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Santa Claus is coming to town, but you still have plenty of time to find all kinds of holiday movie rentals.
There are classics, of course, like Macaulay Culkin taking on dimwitted villains in “Home Alone” or Bill Murray’s self-absorbed TV executive learning a thing or two about the meaning of Christmas in “Scrooged,” Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Or be Maybe you want more modern options, like the new Will Ferrell/Ryan Reynolds musical “Spirited” or the Lindsay Lohan seasonal spectacular “Falling for Christmas.”
In honor of the holiday season, let’s rank the 20 best Christmas movies of all time.
Christmas Movies for Kids:A guide to 100+ family movies to stream this holiday season
20 (tie). ‘Arthur’s Christmas’ (2011)
The underrated, animated British gem centers on Arthur (James McAvoy), son of Santa Claus, who works under a deadline to deliver gifts to a girl forgotten by his family’s militaristic, high-tech delivery system.
20 (tie). ‘Jingle Jungle: A Christmas Journey’
The entertaining and big-hearted fantasy musical about a famous former toy maker (Forest Whitaker) regaining his mojo for an inventive granddaughter (Madeleine Mills) has top tunes, a diverse focus and young female intelligence.
19. ‘Home Alone’ (1990)
Culkin is unfailingly precocious, and watching an 8-year-old foil a pair of clueless adult thieves in inventive fashion is okay and all. What’s often forgotten amid the kiddie shenanigans, however, is what the film says about the importance of family.
18. ‘The Ice Harvest’ (2005)
Set in Wichita, Kansas on Christmas Eve, this twisty, cool and funny film noir stars John Cusack as a mob lawyer who steals $2 million from his boss (Randy Quaid) and is forced out of town by bad weather. There is a problem
17. ‘Happiest Season’ (2020)
The inclusive and delightfully clever romantic comedy stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as a lesbian couple whose relationship is tested at family reunions by deeply held secrets, conservative parents and competitive siblings.
16. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993)
Is this a Halloween movie? sure And is it a yuletide shaker, too? You bet! Tim Burton puts his crazy spin on a holiday mashup where Halloween town big man Jack Skellington decides to take over various aspects of Christmas town – and arranges to kidnap Santa – until he realizes it wasn’t the greatest idea.
15. ‘Lethal Weapon’ (1987)
On its own, it’s one of the best buddy-cop action films ever, forcing Danny Glover’s aging Roger Murtaugh and Mel Gibson’s loose cannon Martin Riggs together. Seasonal things like the shootout in the Christmas tree lot and Riggs, battling suicidal thoughts, finally finding a family to share a holiday dinner with make it all the better.
14. ‘Merry Christmas’ (2005)
This war drama snagged an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and explores the triumph of humanity over barbarism as it tells the real-life story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 when the battlefields of World War I welcomed Carol instead of massacre.
13. ‘White Christmas’ (1954)
Two Bing Crosby musicals used the song “White Christmas”: Let’s skip 1942’s “Holiday Inn” (which included a cringe-inducing blackface sequence) and instead include Crosby teaming up with Danny Kaye as a glorified World War II GI who trying to save them. Old commanding officer’s country inn with sister acts (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen).
12. ‘Gremlins’ (1984)
The holiday story doubles as a good entry into Horror for Youth, a small town haunted by strange gremlins because teenagers can’t follow simple instructions. Also: Baby Yoda can only try to keep up with the cuteness level of the little mogwai gizmo in a Santa hat.
11. ‘The Shop Around the Corner’ (1940)
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail” is the premise of this Hungarian holiday jam featuring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as co-workers in a Budapest leather goods store who unknowingly fall in love. Through anonymous letters.
10. ‘A Christmas Story’ (1983)
Full disclosure: I despised this movie as a kid who wasn’t into BB guns or leg lamps. As an adult, though, the comedy resonates even more as a message about the whole nature of parenting during the holidays and how everyone tries to get through the holidays, even the tired Mall Santa.
9. ‘A Christmas Carol’ (1951)
Among the various “traditional” versions of Charles Dickens’ classics – from “The Muppet Christmas Carol” to the wonderful George C. As far as the Scott TV movie – it cuts through the dark tone of the original text, including Scrooge (Alastair Sim). To come out the other side a better person through an insightful horror film.
8. ‘The Apartment’ (1960)
The romantic dramedy stars Jack Lemmon as a nebbish office drone known for lending his space to bosses to take their mistresses. When he starts falling hard for an elevator girl (Shirley MacLaine), he turns his attention to himself, whom the big boss (Fred McMurray) secretly takes to the love den on Christmas Eve.
7. ‘Die Hard’ (1988)
Heck yes, it’s a Christmas movie, in case there was any doubt. And sorry, Santa, no one squeezes through the tight spaces of a building to get the job done — in this classic action film’s case, thwarting terrorists and saving his estranged wife — better than Bruce Willis’ iconic John McClane.
6. ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ (1989)
Anyone who’s ever tried entirely too hard on the holidays can empathize with Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his hilarious struggle to decorate his house, deal with wacko relatives – we all have our own Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) – and most pleasant Christmas is imaginable, often playing himself as his worst enemy.
5. ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ (1947)
If you can put up with the absurd absurdity, there’s a curious “Law & Order” episode when Kris Kringle himself (Edmund Gwen) does some good at a job replacing a drunken Macy’s parade Santa and ends up on trial for mental. Restless when he insists he’s the real deal.
4. ‘Love Actually’ (2003)
Often imitated, never imitated. Intertwining love stories featuring Brits and others conjure up all sorts of holiday emotions — some happy, others melancholy — and downright manipulative. But whether it’s racing a little boy to Heathrow to find his crush or watching Andrew Lincoln sing silent songs to Keira Knightley, you’re too busy to be bombarded by feelings of care.
3. ‘Elf’ (2003)
For our money, we had an honest-to-goodness holiday classic this century. Will Ferrell has one of his best roles as a naïve overgrown elf who discovers he’s actually human, and the high jinks that follow when he’s introduced to “civilization” are filled with heart, humor and childlike wonder.
2. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946)
In the case of the Christmas movie “Citizen Kane,” though, everyone saw the ascension of Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. Like the Scrooge model in its focus on the significance of second chances, showing a man how much worse life would be if he hadn’t been born, this thing will pull the Christmas spirit right out of you and scream it out of you.
1. ‘Scrooged’ (1988)
Born of ’80s allure yet timeless in its relevance, “Scrooged” is a pitch-perfect mix of slapstick and black humor, love and loss, life and death that has no business being surprising. It’s brilliantly cast, from Bill Murray’s modern Scrooge-y Frank Cross to Carol Kane’s adorably sad fairy. And if you don’t heal within “Keep a Little Love in Your Heart,” you may find yourself visited by three ghosts.
The 20 Best Christmas Movies of All Time, Ranked (From ‘Home Alone’ to ‘Die Hard’)
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