it’s true that Christmas movies seldom get awards during the Oscars, they sure capture the hearts of viewers and are always fun for the season. Whatever you fancy, there is always something for everybody.
10. Elf (2003)
Having been adopted and raised by Santa’s elves in the North Pole and inadvertently wrecking everything due to his size, Buddy (played by Will Ferrell) ventures out into New York City (in full elf uniform) in search of his birth father and his true identity. Coincidentally, the father happens to be a cynical businessman played by James Caan, who attempts to jumpstart a relationship with Buddy but with chaotic results. Despite having an 83% score on Rotten Tomatoes, Christmas season won't be complete with this film, plus, it makes you feel warm and silly. Definitely a good-natured, family comedy for the books.
9. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and the rest of the gang’s lights are blinking red and green, but Charlie Brown has the Christmas blues. To get into the holiday spirit, Charlie sets out to find the perfect Christmas tree for a play. But everyone makes fun of the thin, spindly tree Charlie Brown brings back. Doubting himself, Charlie Brown begins to question if he really knows what Christmas is about and heads home, “killing” his tree in the process. Having a change of heart, the gang follows Charlie back home and sees a feeble tree. Linus wraps his blanket at the base, while the rest adds other decorations. When Charlie Brown discovers what has happened, he is shocked in disbelief as the gang shouts, "MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHARLIE BROWN!". Truly an eye-opening tear-jerker to show what the true meaning of Christmas is.
8. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a Halloween movie. The macabre stop-motion film shows the mishaps of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown's beloved pumpkin king, who has become tired of the same routine of terrifying people in the "real world”. When Jack inadvertently stumbles upon Christmastown, he gets a new purpose in life (or death?) and plots to take Christmas under his rule by kidnapping the Santa Claus and taking over the role, adding a dash of horror into Christmas traditions. He soon realises what the essence of Christmas is, at the same time, discovers love in the process. Horrific, but entertaining, nonetheless.
7. Home Alone (1991)
Ever spent Christmas alone? Sounds dreary, right? Well for a bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister, it’s a Christmas wish come true after feeling like the outcast of the family a few nights before Christmas Eve. He lived the life: eating ice cream, watching gangster movies, and having the house all to himself after his family accidentally left him alone as they went for Christmas holiday in Paris. But it all turns awry when the little troublemaker learns he must protect his house from a pair of unwanted intruders. He sets up (spoiler alert) Rube Goldberg death traps all over the house, wherein each painful (for the burglars) scene entertains. The young boy's war prep while the background plays “Carol of the Bells” is iconic. Just when the burglars have had enough, Kevin incapacitates the duo just as the police arrive. When Kevin’s family returns home, they are apologetic and show Kevin the meaning of family during the holidays. A heart-warming scene ensues as everyone exchanges gifts by the Christmas tree.
6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
The film revolves around the life of Rudolph and his quest to find his place amongst Santa's reindeer's sleigh team. Having been born with a brightly glowing red nose, Rudolph was never accepted among the other fawns. Luckily, Rudolph's father, Donner, the head of the sleigh team, teaches his son the basics of sleigh-pulling, as well as keeping away from the Abominable Snow Monster of the North. Rudolph meets Hermey, an elf who escaped from Santa’s toy factory to become a dentist, and the duo has an adventure as they set out to find purpose in their lives. When they return home, they discover that the snow monster has kidnapped their loved ones. After saving everyone, Santa welcomes Rudolph back to Christmastown, but not before giving him a place in the sleigh team as lead Reindeer.
5. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
An American musical fantasy comedy-drama and an adaptation of the 1843 novel which features The Muppets and Michael Caine who plays Ebenezer Scrooge. Though a comedic film with contemporary songs, the film follows the novel quite closely. With Muppet quips and sketches squeezed here and there, this underrated Christmas movie is one for the books. The movie ends with Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning then decides to surprise Bob's family with a turkey dinner, and sets out with Bean, Dickens, and Rizzo to spread happiness and joy around London.
4. Frosty the Snowman (1969)
Based on the famous song, the film revolves around the creation of Frosty the magical snowman. When the magical top hat lands on a snowman some children made, the creation comes to life with the help of Christmas magic and some glitter. As the temperature starts to rise, everyone feels the immediate need to bring Frosty to the land of perpetual snow, the North Pole. Chaos ensues during their journey as Frosty ends up as a puddle. But just as Karen cries her last tear, Santa arrives and explains that since Frosty is made up of Christmas snow and magic, he will always come back during Christmas. He then rebuilds Frosty, and everyone in town parades with him as the credits roll.
3. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (2000)
At the borderlands of Whoville, lives a green, snarky, revenge-greedy Grinch who plans on ruining the Christmas spirit of all of the citizens of the town. In this live-action version of the children's tale by Dr. Seuss, the solitary green Grinch (played by Jim Carrey) decides to steal and ruin Christmas for the joyful citizens of Whoville. Joined by his unlucky dog, Max, the Grinch comes down from his mountaintop home, creates a Santa suit with matching sleigh with his dog, Max, dressed as a reindeer, the Grinch arrives at Whoville and sneaks into town to hoard everything holiday-related from the Whos. However, the bitter grump finds a hitch in his plans when he encounters the endearing Cindy Lou Who. The Grinch reveals that he plans to return what he stole off the mountain after he hears the Whos crying. However, instead of sobs and woes, he hears the joyful singing. The Grinch has an epiphany about what Christmas is really about - not material things, rather, the time spent with loved ones, which in turn makes his small heart grow to three times its original size, saving Cindy in the process.
2. A Christmas Carol (2009)
With current tech in film-making, it’s possible that this 75-year-old remake is more entertaining than it was way back in ’38. The film is an animated retelling of Charles Dickens' classic novel about a miserable, churlish, peevish old moneylender Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey), who is taken on a journey of self-redemption, with the help of three mysterious apparitions. He is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, warning him to change his ways, or else he'd be shown the error of his ways the hard way. But he refuses to listen, and responds, "Bah, Humbug!!" in spite. The ghosts take Scrooge on a journey through his past, present and future in the hope of transforming his bitterness. Waking-up a changed man, Scrooge now treats everyone with kindness, generosity, and compassion; he now embodies the spirit of Christmas.
1. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
There’s nothing like watching a timeless classic during Christmas time. A lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing. An old man going by the name of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) fills-in for a drunk Santa in Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Kris Kringle becomes such a crowd favourite that he soon appears frequently at the chain's main store. When Kris Kringle announces to customers and the employees alike by claiming that he really is THE Santa Claus, it prompts a court case to resolve his mental health and, more importantly, his legitimacy. It is light, charming, delightfully funny and completely captivating. It is all that, and something more. The acting is superb all around. The script is lovely, good-spirited and perfect viewing for the Christmas season.
We hope this list has brought back some fond childhood memories or helped you make new ones. So, wear those Christmas socks, call your family to the couch, warm-up the hot cocoa, pour a glass of eggnog, put on the TV, and get into the holiday spirit with these movies. And Happy Holidays!