20. ‘Arthur Christ­mas’ (2011)

The an­i­mated Bri­tish gem cen­ters on Santa Claus’ son Arthur (James McAvoy), who works to get a present to the one girl for­got­ten by his fam­ily’s mil­i­taris­tic, high-tech de­liv­ery sys­tem.

19. ‘Home Alone’ (1990)

Ma­caulay Culkin is un­fail­ingly pre­co­cious, and watch­ing an 8-year-old foil a pair of dimwit­ted bur­glars in in­ven­tive fash­ion is fine. What’s of­ten for­got­ten is what the film has to say about the im­por­tance of fam­ily.

18. ‘The Ice Har­vest’ (2005)

Set in Wi­chita, Kansas, on Christ­mas Eve, this twisty, funny film noir casts John Cu­sack as a Mob lawyer who steals $2 mil­lion from his boss (Randy Quaid) and has is­sues high­tail­ing it out of town.

17. ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ (1947)

Maybe the strangest love tri­an­gle you’re bound to see – with an an­gel (Cary Grant) fall­ing for the spouse (Loretta Young) of the bishop (David Niven) he’s sup­posed to be help­ing – yet it works.

16. ‘The Night­mare Be­fore Christ­mas’ (1993)

Tim Burton puts his spin on a hol­i­day mashup where Jack Skelling­ton, the big man in Hal­loween Town, de­cides to take over Christ­mas Town.

15. ‘Lethal Weapon’ (1987)

One of the best buddy-cop ac­tion pic­tures forces to­gether Danny Glover’s aging Roger Mur­taugh and Mel Gib­son’s loose can­non Martin Riggs. The sea­sonal stuff makes it bet­ter, in­clud­ing a shootout at a Christ­mas tree lot and Riggs find­ing a fam­ily with whom to share a hol­i­day din­ner.

14. ‘Joyeux Noel’ (2005)

This war drama snagged an Os­car nom­i­na­tion for for­eign-lan­guage film and explores the vic­tory of humanity over bru­tal­ity as it chron­i­cles the re­al­life story of the Christ­mas truce of 1914.

13. ‘White Christ­mas’ (1954)

Two Bing Crosby mu­si­cals used the song “White Christ­mas”: Let’s leave off 1942’s “Hol­i­day Inn” and go with Crosby and Danny Kaye as croon­ing World War II GIs who try to save their old com­mand­ing of­fi­cer’s coun­try inn.

12. ‘Grem­lins’ (1984)

The hol­i­day tale dou­bles as a good en­try into hor­ror for young­sters, with a small town be­set by freaky grem­lins. Try find­ing any­thing as cute as lit­tle Mog­wai Gizmo in a Santa hat.

11. ‘The Shop Around the Cor­ner’ (1940)

The ba­sis for “You’ve Got Mail” is this Hun­gar­ian hol­i­day jam fea­tur­ing Jimmy Ste­wart and Mar­garet Sulla­van as bick­er­ing co-work­ers at a Bu­dapest leather­goods store who’ve un­know­ingly fallen in love with each other through anony­mous let­ters.

10. ‘A Christ­mas Story’ (1983)

I de­spised this movie as a kid who wasn’t into BB guns or leg lamps. As an adult the com­edy res­onates as an ode to the ex­haus­tive na­ture of be­ing a par­ent around the hol­i­days.

9. ‘A Christ­mas Carol’ (1951)

Among the var­i­ous “tra­di­tional” ver­sions of the Charles Dick­ens clas­sic this one cuts to the dark tones of the orig­i­nal text, with Scrooge (Alas­tair Sim) liv­ing through an in­sight­ful hor­ror film to come out the other side a bet­ter man.

8. ‘The Apart­ment’ (1960)

The ro­man­tic dram­edy stars Jack Lem­mon as an of­fice drone known for lend­ing out his place for bosses to take their mistresses. He starts to fall hard for an el­e­va­tor girl (Shirley Ma­cLaine), whom the big boss (Fred MacMur­ray) se­cretly takes to the love den on Christ­mas Eve.

7. ‘Die Hard’ (1988)An

Sorry, Santa, no one squeezes through tight spa­ces in a build­ing to get the job done – in this case thwart­ing ter­ror­ists and sav­ing his es­tranged wife – bet­ter than Bruce Wil­lis’ John McClane.

6. ‘Na­tional Lam­poon’s Christ­mas Va­ca­tion’ (1989)

Any­body who has ever tried en­tirely too hard dur­ing the hol­i­days can em­pathize with Clark Gris­wold (Chevy Chase) and his bat­tles to dec­o­rate his house, deal with wacko rel­a­tives and have the mer­ri­est Christ­mas imag­in­able.

5. ‘Mir­a­cle on 34th Street’ (1947)

If you can stand the gra­tu­itous hok­i­ness, there’s an in­trigu­ing “Law & Or­der” episode to be had when Kris Kringle(Edmund Gwenn) does a lit­tle too good of a job re­plac­ing a drunk Macy’s Pa­rade Santa and is put on trial for men­tal in­sta­bil­ity when he in­sists he’s the real deal.

4. ‘Love Ac­tu­ally’ (2003)

In­ter­twin­ing tales of love fea­tur­ing Brits and oth­ers con­jure all sorts of hol­i­day emo­tions and are en­tirely ma­nip­u­la­tive. But watch­ing a lit­tle boy race through Heathrow to find his crush or see­ing An­drew Lin­coln’s silent ode to Keira Knight­ley, you’re too busy be­ing bom­barded by feels to care.

3. ‘Elf’ (2003)

Will Fer­rell has one of his best roles as an over­grown elf who finds out he’s hu­man, and the high jinks that fol­low are filled with heart, hu­mor and won­der.

2. ‘It’s a Won­der­ful Life’ (1946)

Jimmy Ste­wart’s heav­enly jour­ney as Ge­orge Bai­ley is the “Cit­i­zen Kane” of Christ­mas movies. a man be­ing shown how bad life would have been had he not been born will pull the Christ­mas spirit kick­ing and scream­ing out of you.

1. ‘Scrooged’ (1988)

“Scrooged” is a per­fect blend of slap­stick and black hu­mor, love and loss, life and death that has no busi­ness be­ing as­tound­ing. It’s su­perbly cast, from Bill Mur­ray’s Frank Cross to Carol Kane’s fairy. If you’re not welling up when “Put a Lit­tle Love in Your Heart” kicks in, you might be vis­ited by three ghosts your­self.


Ge­orge Bai­ley’s (Jimmy Ste­wart) eyes are opened in the 1946 fa­vorite “It’s a Won­der­ful Life.”

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