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A Definitive Ranking of Christmas Films from Worst to Best

What have we dared to put at number one?

HERE AT, we know what matters at this time of year.

So to mark the festive season we’ve ranked* a wide range of Christmas films** from worst to best.

*This ranking is final and definitive

**By “Christmas films” we mean the 20 of the most recognised festive titles. 

20. The Holiday

Bow your heads in shame Jack Black and Kate Winslet. We’d expect this kind of dross from Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, but you pair should know better.

Not even the presence of John Krasinski in a supporting role can save The Holiday from itself.

We’re hoping in a few years it might join Love Actually in the ‘This Is Shite But Also The Best Thing Ever’ category, but we’re just not ready for that yet.


19. The Grinch

Take a beloved Dr Seuss classic, let Ron Howard make a hatchet job of it, and you’ve got number 19 on our list.

Sure, Jim Carrey turns in an impressive performance as the title character. Sure, Taylor Momsen is cute as Cindy Lou, but that’s where it ends. Dull, crude and lacking any kind of Christmas heart.


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18. Jingle All The Way

Oh Arnie, stick to machines from the future and teaching kindergarten, eh?

This clumsy attempt to teach us about how the true meaning of Christmas is lost in Western consumerism is, quite frankly, pants.

This is TV fodder for 5.45pm on a Saturday in November. Nothing more.

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters Hokum Hokum

17. The Family Stone

This film basks in fleeting moments of Christmas joy… there’s the touching Diane Keaton side-story, strong performances all round – especially from Sarah Jessica Parker who couldn’t be further from Sex and the City’s Carrie, and a happy-ish ending.

However, throw in one of the most hateful, smug families ever committed to film, a predictable, slow-moving storyline, and you might struggle to feel festive by the end of The Family Stone.

The-family-stone-isnt-there-anybody-that-loves-me Crushable Crushable

16. Bad Santa

Yeah yeah yeah, bring it on. Bad Santa belongs at number 16 and you know it.

Maybe in 20 years it will be the new National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but for the time being while it’s waiting to become a classic, it’s relegated to the lower echelons of the ranking.


In Bad Santa’s defence though, it does have the ma from Gilmore Girls in it. Bravo.

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15. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Dogged devotion to the ultimate Irish mammy Brenda Fricker means Home Alone 2 makes it into the list at number 15.

We feel pretty humbugish towards Christmas sequels, and Home Alone 2 is pretty poor by anyone’s standards, so the Fricker effect is the only explanation we have, and we stand by it.

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14. The Nightmare Before Christmas

The stop motion animation in The Nightmare Before Christmas is stunning and the musical numbers are a joy to behold.

But how, in good conscience, could we put a film that attempts to bridge the gap between Halloween and Christmas any higher than number 14 in this list?

The answer, dear reader, is… we couldn’t.


13. Gremlins

Forget Furbys, Gremlins are what it’s all about at Christmas.

This is languishing at number 13 because it’s not as festive as we would have liked, but it deserves a spot because, well, it’s fantastic.

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12. The Santa Clause

An acceptable premise and a nicely executed Christmas film, but The Santa Clause loses points because it spawned so many sub par sequels.

Tim Allen stars as a Dad who has to take over the role of Santa Claus after the big man himself falls off his roof. Predictable capers ensue. Mid-level stuff.

Bonus points for Allen’s fat suit and stupendous beard.

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11. Meet Me In St Louis

This might not be Christmas-themed all the way though, but it’s deserving of its place on the list due to Judy Garland’s magical performance of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

If at least half of you don’t have a small cry on the couch while watching this some afternoon in the near future we’ll eat our Christmas stockings.



10. Santa Claus The Movie

One staffer was abandoned in the cinema at five years of age by an older brother during Santa Claus The Movie for “crying too much and making a show of him”.

That’s pretty telling about the power of this Christmas classic starring Dudley Moore and some frankly terrifying mechanical reindeer.


9. Love Actually

Say what you want about the awful cloying sentimentality that runs through many parts of this film and the 700 storylines that battle for attention, we stand by its inclusion at number nine.

Love Actually belongs in the top ten if only for that Emma Thompson/Joni Mitchell moment. Surely one of the most heartbreaking movie scenes ever? HOLD US!


We’re also partial to Martine McCutcheon’s ditzy secretary bit, Andrew Lincoln’s silent love proclamation, and Colin Firth’s Portuguese odyssey.

And, after all, eight is a lot of legs David.

8. Miracle on 34th St

This is a two-for-one special, because either of the Miracle on 34th Street films is an acceptable number eight.

The premise of the film – the entire city of New York believing that a department store Santa Claus is the real deal, and a six-year-old girl regaining her faith in Christmas magic – is perfect festive fodder.

The 1947 original has black and white and Maureen O’Hara on her side, while the 1994 remake revels in Richard Attenborough’s marvellous turn as Kris Kringle.

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7. Scrooged

Look, if we could put Groundhog Day or What About Bob on the list we would, but why bother when we’ve got a real live Christmas film with Bill Murray already in it?

Murray plays a hateful TV exec (who you obviously grow to love by the end of the film, as he realises the error of his ways) AND it’s got the amazing Put A Little Love in Your Heart ending.


6. Elf

Elf is on its way to becoming a classic, it’s just not fully there yet.

The outcry that followed the news that Channel 4 wouldn’t be holding its annual December screening of Elf is testament to its popularity, and anyone that says Buddy isn’t Will Ferrell’s second finest creation (after Ron Burgundy) sits on a throne of lies.

“Why isn’t it in the top five?” we hear you scream. Well, it lacks a memorable original song and Zooey Deschanel’s blonde hair just doesn’t agree with us. Maybe next year.

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5. Home Alone

John Hughes + Christmas = a match made in heaven.

Kevin McAllister makes a Christmas wish that his family will disappear, but little does he know that his wish is about to come true.

While the whole clan – minus Kevin – takes off for Paris and he’s left to fend for himself against two dastardly burglars and a terrifying elderly neighbour.

The slapstick is wonderful, the soundtrack is Christmas personified, the touching moments are so very touching, and there’s even a bonus John Candy appearance. Fine holiday fun.

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4. It’s A Wonderful Life

Let’s be honest, this had to be in the top five. We’d be hunted down and pelted with snowballs and old puddings if we didn’t put it in the top five, and rightly so.

This is the most classic of Christmas films; the tale of George Bailey who’s given up on life, and his guardian angel Clarence who’s determined to show how much George would be missed if he gave up.

Is someone chopping onions?

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3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The world is divided into people who adore National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and people who’ve never seen it.

We simply refuse to believe that there are people out there who don’t like it, and it there are, they have no place here.

Family man Clark Griswold is determined to have the perfect Christmas, despite a less-than-enthusiastic family, problematic relatives, painful neighbours, a potentially rabid squirrel and an unlucky cat.

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The perfect combination of gags, slapstick and poignant moments, coupled with a stunning theme song make this a solid number three.


2. Die Hard

It’s Christmas Eve and John McClane just wants to get home. Hans Gruber and his terrorist pals at Nakatomi Plaza have other ideas though, as they take the entire building hostage, and it’s up to McClane to save the day.

Who would have thought that violence, explosions, terror and Bruce Willis in a white vest would amount to one of the greatest Christmas films ever?

But they do. Die Hard is nigh on perfect and it features the line:


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Yippee-ki-yay movie lovers!

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Look, this shouldn’t work, but it does. It works so brilliantly well.

Michael Caine, Muppets, singing, Charles Dickens… there’s so much going on here yet it comes together to create the greatest Christmas film ever.

It’s got laughs…

William Stuchell



And some of the best Christmas songs the movies have ever given us…

Airton Lacerda

Throw in the facts that The Muppet Christmas Carol is 21 years old and still looks as if it was made yesterday, and that it’s the perfect film to watch on Christmas Eve, and we’ve got a winner.

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Well, we know you have lots and lots of thoughts. You know what to do… 

All of your favourite Christmas movies, squeezed into two minutes> 

RTÉ won’t be showing Elf this Christmas either>

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