The 20 best Christmas movies to watch with the family
Get into the festive spirit with our list of the 20 best Christmas movies for families, including holiday classics, animated staples and new favorites.
Fri Dec 14 2012
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
That small-hearted villain from Mt. Crumpit goes down to Whoville for some seasonal spoiling—only to discover that Christmas cheer can never be stolen. Spooky thespian Boris Karloff is the inspired narrator for this delightful TV special, a faithful rendition of the rhyming classic that will have everyone singing “Da hoo doray.” Not rated.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Humbug! Deliciously malevolent Alastair Sim plays Ebenezer Scrooge, the grouchy miser who endures various visions of Christmases Past, Present and Future during one marathon night of soul searching. Film Noir lighting gives visual flair to Charles Dickens’s yuletide yarn, but the film still leaves enough merriment to make this the ultimate holiday ghost story. Not rated.
The Rankin/Bass Animagic Christmas Specials (various years)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970) and The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) all came from Rankin/Bass, the genius stop-motion company behind the Island of Misfit Toys, the Burgermeister Meisterburger, and sibling rivals Snow Miser and Heat Miser. Their funky riffs on holiday myths are irresistibly witty fun and a must-see during the Christmas season. Not rated.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Cartoonist Charles Schulz first brought his soulful Peanuts comic strip to life in this divine television special, a clever skewering of Christmas commercialization (Charlie Brown’s sister Sally even asks Santa for cold hard cash) and a heartfelt celebration of holiday holiness, all set to Vince Guaraldi’s iconic jazz piano. Plus: the most pathetic Christmas tree ever. Rated G.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
The reigning king of Christmas movies, Frank Capra’s poignant fable stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man with big ambitions (and a bigger heart) who defers his dream of leaving small-town Bedford Falls, but makes personal sacrifices that create a staggering ripple effect of inspirational goodwill on earth—a great message for young viewers watching at home. He even helps an angel get his wings. Rated PG.
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