The 40 Best Christmas Movies of All Time
Vulture is out with its picks for the 40 best Christmas movies of all time. Here are the Yuletide classics that made the top 10
- It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Though it’s become synonymous with holiday cheer, Capra’s film works because of its willingness to go to some dark places, and because of Stewart’s ability to play a gregarious goof one moment and a man whose world comes crashing down the next.
- Tangerine (2015). It takes time for a film to emerge as a Christmas classic, so let’s stake an early claim for Sean Baker’s Tangerine. The film follows the Christmas spirit into some unexpected corners: It's about a pair of transgender sex workers living on the fringes of Los Angeles who are released from jail on Christmas Eve. Chaos mounts as day turns into night in the hours before Christmas.
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947). An irresistible bit of Christmas whimsy made unforgettable by Edmund Gwenn’s turn as the man who might be Santa. It's part fantasy, part romance, part indictment of commercialism, part defense of letting children be children as long as they can, and part legal thriller (well, sort of),
- A Christmas Carol (a.k.a. Scrooge), 1951. There have been many memorable movie Scrooges (take a look at the multiple entries above), but few as memorable as Alastair Sim. He’s not just terrifyingly convincing as a pitiless miser in the film’s early scenes but also heartbreakingly affecting as a changed man in its closing moments.
- The Shop Around the Corner (1940). Both a peerless romantic comedy and one of the great Christmas movies, weaving themes of forgiveness and second chances into a love story that reflects the season in which it takes place.
- A Christmas Story (1983). The episodic film follows Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) in the days before Christmas, when he wants nothing more than a Red Ryder air rifle--and seems destined not to get one. It mixes big comic moments, like a kid getting his tongue stuck to a stop sign, with affection for family life and days gone by.
- Bad Santa (2003). A proudly mean-spirited black comedy seemingly at war with the Christmas spirit, Bad Santa somehow loops all the way back around to being a heartwarming Christmas movie about one man’s redemption. It’s a weird trick, pulled off in large part thanks to star Billy Bob Thornton’s performance as a hard-drinking con artist who uses his work as a mall Santa as a setup for grand larceny.
- Die Hard (1988). It’s a story of loss and renewal in which BruceWillis’s New York cop John McClane has to navigate the strange world of L.A. and take down a bunch of Eurotrash pseudo-terrorists in order to repair his marriage. Reconciling with his wife in time for the holidays is McClane’s mission.
- Carol (2015). Todd Haynes’s Carol depicts the holidays as a time of possibility and peril as an intense, forbidden romance plays out against the backdrop of the 1952 Christmas season. The film stars Cate Blanchett as the eponymous unhappy housewife, a woman who unexpectedly falls for Therese (Rooney Mara), a store clerk. But their relationship seems doomed before it really begins once it threatens Carol’s ability to see her child, leaving her with an impossible choice.
- Comfort and Joy (1984). The end of the year can be a confusing time of reflection for those who feel they don’t have anything to celebrate. That feeling is captured beautifully in Scottish director Bill Forsyth’s tale of a Glasgow DJ (Bill Paterson), who finds himself unexpectedly alone when he’s dumped by his girlfriend shortly before Christmas..
What do you think of the list? Is "It's A Wonderful Life" worthy of taking the top spot?