Hollywood is smart. More importantly, though, Hollywood is savvy. Hollywood knows that Christmas movies sell, even if a lot of them suck. A lot of the crap that’s been offered in the name of Christmas has given the Christmas movie genre a bad name. You won’t find any of those on this list, though. At Manolith, we offer a little Christmas-movie-something for everyone.
Below, our picks for 10 Christmas movies actually worth watching this holiday season — 10 Christmas movies that don’t suck.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
What is there to say about this film that hasn’t already been said? It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years since its release. Spending time with the Griswolds at Christmas — it just never gets old. And still, somehow, every year, I find myself in conversation with a person who has never seen this classic movie. If that’s you, grab the Blu-ray edition and bask in the “thpirit of the Grithwold family Chrithsmath.”
White Christmas (1954)
A Christmas classic, plain and simple. If you haven’t seen it, this gem is absolutely worth a watch. If you think musicals suck, then you’ll probably want to move on down the list. On the other hand, if you wanna see what Clark W. Griswold was talking about when he referenced Bing Crosby tap dancing with Danny F**kin’ Kaye, you’ll have to give this one a gander.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This classic (starring the incomparable Jimmy Stewart) gets a lot of play around the Christmas season. You could easily watch it any time of year, though. This isn’t your typical saccharine holiday fare. It’s actually a pretty hard-hitting drama mixed with some supernatural fantasy — and it’s widely considered one of the greatest films of all time. It’s not centered around Christmas, but the holiday helps take the story to the next level.
Did you see this one coming on this list? Gremlins is one of the greatest thrillomedies of all time. It’s absurd and, at times it’s dated and doesn’t really hold up, but it’s always worth a watch during the Christmas season — it’s a great palate cleanser. You’re humming the theme song now, aren’t you?
Bad Santa (2003)
Probably not one you’d wanna watch with the whole family, but definitely one of the most deliciously crass Christmas movies ever made. Somehow, it retains a Christmas sensitivity while still offering a lot of great (and raunchy) laughs. Though Billy Bob is in top form as the title character, it’s the supporting role from the late John Ritter that’ll have you quoting this twisted Christmas tale.
Home Alone (1990)
If you haven’t checked this one out in awhile, it still holds up. I’ll forgive 20th Century Fox for the eventual sequels that just couldn’t live up to the original. This is a great holiday film written by one of the finest screenwriters (John Hughes) to have his work displayed on the silver screen.
Love Actually (2003)
Wanna know what Andrew Lincoln was doing several years before he became Rick Grimes on AMC’s The Walking Dead? (You didn’t even know he was British, did you?) Here’s another question: Have you ever thought about the job of a movie stand-in… on a porn set? This film possesses some sap, but without sap, you can’t have syrup. The laughs are legit. The writing is smart. It’s a great date flick. Give it a look.
Joyeux Noel (2005)
If you’re sick of the surface swim and want a Christmas movie with a little more depth, this French film that was released a few years ago will offer the period drama you may be hoping for. Set during the First World War, it’s an uplifting tale that restores some hope in humanity.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Hands down, one of the finest accomplishments within the realm of stop-motion animation. The story won’t change your life, but the entertainment value is always evident. Best of all, it’s less than 80 minutes long, so you can couple this one with another flick before snoozing in front of the tree or next to the fire.
A Christmas Story (1983)
There’s a reason TBS plays this film repeatedly for 24 hours over Christmas — it’s simply the best. As a story, it’s full of universal nostalgia. As a film, it was Bob Clark‘s masterpiece. Who would have thought the writer and director of Porky’s could lay down a period Christmas comedy that would become more than a cult flick, but a true American icon?