16 CHRISTMAS MOVIES YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS YEAR
Written by Tony Schultz on December 7, 2023
I wanted to make sure I got this list out in time for you to sit down and enjoy it leading up to Christmas. There aren’t many weekends in between, but Christmas does fall on a Monday so you can get a few week nights in that weekend you can finish it up just in time! Now this is not “The Greatest Christmas Movies Of All Time” list. No, that is just too debatable. This is my personal list of Christmas movies that you have to see, preferably before the magic day. Don’t worry if you don’t get them all in before Santa gets there as there are a bunch and you can save some for your Christmas break. There aren’t any “specials” on the list because those have their own category. These are straight up movies that you could have seen in theaters and now need to stream or get on DVD. Also, this isn’t just family friendly fair with everything being a happy ending. Some of these are just for mom and dad and the older kids. So, while one group is watching in the main TV room the younger ones can watch the kid aimed films. With many of them available on multiple services I’m not going to give out every one, but I’ll hit on a couple of the main ones. So, get ready to have your stocking filled with the best Christmas movies you should be watching besides the ones known around the world like “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Miracle On 34th St.”
16. The Santa Claus movies – Tim Allen was a scrooge that put on Santa’s coat after he fell off his roof and the rest is history. The first movie is a classic with the other two movies progressively less enjoyable. There is even a show on Disney+ now that is merely OK
15. A Christmas Story – I know there are folks that have this as the pinnacle of Christmas films, but I never watched it as a kid and never bought into the hype. It has it’s moments and I can’t deny its popularity, but it doesn’t do it for me. I want to punch Ralphie’s little brother.
14. The Christmas Chronicles 1 and 2 – On Netflix, Kurt Russell plays Santa (or Hot Santa as some moms have deemed him) in these fun and touching movies about a family and tough times. Add them to your list and you won’t be disappointed watching them with your kids.
13. .Elf – Is there a more beloved Christmas movie, or quoted one? It’s hard to say. Will Ferrell really shines in this film whether you like him or not as an actor. He was the perfect choice all along and is able to play whimsical, naive, and vulnerable (like a tomato) all wrapped up in one character. It always seems to draw out the spirit of Christmas and show that too many people today have forgotten it.
12. Trading Places – An 80s classic about switching two peoples’ lives to see if they succeed or fail. It happens during Christmas and the New Year more than being about Christmas. That really helps it hit home with the 80s slant on greed. THERE’S PLENTY OF BEEF JERKY, YOU KNOW!
11. The Family Man – This take on Scrooge is interesting as it places the main character in a different timeline where one decision changed everything. Which life makes him truly happy? Can he have both? Get ready for a gut punch.
10. Die Hard – The story of a man that just wants to celebrate Christmas, but first has to kill terrorists. Top 5 action movie, and Top 10 Christmas movie because my list is a holly-jolly and hardcore. Yippe-ky-yay, Father Christmas!
9. Jingle All The Way – Ah-nuld as the dad who forgot to get the hottest toy of the year for his son and his exploits of trying to find one last minute was a very familiar feeling in the 90s. Filmed in St. Paul and surrounding Twin Cities communities! It puts a large lens on the sometimes vulgar display of capitalism and greed around this time of year.
8. Just Friends – The high school loser returns home by accident and tries to get back with his best friend/high school crush. It is a hilarious movie that has become a cult classic. It will have you saying “Dinkleman!”and singing I Swear. Ryan Reynolds at his comedic best with a mix of jerk and charm and Amy Smart matches his energy perfectly.
7. Dr. Suess’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Jim Carrey is great as the Grinch and the live action version does the story justice. The added scenes that aren’t in the book give it more heft. You will almost always find yourself smiling at some point of this movie no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
6. Scrooged – Bill Murray in the 80’s update that is the epitome of greed in that decade and how TV execs seemed to think back them. It will put a little love in your heart. I feel the recent movie Violent Night was inspired by a scene in this movie.
5. The Polar Express – The magic and majesty of the book’s illustrations are wonderfully captured in this movie and the sweeping score is Christmas encapsulated. TV cut out some scenes that would make a first time viewer confused, so I suggest you BluRay or stream it.
4. 8-Bit Christmas – This is an HBO made movie and it is fantastic! It is basically an updated version of A Christmas Story with Nintendo replacing the Red Rider. You will notice how it drew inspiration from not just other Christmas movies, but even a cult classic 80s movie. There is a message in this film and you will need a tissue by the end.
3. Home Alone – Every kid’s worst nightmare and greatest wish wrapped up in one movie. There are so many moments of heart and comedy you can’t help but love it.
2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Are you serious, Clark? Yes, at number 2 because it is the funniest Christmas movie and one of the great comedies of all time. It is highly quotable and we all know a character or two from the movie in real life.
1.Disney’s A Christmas Carol – Again Jim Carrey stars as the other renowned anti-Christmas figure, Ebeneezer Scrooge. The CGI movie is wonderful and it uses the original dialogue from the book with some added scenes that would look even better if you could see them in their original 3D release. Watch it in the highest definition possible.