‘Tis the season to be stressed out, what with endless shopping errands and tentative party plans. Why not relax with one of these ten Christmas favorites? Some are classics that tap into the warmth of the yuletide spirit, while others find the lightheartedness in a season that’s often shrouded in gift-buying and family drama. Here’s one list you can cross off with ease.
1. A Christmas Story (1983)
Brilliantly scripted and universally hilarious, this movie relives the Christmases of childhood through the eyes of Ralphie, a kid who only wants a Red Ryder B.B. gun this year. The response he usually gets? “You’ll shoot yer eye out, kid!”
2. Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell takes on Christmas donning uncomfortably tight (at least for the audience) stockings and an unsuppressed smile. As an elf named Buddy, he struggles to reunite with his birth father while falling for the quirky charms of Zooey Deschanel’s Gimbel’s clerk. Hilarity ensues.
3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s no wonder that this classic film has stood the test of time. I have seen grown men cry at this film’s memorable conclusion. Jimmy Stewart’s endearing squawk, the cheesy but heartfelt storyline, and love that withstands even the most downtrodden of times all contribute to this film’s lasting holiday sentiment.
4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Quite possibly the cutest, sassiest little girl to ever grace the silver screen, Natalie Wood plays Susan Walker, a girl who isn’t in the least convinced of Santa’s existence. Wood plays alongside her skeptical mother, Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) and their jovial neighbor Fred Gailey (John Payne) who, along with the help of a mysterious bearded old man, shows the Walkers that Christmas is a time for magic, joy, and faith.
5. Bad Santa (2003)
A definitively quirkier and racier look at the holiday season, Bad Santa casts Billy Bob Thornton as the drunken and highly inappropriate mall Santa/mall robber, Willie T. Stokes. After encountering the Kid and a bartender named Sue, his normally hedonistic attitude changes and Willie finally becomes able to give a little more than he takes.
6. Scrooged (1988)
Inspired by Charles Dickens’ holiday parable, A Christmas Carol, this film stars Bill Murray as a selfish television executive named Frank Cross. On Christmas Eve, he is haunted by three spirits who attempt to change his ways. Murray is as comedic as ever in this funny, feel-good movie.
7. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Jim Henson’s unforgettable Muppets gather together for a musical retelling of this classic tale. Michael Caine stars as Ebenezer Scrooge and the familiar fuzzy puppets (Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Gonzo as Charles Dickens, and Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit), make a fun and spirited supporting cast.
8. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
The Peanut Gang tries to cheer up Charlie Brown in this sweet, thinly veiled criticism of rampant commercialism during the holidays. The gang gathers around Charlie Brown’s sad-but-genuine tree to the famous soundtrack composed by Vince Guaraldi.
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Beautifully animated and accompanied by Danny Elfman’s inventive score, this Henry Selick stop-motion pic takes a macabre and twisted look at what Christmas inspires in all of us, especially the film’s protagonist, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington. Tim Burton’s story comes to life in a film that examines the true meaning behind Christmas – and how its misinterpretation can go grossly wrong, (in more ways than one.)
10. Home Alone (1990)
With a script by John Hughes and an adorable young Macauley Culkin, Home Alone explores what it would mean to be left behind by your family. After the initial horror of realizing he’s all alone in his house, 8-year-old Kevin McAllister discovers that it’s pretty sweet living with no rules. Until he has to fight off two men who are trying to rob his home.