Holiday traditions: the top 10 Christmas movies

By Jacob Pierce |@JacobPierce1_DE |Daily Egyptian

With the holiday season in full effect, Christmas movies are going to be played to the point of nausea. 

But, there are good films that can make one appreciate this joyous season. Here is my list of best Christmas movies:

10. “Die Hard” (1988):



“Die Hard” is a great Christmas movie.

Besides being based in the holiday season, the film hits on a lot Christmas messages. At the center of the movie, when Hans Grubber isn’t being the best movie villain ever, it addresses the importance of family and people coming together.

It is easy to write this film off as not being a real Christmas movie, but at its heart, it’s an emotional and thrilling masterpiece. 

9. “Bad Santa” (2003):

Sometimes the best Christmas films are ones that combine traditional emotional themes and comedy.

“Bad Santa” uses the bad person trying to be better trope pretty well. Billy Bob Thornton excellently plays a bad-mouthed Santa.

This is not a film to watch with the whole family, and it suffers from an overload of mean-spirited humor, but it can make everyone laugh and cry.

8. “Scrooged” (1988):

Few things could make any season better than Bill Murray  and “Scrooged” will give all the holiday-flavored Murray anyone could want.

This often forgotten “A Christmas Carol” retelling is directed by  Richard Donner, and gives one of the most interesting takes on the classic story. 

This movie, while not perfect, has a lot of heart and is salvageable because of Murray and Donner’s talents. It has a bit of the same charm brilliant 1980’s comedies like “Caddyshack” and “Fletch,” just with a little Christmas spirit.

7.The Santa Clause” (1994):

The entire Santa Clause franchise gets a well-deserved bad rap for being terrible. But, people forget how much of a treat the first incarnation actually was.

Tim Allen, who is usually underwhelming, pulls off one of his best — and funniest — performances as the new Santa. 

It is a film funny enough to entertain people young and old, and its tone never leans to one side or the other.

6.Gremlins” (1984):

Joe Dante’s creature feature is a Christmas movie through and through, even with all of its horror elements.

The entire film is based around a gift a father gives his son. At its core, it talks about the true meaning of Christmas and how monetized the holiday has become.

While “Gremlins” has its frights, it’s also is somewhat of a family film. 

5. “Love Actually” ( 2003):

“Love Actually” gets a bad rap today by many film fans for being cliché and starting a trend of romantic holiday comedies. But at its heart, the film is one of the best in the genre and extremely entertaining.

It has several well-developed stories all taking place at the same time around Christmas season. Each talks about real world issues and holiday themes.

With a cast including Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson and Chiwetel Ejiofor, there are a few reasons to simply give this flick a try on a late December night.  

4. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965):

What would a Christmas movie list be without a little Charlie Brown?

Like most Charles Schultz stories, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” touches upon a lot of adult themes, like materialism in society, but still keeps it simple enough for children to enjoy.

 This is one people can watch multiple times during Christmas. It never gets old.

3. “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (1966):

This Boris Karloff narrated classic trumps the Jim Carrey and Ron Howard live-action adaption and is beyond a Christmas tradition.

While not technically a theatrical movie, this TV special does count as a short, TV movie. With aspects like animation provided by Looney Tunes’ Chuck Jones and a great use of the source material helping this , it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without watching this quiet masterpiece.

It is one of the best Dr. Seuss-based movies, and in general one of the greatest animated features

2. “Elf” (2003):

2003 was a great year in film for Christmas movies, but none were better than “Elf.”

Like many great films, “Elf” holds its own as both a family film and a movie adults can enjoy alone. It has one of Will Ferrell’s best performances and a heartwarming story better than most holiday movies.

The film could have fell in the hole of making jokes of its ridiculousness plot, an idea that rarely works. “Elf” doesn’t and it feels more emotionally genuine and real because of it.  

1. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989):

While this is one that is played to the point of nausea, none of the gags or true moments feel tired or boring.

It has been repeated and quoted by many — young and old — and continues to speak to people 26 years later.

Christmas Vacation is a Christmas classic and a comedic masterpiece. It is so good that many think it outdoes the original Vacation film, which is an incredibly hard feat to do.  

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacobPierce1_DE.