Before cable television, the internet, and smart phones, kids eagerly awaited the Christmas movies that came on TV once a year. With the TV Guide in hand, all children would know which channel and what day and time their favourite movies would come on. No one wanted to be grounded on those nights, as missing the magical holiday hits was a crushing blow to any child’s holiday.
But, what makes one Christmas movie better than the rest? Is it the music? The characters? Well, in the words from the Grinch, ”What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more?” Maybe the best Christmas movies mean a little bit more too.
The ten best Christmas Movies Ever
10 The Polar Express (2004)
“This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas – as am I. Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.” – Santa
A fairly recent Christmas classic, The Polar Express, is based on a book written by Chris Van Allsburg. It involves an exciting train adventure to the North Pole in which a young boy discovers that you must learn to believe in order to keep the magic of Christmas alive. Even hope and faith that has faded can be renewed once again.
9 It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
“Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel’s just got his wings.” – Clarence, the angel
Throwing it way back to the days of black and white television, It’s a Wonderful Life was (and is) a holiday classic. The story revolves around a desperate, depressed family man at Christmas and how he discovers that his life has incredible meaning. When he meets the angel, Clarence, he’s taken on a journey to be shown the sad reality of what others’ lives would be like without him alive.
8 Frosty the Snowman (1969)
“You silly children believe everything you see. When you grow up, you’ll realize that snowmen can’t come to life.” – Professor Hinkle
Just looking at the picture of Frosty makes you hum his song in your head…right? The famous story of Frosty and his magical hat that could make him real has been around for years. In the story, an evil magician wants to steal Frosty’s magical hat to use for himself. As a result of his efforts, he puts Frosty and his friend in grave danger. In the end, Frosty and his group of friends teach a lesson about what selfless true love and friendship really means.
7 The Santa Clause (1994)
“Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” – Charlie
When actor Tim Allen finds a Santa suit and puts it on, he enters a contract known as The Santa Clause. From that day on, he becomes Santa. He gradually begins to see changes in himself both physically and in his behavior and feelings. The new Santa candidate has a difficult time accepting the fact that he is the new Santa and that if he chooses to break his contract, children all over the world will be hurt. It’s a story about faith and love for others.
6 A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
“I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.” – Linus
Do you hear Schroeder playing the Peanuts Christmas song in your head? It’s one of the most popular, purely instrumental Christmas songs each year. But, of course, the Charlie Brown Christmas is about finding beauty and love in the small, simple things. Not the glitter and wrapping that comes with the commercial Christmas hype, but the true meaning of Christmas. Linus’ recitation of the Bible story of Jesus’ birth is always a moving part of the movie that puts the holiday in perspective.
5 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
“When someday, you return to Christmas Town, would you tell Santa about our homeless toys? I’m sure he will find little boys and girls who will be happy with them. A toy is never truly happy until it is loved by a child.” – King Moonraiser (to Rudolph)
Of course, this movie is about the reindeer with the nose that everyone knows as Rudolph. But behind the fun-filled Christmas adventures of Rudolph and his friends, the story gives a good lesson on diversity and how to treat others with kindness and respect. Rudolph was different from the other reindeer, but he was special. Without Rudolph’s unusual gift, Santa couldn’t deliver his presents to children all over the world. When others see how being different can be good, they come to love and admire Rudolph and his shiny red nose.
4 Elf (2003)
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy
A more recent favorite Christmas movie, this tells the story of Buddy the Elf who was a human that grew up at the North Pole. Buddy’s goal is to find his father in New York City. Starring Will Ferrell, Buddy gives some of the best quotes in any Christmas movie. But it’s more than a funny movie with great one-liners. It’s also a story about having the strength to believe in what you know is true, despite what others say.
3 The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
“Nobody cares a hoot and a holler for you or Christmas. Oh by the way, Merry Christmas to you.” – Dr. Bobbin
Many people think this film is a follow-up to Santa Claus is Coming to Town (see below). But it isn’t really a take-off of the original Santa Claus movie. It’s actually based on a book written in 1956 by Phyllis McGinley. In it, Santa catches a cold and becomes worn out and tired. After a visit from his doctor, he considers cancelling Christmas for a year. It’s a movie about how Santa’s family and friends, and a sad little girl, all work to make Santa know how important he is to making children happy.
2 Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970)
“Changing from bad to good’s as easy as taking your first step.” – Kris Kringle
Christmas without Santa is like chocolate milk without the chocolate. Milk is good, but the chocolate makes it delicious. This adorable Christmas movie answers the questions that all children have about Santa. From how he got his name, to how he knows if children are bad or good; all the mysteries of Santa Claus/Kris Kringle are revealed in this classic film.
1 Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 and 2000)
“And then, they’ll do something I hate most of all. Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, will stand close together… with Christmas bells ringing. They’ll stand hand in hand… and those Whos… will start singing!” – Grinch (original)
“Don’t forget the Grinch. I know he’s mean and hairy and smelly. His hands might be cold and clammy, but I think he’s actually kinda… sweet.” – Cindy Lou Who (re-make)
The Grinch…the filthy Christmas villain everyone loves. He’s nasty and mean and intent on ruining Christmas. But, thanks to little Cindy Lou Who he finds a heart where he thought there wasn’t one. People have strong preferences about which Grinch is best. Some are diehard original Grinch fans and others lean more towards the Jim Carrey, real-life Grinch. Both have the same basic plot and moral. It’s okay to like both versions! There is plenty of grinchy goodness to go around. And, with a lesson that reminds us that there is much more to Christmas than the presents, decorations, and lights, what better way to enjoy Christmas than watching both?