Christmas Movies
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CHRISTMAS MOVIES

From Home Alone and Elf to classics like Miracle on 34th Street, we’ve made our list of great holiday films and checked it at least twice. Now, to all you nice boys and girls out there, we present the Best Christmas Movies ever!

Christmas has come to represent different things to people over the years, and the movies here reflect that in kind. If you’re traditional and feeling nostalgic, you’ll be pleased to see where It’s A Wonderful Life and Holiday Inn made it on our list of top holiday films. If this time of the year reminds you of sitting around the TV, eagerly awaiting those annual specials, look out for A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There’s horror (Black Christmas), comedy (Trading Places), horror and comedy (Gremlins), and even a superhero covered in tinsel somewhere (Batman Returns). For those with an independent streak to celebrate, check out Tangerine and Carol. Meanwhile, Netflix has made great strides in the Kris Kringle quadrant with The Christmas Chronicles and Klaus. And if Christmas means traveling somewhere you don’t want to be, stuck in a building with people you don’t like, have we got the ultimate movie for you: Die Hard! Ho ho ho, now we have a complete list of great Christmas movies.
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From Home Alone and Elf to classics like Miracle on 34th Street, we’ve made our list of great holiday films and checked it at least twice. Now, to all you nice boys and girls out there, we present the Best Christmas Movies ever!

Christmas has come to represent different things to people over the years, and the movies here reflect that in kind. If you’re traditional and feeling nostalgic, you’ll be pleased to see where It’s A Wonderful Life and Holiday Inn made it on our list of top holiday films. If this time of the year reminds you of sitting around the TV, eagerly awaiting those annual specials, look out for A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There’s horror (Black Christmas), comedy (Trading Places), horror and comedy (Gremlins), and even a superhero covered in tinsel somewhere (Batman Returns). For those with an independent streak to celebrate, check out Tangerine and Carol. Meanwhile, Netflix has made great strides in the Kris Kringle quadrant with The Christmas Chronicles and Klaus. And if Christmas means traveling somewhere you don’t want to be, stuck in a building with people you don’t like, have we got the ultimate movie for you: Die Hard! Ho ho ho, now we have a complete list of great Christmas movies.
No one would argue that that early effort was anything but a Christmas movie, but these days, the question comes up frequently: What exactly is a Christmas movie? Is merely being set at Christmas enough? Or is there some elusive other element that makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie? It’s the old “Does Die Hard count?” debate.

Well, does it? Opting for a big-tent definition of what constitutes a Christmas movie, this list of the greatest Christmas movies ever made argues, yes, it does, very much so. And not just because it takes place at Christmas. The story of a man trying to repair his life, earn redemption, and keep his family together, Die Hard engages with some key Christmas-movie themes. More than twinkling lights and gift-making elves, we looked to these elements when putting the list together.
The first time Santa Claus appeared in film, it was in a silent British short directed by George Albert Smith, who pioneered the practice of film editing and the usage of close-ups. He also worked as a stage hypnotist and psychic, which influenced his use of special effects.

In the film, two children eagerly wait for Santa Claus by the fireplace, but are ordered to go to bed. While they sleep, Santa comes down the chimney and leaves presents for them. In the end, the children wake up and discover their presents. Transitions between these scenes are done with jump cuts, superimposition, and double exposure, which were new at the time.
Bing Crosby defined many Christmas classics and popularized them in films like Holiday Inn and later White Christmas. Miracle on 34th Street helped develop the Santa Claus mythos even further. Film critics can thank Frank Capra for creating the Christmas-adjacent film (meaning no Santa Claus) with It’s a Wonderful Life. (And there are even more films for classic film buffs, like The Bishop’s Wife, Meet Me in St. Louis and The Shop Around the Corner. HBO Max has the best collection of these classic films.)

As I said, the medium is the message, and we can see the impact on that in this first generation of Hollywood films. For the most part these films are skewed towards adults. They touch on themes of Christmas, but these aren’t children’s films. (The closest is Miracle on 34th Street.) Also, unlike later years, these films feature the tippity-top of A-List talent, like Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, and Bing Crosby.
There are a number of criteria (arguably subjective) that may be used to classify "Christmas movies": (1) Is the movie set during Christmastime or strongly associated with the festive season? (2) Does the movie touch upon uplifting Christmas themes and elements, such as redemption, charity or fellowship among people, or does it in some way evoke the Christmas spirit of contentment, or bring back family and childhood memories? (3) Does watching the film at Christmastime enhance the enjoyment of the experience? or (4) Is the movie generally accepted as a Christmas movie tradition?

It should also be noted that the holiday season hasn't always had the film industry's emphasis on increasing yearly grosses or the release of many Oscar-worthy (or prestige) titles - during what should now be termed the "award season." In the old days, classic Disney animated features were often re-released for the holidays, in addition to light-hearted comedies and musicals. The trend to release large-scale pictures during the holidays began in the mid-1970s, with the release of King Kong (1976), Superman: The Movie (1978), and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
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