Written by Natale Ryan
Christmas is one of the most nostalgic holidays for many. The most comforting thing, for me, is curling up with a family film and sipping hot-chocolate. For many people who are abroad, it can be a lonely time. Being apart from loved ones can be difficult, so I wanted to provide a list of my top-seven, favorite Christmas films that can hopefully bring some holiday cheer. There isn’t one set genre in this list. These films can inspire thrills, humor, and feelings of joy. When I see most of these films, I reminisce about eating with my family, touring my neighborhood and admiring Christmas lights, and enjoying singing popular Christmas tunes. I can’t include everything on this list that I want to, but here are the top films I plan to revisit this year. Christmas is one of the most nostalgic holidays for many. The most comforting thing, for me, is curling up with a family film and sipping hot-chocolate. For many people who are abroad, it can be a lonely time. Being apart from loved ones can be difficult, so I wanted to provide a list of my top-seven, favorite Christmas films that can hopefully bring some holiday cheer. There isn’t one set genre in this list. These films can inspire thrills, humor, and feelings of joy. When I see most of these films, I reminisce about eating with my family, touring my neighborhood and admiring Christmas lights, and enjoying singing popular Christmas tunes. I can’t include everything on this list that I want to, but here are the top films I plan to revisit this year.
Elf (2003) – My number-one film was hard to choose. When I factored in all the details, I had to give the award to Elf. This movie stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, and Zooey Deschanel. There are so many reasons why this is my all-time favorite, go-to Christmas film. It features a fantastic Christmas soundtrack, includes Santa Claus and his elves, and highlights the true reason for celebration, all the while being hilarious. The film tells the story of a human adopted by an elf. While growing up, this human (Buddy) is oblivious to his differences between him and the elves he lives with. However, when the truth comes out, Buddy travels to New York City to find his blood father, who happens to be a workaholic man on the “naughty list.” This movie encapsulates everything holiday for me. There are many quotes from this film that I often share with my personal friends and family members. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone who hasn’t seen it. And if you have seen it, then I recommend that you re-watch it this Christmas!
Home Alone (1990) – Home Alone has been a family favorite since I can remember. If you aren’t familiar with the story, it centers around eight-year-old Kevin McCallister who, after being accidentally left at home during Christmas vacation, is faced with the task of protecting his family home from two burglars. This movie features a wonderful holiday soundtrack, hilarious comedy, and a heartwarming ending. Every child I knew growing up envied Kevin’s cleverness as he set traps around his home in order to protect his home. My favorite scene is the one that involves him carefully positioning Micro-Machines, tiny toy cars popular in the early 1990’s, on the floor where the two crooks end up slipping and falling on their backs! Though Macaulay Culkin was a good actor, the movie was made perfect by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the robbers. They were brilliant! Once again, this is a movie I highly recommend!
A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – This is a great Halloween/Christmas film that can be enjoyed twice a year! This movie tells the story of Jack, the pumpkin king, who longs for a deeper meaning to his life. While wandering through the woods in his depression one day, he mistakenly finds the door to Christmas Land. After seeing all the wonders there, and Santa Claus, Jack decides he wants to celebrate Christmas in Halloween Town. Though his heart may be in a decent place, his actions are not, and it leads to him hiring three tricksters to kidnap Santa Claus. This movies features characters known nearly world-wide! Children in schools here are familiar with many songs featured in the film as well. The target audience isn’t very clear, as the movie can be a little scary, but in a way that kids can laugh about it. This will be a film that I will most definitely watch again this year!
The Santa Clause (1994) – For some reason, I didn’t get the pun in the title until recently in my life. I would watch this film constantly as a child, even during the summer months! The movie tells the story of a divorced man, played by Tim Allen, who is a workaholic and trying to enjoy Christmas Eve with his son. He ends up accidentally killing Santa Claus, but then dons the suit to finish delivering the gifts in order to appease his son. When the night is finished, the sleigh returns to the North Pole, and we are treated with the most fantastic version of Santa’s workshop that I’ve ever seen. It is then that we learn that once a man puts on Santa’s suit, he is entrapped in a mysterious Santa Claus body, making him the new Santa! This movie is a mixture of comedy and drama, but also deals with serious struggles that a child of divorced parents faces. I related to it totally. This movie is sweet and endearing. If you haven’t seen it, check it out!
Gremlins (1984) – Yet another scary Christmas film, but unlike The Nightmare Before Christmas, this is a legit Christmas movie. This movie features one of the most adorable creatures in the cinematic world, Gizmo! Gizmo is a mogwai who is bought illegally by a salesman for his son’s Christmas gift. He comes with three rules: no sunlight, no water, and no eating after midnight. However, after accidently coming in contact with water, the creature multiplies. His offspring, though, are not as gentle as he is. They trick the main character into feeding them after midnight, resulting in their transformation into hideous little monsters! This movie was a classic while I was growing up. It is hilarious, spooky, and often times gross! I recommend it, but advise parental discretion for young viewers.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – This was a Christmas staple when I was young, and it still is to me! How the Grinch Stole Christmas is the ultimate tale of unselfishness and giving. The story is based on the children’s book by Dr. Seuss and is narrated by Boris Karloff. It tells the story of a creature called “The Grinch,” who lives above a town called Whoville. The Grinch hates Christmas because, based on the story, his heart was three sizes too small. To squash the Who’s holiday spirit, he plans to steal their decorations and toys. However, things do not turn out as planned, and we get another story that details the reason for the season!
A Christmas Story (1983) – This movie is a picture of what Christmas was like in North America in the 1940’s. It is just one story from a book called In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash and tells the story of a boy named Ralphie, who wants a BB gun for Christmas. Every time Ralphie states his desire to an adult, they crush his dreams by stating “You’ll shoot your eye out.” The movie portrays boyhood perfectly and includes a few of Ralphie’s daydreams, in which he saved the day with his coveted BB gun. Nostalgia radiates through this film and nods to classic American pop-culture of the past.
These are my top-seven films that I highly recommend watching this holiday season. Whether you are abroad, a native Korean, or someone looking to get a taste of Westernized Christmas films, these movies are a must-see.
Natale is an English teacher in Mokpo. She is from Memphis, Tennessee, in the United States. She attended college in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and majored in criminology and sociology. In her free time, she enjoys watching scary movies and writing short stories. Her favorite movies are To Kill a Mockingbird, E.T., and Memento. Her heroes are Snoopy and Audrey Hepburn.