Christmas Movies, Ranked
From 25 to 1
We are proud (and only slightly ashamed) to present the official Ivor Andrew Christmas Movie Power Rankings. Enjoy, and as always, feel free to tell us how wrong we are. Merry Christmas, you beautiful people!
Tier 4: Absolutely not. Go to your room.
25. Fred Claus
Luke: A swing and a miss for Vince Vaughn. He should get another shot, though.
24. Four Christmases
Luke: Okay fine, maybe he shouldn’t do Christmas movies.
23. The Polar Express
Jon: No need for words, there’s something terrifying about the animation in this movie. Just look at it.
Luke: UNCANNY VALLEY.
22. Ernest Saves Christmas
Doug: Jim Varney and the uncanny valley version of Tom Hanks still dusted Vince Vaughn.
21. Jingle All the Way
Jon: An hour and 35 minutes for just one memorable quote: “Put the cookie down!”
Tier 3: Sure, why not. There’s nothing else on.
20. White Christmas
19. Bad Santa
Doug: As much as I dislike Billy Bob Thornton, this move is actually better than you might think. Definitely one for after hours, though. Unless you like to get calls from your kid’s teachers.
Luke: Great movie. The Billy Bob/Thurman Merman dynamic is what the holidays are all about.
18. The Holiday
17. Miracle on 34th Street
Jon: Oh, look! A courtroom drama! Just what I want out of my Christmas movie.
Steph: But Lethal Weapon was at the top of your list. So what do you know about Christmas movies? AMIRITE, guys?!
Luke: She’s not wrong.
Luke: He’s not wrong.
Doug: Lethal Weapon is not a Christmas movie.
Steph: Sorry Jon, I wasn’t paying attention to those trees. Was distracted by Mel’s beautiful locks.
16. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version)
Tier 2: This is a pleasant movie. I am having a positive time.
14. The Santa Clause
Luke: Tim Allen’s greatest live-action role? Probably. Wait, no. I forgot Galaxy Quest. Tim Allen’s second-greatest live-action role? Probably.
Keith: You must not have seen Jungle 2 Jungle. I was staying at an AirBNB in Japan earlier this year, and it was oddly the only DVD (in Japanese or English) in the place. That was a sign that I had to watch it, and it was a masterpiece of 90s cinema.
13. Lethal Weapon
Doug: Still not a Christmas movie.
12. It’s A Wonderful Life
Luke: I just want to object to this ranking. This is a truly wonderful movie, and I’m ashamed of Jon, Stu, and Ken for pooping all over it.
Doug: Agreed. I want to be Jimmy Stewart and I want to be married to Donna Reed and I want to live in Bedford Falls. My wife knows all of this.
Ken: I love Jimmy Stewart, but after the movie went into public domain, it was EVERYWHERE. I think it’s a case of overkill. I also hated that Potter got away with all the crap he pulled. I’d have rated this one higher if they added the alternate ending from SNL.
11. The Muppet Christmas Carol
Tier 1: This movie is a Christmas tradition and I will fight you to the death if you don’t watch it with me.
9. Love Actually
Luke: Oh mylanta, that little boy who learns the drums. He melts my heart every time. Plus, Colin Firth learns Polish. That’s cute, too.
However, the scene with Kiera Knightly and the cue cards is straight trash. It’s eye-rollingly sappy, and it does not work. That guy is a bad friend and a garbage human.
Liz: Umm, Luke? Colin Firth does not learn Polish. He learns Portuguese. Polish? Seriously?
Luke: Are those different languages?
Susan: This movie is easily in my top 3. All those characters and stories intertwining is amazing storytelling. And Luke is wrong—the cue cards are AWESOME! Right up there with John Cusack holding the boom box.
8. Die Hard
Steph: What is happening right now? The word “Die” should not be in any holiday movies. What the frick, guys. Who added this movie to the list?
Doug: I don’t think this should be on the list.
Luke: This is not a Christmas movie, but I like to tell people it is to upset them. It is, however, one of the greatest action movies we will ever see. The fact that it’s set during Christmas gives us an excuse to talk about it a little more.
Keith: One of my favorite movies of all time. True story — when info gathering services used to call in and ask “who is the decision maker at Ivor Andrew?” I would always answer “John McClane”. Consequently, Mr. McClane gets a ton of mail here. Yippie kay yay!
7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Doug: Two words: Shitter’s full.
Liz: It sums up everyone’s Christmas. We all have a crazy aunt or uncle who we don’t really want around, and we all have (sometimes ridiculous) traditions we’re trying to keep alive. Even though we have the best intentions, the holidays can get the best of us. This movie nails it.
6. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (animated)
Alex L: Dr. Seuss is a GENIUS — imagine writing something that embeds itself into the culture on this level. He created a character that is almost as big a part of Christmas culture as Santa Claus!
t-4. Home Alone
Jon: I think Marv and Harry had the right idea about boiling Kevin alive. That kid is annoying.
t-4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Doug: A Danny Elfman-scored stop-motion animated Tim Burton dark musical. Sign me up.
Alex L: So creative and unique. There aren’t any movies that are even similar. Tim Burton is a true artist and visionary.
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
Alex L: A perfect example of an artist standing up for their principles and creating something from their soul. Charles Schulz agreed to do the movie if he was allowed to call the shots and he fought CBS to make the movie the way he wanted it.
Examples: The network wanted the voices to be done by adult actors instead of children and the network wanted to add a laugh track. He refused. The network wanted to remove the religious message at the end of the movie because they thought it’d be too controversial. He refused. The network thought the special would flop, but it turned out to be wildly successful.
Keith: Reading this analysis catapulted A Charlie Brown Christmas into second place for me.
Luke: I didn’t rate it terribly high, but to be honest I never realized it was created to essentially be a Coca-Cola ad. Makes its anti-commercialism message even more interesting. I also dig that Sparky refused a laugh track but kept a religious message in there. I will rewatch it soon, and it won’t take me too long since it’s so friggin’ short. Seriously, it’s 25 minutes. That’s not a movie. That’s a show.
2. A Christmas Story
Luke: This movie is bad. Its standing as a holiday classic confuses me.
Alex D: Wrong. Super wrong. I can count on this movie. On Christmas Day, it’s playing on a 24 hour loop. It’s reliable, it’s safe, it’s comfy. Just like we hope our homes are during the holidays.
Doug: It’s just entertaining to me to see a grown man go full elf costume.
Steph: I love Will Ferrell so much.
Luke: Me too! I love his performance. He’s so genuinely happy, sweet, and stupid. He really went for it and I’m quite grateful he did. I watch it every year with my wife, and now that the kiddos are rolling in, they’re part of it, too. I love so many moments in this sugary, insane picture.
- The urgency with which he asks the stranger on the other end of the phone their favorite color. He practically knocks James Caan over.
- When he gets absolutely laid out by the taxi. The music also works perfectly during that moment.
- The complete jubilation when he learns Santa will be at his department store. The complete horror after he realizes THAT’S NOT SANTA.
- The back and forth with the store manager about North Pole best practices. “There’s no singing in the North Pole.” “Yes there is!” “NO THERE’S NOT.” “We sing all the time! Especially when we make toys!”
- The puffin and the narwhal.
- Pretty much everything in this 34-example Buzzfeed list.
Alex L, you’re the only one in the office who isn’t a fan of Elf. Why the hate?
Alex L: I will sound very pretentious for this… so judge me harshly. 😜
The jokes in this movie are written for 5-year-olds. It’s just slapstick comedy. I get it, he’s a giant man-child. He plays with toys and gets attacked by a raccoon. Its silly, which is fine, but it’s just boring.
Take A Christmas Story, for example. It uses a knowledge of cultural references, and evokes all the awkward, fun, or miserable experiences of being a kid. Saying your first swear word. Imagining that you will go blind so you can get your revenge by making your punishers feel guilty for causing the blindness. Letting out all your rage by beating up the school bully, then having your mom have your back by not letting your dad know. The leg lamp and the mother’s reaction to it. This type of comedy is infinitely more engaging than slapstick — and it doesn’t assume the viewer recently stopped wearing diapers.
Also, don’t let the overplaying of A Christmas Story ruin the movie. That’s the TV networks’ fault, not the film’s.
I’m being harsh — Elf is fine. But comparing it to A Christmas Story is like comparing Paul Blart to Annie Hall.
Jon: Wow. Sick burn.
Steph: It hurts my heart that Alex dislikes Will Ferrell. I’m going to crawl into the fetal position under my desk now. brb.
Susan: See, I would take what Alex wrote about Elf and A Christmas Story and flip it.
In A Christmas Story, it’s everything kids go through, and frankly, I don’t want to relive that! That Little Orphan Annie decoder ring was a MASSIVE disappointment and just like Ralphie, I was just frustrated and annoyed. The leg lamp — funny, but that joke went on for waaaaaay too long. I was horrified when kid stuck his tongue to the pole, but couldn’t stop laughing at, “Buddy the Elf. What’s your favorite color?”
I guess it comes down to the fact that I don’t want to relive pain on Christmas. Elf, to me, was a fresh and new take on humanity and the meaning of the holiday.
Liz: Yes! My husband can’t understand why I don’t like A Christmas Story, and you just summed it up perfectly. I’d take Elf over it every time.
Keith: I was completely ready to come in today to argue the merits of Die Hard as my favorite Christmas movie. But this weekend, I sat down and watched Elf with Susan and our boys. We watched them experience the movie for the first time, and we watched them almost pee their pants laughing. Winner.