Because watching Christmas movies is as legitimate a Christmas activity as midnight mass, here—besides the most obvious (Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th, blah, blah), are the 12 that are perhaps as vital to the Christmas season as Christ’s birth itself.
This insta-Christmas classic only came out in 2003, which always makes me wonder: What was the holiday season like without watching Hugh “Oooh, would we call her chubby?” Grant stand up to Billy Bob Thornton, or Colin “I hate Uncle Jamie!” Firth propose to Aurelia in broken Portuguese? (My friends and I still like to state, “My answer is being yes,” when delivering an affirmative response to a question.) Seriously. I’m actually asking.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The original cartoon version, please. Let us not speak of the Jim Carey one.
Charlie Brown Christmas
Halloween just isn’t Halloween without Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin all night in the pumpkin patch and getting screamed at by Sally, and Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Linus reciting the Gospel of Luke and making all those punks remember what it’s really all about. Also: the tree!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Approximately how many times a year do you find the following coming out of your mouth?
“WHY IS THE CARPET ALL WET, TODD?”
“I DON’T KNOW, MARGO.”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Cutest claymation lost-soul elf who wants to be a dentist ever? Cutest claymation lost-soul elf who wants to be a dentist ever.
Muppet Family Christmas
Says a coworker, “It’s the greatest movie of all time ever. It features the Muppets, the Sesame Street gang and the Fraggles. I own a VCR solely for the purpose of watching it every year.”
Whatever Hallmark Channel/ABC Family/Lifetime Made-for-TV Christmas Movie You Feel Like Watching, Dammit
My personal favorite in recent years, I am not ashamed to say, featured a charming Amy Smart and a still-dashing
Zach Morris Mark-Paul Gosselaar in the 12 Dates of Christmas.
Heartbreak, last-minute vacations, Jude Law, adorable little British girls with adorable little accents, gorgeous strangers, Jude Law, romance/life epiphanies, Cameron Diaz more just reading the script out loud than acting, requited love, Kate Winslet playing perhaps one of the most relatable movie characters ever, Jude Law. Sounds like Christmas, doesn’t it?
Perhaps the most quotable Will Ferrell movie behind Old School. [Ed. Note: This is incorrect. Anchorman is.]
A Christmas Carol
Muppet, Disney, Alastair Sim. You watch whatever version speaks to you.
“The montage of booby-trapping NEVER gets old to me,” says a colleague.
Frosty the Snowman
So delightful, you don’t even mind that the song will be playing on a loop in your head for the next 12 days.
A Christmas Story
For 24 hours straight. Obv.
Addendum: Christmas Movies That You’ll Probably Watch If You Find Them On TV
Four Christmases: Vince Vaughn perfection.
Family Stone: Sarah Jessica Parker never displays any redeeming qualities; everyone’s instant love for Claire Danes is baffling; Diane Keaton freaking dies; and yet, the sum of all these unsatisfying parts somehow makes for a movie that I will always watch.
Hook: Ru-fee-oh! Ru-fee-oh!