Top Five Movies to Watch During Christmas Time

Feeling festive? Compass’ Media Critic Ben goes over the five best movies to watch during the Christmas season


Benedicto Campo, Media Critic

The Christmas season has arrived, and everyone can’t wait to open their presents, fill their stockings, decorate their houses, and wear ugly sweaters. These are the types of activities many people do during the holidays. Although I participate in these fun holiday activities, the best thing I like to do is sit down and watch a Christmas-themed movie. I find Christmas movies fun to watch because they give off a cozy vibe and capture the spirit of the holidays. I also like to grab a box of cookies and a glass of milk to give myself a delicious Christmas delight. If anyone wants to watch a Christmas movie during the holidays, here is a list of five movies that I recommend. 

1: “Home Alone” (1990): Another Christmas classic that many people are going to watch during the holiday season. It is mainly remembered for its over-the-top traps, comedic performances, and the memorable premise of being home alone on Christmas. The film focuses on a little boy named Kevin McCallister, who is considered the outsider of his family. After a huge fight with one of his older brothers, Kevin goes to the attic alone and tells his mother that he wishes his family was gone. The next day, the family leaves for their Christmas vacation in France. They do not realize that Kevin has been left alone back in the house. When Kevin realizes this, he initially enjoys his freedom by eating ice cream, jumping on the beds, screaming in the hallways, and watching violent movies. However, this is cut short when two burglars named Harry and Marv plan to break into Kevin’s house on Christmas. This causes Kevin to place brutal booby traps around his house to stop the robbers’ evil scheme. This results in tons of cartoonish humor and injuries along the line.  This is a Christmas film that is beloved by many due to its over-the-top humor that would come straight out of “Looney Tunes”. This happens with all of the traps that occur to Harry and Marv. Some of the most memorable traps include the blow torch to the head, the spider, and the iron to the head. These traps are what audiences remember most about “Home Alone”. Another highlight of the movie was Macaulay Culkin’s performance as Kevin McCallister. He portrays Kevin as a troublemaker and genius but is still a decent kid who cares about his family. For a child actor at the time, I thought he did really well with this role. I also enjoyed the performances of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as Harry and Marv. The chemistry and banter they have with one another are really funny because they come off as cartoon villains who constantly argue with one another about their personalities. In a way, they have a love-hate relationship with one another. This is also one of the few times where Joe Pesci starred in a family movie and didn’t swear. Pesci is known for his constant use of swear words and for starring in more violent films like “Goodfellas” and “Raging Bull”. I thought this was a good change of pace for Joe Pesci. This is a classic Christmas film that all families can get a good laugh at and enjoy.

2: “Elf” (2003): A popular Christmas classic that is widely remembered because of actor Will Ferrell’s humorous performance as Buddy the Elf. The story revolves around Buddy, who stowed away on Santa’s sleigh as a kid and has lived at the North Pole ever since. As he starts growing up, he begins to realize he doesn’t fit in with his fellow Elves around him. This causes him to go to New York City to find his biological father Walter, who is on the naughty list for being arrogant and not believing in Christmas. When Buddy reaches the city, he meets his father and tries to bond with him. However, he doesn’t recognize Buddy and is completely ignorant of his childlike behavior. Buddy attempts to get him into the spirit of Christmas but he still doesn’t warm up to him. Buddy also attempts to form a bond with both his brother Michael and a Gimbel’s worker named Jovie along the way. As Christmas approaches, Walter begins to realize his own behavior toward others, which causes him to make up with Buddy and save Christmas before it is ruined. This is a heartwarming and funny film because Will Ferrell’s performance as Buddy is what glues together all the humor and wholesome moments. He portrays Buddy as someone who is out of place in the city because he grew up at the North Pole and is new to such a big place. When he does things like eat gum, spin on a revolving door, and hop on an elevator it is so funny to watch because he is in a sense, a child having fun and discovering new things. Although many people will find this awkward, the audience will not because everyone has been in that spot where they get excited over new things that many older people find mundane. The story of Buddy attempting to get his father to bond with him and believe in Christmas is very emotional because he just wants to learn what it’s like to have a dad and Walter is ignoring it. This is because he has always been too focused on his work that he forgets to put his family and loved ones first. Walter realizing his behavior is very satisfying to watch because he knows his mistake and doesn’t want to make it again in the future. I personally thought this moment is what made the movie emotional for me. This is a good film for anyone who wants to see Will Ferrell at his finest, as well as for a sentimental and comedic story. 

3: “A Christmas Story” (1983): A simple and fun Christmas movie that is beloved by many people around the holidays. The film is told from the perspective of an adult named Ralphie, who recalls a particular Christmas when he wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun. He is constantly warned with the phrase “You’ll shoot your eye out” by many individuals in his attempts to get it. When he does retrieve it, the warning eventually comes true. Other funny adventures happen throughout the film like the triple dog dare, contending with bullies, and Ralphie’s father receiving a weird-looking lamp. This is a film that is simple and fun because it’s just telling an ordinary Christmas story with no complex or dark themes present. Everyone is just hanging out, having fun, and getting into crazy shenanigans. This makes the film a cozy Christmas film anyone can watch at any given time. If you do plan on watching this, get ready for some funny moments and the constant warning of “You’ll shoot your eye out”.

 4: “The Polar Express” (2004): An animated classic directed by Robert Zemeckis, who is known for classics like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Forrest Gump”, and the “Back to The Future” trilogy. The story revolves around an eight-year-old boy named Chris who takes a ride on the titular train when it stops in front of his house on Christmas Eve. He meets other kids on the train like a girl named Holly, a glasses kid known as the know-it-all, and another boy named Billy. He also meets the conductor of the train, voiced by actor Tom Hanks. Throughout the train ride to the North Pole, the kids get into some wild adventures and shenanigans like hot chocolate, a haunted toy train, and a slippery ice lake. When they reach the North Pole, they learn that one of the kids will receive the first gift of Christmas. This is a Christmas classic mainly because of its computer-generated animation and memorable scenes like the high-energy hot chocolate scene. This is one of the few movies where Robert Zemeckis utilizes this type of animation. I also enjoyed the message of the film, which is to always believe what is possible because the boy initially doubts both Christmas and Santa. However, he slowly begins to believe again after the adventures on The Polar Express. This is a film for anyone who is looking for a wonderfully animated story and a good Christmas message.

 5: “The Santa Clause” (1994): A Disney Christmas film that stars Tim Allen in the titular role of Scott Calvin / Santa Claus. The story revolves around a divorced dad named Scott Calvin, who is spending Christmas with his son, Charlie. Scott doesn’t believe in Santa, while Charlie believes otherwise. During the night, a man dressed as Santa lands on their roof with a sleigh and a group of reindeer. Scott calls him out, which causes him to fall off the roof and suddenly die. This leads to Scott putting on the outfit and flying to the North Pole with Charlie. After this experience, Scott wakes up the next day believing that it was just a dream. However, Charlie thought it was real, which causes Scott to question both his son and the experience. At the same time, strange things begin happening to him leading up to the next Christmas. This includes an obsession with cookies, the inability to shave his beard, and major weight gain. This causes Scott to realize that he is becoming the new Santa and must convince his family of the matter before next Christmas arrives. This is a fun Christmas movie because of its fun premise of a normal man becoming Santa Clause. Wouldn’t it be cool to find out that one day one of your family members was Santa? I also enjoyed Tim Allen’s performance as Scott Calvin because he captures the struggles of being a single father in a way most families can relate to. I also thought he was a good Santa Claus because he captures the voice and mannerisms of the ideal Santa Clause most children would think of today. This is why Scott Calvin is my second favorite Tim Allen role right below Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story”. This movie has also spawned two sequels and a Disney Plus limited series with Tim Allen reprising his role in all of them. If anyone is looking for a unique approach to the Santa Claus character, this is the movie I would recommend. 

Above are the Christmas films I would recommend watching during the holiday season. This is because I thought these films captured the holiday spirit and focus on family and friends. In my opinion, family and friends are the most important aspects of Christmas, and these films did well at conveying that message. These Christmas films are also the perfect gift for family and friends if they want to get together and do a fun holiday activity together. I hope these films can keep the audience comfortable and cozy during the holidays the same way they’ve done for me.