25Nov

The 14 Christmas Movies I HAVE to Watch this Season

Hi. I’m Carter, and I’m a Christmasaholic. (Christmaholic? Christ-o-holic? No, that last one makes me sound far too evangelical.)

Last year I did a DISMAL job of watching Christmas movies while the watching was good. I watched three. THREE. For shame, Carter. For shame.

This year I’ve resolved to do better, and so I’ve put together a list of the 14 Christmas movies that I HAVE to watch this season, with helpful reviews from Rotten Tomatoes because some of these movies really are terrible.

I even have a helpful calendar, because who doesn’t love calendars and highlighters?

Oh, you DON'T light highlighters and calendars? GET OUT.

Oh, you DON’T light highlighters and calendars? GET OUT.

 

#1 – Love Actually

love-actually

My Take:
A jumbled mess of a million different love stories that end up being inexplicably linked – each one more heartwarming than the last. And somehow, somehow, this movie avoids falling into the readily available pit of being too sappy sweet. It might be a chick-flick, but dudes will love it too.

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Martin Freeman (Better known as Bilbo in The Hobbit or Dr. John Watson in Sherlock)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Andrew Lincoln (Better known as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead)

My Favorite Quote:
Aurelia: ‘Yes’ is being my answer. Easy question.
Jamie: You learned English?
Aurelia: Just in cases.

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“[Love Actually] is cloying, deceitful, and more or less irresistible.”

 

#2 – White Christmas

white-christmas

My Take:
This might be THE perennial Christmas movie in my mind. It is literally not Christmas, come Dec. 25th or not, if I haven’t watched White Christmas at least once. It’s incredible how well this sixty-year-old movie has held up!

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
I’ll be honest – I’ve been watching this movie since before I could read. There aren’t any surprises for me here!

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Mary Wickes (Better known as Sister Mary Lazarus in Sister Act with Whoopie Goldberg)

My Favorite Quote:
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
I fall asleep counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
I fall asleep counting my blessings

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“White Christmas is the cinema equivalent of an inappropriate festive snog under the mistletoe – you know you probably shouldn’t enjoy it but you just can’t help yourself.”

 

#3 – The Santa Clause

santa-clause

My Take:
I’ll be the first to admit that this movie takes some serious suspension-of-disbelief to enjoy, and has plot-holes large enough to drive a fully-loaded sleigh through, but for some reason I just can’t keep myself from enjoying it year after year.

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Judge Reinhold (Better known as the awesome sidekick in Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop movies)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
David Krumholtz (Better known as himself in This is The End, as Joel Coque in The League, and as Michael in 10 Things I Hate About You)

My Favorite Quote:
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! When I get home, I’m getting a CAT scan!”

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“I was surprised to find The Santa Clause rather easier to take than anticipated.”

 

#4 – Die Hard

IT IS TOO A CHRISTMAS MOVIE. GET OVER IT.

die-hard

My Take:
Truly a Christmas classic. In fact, maybe the best Christmas movie of all time. Alright… at least it takes PLACE during Christmas! I don’t know… despite all the shooting and action, it just feels like a Christmas movie. Am I wrong here?

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Reginald VelJohnson (Better known as Carl Winslow in Family Matters)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Paul Gleason (Better known as the evil disciplinarian Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club)

My Favorite Quote:
Do you even have to ask? (“Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.”)

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“Not only the best action movie ever made but one of the very best of any genre.”

 

#5 – Jingle all the Way

jingle-all-the-way

My Take:
Actor Sinbad really gives credence to the last syllable of his eponymous name in this by-the-books Christmas comedy – however, Phil Hartman’s standout performance as the conniving neighbor saves the show for me. Ah-nold also turns in a passable performance, but really, which of his performances NOT involving massive violence ARE more than passable?

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Phil Hartman (Best known as one of the best Saturday Night Live performers of all time, and also a long-time voice actor on The Simpsons)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Jake Lloyd (Better known as the kid who played Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Dumpster Fire Star Wars: Episode I)

My Favorite Quote:
Sinbad: I work for the post office so you know I’m not stable! Tell ’em!
Ah-nold: This man is totally insane.
Sinbad: THANK YOU!

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“Nobody wonders why Sinbad hasn’t made any movies since Jingle all the Way

 

#6 – Home Alone

home-alone

My Take:
I haven’t ever tried it, but I think I could probably watch this movie on repeat during Christmastime. It’s the perfect mix of lighthearted Christmas fun and rip-your-heart-out sentimentality (the song that plays when Kevin’s mom finally gets home? Not a dry eye in the house, man.)

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Joe Pesci (Better known as the guy who plays the most evil, sadistic, sick mobsters in mafia movies)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
John Candy (Better known as the fat funny man in pretty much every late 80’s/early 90’s comedy that didn’t feature John Belushi or Chris Farley)

My Favorite Quote:
“KEVIN!!!”

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“There are few movies that can be described as never having a dull moment, and Home Alone fits in this small group. It’s the perfect family holiday film.”

 

#7 – Christmas with the Kranks

christmas-with-the-kranks

My Take:
Despite the fact that this movie was pretty much universally panned by critics, there’s just something to this movie that I find irresistible during Christmastime. Does it break any boundaries or rewrite the rules? No. But I’m not sure I need my Christmas movies to do that. Sure, it’s formulaic and light, but it’s also a perfect choice when you just want to crash on the couch with a fire in the fireplace and watch a nice, light, heartwarming Christmas movie.

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Dan Aykroyd (Better known as a LOT of things, from a Blues Brother to a Ghostbuster and back again)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:

TIE:

Cheech Marin (Yes, THAT Cheech Marin, better known as the other half of Cheech and Chong)

Felicity Huffman (Better known as Lynette Scavo in Desperate Housewives)

My Favorite Quote:
“You’re skipping Christmas!? Isn’t that against the law?”

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“Christmas with the Kranks is the sort of film that leaves you thinking Ebenezer Scrooge might have had the right idea about this festive season.”

 

#8 – Elf

elf

My Take:
Will Ferrell doesn’t disappoint in this new addition to my Christmas pantheon, and the hilarious one-liners from this movie are off the charts. If you want a great laugh all the way through combined with just the right dose of Christmas spirit, this is the film for you.

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Peter Billingsley as Ming Ming the elf (Better known as Ralphy, the main character in A Christmas Story)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Peter Dinklage (Better known as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones)

My Favorite Quote:
“You stink. You smell like beef and cheese! You don’t smell like Santa.”

“You sit on a throne of lies!”

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“Sure, Elf feels a little too feel-good at the end, but what do you expect? It’s a Christmas movie! Anything else would be the cinematic equivalent of finding coal in your stocking.”

 

#9 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

christmas-vacation

My Take:
This movie seems to get more and more relevant the older I get – especially when it comes to Clark Griswold’s psychotic drive to keep his Christmas spirit, despite life’s best efforts to rob him of it.

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Julie Louis-Dreyfus (Better known as Elaine from Seinfeld and also from a slew of failed sit-coms attempting to cash in on her fame post-Seinfeld.)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Johnny Galecki as Rusty (Better known as Leonard from The Big Bang Theory)

My Favorite Quote:
Eddie: You surprised to see us, Clark?
Clark: Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“The human frailty at the center of the story makes the jokes all the funnier. Holiday films are rarely as priceless.”

 

#10 – Disney’s A Christmas Carol

christmas-carol

My Take:
Generally rubbish, although I can’t help watching it because I LOVE the story (I used to go watch the stage version every Christmas) and nobody ever plays the Patrick Stewart version on TV anymore. So all I’m left with is this sad, CGI-disaster reminder of one of my most beloved Christmas stories.

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Gary Oldman (Better known as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies and the villain in pretty much every other movie ever)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Robin Wright (Better known as Claire Underwood in House of Cards)

My Favorite Quote:
“Bah! Humbug.” OF COURSE.

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“There’s a certain irony in having a timeless tale about a man finding his soul being told in the most soulless way possible.”

 

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

grinch

My Take:
In the most un-hipsterish way possible, way WAY better than the remake with Jim Carrey.

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Dal McKennon, who played the voice of Max the dog (Better known as the guy credited as “Barking Dog voices” in Disney’s 101 Dalmations… talk about typecasting!)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Judging by the responses of most of my friends when I reference The Grinch, you’ll be most surprised to NOT find Jim Carrey in this movie.

My Favorite Quote:
“He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“It’s the kind of weirdly clever, yet innocent and kid-friendly product that forces me to use this tired cliche — they just don’t make ’em like this any more.”

 

#12 – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer

My Take:
There’s no way you can’t love this made-in-1964 stop-motion-animated classic about how Rudolph became the most famous reindeer of them all!

Actor I was/You will be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Honestly, there just aren’t a lot of actors in this film, at least not ones who did much of anything else, except for Burl Ives, who provided the voice of Sam the Snowman. I know I recognize his name (and he IS an Oscar-winner), but even after reading his IMDB page I’m still not sure why I recognize him.

My Favorite Quote:
Mrs. Claus: Eat, Papa, eat.
Santa Claus: How can I eat? That silly elf song is driving me crazy.
Mrs. Claus: You’re going to disappoint the children. They expect a fat Santa!

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“All these years later, as a reminder that every oddball fits in somewhere, it still shines. You could even say it glows.”

 

#13 – A Christmas Story

christmas-story

My Take:
I don’t know about you, but this story always reminds me vividly of my own childhood – from having my mouth washed out with soap to facing up to the schoolyard bully once and for all.

Actor I was Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Darren McGavin (Better known as Billy Madison’s dad in Billy Madison)

Actor You’ll be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Peter Billingsley (Better known as Ming Ming the elf who chides Buddy about not making enough Etch-a-Sketches in Elf and… wait, what? An Executive Producer on Iron Man? Wow.)

My Favorite Quote:
“[I want] a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tell time.”

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“This witty, insightful, hugely enjoyable movie is riven with glorious home truths and a merciful lack of saccharin.”

 

#14 – It’s a Wonderful Life

wonderful-life

My Take:
Just like White Christmas, it really isn’t Christmas until I’ve sweat through my eyes while watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Sarah always asks me if I’m crying and I always insist that my contacts are acting up BECAUSE THEY ARE DAMMIT.

Actor I was/You will be Most Surprised to Find in This Movie:
Honestly, I don’t have ones for this Christmastime classic. Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed… there just aren’t any surprises here!

My Favorite Quote:
“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”

Best Rotten Tomatoes Review:
“I love it, corny as it may be, because it reminds every one of us that we all make contributions to the people around us, contributions we ourselves don’t even realize.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Carter Schimpff

Husband. Marketer. Fort Worth runner. TCU alum. Rugger. CrossFit enthusiast. Running enthusiast. Blogger. Aspiring Ironman. Occasionally offensive. Unintentionally (un)funny.

2 comments

  1. CLAYMATION RUDOLPH YESSSSS.

    Okay seriously though, Love Actually, Home Alone (also 2, but never 3 or 4 or 9 or however far they got with that) The Santa Clause, Grinch, Christmas Story, Its a Wonderful Life, but you forgot –

    MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL.

    Try harder Carter, try harder.

    JK I LOVE ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS.

    • I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve seen Home Alone 4. It’s exactly as bad as you think it would be.

      HOW DID I MISS MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL? Oh probably because I’ve never seen nor heard of it. Now I feel like I’ve committed some sort of crime against nature.

      I’ll show myself out…

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