Christmas movies are a Hollywood tradition, ranging from Frank Capra's fantasy classic "It's a Wonderful Life," where a man is shown all the lives he has touched in a positive way, to a young boy's quest for a Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle in "A Christmas Story," to the zany over-the-top antics of Clark Griswold in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."
Here are Newsmax's picks for the best Christmas movies so far in this century, listed in alphabetical order.
"Bad Santa" (2003)
Billy Bob Thornton plays what has to be the worst department store Santa in history: ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, philandering, hard-drinking, and skinny. But the worst part is that he and his partner are con men who took the job as Santa and his little helper to rob the store on Christmas Eve.
But he learns to feel good about himself from a little boy; and he teaches the little boy to stand up for himself.
"A Christmas Carol" (2009)
"What if you were given a second chance to get your life right?" This is a Disney animated version of the Charles Dickens classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge's visits by three spirits that change his life: the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and of Christmas Yet to Come.
But this is no ordinary animation. This is an exciting, full-blown 3D IMAX version that's visually exciting.
Reviewer Roger Ebert called it "an exhilarating visual experience and proves for the third time he's one of the few directors who knows what he's doing with 3-D." He added that "The story that Dickens wrote in 1838 remains timeless."
"The Christmas Chronicles" (2018)
Two children stow away aboard Santa's sleigh, with Kurt Russel playing the big guy. The kids startle Santa and his reindeer when they make their presence known mid-flight, causing the sleigh to crash and the reindeer and presents to scatter.
But Christmas must go on. It's up to Santa and the children to locate and properly deliver the gifts before Christmas morning.
Wrote Melanie McFarland for Salon, "Russell's star power in 'The Christmas Chronicles' is a gift anyone should be happy to claim."
After living for decades at the North Pole as an elf, Buddy (Will Ferrell) discovers he's actually a human and sets off to New York City in search of his father.
Rotten Tomatoes gave "Elf" an 84% average rating, stating that "A movie full of Yuletide cheer, 'Elf' is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell's funny and charming performance as one of Santa's biggest helpers."
The film also gave birth to National Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day. Each Dec. 18, we're encouraged to greet callers with a question along the lines of "This is [state your name] the Elf. What's your favorite color?"
"The Holiday" (2006)
This is a romantic comedy in which Amanda from Los Angeles discovers that her boyfriend has cheated on her. Iris in London is secretly still in love with her ex-boyfriend, who announces he's engaged to someone else.
Both women want to get as far away as possible, the sooner the better, and end up switching houses, cars, and everything else for the Christmas holidays.
As a result they each meet "Mr. Right" and fall head-over-heels in love, and the women and their new beaus celebrate New Year's Eve together.
Claudia Puig, reviewing for USA Today, called the film "a rare chick flick/romantic comedy that, despite its overt sentimentality and fairy-tale premise, doesn't feel cloyingly sweet. Much of the credit goes to inspired casting and the actors' chemistry."
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)
The Dr. Seuss classic comes to the big screen in this animated version directed by Ron Howard. The Grinch, a green, revenge-seeking creature played by Jim Carrey, plots to ruin Christmas for all of the citizens of Whoville, a magical land that exists inside a snowflake.
He manages to steal all the presents before the people of Whoville awake. Cindy Lou Who befriends the Grinch, and in the end, she causes him to have a change of heart and return the gifts.
CNN reviewer Paul Clinton wrote, "The rule of thumb for anyone working on a film starring Carrey is to get him into his costume, get him on his mark and then get out of his way. This was clearly done, for Carrey carries nearly every scene."
"Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey" (2020)
"No matter who you are, no matter what you do, the magic lives inside of you." This is a musical fantasy that was released last month.
It depicts Jeronicus Jangle, a once joyful toymaker, who lost nearly everything after being betrayed by a helper. But he finds new hope when his bright young granddaughter appears on his doorstep.
Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 90% average rating based on 68 reviews, and said of it, "'Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey' celebrates the yuletide season with a holiday adventure whose exuberant spirit is matched by its uplifting message."
This is a Netflix animated feature that tells the story of how a postman teams up with a carpenter named Mr. Klaus, who has a gift for making toys. Together they turn the unhappiest place on Earth into the most joyful overnight.
And they do it with a simple principle: "A true selfless act always sparks another," according to Mr. Klaus.
Rotten Tomatoes gave "Klaus" a 94% average rating based on 67 reviews. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, John DeFore wrote that "Sergio Pablos' 'Klaus' invents its own unexpected and very enjoyable origin story for the big guy who gives out toys every Christmas Eve."
Christmas courses through Noelle Kringle's blood. Her father was Santa, and she's in charge of distributing and maintaining Christmas spirit. When Santa dies unexpectedly five months before Christmas, it's now her older brother Nick's turn to take over the family business in this Disney film. But his training isn't going well.
When he takes the weekend before Christmas off, with Noelle's approval, he doesn't return, and she sets out to find him. Nick suggests after his return that Noelle deliver the presents, and after a few mishaps, she does.
Writing for RogerEbert.com, Nick Allen gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, writing that "'Noelle' has more going for it than just being one of the easiest ways for Disney+ to make a good first impression," adding that it "has plenty of charm."
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