The ultimate guide to Christmas films

Summary: Here is the ultimate guide to your holiday season video watching. All the lists of Christmas films. The source of traditional Christmas chick-flicks. The two greatest modern Christmas films. And my recommendation of the two best Xmas films from the pre-revolutionary era.

White Christmas
From “White Christmas.” Available at Amazon.

The usual Christmas fare

There are many lists of Christmas films. They overlap. “The Five Best Christmas Movies You’ve (Probably) Never Seen” at National Review. “The 25 Best Christmas Movies of All Time at Rotten Tomatoes.” “The 30 Best Christmas Movies of All Time” at Esquire. “37 Best Christmas Movies on Netflix” at Glamour. “The 50 best Christmas movies of all time” at Timout. “The 55 Best Christmas Movies of All Time” at Good Housekeeping. “The 100 Best Christmas Movies of All Time” at Nerve.

These films come in two flavors. Those from ancient times, about the America-that-once-was (and of little interest to most Americans today) and modern films about our strange culture (like Tim Burton’s Christmas films). There are two classes of exceptions.

Very traditional Christmas-themed chick-flicks

See Hallmark’s Christmas films (here is a list by year). Southern Living provides “The Top 15 Most-Watched Hallmark Christmas Movies, According to Viewers.

Since they show traditional (or standard) American culture, the Left passionately hates them (as much, I suspect, as it hates the women who watch them). Bustle: “11 Hallmark Christmas Movie Romances That Are Actually A Complete Nightmare.Zachary Jason at Slate mocks Hallmark’s films as “sugary, sexist, preposterously plotted, plot hole – festooned, belligerently traditional, ecstatically Caucasian cheer.” He wrote 1800 words elaborating on this. But he also notes Hallmark’s success (which he idiotically links to Trump).

“Hallmark Channel …has boomed since Trump began campaigning. In 2016, Hallmark was the only top-15 entertainment channel with double-digit ratings growth, and viewership has jumped another 16% this year. …Hallmark {has} become the season’s highest-rated cable network among women aged 25–54. More than 70 million Americans watched Hallmark Channel Christmas movies last year. …these movies offer giddy, predictable escapes from Trumpian chaos.”

“Saturday Night Live” did a parody of these films (shown below). It was cut, probably because the networks know that at some point mocking your audience becomes bad business. But the good and beautiful on the Left loved it, writing fawning articles about it at Vanity Fair, at Slate, at Cosmo, at W magazineat HuffPo, at Entertainment, at Mashable, at Paradeand here, and hereand here, and here, and here.

The two great modern Christmas films

After reviewing the top 100 Christmas films, I found only two good modern Christmas flicks: Die Hard and Die Hard 2 – Die Harder. The others are children’s films and weirdness. Why is that?

My guess is that Christmas has become an occasion for family get-togethers and gift-giving. For most Americans it has as much religious meaning as the Winter Solstice (WaPo: “Majority of Americans do not view Christmas primarily as a religious holiday“). The Die Hard films infuse this low-key holiday with meaning by showing a hero — a traditional action hero (a policeman) defending his family against bad guys. They are well-written, well-acted, and skillyful directed films.

Films like these are as close as many of us can get to tradition and meaning that we can believe in on Christmas. This is just a guess, of course. But the Die Hard films are worth watching.

Die Hard
Available at Amazon.


Die Hard 2
Available at Amazon.


Two great Christmas films from the old days

These have nothing meta in them. They contain no deconstruction of western culture or the patriarchy. Just solid film-making about people during Christmas. People living on the street in pre-revolutionary times.

Holiday Affair
Available at Amazon.


Holiday Affair (1949).

Staring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh.

Holiday Affair tells the story of two department store employees — regular people, not the upper-income professionals that populate today’s films — who encounter one another, become entangled in each other’s lives, and have to decide quickly how to proceed.

In this film the adults act like adults. There is no rug-eating by the actors. There are no implausible dramatics or weird coincidences to advance the plot. It is a well-written, fun, light romance.

Jane Austin might have written something like this if she worked in 1940s Hollywood


Bachelor Mother (1939).

She got a baby for Christmas.
Starring David Niven and Ginger Rogers.

Polly Parrish, a clerk at Merlin’s Department Store, is mistakenly assumed to be the mother of a foundling. Outraged at Polly’s behavior, David Merlin tries to keep the single mother and “her” baby together. Their lives become entangled and nature takes its course. It is a well-written light romance with a bit of screwball comedy.

Bachelor Mother
Available at Amazon.

A holiday reminder: give a gift to those who defend America

There are ways to support our troops, actions more effective than a bumper sticker on your car.

For More Information

See Stanley Weintraub’s Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914 (2001).

Ideas! For ideas about using Holiday cash, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

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5 thoughts on “The ultimate guide to Christmas films”

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Thank you for the recommendation! I haven’t seen it. But being by Stanley Kubrick, perhaps it falls under the “weird” category?

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