Few things make us feel the holiday season is upon us like seeing our favorite holiday movies, coupled with decorating the tree and sipping on hot chocolate or egg nog. These movies invoke a sense of tradition, calm us and remind us of Christmas memories with songs, humor and touching moments. Listed from newest to oldest release, here are our picks for the top 10 holiday movies.
When Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) finds out he’s not actually an elf, he leaves the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop for New York in search of his dad, a not-so-kind publishing executive who’s on the Naughty List. While trying to win his father’s affection and put him on the Good List, Buddy meets Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), his coworker-turned-love interest, and teaches New Yorkers how to have Christmas spirit again.
Love Actually (2003)
Ten different storylines intersect in this British comedy centered on the five weeks until Christmas, in which romances are revealed and hearts are broken. The new Prime Minister has feelings for his catering manager, a struggling novel writer falls for his housekeeper, a man is in love with his best friend’s new wife and two people employed as body doubles find a personal connection even when they’re in awkward situations. Through these stories and more, learn why “love actually is all around.”
Home Alone 2 (1992)
You may not believe it, but Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) has once again been left out of his family’s Christmas travels, except this time he wasn’t left at home; he boarded the wrong plane. While the rest of the McCallisters go to Miami (“where they don’t have Christmas trees; they have palm trees”), Kevin is off to New York. He deviously checks into a swanky hotel, befriends a homeless woman and soon runs into the former Wet Bandits, now the Sticky Bandits. Thanks to his aunt and uncle’s home being renovated, Kevin manages to save Christmas and reunite with his family in true New York style.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Clark Griswold, the ultimate family man, wants the perfect Christmas tree, decorations and family gathering. Unfortunately, the multiple eccentric members of his extended family and two snobby neighbors threaten to ruin his plans, while his penny-pinching boss may thwart his mission to give his family the ultimate gift – an in-ground swimming pool. Thanks to comedic relief by Cousin Eddie and holiday décor that refuses to light, Clark’s Christmas is both hilarious and touching.
A Christmas Story (1983)
So popular that one channel plays it for 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve, “A Christmas Story” follows Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) in his pursuit for a Red Ryder BB gun. Despite repeated “You’ll shoot your eye out!” warnings and a series of mishaps that threaten to thwart his plans, including a run-in with a mean Santa Claus, Ralphie manages to have a good Christmas with his family.
Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
In the original cartoon version of Dr. Suess’ tale, a grumpy green grouch looks down on the noisy, joyful Whos of Whoville below, who delight in Christmas spirit and song. The Grinch enlists the help of his happy dachshund Max to steal all of the Whos’ Christmas presents and decorations, in hopes of snuffing out their holiday cheer. Instead, the Grinch catches some of that Christmas spirit himself.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Charlie Brown is depressed about Christmas becoming so commercialized, and his friends are doing nothing to prove him wrong – Lucy wants the biggest, fake tree for the Christmas play, the kids in the play want to modernize it and Snoopy is trying to win a neighborhood lights and decorating contest. When Charlie Brown rescues a scrawny baby tree, the only live one in the lot, the other kids laugh at him, but once he recites the second chapter from the gospel of Luke, the kids come around to the true meaning of Christmas and help Charlie Brown’s tree look fantastic.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
When Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) takes over the job as Santa at Macy’s flagship New York City store on 34th Street, he does such a great job that visitors to the store begin to question if he really is Santa. When Kris insists he is, a witch hunt ensues to prove Kris is mentally unstable and dangerous, while Kris works to restore Christmas spirit in Susan (Natalie Wood), the young daughter of Macy’s event director Doris (Maureen O’ Hara), who leads the charges against him.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Repeatedly honored as one of the best movies of all time, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the two-plot story of how an angel earns his wings and a down-on-his-luck banker and family man learns to love life again. When George Bailey (James Stewart) tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, an angel shows him what life would be like if he was never born, and George realizes he had more influence on the good in his town and the world than he thought.
A Christmas Carol (1938)
Based on Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name, “A Christmas Carol” tells the story of wealthy-but-rotten Ebenezer Scrooge (Reginald Owen) as he reflects on his life, hosted by the ghost of Scrooge’s old business partner, who shows him his past, present and future. The past shows him when he was more innocent and kind, the present shows him how his treatment of employee Bob Cratchit has affected Cratchit’s own family and the future shows him dying alone and later being robbed and ridiculed. Overnight, the experience turns Scrooge into a generous, compassionate man, who embodies the Christmas spirit.
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