The Eight Best Classic Christmas Movies To Watch And Why

It’s the holiday season again. That means seeing family members, eating way too much food, and streaming those classic Christmas movies we can’t seem to get enough of.
We took an unscientific look at the holiday movies produced over the last 50-plus years and compiled a list of the top eight Christmas films and why they should be added to your watchlists.
Starting with the best Christmas film of all-time and counting down the rest, this list can be watched in any order because every single one of them are true gems!
“It’s A Wonderful Life”
Released in theaters in 1946, the Frank Capra-directed film stars screen legends James Stewart and Donna Reed. The movie was huge for Stewart’s career after the actor returned home weary from the war and initially turned down the role, as previously reported.
The film centers on “an angel” who is “sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman,” named George Bailey, “by showing him what life would have been like if he had never” been born.
The themes of the film deal with dark subjects like suicide and greed, but also love and faith. It was not a box office success when it came out, and as one writer noted, the fact this movie has grown in success over the years says a lot about how our culture has changed.
It’s hard not to root for George, who seems to always be stopped from accomplishing his huge dreams. Not to be a spoiler, but through a series of events, Bailey becomes hopeless and decides that everyone would be better off if he were dead. Luckily, for Bailey, an angel intervenes and reminds him of all the reasons his life is worth living.
On Tuesday, Fathom Events announced that Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will bring this wonderful movie back to the big screen on December 18 and December 21 in honor of the film’s 75th anniversary. Proving once again why audiences love this movie and generation after generation point to it as the greatest Christmas film of all time.
“White Christmas” 
Released in 1954, the Irving Berlin movie features some of the era’s biggest stars like Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. White Christmas celebrates our greatest heroes, those who sacrifice everything and go off to fight in wars, only to find when they come back they’re often forgotten.
A description on IMDb reads, “A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general.”
The movie deals in themes of love of country, family, and faith. One writer noted a great moral viewers learn from this movie is “support loved ones when times are hard.” Unlike “It’s A Wonderful Life,” this film was a huge box office hit upon release, and became the second-highest-grossing film of that year, behind “The Caine Mutiny,” Parade noted, bringing in $12 million at the time.
“Miracle On 34th Street” 
Out in theaters in 1947, “Miracle on 34th Street” was directed by George Seaton and stars Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. This beloved classic is all about believing in the magic of Christmas and Jolly Old Saint Nick.
The film centers on a divorced New York mother who “hires a nice old man to play Santa Claus at Macy’s,” when “she is startled by his claim to be the genuine article. When his sanity is questioned, a lawyer defends him in court by arguing that he’s not mistaken.”
“Miracle on 34th Street” harkens back to those feelings of being an innocent child and believing in Santa Claus. It’s a fun holiday movie about the power of love and family.
One of the biggest themes of the film is the necessity of faith, especially when all hope is lost. And the sweet romance that builds in the background of this whimsical tale will have you believing too.
Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferrell, Bob Newhart, and James Caan, “Elf” released in theaters in 2003.
Ferrell’s character ‘Buddy’ is “raised as an oversized elf” who “travels from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father, Walter Hobbs, who doesn’t know he exists and is in desperate need of some Christmas spirit.”
I have to admit, when the trailers for this one originally came out I was convinced it was going to be a huge disappointment and waste of my time. Several years went by before I finally watched it, and I must confess, I was dead wrong. There will still be those who will see this inclusion and not be pleased, but I had to include it because it has all the makings of a true classic.
Elf is filled with themes of love of family, greed, and forgiveness. And just like old George Bailey discovered, one person can truly make a difference in so many people’s lives.
And in this movie, ‘Buddy the Elf’ is the guy who makes the lives of all those around him so much better.
“The Santa Clause” 
Originally released in theaters in 1994, “The Santa Clause” stars Tim Allen, Wendy Crewson, and Judge Reinhold. Directed by John Pasquin, the movie deals with a divorced man who’s lost connection with his son. Through one magical night, Allen’s character “inadvertently makes Santa fall off his roof on Christmas Eve” and “he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.”
Marriage and divorce, family and faith — and a good dose of Tim Allen comedy — are the themes that carry this movie. “The Santa Clause” was an immediate box office hit and leads in the film’s franchise, earning $144 million over its lifetime. This one is a special movie, connecting the dots to questions you had as a child like, how does Santa deliver all of those packages in one night? Or how does he get into houses without chimneys? Or does Santa ever die?
This movie proves to us Santa will never die and makes you feel like a kid again. It reminds you that “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing,” a classic quote from the film.
“The Bishop’s Wife”
Released in theaters in 1948, this Henry Koster directed film stars box office legend Cary Grant and features Loretta Young and David Niven. The movie’s themes are family, marriage, love, and faith.
I only recently discovered this movie, and I plan on watching it every year. The film focuses on a “debonair angel,” (Grant), who comes down to “Earth to help an Episcopalian bishop and his wife in their quest to raise money for the new church.” 
While Niven’s character is tuned into the fact that Grant is an angel who has arrived to help him, Young isn’t. Through a series of events, it becomes obvious Grant is there to help everyone connected to the Bishop, but not necessarily to help the Bishop accomplish the goal the way he intended. 
A classic exchange in the film between the bishop and the angel is when Niven’s character says he was praying for a cathedral. The angel replies, “No, Henry. You were praying for guidance.”
“Die Hard”
Released in theaters summer of 1988, “Die Hard” is an action-packed movie directed by John McTiernan and stars Bruce Willis, the hero of this unique addition to the list of all time great Christmas movies. “Die Hard focuses on what happens when Willis’ character, an off-duty New York Police officer “tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.” 
The themes in this movie are love, family, marriage, and belief that one can stand and triumph against many evils. Similar to our little guy George Bailey, Willis’ character hasn’t had things easy, but like any true hero he doesn’t just take off or give up when faced with evil.
Instead, he manages to fight against all odds — barefoot and walking on broken glass — and, with the help of another officer, save the day. This film shows why we love movies in the first place. The fact that it takes place at Christmas time is what makes it perfect for this list.
Released in theaters in 1988, comedian Bill Murray takes on the role of an Ebenezer Scrooge-type in Richard Donner’s twist on the classic Charles Dickens novel “A Christmas Carol.”
“Scrooged” tells the story of “a selfish, cynical television executive” who “is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.” The movie’s themes are family, marriage, love, greed, and forgiveness.
Murray plays TV executive Frank Cross who has decided that love and family aren’t for him, as he buries himself in his career sacrificing everything in his life to climb the ladder of success. That is, until one night, when he’s visited by his late-boss who tells him he’s got to turn his life around or else. 
He’s visited by three ghosts that night that are anything but typical kind ghosts. It is a hilarious, weird ride until the very end when this Christmas movie’s message comes shining through with the importance of family and friends and being kind to one another.
When it first released, Roger Ebert panned it as a one star film, but that didn’t stop people from going to see it or prevent its popularity growing over the last 30 years to become a truly great Christmas movie.
Have fun watching these wonderful movies. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
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The Daily Wire
December 2, 2022