Holiday movies are the backbone of the November and December months. They reflect the stresses of the holiday season, while also giving us the opportunity to use escapism to raise the holiday spirit. These films leave viewers with a warm, comfortable feeling and the sentiment that maybe this time of final exams, awkward family interactions, and shopping stresses isn’t all bad. However, these holiday movies can be quite divisive when it comes to choosing which one is the best (and which can even be classified as holiday movies to begin with). So, grab some hot chocolate, and join me as I unpack my top 5 holiday movies. 

Number 5: A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a holiday animation that follows Charlie Brown and his friends as they prepare for the annual Christmas play. As Charlie Brown wrestles with the things he dislikes most about the holiday season, he and his friends come together and realize the joy that comes from the simple things in life, like a small sapling of a Christmas tree. 

While only being half an hour long, this animation is everything one could ask for in a holiday movie. It is calming, hopeful, and nostalgic. It reminds viewers of a simpler time, when their only worry was being on Santa’s nice list. The simplicity of the animation is what makes it so great. Take the Christmas tree for example. Isn’t it so wholesome that Charlie Brown picked a small sapling and still found a way to decorate it and appreciate the tree for all the joy that it brings? Honestly, I find that this animation is criminally underrated.

The reason that I put A Charlie Brown Christmas on my top 5 is because when I think of the perfect Christmas, this film is somewhere in there. My perfect Christmas would consist of hot chocolate, a fireplace, snow falling outside, a dog peacefully sleeping on the couch, and A Charlie Brown Christmas playing in the background. So, in honor of this dream of the perfect holiday season, I decided to place A Charlie Brown Christmas in my top 5 holiday movies. 

Number 4: Home Alone

This beloved film follows Kevin McCallister and the adventures he gets himself into after being left behind while his family travels to Paris for the holidays. Terrible parenting aside, this film has everything one could hope for in a holiday movie: a funny main character, happy ending, and interesting plot. Viewers are on the edge of their seats as they wonder how Kevin will escape the “Wet Bandits.” 

However, with this movie being so loved, I would argue that it is a bit overplayed. There’s only so many times someone can watch Kevin apply aftershave and still find it hilarious. This is not to say that the movie is not funny and interesting in its own right, it most certainly is. But, there are others that should be ranked higher. 

Number 3: The Christmas Chronicles

I remember first watching The Christmas Chronicles with my family, and watching my step-dad look at my mom and say, “This is definitely a movie we’re going to watch every year.” And he was right. 

The plot of The Christmas Chronicles begins with siblings Kate and Teddy Price accidentally causing Santa Claus’ sleigh to crash after plotting to get a video of him. With presents lost and Christmas in danger, the siblings have to set aside their differences in order to help Santa Claus and save Christmas. 

This sounds like your normal Christmas movie. And, to some extent, it is. But it adds a modern twist to the classic “saving Christmas” plot. With sibling rivalries and family drama, the conflict in this movie is intense. But it is balanced out perfectly with the comedy. One of my all-time favorite scenes in the movie is when Santa finds himself in jail, but must find a way to increase Christmas spirit nonetheless. So, he decides to have all the inmates perform “Santa Claus is Back in Town,” and it is absolutely amazing. This movie is a staple for me and my family, and I would urge everyone reading to watch it this holiday season. 

Number 2: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Christmas Vacation opens with the Griswold family adventuring through the harsh snow in order to cut down their own Christmas tree. With a beginning like that, how can one not enjoy this movie?

I had a hard time deciding between having this movie be my first or second choice, and I went back and forth on it because both movies are top-tier (not just because one of the characters shares my name). I find that Christmas Vacation perfectly encapsulates the comedically stressful holiday season in a funny, entertaining, and even heart-warming way. The amount of times my family has quoted this movie is a bit embarrassing, but goes to show just how loveable it is. This film includes so many quotable lines, from neighbor Margo Chester’s hilariously timed “And why’s the floor all wet, Todd?” to Clark Griswold’s almost manic “Take a look around you, Ellen. We’re at the threshold of hell!” The caricatured family dynamic portrayed in Christmas Vacation makes mine feel a bit more normal, and that is what makes this movie so comforting. Thus, I have decided to make it my second-favorite holiday movie of all time. 

Number 1: Elf

I’ve been watching Elf with my family every Christmas since before I can remember. And maybe it’s the nostalgia, but Elf is, in my opinion, the best Christmas movie. 

The movie begins when Santa Claus visits an orphanage one Christmas night, and a baby (eventually named “Buddy”) crawls into his sack of presents and travels back to the North Pole with him. Buddy the Elf grew up in Santa’s workshop, wondering why he wasn’t as good . But when he discovers that he is actually human, and that his father is on the naughty list, Santa Claus sends him to New York City to find his dad. 

This is a hilariously wholesome story that explores how even the people who seem to be the most cold-hearted can benefit from a little holiday spirit. Will Ferrell has a spectacular performance as Buddy the Elf that makes the holiday season ten times better. Buddy’s innocence in a world of all-too-serious people brings hope to viewers across all ages. The climax of the story (where, once again, the main character has to “save Christmas”) has me on the edge of my seat. Even hearing the opening “Main Title” brings a smile to my face. The reason that Elf is ranked so high on this list could quite possibly be that it is nostalgic for me, but it is undeniable that this movie is a work of art. And what even is the holiday season if not full of nostalgia? 🆅

The opinions expressed within this piece are solely the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of North Mecklenburg High School or the Viking Voice.