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The Greatest Christmas Films by Decade


Christmas films have been a staple of common yuletide tradition for so long as cinema has existed. Anybody who celebrates at Christmastime has sat down to look at a Christmas movie in some unspecified time in the future of their life.

The enjoyable factor about Christmas films is that they are much more versatile than you would possibly suppose. They don’t seem to be all family-oriented, heartwarming, and mawkish – a few of them are tragic, others hilarious, and there are even numerous horror films set at Christmas.

On this piece, we’ll take you thru the very best two films from each decade, beginning with the Nineteen Thirties and ending with the 2020s.

The Nineteen Thirties | The Skinny Man (1934, Directed by W. S. Van Dyke)

Screenshot 2022 11 11 093947
Picture Credit score: Metro-Goldyn-Mayer.

The Skinny Man is a pre-Code comedy-mystery film primarily based on Dashiell Hammett’s 1934 eponymous novel. It is about former detective Nick Charles and his rich spouse, Nora, as they examine a homicide case, primarily for the sheer enjoyable of it, at Christmastime.

Far From a Typical Christmas Film

The Thin Man 1934 Metro Goldyn Mayer
Picture Credit score: Metro-Goldyn-Mayer

William Powell and Myrna Loy make this film what it’s, and that is sensible. Whereas it’s miles from a typical Christmas film, it has loads of enjoyable and festivities to make sure it falls into the class. The dialogue is superb in The Skinny Man, the film’s thriller will get dealt with beautifully, and it is completely entertaining from starting to finish.

Babes in Toyland (1934, Directed by Gus Meins and Charles Rogers)

Babes in Toyland 1934 Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Picture Credit score: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Babes in Toyland, AKA March of the Wood Troopers, is a musical Christmas film starring comedy legends Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. It is loosely primarily based on Victor Herbert’s well-known 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland and follows Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum as they attempt to fail to repay Mom Peep’s mortgage, all whereas going up in opposition to the evil Barnaby.

Considered one of The Merriest Christmas Movies Ever

Babes in Toyland 1934 Metro Goldwyn Mayer 2
Picture Credit score: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

This film is an absolute pleasure and one of many merriest Christmas movies ever made. Whereas it is primarily for kids, there are laughs and thrills galore for all of the household. It is merely pleasant and enjoyable in its most pure kind, and Laurel and Hardy are unbelievable in it.

Honorable Mentions; Scrooge (1935), A Christmas Carol (1938).

The Nineteen Forties | It is a Great Life (1946, Directed by Frank Capra)

Its a Wonderful Life 1946 Liberty Films
Picture Credit score: Liberty Movies

It is a Great Life is a Christman fantasy drama film primarily based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s 1943 brief story The Best Present, which is, in flip, loosely primarily based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. It is a few man who gave up his goals to assist his neighborhood and whose suicidal Christmas Eve ideas carry in regards to the intervention of his guardian angel.

Defines Them All

Its a Wonderful Life 1946 Liberty Films 2
Picture Credit score: Liberty Movies

This film is likely one of the most interesting ever made and the Christmas film that defines all of them. James Stewart is phenomenal as its star, and the supporting solid does a unbelievable job. It is inventive, humorous and filled with coronary heart. For those who solely get the prospect to look at one Christmas film, ensure that it is this one.

Miracle on thirty fourth Road (1947, Directed by George Seaton)

Miracle on 34th Street 1947 20th Century Fox 2
Picture Credit score: twentieth Century Fox

Miracle on thirty fourth Road is a Christmas comedy-drama primarily based on a narrative by Valentine Davies. The film is a few division retailer Santa Claus, at Macy’s in New York Metropolis, who claims to be the actual Father Christmas, and he goes to courtroom in a bid to show it.

Sentimental, Humorous, and Brilliantly Carried out

Miracle on 34th Street 1947 20th Century
Picture Credit score: twentieth Century Fox

You may consider in Santa Claus by the point you’ve got completed watching this film – that is how good it’s. It is sentimental, humorous, and brilliantly carried out by its wonderful solid. Edmund Gwenn is exceptionally great as Kris Kringle. Miracle on thirty fourth Road is the right movie to look at if you wish to expertise a heat feeling over the festive interval.

Honorable Mentions; Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Christmas in Connecticut (1945).

The Nineteen Fifties | White Christmas (1954, Directed by Michael Curtiz)

White Christmas 1954 Paramount Pictures
Picture Credit score: Paramount Photos

White Christmas is a musical film that includes the songs of Irving Berlin. The tracks embrace a model of “White Christmas” launched by Bing Crosby in 1942’s Vacation Inn. Within the film, a profitable song-and-dance duo turns into romantically concerned with a pair of performing sisters. All of them group as much as save a failing Vermont inn run by their beloved former commanding normal.

Nice Enjoyable to Watch

White Christmas
Picture Credit score: Paramount Photos

As the primary film to launch in VistaVision, White Christmas seems to be terrific. It is also unashamedly sentimental, extremely candy, and nice enjoyable to look at. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are on high kind on this one, and Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen sustain with them for your complete movie.

The Snow Queen (1957, Directed by Lev Atamanov)

The Snow Queen 1957 Soyuzmultfilm
Picture Credit score: Soyuzmultfilm

The Snow Queen is a Soviet animated musical fantasy film primarily based on the 1844 story of the identical title by Hans Christian Andersen. It is in regards to the lonely and highly effective eponymous fairy who kidnaps a human boy, forcing his finest buddy to move on a harmful quest to rescue him.

A Masterpiece of Animation

The Snow Queen 1957 Soyuzmultfilm 2
Picture Credit score: Soyuzmultfilm

This film is a masterpiece of animation and a splendidly atmospheric movie by any requirements. It is hopeful and spirited with a superb story – and it seems to be beautiful. Whereas it is undoubtedly higher in Russian, the English dub could be very efficient.

Honorable Mentions; We’re No Angels (1955), The Evening of the Hunter (1955).

The Nineteen Sixties | A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965, Directed by Invoice Melendez)

A Charlie Brown Christmas 1965 Lee Mendelson Film Productions 2
Picture Credit score: Lee Mendelson Movie Productions

Somewhat than being a feature-length film, A Charlie Brown Christmas is an animated tv particular primarily based on Charles M. Schulz’s caricature Peanuts. Within the movie, Charlie Brown is depressed regardless of Christmastime arriving, and Lucy suggests he direct a neighborhood Christmas play. Nevertheless, when he chooses a tiny Christmas tree as a centerpiece, he finds himself the goal of mockery.

Heartwarming and Humorous

A Charlie Brown Christmas 1965 Lee Mendelson Film Productions
Picture Credit score: Lee Mendelson Movie Productions

Manufacturing ended solely ten days earlier than it was as a result of air, with the group behind it satisfied it will fail. Nevertheless, it was an enormous success – with the technical flaws it undoubtedly has being a part of its appeal. It is heartwarming and humorous, and it has Charlie Brown popping out on high for a change, which is a good festive mood-booster.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966, Directed by Chuck Jones and Ben Washam)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1966 Cat in the Hat Productions
Picture Credit score: Cat within the Hat Productions

One other animated tv particular, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! relies on the 1957 kids’s ebook of the identical title by Dr. Seuss. Within the movie, the mischievous Grinch makes an attempt to damage Christmas for the folks of the city of Whoville, which sits under his mountain hideaway.

A Work of Artwork

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1966 Cat in the Hat Productions 2
Picture Credit score: Cat within the Hat Productions

With Boris Karloff offering the voice of the Grinch and the narrator, this can be a murals. Like A Charlie Brown Christmas, it is a festive staple that deserves its place on lists like these, regardless of not being a standard feature-length film. The animation is beautiful, the story is superb, and it is a pleasure to look at.

Honorable Mentions; Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968).

The Nineteen Seventies | Scrooge (1970, Directed by Ronald Neame)

Scrooge 1970 Cinema Center Films 2
Picture Credit score: Cinema Heart Movies

Scrooge is a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 story, A Christmas Carol. This one stars Albert Finney because the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, as a number of ghostly Christmas apparitions go to him and take him on a mysterious journey of redemption.

Considered one of The Most interesting Film Variations of a Christmas Carol

Scrooge 1970 Cinema Center Films
Picture Credit score: Cinema Heart Movies

It is one of many most interesting film variations of the traditional story, and it includes a masterful efficiency from Finney within the eponymous position. The music and singing are nice, and the entire thing is teeming with the heat, sentimentality, and coronary heart you hope to expertise when seeing A Christmas Carol tailored on display.

Black Christmas (1974, Directed by Bob Clark)

black christmas 1974
Picture Credit score: Warner Bros.

Black Christmas is a slasher film set in the course of the Christmas season a few group of sorority sisters who obtain threatening cellphone calls (from inside the home! – for the primary time) and get stalked and brutally murdered by a deranged and mysterious killer.

A Tense, Scary Vacation Film

Black Christmas 1974 Film Funding Ltd. of Canada
Picture Credit score: Movie Funding Ltd. of Canada

It is a tense film that gives all of the fiendishly scary vacation viewing you want. It was progressive when launched and is extra clever than most slasher films, and lots of horror followers see it as extremely influential. Its main stars – Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder, the latter well-known for enjoying Lois Lane within the Christopher Reeve Superman films – are each wonderful.

Honorable Mentions; A Christmas Carol (1971), Silent Evening, Bloody Evening (1972).

The Eighties | Gremlins (1984, Directed by Joe Dante)

Gremlins Christmas
Picture Credit score: Warner Bros.

Gremlins is a black comedy horror film primarily based on legends from World Warfare II of folkloric creatures inflicting malfunctions in automobiles and equipment. Within the movie, a younger man receives a wierd pet for Christmas, which spawns different creatures that rework into monstrous little hellions that trigger havoc in a small American city.

Wickedly Humorous Film

Gremlins Warner Bros MSN
Picture Credit score: Warner Bros.

It is such a wickedly humorous film you can’t assist however get pleasure from it – even if you happen to’re simply scared. It has some moderately horrifying moments, nevertheless it’s primarily an absolute hoot. The creatures within the film are fully sensible – there are not any particular results – and so they look nice. The entire solid offers wonderful performances on this one.

Die Laborious (1988, Directed by John McTiernan)

Die Hard 2 20th Century Fox MSN
Picture Credit score: twentieth Century Fox.

Die Laborious is an motion film primarily based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Eternally. Within the movie, a New York Metropolis police detective named John McClane finds himself in the midst of a terrorist takeover of a Los Angeles skyscraper on Christmas Eve whereas he is there to go to his estranged spouse.

Considered one of The Best Motion Films of All Time

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Picture Credit score: twentieth Century Fox.

Undoubtedly, this is likely one of the best motion films of all time. Debate rages on relating to its standing as a Christmas film, however we’re inclined to name it one. It is thrilling to the purpose of inflicting the viewer’s coronary heart to pound. Bruce Willis is superb as McClane, and the film spawned what’s now thought-about an iconic franchise.

Honorable Mentions; Santa Claus: The Film (1984), Scrooged (1988).

The Nineties | House Alone (1990, Directed by Chris Columbus)

Home Alone
Picture Credit score: twentieth Century Fox

House Alone is a Christmas comedy a few boy named Kevin McCallister, who should defend his massive suburban Chicago dwelling from a pair of burglars when his household mistakenly leaves him behind once they depart their festive trip to Paris. It spawned a franchise, however solely the primary sequel is price mentioning.

Slapstick, Hilarious Humor

Home Alone 20th Century Fox MSN
Picture Credit score: twentieth Century Fox.

Macaulay Culkin is sensible as Kevin on this film, and the supporting solid is terrific – most notably Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern because the hapless burglars. House Alone’s slapstick humor is hilarious, however the film additionally has loads of coronary heart. It is a sadistic celebration of grown-up bashing, and we imply that in essentially the most sensible method potential. It additionally has a superb John Williams rating.

The Nightmare Earlier than Christmas (1993, Directed by Henry Selick)

The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 Touchstone PIctures 2
Picture Credit score: Touchstone Photos

The Nightmare Earlier than Christmas is a stop-motion animated musical darkish fantasy film. It originated as a poem written by producer Tim Burton in 1982. It follows Jack Skellington, the King of “Halloween City,” as he stumbles into “Christmas City” and plots a scheme to take over the extra festive vacation.

Stuffed with Enjoyable and Delicate Frights

The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 Touchstone PIctures
Picture Credit score: Touchstone Photos

This film is a murals. It is so unique and is stuffed with each enjoyable and delicate frights. It is totally gorgeous from a visible standpoint, the musical numbers are nice, and the voice actors carry out brilliantly. The story is beautiful, and there is even a bit of romance. The Nightmare Earlier than Christmas is ideal for watching on both Christmas or Halloween.

Honorable Mentions; The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Jingle All of the Method (1996).

The 2000s | Elf (2003, Directed by Jon Favreau)

Elf 2003 New Line Cinema
Picture Credit score: New Line Cinema

Elf is a Christmas comedy a few man named Buddy who spent his childhood on the North Pole raised by Santa’s elves. When he learns about his origins, he journeys to New York Metropolis to fulfill his organic father – a grumpy kids’s ebook writer.

Considered one of The Most Cheerful Films Ever Made

Elf 2003 New Line Cinema 2
Picture Credit score: New Line Cinema

It is some of the cheerful films ever made. Elf is nice-spirited, good-natured, warmhearted, and hilarious. Will Ferrell is classy within the childlike eponymous position, and you’ll inform he had a ball doing it. The supporting solid of Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, and the late, nice James Caan make it even higher.

The Polar Categorical (2004, Directed by Robert Zemeckis)

The Polar Express 2004 Castle Rock Entertainment
Picture Credit score: Fortress Rock Leisure

The Polar Categorical is a computer-animated journey film primarily based on Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 kids’s ebook of the identical title. It is a few younger boy who sees a mysterious North Pole-bound practice cease exterior his window on Christmas Eve. He is invited aboard and joins a number of different youngsters as they head off to go to Santa Claus.

A Deep, Magical High quality

The Polar

This film seems to be gorgeous, and whereas it’s festive, there’s extra of a haunting, deep, magical high quality to it than the standard jolly Christmas movie. It is totally enchanting, and Tom Hanks deserves limitless credit score for brilliantly voicing at least six characters – together with a number of of the primary ones. General, The Polar Categorical is beautiful.

Honorable Mentions; How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Dangerous Santa (2003).

The 2010s | Uncommon Exports: A Christmas Story (2010, Directed by Jalmari Helander)

Rare Exports A Christmas Tale 2010 Cinet
Picture Credit score: Cinet

Uncommon Exports: A Christmas Story is a Finnish fantasy motion horror film primarily based on the 2003 brief movie Uncommon Exports Inc. and its 2005 sequel Uncommon Exports: The Official Security Directions by Jalmari Helander and Juuso Helander. Within the film, an American and British analysis group dig up Christmas’s true secrets and techniques in Lapland, with horrifying outcomes.

Mix of Darkish Horror and Deadpan Comedy

Rare Exports A Christmas Tale 2010 Cinet 2
Picture Credit score: Cinet

It is a near-perfect mix of darkish horror and deadpan comedy. Uncommon Exports: A Christmas Story is unique, formidable, and brilliantly crafted – from the units to the appearing and directing – and a film it is best to undoubtedly watch. Regardless of its ugly content material, it additionally has a real feeling of Christmas spirit.

Arthur Christmas (2011, Directed by Sarah Smith)

Arthur Christmas 2011 Columbia Pictures 2
Picture Credit score: Columbia Photos

Arthur Christmas is a computer-animated sci-fi comedy. It is about Santa’s clumsy son Arthur, as he units out on a mission together with his Grandfather to verify a younger lady will get a gift Santa Claus misplaced in lower than two hours.

Refreshing, Humorous, and Emotional

Arthur Christmas 2011 Columbia Pictures
Picture Credit score: Columbia Photos

It is a film that tackles the concept of Santa in a contemporary, hi-tech method, and it really works. Arthur Christmas is refreshing, humorous, clever, earnest, and emotional. Furthermore, the animation is gorgeous. Aardman Animations do an unbelievable job in solely their second fully computer-animated function film.

Honorable Mentions; Krampus (2015), The Grinch (2018).

The 2020s | Happiest Season (2020, Directed by Clea Duvall)

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Happiest Season is a romantic comedy-drama a few girl who struggles to confess that she’s a lesbian to her conservative dad and mom whereas visiting them at Christmas along with her girlfriend. DuVall has stated the movie is semi-autobiographical primarily based on her experiences along with her circle of relatives.

A Satisfying Ending

Happiest Season 2020 TriStar Pictures
Picture Credit score: TriStar Photos

With an amazing ensemble solid that features Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, and Mary Steenburgen, Happiest Season is stuffed with heartfelt performances. It is clever, charming, honest, and jolly, with a satisfying ending that can go away you feeling heat and fuzzy.

8-Bit Christmas (2021, Directed by Michael Dowse)

8-Bit Christmas
Courtesy of HBO Max

8-Bit Christmas is a comedy film primarily based on Kevin Jakubowski’s 2013 novel of the identical title. It is set in Eighties Chicago, as a 10-year-old embarks on a decided quest to make sure he will get the very best Christmas reward of his era: the newest and best online game console.

A Coronary heart-Tugging Film

8 Bit Christmas 2021 New Line Cinema
Picture Credit score: New Line Cinema

Neil Patrick Harris is superb because the lead on this one, as is his supporting solid. It is a beautiful, heat, sentimental, nostalgic, and heart-tugging film. It is filled with 80s references that those that lived by the last decade will love. The writing and path are wonderful.

Honorable Mentions; Silent Evening (2021), Crimson Snow (2021).

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This text was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Kev is a UK-based sport and leisure author – a job he is been doing full-time since 2013. He is produced content material for all kinds of internet sites and publications everywhere in the world. He is an enormous film fan with a selected love for horror, superhero films and 80s films. For his sins, Kev is a fan of Tottenham Hotspur Soccer Membership.


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