With Christmas right around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to get with your family and watch a Christmas movie. A Roundup article from two years ago discussed the top voted Christmas films by students. This year, I wanted to revamp that article and also add the five worst. DISCLAIMER: these are all my opinion, so if you like or dislike any of these films that’s fine too.

I will not be including any Hallmark movies on the worst list because that would be too easy.

The Worst

5. Jingle All the Way

I find this movie to be awful but in an enjoyable way. It’s cheesy. The acting is horrible. The effects have dated the movie quite a bit, but it still has a lot of charm. I look at this movie the same way I look at a lot of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lower-tier stuff; it’s not good but it has its moments.

4. Jingle All the Way 2

A sequel starring Larry the Cable Guy, this movie, like the first one, is awful. The editing and cinematography appear to look like something out of a Lifetime movie. The acting is absurd and over the top like the last one, but it lacks any of the first film’s charm. However, despite its cheap look and feel, I found three movies worse than this atrocity.

3. Christmas with the Kranks

Based on John Grisham’s novel, Skipping Christmas, Christmas with the Kranks tells the story of a husband and wife who decide to not celebrate Christmas because their daughter won’t be in town. Unfortunately for them, the town is not supportive of the idea and attempts to humiliate the Kranks for the holiday season.

With A-list stars like Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Akroyd, and written by Christopher Columbus, one would expect the movie to be at least decent. However, the movie is at best forgettable and at worst one of the most insufferable movies I’ve ever seen. There is no real protagonist because every character comes across as mean spirited and cruel. The film also has lots of issues involving tone. For example, one scene has Tim Allen with botox, and another has a woman discussing her terminal illness. These attempts at comedy and drama never blend and never work. I never cared for the characters’ lives, and I never smiled once during this mess. The Kranks themselves aren’t well-written characters, but the neighbors are just the most vile and despicable people I’ve seen on film. They try to force the Kranks into celebrating a holiday, and get offended when the Kranks won’t throw a Christmas party. As Roger Ebert describes it, “The movie is not funny, ever, in any way, beginning to end. It’s a colossal miscalculation.”

2. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

The Santa Clause trilogy is a trilogy where each installment gets consecutively worse. The only other trilogy where each installment is worse is the Matrix trilogy, but the first Matrix film is actually good where there has never been a good Santa Clause movie. Where great Christmas movies like Home Alone have aged well, this film has aged poorly. The CGI, in particular, dates the film quite a bit. The humor too always feels off and never really sticks. This movie has fantastical things like Santa Claus and Jack Frost, but somehow it feels really boring. None of the comedy sticks so the pacing really drags. The movie is one hour and thirty-eight minutes, but it feels longer than the extended cut of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

1. The Star Wars Holiday Special

This never got a theatrical release, but it is famous for its quality. George Lucas said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” The Star Wars Holiday Special is The Room of Christmas movies, it is so atrocious it’s amazing. I have never seen a film with this tier of film-making, it’s on a whole other level of bad. Where the other films on the Worst list feel like there was a production, this feels like they shot everything on the first take. The film follows Chewbacca’s family on Life Day, and the family only speaks Wookiee and there are no subtitles. Chewbacca never has subtitles because he is always accompanied by an English speaking character to interpret his growls. In this movie there is none of that, so you spend long periods of time listening to gibberish. The Star Wars Holiday Special is the worst Christmas film I’ve ever seen.

The Best

5. Christmas Story

This film is one of the most-watched Christmas movies of all time. There is an entire TV channel dedicated to playing this film 24/7. A lot of people are sick of this film due to its oversaturation. Honesty, I felt the same way for a long time. I didn’t think the film was bad, but I had seen it so many times that I never wanted to watch it again. Then one year ago, I gave the film a second chance and enjoyed it a lot. The writing is quick and witty, and the film has a way of blending multiple tones very well.

4. Gremlins

Gremlins is one of the few horror-comedies that work. Many films like it cannot balance tension and humor, generally favoring one over the other. However, Gremlins is one of the first films to balance the two, and it makes for a fun watch. This was also Joe Dante’s first box office success, with his previous film, The Twilight Zone (1983), a box office dud. 

3. Home Alone

Home Alone is a Christmas film with a lot of heart and a lot of humor. Where Christmas with the Kranks falters, Home Alone succeeds. The film is fast-paced and very funny. But it can also be very emotional. I cannot talk about this film without mentioning John William’s fantastic score. It elevates the comedy and emotional scenes. It is strange that a lot of the talent behind this film went on to work on Christmas with the Kranks. I find that despite being released in 1990, Home Alone stands the test of time. The film understands what Christmas is about, the importance of loved ones. I find that Home Alone is a must-watch for every holiday season. 

T1. Die Hard and It’s a Wonderful Life

I couldn’t choose whether or not to put Die Hard or It’s a Wonderful Life at the top spot so I decided I’d make it a tie. One is an action film and the other is a drama, Die Hard and It’s a Wonderful Life seem like they wouldn’t have much in common, but both have a big similarity. Both films feature well-meaning and righteous characters who have failed. John McClane has a broken marriage, and his goal is to not only stop the terrorists but to save his marriage. George Bailey is a hero who is very damaged. His endeavors against Mr. Potter lead to his loss and result in his attempted suicide. However, an angel named Clarence shows George what his life would be like if he was never born, proving to George his self-worth.

These characters are very relatable and likable because they go through common struggles that many people do. John McClane might be fighting terrorists, but he’s a normal guy afraid of both flying and how his family will react to his visit. George’s life has its ups and downs and as an audience, we feel his successes and blunders. The films are found on top movies list a lot because both feature good characters with relatable issues. Because of these positives Die Hard and It’s a Wonderful Life are not just great holiday films, but great films in general.

Check in to The Roundup for more Christmas news and viewpoints!