12 days of Christmas, Ryan’s top 12 Christmas films

Although this time of year may be the time for a variety of holidays, the most celebrated holiday in film is Christmas. Out of all holiday related films, I think that Christmas films are the most entertaining of holiday movies. Keeping with the holiday spirit, I thought it would be appropriate to share my 12 favorite Christmas films. I’m sure this list will be open to debate since there are so many of these films, but these are the films that I particularly enjoy during the holidays.


12. The Santa Clause


From Tim Allen’s transition from TV to film, I think “The Santa Clause” is the film that most people associate him with. It was a unique take on the Santa Clause origin and had a few moments of that signature Tim Allen humor that everyone loved at the time.





11. Scrooged


Who can forget Bill Murray’s role of in “Scrooged?” The film is an edgier retelling of “A Christmas Carol” for a more modern time, filled with some classic Bill Murray humor and also provides a heartfelt message.






10. Bad Santa


This film is a more vulgar, hardcore take on Christmas. Billy Bob Thorton does an excellent job of playing a trashy alcoholic mall Santa and provides a ton of laughs through obscenities and unbelievable grotesque and inappropriate moments. Even if this film weren’t a Christmas film, I would still rate it as a top notch comedy.





9. Home Alone 2: Lost In New York


The sequel to one of my favorite Christmas films, “Home Alone,” is a film that actually did its predecessor justice. The plot contains almost the exact same elements but the redundancy doesn’t take away from the classic Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) that we loved from the first film. New York was an entertaining setting for the sequel and further developed the childhood fantasy that was created in the first film.





8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Dr. Seuss provided a plethora of classic children’s stories. When he created the Grinch, he established a new Christmas villain that is reluctantly redeemed by the spirit of Christmas. This version, starring Jim Carrey and directed by Ron Howard, was the first live action remake of the original animated film. Although it will not be as great as the animated classic, the setting, characters, and story make it a fun filled film in my eyes.




7. Elf


“SANNNNTAAAAAAAA!!…I know him!” Although “Iron Man” is Jon Favreau’s most well known directorial project, “Elf” is a film that became a new Christmas classic due to the magical holiday moments combined with Will Ferrell’s welcomed over the top humor. I LOVE this movie and I still chuckle at this film.





6. Love Actually


I’m going to lose some man points for liking this film but this truly establishes the holiday spirit despite being a “chick flick.” While the film is focused on love, it’s focused on all types of love. Falling in and out of love, deceit, friendship, loss, and family are all elements of this film. The message of this film overall is that regardless of the current state of your life, the holidays are a time for remembering the good with the bad. If you look for the underlying message of this film, you will see that not everyone gets what they want but they still find happiness, which sends a more honest Christmas message than most films.




5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Animated)


This original, animated film established the Grinch that we came to know as children. The book translated well to this animated classic and gave the Grinch a voice along with an original, memorable song that we all know. Even though it’s an animated TV film, it is a film that defines the Christmas that we know today.


4. A Christmas Story


This film is such a classic that there’s a collector’s market for related props and merchandise and the film’s house has been recently converted into a museum. The family is a family that most people can relate to in some way by either a personal connection or association. The ability to relate to the family’s eccentric nature is what makes this film a laughable Christmas classic.




3. Die Hard


Many don’t think of this film as a Christmas film but it is surrounded by elements of the holiday. The film opens and ends with Christmas music, the setting is during Christmas at a Christmas party, and most of the characters incorporate Christmas lingo into their conversations. Although the film may not follow a traditional Christmas plot, it is one of my favorite action movies of all time and is a film that I associate with the holidays.




2. Home Alone


I’m currently watching this film as I’m writing this and it still makes me chuckle. This film made Macaulay Culkin one of the most successful child stars in film and it’s easy to see why after watching him on screen. After watching this film as a kid, I immediately wanted to booby trap my home and even made my own detailed map of how I would lay out the traps. This film captures the Christmas spirit and speaks to the kid in all of us.





1. Christmas Vacation


I think this film falls at the top of most anyone’s list for Christmas film favorites. National Lampoon created the Griswolds, one of America’s most memorable families, and when he brought their family hijinks into the holiday season he created the perfect mix of family and laughter that most anyone can enjoy. This is a film that makes me look forward to Christmas so that I can watch it over and over again.




Well that is my list everyone. I know that there may be some that I forgot or omitted but these are the films that come to mind during the holidays for me. I know some of you are going to question why I didn’t include classics like “It’s A Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street” but those films aren’t the type that fall into a re-watchable family tradition category. Oh and for all you hipster “Nightmare Before Christmas” fans, sorry but that’s not an enjoyable holiday film for me…and the claymation honestly creeps me out…haha. Feel free to provide your own list and have a happy holiday!

About Ryan

First and foremost, Ryan Brown is a fan. He has been an avid fan of both the theater and cinema since an early age and his passion for both has been continually growing ever since. When dissecting a film, he focuses on all elements of film-making including some fan/cult factors. He believes that character development is the foundation of a good film and usually starts his analysis of a film from there moving forward. His writing style may be influenced by his background of narrative and argumentative studies in the subject, but he tends to enjoy a more conversational style to better interact with the readers, unlike some other pretentious and pompous writers.