Hi there, I’m Brian McKinney

Developer, designer, musician, recording engineer. In other words, I like to make things

Five really good Christmas movies

  • November 29, 2008
  • in christmas, film


Gremlins movie poster.

After Thanksgiving is over, my attention immediately shifts to Christmas. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to watch some quality Christmas-themed movies. In the spirit of the holidays, I've compiled a list of a few of my all time favorites.


I have to say, Gremlins is one of my favorite 1980s movies of all time. Whoever had the idea to set this mini monster movie during Christmas-time was a genius. The story works incredibly well as the mysterious gremlins terrorize a small town in the days leading up to Christmas - a time when everyone seems too concerned about shoveling snow and sipping egg nog to notice the strange happenings in their town. This film plays well today, even the notably dated special effects add a bit of hokey charm to an already hokey movie, and it still manages to be very entertaining throughout. Who can't love the bar scene when all of the Gremlins are in full costume representing every stereotype imaginable and having a wild drunk fest. It doesn't get any better than that in a Christmas themed monster movie.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

I'm referring of course to the brilliant 1960s cartoon version, not the big-budget Jim Carrey feature film from a few years back. I loved this cartoon when I was a kid, and I still love it today. Boris Karloff as the narrator of one of the best Christmas stories of all time turns out to be an absolutely brilliant choice. He adds a unique voice to a story that just wouldn't be the same without him. Can you imagine someone else singing "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch"? I didn't think so.

The Holiday

Kidding. This movie sucks.

It's a Wonderful Life

Ok, this is an obvious choice. Probably the most obvious choice. However, despite how much this movie has been overplayed around the Christmas holiday, I still love it. Jimmy Stewart is definitely at his best as the ridiculously good hearted honest man, who wants desperately to travel the world, but instead stays home to run the family business - an aging savings and loan. After a mixup all but guarantees a certain failure for the thing he gave up all of his dreams to support, he's a little upset. What better way to illustrate to someone how important they are in the world, than to show them the world without him? This story presents a great moral in a unique way, and is an absolute classic. Also notable for probably being the only movie where the hero is the owner of a bank, and you totally feel sorry for him the whole time.


All right, I feel I've got to include a somewhat recent film on this list, so here you go. When evaluating Christmas movies, you really have to take them in the context of what they are - silly, cheesy, and warm-hearted. I've got to admit, this movie isn't going to win any best picture awards, but as far as recent Christmas films are concerned, it most definitely holds its own. Will Ferrell sticks with what Will Ferrell does best - loud, boorish, physical comedy, and it works really well in this movie. Zooey Deschanel as the sarcastic sidekick to Will Ferrell's elfish antics is an awesome choice and definitely makes the movie.

Citizen Kane

Yes, Citizen Kane. Admittedly, this is an odd inclusion to the list. It's not really about Christmas per-say. However, for some reason I always associate this movie with Christmas and it is definitely my favorite on the list. I can't say enough about how awesome I think this movie is. It manages to tell an incredibly compelling story in a way that had not been attempted prior to its release. Oh yeah, it's also lampoons the life of one of the most successful and powerful figures in American society at the time of its release. How this movie even got released is an incredible story on its own.

Orson Wells was firing on all cylinders as the screen writer, director and star of this fantastic movie. Strangely, after knocking this film out of the park, he all but disappeared from being associated with any sort of successful picture for decades. He certainly must have used up all of his bad assery in this one film because in acting, directing, and story it has nearly no equal.


1 Dylan B. says

Probably my favorite Christmas movie of all time has to be National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. It never fails to get me into the Christmas spirit when I watch it during the holidays every year.

Posted at 8:44 p.m. on December 5, 2008

2 Joshua Works says

Another excellent list!

I have to agree with Dylan, tho, Christmas Vacation is classic. I also unabashedly love Home Alone and A Muppet Christmas Carol.

Posted at 1:33 a.m. on December 7, 2008

3 Brian Mckinney says

Christmas Vacation is indeed a classic and there were a few that were difficult to leave off of this list, this being one of them. Home Alone was another one. I hadn't even thought of A Muppet Christmas Carol, which rocks as well. There are a lot more quality ones out there, I guess there is always next year's list!

Posted at 6:37 p.m. on December 8, 2008

4 Garrett Pennington says

I'm gonna drop a list here. Stand back.

Santa Clause (1985). Die Hard. Die Hard 2. Bad Santa. Of course, Christmas Vacation.

Posted at 10:22 p.m. on December 10, 2008

5 Brian Mckinney says

Awesome list Garrett. Die Hard and Die Hard 2! I completely forgot those were Christmas movies, if I'd have remembered that, Die Hard would have been on the list for sure.

Posted at 10:32 a.m. on December 11, 2008

6 Picholine says

you forgot Love Actually for the romantics like me !!

Posted at 4:31 p.m. on January 22, 2009

7 Brian McKinney says

@Picholine Love Actually is a tough movie for a guy like me to admit is good, but I do agree Love Actually is a good Christmas movie. Mostly because you are so damn cute.

Posted at 2 a.m. on February 4, 2009

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