6 of the Best Christmas Movies

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ABC Family's holiday programming started on Saturday Dec. 1 this year. Photo courtesy of ABC Family.

Photo courtesy of ABC Family.

Every year ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas begins on December 1 and all of a sudden Christmas movies are everywhere. Although, maybe some people start even earlier, right after Thanksgiving–or even earlier in the year if they just can’t wait–with their own movie marathons. Personally, I like to wait until Christmas is a little closer. But we can all admit that holiday movies are the best way to get into the Christmas spirit. If you’re Buddy the elf, you’ll also do a little caroling to spread the Christmas cheer (don’t worry we’ll come back to Buddy later.) But if your voice isn’t feeling up to it, or you’d just rather curl up with a favorite blanket and hot winter beverage—whether it’s cocoa with the little marshmallows or some good tea—you can always marathon some great holiday flicks with friends, family or on your own. Here are some movies I’ll be watching  to help jumpstart my Christmas spirit.

Some other shorts included are "Santa's Surprise" and "Snow Foolin." Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Some other shorts included are “Santa’s Surprise” and “Snow Foolin.” Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Christmas Classics Vol. 1

This collection of short animated Christmas films from the 1930s and 40s includes “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Hector’s Hectic Life,” “Jack Frost,” and “Christmas Comes But Once A Year.” It includes some classics, like “Rudolf” and “The Night Before Christmas,” as well as some not so well known stories. “Christmas Comes But Once A Year” tells the story of an inventor passing by an orphanage who decides to make Christmas presents for all the children out of household items.

This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid (though I’m not really sure why) and I used to watch it even during my summer vacations. I watched it again last year when I noticed it on Netflix Instant and it was almost exactly as I remembered it since there were some extra shorts that hadn’t been on my VHS copy. If you can get over the very obviously racist cartoons that are featured in some of the shorts (like “Santa’s Surprise”) or if you’d like a little Christmas-themed history lesson about the depictions of people of color in cartoons, I’d definitely recommend this movie.

Ralphie said he wanted his Red Ryder BB gun 28 times throughout the movie. Photo courtesy of MGM

Ralphie said he wanted his Red Ryder BB gun 28 times throughout the movie. Photo courtesy of MGM

A Christmas Story (1983)

Set in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana in the 1940’s, A Christmas Story is the tale of nine-year-old Ralphie Parker and the year he tried to convince every single person in his life, including Santa, that he should have an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. His mother comes back with the argument that every mother has used since the beginning of mothers: “You’ll shoot your eye out!” But this never deters Ralphie and it’s a good thing, too, because the movie wouldn’t be as good if it did.

Every year on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, TBS plays A Christmas Story back-to-back-to-back for 24 hours straight. That’s 24 hours of Parker family antics: Ralphie standing up to the neighborhood bully; Schwartz triple-dog-daring Flick to stick his tongue to a frozen pole; Ralphie’s first swear word; and of course Mr. Parker receiving his major award. A Christmas Story is a classic and it will be a sad day if TBS should ever stop running the Ralphie marathon every year. And if you can’t get enough of the Parkers, A Christmas Story 2, the direct-to-dvd sequel was released on Oct. 30 this year (I really wish I were kidding.)

"The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear" - Buddy the elf. Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.

“The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.

Elf (2003)

It’s time for a little bit of Buddy the elf on this list. Will Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human who was raised by elves in the North Pole. Buddy travels to New York City to find his birth father and in the process he brings a whole lot of Christmas cheer to one of the grumpiest cities in the world. Plus, Zooey Deschanel is blonde in this movie; if that’s something you’re interested in seeing. Like most Will Ferrell movies, Elf was an instant classic and is still quoted by anyone who has ever seen it.

Elf is easily my favorite Will Ferrell movie (followed closely by Stepbrothers) and it’s a great comedy for the holiday season. As Christmas draws closer, Elf will surely be on TV more often than not and I personally cannot wait. But if you can’t get enough of Buddy the elf, a Broadway musical was adapted from the movie and is touring around the country this month. Seriously, I can’t even make this stuff up.

Other actors considered for the Grinch were Eddie Murphy and Jack Nicholson. Photo courtesy of Universal.

Other actors considered for the Grinch were Eddie Murphy and Jack Nicholson. Photo courtesy of Universal.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Maybe you were expecting the 1966 animated version, but no. Ron Howard’s The Grinch is way better for a couple reasons: Jim Carrey, it’s a feature-length film, Taylor Momsen before she went through her scary teen phase, Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, a character named Whobris (like hubris, geddit?) and most importantly, Jim Carrey. The Grinch follows the well-known story of an evil green guy who steals all the presents from a town of nice folks, just to have the tables turned on him so that he inevitably learns the real meaning of Christmas. Carrey brings life and depth to a character that could easily just be another comic villain, and he’s hilarious in the process.

The Grinch has become a classic Christmas tale and while there are a few incarnations of the original Dr. Suess book, this movie is by far the best telling of the Grinch’s story. Between the beauty of Whoville at Christmastime and the lesson to be learned about the meaning of Christmas, it’s easily one of the ultimate holiday movies. Plus, the Grinch as a kid is something everyone should see. Although I was saddened to hear that Josh Evans, who played young Grinch, passed away only a few years after the movie was made, he will live on as the coolest green kid in the class.

Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth star in this flick as Mr. and Mrs. Claus respectively. Photo courtesy of Warner Home video

Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth star in this flick as Mr. and Mrs. Claus respectively. Photo courtesy of Warner Home video

The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)

Based on Phyllis McGinley’s 1956 book of the same name, The Year Without A Santa Claus is an animated musical about the year when Santa Claus was too sick and disheartened with the children of the world to make his annual trip around the globe to dole out presents. Two elves ride a reindeer to South Town, USA in an attempt to find some children who still believe in Santa. While all of the songs in this movie are good, the best remembered are the Heat Miser and Snow Miser songs. The brothers, voiced by George S. Irving and Dick Shawn respectively, are the sons of Mother Nature and are constantly at war with each other.

I first saw this movie when I was a kid while watching a Christmas classics marathon during ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. Heat Miser and Snow Miser are the best characters in the whole thing and I instantly fell in love with their songs (they’re so catchy!) I also love to see Mrs. Claus take the spotlight for once. NBC should have left well enough alone instead of producing their live-action flop in 2006 because The Year Without A Santa Claus will always be the best animated Christmas movie. Even though I’m definitely more of a Heat Miser, once the snow begins to fall in South Town, USA, I know it’s Christmas.

The soundtrack to 'Scrooge' was written by Leslie Bricusse. Photo courtesy of Paramount.

The soundtrack to ‘Scrooge’ was written by Leslie Bricusse. Photo courtesy of Paramount.

Scrooge (1970)

For as long as I can remember, my family has watched Scrooge on Christmas Eve. This 1970’s Christmas musical is based on the well-known-by-everyone-ever Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol. Albert Finney won a Golden Globe in 1971 for his portrayal of the titular character in this rendition of Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous Christmas Eve story. If you doubt that Scrooge can pull off a musical, this film has many great songs to prove you wrong including “Thank You Very Much”—which was nominated for an Oscar—“December the 25th”—sang by a character named Fezziwig no less; plus “I Hate People” and “I Like Life” are two songs that can be relatable at any time of the year.

I have grown up with this movie. When I was very young, I usually fell asleep before the end (I suspect this was my mom’s ploy to get my brother and I to sleep through our excitement.) When I grew a little older, I was afraid of the obviously fake skeleton that is The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. When I was in high school, my brother began to refuse our yearly viewings of the film. No matter what though, my mom and I continue to watch this movie every year. It’s just not Christmas until I watch Scrooge, which makes it my favorite holiday movie.

No matter if you agree with me on these movies or not, how about we all wrap ourselves into blanket burritos on the couch and watch our favorite holiday movies because this is the only time of the year to do so without feeling like a weirdo. If you think I’m missing any movies on my list, let me know in the comments!

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