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Carl The Critic's Top 10 Christmas Movies

Updated on December 21, 2014


It's that time of year again when Santa Claus is getting toys made, sleigh ready, reindeer fed, making lists, etc in preparation of this holiday season. As a kid, one of the ways I celebrated this season was by watching the Christmas movies. It's about as much of a tradition as giving each other presents, or wearing ugly Christmas sweaters. So to show my appreciation for these films I made this top 10 list to share with you!

I unfortunately haven't seen too many Hanukkah movies, so there aren't any on this list, but if there are films that you want me to check out please tell me in the comments section below.

But for now, LET'S BEGIN!


When making this list I had a lot of problems trying to decide whether to include this film or not. I mean I definitely enjoyed it and there might be others who enjoy it too, but I'm not 100% sure if it's really a great movie. In the end, I decided that it was at least good enough to mention it at the very bottom of the list.

"The Nativity Story"

I am not a very religious person, but I still watch and enjoy this film every Christmas time. I think that as far as biblical films or stories go, "The Nativity Story" is I think is okay. This film doesn't feel as cinematic as it should, and some of the acting is kinda monotone, but I actually liked the setting, the characters, and I liked how the different subplots in the film are all tied together. I do think this is one of Catherine Hardwicke best films as a director, and the plot devices added to the film actually makes sense to me. It's not for everyone, but if you are Christian definitely check it out.


Again when making this list I had trouble deciding what should go in the number 9 spot. I was trying to decide between two films, but I ultimately decided that I liked them both equally, and so now I have a tie!

"How The Grinch Stole Christmas"

"The Grinch"

That's right, the Dr. Seuss classic tale about how Oscar the Grouch decides that the only way he can stop his annoying neighbors from singing non-sense is to steal the reason why they are singing non-sense.

In all seriousness, I have written a comparison hub between these two already (Click Here to Read that Hub), and I still like both for different reasons. I think it's pretty clear that the "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" is the better movie overall It's certainly shorter, it follows the Dr Seuss story 100%, and not to mention that it was brought to us by one of the animation gods Chuck Jones. I still feel that there are quite a few good things about the Ron Howard version as well, I think Jim Carrey actually was a great actor to portray the Grinch, Rick Baker's Oscar® winning makeup was great, and I really do like the song "Where Are You Christmas". "The Grinch" isn't a great movie, but it really is hard to take a children's short story and make it into a feature length film (though a solution to that problem is to NOT do it in the first place). Still the Ron Howard version, despite all of its faults, is at the very least a guilty pleasure.

I feel both stories do a good job (in their own way) of telling Dr Seuss' Christmas classic.


When making this list, I knew right a way that this film was going to be in this spot. It really is a classic, and I mean come on, no top 10 Christmas movie list would be complete without this!

"Home Alone"

Ah the 90's were awesome!

Okay, maybe nostalgia is the main reason why this film is on this list. It is a little dated, but this film's angle on Christmas is primarily about how important family really is, be careful what you wish for, how you really don't know what you got until it's gone, and that if you're 8 years old and your family leaves you home alone on Christmas, you can easily defend yourself from two burglars by building booby traps that you can easily clean up before your parents come home the very next day... Seriously, did no one ever question how Kevin was able to clean up his little booby traps? He puts tar on the steps of his basement, that must have been pain to clean.

This film is your typical Chris Columbus "family is important", generic film that he has made over, and over again, but in this case that's what makes it a great Christmas film. The acting is not bad (except I actually have mixed feelings about Macaulay Culkin in this film), the production quality is top notch, it is still funny and emotional, and who can't forget John William's amazing score and music. What else can I say except if you haven't seen this film already... How? And you should! It's a real Christmas classic.


Just like "Home Alone", I knew that this film was going to be at this spot on my list.

"Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas"

Anyone who's read my movie reviews in the past knows that I'm kind of a huge Tim Burton fan (even if some of his films aren't that good... looking at you "Mars Attack", and "Dark Shadows"). Despite the film being directed by Henry Selick, it really felt more like a Tim Burton movie. This is another nostalgia film that is quite entertaining despite being slightly dated, however there's really no other Christmas movie like this... At least none that I can think of...

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a classic for a reason. It's story is unique, the animation is outstanding (no crap it's Disney... technically, I mean Touchstone is owned by Disney), and the music is catchy. It's not perfect, but it's entertaining, and fun for the whole family.


You know that song "The 12 Pains Of Christmas!"? Well that is basically what the next film is.

"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"

A film that at the time of it's release was kinda under appreciated, but over time is gaining the status of a Christmas classic. What can I say, I think this might actually be my favorite Griswold family movie. This is a film that does show how stressful the holidays can be, and anyone who has ever felt pressured to make Christmas perfect can really relate to this film. It's not a perfect movie, but Chevy Chase is hilarious, all of the characters are hilarious, the story is hilarious, and it's just a perfect movie for the holidays. If you ever get the chance, check this film out!


As if there would be any doubt that this film wouldn't be on this list.

"It's A Wonderful Life"

If one is to make a list of greatest Christmas movies, one must have this Frank Cappera Classic. It's some kind of law or something. Although it was not a critical success of it's time, "It's A Wonderful Life" has stood the test of time and has since proved to still be a classic. It is, however also responsible for the creation of hundreds of other Christmas movies with the concept of "I wish I was never born" scenario, which I guess isn't the film's fault, but still thanks "It's a Wonderful Life" for that horrible "Richie Rich's Christmas Wish" movie! Still, Jim Stewart and Donna Reed both add to the films believability, emotion, and the true spirit of Christmas. So turn on your TV right now (unless you're reading this after Christmas, then in that case wait until December) and watch it.


This is technically a Christmas TV special, but then again so was "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Still I think of this as a movie, and not only that a great movie.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I mean come on it's the Peanuts gang! Do I need to say any more. Any faults you have with the this special can be countered with the argument "it's the Peanut's gang", making all arguments invalid.

In all seriousness, this special isn't perfect but this does get what Christmas is about. Its story is short, sweet, to the point, and still has a lot of cute and funny moments in it. Like "It's A Wonderful Life" if you're reading this review during the holiday season, just turn on your TV, change the channel slightly (because obviously the one you're TV is on now has "It's A Wonderful Life" playing on it) and enjoy this Peanuts classic.


Speaking of TV specials, here's is by far one of my favorites of all time.

The Snowman


This film is just so good! Based on a British children's picture book, "The Snowman" is unique, emotional, and beautiful! I cry every time I see this, and no I am not ashamed to admit that. The song "Walking in the Air" is so beautiful, and like the book there's no dialogue (besides the song), which allows the audience to really take in and enjoy the animation on screen.

I know I keep saying "check this film out" and I seriously mean it every time I say it, but if there's one film on this list you need to see, it would be this one. Besides it's really short so you've got nothing to lose.


Okay, this will be the last TV special on this list I swear! Though technically there are actual film adaptations of this story, this version is my overall favorite.

"A Christmas Carol" (1984)

Everyone has their own favorite "A Christmas Carol" adaptation, and though it really doesn't matter which version, because you see one "A Christmas Carol", you've seen all 1,000,000 of them. My favorite however is the 1984 TV version, starring George C Scott. This was the first version that made me interested in the story, and would read the actual Charles Dickens novella to see if it was that good.

I think the fact that my family forced me to watch the 1951 version as a kid, and it bored me to tears (though it's actually a great version, I was just a kid) and when I found a version that I connected to and enjoyed it became really special for me. I mean like I said, see one version of "A Christmas Carol" you've seen them all, so rather than say "Check out this version of 'A Christmas Carol'", I want to know what version of "A Christmas Carol" is special to you and why? Comment you answer down below!


And so here we are. My number 1. When making this list I knew there were two films that were going to be at the top of the list, but only one of them really stuck out to me. And that film was...

Wait for the reveal!

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Fooled you! That film was terrible! Check out my review on this film by clicking here.

But seriously, my REAL number one Christmas movie is in fact...

Insert joke here!

"A Christmas Story"

This is not only my favorite Christmas film of all time, but also one of my favorite films of all time. Despite it being set in the 1940s, this is a timeless Christmas classic for all generations! Ralphie's story is extremely universal, even if you don't celebrate Christmas. Who hasn't wanted that ONE special gift! Who hasn't received very crappy gifts?

Everything about what I like of all the films I put on this list can really be seen in "A Christmas Story" (I mean besides animation from a few films here, or the fact "It's the Peanuts gang"). Now granted, a lot of people have overblown this film's popularity, so much so that it actually got a really bad and unnecessary sequel two years ago, but that doesn't make the film bad. This is still the perfect Christmas movie, and the fact it's so popular shows this.

What About You?

Do you agree with the list? What are some of your favorite holiday films or TV Specials? Comment down below, and have a Happy, Healthy, and Safe Holiday season!


This article was written and edited by Carl the Critic © 2014

© 2014 Carl


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    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 3 years ago

      Yeah, "Elf" was one of many that I wasn't sure about. I like it, but it wasn't sure if I liked it as much as the other films on the list. I guess I should've had an Honorable mentions section that had "Elf", the Rankin-Bass shorts, "The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever", etc.

      As for the "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas", it is just awful. Check out my review to see why.

      Thanks for the welcome back Sunshine625, it's good to be back :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I never heard of Kirk Cameron's movie...I'm surprised Elf didn't make the cut, but it's your list. I just watched Home Alone, yet again. National Lampoon's anything is superb! Welcome back to HP! :)


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