I understand that there are many movies out there that could be good for the Christmas holiday, but I have thought hard about which ones I personally feel should be the top 15 that you should rent over the break. I had to consider just as much with this list as I did with the scariest movies list, and what it comes down to is: if it is enjoyable to watch or if it has some large significance to the Christmas season. Anyway, this is the list I drafted and I shall explain my choices with each selection.
15) Gremlins – That’s right, you read that correctly, I said “Gremlins.” It was set during Christmas; so don’t make any faces at this. It was funny, scary, violent, had a good message, and I will never stop laughing at the lady flying out of her house on the motorized stair climber.
14) Home Alone – Most definitely lost points for Maculay Culkin being in the film, but it is a fun little story with a message. And at the time, it broke all the big box-office records, so that should account for something, right?
13) Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman Television Specials – Started years ago, these two television specials have played each year and stayed with everyone. An outcast reindeer saves Christmas, Frosty goes to the North Pole and of course, Jimmy Durante sings … it all just evokes the Christmas spirit for anyone who grew up watching these animated stories.
12) White Christmas (1954) – This made this list because of nostalgia for Bing Crosby’s performance. It is a very simple and very classic Christmas film that a family would enjoy.
11) The Santa Clause (with Tim Allen) – One that I am sure I would have enjoyed much more had I seen it as a child, but just the same, it was a clever way to tell the story of Santa Claus and was entertaining. The sequel however, that we could do with out.
10) Santa Claus (1986 with Dudley Moore) – Still better than other Santa Claus movies with an enthusiastic elf who defeats a toy tycoon. It was just a feel good, heart-felt Christmas film.
9) Die Hard – Well most of you are again probably making faces at my choice. But this too takes place during Christmas like “Gremlins,” only this is better. It is the kick-ass holiday movie that should never be missed. And if you don’t think it should be on my list, too bad.
8) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated) – I prefer the animated version to the life action with Jim Carrey. Really though, it is the story that is a classic, so either way you want it, just go see.
7) It’s A Wonderful Life – Again, on the list because of nostalgia and its overall theme. It is probably the most classic of all Christmas films and you can see it about fifty-eight times between now and Christmas day (not including Christmas day’s five showings of this film) on your television. Be sure to catch at least one to put you in the spirit.
6) A Christmas Carol – There are very, very, very many versions and films about this Dickens story. The ones I would suggest you see are “Muppet Christmas Carol,” “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” and the live version starring the great actor George C. Scott.
5) Miracle on 34th Street – This is just a great and heartwarming story. Rent the Natalie Wood version, it is much better than the modern one. But this movie is great for the idea that just because we cannot see it does not mean it does not exist, and if it is a comfort to someone to believe, what do you gain by telling them it does not exist? Rent this, modern or classic.
4) Nightmare Before Christmas – Simply Tim Burton’s greatest achievement. It is fun, adventurous and full of connotations surrounding the holiday spirit. Some may disagree with this one, but it is without a doubt one of my favorite holiday films.
3) Scrooged – Bill Murray’s great rendition of the Scrooge story with enough differences and twists to put it outside my Christmas Carol category. With the wonderful dynamic with Carol Kane, the crazed taxi driver, David Johansen and Bob Goldthwait, this is the funniest and most entertaining version of Dickens you will ever find.
2) A Christmas Story – it does not get more classic than this. The portrayal of how almost every kid in America could experience Christmas with bullies, anticipation, and nerves over getting what you want and the entire adult world telling you that what you want, you can’t get … because of course, you’ll put your eye out.
1) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – You think you’re family is screwed up? No, no, the Griswolds, they are screwed up. And there could not be a better holiday film to end this list on than one that makes us feel for the other families that have try to make a perfect family Christmas, and makes us feel better about the family we have to spend Christmas with. Thank you Griswolds, and we forgive you for making us sit through your European and Vegas vacations.