10 Classic Christmas Movies to Share
If you are looking for some festive favorites to share with your loved ones during the holiday season, we suggest gathering the family around and basking in the glow of some Christmas movie classics.
Arthur Christmas (Overall Grade: A-)
Growing up as the younger brother isn’t easy for Arthur. He loves everything about Christmas including silly slippers and bulky sweaters. But he knows it is his older brother who will take over the family business of being Santa Claus. However that doesn’t stop Arthur from taking some unprecedented steps to make sure Christmas morning is perfect for a young girl who has unwittingly been overlooked on Santa’s toy run.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Overall Grade: A)
A nice short expression of what Christmas is all about, Charles M. Schulz’s first animated Peanuts Special draws upon the New Testament to provide the central message. With Lucy and the gang convinced Christmas means commercialism, Charlie Brown (with help from the diminutive Linus), buys a pathetic Christmas tree to bring the point (and falling needles) home.
A Christmas Carol (1951) (Overall Grade: A)
Starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, this black and white film brings all the color of Dickens’s character to the screen. A tale of reformation and redemption, the lessons of Christmas past, present and future are sure to chase away any feelings of humbug. (However, the youngest of viewers may find the monochromatic tones intensify the darker elements in the story.)
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) (Overall Grade: A-)
Although a live-action version is available, it doesn’t outshine the1966 original animation featuring the artwork of Chuck Jones (best known for his contributions to the Bugs Bunny franchise) and the voice talent of Boris Karloff. The unusual music, story, and creatures, which only Seuss could have created, remind us all that Christmas can be merry even without presents.
It’s A Wonderful Life (Overall Grade: A)
Frank Capra’s quintessential masterpiece—which was never intended to be a Christmas movie—is a timeless reminder of human potential. James Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who sacrifices his entire life to help the working class of Bedford Falls. But when the menacing Mr. Potter frames him for a financial scam, Bailey is forced to calculate his real worth. One of my favorite films of all time, during the festive season or otherwise, It’s A Wonderful Life deserves a place in every family’s movie collection.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and 1994 version (Overall Grade: A- for both.)
When a department store Santa claims to be Kris Kringle, the Mr. Claus himself, he is deemed mentally ill. Both editions of this charming tale juxtapose what we know, with what we believe. Interestingly however, each version presents a different piece of evidence in the case for Santa. Either is capable of making a believer out of even the most skeptical.
A Muppet Christmas Carol (Overall Grade: A)
Dickens’s famous tale gets an overhaul in this movie adaptation where Kermit the Frog and his Muppet pals take over the story—although a human does plays Scrooge (Michael Caine). Produced by Jim Henson’s son Brian, the script captures all the essence and meaning of the classic amongst the Muppet’s hilarious antics. (A lighter choice for family viewing, with just a hint of fright at the end.)
The Nativity Story (Overall Grade: A)
The Biblical account of the birth of the baby Jesus is in this movie starring Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary and Oscar Isaac as Joseph. The production includes everything you would expect in a film bearing this title and, even with some dramatic license, should please most Christian audiences.
The Polar Express (Overall Grade: A)
Chris Van Allsberg’s popular storybook comes to life through the marvel of computer animation, the talents of actor Tom Hanks and some music from Josh Groban. It asks the question, “Do you believe in Santa?” And you’ll be hard-pressed to answer anything but the affirmative after taking this spectacular winter train ride in search of Christmas magic… and the sound of Santa’s sleigh bells.
The Snowman (Overall Grade: A)
During the hectic month of December, I actually crave this movie. Its peaceful and serene nature is a welcome relief from department store clatter and office party chatter. Nominated for an Academy Award, this uniquely animated film tells the story of a young boy and his snowman with nary a spoken word. The music and images melt together into a surreal experience. (It’s a great movie to show anxious children before bedtime.)