Ultimate Guide to Holiday Movies
The holiday season is not complete without watching a few good holiday movies. Many have become classics that provide family entertainment year after year.
Miracle on 34th Street
Originally released in 1947, this is a story about an elderly man who claims to be Santa Claus and is considered insane because of it. He must be defended by a lawyer to prove otherwise. It stars Maureen O’Hara and Edmund Gwenn, and is a heartwarming movie that is good for families. It was remade in 1994, starring Elizabeth Perkins and Richard Attenborough.
A Christmas Story
Filmed in 1983, this has become a Christmas classic. It stars Peter Billingsly as Ralphie Parker. It is the story of a young boy at Christmas who wants a Red Ryder BB gun but everyone says no, “you’ll shoot your eye out!” A great comedy for families to enjoy.
Charlie Brown Christmas
This holiday cartoon by Charles Schulz from 1965 is usually televised every year. It is the story of Charlie Brown, who tries to find the real reason for Christmas. He and his friends buy a small tree and attempt to find meaning in the holiday. It uses the voices of Peter Robbins as Charlie Brown and Tracy Stratford as Lucy, and is a wonderful cartoon for kids and adults.
It’s a Wonderful Life
This is a classic movie from 1946, and one of the most treasured during the season. Jimmy Stewart is George Bailey, a banker who feels unappreciated and is always wishing for a more interesting life. He almost throws everything away when he loses money at the bank. After a visit from an angel, played by Henry Travers, he realizes how much he has given to everyone in his life. This story is usually televised each year and is a drama geared for adults.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Narrated by Boris Karloff, this 1966 cartoon based on a story by Dr. Seuss is a television special every year. It is the story of a perfect little town called Whoville, where everyone happily celebrates Christmas. The Grinch, a jealous character who lives alone on a hill outside of town, decides to steal every aspect of Christmas, assuming the Whos will no longer have any reason to celebrate. On Christmas day, the Grinch sees that the Whos are still happy, despite losing everything. It is a wonderful story about giving to be enjoyed by children.
The movie was remade in 2000, starring Jim Carey as the Grinch. One small child, Cindy Lou Who, visits the Grinch where he lives. In this movie, the Grinch has a crush on a woman in Whoville. He is angry and steals everything from the Whos, but sees them celebrating anyway. A story about connecting with people, this movie is more for adults to enjoy.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Filmed in 1989, this Christmas classic stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. Clark Griswold is determined to have a perfect Christmas for his family, culminating in surprising everyone with buying a new swimming pool. His plans change when the in-laws visit, his wife’s cousins move their mobile home onto the property, and they have several mishaps with their neighbors. This is a fun comedy for adults about not losing Christmas spirit.
The first Home Alone movie was released in 1990, starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, and Daniel Stern. It is the story of a young boy, Kevin, who was left at home accidentally by his parents when they leave town for Christmas. While home alone, the place gets robbed and he spends his time thwarting the bad guys. In the sequel, Home alone 2, Kevin gets on the wrong plane when separated from his family going on vacation at Christmas, and goes to New York instead. The same robbers from the first movie are planning to rob a toy store, and he obstructs them again. This sequel was filmed in 1992, and stars the same actors. In Home alone 3, a young boy named Alex replaces the character of Kevin from the first two movies. A stolen computer chip winds up in the hands of Alex by mistake, and secret agents come looking for it; looting houses to find it. They come to Alex’s house and he stops them with traps. It stars Alex Linz. All three movies are good for families to enjoy at the holidays.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
This is a claymation production from 1964 that is aired on television every year. It is narrated by Burl Ives, and is a musical; a classic drama that is good for kids. Rudolph was born with a red nose and everyone makes fun of him at the North Pole. He runs away with an elf who is a misfit and they brave the wild together, each growing up in their own ways. Rudolph’s family comes after him when everyone realizes how important he is to them.
Frosty the Snowman
This is a cartoon from 1969, narrated by Jimmy Durante. When a magician visits a classroom, his hat blows outside and lands on the head of a snowman, Frosty. The hat makes him come alive, and he plays with the kids and becomes their friend. Frosty and one child eventually leave to go to a colder place so that he won’t melt. Meanwhile, the magician follows them, trying to get his hat back. This is a classic holiday cartoon that is usually televised and is made for kids to enjoy.
Filmed in 1988 and starring Bill Murray, this is a remake of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. The main character, Frank Cross, is a television executive who is selfish. He learns of mistakes and lost love through three ghosts who visit him and attempt to help him change his ways. It is a dark comedy, geared for adults.
The Nightmare before Christmas
This animated production from 1993 was written by Tim Burton, and stars Danny Elfman and Chris Sarandon. The King of Halloweentown is looking for something new in life, and finds a door that leads to Christmas. After visiting, he returns and kidnaps Santa to celebrate Christmas in Halloweentown. This is an award winning movie. It’s a little scary for kids, but entertaining for adults, even though it is animated.
The Santa Clause
Produced in 1994, The Santa Clause stars Tim Allen, Wendy Crewson, and Eric Lloyd. Scott Calvin is a divorced executive who is spending Christmas with his son. When Santa falls off his roof, he and his son head to the North Pole where he ends up taking Santa's place. The next year is about his transformation to becoming Santa and his relationship with his son. Santa Clause 2, filmed in 2002, also stars Tim Allen, Wendy Crewson, and Eric Lloyd, and includes Elizabeth Mitchell. Santa must find a Mrs. Clause as part of the deal. His son also starts misbehaving, forcing Santa to leave the North Pole for a while, leaving an elf in charge. Santa Clause 3, from 2006, stars the original cast plus Martin Short as Jack Frost. Santa begins battling with Jack Frost and is becoming overwhelmed trying to meet everyone’s needs. Through it all, there is option for him to escape. All three movies are comedies that are good for families to watch.
Jingle All the Way
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, and Phil Hartman, Jingle All the Way was filmed in 1996. An overworked man wants to get a specific toy for his son for Christmas, but it ends up being the most popular toy that year. When he forgets to buy it, he goes to the store on Christmas Eve and fights with everyone there to get it. This Christmas story is a comedy that adults and kids will enjoy.
A Christmas Carol
Based on the story by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol was originally televised in 1984, and stars George C. Scott. A miserly businessman, Ebenezer Scrooge, is visited by three ghosts to remind him of how much he has and to give more to others who have less. Other versions of same story include Scrooge from 1951, starring Alistair Sim and A Muppet Christmas Carol created in 1992. The newest version of this story stars Jim Carey in multiple roles. This drama can be enjoyed by families, although the ghosts may be a little scary for younger children.
Created in 2004, this animated movie stars Tom Hanks and was directed by Robert Zemeckis. A young boy takes a train ride on Christmas Eve to the North Pole with other children. Along the way, he realizes the magic of Christmas, sharing in it with the other kids. This is a great animated adventure for adults and children to watch.
Elf was filmed in 2003, and stars Will Farrell and James Caan. This Christmas comedy is for adults. A man grows up as an elf in the North Pole, not realizing that he was adopted. He travels to New York to find his birth father. This is a funny story of meeting family and finding the meaning of Christmas.
Eight Crazy Nights
Created in 2002 and starring Adam Sandler, this animated story is geared more toward adults. An alcoholic man gets in trouble and is ordered to do community service as a referee for a youth basketball team. Several mishaps take place, and his life starts to change as he cares for others besides himself.
Deck the Halls
This movie stars Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito, and was produced in 2006. A man sees his new neighbors move in and start hanging a lot of lights for Christmas, which quickly turns into a contest of who is more festive. The two men fight throughout the movie, alienating their families and their town, and finally making peace with everyone and each other at the end. This funny movie is for adults to enjoy.
Made in 2003, this movie stars Billy Bob Thornton, John Ritter, and Bernie Mac. It is a dark comedy about a mall Santa who drinks too much and plans to rob the mall where he works. He robs the house of a kid who has helped him, but later moves in with him when he has nowhere to go. Santa starts to change and has a budding relationship with the kid and a woman friend. This comedy is only suitable for adults.
Santa’s brother Fred is always trying to live up to him. When Fred needs money, Santa makes him come to the North Pole to earn it. Filmed in 2007 and starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti, this is a comedy for adults to watch.
The Family Stone
Released in 2005, this movie stars Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Luke Wilson. A man brings his high-strung girlfriend home to visit family, but she doesn’t fit in well at all. This is an adult drama set during Christmas about the meaning of family.
Christmas with the Kranks
This movie was filmed in 2004 and stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. A man and his wife decide to not celebrate Christmas and leave town instead. When they find out their only daughter is visiting, they must throw together a huge holiday celebration at the last minute. This Christmas comedy is for adults to watch.
Released in 1954, this musical stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Two entertainers try to save a failing inn by putting on a show to draw customers. Relationships develop with two fellow singing and dancing girls throughout the process. This is a classic Christmas movie for adults.
Watching holiday movies is a great way to enjoy the season to the fullest. Finding the right Christmas movie can put anyone in a festive holiday mood.