The Very Best Christmas Movies

I have been seeing some blogging Christmas movie lists lately, don’t agree with any of them, and knew that the world was waiting with bated breath for mine. The wait is over, my friends! Here are my favorites:

1. The Bishop’s Wife I just love this movie. Granted, Cary Grant makes kind of a weird angel because you can tell he is trying to hold back on his natural sex appeal and ends up just coming off as mildly creepy. But it is a fantastic movie about having faith in God’s will for your life instead of letting anxiety rob you of your joy and taking things like your loving family for granted. (Pretty apropos for me right now). Now, I know some of you are probably fans of the remake, “The Preacher’s Wife.” And I can’t argue with you. Denzel Washington makes a much less creepy angel. He is a charming angel, in fact. And they play off the chemistry between him and the Preacher’s wife much better. So, I would consider both movies equally awesome Christmas movies. Which is rare for me. I usually vastly prefer the original versions of movies, ESPECIALLY if they have Cary Grant in them.

2. It’s a Wonderful Life Another Christmas classic. Although the the theology is a bit, erm, erroneous (no, you don’t become an angel after you die, Angels are different creatures from humans entirely) the message of the movie is, well, wonderful. The film affirms that even if you don’t see purpose in your life, God has used your life to do greater things than you will ever fully realize. The movie has a perfect answer to the desperate cry, “everyone would be better off without me!” It is a lovely Christmas movie. It makes me bawl every time. (But I am a confirmed crier.)

3. Miracle on 34th Street The original with Natalie Wood and Maureen O’Hara, not the awful remake. The Santa Claus is just perfect and the message is great. A department store Santa Claus manages to unite two department store giants in a crusade against commercialism and restores a family’s faith in humanity. It is funny and touching at the same time. And Natalie Wood is just so adorable as the worldly and jaded young Susan. My husband really loves the trial scene at the end, because, you know, lawyers and stuff.

4. Elf I realize that this is a more generational thing. This movie came out while I was in college. I remember going to see it in theaters and laughing until I almost fell out of my seat. This one is just a nostalgic pick for me, and Will Ferrell makes a surprisingly lovable elf. Also, Bob Newhart as Papa Elf is an equally fabulous casting call. I realize some people outside of my generation just can’t get into this movie, but it will make me laugh every year.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas The original cartoon, not that horrible remake with Jim Carrey. I just love the Christmas message in this movie (and the book!) It seems like in too many Christmas movies these days, the plot is: X is keeping Santa from delivering the gifts! And without gifts, THERE WILL BE NO CHRISTMAS!! Um, talk about sending the wrong message to your kids about Christmas. Without a bunch of toys and presents, and stuff, it ceases to exist? As the Narrator in this movie so aptly puts it, “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” Also, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” features some pretty badass Bass vocals.

6. Muppet Christmas Carol This is such a heartwarming movie, and very true to the Dickensian classic. The music is a little lackluster in comparison to Muppet Treasure Island, but it isn’t too bad. You have to love the little baby frog Tiny Tim saying that he was glad that the people in church saw him on his crutch because it would remind them of who made lame beggars walk and blind men see. Powerful stuff coming from a Muppet.

Worth mentioning since the TV stations play them endlessly every year for Christmas:

1. Home Alone. I know I am the anomaly for my generation, but I just can’t get into this movie. His family is so mean to him and the movie is just so darn violent. Nothing says Christmas like abysmal family relations and violence? I know I’ll get some backlash on this, because people seem to just love this movie. I’m sorry, but I have tried to like it. I really have. Just can’t do it. I must say, my husband was shocked I had never seen the second one, so I remedied that this year, and I kind of like that one. The cast is spectacular, there seems to be much less violence, and New York City at Christmas? Yes, please!

2. White Christmas. This is my cousin’s favorite, and I am a sucker for old classic movies (as you can tell from this list.) I think the story is really sweet (trying to save the charming inn of their old general), but I just can’t get into the variety show format. Too many song and dance numbers and too little plot. That being said, the song and dance numbers are good and the music is phenomenal.

3. The Santa Clause. I have always thought this one was entertaining and funny. I really like Tim Allen in his heyday (Jungle 2 Jungle is an under- appreciated yet fantastic movie). The sequels are watchable.

I am sure there are some I have forgotten. Let me know your favorites! We just started watching some of these with the girls. I can’t wait for it to be a family tradition of watching them with them during Christmas break!


About sylcell

Wife, mom of four girls, Catholic, insatiable sweet tooth
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12 Responses to The Very Best Christmas Movies

  1. morgan says:

    As with X-Mas songs, I also am not too fond of X-mas movies, either. There’s only one X-Mas movie I love: “Love actually”. When I first watched it, it was summer and I didn’t get it that it was a X-Mas movie, until my brother told me. In his “duh…” voice and with that “how could you not get that one”-look… Yeah well, now that he mentioned it, there was this main theme and that cover might have been a hint as well 😀

    And for hubby it is “Little Lord Fauntleroy”, I think the 1980s version. Unfortunately I never watched, although every year my dear husband shoots me that look…:D And I have NO clue if it even is a X-Mas movie at all, but it’s traditionally in the X-Mas TV program. Along with a couple of old czech productions of some fairy tales (love them) and the “Sissi” movies. Germans are weird 😀


    • sylcell says:

      Your husband has very sophisticated taste;) I am kind of a fan of “Love Actually.” I love Colin Firth’s story (swoon!) and I think Hugh Grant’s story is kind of cute, but I find all the other stories either bizarre or depressing (Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson’s story is the worst! Makes me so sad every time!)


  2. Mary says:

    That couch Santa is sitting on is great. Do you think they carry it at West Elm?


  3. Mary says:

    Also, the Shop Around the Corner , b&w with Jimmy Stewart.


  4. Colleen says:

    The Polar Express is my favorite. It has the best score and such a great message about believing. I tear up every time! I love Miracle on 34th Street but haven’t seen the original – I’ll put that on my list this year!


    • sylcell says:

      I love the book, but I have never gotten through the whole movie yet. I need to do that. Yes, definitely watch the original! The remake totally messes up the trial with that dollar bill thing. The original trial ending is much better!


  5. katylady says:

    So, first off, re: your last post, I am beyond thrilled that your little bird is thriving! What a great Christmas gift! Second–you wrote “bated breath,” not “baited,” and just about made my Christmas. 😀 Third, thinking of Christmas movies for little ones, I can’t help but mention “Charlie Brown Christmas”–Linus recites from Luke, and the music is just incomparable. I still remember my mom playing it on the piano. We also love “The Snowman,” a classic from my husband’s English childhood–no dialogue, just gorgeous music and beautiful animation. It’s also really short, so great for toddler attention spans. There’s a sequel, “The Snowman and Snowdog,” which is also lovely BUT opens with the death of the family dog–my sisters plead with my 3 year old not to watch it because it’s such an abrupt beginning, they always cry! P.S. I love that you compared the music from “Muppet Christmas Carol,” to “Treasure Island,” those were both “family favorites” while I was growing up, and my dad actually had the soundtrack to the latter, loved to listen to it on family road trips!


    • sylcell says:

      Thank you! You are so right, how could I forget Charlie Brown?! That is my dad’s favorite Christmas movie. And your mom played piano?! What a blessing. I really hope we have a piano player in the family. I will watch the other suggestions too. I am always up for new family favorites. And yes, I relished my “bated breath” comment. It drives me crazy when people get that wrong. I must admit, though, when people say (or worse, write) “stepped foot” I honestly think a puppy somewhere dies a grammatically incorrect death.


  6. Mary says:

    Come to the Stable with Loretta Young. This is a classic we only just discovered recently.


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