My Top 14 Christmas Movies

Christmas movies are some of the best. They have messages of hope, joy, and belief. Here I've compiled a list of some of my favorites, in no particular order, and why you should watch them. (You can see my list of Christmas Carol movies here.) Yeah, I know 14 is a weird number, but that was how many I picked.

1. Arthur Christmas

What It's About: In this movie, Christmas is a giant operation with thousands of soldier-like elves. But when a little girl named Gwen is missed on Christmas Eve deliveries, Santa's youngest son, Arthur, sets off to take her her gift, along with his grandfather and a wrapping elf. But will he be able to do it before Christmas dawns?
Who's In It: James McAvoy as Arthur, Hugh Laurie as his brother Steve, Jim Broadbent as Santa, and Bill Nighy as Grandsanta.
Why You Should Watch It: It's quite humorous, with plenty of funny lines and moments. It's also a great story with excellent character arcs. It's theme is belief.

2 & 3: Prep and Landing & Prep and Landing: Naught Vs. Nice

What They're About: Prep and Landing are the elf teams that prepare houses for Santa. In these two Disney shorts, you meet Wayne and Lanny, who work in Prep and Landing. The first story is about Wayne relearning the spirit of Christmas, even though he got passed over for the job promotion he wanted. The second one is about a naughty child who stole an important piece of equipment, and has a theme of love between siblings.
Who's In Them: Dave Foley as Wayne, Derek Richardson as Lanny, and Sarah Chalke as Magee, the head of Christmas operations.
Why You Should Watch Them: In two half hour shorts Disney manages to deliver funny stories with great themes to them. Wayne and Lanny are hilarious, as is Magee and Tiny, her assistant. They're great for anyone, young or old.

4: The Santa Clause

What It's About: When Scott Calvin accidentally kills Santa on Christmas eve, and puts on his suit, he becomes the next Santa Claus. Over the next year he has to come to terms with that, as well as raise his son, Charlie. (The most adorable kid on the planet.)
Who's In It: Tim Allen as Scott, Judge Reinhold as Neil, Charlie's stepfather, Wendy Crewson as Laura, Scott's ex-wife, Eric Lloyd as Charlie, and David Krumholtz as Bernard, the head elf at the North Pole.
Why You Should Watch It: Tim Allen. Need I say more? The comedy is spot on, as is the depth to the story. Despite the fact that Scott is divorced, he's still close to Charlie, which I appreciate. Sure to be a family favorite.

5. The Santa Clause 2

What It's About: Santa returns in this second movie. It's been eight years since the first one, but now Charlie's on the naughty list and he has to find a wife, or he stops being Santa. Scott returns home to try and accomplish both before time runs out, while leaving a toy Santa in his place to run things at the North Pole. As you may guess, things don't turn out so great.
Who's In It: The same actors as before, with the addition of Elizabeth Mitchell as Carol, the woman Scott woos, Spencer Breslin as Curtis, another elf, and Liliana Mumy as Lucy, Charlie's sister.
Why You Should Watch It: More humor, more adventure, more Bernard (my favorite elf), and the addition of Lucy. Unlike some films, the second movie in this series is just as good as the first one. I really enjoy that Charlie gets more character development.

6. The Santa Clause 3

What It's About: In the final installment of the Santa Clause movies, Mrs. Claus is pregnant and invited her family for Christmas. At the same time, Santa agrees to watch Jack Frost, who has his own nasty plan in mind. Scott has to juggle too much and makes a horrible mistake which he then has to correct.
Who's In It: The cast from the previous two with the additions of Martin Short as Jack Frost, Anne-Margaret as Sylvia, Carol's mom, and Alan Arkin as Bud, her dad.
Why You Should Watch It: Tim Allen and Martin Short in the same movie. The laughs are awesome. Jack Frost is one of my favorite characters in the whole series. All of his costumes look like they're frosted. Then, as I said, these movies almost got better as they went. This is a great series to binge watch.

7. A Charlie Brown Christmas

What It's About: Charlie Brown, like normal, is feeling depressed. Lucy suggests he direct the school Christmas play. Things go wrong when he goes to get a tree, but in the end everyone remembers what Christmas is really about.
Who's In It: The whole Peanut gang: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Sally, Snoopy, and Woodstock.
Why You Should Watch It: This is a Christmas classic. With a story about the true meaning of Christmas, plus the fun of the Peanut gang, this is a great one for old and young alike.

8. Home Alone

What It's About: The whole family leaves for Christmas vacation, but accidentally forgets Kevin at home. At first, he doesn't mind. But when crooks mark his house for a Christmas robbery, it's up to him to defend it.
Who's In It: Macaulay Culkin as Kevin, and Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the crooks, Harry and Marv.
Why You Should Watch It: While some of the characters can be foul mouthed at times, most Kevin's brother Buzz, it's a great comedy film, full of good old-fashioned slap-stick. Kevin's traps are awesome. A must watch if you love to laugh.

9. The Tangerine Bear

What It's About: After a bear named Tangie accidentally gets his smile sewed on upside-down, he won't sell. He gets taken to Winkle's Emporium. There he makes friends with a jack-in-the-box, a cuckoo clock, and a dog as he continues to try to be bought. Over the course of the story he learns about family and belonging.
Who's In It: Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Tangie, Howie Mandel as Jack, the jack-in-the-box, David Hyde Pierce as Bird, the cuckoo clock, Jon Polito as Virgil the dog, and Tom Bosley as Mr. Winkle.
Why You Should Watch It: Because it's a story about friendship and family. The other toys understand Tangie's longing to be bought and belong to someone. And even though none of them are, it doesn't matter, because they have each other. It's super sweet.

10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas*
*and yes, I mean the animated one from 1966, not the Jim Carrey version

What It's About: The Grinch is a grouchy creature who hates Christmas, because his heart is three times too small. Down below him live the Whos. One Christmas, he's had enough and so decides to steal Christmas from them. But things don't turn out quite as he planned.
Who's In It: The Grinch, and Cindy Lou Who, with Boris Karloff narrating.
Why You Should Watch It: Because it's a classic, and you can listen to "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (which I've linked for your listening purposes). Okay, there are other reasons. It's also a story about how Christmas isn't about the trimmings. It's about what's inside us.

11. White Christmas

What It's About: Bob and Phil, a song and dance duo, meet Betty and Judy, a girl song and dance duo, and quickly fall in love. They end up going to Vermont together to find the lodge they're staying in is run by Bob and Phil's old army commander. Romantic comedy ensues as the men try to help their commander stay afloat.
Who's In It: Bing Crosby as Bob, Danny Kaye as Phil, Rosemary Clooney as Betty, and Vera-Ellen as Judy.
Why You Should Watch It: Romantic comedy+musical. It's amazing and funny. And of course, you can't forget Bing Crosby. This has been one of my Christmas favorites ever since I first saw it.

12. The Polar Express

What It's About: A little boy who doubts that Santa is real gets invited on the Polar Express, a train that takes children to the North Pole. He, along with Billy and a little girl, have many adventures as they learn to believe in the things they doubt most.
Who's In It: Tom Hanks as almost all the male adult characters, Nona Gaye as the little girl, Eddie Deezen as the know-it-all, Jimmy Bennet as Billy, and Daryl Sabara as the main character.
Why You Should Watch It: This is an amazing movie. Although most of the characters don't have names, you still feel a real connection to them. Each of the children doubt something, whether it be Santa or themselves. As they journey to the North Pole, they learn about belief. And the conductor Tom Hanks plays is awesome. He even looks like him. If you've never watched this, you must do so immediately.

13. Santa and Pete

What It's About: In this movie, a grandpa tells his grandson about Saint Nicholas and his little heard of helper, Pete. They travel around Europe, and eventually make their way to the New World, spreading hope and happiness where ever they go, despite all opposition.
Who's In It: James Earl Jones as Grandpa, Hume Cronyn as Saint Nick, Flex Alexander as Pete, and Emily Mae Young as Marlene, a young girl Nick helps in the New World.
Why You Should Watch It: Anything narrated by James Earl Jones should be watched. Plus, the story is great. Action, humor, and loads of feelings. It also gets Nick all set up to become Santa Claus. There's a touch of magic as well.

14. The Nightmare Before Christmas

What It's About: Jack Skellington is the king of Halloween, but he's tired of doing the same thing year after year. He stumbles across a place called Christmas Town and decides to take over Christmas. Chaos ensues as the monsters from Halloween Town try to make a merry Christmas.
Who's In It: Chris Sarandon as Jack, Catherine O'Hara as Sally, the patchwork doll, Ken Page as Oogie Boogie, the villain, and Edward Ivory as Santa.
Why You Should Watch It: There are many debates on when you should watch this movie. Christmas or Halloween? My answer? Both, and any other time at all. It's another awesomely creepy Tim Burton stop-motion movie. It's really fun with plenty of music and adventure. If you like other Tim Burton films, this one should certainly be added to your list.

What movies are on your Christmas watch list? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments.


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