Christmas movies for you to enjoy and avoid this holiday season

Ranking the best and worst holiday flicks of all-time.


Santa Claus Conquers the Martian made one of our two lists examining the best and worst Christmas movies. Can you guess which? (Photo courtesy: Flickr user tohoscope)" title="Santa Claus Conquers the Martian made one of our two lists examining the best and worst Christmas movies. Can you guess which? (Photo courtesy: Flickr user tohoscope)"/>

Santa Claus Conquers the Martian made one of our two lists examining the best and worst Christmas movies. Can you guess which? (Photo courtesy: Flickr user tohoscope)

You won't be able to avoid the regular December onslaught of Christmas movies, so you might as well embrace it. There are a number of holiday classics that are replayed every year, and with good reason. Then there are those that should probably never have been played, let alone replayed. We outline those failed Christmas movie attempts and their well-executed film rivals, in our list of the five best and worst Christmas movies ever made (in no particular order).

The best:

Home Alone (1990)

Combine slapstick comedy with a heartwarming underlying message and what do you get? Apparently one of the highest-grossing comedy films, and one of the best Christmas movies, of all-time. The slapstick consists of two blundering burglars getting outwitted by a nine year-old, while the heartwarming message revolves around Kevin's early coming-of-age experience that enhances his appreciation of family. The second installment of the Home Alone series also deserves honourable mention, though it was followed by two very forgettable sequels. Let's just pretend those never happened.

Rudolph (1964)

Although it was a made-for-TV movie, Rudolph deserves a spot on the list. It has been aired every year since its television debut in 1962, becoming a holiday favourite for multiple generations. The stop-motion clay animation gives it an appropriately old-fashioned feel, and Burl Ives' narration and singing are the perfect backdrop for this classic. You'll end up watching at least part of this one on TV, whether you like it or not.

A Christmas Story (1983)

The origination of the phrase "You'll shoot your eye out!" and a relative of every motherly warning of cautiousness uttered since. A Christmas Story more accurately depicts the average child's Christmas experience than Home Alone, while also featuring a storyline revolving around the maturation of a young protagonist. This one focuses on Ralphie Parker's efforts to convince his parents, teachers and even Santa Claus that a Red Ryder BB Gun is an appropriate gift for a nine year-old. The flick also contains some epic fantasy/dream sequences, in case you needed any extra incentive to watch.

Elf (2003)

Elf is the only post-year-2000 movie in this top five list, and doesn't yet come close to the "classic" status of the others. Still, it has garnered a lot of praise for putting a unique comedic spin on a Christmas-themed story a genre of film (Christmas movies really do account for their own genre at this point) that has become increasingly bland and unimaginative in recent years. Will Ferrell provides a hilarious performance in his portrayal of Buddy, an endearing and oblivious man/elf trying to find his way in New York City. Like most Will Ferrell flicks, Elf has its fair share of silly humour, but that's exactly what makes this movie great.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Another made-for-TV movie that will induce childhood flashbacks for multiple generations, Grinch has to be part of any discussion of the greatest Christmas movies of all-time. And we're definitely not talking about the year-2000 live action remake. Not yet, at least. The 26 minute-long animated movie teaches a valuable lesson to children about Christmas and materialism a must for any classic Christmas story. The narrative is taken almost word-for-word from the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, voiced by Boris Karloff. Like Rudolph, the distinct voice and delivery of the narrator is nearly as memorable and nostalgic as the story itself. Catch the full flick below.



Honourable Mentions: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), Miracle On 34th Street (1947), Bad Santa (2003), A Christmas Carol (1951), Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

The worst:

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Don't get me wrong this isn't the worst Christmas movie of all time. It is being included here as the scapegoat for all reproductions of classic movies. As the cliché goes: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Grinch's filmmakers took on the impossible challenge of trying to match the brilliance of the original, recruiting the very talented Jim Carrey to play the Grinch. However, it wasn't enough to save what came across as a somewhat dark adaptation of a film which probably should have been left alone to begin with. Save yourself 78 minutes and stick to the original.

Jingle All The Way (1996)

Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been known for his depth, either in terms of acting ability or movie selection. Jingle All The Way is elementary, though, even by his standards. The storyline is centered on two fathers fighting for the same exclusive Christmas gift, in hopes that the Turbo-Man toy will help earn their sons' love. After praising Grinch for its positive message about materialism, Jingle deserves a little criticism for sending all the wrong messages when it comes to Christmas and materialism. You might get a good laugh out of this movie, but it will be for all the wrong reasons.

Santa With Muscles (1996)

Released in the same year as Jingle All The Way, it's obvious 1996 wasn't a good year for holiday movies. Santa With Muscles features its own macho lead actor, professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, who couldn't manage to make his Christmas movie attempt any easier to sit through than Arnold's. It's an intentionally farfetched comedy in which Hogan suffers amnesia, believes he's Santa Claus, and saves an orphanage from its evil owner. Sounds intriguing, right? Despite the promising plotline, the movie fails to click on any level.

Deck The Halls (2005)

A number of other films could have cracked our bottom five, but Deck The Halls deserves special recognition for its Christmas movie abomination. It's no coincidence Deck The Halls is the fourth post-1990 Christmas flick to make our naughty list the film is representative of an apparent trend of diminishing quality and creativity among Christmas movies. It's sad to see what projects actors take on when they're desperate enough, and that seems to have been the case for well-respected actors Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito in this one.

Santa Clause Conquers the Martians (1964)

Martians could very well be the only science-fiction Christmas movie ever made, and the title is a good indicator of how seriously the film should be taken. Needless to say, the premise of the movie is the immediate and obvious downfall for Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. However, if you can somehow get past the outrageous plot and first five minutes, the acting is very capable of further tempering your already shattered expectations. For fans of the "it's-so-bad-it's-good" type of comedy, this is right up your alley. Lucky for you, the movie can be watched in full right here on



Honourable Mentions: Jack Frost (1998), Elves (1989), Surviving Christmas (2004), Santa Claus (1959), Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

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I always watch The Ref on Christmas Eve.;=related

Posted by Jane Caulfield | Dec 8, 2021