Peter Billingsley in "A Christmas Story," and the Santa Claus who won't give him a Red Rider BB gun.
Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed star in "It's a Wonderful Life," named the "most inspirational film of all time" by the American Film Institute. CCW Production Manager Jennie Oxman gives the film even higher praise, calling it "the best ever."
Story last updated at 12/24/2008 - 10:53 am
We've put our half-frozen brains together here at the CCW to bring you a list of, in our opinion, the best holiday movies of all time. Here are our top ten, in very particular order:
10. Home Alone (1990), starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern
This sequel-inducing original flick chronicles the events surrounding a young boy's worst nightmare: being left behind by his family. He makes the best of it, though, and thrives in his solitude, perhaps suggesting that his worst fear is also his greatest fantasy.
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon and Catherine O'Hara
We like things that we can watch outside of the holiday season without feeling awkward. "Halloween and Christmas combined? Brilliant!" said Managing Editor Charles Westmoreland. Tim Burton's stop-motion masterpiece is good even in months that don't end in -ember.
8. Miracle on 34th Street (1947), starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and Gene Lockhart
Not all movies are meant to make viewers feel warm and fuzzy, but this one does! Even if you don't believe in Santa Claus, this is a tale to inspire triumph in even the most hopeless situations. Plus, we love the character of old black and white films, especially when they're played in HD.
7. It's A Wonderful Life (1946), starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore
Production Manager Jennie Oxman calls this one "the best ever." Even though it was called a financial flop after its initial release, it has since been named the "most inspirational American film of all time" by the American Film Institute.
6. Gremlins (1984), starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Howie Mandel
Webmaster Joel Irwin had this as number two on his list, but Westmoreland said there was no question that this is number one. "Everyone forgets that Gremlins is, in fact, a
Christmas movie," he said. "I've been waiting 24 years for Santa to bring me a Mogwai."
5. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), starring Mickey Rooney, Colin Duffy, Dick Shawn and George S. Irving
It's not uncommon to label these old stop-motion Christmas specials as cheesy or outdated, but that's why we love them. The Misers and Thistlewhites remain today just as we remember them from our childhood, and they are still just as mesmerizing.
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), starring Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Kathy Steinberg and Tracy Stratford
Associate Editor Katie Spielberger likes trees and the way that this TV special forever changed the way we judge their appearance. And with the right music in the background, even a sorry sapling can fill the place of a grand fir. Vince Gauraldi's original score breathes life into Charles Shultz's little paper people, putting this special high on our list of favorites.
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), starring Boris Karloff
Nothing against Jim Carey, but we like the original version of this Dr. Seuss story better. It's an epic rhyming adventure with howling winter weather, good food, cute Whos, and a heartwarming conclusion. If you've ever wanted a movie where the bad guy wins, this could be it.
2. A Christmas Story (1983), starring Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin
Our favorite part of this classic Christmas essential is Ralphie's little brother's snowsuit dilemma, especially since we can relate to it as Alaskans. We were terrified of the mean Santa when we were younger, and we also blame this movie for causing our parents to be overly cautious in their choice of our childhood Christmas gifts. We still aren't allowed to play with BB guns.
T-1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki
During our voting process, this movie was actually tied in first place with A Christmas Story, but we are convinced that this movie gets better and better every time it is watched. Any family who can't relate to this rollercoaster of madness isn't a family at all!