3,000 Readers Told Us Their Favorite Holiday Movie. Which Came Out on Top?

When it comes to Christmas and holiday movies, the best ones aren’t necessarily new. In fact, it’s the universal themes of redemption and gratitude, presented in Charles Dickens’s 1843 novel, “A Christmas Carol,” that resonated most with you.

Nearly 3,000 New York Times readers responded to our callout asking for the best holiday film recommendations. The 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” (titled “Scrooge” in Britain) starring Alastair Sim as the quintessential main character was most frequently cited among the dozens of adaptations out there. Others included children’s versions “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992) and “Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol” (1962) and variations starring Patrick Stewart (1999), Reginald Owen (1938) and Ryan Reynolds, in “Spirited” (2022). There’s also “The Man Who Invented Christmas” (2017), which tells the tale of Dickens’s creation of the classic story.

“A Christmas Carol” also aligns closely with Philip Van Doren Stern’s story “The Greatest Gift,” which itself inspired “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), your second-most mentioned film. Then there’s “The Family Man” (2000), starring Nicolas Cage as a modern-day version of George Bailey that brought tears to many of your eyes.

Other top picks included “A Christmas Story” (1983), “Love Actually” (2003), “White Christmas” (1954), “Elf” (2003), “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947), “Die Hard” (1988), “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947), “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989), “Home Alone” (1999) and “The Family Stone” (2005).

You had us streaming more unusual recommendations including “The Ref” (1994), starring Denis Leary as a cat burglar dealing with a dysfunctional family; the Finnish horror comedy “Rare Exports” (2010), about the unearthing of the real Santa Claus; “Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas” (1977) from Jim Henson; and “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” (1987), based on the prose of Dylan Thomas.

Here’s a look at some of the themes that emerged from your responses.

Remembering Loved Ones

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, was the second-most mentioned holiday film among readers.Credit…RKO Radio Pictures

Donna L. Potts of Pullman, Wash., on “It’s a Wonderful Life”:

Barbara Miner of Queensbury, N.Y., on “The Family Stone”:

Gregory E. Howard of Vancouver, Wash., on “A Christmas Carol” (1951):

Janice Robinson of Riverview, New Brunswick, on “A Christmas Story”:

Line, Please!

“Elf,” which came out in 2003, is one of the few modern-day films to make the readers’ list of favorite holiday movies.

Melanie Thompson Mette of Oakland, Calif., on “A Christmas Story,” “Elf” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”:

Barbara Gross of Wellesley, Mass., on “It’s a Wonderful Life”:

Hannah Adams of Royal Oak, Mich., on “Love Actually”:

Elizabeth Greenberg of New York City on “Meet Me in St. Louis”:

Dee Pinnix of Westchester, N.Y., on “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”:

Upholding Family Traditions

Some of you have included “The Family Man” as part of your family’s holiday tradition.Credit…Merrick Morton/Universal Studios

Cecilia Vidal of Brooklyn on “La Guagua Aérea”:

James Donovan of Dallas on “The Family Man”:

Richard Pruitt of New York City on “The Santa Clause”:

Amy Crossman of New York City on “Love Actually”:

A Reminder of What Really Matters

Sappy or sweet? Many of you love to watch “Love Actually” at the holidays.Credit…Peter Mountain/Universal Studios

Mary Jane Fine of Mystic, Conn., on “White Christmas”:

Jennifer Gregory of Haddon Township, N.J., on “While You Were Sleeping”:

Kate Hagner of White River Junction, Vt., on “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”:

Vicky Schippers of Brooklyn on “Love Actually” and “White Christmas”:

“Yippee-ki-yay!” (and Other Debatable Holiday Films)

Some of you will defend “Die Hard” as a holiday movie to the end.Credit…20th Century Fox

Jake Fejedelem of Olivia, Minn., on “Die Hard”:

Erin Tapken of Marion, Iowa, on “The Ref”:

Ryan Deemer of Roswell, Ga., on “The Deer Hunter”:

Getting Into the Spirit

For some of you, “Miracle on 34th Street” is a December tradition.Credit…20th Century Fox

Emily Dodson of San Francisco on “Miracle on 34th Street”:

Marshall Lancaster of Clemmons, N.C., on “The Ref”:

Jonathan J. Margolis of Brookline, Mass., on “Miracle on 34th Street”:

Other Holiday Gems

A small group of you selected John Huston’s “The Dead,” based on the James Joyce short story, as a favorite holiday film.Credit…Vestron Pictures

Laurie MacKenzie-Crane of Granville, Ohio, on “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”:

Rich Farr of West Hartford, Conn., on “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”:

Michael Scott Ryan of Dutchess County, N.Y., on “The Dead”:

Shivani Gonzalez contributed to this article.

Back to top button