It’s already December, and you’ve been slacking on your Christmas movie bucket list. You had high expectations to watch all of the charming classics, cheesy love stories, and feel-good family films this year, but your busy life has gotten the better of you and you haven’t carved out the time. You probably think I sound crazy; the holiday season has barely started and surely there’s plenty of time to watch everything! Wrong. Christmas season chaos is only picking up from here, eating into your precious time for hot cocoa and holiday movie marathons. But not to worry, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling the only truly necessary films you have to watch this year, since we all know we can’t see them all.
Behold, the 5 best, best of the best, Christmas movies (meaning: drop what you’re doing and watch them ASAP!).
Starting off with an instant classic, Elf is a cannot miss, must-see holiday flick. In this cinematic masterpiece, we follow Buddy the Elf as he learns he’s actually a human and takes off on the journey of a lifetime to New York City to find his father. The North Pole resident experiences culture shock the big city, to say the least, and the hilarity of his encounters with the non-elf world is only matched by the wholesomeness of the bond that grows between him and his new family.
- The Polar Express
Don’t roll your eyes just yet. I know this is a basic Christmas movie, and one that many people are lukewarm about at best, but you can’t deny how well it gets a person into the holiday spirit. There’s something magical, almost ethereal, about the animation. If you haven’t seen this one since you were a little kid, give it another go. I guarantee you’ll notice the creativity of the scene arrangements and the wisdom behind the plot (at the very least you can appreciate the fact that Tom Hanks is playing a million characters at once). Picture the main character seeing Santa’s reflection in the bell, the homeless man saving him and then disappearing, or the music playing as the train snakes across barren landscapes, and tell me you don’t get chills.
- The Year without a Santa Claus
If you can’t get to all the charming claymation flicks that are basically synonymous with holiday cheer, at least watch this one. Enjoy the characters’ quirky clay mannerisms as you follow along on the quest to save Christmas. You may be able to relate to Santa, who considers quitting his duties due to feeling overworked and unappreciated, more than you could as a child. Plus, in this film, the iconic Snow Miser and Heat Miser engage in the most entertaining sibling rivalry you’ve ever seen.
Have you ever dreamed of living inside a snowglobe? This 2007 ABC Family television film explores the idea as main character Angela is transported inside one, leaving her imperfect family behind to join a picturesque Christmas wonderland. Like most of us when we’re away for too long, she soon realizes that she loves her family despite its peculiarities. However, chaos ensues as travel between New York City and the world inside the snowglobe becomes unpredictable. This movie is a hidden gem that deserves “instant classic” status. It’s perfect to watch with your whole family, as it has a satisfying love story to appease your Hallmark-obsessed mom and is just wacky enough to keep your dad from falling asleep in his armchair.
- Home Alone
This is simply a movie you cannot go without watching during the holiday season. It’s a perfect choice to break up your marathon, since, other than the setting of the film, it’s hardly about Christmas at all. It tells the story of Kevin McCallister, whose family mistakenly leaves him behind when departing for a Paris vacation. Hilarity ensues as young Kevin embraces his newfound freedom. His innocent fun doesn’t last for long, though, as he’s soon tasked with warding off burglars with a series of elaborate traps. Gather with family and friends to watch every child’s dream (and every parent’s nightmare) turn into an action-packed battle of wits, with a dash of over-the-top brutality and a sprinkle of Christmas spirit.