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Top 10 Christmas movies to catch this holiday season

As Christmas quickly approaches, perhaps you have found yourself scrolling your TV guide – or any one of various streaming services – trying to choose a holiday movie to enjoy. When the weather outside is frightful, sometimes there is nothing so delightful as snuggling into a cozy couch, all tucked into a generous quilt, and watching the holiday season play out on the small screen.

Whether you want a comforting classic or the latest cheesy Netflix original, there are plenty of festive flicks to choose from – more than we could ever watch in one December, I feel certain.

More than once I have scanned Christmas movie recommendation lists on the Internet – The Ultimate Christmas Movie List, The Best Hallmark Christmas Movies of All Time, The 13 Best Classic Christmas Movies, and so on – in an effort to remember old favorites and maybe discover a new favorite or two.

In case you’re looking for a quick recommendation too, I decided to compile a list of my personal top 10 favorites. It was no easy task, and certainly not everyone will agree with this list; we all have our own favorites. But these are the titles that signal Christmas to me each year.

10- “Secret Santa” – I’m a sucker for this feel-good movie about a community journalist (!) who sets out to discover the identity of the “Secret Santa” in a small town who every year anonymously grants a large wish for a local citizen.

9- “A Boyfriend for Christmas” – Of all the cheesy Hallmark movies, this one easily rises to the top. A quick Google search shows that a New York Times article from 2004 labeled it “bland” but “pleasant and harmless.” So maybe I don’t have the best taste … but I fall for this sweet Christmas romance year after year.

8- “The Polar Express” – I’ll admit, the first time I saw this one when it came out in theaters, I wasn’t a huge fan. But it grew on me, and now I can’t let a Christmas go by without seeing it at least once. The soundtrack is gorgeous, and the movie is aesthetically beautiful. Also, Tom Hanks – enough said.

7- “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” – I had to include a “Christmas Carol” rendition, of course. There are so many excellent options to choose from – whether you’re a fan of the Muppet interpretation, the 1999 version featuring Patrick Stewart or one of the hundred (thousand? million?) other adaptations and spinoffs – but I have to confess an affinity for the Mickey Mouse version.

6- “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – A little cheesy, this Disney comedy is nevertheless a holiday favorite of mine. The happy ending gets me every time.

5- “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – This is a title that needs no explanation or further comment. Is there any more iconic Christmas movie? It’s a must-watch.

4- “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” – Can one recommendation list include four cartoon/animated movies? This one does. Oh sure, I like the Jim Carrey version just fine, but it’s not Christmas without this 1967 half-hour Dr. Seuss classic. “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” is always stuck in my head for several days after watching it – but I’m not complaining.

3- “The Santa Clause” – Oddly, I saw “The Santa Clause 2” before I saw the first in this trilogy, so the sequel will always hold a special place in my holiday heart. When it comes down to pound for pound, however, as to which one is better – obviously the first one wins out. I can’t get enough Tim Allen, and this movie keeps me in stitches from beginning to end.

2- “Miracle on 34th Street” – Although I’m fond of the 1947 original, I grew up on the 1994 remake. Mara Wilson is the cutest, and I just can’t get through the Christmas season without watching this story of faith in Santa Claus – faith in “a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives” – unfold.

1- “Elf” – Hilarious, super quotable and an absolute must every year. Buddy the Elf and I share the same philosophy on the best way to spread Christmas cheer, so that’s a plus, too. Most importantly, this movie takes on special meaning in that it was while watching “Elf” together in 2010 that my now-husband asked me to be his girlfriend.

So there you have it. If you want the recommendations of a Christmas-loving community journalist, these are the must-not-miss movies of the holiday season.

Honorable mentions include “Once Upon a Christmas,” “Christmas with the Kranks,” “The Christmas Card,” “Holiday in Handcuffs” and “Christmas Every Day.”

Share your personal favorites with me at alison.james@fct.wpengine.com

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