1. A Christmas Story
What’s Christmas without a little childhood trauma? We’ve all had our share of white-whiskered woes when it comes to the wide world of mall Santas, and poor Ralphie was no exception. Ho-ho-horrifying.
2. The Santa Clause
Some luckless Scrooge inheriting St. Nick’s duties is one of the oldest tropes of the holiday family film lexicon, but few flicks have filled the main man’s jolly red boots better than Tim Allen did in 1994’s The Santa Clause. Kris Kringle is only Kris Kringle because of contractual Christmas obligations. Who knew?
3. Miracle on 34th Street
True, it’s hard to measure up to the original Miracle, but this mid-90s remake found a pitch-perfect Father Christmas in Jurassic Park’s Lord Richard Attenborough. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have been improved with a few rampaging raptors, but that’s another argument altogether.
Sure, Will Ferrel’s would-be-toymaker stole the show in this contemporary Christmas classic, but it’d be a much shorter movie if he wasn’t accidentally snagged by Ed Asner’s Santa Claus as a wee tot.
5. Bad Santa
You probably don’t wanna see cinema’s naughtiest Santa bounding down your chimney, but even this hard-boozing anti-Claus has some of that ol’ holiday spirit tucked away under his five o’ clock stubble.
6. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
When you get right down to it, Santa has all the makings of a superhero. Crazy ill-explained superpowers, top-secret subarctic base, ludicrously loud costume… it all checks out. So it makes sense that one of his most heartwarming holiday films is an origin story — a claymation classic that captures just what makes Kris Kringle the holly jolly hero behind the holidays.
You better watch out, you better not cry, and you better not launch a full-frontal assault on the North Pole, lest ol’ Whitebeard spray a bucket of buckshot in your face. The gun-toting Santa from Scrooged’s film-within-a-film isn’t the merriest of merrymakers, but he is friends with Lee Majors, so that’s gotta count for something.
8. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Hey, even Santa Claus has to have a few stinkers in his filmography. Kris Kringle at his holliest and jolliest couldn’t save this cult-favorite tale of an intergalactic St. Nick-napping gone wrong.
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Father Christmas may have been sidelined for most of Tim Burton’s timeless holiday favorite, but creepy-crawly pumpkin king Jack Skellington made a fine substitute Santa. Er, you know, if you overlook the thousands in psychology bills that his single night as St. Nick must’ve wrought.
10. The Polar Express
Hollywood nice guy Tom Hanks already has a warming baritone like chestnuts a-roastin’ over an open fire, so it just makes sense to cast him as the red-hatted King of Christmas in this CGI adaptation of Christmas classic The Polar Express.