Rockin’ around the cinemas

A compilation of essential Christmas films


Photo via Pexel

Christmas only comes around once a year, so it’s important to make sure you find the right movies for the season. Christmas movies are a staple of the American celebration, and the season would not be the same without them.

December is finally here, and no longer can your Scrooge-of-a-friend complain about Thanksgiving being neglected (as it should be). Christmas decorations are up, Christmas music is playing, and best of all, Christmas movies are finally back in season.

However, not all Christmas movies are created equally (I am looking at you, clay-mation “Rudolph”) and thirty days just is not enough to watch them all. But never fear … The Prowler is here! Having taken the liberty of watching a plethora of Christmas movies, here is our list of must-see holiday classics:

Paramount Pictures
Back in 1945 “White Christmas” brought in a total of $12 million, making it the highest earner of the year. “White Christmas” still remains the most popular Christmas musical 72 years after its release.

White Christmas (1954)

If only “La La Land” were a Christmas movie … oh, wait it is! Well, sort of. “White Christmas” takes everything you love about Christmas and throws it into a musical. Paramount’s (then Vista Vision) first film proves to be a wonderfully humorous romp as Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye sing and dance their way through a 1940s Christmas.

While it may be the oldest film on this list, “White Christmas” is surely one of the best, if not for the whimsical soundtrack then for the nonsensical conversations. Sweet as eggnog and as warm as a nice fire, “White Christmas” is sure to please audiences who are looking for a less serious Christmas film. And as the saying goes, if you decide to watch this movie, may all your Christmases be white!

New Line Cinemas
“Elf” is the only film on this list from the twenty-first century, and widely considered to be the only good twenty-first century Christmas film. Sadly, Will Ferrell has rejected the possibility of “Elf 2” (even after a $29 million offer) thus we will not see another “Elf”.

Elf (2003)

Son of a nutcracker! What is a Christmas season without an obligatory viewing of “Elf”? “Elf” follows Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human raised by elves, as he leaves the North Pole and heads to the Big Apple in search of his father.  Buddy not only finds his father but finds his place in the world in a heart-warming Christmas film.

“Elf” is perfect for anyone of any age, and could even brighten the Grinch’s day. It’s got quotable lines, touchy moments, and plenty of laughs. If you choose to skip out on this movie, you really are a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Based on the John Hughes short story “Christmas 59”, “Christmas Vacation” manages to take everything you hate about Christmas and make it hilarious. Featuring four “Saturday Night Live” alums, this film has quite the all-star cast for a comedy.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

A classic capitalist Christmas film, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” sticks to the cookie cutter formula and is all the better for it. “Christmas Vacation” (1983) follows the same dysfunctional family from the original “Vacation” as they try to make through the holiday season. Riddled with profane language and sexual aggravation, “Christmas Vacation” is an excellent comedy, but maybe not one for the kids.

“Christmas Vacation” is for everyone who needs a break from the potty jokes in movies like “Elf”. Warner Bros. manages to capture all of the humor of the original film, and mold it into a holiday movie. This raunchy Christmas comedy is sure to please the right audiences.

Warner Bros. Pictures
“Black Christmas” is often considered to be the first slasher movie, and the film’s antagonist, “The Moaner,” inspired Wes Craven’s “Ghostface” 22 years later. Bob Clark followed up his gruesome success with beloved family film “A Christmas Story” just nine years after.

Black Christmas (1974)

Gingerbread cookies made out of human flesh, brutal murders, and horrible special effects, what’s not to love about this classic Christmas film? “Black Christmas” follows sorority sisters as they try to survive a serial killer’s attack on their home. Considered one of the first true slashers, “Black Christmas” defined later films and the horror genre, and it’s a great Christmas movie, too.

For those tired of cheesy Hallmark flicks, “Black Christmas” will provide a breath of fresh air this Christmas season. While not particularly scary, director Bob Clark manages to create a horror masterpiece that many modern movies could never compete with. But if you have grown tired of movies from the twentieth century, there is a 2006 remake featuring Lacey Chabert (Gretchen Wieners).

RKO Radio Pictures
Even though it is now one of the most popular Christmas films, “It’s a Wonderful Life” had fallen off the general public’s radar until it fell under public domain in 1974. After its licensing debacle, PBS began to play “It’s a Wonderful Life” all-day every-day, saving its reputation and cementing its place as a Christmas classic.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Have you lost your direction in life? It’s okay, George Bailey (James Stewart) has too, and there’s a whole movie about it. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” tells the story of debt-ridden George Bailey, who comes face to face with life and begins to contemplate suicide. However, holy intervention comes in the form of the bubbly angel Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers). Oddbody needs to earn his wings, and Bailey needs a new outlook on life. Together the two come to realize their truly wonderful lives.

Frank Capra’s dramedy is one of the most beloved Christmas movies of our time. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a true classic, and reigns as the highest rated Christmas movie by Rotten Tomatoes. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is also unbelievably easy to watch due to its rights falling under public domain.

Honorable Mentions: “Die Hard” (1988), “Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965),“Polar Express” (2004), “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993), “Gremlins” (1984), and all the Harry Potter Films (special thanks to ABC Family)

There are a whole lot of Christmas movies out there, but only a few can stand out amongst the abundance of capitalist cash grabs. Whether they make you laugh, cry, or even scream, the Christmas movies you watch can make or break your once-a-year experience. But if you choose to give them a chance, the movies on this list will most definitely grant you a Merry Christmas!