#1: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
The perfect American Christmas tale. Edmund Gwenn is a man who claims to be the one and only Santa Claus. Brilliant comedic acting by a superb cast, and a great script full of dry, witty humor. Skip all the remakes and re-discover the charm of the original in glorious black & white!
#2: The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)
This sidesplitting comedy stars Bob Hope as a con-man who likes to work the horse races. Due to a particularly unfortunate bet, he must come up with a fortune in cash by Christmas Eve. Based on the Damon Runyon story. TRIVIA: This is the movie that introduced the Christmas standard "Silver Bells".
#3: A Christmas Story (1983)
Ignored by moviegoers and panned by critics upon its original release, this 1940's flashback about a kid's quest to receive the ultimate Christmas present has rightfully become a bona-fide classic. All little Ralphie wants is a Red Ryder air rifle. Trouble is, everyone - even Santa - just keeps telling him, "You'll shoot your eye out!". Based on a story from the book "In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash".
#4: A Christmas Carol (1984)
A simply fantastic made-for-television holiday treat. George C. Scott is perfect as the Christmas-challenged Mr. Scrooge and the production is first rate. This is arguably the best filmed telling of the Dickens classic... ever!
#5: Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell plays Buddy, one of Santa's most unlikely helpers. After discovering his less-than-elfin roots, he embarks on a quest to reunite with his real father. Can a 6'3" elf make it in the Big Apple? Find out in this soon-to-be Christmas comedy classic!
#6: It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
Despite its over-exposure, I still never tire of this Frank Capra classic. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, who gets to see how the world would have turned out without him.
#7: Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
The legendary Chuck Jones directed this cartoon about the mean Grinch and all the Whos down in Whoville. There's also a big-budget version, from what I hear, but this one has more than three times the Christmas Cheer!
#8: The Nativity Story (2006)
A message foretold in the heavens...A prophecy that would threaten an empire...A miracle that would change the world... That is what Christmas is all about, folks. In my own humble opinion, this production is the most polished, entertaining, and accurate film treatment to date for the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus Christ.
#9: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Absolutely the best of the Vacation movies. Chevy Chase and the whole Griswold clan celebrate Christmas together. Sound perfect? Wrong.
#10: Scrooged (1994)
Bill Murray stars as a television network mogul in this twisted update of A Christmas Carol. A stellar supporting cast and great special effects highlight this comedy frightfest.
#11: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1988)
Only Tim Burton could conceive of this bizarre cross between Halloween and Christmas. Excellent stop-motion animation and a truly original story make it a great holiday treat. Pair it with Burton's Edward Scissorhands for an incredibly creepy Christmas double-feature!
#12: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
The classic CBS television presentation, in which each of the Peanuts gang have their own ideas about the true meaning of Christmas.
#13: The Bishop's Wife (1947)
An angel is summoned to help a bishop and his family fund a new church in this wonderful holiday comedy. Great performances by Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young.
#14: White Christmas (1954)
A fun variation of Holiday Inn (where the song "White Christmas'" was first used) is your basic "Let's put on a show!" musical with a Christmas twist. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney star along with many other talented performers from when Hollywood musicals ruled the box-office. Holiday Inn (1942) is actually a better movie, but Christmas plays a much smaller part in that film.
#15: Home Alone (1990)
A family leaves its youngest son behind when they travel to relatives for Christmas. Gee, that sounds sad, doesn't it? Don't worry, because that kid has plenty of fun foiling the plans of two bungling burglers in this crazy Christmas comedy. TRIVIA: Until THE GRINCH hit theatres, this movie was the highest grossing holiday film of all time!
#16: The House Without a ChristmasTree (1972)
A surprisingly heartwarming family tale of love, loss, and forgiveness. Jason Robards stars as a widower father, who has never fully recovered from the untimely death of his wife. To illustrate to his 10 year old daughter that life does not come easy, he forbids his family from ever having a traditional Christmas tree.
#17: Love Actually (2003)
Not a love story actually, but a story of love in all its forms. This heartfelt British comedy features Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, and even Rowan Atkinson. Got a date this Christmas season? Love Actually is the perfect movie for a romantic holiday evening!
#18: A Midnight Clear (1991)
This World War II drama takes place in Dec. 1944, set against the backdrop of war-torn Northern France. An American rifle squad faces German troops who wish to surrender during what should be a time of Peace on Earth. Excellent performances by Gary Sinise and Ethan Hawke. Not a feel-good holiday film, as the horrors of battle soon invade, but well worth a look for any war movie fan!
#19: Christmas Eve (1947)
This is one that's hard to find - Look for an airing on TV. It's about an old woman who only wants to be with all her sons on Christmas Eve. The sons have all chosen different paths in life, and much of the film concerns them finding their ways back home to be with her. A highlight is how the sweet but eccentric mother has dinner served to her guests.
#20: The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
This Rankin/Bass musical stop-motion animation spectacle is also their most original. Definitely a product of mid-1970's culture. A huge cast of characters, including Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, reindeer, various townsfolk, Mother Nature, Snow and Heat Misers (the best part!) and much, much more. Makes the list for its shear trippy audacity. Grow up in the 1970's? You will remember this one.