Various conversations on Twitter had me thinking about this recently. Thought I’d collate my personal Top 5, and as usual include comments on a few of the notable absences at the end.
So, in reverse order:
5. Christmas Vacation (1989)
Always been a fan of the Vacation movies, but I still think this is the best of them. It’s a shame Chevy Chase turned out to be so thoroughly unpleasant, the best thing about all the Vacation films is Clark Griswold’s earnest pursuit of quality family time in the face of ever escalating set-backs.
4. Polar Express (2004)
I’m pretty much a sucker for a train movie at the best of times, but this ticks lots of boxes. Even the weird animation style works for me, and although the soundtrack isn’t going to be worrying Disney anytime soon, it remains a festive joy.
3. Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
While the Polar Express is slightly let down by it’s soundtrack, the Muppet Christmas Carol excels. Somehow having a magic that the Muppet’s never managed with any of their other big screen outings, this is a masterpiece. One of my favourite performances from Michael Caine too, can’t be easy acting alongside puppets.
2. Scrooged (1988)
A firm Christmas favourite and essential viewing every year. Bill Murray (as usual) is outstanding in the lead role, and is still the best interpretation of the Scrooge character for me.
It’s all at once funny, dark, depressing and sentimental. Just like Christmas.
1. White Christmas (1954)
“Let’s just say we’re doing it for an old pal in the army.”
My personal favourite, and the greatest Christmas Movie of all time, is Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Most of my reasons for loving it are sentimental, for how much it was part of my childhood. Usually start watching it in November, and get 3 or 4 viewings in by January.
Die Hard (1988) – This is only absent from the list because it didn’t make the top 5. It is absolutely a Christmas Movie, and if you’re spending any time arguing to the contrary, kindly rethink your priorities.
Holiday Inn (1942) – While I still mostly enjoy breaking this one out over the festive season, some of the content which is easy to dismiss as being “of it’s time”, I find uncomfortable to watch. Not least an entire routine in blackface. Just as well that was left behind when remaking it into White Christmas.
The Santa Clause (1994) – This (and at least the first sequel) only just missed out on the top five.
Elf (2003) – I sort of like it, but Will Farrell grates so much that it would never make my top 5. Top 10 would also be a stretch.