Choosing a favorite Christmas movie is like picking your favorite child. Ok, not really, but it’s not easy. Here are some of our favorite family Christmas movies in no particular order. See if yours made our list or if we can help you discover something new!
Christmas In Connecticut
This screwball comedy perfectly stands up all the right dominoes and just gently tips over the first one. The owner of an important New York magazine invites himself and a returning war hero over to his author’s farmhouse in rural Connecticut to celebrate Christmas. Only trouble is, she’s not a farmer, lives in New York City, isn’t married, doesn’t have a baby, and she can’t cook. All of which her boss expects of her. A little cheesy, but mostly just great fun.
The Bells of St. Mary’s
You can’t go wrong with Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby. A priest and a nun have differing approaches to the running of a school. Nominated for lots of Academy Awards, but largely forgotten.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
So much better than any other version I’ve ever come across. This telling is engaging, reasonably true to the Dickens, includes some fun song and dance stuff, and ages well. Young kids will enjoy the introduction to the idea of “real literature” and the rest of us also like it. Sure, read the book and read it often, but I think Charles would be writing for the screen if he was alive now. (Scrooge, also a musical, and the George C. Scott version get runners-up awards.)
Weak on plot, strong on songs and dances. This was the first movie usage of the song “White Christmas” and it includes many other great Irving Berlin numbers. Bing Crosby sings and Fred Astaire dances as they fight over the love of a woman and a Hollywood agent. It begins and ends with Christmas.
Watch as Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen put on a Broadway show in a Vermont ski lodge. With no snow. The magic of musicals and Christmas combine and all is well (and all are engaged) in the end. Great supporting cast as well.
It’s A Wonderful Life
I almost feel like this movie needs no introduction. This classic movie tells the story of George Bailey, a small town success who has always dreamed of bigger things. When things truly get bleak, he is given a glimpse. A glimpse of what his life, the town, and the people around him would be like without him. It helps that Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are just about the most watchable people on the planet.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town & Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
By Rankin/Bass, these claymation classics deserve not to be forgotten. They seem to be falling by the wayside in the last few years in favor of animated movies. The stories are fun and the stylized stop-motion is well done and pretty to watch. And it’s got a cast of good voices and songs that were new.
The Bishop’s Wife
Cary Grant made a Christmas movie?!? Most people don’t know this. He’s not exactly human in this film. With Loretta Young and David Niven.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Perhaps my favorite reading of Luke ever. This short little movie deserves a place in your heart and in your annual repertoire.
The Lemon Drop Kid
Bob Hope is a con man just one jump ahead of both gangsters and the police (and an old girlfriend). Then he dresses up like Santa to score some “charitable” donations… Written by Damon Runyon, who should already be on your list of favorite American short story authors. Watch the first half hour here.
Miracle on 34th Street
This movie interestingly pits the sophistication of commerce and law against the straightforwardness of belief. The ending is less clear-cut than expected. Just like real life. It’s cheesy as all get out, but also full of believable, lovable characters and pretty good dialogue. There is also a book version by Valentine Davies (the screenwriter) that is worth tracking down.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
This 1983 movie is a delightful adaption of the classic Christmas book of the same name. Adults and children alike will chuckle at the antics of the Herdman family and tear up during the tender Nativity scene.
Eloise at Christmastime
The Eloise series are some of the funniest children books ever written. Eloise at the Plaza should be a staple in any little girl’s bookshelf but in the early 2000s, two of the books were made into movies. Julie Andrews stars as Nanny, incomparable as always, and the whole movie is the wild ride of Christmas through the eyes of a six year old loose in New York.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Possibly the most famous Christmas movie ever, your heart will grow three sizes watching this wonderful representation of Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s story.
The Little Drummer Boy
Another classic is the sweet story of the Little Drummer boy, a claymation short film made in 1968. It will move every person in your family through its genuine portrayal of the Nativity.
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, The Man Who Invented Christmas tells the (somewhat fictionalized) story of how Charles Dickens came up with and wrote the beloved classic A Christmas Carol. The film is beautifully made and is a fantastic choice for your next family movie night.
For a 2D animated movie that came out in 2019, I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable Klaus was. The characters and story line is engaging for adults and children and the ending is genuinely touching.
Meet Me in St. Louis
Like so many Christmas movies, this 1950s musical is not strictly about Christmas time but is still a wonderful choice this holiday season. Judy Garland’s beautiful rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is one of the sweetest versions ever recorded.
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Filmmaking from the First Directors teaches the basics of filmmaking and early film history. It takes students through a unique journey starting in the late 19th century when film was invented, then guides them through the steps first directors took in creating the modern language of film.
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