Ryan’s Top 10 Xmas Movies (Die Hard Included)

Ryan Downey, Managing Editor


  1. Fred Claus (2007) –

This is where the list might get a bit controversial. This movie has traditionally been one that I have watched every holiday season since it came out. I love it despite the fact that it got a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes and was rated a solid 5.6/10 on IMDb. How could I defend this stance? Simply put, the movie is funny. With a cast that includes characters like Vince Vaughn, John Michael Higgins, and Paul Giamatti, it would be hard to take the comedy out of this film. While I admit the “business” side of the North Pole with Kevin Spacey is odd, it still provides a necessary conflict to push the plot and it keeps the audience intrigued. I didn’t want to place two Vaughn movies in the same list but I could also put Four Christmases at 8th as well. All around the acting in Fred Claus is very solid. 


  1. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) – 

What I love the most about this animated film is that the plot of the original Christmas Carol which is so dark and could be frightening for some children, was successfully adapted to the extremely popular cast of Disney characters. This adaptation of the original story by Charles Dickens is easily enjoyable by both children and adults alike as it carries all of the same themes and major plot points. This movie features an all-star cast with Scrooge McDuck (A member of the Donald Duck family) as Ebeneezer Scrooge, Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit, and Goofy as the ghost of Jacob Marley. This movie actually provided the revival of the beloved Mickey Mouse as before this point he had not appeared in a theatrical production in 30 years. Without this animated film, the character of Mickey Mouse would not nearly be what he is today. The ability to transcend age groups is what put this movie at the spot of number 9. 


  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – 

Easily the best live action remake of a classic Dr. Seuss story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is flavorful and dynamic. Turning a 70 page book into a 2 hour feature film cannot be an easy feat, but it was successfully executed by director Ron Howard. Visually the film is stunning with how the makeup and costuming crew was able to perfectly capture the abstract images from the brain of Seuss. No one can forget the physical disgusting nature of the Grinch or the hair of Cindy Lou Who and Martha May. This movie is so over the top and ridiculous with the plot points that were added to the original story but none of them detracted from the ultimate theme that was trying to be portrayed. The relationship between Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch is actually believable due to the ability to act on both ends. None of it seemed superficial. One cannot watch this movie and not admire the dedication of every cast member. 


  1. Polar Express (2004) –

Ah yes, the movie that defined every Christmas break of elementary schoolers after it was released. The moderately creepy aspects of this movie in combination with great moral lessons, a trip to the North Pole, and Tom Hanks all rolled into one make this an easy choice for my top 10. As I mentioned before, the only reason that this movie is not further up is because I find it quite creepy at points. The ghost man that rides on top of the train every year always made me feel uneasy as a young child because of his more than friendly character. The room of discarded toys was always a breaking point for me as well, I mean, who wouldn’t be scared of tangled and disformed marionettes along with vintage porcelain dolls? Ultimately, what makes this movie great is the fact that it is a true feat of animation. For this time, the realistic depictions of such a fantasy like the North Pole were all extraordinary. Not to mention the fact that Aerosmith made an appearance in elf form. The warm theme of self-awareness and confidence and the “HOT HOT Chocolate” make this movie a great one for the holiday season.


  1. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) –

For all of those still struggling to categorize Nightmare Before Christmas as Halloween or Christmas do not worry, I am still in the same boat. What I love about this movie is that it does not need to be categorized! It successfully binds together two completely opposite holidays in a manner that leads the audience to empathize with monsters and the deceased. The score behind this movie is also one of the largest reasons that it is so high on the list. There is a reason that “This is Halloween” is played every year. The music is so dense and provides each side of the spectrum, from the joy of Christmas to the delusional, fearful dissonance of Halloween, this score provided everything that this movie needed. The love of Jack and Sally and the heroism of the Pumpkin King along with the ultimate goal of saving Christmas makes this movie a quintessential member of the Christmas collection.


  1. The Santa Clause (1994) – 

Even though this movie is Disney produced it includes death, divorce, and people getting arrested. What a fun time for the family! All jokes aside, Tim Allen absolutely kills it in this movie. He perfectly portrayed the detached business dad that has lost his belief in the Christmas Spirit. After he accidentally causes the death of the current Santa Claus, he tries on the jacket that was left by the deceased (I did not realize how dark or strange that is) and just like that he becomes the next Santa Claus. Slowly, the audience sees the spirit build within Santa and the movie comes full turn. After he embraced his true identity and was comfortable with himself, he was able to open his arms for other people. 


  1. Home Alone (1990) –

Home Alone is one of my favorite holiday movies because it revolves around mindless humor. All of the injuries that are inflicted upon the burglars could because a smart kid was given too many toys are easy to laugh at, and they are enough to make anyone flinch. From homemade flamethrowers to getting hit with full paint buckets, smacked with a shovel, stepping on nails, and being tarred and feathered, these robbers definitely experienced some of our worst nightmares. There is an underlying moral behind the plot though. In the beginning, little Kevin McCallister wished that his family would leave and he would be alone. Well, after he got his wish he did what every kid would dream of. He lived by his own rules. However, the robbers brought in the necessary fact that though Kevin may be able to defend himself, he is not ready to fully be an adult. He began to miss his family and hoped that they would come home because the family is supposed to be together on Christmas. There are also moments that speak out against prejudice, such as the scene with the “South Bend Shovel Slayer”. Ultimately, Home Alone is a classic holiday movie that is both mindless in its use of comedy, but wholesome with its messages.


  1. Die Hard (1988) – 

I have to admit, by putting this movie on the list I am literally begging for public ridicule. However, it is worth it. “Why?” You may ask. “Yippee Ki Yay” would be my response. There is a grand debate on whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. My opinion is that it takes place during the holiday season so therefore I call it a Christmas movie. What I love about it is that it is a break! Whenever you browse through the TV Guide and look for movies at this time of the year you cannot get away from the cheesy Hallmark movies and the repeats of all of the other movies that are on this list. Die Hard gives you the necessary break from all of the warm, fuzzy, family friendly movies. As far as Bruce Willis goes, you can’t ask for a much better actor in this role. Feel free to express your discontent with this choice below in the comments section.


  1. Elf (2003) –

 This hysterical film is known as one of the most overplayed out of all of the Christmas movies. I do agree that the movie is definitely overplayed, but some may forget that it gets streamed so much for a reason. That reason is because no matter how many times I watch it I always laugh at the same exact parts and I can quote the entire thing. I guess that could also signify that I have the same sense of humor as my seven-year-old self, but that doesn’t bother me. Here we have another redemption story of a detached dad that has lost his faith in the Christmas Spirit. Will Ferrell, James Caan, John Favreau, and Peter Dinklage all in the same movie? You can’t beat that when it comes to comedy. All of the childish toilet humor in conjunction with the more “mature” jokes (Buddy “spiking” his drink with Syrup) makes this movie a classic for any family of all ages. 


  1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – 

Congratulations you have finally reached the #1 spot on my list. There is no other movie that I would put here. As I was writing up this top 10, I immediately wrote this in the first place. So many iconic moments in this movie have made it so relatable in the sense that a lot of people want to have an ideal, perfect Christmas. Sometimes people want it so much that everything ends up going wrong. But the message of this movie is that Christmas is not supposed to be perfect. The holidays in general is supposed to be about spending time with the people that you care about. Everything else including presents, trees, lights, festivities, it is all extra. Family is the primary subject when it comes to the holidays and Christmas Vacation supports that more than any other holiday films. It has been a family tradition of mine to watch this movie and it never fails to bring the family together for the holidays. 


Do you agree with the movies I chose? Feel free to express all of your opinions in the comments section below. If you feel obligated to do so, you can also write an email to The Tower explaining why I am wrong. Thank you for reading!