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The Best and Worst Christmas Movies – According to Andy

I’ve put together a list of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. I am not saying these are the best movies. I realize that some aren’t even very good. But this is a list of my favorites (and least favorites) and therefore, I am right.

Let’s start by addressing a few movies that show up on several lists of Best Christmas Movies Ever. They are not on my “best” list, and may even be the…

Worst Christmas Movies

Die Hard 

I know that even the makers of Die Hard insist it is a Christmas movie. But I don’t care. And this is my list. If you can explain the plot of the movie and don’t even have to mention Christmas, it isn’t a Christmas movie. The setting could have been an office retirement party rather than a holiday party and it wouldn’t have changed the plot. Sure, it takes place on Christmas Eve. But there are scenes in The Godfather that take place around Christmas and we don’t call that a Christmas movie.

All Hallmark Christmas Movies 

My wife and I have a fun game around the holidays, which may or may not be a drinking game. We turn to the Hallmark Channel and read the description of whichever Christmas movie they are currently showing. A dramatic reading of the descriptions makes for a fun 30 seconds. But I am not sitting through an hour and a half with one of these abominations.

It’s a Wonderful Life 

Admittedly, I can’t say this is the worst Christmas movie, because I’ve never actually seen it. But that also means it can’t make my list of best Christmas movies. Again, it’s my list. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas 

We have a list of core values here at Numberwise. One of them is “Don’t Be a Downer.” Charlie Brown is a major downer. And don’t even get me started on Linus. Non-Christmas-movie side-note: I’ll also pass on “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.

Still with me? Okay here it is, without further ado:

My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies

#10 – The Santa Clause

I really enjoyed this movie when it first came out in the 90’s. It must have been 25 years between the last time I watched ‘The Santa Clause’ until I introduced it to my kids last year. I was surprised that it was still pretty enjoyable. Although it’s hard to believe there was a time when Tim Allen was one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.

#9 – Frosty the Snowman/Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

I am cheating a little by including both of these movies as one entry. Why? To be honest, I don’t really remember which is which. I know one of them is a cartoon, the other is claymation. I am pretty sure they were both TV specials, and not really “movies”. The details I remember are a bit vague. But I remember back when we only had 3 TV channels, it was a big deal when these two movies hit the air.

#8 – Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This is the one with Jim Carrey. There isn’t any other actor who could have played the Grinch – he nails it. This movie was higher on my list until we drove to my in-laws recently, and the kids watched this movie on the DVD player in the car. The headphones they normally use weren’t working on this drive, so we had to listen through the car speakers. Let’s just say Jim Carrey can get a little noisy over 2 hours of a long drive.

#7 – Gremlins

I know I am breaking my cardinal rule of “Is this a Christmas movie?” that I used to disqualify Die Hard. You can probably describe this movie without mentioning Christmas. But I am putting it on this list because one of the craziest scenes of the whole movie revolves around Christmas. When Phoebe Cates tells the story about her dad coming down the chimney as Santa Clause – it’s like the scene belongs in an entirely different movie. I don’t even know what it has to do with the plot – but it is amazing. Plus, Mogwais are cool.

#6 – Mickey’s Christmas Carol

I don’t think I have ever seen a different version of this classic story (not counting “Scrooged”, which narrowly missed making this list, or that episode of Saved by the Bell where they act it out in the middle of the mall). For me, Bob Cratchit will always be a mouse and Ebenezer Scrooge will always be a duck.

#5 – A Christmas Story

Back in the late 1980s when this movie first came out, my family didn’t have any of those fancy movie channels. I saw this movie once and distinctly remember the “Fra-gee-lay, it must be Italian” scene. I was so excited when it started airing on regular cable in the early 90s and, like everyone else, I watched it over and over. Although it lands on my list of favorites, I’m still surprised that multiple channels dedicate their entire December programming to re-running this movie.

#4 – Elf

I would have been happy even if this movie was just two hours of scenes where they try to make Will Ferrell look huge next to Bob Newhart.

#3 – How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This one isn’t a mistake. The animated version of the Grinch also makes my list. Technically this is another “TV special”, and not really a movie. But this is the perfect animated Christmas special. It never really feels like Christmas until I have watched this at least once.

#2 – Home Alone

While Home Alone is near the top of my list, it’s my wife’s absolute favorite Christmas movie – and possibly her favorite film of all time. Whenever my kids do something sneaky, I say “I think we’re getting scammed by a kindy-gartener.” I still couldn’t draw an accurate map of the McCallister house though, despite having seen this movie close to 100 times.

#1 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

I loved the original Vacation movie, and might be the only person who liked European Vacation (“Look kids, Parliament”). But there is no doubt the best movie of the series is Christmas Vacation. If you throw a Christmas party and ask people to dress up as their favorite Christmas character, prepare to get a lot of Uncle Eddies. There are even 2 versions of Uncle Eddie – a bathrobe and trooper hat, or a white sweater and mock turtleneck. When I first showed this movie to my kids, I found myself saying “this is my favorite scene” at least 10 times. It’s the best!

We’d love to hear your favorite and least favorite Christmas movies – leave a comment below!

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About the Author

Andy Smith

Andy Smith

Andy Smith, Founder of Numberwise, has been a CPA since 2004 (pretty impressive, huh?). He leads the strategic vision of the company, signs all those fun tax returns, and tries not to get in the way too much. Learn more about Andy and the rest of the team on the About Us page.
Andy Smith

Andy Smith

Andy Smith, Founder of Numberwise, has been a CPA since 2004 (pretty impressive, huh?). He leads the strategic vision of the company, signs all those fun tax returns, and tries not to get in the way too much. Learn more about Andy and the rest of the team on the About Us page.
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