Top Ten Christmas and Holiday Movies

By John Focht

When it comes to Christmas and Holiday movies, there are certain movies that you just set the DVR to record every year.  It doesn’t matter how many times you have seen them in the past; or how many times you have flipped past them while channel surfing; there are just some Christmas movies you will watch over and over again.

This top ten list is not meant as a critique of the movies; it’s just a list of the top Christmas movies.  There are plenty of great ones that I missed, but you have to start somewhere.

#10 The Grinch 

The only reason to watch this one is Jim Carry.  Funny movie, but the cartoon is better.


#9 Miracle on 34th Street

I have to admit I have a soft-spot for traditions.  Although this movie isn’t on my traditional Holiday movie watch list, there is no denying it has eclipsed the test of time.

You can argue this 1947 Christmas classic should be much higher, but regardless of where you rank it, it is a Holiday movie that should make every top ten list.


#8 Fred Claus

This 2007 classic starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti was an instant Holiday hit.  Who knew Santa had a trouble-maker brother named Fred?


#7 The Family Man

This was a bit of a modern day version of It’s a Wonderful Life, but instead of the main character George Bailey wondering what the world would be like without him, the main character in The Family Man, Jack Campbell, dreams what life would be like if he married his college sweetheart instead of following the allure of cash to become a Wall Street executive?


#6 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Technically this is a Holiday movie, albeit it is a Thanksgiving holiday movie.  Stuck in New York two days before Thanksgiving, back in the 1980’s – before cell phones!  The late John Candy and Steve Martin play Del Griffith and Neal Page respectively.

As the two try to travel back to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving they hit nothing but bad weather and bad luck as they try any means necessary – planes, trains, automobiles – to make it back in time for the Thanksgiving feast.  Memorable quote: “Those aren’t pillows!!”


#5 Home Alone

Despite Home Alone being the peak of Macaulay Culkin’s acting career, this is still one of the best Christmas movies released.


#4 It’s a Wonderful Life

For a long time, this sat as my number one Christmas movie.  In many ways, the 1946 Christmas classic ushered in the Holiday movie era.  Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey is truly one of the finest Christmas roles created.  It’s not number one anymore (mostly because the older I got the more I realized how long it takes to get to the damn plot of the movie), but it is still a top five.


#3 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

This movie gets funnier and funnier every year.  Count how many times you pass a ridiculously lit up house each Christmas season and make reference to the Griswold house.


#2 Elf

An instant Christmas classic.  Will Ferrell has made Buddy the Elf as much a part of Christmas TV as Rudolph, The Grinch (the cartoon), and Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree.  Not a funnier Christmas movie made, and it would be number one if it weren’t for the endless Christmas Day loop for the top Christmas movie…


#1 A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story may have come out to mixed reviews back in 1983, but since then it has become as much a part of everyone’s Christmas Day as presents and family.  TBS has made A Christmas Story part of our Christmas lives with its 24 hour loop of the Holiday Classic beginning at midnight on Christmas every year.


But A Christmas Story seems like more than just another Christmas movie.  It has a way of taking you back to a time when life was simple and pure.   Back when you can imagine yourself as nine-year old Ralphie Parker whose only Christmas wish was the Red Ryder BB gun.  It’s hard not to watch this movie and recall Christmas when you were a kid.


While some of the other movies on this list will slip off with newer-released Christmas movies taking their place, A Christmas Story will survive the test of time as a true Christmas movie classic.