Twelve Days of Holiday Movies

TRL’s Ryan Wang shares his views on 12 of the most watched holiday movies


Hannah Gonzalez

Writer, Ryan Wang rates his selection of the 12 Days of Holiday movies. He includes a short summary and his overall opinion.

“The Grinch” (2018)

This wildly successful animated film of Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch,” portrays one of the most classic character arcs of all time. When the citizens in the neighboring Whoville decide to amplify the Christmas spirit more than ever before, the Grinch hatches a plan to steal Christmas. It’s Dr. Seuss’s story brought alive, and despite the Grinch’s cunning and selfish nature, you can help but fall in love with him and his desolate outlook on life. 

Rating: A-

“Krampus” (2015)

There aren’t many films that manage to successfully include aspects of horror, comedy and Christmas, but “Krampus” embodies all three. While an ancient European folklore monster ravages a blizzarding town, gingerbread men climb down the chimney like seasoned assassins to shoot David Koechner in the leg with a nail gun. It’s a hilarious movie that deserves love during the holiday season, from its entertainment, to the nail-biting moments, and to the family grit that perseveres throughout.

Rating: B+

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

The animated classic is oftentimes considered to be both a Halloween and Christmas movie, as Jack Skellington, a comedic yet heartwarming skeleton, travels from Halloweentown to Christmastown, before understanding the vast cultural differences the people have in their attitude towards life. It’s a festive movie that reminds audiences why it’s important to be happy, thankful, and caring during the Christmas season.

Rating: B+

“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (2020)

A Netflix original musical fantasy that was only released a month ago, the animations and CGI accompanied by the amazing visuals speaks volumes of how far film has advanced in the past decades. It’s a rather new perspective of the holiday spirit, and a beautiful representation of where Hollywood is striving to become. While theaters may be in a limited capacity, “Jingle Jangle” may be the perfect holiday movie if you’re looking for something new, fun, and exciting. 

Rating: B+

“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

This 1946 classic emboldens the spirit of Christmas itself with a heartfelt story that is both comedic and powerful. Considered to be one of the best movies of all time, actors Jimmy Stewart and George Bailey portray raw palpable characters that highlight the importance and beauty of life, while Christmas trees, stark white snow and holiday carols float in the backdrop. 

Rating: A

“Elf” (2003)

After being accidentally transported to the North Pole and becoming one of Santa’s elves, Buddy (Will Ferrell), travels to New York decked out in elf gear to find his real father. It’s a comedic holiday classic that in many cases is just absolutely absurd, but still manages to tell a strong message of embracing who you are, and the power family bonds can have. 

Rating: A+

“Home Alone” (1990)

In one of the most iconic films of all time, young Kevin McAllister is left “Home Alone” after his parents make him sleep in the attic, only to simply forget him on the trip to Paris the next day. Believing his wish for his family to disappear came true, what follows is a saga of burglary, comedy, and remembering what it is we truly cherish in life. It’s a funny movie with iconic lines and witty fight scenes that stresses the importance of family during Christmas.

Rating: A-

“Arthur Christmas” (2011)

In this heartwarming journey that is eerily similar to “Ratatouille,” Santa’s youngest son Arthur is tasked with delivering the last gift to a forgotten child before dawn arrives. Armed with the Christmas spirit and witty humor, Arthur embarks on his journey to save Christmas itself. It’s an easy watching movie that includes great visuals, a bright color scheme and smooth animations, which makes it one of the best Christmas movies of all time. 

Rating: A

“A Christmas Story” (1983)

With equal parts nostalgia and class, “A Christmas Story” is a great reminder of the wintry imagination children have during the Holidays. A young Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) fights in his own saga of both bullies at school, and family struggles found at home. But his dream of getting a “Red Ryder air rifle” for Christmas illuminates the holiday spirit, and the wonders of Santa Claus himself. 

Rating: B

“Scrooged” (1988)

In this modern adaptation of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” Bill Murray plays a TV executive who embellishes the same self-centered character reminiscent of the Christmas villain Ebeneezer Scrooge. After a series of brash decisions, Murray is visited by ghosts who encourage him to rethink his life. Both the stories of Scrooge and Murray embody an important message that Christmas is a time to reflect on our decisions, and evaluate what it means to be a better human. 

Rating: A-

“The Polar Express” (2009)

A cinematic marvel for its time,” The Polar Express” tells the classic tale of a train ride to the North Pole. Through its hyper-realistic animations, and reassuring narration by Tom Hanks, this film revolves around the ideas of self-discovery as a child, and that our imagination has power, as long as we believe. While not meant to be a comedy, this adventure film is perfect to unwind to one a cold snowy day, with popcorn, cookies, and the warmth of family around you.

Rating: B+

“Love Actually” (2003)

Perhaps the most iconic and most heartfelt romantic Christmas movie, “Love Actually” manages to balance 9 different characters and the one thing that intertwines them all: love. It’s a sugary, and sometimes cheesy, rom-com that’s carried by a cohort of talented actors, who tell a story of the ups and downs of love during the holiday season. 

Rating: C+